22nd Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. John McLeay) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I ask the Minister for Labour and National Service whether he would be good enough to fix an early time, as soon as possible after question time, to receive a deputation of representatives of the wives of unemployed miners in the northern district of New South Wales. These people have travelled through the night, and after the deputation has waited on the Minister they will have to make their return journey. I would be very much obliged if an interview could be arranged.
– I shall be glad to meet the request of the right honorable gentleman, whose interest in the problems of this district will be appreciated. But he is well aware, I think, of the fact that this Government and the New South Wales Government have been giving considerable attention to the problem of employment in the Cessnock area, and that the Coal Industry Committee, on which both governments are represented, as also are the mining unions, the Joint Coal Board and the managements in the industry, has been meeting on these matters and, I can inform him, will meet again on Monday, 4th November, when the problem of employment in the Cessnock area will again be one of the matters under discussion. I well recognize the feelings of anxiety in the families which have been affected by developments in the coal industry, and if some wives of unemployed miners are in Canberra I shall be glad to meet them as requested by the right honorable gentleman. I can inform him that my colleague, the Minister for National Development, who is the Minister directly concerned with the problems of this industry at large, has already, I believe, received such a deputation. Consequently, I propose to confine my own consideration and discussion with the members of the group to the problem of employment, with which I am more immediately concerned.
– Is the Prime Minister aware that in many Australian towns to-day meetings are being held to mark the anniversary of this day last year, when the people of Hungary, with superb courage and patriotism, rose in a vain endeavour to recover their lost freedom, only to be savagely butchered by ruthless Communist forces? In view of this spontaneous expression by the Australian people to mark this day, will the right honorable gentleman consider a suggestion that from next year onwards the Commonwealth Government and the State governments request all Australians to commemorate the anniversary suitably?
– Naturally I shall have a look at the suggestion made by the honorable member. I will not need to tell him that the people of this country have a profound sympathy for the people who sustained this outrageous treatment in Hungary. The Government has itself, in a practical way, tried to co-operate in relieving their distress, and I join with the honorable member in the hope that the world will not readily forget what happened in Hungary.
– I direct a question without notice to the Minister for Trade. Is the Minister aware that the recent decision of the Government to place hog casings in the sales replacement import category, and thus allow unrestricted imports from dollar areas, has already caused widespread cessation of production of beef casings throughout Australia, with consequent loss of employment? Is the Minister aware also that a by-product of the beef casings industry is raw material for the manufacture of surgical sutures, which are exported mainly to dollar areas and that, therefore, by the Government’s action, dollar exports are being jeopardized and dollar imports needlessly augmented, making a two-way loss of dollar exchange of approximately 3,000,000 dollars? As Australia’s export earnings are certain to be lower this year than last year because of the drought and other factors, will the Minister give urgent consideration to removing hog casings from the sales replacement plan, and reverting to the recommendations made by the Tariff Board in 1954 on the control of these imports, pending a new Tariff Board inquiry, to which he has already agreed, and thus save an important dollar-earning industry from extinction?
– The subject-matter which the honorable member raises is undeniably a very difficult one and, indeed, a controversial one. The basic fact is that, there having been a restriction on the importation of hog casings since the early stages of the last war, there has been an unceasing agitation in Australia for a greater importation of this commodity, or an unrestricted importation of it. The agitation over hog casings has broadly touched two particular aspects. The first is what is claimed to be the preference of the consumer for a sausage in a hog casing as against one in either a synthetic casing or a casing produced from beef runners. Despite the restrictions on the importation of hog casings since early in the war and the opportunity for the public to become accustomed to the beef casings, the clear preference for hog casings still remains.
The other aspect of the matter is that there have been innumerable complaints of price exploitation by those who were in the privileged positionof having quotas to import; also, that conditions had been attached to the supply of hog casings. When, under a system of import licensing, this kind of exploitation occurs, the first duty of the authorities is to see whether it can be prevented, and if it cannot, then the need to bring to an end that particular kind of licensing is clearly established. That was done. The honorable member bases his case mostly on the proposition that import licensing should be used for the protection of an Australian industry. This is a valuable industry, but it is not the policy of the Government to employ import licensing to protect and sustain Australian industry. The Tariff Board is the medium for that. As soon as a request was made to me to refer this issue to the Tariff Board, I did so, and the board’s report will become available in due course.
– I ask the Minister for Trade a question without notice. Was the Minister announcing Government policy or merely the views of the Department of Trade when he told the
Australian Primary Producers Union conference yesterday that Australia had no fundamental objection to trade with communist China? As Hong Kong is a British port, would not the authorities there operate on the same basis as Britain in trading with red China? Has not Hong Kong followed Britain, and abolished what is known as the China differential list of goods? Is there any embargo on any class of goods going to Hong Kong from Australia? If not, in view of the fact that Hong Kong is the main gateway for trade with red China, are we not deluding ourselves and our friends by saying that Australia has not followed Britain in abolishing the China differential?
– In making the kind of reference attributed to me by the honorable member, who no doubt is quoting from reports, I am sure I was stating the facts. Trade with red China - continental China - is permitted except in respect of goods of strategic importance. So, if I used the words “ no fundamental objection “ I would not withdraw them now. The simple fact is that Australia does trade with red China, and always has done so. There is a specific published and available list of prohibited exports applicable to all Communist countries. However, with respect to that list of items, it is not to be thought that we facilitate the export of such items to Hong Kong, not caring whether they are then transhipped to China. There is no item on a prohibited list in respect of which rather exact information is not required of its ultimate destination before an export permit is approved. I have no reason to believe that the system does not operate quite successfully in achieving the end result for which it is designed.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether it is a fact that the decision of the Government not to proceed for the time being with the provision of adequate funds for a vigorous programme of civil defence is based on the assumption that Australia is not likely to be subjected to atomic attack in the foreseeable future. In the light of recent revelations and the miscalculations of British and American intelligence as to the progress of others in the field of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles, not to mention the satellite, does the right honorable gentleman not consider that the Government should re-appraise the advice tendered to it on the question of civil defence and pay more regard to the warnings and recommendations of civil defence officials?
– The policy of the Government, through the Minister for Defence, with regard to that matter is under constant re-examination in the light of the most up-to-date expert advice available to us.
– In directing my question to the Minister for Trade, I refer to the International Industrial Development Conference held last week in San Francisco. I understand the conference gave particular attention to the contribution which can be made by private investment to progress in countries which have developing economies, such as Australia. I understand also that certain- senior officers of the Department of Trade attended that conference. I ask the Minister whether he can report at this early stage on the results of that conference as far as Australia is concerned.
– I think that the conference to which the honorable member has referred is one which finally must result in important and positive advantages to Australia. It was arranged on the initiative of the principal proprietor of “ Time “ and “ Life “ magazines in association with Stanford University. There was a very strong team of Australian representation, basically from private enterprise, with men like Mr. George Foletta and others of equal’ status in this country, including that great Australian industrialist, Mr. W. S. Robinson. These men went from Australia to participate and hear what could be gleaned in our interests. Mr. E. P. McClintock, the Director of Trade Services in the Department of Trade, also attended. Although the conference concluded only last, week, and it is, therefore, too soon for me to have a report on what transpired, I already have reason to believe that it will be of advantage in arousing interest in and probably attracting investment to Australia. In view of the honorable member’s concern in this matter, I will let him have as full particulars as I receive in due course.
– My question is directed to you, Mr. Speaker. Some time ago. during a discussion on the merits and quality of Formosan tea, a member of this House donated a quantity of the tea to the parliamentary dining rooms so that honorable members might judge for themselves the quality of the product. I now ask: Would you similarly permit to be supplied to the parliamentary dining rooms sausages covered by a special superfine beef casing, manufactured in Australia, the quality of which has been unfairly criticized by some interested parties? Subject to your permission, Mr. Speaker, I am prepared to make available to-day a quantity of sausages covered by these special beef casings for use in the parliamentary dining rooms so that honorable members may judge the fine qualities of these delicious Australian casings.
– The question will be referred to the appropriate authority, and will receive the attention it merits.
– Should the present drought conditions worsen and large quantities of wheat have to be imported into New South, Wales, will the Minister for Primary Industry see that this situation is treated as a national emergency, such as a flood, and that no financial hardship will be suffered by the wheat-growers?
– I think that the substance of the honorable gentleman’s request is that no financial hardship shall be suffered by the wheat-growers as a result of the necessity to import wheat into New South Wales. I can assure him that the wheat under the control of the Australian Wheat Board will be sold al ruling prices and that, therefore, the grower himself will not be called upon to make a contribution. I assure the honorable member also that the whole problem is under daily consideration, and that we are carefully watching the position in order to take action should it be necessary.
– Will the Prime Minister inform the House when the Government intends to announce the formula that it proposes to use in distributing to the States the proceeds of the recently imposed tax on diesel fuel?
– I expect that that will be announced when the legislation to give effect to it is introduced.
– Some time ago, the Minister for Primary Industry indicated that an expert committee was investigating the subject of wheat quality in Australia. In view of the marketing opportunities for hard wheat, such as the bulk of Queensland wheat, can the Minister inform the Mouse whether the committee has submitted its report? If it has been submitted, will it be discussed at the next meeting of the Australian Agricultural Council?
– Some months ago, I think on the suggestion of the Australian Agricultural Council, two committees were established, the first to inquire into the prospects for marketing wheat, and the second to ascertain where wheat of various qualities could be grown in Australia. The committee dealing with the problem of the areas in which various qualities of wheat could be grown has submitted a report to me and I have distributed copies of it to the various associations concerned with the inquiry. The committee dealing with the marketing of wheat has not yet submitted a report. I am not quite certain of the reasons why that is so, but I shall find out and let the honorable member know. I was hoping to present the marketing report and the quality report to the next meeting of the Australian Agricultural Council.
– I ask the Minister for Supply whether the statement that was made in the display in the Kings Hall that one ton of uranium has a heat equivalent to 10.000 tons of coal is correct. Would the value of the coal be approximately £40,000? What would be the cost of one ton of uranium?
– My arithmetic is not good enough for me to do that sum for the honorable gentleman. I shall have the matter referred to the Minister for National Development, who, I am sure, will give the honorable member for Leichhardt a detailed, accurate and satisfactory reply.
– By way of explanation of a question which I address to the Minister for Labour and National Service who is acting for the Minister in charge of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, I inform him that the Coonalpyn Downs district in the upper south-east of South Australia grows extensive areas of lucerne and is therefore one of the few localities in the southern part of the continent which would benefit by extra rains between the months of December and April. Will the Minister consider diverting the rain-making aircraft at present operating from Nhill over the Victorian Mallee area to the Coonalpyn Downs during the months from December to April, after it has become too late for effective results in the former area?
– I shall, of course, consider the suggestion made by the honorable member, and I shall bring his proposal to the notice of the departmental officers, who are very much more competent to deal with the matter than I am.
– Is the Prime Minister aware of a charge made by the former Premier of Queensland that university students had been blackmailed, by threats of being failed in their examinations, into obtaining signatures for a public protest petition? If he is aware of this charge, will he comment upon it? If he is not aware of it, will he have the matter investigated, so that the position can be clarified before the recommendations of the Commonwealth universities inquiry with regard to the university of Queensland are put into effect?
– I had never heard of this matter before. Even now I do not clearly see what it has to do with the universities inquiry or with the Commonwealth’s relation to the University of Queensland. It all seems rather mysterious. There was some petition, and people were threatened. I assure the honorable member that I have no reason to believe that the universities inquiry committee has been concerned with matters of the kind that he has mentioned. It has been concerned with the educational and financial position and the future of the universities, and it has made a very valuable and general report.
– Is the Prime Minister aware that the Minister for National Development has said that the extra water to be made available by the Snowy Mountains scheme will make possible the irrigation of an additional 600,000 acres of land in the Murrumbidgee and Murray valleys, and that the additional income derived therefrom will amount to £43 per acre or, in all, £25,000,000 per annum? Will the Commonwealth endeavour to co-operate with the governments of New South Wales and Victoria in the building of a rail link between Hay and Ouyen and between Ouyen and Patchewollock, so that the extra produce may be sent for shipment to the decentralized port of Portland?
– At a glance, I would think that this is a matter that deserves a good deal of careful consideration. I will take it up with my colleague, the Minister for National Development.
– I address a question to the Treasurer. In view of the fact that the cost of building a home has greatly increased, and that the maximum building loan obtainable from the Commonwealth Savings Bank is inadequate to meet the needs of most home builders to-day, will the right honorable gentleman take action to have the maximum advance available from this bank increased? I ask this question because other institutions have raised the limit on individual loans for home construction.
– The Commonwealth Bank has already increased the maximum amount of loans available for housing. However, I will treat the question as being on the notice-paper and see what other information I can obtain for the honorable member.
– I ask the Minister foi Territories whether his department has received an application for permission to run another air service between the mainland of Australia and Papua. If such an application has been received, will it receive the support of the Department of Territories?
– This is a matter that concerns the Department of Civil Aviation rather than the Department of Territories. I know of my personal knowledge that in addition to Qantas Empire Airways Limited, which operates a service at present between Australian towns and Port Moresby and Lae, at least two other operators have expressed publicly their interest in providing a service from the Australian mainland to Papua and New Guinea. The attitude of my department to a question of this kind, of course, would be one of general concern to ensure that adequate services are available to the Territory.
– I desire to address a question to the Treasurer. During the right honorable gentleman’s absence from Australia, the Prime Minister, who was asked several questions about the likely effect on” Australia’s economy of the drastic economic moves recently made by the United Kingdom Government, stated that he was not in possession of sufficient information on which to base adequate replies, and that he would await the Treasurer’s return to Australia before replying. Will the Treasurer, at an early date, make a statement to the House on these important matters and other related problems?
– I will consider the matter, and will see what I can do to meet the honorable member’s request.
– Has the attention of the Prime Minister been directed to a recent statement by the head of the Physics Department of the University of Sydney to the effect that the ratio between the remuneration of good, average scientists and that of unskilled workers is two to one in Australia, five to one in the United States of America, seven to one in the United Kingdom, and 25 to one in Russia - in other words, that Russian scientists receive 25 times as much as is paid to unskilled workers, whereas Australian scientists receive only twice as much? In view of the importance of scientific and technological progress to defence, and, consequently, to our hold on this country, and in view of the remarkable scientific advances made in
Russia, as indicated by the recent launching of an earth satellite, and by other recent developments, can the Prime Minister assure the House that the significance of these factors, and their possible influence on Australia’s future, will be most carefully considered when the report of the committee of inquiry into the universities is before the Government?
– I can assure the honorable member that the report of the committee of inquiry into the universities will receive the most thorough and most sympathetic examination.
– I desire to direct a question to the Minister for Primary Industry, in his capacity as leader of the Australian delegation that will shortly visit India and Pakistan for conferences of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association. Is it a fact that the Minister communicated with the American Embassy with a view to obtaining United States sponsorship and financial assistance to enable the delegation to extend its tour to include a visit to the United States of America? If so, does the Minister consider that such action is in keeping with his position as the leader of an Australian delegation to a conference of representatives of the parliaments of nations of the British Commonwealth? If the Minister denies the accuracy of the current rumour, will he state whether any other member of the delegation, to his knowledge, approached the American Embassy for this purpose?
– The answer is “ No “ on both counts. I did not approach the United States Embassy and, to the best of my knowledge, no other member of the proposed delegation approached the United States Embassy for the purposes mentioned by the honorable gentleman.
– I ask the Minister for Immigration, who is acting for the Minister for Health, whether it is a fact that, in outlying centres which have no resident doctor or hospital, and where medical services are provided by the Bush Nursing Association, people who have paid for these services are not entitled to claim a refund from a medical benefits insurance fund. Is it a fact, also, that the Bush Nursing Association is required to treat pensioners free, but is not entitled to a refund of expenses from the Department of Social Services? If these are facts, can the Government do anything to assist this grand voluntary organization in the matters that I have mentioned?
– I am afraid that I cannot give the honorable member a precise reply to the rather technical question that he has asked, but I will inquire into the position immediately and let him have a considered reply as soon as possible.
– Will the Prime Minister re-examine the grant now made annually to the Commonwealth Council for National Fitness with a view to increasing the amount from £72,500 to £100,000 a year? The present vote has remained unaltered for many years, and I ask the Prime Minister to consider the request on the basis of the increased costs which have to be met by the council.
– That is a matter for the consideration of the Government. I received a communication on the same point yesterday.
– I direct my question to the Minister for the Interior. Have any further conferences been held since 1 955 between the Australian National University and the Canberra University College on the question of combining research at the former with undergraduate teaching at the latter in departments other than medicine and physical sciences? Has any site been selected for the Canberra University College? Has any action with respect to financial provision been taken for the construction of the undergraduate university? In view of the estimate of Mr. W. D. Borrie, reader in the Research School of Social Sciences in the Australian National University, that the number of students at Australian universities will rise by 60 per cent in the next ten years, will the Minister treat the establishment of Canberra University College on a proper site with suitable buildings as a matter of high priority?
– I am not aware of any further conferences between the Canberra University College and the Australian National University since the one referred to by the honorable member. It is true that the question of a favorable site is still under consideration. No funds have been provided, but in view of the increasing demand on the university, the question raised by the honorable member will have my complete sympathy and help.
– Is .the Prime Minister aware that the registered office of Utah Australia Limited is a building in the grounds of St. John’s College, Parramattaroad, Camperdown? Is he also aware that both Utah Australia Limited and Concrete Constructions Proprietary Limited are shown in the Sydney telephone directory at this address? Does the Prime Minister consider it unusual that these companies, which are carrying on construction work worth about £26,000,000 at the St. Mary’s filling factory, should have an office situated in an ecclesiastical institution?
– I was going to say that this all seems very appropriate - a contract for St. Mary’s and a place in the corner of the church.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Supply, who was until recently in charge of the Australian Atomic Energy Commission, and who now represents the Minister for National Development in this place. Is the Minister aware that the third annual report of the Australian Atomic Energy Commission set the target date for the completion of the Lucas Heights Atomic Reactor and associated laboratories for June, 1957? Is it correct that .this establishment will not now be officially opened until March, 1958? Will the Minister verify the fact that the metallurgy and engineering laboratories, the isotope building, the radio biological research centre, and other important buildings are not yet under construction and cannot be completed before the opening date? Why has the Government failed to afford high priority to the development of atomic energy for peaceful purposes? In view of the fact that this key project is well behind schedule, will the Minister assure the House that sufficient funds will be made available to stimulate the construction programme?
– I have not read the report of the Australian Atomic Energy Commission. I know that I should have dope so, but I have been doing a little reading of my own lately, of which honorable members will be aware. I shall refer the question ~ my colleague, the Minister for National Development, who, as the honorable member knows, is now in charge of this project, and get a reply for him.
– The question which I address to the Minister for Trade is supplementary to that asked earlier this afternoon by the honorable member for Chisholm. I ask the right honorable gentleman why the Australian ^Government permits the export to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics of some goods which it bans for export to the mainland of China. I also ask him whether any other government in the British Commonwealth differentiates between exports to the two countries in the same way.
– This is clearly a matter of Government policy, in respect of which it is not customary to answer questions without notice, but if the honorable gentleman implies that Australia should tune in to the actions of some other government, I say that we do not do that. We take our own course, and we are doing all right.
– I should like to know from the Minister for Primary Industry whether he is prepared to state that the people from the American Embassy, who have freely indicated to certain members of the Opposition side that he personally telephoned the Embassy in support of the claim that the delegation to India should have financial support from the United States of America, were telling the truth or otherwise.
– Could you give us the names of those people, later?
– Later on. privately, I will.
– We will be glad to have them.
– I have never telephoned the American Embassy in my life.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister. It is a fact that an American airlines and road transport magnate, who is an honorary colonel in the American army, is now a high executive officer of Ansett airlines? Is it a fact that when he bought into the Ansett organization he was chairman of Mid-East Airlines of America, vice-president of Air Transport Association of America, an original director of the Lockheed Aircraft Corporation, and a director of American Greyhound Bus Lines? Is it true that this so-called mystery man is controlling the delegation from Ansett’s which is now conferring with the Prime Minister in regard to concessions for the Ansett organization similar to the concessions given to Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited, to be implemented in the proposed rationalization agreement shortly to be brought before the Parliament for ratification?
– On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, I submit that the question clearly is out of order because the person referred to is easily identifiable. The question refers to his character and conduct.
– Order! The references were relevant to his conduct and good name.
– It is a mystery to me how this has anything to do with me or my department. The honorable member appears to be under the impression that I am having conferences with some delegation from the Ansett organization. I can assure him I am not.
– I ask the Minister for the Interior and Minister for Works whether he will take whatever action he can to ensure that, so far as possible, in the engagement by his department of hauliers for the transport of gravel, screenings or other material of that kind, preference will be given to operators who are resident in the Australian Capital Territory. Will the Minister accept my assurance that there is at present real need to see that the rights of these people are protected?
– Without any immediate knowledge of the question raised by the honorable gentleman, I should say that my department is under some obligation to get this work done as cheaply as possible. However, I shall consider the matters he has raised.
– I lay on the table the following paper -
Commonwealth Grants Commission Act -
Commonwealth Grants Commission - Twentyfourth Report (1957).
The recommendations contained in the report will be adopted by the Government. Enabling legislation will be introduced shortly. Copies of the report will be made available to honorable members.
Assent to the following bills reported: -
Social Services Bill 1957.
Aged Persons Homes Bill 1957.
Gold-mining Industry Assistance Bill 1957.
Motion (by Sir Arthur Fadden) agreed to -
That leave of absence for one month be given to the honorable member for Lyne (Mr. Lucock), on the ground of public business overseas, and to the honorable member for Moore (Mr. Leslie), on the ground of ill health.
Motion (by Mr. Harold Holt) agreed to -
That Government business shall take precedence over general business to-morrow.
Message recommending appropriation reported.
Ordered to be referred to the Committee of Supply.
Motion (by Sir Arthur Fadden) agreed to-
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to amend the law relating to income tax.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
In Committee of Ways and Means:
– I move -
– (1.) That, in this Resolution - “ co-operative company “ have the same mean ing as in Division 9 of Part III. of the Assessment Act; “ friendly society dispensary “ mean a friendly society dispensary to which Division 9a of Part III. of the Assessment Act applies; “ life assurance company “ have the same meaning as in Division 8 of Part III. of the Assessment Act; “ mutual income “, in relation to a life assurance company (other than a mutual life assurance company), mean -
so much of that part of the taxable income of the company which has been derived from its life assurance business as bears the same proportion to that part of the taxable income as the amount of the profits divided for the same year of income among the life assurance policy holders of the company bears to the total profits divided among those policy holders and the shareholders of the company in respect of the company’s life assurance business for the same year of income; or
where no profits in respect of the company’s life assurance business are divided for the year of income but, by virtue of the company’s memorandum or articles of association, any profits to be divided among the life assurance policy holders of the company are required to be a certain proportion of the total profits to be divided - that proportion of that part of the taxable income of the company which has been derived from its life assurance business; “ mutual life assurance company “ have the same meaning as in Division 8 of Part III. of the Assessment Act; “ non-profit company “ mean -
a company which is not carried on for the purposes of profit or gain to its individual members and is, by the terms of the memorandum or articles of association, rules or other document constituting the company or governing its activities, prohibited from making any distribution, whether in money, property or otherwise, to its members; or
a friendly society dispensary; “ private company “ have the same meaning as in Division 7 of Part III. of the Assessment Act; “ the Assessment Act “ mean the Income Tax and Social Services Contribution Assessment Act 1936-1957, as proposed to be amended by the Income Tax and Social Services Contribution Assessment Bill 1957. (2.) That a reference in this Resolution to taxable income be read as a reference to taxable income of the year of income”.
That the Assessment Act be incorporated and read as one with the Act passed to give effect to this Resolution.
Imposition of Income Tax and Social Services Contribution.
– (1.) That a tax by the name of income tax and social services contribution be imposed at the rates declared in this Resolution. (2.) That, notwithstanding anything contained in this Resolution, income tax and social services contribution be not imposed upon a taxable income which does not exceed One hundred and four pounds derived by -
a person who is not a company;
a company in the capacity of a trustee; or
a non-profit company.
Rates of Income Tax and Social Services Contribution Payable by Persons other than Companies.
– (1.) That the rates of income tax and social services contribution payable by a person other than a company be as set out in the First Schedule to this Resolution. (2.) That the rates of income tax and social services contribution in respect of a taxable income to which Division 16 of Part III. of the Assessment Act applies be as set out in the Second Schedule to this Resolution. (3.) That the rate of income tax and social services contribution in respect of a taxable income in any case where section fifty-nine ab, section eighty-six or section one hundred and fifty-eight d of the Assessment Act applies be as set out in the Third Schedule to this Resolution. (4.) That the rate of income tax and social services contribution payable by a trustee be as set out in the Fourth Schedule to this Resolution.
Limitation of Tax and Contribution Payable by Aged Persons.
– (1.) That this paragraph apply to a taxpayer who -
being a man, has attained the age of sixtyfive years, or, being a woman, has attained the age of sixty years, on or before the last day of the year of income; and
is a resident of Australia during the whole of the year of income, but do not apply to a taxpayer in the capacity of a trustee. (2.) That where the net income of a taxpayer to whom this paragraph applies does not exceed Four hundred and sixty pounds, the maximum amount of income tax and social services contribution payable by him be nine-twentieths of the amount by which his net income exceeds Four hundred and ten pounds, or, if his net income does not exceed Four hundred and. ten pounds, no income tax and social services contribution be payable by him. (3.) That where the net income of a taxpayer to whom this paragraph applies does not exceed One thousand one hundred and six pounds and during the year of income the taxpayer contributes to the maintenance of -
his wife, being a person who is a resident of Australia during the whole of the year of income and has attained the age of sixty years on or before the last day of that year; or
her husband, being a person who is a resident of Australia during the whole of the year of income and has attained the age of sixty-five years on or before that day, the maximum amount of income tax and social services contribution payable by the taxpayer be nine-twentieths of the amount by which the sum of the net incomes of the taxpayer and his or her spouse exceeds Eight hundred and nineteen pounds, or, if the sum of those net incomes does not exceed Eight hundred and nineteen pounds, no income tax and social services contribution be payable by the taxpayer. (4.) That, for the purposes of this paragraph, the net income of a person be ascertained by deducting from the gross income of that person all expenses (not being expenses of a capital, private or domestic nature) incurred in deriving that gross income.
Minimum Tax and Contribution.
Rates of Income Tax and Social Services Contribution Payable by a Company.
Elimination of Pence.
That where the amount of the income tax and social services contribution which a person would be liable to pay under the preceding provisions of this Resolution, before deducting any rebate or credit to which that person is entitled in his assessment, is an amount of pounds, shillings and pence or shillings and pence -
Tax and Contribution where Amount to be Collected or Refunded would not exceed Two Shillings.
– (1.) That, notwithstanding anything contained in the preceding provisions of this Resolution, where a person has, in accordance with section two hundred and twenty-one h of the Assessment Act, forwarded to the Commissioner a tax stamps sheet or group certificate issued to him in respect of deductions made in a year from his salary or wages, and the difference between the available deductions and the income tax and social services contribution which would, but for this sub-paragraph, be payable by that person in respect of the taxable income derived by him in that year is not more than Two shillings, the income tax and social services contribution payable by that person in respect of that taxable income be an amount equal to the available deductions. (2.) That the last preceding sub-paragraph do not apply -
Levy of Income Tax and Social Services Contribution.
Provisional Tax and Contribution.
General Rates of Tax and Contribution Payable by Persons other than Companies.
The rate of income tax and social services contribution for every £1 of each part of the taxable income specified in the first column of the following table is the rate set out in the second column of that table oppositeto the reference to that part of the taxable income: -
Rates of Tax and Contribution by Referenceto an Average Income.
In the case of a taxpayer to whose income Division 16 of Part III. of the Assessment Act applies, the rates of income tax and social services contribution are -
for every £1 of so much of the taxable income as does not exceed Four thousand pounds -
for every £1 of the remainder of the taxable income, the rate ascertained by deducting the amount of One thousand one hundred and ninety-six pounds five shillings from the tax and contribution which would be payable if the rates set forth in the First Schedule were applied to the total taxable income and dividing the resultant amount by a number equal to the number of whole pounds in that remainder.
Rate of Taxand Contribution by Reference to a Notional Income.
For every £1 of the taxable income of a taxpayer deriving a notional income, as specified by section fifty-nine ab, section eighty-six or section one hundred and fifty-eight d of the Assessment Act, the rate of income tax and social services contribution is the rate ascertained by dividing the tax and contribution which would be payable under the First Schedule upon a taxable income equal to his notional income by a number equal to the number of whole pounds in that notional income.
Rate of Tax and Contribution Payable by a Trustee.
For every £1 of the taxable income in respect of which a trustee is liable, in pursuance of either section ninety-eight or section ninety-nine of the Assessment Act, to be assessed and to pay tax and contribution, the rate of income tax and social services contribution is the rate which would be payable under the First, Second or Third Schedule, as the case requires, if one individual were liable to be assessed and to pay tax and contribution on that taxable income.
Rates of Tax and Contribution Payable by a Company other than a Company in the Capacity of a Trustee.
In the case of a company (not being a private company, a co-operative company, a non-profit company or a life assurance company) which is a resident, the rates of income tax and social services contribution are -
In the case of a company (not being a private company, a co-operative company, a non-profit company or a life assurance company) which is a non-resident, the rates of income tax and social services contribution are -
In the case of a company which is a private company, the rates of income tax and social services contribution are -
In the case of a company (not being a private company or a life assurance company) which is a co-operative company or a non-profit company other than a friendly society dispensary, the rates of income tax and social services contribution are -
In the case of a company (not being a private company) which is a mutual life assurance company, the rates of income tax and social services contribution are -
In the case of a company (not being a private company) which is a life assurance company other than a mutual life assurance company, the rates of income tax and social services contribution are -
Motion (by Sir Arthur Fadden) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to amend the Estate Duty Assessment Act 1914-1956.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
Motion (by Sir Arthur Fadden) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to amend the Gift Duty Assessment Act 1941-1953.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
In Committee of Supply: Consideration resumed from 22nd October (vide page 1624).
Department of Defence
Proposed Vote, £960,000.
Department of the Navy.
Proposed Vote, £43,791,000.
Department of the Army.
Proposed Vote, £57,389,000.
Department of Air
Proposed Vote, £58,021,000.
Department of Supply
Proposed Vote, £15,318,000.
Department of Defence Production
Proposed Vote, £12,372,000.
Proposed Vote, £2,149,000. (Ordered to be considered together.)
Upon which Mr. Crean had moved by way of amendment -
That the amount of the Vote - “ Department of Defence, £960,000 “-be reduced by £1.
, - I know that honorable members, generally, desire to have the opportunity of applying themselves to the various questions that arise in connexion with the departmental estimates now under consideration by the committee. I rise, however, to reply to charges which have been made against the Government concerning the transfer of the Royal Australian Naval College from Flinders Naval Depot to Jervis Bay. These charges have been levelled - one, as recently as last night - in particularly extravagant terms, but they have carefully left out of account some of the important factors which had a bearing on the Government’s decision to make this transfer. Therefore, I desire, briefly, to give the committee a factual statement of the factors bearing on this matter. In doing so I propose to ignore certain extravagant flights of fancy to which I have had to listen in this debate; and I shall ignore the smears against those who have been responsible for the decision or its implementation. I simply want to give the facts and enable honorable members to decide for themselves the correctness of the Government’s decision in this matter.
Going back into history a little, it will be remembered that in 1930 the decision was taken to effect the temporary transfer of the Royal Australian Naval College from its proper home at Jervis Bay to its temporary home at Flinders Naval Depot. That decision- was taken as a temporary measure because of circumstances existing at that time. It was at the commencement of the depression and, purely as a measure of economy, it was carried out. It will be remembered that, at that time, because of the situation which had developed, only a small number of cadets was being trained, and therefore ample accommodation was available for them at Flinders Naval Depot. At the same time, it will be remembered, and for the same reasons, the Royal Military College was transferred temporarily from Duntroon to Sydney. These are matters of history. For the time being this arrangement was quite satisfactory, and it persisted over a number of years. But of recent years the Navy has been facing the fact that the position at Flinders Naval Depot, from the point of view of the operation of both the depot itself and the Royal Naval College, has been completely unsatisfactory and has been becoming more and more so through the years.
Let me outline the situation which has developed. While at Flinders Naval Depot, the cadets of the college have been accommodated in one brick building and a number of wooden huts. The brick building is a permanent building which was a part of the original appointments of the Flinders Naval Depot. To get a proper perspective of this matter it is essential to remember that there is a strict differentiation between the Flinders Naval Depot and the Royal Naval College. The brick building occupied as accommodation for the cadets was part of the original appointments of the depot, but it was not large enough to accommodate the cadets as the college again grew in strength. Consequently, a group of wooden huts had to be used. The brick building had originally been intended as the warrant officers’ mess attached to the depot. The wooden huts were of a temporary nature, and through the years they have steadily deteriorated in condition, in spite of the maintenance work done on them, so that the position now is that, quite frankly, any one would be rather ashamed to see them.
Now, some of those who have criticized this decision are well aware of this state of affairs, but have failed to make any reference to it in dealing with the matter. Then, the cadets have also needed accommodation for their studies and their teaching, and have occupied other permanent buildings - the academic blocks - which are far too small for those requirements. So, as far as study, training and teaching were concerned, the cadets have also had to be housed in temporary buildings. The fact is that the facilities for study, training and teaching available to the college are such that they would not be tolerated at any public school anywhere in Australia.
I want to make it very plain that in stating this position I am not offering any criticism of the naval authorities or of those who were in charge at the depot and the college. This state of affairs has steadily developed. It is a state of affairs which the Navy has been planning to rectify as soon as possible. For a number of years the Navy has been hampered in so doing because of the fact that the limited funds available have had to be used for other purposes. But I stress that this is not something which developed in a moment. It developed through the years and has now reached the position where it has to be dealt with.
To rectify the situation at the depot one of two policies was possible. First of all, if the college were to remain at the Flinders Naval Depot a major building programme for the college would be needed there. This was considered carefully, and the cost was estimated at £215,000. That was the cost to be faced if the college were to remain at Flinders. But another aspect of this problem had to be looked at, because it is not just a question of deciding what is to be done with the naval college but also a question of what is to be done to improve the conditions generally prevailing at Flinders for the ratings and officers trained there. Remember, the depot is the main recruit and refresher training station for the Royal Australian Navy and the accommodation, for the reasons which I have just adduced, has failed to develop, so that it is classified as being not up to the approved standards of accommodation for the services. For instance, Wrans stationed there are accommodated in temporary huts. They are shockingly housed, and it is a matter of urgency that they should be properly housed. There is a great deal of technical equipment attached to the depot, not only for the running of the depot but also for the training of ratings and junior officers who come there from time to time. All this is housed in temporary buildings, and it should be properly housed if care is to be taken of it and if proper maintenance is to be given to it. As a result of this, the department has planned for a five-year programme for Flinders Naval Depot, quite apart from the Royal Naval College. It is a five-year plan of rehabilitation and rebuilding for the purpose of improving the situation at the depot. The main elements in that five-year programme are as follows: - First, adequate and decent accommodation has to be provided for the 125 Wrans who will be there. That is to say, there will be a permanent staff of from 70 to 80 Wrans, and up to about 60 trainees a year. If the Royal Naval College remained at the depot that would mean, according to the plan that was gone into, the provision of a new building for the depot at a cost of £160,000. Those are factors not mentioned by our critics, but they all have, as honorable members will see, an important bearing on the decision. On the other hand, when the college is shifted, there will still be some expense entailed in housing the Wrans, but that can be done, with the conversion of the present building, at a cost of £100,000. So it will be seen that on this item alone the transfer of the college to Jervis Bay will mean a saving in the overall cost of £60,000.
Now I turn to the use of the present academic blocks. As I pointed out, they are part of the depot, and if the college remains there some other provision will have to be made. It is estimated that by handing back the present academic blocks to the depot there can be a saving of a further £100,000 in the overall plan. There are a few other items that I shall not specify, because they are minor items. The saving accruing to the Flinders Naval Depot as a result of the transfer of the college amounts to £250,000. I pointed out a few minutes ago that leaving the college at the depot would mean additional expenditure for the college itself of £215,000. Therefore, we get a total gain to the department, the Government and the taxpayers, by shifting the college, of £465,000 on those items. But in order to give the full picture we have to set against that the cost of the transfer to Jervis Bay. That has been very carefully gone into. Estimates have been prepared and checked by the Department of Works, which is carrying out the actual work, and I can inform the committee - not just plucking a figure out of the air or anything of that sort, but giving it an actual estimate - that the expenditure to June, 1958, on the transfer will be about £124,000. It is estimated that there will be a further expenditure over a five-year period of £135,000, making a total capital expenditure for this transfer of £259,000. Because 1 want members of the committee to appreciate the situation fully I point out that in addition to that capital expenditure, the transfer of the college to Jervis Bay will mean maintenance expenditure, over and above the maintenance expenditure incurred at the depot, of approximately £25,000 per annum, and there will also be the additional cost in maintaining the extra staff, amounting to about £69,000 per annum. These amounts, added to the previous total of £259,000 capital expenditure, put against a saving of £465,000, show that there can be no justifiable charge of extravagant expenditure levelled against the Government in this matter. 1 now sum up. The retention of the Royal Naval College at the Flinders Naval Depot would entail the expenditure of £215,000 on improvements for the college itself, at the depot, and an increase in the cost of renovating the depot of £250,000- a total of £465,000. There would then still be no separate naval college for the Royal Australian Navy in Australia. On the other hand, the transfer of the college to Jervis Bay entails an initial renovation cost of £124,000 to June, 1958, plus an estimated further cost over five years of £135,000. That is to say, a total capital . expenditure of £259,000, plus added maintenance costs, is involved. Where is the extravagant expenditure charged by honorable members opposite? One honorable member plucked a figure out of the air. He had not .the slightest information to go on. He said that it would cost an extra £1,000,000 to effect this transfer, and that that amount could be better spent on the Navy. Well, if we had £1,000,000 to spend it could be spent to greater advantage, but those are not the facts. Honorable members will see that the transfer of the college to Jervis Bay is very much to our financial advantage.
Quite apart from the financial angle, let us look at one or two other aspects which should be considered and given some weight in a matter of this kind. There is first of all the very great advantage to be gained from the transfer of the college back to its traditional home at Jervis Bay. It will once again become a college in its own right, and not just an adjunct to a training depot. At the college there will be built up a tradition which was commenced years ago. I believe this to be important in all the Services, and particularly to the senior service. Tradition is not to be lightly brushed aside. A further aspect to be considered is that Jervis Bay is the principal exercise area of the fleet in Australian waters, ,and ships of the Australian station are constantly carrying out training exercises in that area. The fact that the college is adjacent to a large training area means that the cadets will have the advantage from time to time of taking part in at least some of the exercises, and thus will add greatly to the value of their initial training. This facility is not available at Flinders Naval Depot. All honorable members know that.
The Nowra air station is in close proximity to Jervis Bay, and cadets will have the advantage of obtaining some initial knowledge of naval air matters. This will be of considerable benefit to them.
I submit these matters very briefly, but with complete conviction, to the committee. The decision to transfer the college to Jervis Bay was not taken at the behest of some of the top brass who want a nice place in which to live. The decision to transfer has not been taken without regard to the financial commitments of the Navy. The transfer is a sound business proposition, and at the same time it is in the best interests of the Service.
The honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory (Mr. J. R. Fraser) has put forward certain proposals about Jervis Bay. He recently suggested that at least some portion of the college area should be reserved for tourists, who, for many years, have had the advantage of using the departmental buildings and resources at practically no cost. The honorable member’s proposal contained two very interesting features. First of all, he proposed to exclude from the present area 25 houses belonging to the college, on the understanding that 25 more could be built inside the restricted area.
Twenty-five houses to accommodate the staff of the college would cost at least £100,000 in that area. That is an added cost which is implicit in the honorable member’s proposal. The second interesting feature of the proposal was that two hotels would be retained within 150 yards of the main parade-ground and the cadets’ living quarters. Let honorable members note that - the retention, within 100 or 150 yards of the main parade-ground of a naval college, of two hotels occupied by people holidaybent. Such a situation would be entirely contrary to all proper conceptions, and could not be tolerated. The retention of guest houses for this purpose would have meant the erection of new buildings to house 60 or 70 petty officers and ratings, and the provision of six flats for junior married ratings. Also, there is a proposal to reserve a third building, which is planned to be used as a post office and general store. This would involve the expenditure of a further £100,000, making a total increased cost of £200,000. This proposal is put forward by an honorable gentleman who has in the past criticized the transfer of the college on the ground of the capital cost involved. Yet he now makes these suggestions, and apparently in this case it does not matter if almost £250,000 is added to the cost.
Jervis Bay is a beautiful area - there is no doubt about that. I have had a good look at it myself. It is a beautiful area for tourists. I do not know for how many miles the beach extends, but it must be about 25 miles. It is a large and beautiful area. The Naval College occupies no more than one mile of this beach. The remainder of the beach is still available for use by tourists. At Hyams Beach and Huskisson there are beaches which can be developed and there is ample land in the vicinity, some of it under State administration, and some within the boundaries of the Australian Capital Territory, which can be used for tourist purposes. There is no justification on any grounds for condemning the Government’s decision to transfer the college to Jervis Bay.
.- The Minister for the Navy (Mr. Davidson) has delivered a defence of what is a very petty part of his department. I do not think there is any widespread concern throughout Australia with respect to the transfer of the Naval College to Jervis
Bay. The honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory (Mr. J. R. Fraser) has certainly raised the matter in this House, as Jervis Bay is in his electorate, but why the Minister for the Navy confined his remarks to that petty matter, and did not explain other matters connected with his department, I cannot understand.
The Minister may, at some later stage, give the House some clear idea of what role is envisaged for the Australian Navy. The British White Paper on defence leaves the question of the naval defence of the British Commonwealth very much in the air. There is even a doubt whether, as far as Great Britain is concerned, there is any role for a navy at all, because of the belief that the possibility of a direct attack on the United Kingdom itself with nuclear weapons obviates the old idea of naval defence. But the Soviet Union is spending enormous sums of money on what must be regarded as an entirely conventional navy. This action by Russia leaves some doubt as to her intentions, and the use to which she will put this predominantly orthodox cruiser navy. This, in turn, raises the question of whether there is any role for navies elsewhere.
I should like to ask the Minister, who is responsible for a Navy that has two light fleet carriers as its only significant forces, what he conceives the naval aircraft carried by those carriers to be directed against. Are these aircraft directed purely against submarines? That is my first question. Secondly, if it is not conceived that these aircraft are directed purely against submarines, is it conceived that the aircraft from these carriers will operate against surface ships? Could the types of aircraft carried by these carriers operate against land-based aircraft with any hope of success at all, even outmoded land-based aircraft not capable of supersonic speeds?
One can only rely on illustrations in the press from time to time of Gannet aircraft and other carrier-based planes. The speed of these aircraft is sometimes given in publications such as the “ Illustrated London News” as about 425 miles an hour. This House has been discussing the question of the obsolescence of Sabre aircraft, which are capable of flying at 650 miles an hour. According to press statements, the United Kingdom has been offering the Australian Government aircraft that can fly at 2,000 miles an hour. If I have stated the facts correctly, the question is raised whether the community is getting very much defence from the aircraft carriers at all, unless it is conceived that they operate purely against submarines. The only significant naval powers in the world to-day are the United States of America, Great Britain, France, perhaps Italy, perhaps Holland, in the sense that that country is a naval power, and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. The only possibility of conflict that one can see politically is with the U.S.S.R. One is not stating that one desires a war, but is assessing weapons when one says the only possible navy against which the R.A.N, could operate would be the navy of the U.S.S.R., which has this unaccountable policy of building large, expensive cruisers of the “Sverdlov” and “ Ordzhonokidze “ classes, which are of about 17,000 tons and have twelve 6-in. guns as their primary armament, and in all respects, one gathers, were considered to be very good cruisers in World War II. It is possible that the U.S.S.R. believes that mutual fear will prevent the use of the ultimate weapon, particularly the fear of a small country like the U.K., and that a war might be fought with conventional weapons, in which case these cruisers would have significance. But, on that conception, it is very difficult to see for what purpose the R.A.N, is framed. The Minister has spoken about not wasting £1,000,000 on Jervis Bay, but his predecessor wasted £1,500,000 on the cruiser “ Hobart “, which - and I should like the Minister for the Navy to deny this if it is not true - is not even, at the moment, being used as a training ship; it has a caretaker on board. Its guns have been reduced from eight 6-in. to six 6-in. I know there is a belief in the Navy that that cruiser should be converted into a guided missile ship. If the Department of the Navy were doing such things as turning such old cruisers into guided missile ships, it might be framing what would be an answer to the U.S.S.R. cruiser policy, but this country and our neighbouring country of New Zealand have, in our cruiser fleets, this old cruiser “ Hobart “, armed with six 6-in. guns, and the New Zealand cruiser “ Royalist “, armed with 5-in. guns. Possessing this kind of conventional weapon, they are no match whatever for the types of cruisers being produced by the U.S.S.R.
Great Britain has converted a number of landing-type ships like the “ Girdle Ness “ into guided missile ships. The “ Hobart “, which is of about 7,000 tons, is considered to be a ship which would be stable enough for operating such guided missiles as “ Sea Slugs “. The Minister for Defence Production has been courteous enough to take a number of us to see the projects at Woomera. There in the desert is what might be regarded in essence as a cruiser sunk in the sand - not in the sea - on which extensive research in guided missiles has been carried out over a number of years. The results in Great Britain are actually being applied in the Royal Navy, and it is surprising that that has not yet taken place in the R.A.N., which must be fully aware of a lot of these projects, since it has actually carried them out.
I think a strong case can be made for naval aviation; but I am not certain a strong case can any longer be made for aviation operating from aircraft carriers. The Navy should adopt a policy of landbased aircraft which can be faster and more powerful than those which operate from sea carriers. In every belligerent country in the last war there was dispute between the air force and the navy about the control of aircraft. It is an open secret that Goering, out of sheer vanity and his desire to control all aircraft, prevented the development of two German aircraft carriers. Differences between the two sections of the Italian services completely wrecked their reconnaissance in the Mediterranean, and there was a long and bitter dispute between the Admiralty and the Royal Air Force in Britain. There is a clear case for aircraft under naval control, but I cannot see why such aircraft which may come up against land-based aircraft should be inferior to them. However, if they operate from light fleet carriers they must necessarily be inferior.
The other matter I should like to bring to the Minister’s attention - I am not pretending to know these things; I do not know them but I should like to hear these points explained - is whether it is still conceived in Australian naval policy that the danger to our cities is the missiles fired from submarines. If that is so, then there is a strong case for shore-based aircraft equipped with all electronic devices adapted to tracking submerged submarines. We should remember that to-day we have true submarines whereas in the past they were only vessels capable of periodic submersion. To-day we have vessels capable of submersion for months, and therefore not susceptible to discovery by surface radar. There are electronic devices which can track a submarine, but there is no evidence that Australia has equipped any aircraft with such devices. If the Government still fears that missiles fired from submarines are the danger to Australia’s defence, there is a case for a much larger destroyer fleet and for more fast anti-submarine frigates than Australia has to-day and, above all, for more helicopters. It is a pathetic thing that in every bush fire and every flood disaster in this country we find there are three or four helicopters, one owned by Trans-Australia Airlines and the remainder by other people. The experience obtained in rescue work in such disasters, apart from the fact that lives are saved, is always vitiated by the fact there are not enough of them and lives are unnecessarily lost. The helicopter is admirably adaptable for tracking submarines. It can hover over the water, put down listening devices in areas where submarines are suspected, and operate with surface ships. In the case of all these categories the Government’s plan appears to be inadequate.
The Government is spending £200,000,000 a year on defence. That is enough seriously to interfere with the economy. It is enough to add to inflation. I am not condemning it for the reason that its economic effect is inflationary; but it is not enough to ensure the defence of the Commonwealth. The Government appears to me to be falling between two stools. You either have no defence policy at all or, if you have one, for Heaven’s sake make it adequate, particularly in the matter of civil defence. The Government is tremendously satisfied with its record in civil defence, but there is no other country that pursues the same policy of spending such insignificant amounts on civil defence. I doubt whether the amount being so spent would buy sufficient bandages for those wounded not in an atomic attack but in an attack with conventional bombs, let alone provide shelters and train personnel for a crisis. That is not the position elsewhere. The Minister should look at the latest issues of the London “ Times “, in which he will see that Her Majesty’s Government in the United
Kingdom has placed large advertisements appealing to people to accept recruitment in the civil defence services. When one goes to the United States of America one sees large civil defence posts. We have had statements from Mr. Khrushchev about the complete decentralization of Russian industry and the removal of whole sectors of it. Everybody seems to treat civil defence quite seriously except the Government which puts very small token votes on the Estimates, establishes an organization which must simply break the hearts of the people in it who take it seriously, and gives the country no security whatever in return for the appropriation.
.- Before the debate was adjourned last night two rather remarkable contributions were made to it. The honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns) was still pushing his three-legged horse which still seems to be the Opposition’s line despite the fact that a former Chief of General Staff has added his verification to that of Admiral Sir Roy Dowling, of the statement made by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) on the subject. But that was not the remarkable part of the honorable member’s contribution. He made a personal attack on a Minister in another place. When, quite rightly, the Leader of the House (Mr. Harold Holt) rose to give the committee the benefit of the statement which had been made by the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) in the other place, and to review the allegation made by the honorable member for Yarra, the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) injected himself into the debate and took up cudgels on behalf of his henchman. He swung blindly for a couple of minutes and then began to ring the bells of St. Mary’s. As a matter of fact, he rang them so violently that members on this side of the chamber rather feared that he would do himself a personal injury. It seems about time the Opposition got a new theme song. If it is to indulge in witch hunts, why descend to publishing advertisements in the newspapers calling for reports?
– Which witch hunts?
– I am not referring to Jervis Bay. I want to point out to the Opposition that if the time comes when. for expediency, we have to use private contractors and architects there possibly will not be many of them willing to risk their reputations in the sort of political witch hunt which the Opposition is now endeavouring to carry out.
I should like to challenge the Opposition and other people with a similar train of thought who have condemned the Government’s proposed defence vote. They are inclined to say that all money spent on conventional arms and forces is wasted. Others say that the defence vote should1 be spent almost entirely on nuclear components. A thought seems to be growing in the community that future warfare will be push-button warfare in which the leader of a foreign power will sit before a panel of buttons, each one carrying the name of a capital city of his intended enemies, push a button, launch an inter-continental missile, and go back to his coffee or vodka. I should like to remind the committee that the major portion of military expenditure by the Soviet is on conventional forces. Warfare has come a long way since medieval times when the crossbow was introduced. In every age, science has advanced in providing weapons for the purpose of hitting hard, reducing the length of campaigns, and even lessening the number of casualties.
It is interesting to note that in the 1914-18 war the Australian contribution was 330,000 personnel in all services. Our dead exceeded 59,000. But during the 1939-45 war, with a contribution of 993,000 personnel - more than three times as many as in the 1914-18 war - our dead numbered 34,000. That illustrates the point. I would like to remind the committee that it is the preponderance of conventional forces and weapons in the hands of the Soviet Union and its colonies - by “ colonies “ I mean those countries which are willingly or unwillingly behind the iron curtain - which has forced the Western Powers into scientific research in an endeavour to obtain a deterrent to offset Russian superiority in conventional weapons. In turn the Russians have had to move into scientific research to gain parity with the Western Powers and again bring their conventional forces back into reckoning. They have progressed very far in their scientific research with nuclear weapons, intercontinental missiles and, more lately, Sputnik.
But I believe that the West still holds the balance of power with more advanced knowledge of the hydrogen weapon. Thank God that that is so.
Coming to our own problems, it is my opinion that Australia must preserve all its conventional forces and, within its limited resources, endeavour to be self-sufficient in the nuclear field, not only for defensive purposes, but for the peaceful development of our vast continent. I congratulate the Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer) on the more realistic approach to our defence planning, particularly on the successful establishment of the brigade group. Personally, I would consider, with other members who have spoken, that a light division is well within the capacity of this country as a minimum standing army. The build-up to a light division would not involve any more than one battalion and some auxiliary units being added to the forces already serving in Malaya to acquire another brigade group. So we have the elements of a light division, the raising of which would require very little increase in the defence vote.
It has been said that it is difficult to recruit personnel. I am very pleased with the Minister’s action with regard to the revision of pay and allowances. The committee which has been set up by the Minister for this purpose under the chairmanship of Sir. John Allison will go far to offset any difficulties in recruiting. There is no doubt that adequate pay and allowances, particularly satisfactory retiring allowances, will have a most stimulating effect on recruiting. Moreover, it will stop wastage, particularly amongst service tradesmen and specialists. Therefore, I do not think there should be any difficulty in recruiting the additional personnel to make up a light division.
We have heard comments from the Opposition with regard to the purchase of C.130 Hercules transports. There is no doubt that they will increase the mobility of the forces and this, again, is a matter for congratulation to the Minister for Defence (Sir Philip McBride). The Government has also decided not to go ahead with the purchase of the F104 Starfighter. It is a poor man, at any time, who cannot change his mind and move to a better solution when he sees things in a different perspective.
Undoubtedly the decision to purchase Starfighters was criticized. I think I was the first to criticize the proposed purchase. We are pleased to see that a more realistic approach has been made to the problem, having in mind the fact that our future commitments are likely to be in the SouthEast Asian area.
I should like now to say a few words on the matter of civil defence. I agree with the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) that insufficient attention has been paid to the matter of civil defence in this country. I know quite well that certain of our advisers say that the chance of a nuclear attack on capital cities in Australia in the foreseeable future is remote. I still believe, however, that we should do something about the matter. We speak of Australian courage and of British courage, but courage is not enough unless it is accompanied by a certain amount of knowledge and discipline. A civil defence organization could be set up which should not prove a very great drain on the public purse. Tt could even be on a voluntary basis. In times of national disaster, such as when bushfires or floods occur, the knowledge possessed by the trained personnel of a civil defence organization would be of great assistance. The members of such an organization would be trained in first aid, and this would help to ease the burden on our public hospitals, especially in their casualty sections, to a large extent.
Many of us in this chamber have given considerable thought to methods of implementing civil defence schemes. The national service training scheme has been curtailed, as we all know, and only 12,000 persons are being trained each year under this scheme. We should be able to call up at least another 12,000 persons, and give them 60 or 70 days of civil defence training. As has been said, suitable instructors can be trained at the Civil Defence School al Mount Macedon, which is capable of turning out 30 or more instructors every six or eight weeks.
We must consider, of course, the question of accommodating the trainees. It must be remembered that we were accommodating 60,000 national service trainees each year before the scheme was curtailed. Even though it is desirable that the civil defence trainees should be quartered separately from national service trainees, sufficient accommodation should be in existence to enable us to carry out a scheme such as I have proposed. There is no need for civil defence trainees, after they have completed their initial training period, to receive post-graduate training later, as do the national service trainees. There is no need for any build-up of organization such as is necessary in the case of national service trainees, who serve for three years or so with the Citizen Military Forces. When the civil defence trainees complete their course, they may simply return to their home towns. The civil defence organization would then advise the particular local government authorities of the personnel in their districts who had been trained, and the local government authorities would then arrange for those persons to serve in volunteer organizations under State control. The scheme would have the benefit of distributing a number of trained and semi-trained personnel throughout the country and outer-urban areas, from where, of course, assistance must come in the case of any nuclear attack on our capital cities.
I support the motion, Mr. Chairman, and strongly oppose the amendment moved by the Opposition.
– I take this first opportunity to reply to the statement that we heard a few minutes ago from the Minister for the Navy (Mr. Davidson) with regard to the transfer of the Royal Australian Naval College from Flinders in Victoria to Jervis Bay in the Australian Capital Territory. Let me say at once that, in my view, the vehemence and violence that the Minister imported into his statement give the clearest indication of his own realization that he had an extremely poor case to put, and that it could not be put in reasonable terms or supported by fact.
Let me say also, at the outset, that the Minister made two misstatements in his opening remarks. One was that Jervis Bay was the original home of the Royal Australian Naval College. That is not so. The naval college was originally established at Geelong, and it was transferred to Jervis Bay in 1915. The Minister said, also, that the transfer of the college from Jervis Bay to Flinders in 1930 was undertaken as a temporary measure. He said that it was a temporary transfer, made necessary only because of the economic situation at that time. That statement is also incorrect. Every record that exists with relation to the transfer from Jervis Bay to Flinders in 1930 gives the clearest indication that the transfer was made on the advice of the Naval Board, and that it had the effect of reversing a previous government decision that the college would not be moved. There is not in the record, nor is there in the history of the Royal Australian Naval College, which is available in the Library of this Parliament, any suggestion that the transfer to Flinders was to be of a temporary nature. It was a permanent move that was recommended by the Naval Board, that recommendation being accepted by the parliament of the day. The records will show that what I say is correct.
The reasons given by the Naval Board for the transfer included no reference whatsoever to any temporary set of conditions. The recommendation of the board was that all naval training should be concentrated in the one area. The board said, “ It is essential in the interests of efficiency that all naval training should be concentrated in the one area “, and it pointed out that already in existence at Flinders were the torpedo school, the gunnery school and the communications school. Admittedly the costs at Jervis Bay had been high - and, admittedly, they will again be higher than they would be if the college were to continue to operate at Flinders. However, those were the reasons given by the Naval Board at that time, and accepted by a government that previously had rejected the move. But. says the record, the Naval Board insisted, and I have given the reasons upon which it based its insistence.
The Minister then talked of tradition. Admittedly there was tradition at Jervis Bay. The college was there for fifteen years, and there was tradition associated with it in those years. But it has been at Flinders for 27 years, and I remind honorable members that during those 27 years it trained officers who served this country well during the recent hostilities. I suggest that the traditions of the college are associated with Flinders to a much greater extent than with Jervis Bay. Of course, the First and Second Naval Members of today were in the first or second entries at Jervis Bay, and they have had a nostalgic desire to return the college to its former location. Indeed, they have made no secret of it.
The Minister has spoken of the cost that is to be incurred, and he has pointed out that conditions at Flinders are anything but adequate for the cadets. He says that we on this side of the Parliament refuse to acknowledge this fact. Once again I suggest that the Minister is incorrect. I have pointed out previously that the accommodation and other conditions for the cadets and for the staff at Flinders are anything but adequate. But what I have suggested is that the problem is one of buildings and not of site. 1 believe that the conditions at Flinders are bad because of the Government’s failure over previous years to spend the money that should have been spent in providing proper conditions for cadets and staff. Is there any reason why cadets should be housed in temporary structures at Flinders when the college has been there for 27 years? Is there any reason why this Government should have allowed those conditions to continue throughout the eight years that it has been in office? If the Government desired the cadets and the staff at the college to live and work under proper conditions, surely it has been completely within its power, throughout its term of office, to provide proper conditions at Flinders.
Lest we fall into error over this, let me say that the Government is now finding that the estimated costs of the renovation and the repair of buildings at Jervis Bay is much greater than was ever expected. Those costs will increase in the years to come. The expenditure involved at Jervis Bay now is but a taste of what is to come, because, within a year, or two years, after the Naval College returns there, it will be found necessary to build permanent structures, probably in brick. I venture to say that the expenditure involved in the transfer will be vastly greater than has been indicated by any estimate presented to this Parliament or the people.
I was astonished to hear the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) say that the reference to this matter made by the Minister for the Navy was a reference to a petty matter. Is something a petty matter when it involves the complete destruction of a community, and the loss to the people concerned of their employment, their businesses and their homes?
– They have been paying only peppercorn rents.
– The honorable member talks without any knowledge of the matter. The people who have had tenancies of cottages and buildings at Jervis Bay have paid the rent that the Commonwealth required over the 27 years of their tenancies. Would the honorable member pay more than his landlord asked? I repeat that naval expenditure at Jervis Bay will be much greater than has been estimated. I wonder what, the Government having won its victory against the men, women, and children of Jervis Bay, has now prompted the Minister for the Navy to come into this chamber and make the vehement statement that he has made. What is the reason for it? Surely the reason is that the Navy now knows that it has made a blunder, and that it would abandon the proposed transfer to-day if it thought that it could do so without loss of face.
– The honorable member should not be so silly.
– Let the Minister for Defence ask some senior naval officers about it, and really get their opinion on it. I say that what I have just said is true. The Minister for the Navy compared the expenditure that would be incurred at Flinders with that which must be incurred at Jervis Bay. As I pointed out, much of the expenditure mentioned by the Minister should already have been undertaken at Flinders in order to provide proper working and living conditions for the cadets and the staff at the establishment there. But this Government, throughout its term of office, has permitted the cadets and the staff to remain in temporary hutments and structures, under disgraceful conditions.
One item to which the Minister for the Navy made passing reference was the greater cost of maintaining the college at Jervis Bay than at Flinders. His predecessor as Minister for the Navy, Senator O’sullivan, stated in the Senate, in June last year, that the transfer of the college from Flinders to Jervis Bay would require the employment of four additional officers and 43 additional ratings. I suggest that, at a very conservative estimate, salaries, and payments in the nature of salary, for those 47 additional men will amount to £47,000 annually. It does not take a great many years for an annual expenditure of £47,000 to amount to a very large sum. That expenditure, also, should be taken into account in the consideration of this matter.
However, there are other considerations over and above these things. As you, Mr. Chairman, know, I have consistently fought against the proposed transfer. All right! I have lost the battle. I admit that. That is past. The decision has been made, and the college is to be transferred. But there are still human problems involved. They concern people who have lived in cottages at Jervis Bay for periods ranging from 20 years to more than 30 years, and, in one case, for over 40 years. Those people have been tenants of the Commonwealth, and have paid rent to the Commonwealth. They are now being given the most niggardly possible treatment.
I originally asked the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Fairhall) whether he would consider granting housing in Canberra to these people on a transfer basis, since they had been tenants of the Commonwealth for periods ranging up to 40 years. The Minister’s reply was a callous “ No “. When I discussed the matter with him and the Minister for the Navy several weeks ago, the Minister for the Interior told me, “ You had me over a barrel with that question. I thought that they all would want to come here “. I explained to him that possibly eight or nine would want to transfer to Canberra. The Minister for the Interior will tell the Minister for Defence about that if he wants to know.. The Minister for the Interior answered, “ That would be a different matter “. It appears now that only seven families want to transfer to Canberra. The seven men who support these families know that they can obtain employment in Canberra, and they ask the Commonwealth to give them tenancies of houses here. They have made every possible effort to find accommodation elsewhere, but without success, because they need employment as well as housing.
After my conference with the Minister for the Interior and the Minister for the Navy, the Minister for the Interior told me to see him again a week later. When I saw him, he said, “ I am not prepared to give you an answer yet. I want further information that these people have really been trying to find other accommodation “. I remind the committee that only seven houses are asked for. Officers of the Department of the Interior were sent from Canberra to Jervis Bay to interview tha people concerned, and the Minister said that he would give me an answer on the following Tuesday. I paid a special visit to Jervis Bay, interviewed the people involved, and took a note of all the efforts that they had made to find other accommodation. I brought that information back, and submitted it to the Minister for the Interior, who undertook to give me an answer on the Wednesday. He could not see me on the Wednesday, but he telephoned me on the Thursday, and said, “ I am not yet prepared to say whether these people can have accommodation in Canberra. I want to be assured that they really tried to find accommodation elsewhere “. That is the most piddling and niggardly sort of treatment that could be handed out to any citizens of Australia.
Let us have at least one big decision in this matter. Here are seven men who can obtain employment in Canberra, and who have not been able to find housing for themselves and their families anywhere else. The Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer), who is seated on the front bench on the Government side of the chamber at the moment, knows how difficult it is to find accommodation, because, although he has considerable interests in real estate, he had a great deal of difficulty in finding a home for a member of his own family.
– I know who is to blame for it, too.
– That is the position, no matter who is to blame. I appeal to the Minister for the Interior to make a simple decision to provide the required accommodation. Here are seven family men who have been paying rent to the Commonwealth as tenants of cottages at Jervis Bay, in the Australian Capital Territory, and who can obtain employment in Canberra, also in the A.C.T. They need houses, and surely it is not too big a decision to make to provide accommodation for them in Canberra. 1 leave that thought with the Government.
– I rise now to honour a promise that I made last Tuesday during the debate in the House on the St. Mary’s ammunition filling factory. I promised then that, during the consideration of this group of estimates, I would answer a number of allegations and criticisms that I could not answer then. This means that. I shall not deal again with criticism that the factory should not have been built at all, that its location was wrong, that the old St. Mary’s factory should have been repossessed, and that there had been delay. I think that all of these criticisms were conclusively answered in the debate that took place last Tuesday. On the question of delay, I would only add this: A factory could have been built between 1951 and 1’954, without any doubt, but it would have been a small factory; it would have been inadequate for the new service ammunition requirements that had been presented to us; and it would not have incorporated modern techniques that we learned from abroad in that period. In the result, we now have a far better, and much bigger, factory than we would have had if we had constructed it earlier.
The first criticism that I want to answer to-day is the criticism that, although we have built St. Mary’s, we have not provided a balanced ammunition supply capacity. This is not true. A small country like Australia - and, indeed, bigger countries for that matter - can never, in time of peace, achieve a perfect balance in all aspects of munition requirements. This, of course, would place too great a strain upon the economy. But we in Australia have gone a long way towards this, and much farther than we have ever gone before in time of peace. In deciding to build St. Mary’s, the Government knew that appropriate adjustments to our ammunition production facilities would be necessary. Prior to the decision being made, our explosives manufacturing capacity was much greater than available filling capacity. The establishment at St. Mary’s will substantially adjust that position.
The propellant position is good and the needs of St. Mary’s for mobilization and the first year of war can be met. For explosives containers - that is, shell cases, shell bodies, projectiles and the like - the position, although more complex, is nevertheless manageable. Installed or reserve plant is held for basic requirements, but we will be dependent in future wars, as we were in the last war, on a contribution from the Australian engineering industry at large for what are termed general hardware components of ammunition. The fact that this branch of Australian engineering industry has greatly expanded since the last war means, I am glad to say, that the potential contribution of industry in this regard, good as it was in the last war - and it was very good indeed - is now much greater and will be able to meet our needs.
Meanwhile, in government establishments, we have been modernizing existing plant and equipment. In particular, valuable developments have been made in establishing clock-work fuse capacity, new types of explosives such as RDX and DNT, which is a constituent of American-type propellant, the installation of presses for the extrusion of propellant for rockets and missiles, the establishment of picrite-making capacity, the installation of continuous nitro-glycerine plant, armour-piercing projectile capacity and the installation of massive presses for bomb production. Thus, far from St. Mary’s standing there with nothing to support it, we have in the country explosive hardware capacity, propellants and other elements to enable St. Mary’s to function in time of peace and to expand rapidly in time of war.
The remaining criticisms relate to the matter of waste and extravagance, concerning which various allegations were made here last Tuesday, and on other occasions. I have gone through the speeches and collated these criticisms. I shall answer all that are worth answering, and indeed a few that are scarcely worth answering. Some of the criticisms are justified, some are genuinely made but not accurate, but many are biased and tainted at the source. Everybody knows that the Communists boasted, in 1955, that this project would never start. They staged no fewer than twelve strikes in a few months, and only the magnanimity of the Taylor award foiled them. The award was so good that workers would not strike. But these same agitators are still about, and they are the authors of many of the allegations now made.
Several allegations have been made by the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward). I shall deal with the matter of floods. The honorable member claimed that local residents originally had warned the Government of flood dangers in this area and that he sent correspondence containing these warnings to the department. The facts are that in June, 1956, some months after the floods, he forwarded to my predecessor extracts from a letter by an unidentified person on the subject. The average annual rainfall in the St. Mary’s district for the 30 years up to December 1954, was 29.74 inches. In February, 1956, alone, some 174- inches fell, and that was completely unprecedented. I have in my hand some photographs showing what happened during the floods. With the permission of the committee and with your permission, Mr. Chairman, I should like to let honorable members look at them, if they wish to do so. They show that this area was inundated. In my lifetime - and I am familiar with the district - I had never experienced such inundation and I am certain that no one else had experienced it. During the whole period of recorded rainfall in the area, nothing of the sort had ever been known before and, of course, the floods were quite devastating. The photographs show what happened to the site when these rains occurred.
Extensive earth-works had been completed, and considerable site clearing, grading, foundation excavating and forming had been done. Because of the disturbance to the natural protection against erosion, the whole project was at this stage particularly vulnerable to damage by flood. The water level rose with astonishing rapidity, the equipment was surrounded and could not be removed, and foundation mounds and drainage channels collapsed. Furthermore, after the floods receded, the saturated condition of the site, maintained by succeeding periods of rain, prevented large-scale construction until well into the April following the February of the rains. That is why, in answer to the allegation of the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) and of the honorable member for East Sydney that the cost was only £100,000, I say that the direct and indirect cost was of the order of £1,000,000. In addition, of course, the element of delay was involved.
The next allegation by the honorable member for East Sydney was that transport was provided on the site to take men to their places of work. I was somewhat surprised to hear the honorable member for East Sydney complain about this. His allegation is quite true, but this transport most certainly was not wasteful. Payment for time worked commences when the men arrive at the entrance to the site. It is more economical to transport them to their place of work within the factory than for them to walk there. The site, after all, covers 3,500 acres and not 30 acres as stated by the honorable member.
The next allegation was that of excessive use of drivers on the job on various Saturdays and Sundays. This is not true. On all occasions mentioned by the honorable member, analysis of the records checked by the cost investigators on the site with the contractor’s master time record shows the allegation to be false. A further allegation is that a permanent building was demolished after construction. This also is not true. In a series of explosion tests arranged by the safety committee of my department to test the effect of explosions on new factory buildings, a temporary building erected for the purpose was blown up and that story has blown up in its turn into this grotesque falsehood put forward in this chamber.
Then we have an allegation that carpenters made hundreds of doors which were found to be too small and were destroyed. This again is not true. Approximately 130 doors have been fabricated at the site. Over 2,000 doors will have been supplied by subcontractors. All of these have been used. Some 400 doors from the old pyrotechnic and immigrant hostel area were removed during rehabilitation work in that area and were not suitable for re-use. They were of several sizes and in various conditions, and they were sold. The architects and contractor state -
We know of no instance when doors were destroyed because they were too small or for any other reason.
The next allegation was that workmen who built a guard-house at the project were ordered to pull it down and build a new one because it had no provision for power supply. This is not true. The architects and contractor state that no guard-house was pulled down and rebuilt because it had no provision for power supply. The proposed floor level of the main guard-house was amended and raised 2 feet after the unprecedented floods of February, 1956, at which time foundations had been constructed.
Then there was the allegation by the honorable member for East Sydney of duplicate payments. He said that they had been discovered and the implication was that there were a great many of them. That again is not true. So far, some 15,000 purchase orders have been issued and the contractor’s own system is such that it is almost impossible for any duplicate payments to remain undetected. It is known that three duplicate payments did occur, but these were immediately detected by the contractor’s own system of internal check. The next allegation is that concrete floors were laid 6 inches thick because the excavations had been dug too deeply.
– Twelve inches.
– I beg your pardon - 12 inches thick because the excavations had been dug too deeply. This again is not true. The architects and contractor deny that it ever occurred. Of course, in many instances where heavy machinery is involved, very thick flooring is necessary. Then it is alleged that there was Sunday work for warehouse clerks. The allegation is that warehouse clerks were asked to work on Sundays, with no work to do. This again, sir, is not true. I am advised that warehouse clerks have worked on Sunday on three occasions. In each instance there was special work to be done.
It is also alleged that there were largescale thefts. As to that, I say that the department has no knowledge of large-scale thefts. The Auditor-General reports none whatever. In fact, the security measures on the project are extremely rigid. Then there is the absurd allegation concerning payment for tea. The allegation is that McIlrath’s Proprietary Limited were given a cheque for £1,200 in November, 1955, for a bulk purchase of tea. That is true enough. That was for provision of morning and afternoon tea for the administrative and clerical staff and workers. Half of the tea was resold through the canteen in the ordinary way. My only criticism of the matter is that some of those on the job - 4,000 people, no less - had to pay for their tea, while some got it free. I think they all should have paid for it. That is my real criticism in the matter. Anyhow, when one applies a little arithmetic to it, it works out at something like 4,000 lb. or 5,000 lb. of tea for 4,000 people for one year. I imagine that more than that amount of tea was bought in this project. But does the honorable gentleman say that workers on the job are not to have morning and afternoon tea? These are strange words, coming from him!
The next allegation is as to equipment rental. The honorable member for East Sydney, as several other honorable members have done, has referred to this question of rental which, he said, was exorbitant, and I think that the matter deserves some close analysis. The availability of a large quantity of heavy construction equipment from Utah . Australia Limited and other companies, but particularly from Utah Australia Limited, was one of the influential factors in this company getting the job. Some of this equipment was not available anywhere else in Australia. As I have said already, this is a very big project indeed, covering something like 3,500 acres. No less than 1,500,000 cubic yards of earth have been moved, and this could only have been done by considerable quantities of extremely heavy equipment. By way of illustration: Without the “ Manitowoc “, which is a monster that is used for excavating drainage channels, this piece of excavation alone would have taken four months longer than it did take, at an extra cost far in excess of the rental of the equipment.
The honorable member for East Sydney then referred to the rental of a crane for £15,000. My colleague, the Minister for Defence (Sir Philip McBride), has pointed out already that this item of equipment is a very large excavating shovel. It digs a full lorry-load in one operation. It is worked, on an average, sixteen hours a day, and occasionally for 24 hours, without letup, working when other equipment has been bogged. It was, in the opinion of the architects’ representative, who, by the way, is a former Victorian Director of Commonwealth Works and a man of great experience, particularly in respect of governmental works, a reasonable rental. Equipment is never hired when it is more economical to purchase it. Moreover, the decision to rent, where it is more economical to do so than to purchase, has not been made in any case by the contractor, but by an interdepartmental committee of officers from the
Departments of the Treasury, Works and Defence production, and the architects themselves. Most of the vehicles and trucks, and quantities of other plant and equipment have been purchased by the Commonwealth.
I now come to the matter of rates for renting this equipment. The rates for renting equipment from Utah Australia Limited and from other contractors, are based upon a manual of American general -contractors, which has been adapted to meet the needs of Australian conditions. The rental fee assessed under this schedule covers depreciation, major repairs and overhauls, interest, insurance and other incidentals, all of which are at the owner’s cost. Operating expenses, which are a job cost, include fuel and oil; minor or -field repairs; plant operators’ wages; and freight on and off the job. The controlling authority will only permit the hire of Utah Australia Limited equipment where the rates are no less favorable than those obtainable elsewhere. Similarly, it ensures that all equipment hired is m first-class mechanical order. Most of the equipment came from Utah Australia Limited, although equipment also has been hired from Thiess Brothers Proprietary Limited, Tutt Bryant Limited, McDonald Constructions Proprietary Limited, and some nineteen other firms. The architects’ representative on the site - and after all he is the expert advising the Government - claims that the rates are fair and reasonable and compare favorably with current rates for similar equipment elsewhere.
Rental paid on hired equipment to 30th September last was £863,000 to Utah Australia Limited, and £194,000 to third parties, making a total of £1,057,000. This sum is certainly not all profit, as the owners have to provide for cost of major overhauls, depreciation, insurance, interest on capital invested, and owners’ overhead expenses. It is easy to say that these arrangements have been very profitable to Utah Australia Limited, and to other hirers. On the other hand, if this had not been done, some different arrangement would have been necessary, and who is to say how much this would have cost, even if the equipment had been available in the country from other sources. The best test of the matter is that the equipment has done the job, and that, in the opinion of the architects, the Government has had good value for its money.
Then there is the question of travelling expenses, which was raised by the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt). He said that the tenderers were instructed that the cost of travelling expenses, other than those connected with procurement, were to be paid from the contractor’s account, and that is true enough. He said that all the travelling expenses to March, 1956, amounting to £36,000, were charged to the projects. That is not correct. The actual expenditure on travel, to March, 1956, was £24,366. Of this, £22,400 was the cost of bringing specialist American personnel to Australia, as separately provided for in the contractor’s agreement with the Commonwealth. This is rightly chargeable to the job. The balance of £2,000 was principally in connection with procurement, and again was rightly chargeable to the job. The remainder, a minor amount, was for special travel related to the job and was charged to the job after discussions with the architects and the contractors and with the approval of the Government. The amount covered minor expenses such as those involved in bringing the contractors to Canberra and to Melbourne. Indeed, we saw them all sitting here in a row during the debate recently. It would be quite unreasonable if, when those people are asked by the Commonwealth to go to special places, they had to bear the cost. These were quite trifling amounts which were charged to the job.
Then there is the question of staff houses. There is an allegation that ten staff houses were too costly. I think they were. The staff houses were amongst the earliest buildings constructed on the site. Prior to the Auditor-General’s report in 1955-56, in which the matter was referred to, my predecessor arranged for the matter to be jointly examined by the Departments of Works and Defence Production, together with the architects and the control authority. This committee found that the total assessed cost of the houses was £81,000. As I say, I think this was excessive. I say so, knowing that the overhead rate was high in comparison with normal house construction, and that the houses were built during the “ shake-down “ period, when supervision was not at its best and when costs could have been expected to be higher. The architects have stressed that the justification for the use of material of a quality better than normal was to ensure economic maintenance costs over the years, because these houses are not going to be pulled down to-morrow. They are there for keeps. My department is taking the matter up further with the architects and the contractors.
It has been claimed that there was an excess issue of certain material for the construction of these houses. That is not true. Tiles were mentioned particularly. I have had this matter checked and have found that those not used for the purpose were returned to the store in the ordinary way.
Then there is the allegation by the honorable member for Hughes (Mr. L. R. Johnson) concerning alterations to the railway station. In a question he asked, he suggested that the new railway station had to be reconstructed because it was found to be too narrow to permit the passage of trains. The architects have advised that this is not true. No mistake was made and no additional cost was incurred by the Commonwealth. The fact is that during the course of the reconstruction of the old railway line between St. Mary’s and Rope’s Creek - that is to say the old line which runs through the old factory and which has nothing to do with the new factory - which was originally built for steam traffic, the overhangs of the war-time-built platforms on the old station had to be cut back slightly to permit the passage of electric trains.
A further allegation is that the quality of the cement was defective. The vendor’s chemists regularly carry out tests in accordance with standard specifications and further testing has also been performed by the Department of Works. It has been found that no faulty cement has been used. Another allegation refers to the movements of American employees of Utah. I think that the honorable member for Hindmarsh alleged that some of these employees paid visits to the United States at the Commonwealth’s expense. This is not true. I seem to have said that before. It is extraordinary when you really look at these things and boil them down how devoid of truth they are found to be. I repeat that this allegation is not true. No visits to the United States by any of these people or their families have been charged against the project. No senior executive officers of the parent company of Utah Australia
Limited were brought to the project at any cost to the Commonwealth. In addition to the senior officers at St. Mary’s paid from the contractor’s fixed fee, some eleven officers of the company have also, from time to time, visited Australia and the St. Mary’s project during the past two years and all the costs involved have been borne by the company.
There is the allegation about holidays for executives. The honorable member for Parkes claimed that holidays for the senior American executives were charged, costplus, as he so glibly puts it. That is not true either. Payment for annual leave of the six top executives of the joint venture is the responsibility of the contractor and is not a job cost. Otherwise, annual leave has been taken in accordance with awards and standard industrial practice. Then there is the footling allegation concerning steps into the explosives building. The honorable member mentioned cases where step have been regraded. All I can say is that honorable members opposite must be getting pretty desperate and are scraping the bottom of the barrel when they make such an allegation as this. In a limited number of process buildings, the safety precautions required regrading of a 10-in. step by 2 inches. Two of these have been rectified. This has been blown up by the honorable member into a frightful scandal and fraud including allegations of negligence and waste in the rebuilding of steps.
The honorable member for Parkes also made an allegation about a surplus dump, as he called it, and what went into it, with all the implications of theft and impropriety inherent in such a suggestion. He implied waste and lack of control and worse. The honorable member is wrong - completely wrong. The project has, as every one would expect, a properly controlled salvage yard. All returns from construction are brought into this yard. Here they are recorded, segregated and, where possible, reconditioned. Serviceable items are returned to the main warehouse and taken into stock. Salvage items are constantly scrutinized by area superintendents for possible re-use. If items are thought to be of no use to the project, they are listed for consideration by a properly constituted board of survey, and if not required are declared to the Department of Supply, which is the appropriate disposal authority. The salvage yard is properly manned. Most of the construction materials listed by the honorable member for Parkes were from buildings in the pyrotechnic section of the old factory, which is being rehabilitated. They are gathered out of this process of rehabilitation. The materials were not surplus to the project but were arisings from this rehabilitation, and where not suitable for re-use on the project, have been disposed of in the approved manner.
The honorable member for Parkes referred also to surplus and costly aluminium downpipe and guttering. The contractor had used 18,000 feet of this material on the project. A further 2,000 feet is held in the bulk store. The only materials which have gone into the salvage yard are short off-cuts which cannot be used. There have been no instances of guttering being sold and bought back at higher prices, as the honorable member suggests. He referred also to box drains. All aluminium fabrication work has to be done in the sheet metal shop where the argon gas welding plant is installed. For this reason, no gutters for the project have been fabricated in the field. There have been, naturally, a few instances of minor adjustments having been made to gutters, but surely the most intransigent and biased critic would agree that this is a normal building experience.
There is also the matter of the electrification of the main railway line. I think it was last Tuesday that the honorable member for Werriwa (Mr. Whitlam) referred to this matter. I had said that the electrification of the railway was one of the factors pushing up the cost.
– You said that it was unexpected.
– That is so, I said that it was unexpected. But quite properly the honorable member made the point that the general electrification of the western line was, or should have been, known to the architects at the time this job was commenced. That is quite right. All those concerned with the preliminary planning of St. Mary’s knew of the proposed electrification of the western line from Parramatta to Lithgow, and they took it into account. But that was not what I was endeavouring to convey at the time, and it is perhaps my fault because I did not go into detail. Originally, the St. Mary’s factory was planned, on the basis of the rehabilitation of the old line, which extended through the factory area, and the picking up of trucks at the St. Mary’s loop, which would be dropped there by the main electric train. Diesel engines were to be used on the factory railway system, but it was ultimately found that the Railways Department, unknown to the contractors and to the architects - and this could not reasonably have been known to them, I suggest - would not permit the Government or the St. Mary’s project to shunt trucks at the loop, but was prepared to bring them by electric train to Dunheved, which is the railway station nearby in the old factory railway system. This had not been provided for in preliminary planning. When the process engineering study team came from America late in 1955, the question was raised as to whether, in these circumstances, there should be road transport to serve the factory. That was thoroughly examined, but the economics of it seemed to be unfavorable, and so they reverted to the idea of complete rail transport. Ultimately it was decided that the most satisfactory, long-term arrangement would be to electrify completely the system throughout the factory area. This meant considerably increased facilities over those originally contemplated and, consequently, increased costs.
I have tried, in this speech, to answer all of the main allegations that have been made from time to time against the project, and many minor ones as well. I think that fair-minded persons will agree that although there is substance in some of them, most of them are false or grossly exaggerated. In conclusion, I should like to say this about St. Mary’s: Fighting men of this and other generations have often had to face heavy odds, and they may have to do so again. They accept this risk when they enlist to defend their country. But one risk they ought not to be asked to accept: To have to face a well-armed enemy while they, themselves, are inadequately armed. We all know that in the last war British and Allied soldiers went through that desperate experience more than once. There may be members of this committee who went through it also. The Government is determined that in a future war this should not happen to Australia’s sons if it can be helped. Therefore, we built the new filling factory.
There are things to criticize about St. Mary’s. I have never denied that. Some things should not have happened. Others have probably been inseparable from so vast and quick-moving a project. Whatever the cause, the department did its utmost to see that action was taken to correct errors as soon as they were discovered, and it will continue to do so. But, to my mind, such short-comings are insignificant compared with the transcendent importance of making sure that our men have the weapons and ammunition they need to fight and survive. For this reason, I believe that once the facts are understood the Australian people will gratefully endorse the Government’s decision to build St. Mary’s, to build it the way we did, in the time, and for the price.
.- The period of fifteen minutes permitted, under the Standing Orders, to a member of the Opposition, is hardly sufficient in which to reply in detail to the carefully prepared answer of the architects and the contractractors to the charges made in relation to the St. Mary’s filling factory, which has been so laboriously read by the Minister for Defence Production (Mr. Beale) this afternoon. If the Government has nothing to worry about, if the contractors and the architects have nothing to worry about, why is the Government so strongly opposing any form of investigation into this matter? Strangely enough, all the allegations that have been made have not come from members of the Opposition. What has the Government to say about the Auditor-General’s criticism? Under the legislation by which this Parliament established the Public Accounts Committee, on which both parties are represented, that committee is supposed to be obliged to examine any criticism of the expenditure of public moneys made in the Auditor-General’s report. I ask the Minister for Defence Production now, as the Minister mainly responsible for the St. Mary’s project, why it is that even on the Public Accounts Committee such strenuous efforts are being made by the Government to prevent that committee from even examining the St. Mary’s project. Clearly the Government does not want an investigation of any kind. Does anybody imagine for one moment that if the answer to all our allegations was the simple matter that the Minister tries to imply it is, the Government would not hurriedly have an investigation so that it could discredit the Opposition? Of course, it would! But the Government is afraid of what an investigation would reveal. Is it not rather notable that in the whole of this debate and discussion there has been no alacrity on the part of the Government to produce any documents for examination. Why cannot we have the reports of the audit inspectors? Did the Minister make any reference to those important documents? What the Minister did was lightly to brush aside the charge of delay. To hear him, one would imagine that the Government had always been unanimous on the question of constructing the new munitions filling factory at St. Mary’s.
I want to make a brief reference to a reply given by the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner), because members of this Government are pastmasters in evading the real issues. When I raised the questions of extravagance and waste in transport and of thefts of tea from the project, the Minister said, making my comment appear as if it were directed against the workmen, “ That is a strange argument to come from a member of the Labour party “. We are not arguing that the workmen are not entitled to reasonable transport and good industrial conditions. The workers on the job have themselves complained about the extravagance, the waste and the thefts that have occurred. The employees of the undertaking, who are concerned about public expenditure and about protecting the public interest are brushed off by the Minister with the statement, “ Oh, well, the Communists were always opposed to the building of the filling factory “. That, in my opinion, is a gratuitous insult to a large body of deserving Australians, who are working in a manner which, I believe, does credit to them.
When I charged the Minister for National Development with being personally interested in the building of the new filling factory, as against the re-acquisition of the old factory, he adopted similar tactics to those used this afternoon by the Minister for Defence Production. He replied to issues that were not raised and avoided those on which we required an answer. For the benefit of honorable members, I shall quote one or two extracts from the reply given to me by the Minister for National Development. He said -
Like most other tenants, the company had various arrangements in writing covering its occupation of the buildings in which it conducted its business.
That is, arrangements entered into by the tenants of the old factory. The reply continued -
These arrangements were made by the company with the Government prior to 1949. That was before I came into the Parliament. The government which was then in power was the Chifley Labour Government. I have never been called upon to consider any proposal for variation of these arrangements.
E. Goodwin Limited occupy what is known as the general stores area in that part of the old St. Mary’s filling factory which had been leased to private enterprise. As it so happens, at no stage was it proposed by the defence authorities that the general stores area should be repossessed. Accordingly, the question of repossessing the buildings occupied by A. E. Goodwin Limited did not arise.
Now, this is rather an interesting statement from the Minister for National Development. First, we were told that nobody in the Government favoured the re-acquisition of the old factory at St. Mary’s. Now, we are told that an actual plan was submitted to the Cabinet of that day, and the plan, according to the Minister for National Development, was not to repossess the whole of the old factory, but only portion of it. Who is telling the truth? When the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) spoke in this debate, he said that one of the considerations that had to be taken into account in making the decision as between building a new filling factory and re-acquiring the old factory, was the fact that 3,000 men would lose their employment. Well, 3,000 constitutes the whole number of the employees in the old factory at St. Mary’s. So evidently, if the protection of the employment of 3,000 men was a consideration, the intention was to take over the whole of the factory, which included the part occupied by A. E. Goodwin Limited, the principal tenant at St. Mary’s. Of the 1,000,000-odd square feet of factory space, approximately 25 per cent, is occupied by A. E. Goodwin Limited. That is admitted. And what is the connexion with A. E. Goodwin Limited of the Minister fca
National Development? Is it not rather interesting to note that after I had made reference to one of his friends and colleagues who had been playing a very close part in these negotiations, a Mr. B. O. Smith, the Minister made no reference to Mr. Smith. He did not say whether he knows Mr. Smith or has ever been associated with him. What are the facts? Mr. B. O. Smith was appointed to the Commonwealth Accountancy Committee in 1951, the very year in which the present Minister for National Development was appointed to his portfolio. Mr. B. O. Smith is shown in the 1955 edition of “ Who’s Who in Australia “ as being a managing partner in the firm of Hungerford, Spooner and Company. Everybody knows that the information published in “ Who’s Who “ is usually made available to that publication by the person concerned. If the person does not supply the information directly he is always given an opportunity of checking, before it is published, the materia] to be used. So we can reasonably assume that Mr. B. O. Smith is, or was, a managing partner in the firm of Hungerford, Spooner and Company. On top of that, we find that he is also managing director, or chairman of directors, of A. E. Goodwin Limited. And who was putting up a fight that lasted for two years in the Cabinet?
The construction of the St. Mary’s filling factory is supposed to be a project of great urgency. The arguments in favour of it are overwhelming, according to the Government. So why does not somebody explain why, under such circumstances, and with the Prime Minister predicting in 1951 that we had only up till 1954 to prepare for war, it took two years - between 1952 and 1954 - for the Government to make its mind up about a project which it declares to be of the utmost urgency? Is not what was happening in the Cabinet quite obvious? The Minister for National Development was leading one section opposing the plan to reacquire the old factory, because that plan would interfere with his own personal interests and those of the people with whom he is associated. That is an aspect of the matter that ought to be examined.
Now let me turn to the question of waste and extravagance. If the records - the time records and the store records - support the defence put forward by the contractors and the architects, why does the
Government not produce those records? Why does it not let us have a look at them? I challenge it to do so. Let me say this: I hope that the Government will be at least sufficiently concerned about these matters to preserve the records so that the incoming Labour government may examine them. I hope that there will not be a recurrence of what happened on the eve of the general election in 1955, when the Government was in some doubt about its chances in the election, and they had a fire in security head-quarters. No doubt if we are not careful, on the eve of the next general election there may be another fire in which some other records will be destroyed. The Opposition wants the records produced. We want to have a look at them.
Let me look at some of the answers to the Opposition’s criticism. The Minister talks about the staff cottages. He did not mention the costs involved because he was ashamed of it. The Minister had to admit the claim about the staff cottages because the Auditor-General had already referred to it in his report, but the Minister did not give the cost because he is ashamed to announce it. The Minister says that these cottages were erected during the shakedown period. I think “ shake “ is a better word. It was certainly in the “ shake “ period that they were erected, and these cottages, which were estimated to cost £32,500, actually cost £85,000. Surely the Minister does not want honorable members to accept the implication that the excessive cost of these cottages was incurred merely because they were built in the shakedown period. I shall tell the Minister why these cottages cost so much. The Minister now talks about the tiles. He says that the tiles that were not required went back into store. That is not true. I can tell the Minister, and the store records will prove what I say, that approximately three times the quantity required, not only of tiles, but also of household fittings, such as taps and door handles and everything that goes into a modern cottage, were drawn out of store.
The Minister says that these allegations come from dubious sources. If the Government holds an investigation the Opposition will produce the witnesses, and if necessary they can give their evidence on oath. The men who gave us the information are prepared to give their evidence on oath. They do not want the protection of Parliament. The Minister says that the architects and the contractors can answer every allegation put forward by the Opposition. Why would not these people give the same answers as the Minister has given to-day?
I will give one example of the extravagance, to use a mild term, that characterized this undertaking. When the Minister for Supply and the Prime Minister decided to pay a visit to the St. Mary’s project in December last, the management and the architects, no doubt in order to make a favorable impression on members of the Government, so that their excessive costing would be overlooked, installed a cooling system in the building where these Ministers were to be entertained. That cooling system was dismantled as soon as the visit was over. The visit lasted no more than a few hours. So honorable members will see that there has been great extravagance connected with this project. Why does not the Minister tell the House why this work will cost the Australian community approximately £5,000,000 more than was estimated, despite assurance after assurance that it was going to be within the estimated cost?
There is one other factor to which the Minister has not referred. Why does he not say why the architects and the contractors, with the approval of the Government, decided to change their cost accounting methods? The Prime Minister admits that there were novel features - and he said, unusual features - about this particular contract, and because there were unusual features, when the contract was drawn up a provision was included that the architects and the contractors had to carry out a certain system of cost accounting. But they decided to change it, and according to the Auditor-General they have changed the cost accounting system in such a way that there will be no further revelations of the excessive cost of staff cottages or any other item of construction, because all these costs are now lumped together, and when the project is finished and has cost so many millions of pounds, they will then arbitrarily divide the amount and say that a certain factory cost so much and another factory cost something else, and nobody will ever be able to get at the truth of the matter unless there is a complete and impartial investigation. It does not matter how much the Minister may protest, or how much the Prime Minister may protest. The Australian public are satisfied that this whole transaction is crooked and corrupt and requires investigation. The Opposition wants an investigation. If the Government is not afraid of an investigation, why did it prevent its own Public Accounts Committee from at least making some sort of an investigation?
– I do not propose to follow in detail the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward). Honorable members have heard another of his wild outbursts. He reminds me of a dog that has been bitten and never knows when to give up barking.
– Squealing and yelping.
– There is one matter on which I should like to comment, which the honorable member for East Sydney introduced for the second time, notwithstanding that he has had the matter explained to him. I think the general public will be well aware that this is the form of the honorable member. He comes into this place and attempts, because of the privilege he has here, to libel an honorable member whose reputation with the public at large is beyond question, and those who know him will verify that. Senator Spooner has already explained this matter in the Senate, and has made a statement in connexion with it. That statement has been repeated in this House by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. Harold Holt). I do not think there is anything I need say to refute the statements that have been made by the honorable member for East Sydney, whose reputation in this House is well known throughout the length and breadth of Australia, and whose accusations cannot be relied upon by the people. 1 rose to talk about an entirely different matter, and I do not propose to waste the time of this chamber by answering the honorable member for East Sydney. His statements are too wide. I rose to deal with my own department, that of the Army. 1 wish to make an explanation in relation to the statement that has been handed to all honorable members. This is the first occasion that a statement of that kind has been made available to honorable members. It brings together in very concise form all those matters which honorable members may want to know. The statement explains just what is being done, and how the money which is allocated to the Army is being spent. Criticism is levelled from time to time in relation to the way the money is being spent. Last year, when the Estimates were under consideration, I took the opportunity of making a complete statement of how money has been spent on the Army since this Government took office in 1949. 1 do not propose to repeat that statement to-day, because honorable members can, if they wish, turn up “ Hansard “ and see a complete and factual explanation of how the money has been spent. Anybody who, after examining the statement which has been distributed to-day, says that money has been wasted, or is being wasted, is simply not facing up to the facts.
I referred last year to a review which was to have taken place a little later, and the estimates to-day are in connexion with the re-organization which has since taken place in the Army. Many people in this country have little idea of the magnitude of the services, and I mention particularly the Army. While our Army is only small in comparison with those of other countries, at the same time it has an effect throughout the length and breadth of Australia, and its influence is felt in almost every corner of the continent. The Army covers seven commands throughout the various States. It may interest honorable members if I refer to the magnitude of the ordnance services as one part only of the Army. The storage space - that is, covered storage space - covers an area of 222 acres throughout Australia, about the same area as the heart of the shopping centre of the City of Sydney. Honorable members can imagine just how big it really is. There are eighteen stores, occupying 8,500,000 square feet of covered accommodation and, in addition, 732 buildings with another 1,000,000 square feet of ammunition depots. Further, electrical and mechanical engineering services occupy 800,000 square feet of covered workshops. Another interesting fact, I think, is the catalogue which is carried by the Army, and which contains not less than 750,000 items, of which 300,000 are in constant use. I think that will give honorable members some idea of its magnitude.
I do not propose to go over the details of the Estimates, but 1 thought it would be right and proper if I discussed, for a very short time, the reasons behind the decision for the present shape and size of the Army. That information might be of some interest to honorable members, who will recollect that the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), on a couple of occasions, made statements and discussed the possibility of war in accordance with the strategic appreciation of our advisers from time to time. He also discussed the possibility of global, limited and cold war. These are the sort of names given to existing conditions.
We are advised - and we accept the advice - that global war is unlikely in present circumstances, and our plans are based upon that fact. This is principally because of the nuclear deterrent which exists. We cannot be arbitrary about that, of course, because global war could occur due to miscalculation or other factors as mentioned by the Prime Minister. Limited war is in a different category. The danger of limited war is, I think, ever present, and indeed one might even say that it has increased in recent times. Cold war continues unabated, and one can hardly imagine the extent to which that could be developed. Therefore, the Government has given priority in its defence preparations to limited and cold war. Its preparations are not, although they fit into, designed on the basis of a global war. Cold war obviously demands regular forces. We must have regular forces in the circumstances within our country to assist our allies and to protect our internal security. Limited war, of course, presents an entirely different problem.
There are two basic factors in connexion with limited war that we must realize. The first is that Australia cannot engage in a limited war alone - it would be quite impossible - and .therefore our forces must be designed to integrate with those of our friends or allies. That means, in turn, that the preparation for war must be on the basis that our equipment and procedures are compatible with those of our friends. All these matters are being studied by Seato. As a result, the Prime Minister announced recently that it had been decided to standardize, or at least maintain compatibility with the United States of America, because of the sphere in which we are likely to operate. The second point is that limited or even global war could break out with little or no notice. The aggressor - and we are not the aggressor because we have no aggressive intentions at all - can strike at any time and at any place without notice. It will be a place and time of his choosing. He will, of course, be well prepared in the area at which he proposes to strike. That is an inevitable situation in which we are placed, and therefore our preparations for defence point to the need for what one might call a “ phase “ defence programme. As we have no aggressive intentions we cannot make preparations, so we have to deal with the matter in another way. As the assembly of land forces takes time - we cannot have sufficient forces in any one place, not being the aggressor - we have to try to arrange our forces in such a way that the situation can be dealt with as it arises.
Speaking generally, therefore, it is necessary to plan our defence in two phases, the first being to hold the aggressor as far as possible, to a certain position wherever he may strike, the idea not being to defeat him there but to hold him - and of course the Air Force in particular plays a great part in that operation; and in the second phase, we would have time to gather our forces with the idea of stopping the aggressor and rolling him back. Australia is mainly concerned at this point in the preparations for the second phase, although we must have the brigade group which is applied largely to the first phase. We are a young and a fast-developing country and our economy will not permit large regular forces. I think that is accepted by most honorable members. We are not comparable with major powers and-
– Some of them do not want any forces.
– I have stated the fact and we must face it. There are those who think we spend too much money and there are those who think we spend too little; but in any case we are only a small power and therefore not in a comparable position with major powers. However, we must have that small force ready for instant action to meet any of the circumstances I have just mentioned. It must be well prepared, well armed, well trained and ready for immediate action.
That is the background which determines the shape and size of the Army. It is not something that is just pulled out of the hat. lt is organized on a basis of consideration <of the matters I have outlined which determine, in brief, the planning of an army to meet our strategic requirements in relation to the country’s economy and the possibility of putting that plan into effect. I think honorable members generally will agree - in this respect I was very pleased to hear one speaker this afternoon congratulate the Minister for Defence - with the logic of our field force being in two parts, that is to say, the first being a regular brigade group maintained at a high degree of efficiency and ready for cold war or for immediate action anywhere and fully equipped in every way; and the second being the Citizen Military Forces, also at a high degree of efficiency. As honorable members know, that is planned on the basis of three divisions, admittedly not at full strength at once, but at two-thirds strength and containing certain elements fully equipped that could take their place at very short notice. In any case, it forms the base upon which emergent mobilization could take place and that, of course, forms the complete basis upon which we could deal with those two phases should we be called upon to do so, particularly in a limited war.
There are those who criticize the comparative size of our regular field force and C.M.F., and there are those who say we do not need the numbers we have allotted to the C.M.F. We do not know how large a limited war might be, but it could be quite a vast show. Therefore, it would be the height of folly if we were to do less than we are doing at the present time with our three divisions in the Citizen Military Forces.
I do not wish to talk about the Navy or the Air Force except to say that it is essential that we should have balanced forces to work together to bring about the results that we need. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) in his statement, has explained these matters and referred to the intention to co-ordinate the development of the Navy, and the Air Force with the Army. Honorable members may have heard a speech by General Weyland of the American Air Force when he was in Australia recently. He spoke on the Australian Broadcasting Commission’s service and described the sort of conflict which might take place in SouthEast Asia. I think that he described it as what the Americans call a “ brush fire “ war - a “ brush fire “ being what we call a “ bush fire “. The idea is that it would break out suddenly in a certain spot and we would need a highly mobile air force to deal with it and prevent it spreading. The United States of America is planning on that basis so that it can hold the enemy at a certain spot until the second phase can be brought into effect. That illustrates the plan in relation to the set-up of the Army and, of course, integrated with that phase is the Air Force and the Navy.
As I have said, we cannot have a very large army but it is essential that the Army should be well equipped. That is why, in this year, we have increased to £7,250,000 the amount to be spent on new army equipment. In addition, of course, we have the F.N. rifle. It is not yet ready for use, but we are getting ready for its production at the present time. Honorable members will know that a technical mission from the United States of America is in this country making an examination which we hope will produce beneficial results with regard to the equipment that we need.
I am very proud indeed to be able to announce that the brigade group has been completely posted. It is not an easy matter to raise a brigade group with the limited forces that we have. We only have about 21,000 regular army personnel including all categories. In my opinion, the raising of that brigade group is a very great credit to the officers and men who have co-operated so well in establishing it in quick time. I think honorable members will be interested to hear, too, that notwithstanding the criticism throughout Australia of the new National Service Training scheme, it, too, is going along very smoothly indeed. I am astounded at the lack of complaints. We have no complaints and the scheme seems to be going along just as well as it was before its re-organization.
I do not want to take up any more time. Realizing that honorable members themselves would like to discuss these matters, I do not want to impose too long a speech on them. I have spoken only to give the committee the background to the formation of the Army so that honorable members may give some attention to it. But before 1 close I want to say that I wonder whether members of the Parliament appreciate the sacrifices of the members of the Citizen Military Forces who are really the backbone of the Army when the need arises. I pay them a public compliment for the work that they are doing. The Army is carrying out very beneficial training in certain repects which I will not develop. Honorable members will know about the Royal Military College, the Officers’ Cadet School, and the Canungra jungle training course, which is one of the best in the world of its type. Members will also know of the high grade of tradesmen that we are turning out in Army trade schools, all of whom will be very beneficial to the Army and, when they have completed their service, to civil industry.
I do not want to say anything further than that. I appreciate that honorable members will want to criticize what I have said. I have provided a background of reasons why we have developed the Army in the way that it has been developed. I think that this will dissipate the criticism which is made from time to time that the defence vote is simply pulled out of a hat - that we simply take £190,000,000 and allocate it to the services. There is a definite plan behind the whole scheme.
– I wish to make a personal explanation about the remarks of the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) concerning the Public Accounts Committee. I think it is only fair to the Parliament and also to the committee that I should make this personal explanation. The honorable member for East Sydney is so competent an exponent of the art of supressio veri and suggestio falsi that it may be just a waste of time trying to catch up with the things that he says. But in this case he knows quite well - and I think that all honorable members know quite well - what the situation is. 1 want to put the record straight, if I may.
When the honorable member for East Sydney first got up, he insinuated that the Government was preventing the Public Accounts Committee from making any investigation into the affairs of St. Mary’s. At the end of his speech he said specifically, “ Why doesn’t the Government allow the committee to make this investigation? “ Neither the Government nor the Minister, nor any one else, is in a position to prevent the Public Accounts Committee from doing its duty. Its duty is quite clear. The act provides that it has to examine the accounts of the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden) and the report of the Auditor-General. In regard to that, it is entirely free to do what it wants and it will accept no pressure from anybody. I want to make it clear that the integrity of the committee is at stake. We can decide for ourselves what work we da and when we do it.
The committee will remember when I spoke a few weeks ago I pointed out that the Public Accounts Committee had so much on its plate that it did not propose to do anything fresh this year. That was the decision of the committee. The committee has discussed the St. Mary’s matter and it will decide at a later stage when the time is ripe what it will do. The Public Accounts Committee accepts no dictation from any one. It is a parliamentary committee and it can be directed only by this House, on the one hand, the Senate, on the other, or both Houses together. No one else can dictate what we shall do and when we shall do it.
.- The Labour party charges the Government with having failed to give this country adequate defences. It charges the ‘Government with having wasted public funds. I charge the Government, personally, with having let Australia down. Consequently, I support the amendment moved by the Opposition because I believe that the Parliament ought to face its responsibilities in considering the estimates for the various service departments. The Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer), in his sweeping style, stated that it was necessary that the various departments should be ready for immediate action. I ask the committee to contrast the sweeping statements and the bland assurances of the Minister for the Army with the remarks made by the Minister for Defence Production (Mr. Beale). The Minister for Defence Production, in his naive way, in presenting a case for the delay in building the St. Mary’s project, said that it was of value to delay its building from 1952 to 1955 because those four additional years gave to those who were engaged in defence production thinking, opportunities to modernize the plant and make it up to date in the latest techniques. 1 ask the committee to contrast the prophetic statement that was made by the Prime Minister in about 1952, to the effect that war would occur in three years, with the statement made this afternoon by the Minister for Defence Production that it was thought desirable to defer the building of the St. Mary’s factory, this important and essential undertaking, for four years, so that it could be made modern. If that point of view is valid, I am amazed that the Minister has not taken his place in the chamber this afternoon in order to tell us that if the building of the factory were deferred for a further four years, in this atomic age, more wonderful things would Unfold themselves and an even more uptodate factory could then be built. But, of course, that is carrying the argument much too far. The Government can hardly feel satisfied with its achievements when it considers the colossal amounts of money that it has spent, and its failure to provide adequate defences for the Australian people.
During the few years since 1951, no less than £1,477,000,000 has been voted, out of the taxpayer’s purse, to provide us with defence. Is there any person in Australia at present who is satisfied that this country is being defended, or that we have adequate plans for defence? We find criticism of the Government’s defence policies and activities in practically any newspaper that we care to pick up. I have before me cuttings from such newspapers as the Melbourne “ Age “ and the “ Sydney Morning Herald “. A significant article, under the heading of “ Dance of the Seven Veils “, appeared in the latter newspaper on 22nd March, 1957. At that time the veil of mystery surrounding the colossal waste and extravagance being indulged in on the St. Mary’s project had not been lifted. In the same newspaper, on 13th September, 1957, appeared another critical article entitled “ Defence Preparations but No Defence Policy “. Even the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Anderson), who has been endeavouring to interject, should have been impressed by the article entitled “ Defence: A Clearer Picture Needed “, which appeared in the graziers’ own publication, “ Muster “, on 13th August, 1957. As this article appeared in the official organ of the graziers, one would have expected the honorable member for Hume to accept the point of view of his masters outside this place. Another article appeared in the “ Sydney Morning Herald” of 20th May, 1957, entitled “ Lack of Candour on New Aircraft for R.A.A.F.”. One could continue to refer to extracts from various newspapers.
In charging the Government with failing to produce adequate defence for this country, I want to say, as the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) has said, that it is of no use for the Minister for Defence (Sir Philip McBride) to come into this place and read at length a detailed report provided for him by interested parties. This Parliament has a right to be guided by the people appointed by Parliament for that purpose. What better authority is there than the Public Accounts Committee, the members of which represent all parties in this Parliament? One has read, from time to time, the strictures of that committee and its references to the activities of various departments. We have had the evidence given before that committee by Sir Frederick Shedden as to the Government’s failure to provide the necessary defences for Australia. The most telling indictment of the Government’s defence activities in recent times is in the report of the Auditor-General. I protest against the attitude of Ministers and others who have tried to pour cold water on the report of the Auditor-General, who, after all, was most moderate in the presentation of a damning indictment of this Government because of its failure to spend the money provided for the defence of this country to the best possible advantage. In paragraph 112 of the report the Auditor-General said, when dealing with New South Wales -
Accounting for and control over unit stores remained unsatisfactory and inspections of units by Army Audit Staff are in arrear.
Stocktakings at certain units are overdue, and there were delays in adjusting discrepancies - some of which are large - disclosed by other stocktakings.
Has the Government done anything about these matters? The Auditor-General continued -
Results of sectional stocktakings conducted at 6 Engineer Stores Regiment during 1954, showing surpluses and deficiencies totalling £25,318 and £18,027 respectively, were not presented for adjustment until almost three years later.
As indicated by the following table, large discrepancies have been revealed at stocktakings in three National Service Battalions.
With respect to Victoria, the AuditorGeneral said -
Some large discrepancies have been revealed by stocktakings which, in general, are up to date.
As to Queensland, the Auditor-General said, amongst other things -
The unsatisfactory position previously reported in respect of the Jungle Training Centre, Canungra, still exists.
One could continue to cite such critical remarks, which appear throughout this most comprehensive and telling report of the Auditor-General. The Government has given no answer to the allegations contained in this report, which call for a searching inquiry into the activities of the defence departments.
I should like to suggest, as I have suggested in the past, that there is an urgent need for the re-establishment by this Parliament of a defence expenditure committee. Such a committee should be appointed without delay. If the Government has nothing to hide, if it feels that it has nothing to answer, the appointment of such a committee would certainly help to clear up any misunderstandings.
– The committee did a good job in war-time.
– As the honorable member for Brisbane has said, the war expenditure committee rendered outstanding service to the people of Australia during war-time by ensuring that profiteering did not occur. It was able to keep waste and extravagance to a minimum. What better time could there be than now to reestablish a defence expenditure and preparedness committee, charged with the duty to investigate such matters as those reported by the Auditor-General?
The Auditor-General’s report also includes many remarks regarding the Department of Air. In practically every line there is mention of waste, extravagance, and other matters bordering on corruption. The Auditor-General has alleged malpractices of various kinds. He referred to the purchase of Neptune aircraft, and said -
Reference was made in the previous Report to the purchase in the United States of America of twelve Neptune Long Range Maritime Reconnaissance aircraft and an initial range of spares, at an estimated cost of £9,500,000. As this purchase was portion only of an order placed with the manufacturer by the United States Navy, the determination of final cost is dependent upon the completion of all contracts associated with the entire project.
Although the twelfth aircraft was delivered to the Royal Australian Air Force in 1953, final costs have not yet been established.
What is the use of this committee debating these Estimates, when accounts outstanding from 1953 have not yet been finalized? In the Auditor-General’s report, there is a series of indictments of the Department of Defence Production. In dealing with this department, I want to mention a few matters in relation to the St. Mary’s ammunition filling factory, but I do not propose to enter the turbulent stream of charge and counter-charge. I am not very much concerned about whether MajorGeneral Legge, a former Master-General of the Ordnance, was right. If a committee was appointed to investigate defence preparedness and defence costs, it could go into all these matters, and the Parliament would not be obliged, as it has been, to wait through long and tedious periods for delayed replies to questions asked of Ministers - replies which ooze from the offices of Ministers and the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), in some cases, only in response to charges made by both Opposition members and Government supporters.
A live-wire committee could probe these matters without delay. That would not suit the book of some Government supporters, but I believe that all fair-minded members would accept as reasonable the proposition that a committee should be appointed to undertake the task that I have outlined, both in the interests of Australia’s defence, and in order to ensure that the taxpayers’ money is spent wisely and well. The documentation of the waste and extravagance that have occurred on the St. Mary’s project, as presented in the Auditor-General’s report, is such that the Government cannot burke the issue. Government supporters may argue about whether Major-General Legge was right, and about whether certain charges made in the Parliament were justified, but they cannot disregard the report of the Auditor-General, in which these matters are brought to the notice of the various departments concerned, in a kindly and sympathetic way, and in reasonable and balanced terms.
The Parliament should not be obliged to content itself with statements drawn from
Ministers and the Prime Minister after certain things have happened. I pay tribute to the Public Accounts Committee, but I should like to point out that it is not able to do the job that it would like to do, because it merely examines accounts after expenditure has been incurred. What is needed is a committee that can probe the accounts when the taxpayers’ money is being spent. Expenditure on the St. Mary’s ammunition filling factory jumped from the estimate of £23,200,000 to £28,000,000. But this Government says, in effect, “We, the custodians of the public purse, in which the people’s money is kept, are satisfied, and you should be satisfied. What is £5,000,000!” Yet, when it comes to a polio victim working in a government factory in my electorate, this Government discharges him because his wages are an important matter!
The conduct and the attitude of this Government in relation to various matters present startling contrasts. The Minister for Defence Production on 15th June last, said that one reason for the increased expenditure at St. Mary’s was the electrification of the railway there. He has now admitted that the electric railway had already been extended past the factory at that time. He also mentioned the site allowance. I have before me a report of the New South Wales Industrial Commission.
Order! The honorable gentleman’s time has expired.
.- For the last six or seven years, the Australian Labour party has charged this Government with extravagance and ill-prepared defence policies. Year after year, Opposition members have used the same old arguments, and have tried to create doubt in the minds of the people about this Government’s defence plans. It is a serious matter when w/:ai should be a responsible Opposition deliberately tries to create doubts in the minds of the Australian people about whether their security is assured under this Government’s administration. The honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Luchetti) was the seventh Opposition member to address the committee during the consideration of the estimates for the Defence Services. Opposition members who have spoken to this group of estimates have, with two exceptions, devoted their remarks to the St. Mary’s ammunition filling factory. What proportion of Australia’s defence effort does the construction of this factory represent? The amount expended on it represents only .2 per cent, of our defence expenditure. The money spent on the St. Mary’s factory has not been wasted, because it has provided Australia with the most modern ammunition filling factory in the world. Opposition members have concentrated their attack on the Government’s defence measures largely on one thing, and, year after year, as I have said, they have tried to create doubts and suspicions in the minds of the public.
During the debate on the St. Mary’s project on Tuesday of last week, I asked Opposition members why they did not seek a royal commission. That would be the best thing for them to do, if they really intended to establish the facts, because royal commissions do establish facts. Admittedly, there are some in the upper ranks of the Opposition hierarchy who feel cold shivers running up and down their spines whenever royal commissions are mentioned. The fact is that the Opposition wants to avoid a royalcommission into this project. Therefore, it has asked for the appointment of a select committee, which it hopes to use to blackguard the Government. The whole proposal is sheer humbug.
The honorable member for Macquarie said that the Australian people feel that they have been let down by this Government in its defence programme. Yet the Leader of the Opposition (Dr. Evatt) proposed, during the last general election campaign, that the defence vote should be reduced by £40,000,000! Despite that, the Opposition alleges that this Government is doing nothing to defend Australia. Would Labour do better with a defence vote reduced by £40,000.000? The criticisms made by the Opposition amount to gross humbug.
Opposition members have always talked about the push-button warfare, and they suggest that all our defence efforts should be directed at meeting that kind of conflict. If Opposition members were sincere in their contention that this Government has spent money unwisely on defence, they could have referred to the whole field of the defence estimates in their attempts to sustain such an argument. In addition, they could have referred to the valuable documents outlining the details of expenditure that have been made available by Ministers. Had they done so, their criticisms would have been more broadly based. However, they have not chosen to base their attack upon the broad field of defence matters. This is simply because they have no case. They have preferred to concentrate upon a project that has absorbed only .2 per cent, of defence expenditure, and has given us the finest ammunition filling factory in the Southern Hemisphere. The Opposition should hesitate before accusing the Government of letting the people down in its defence policies. The arguments of Opposition members constitute mere shadow sparring, and a sham attack on the Government.
The Opposition considers that we must prepare for push-button warfare, and that conventional forces are no longer needed. In this context, I propose to refer briefly to the views of Mr. Duncan Sandys, the United Kingdom Minister of Defence. The consensus is that, with the hydrogen bomb deterrent, global war is not likely, although conventional wars may still occur. The views of Mr. Sandys are reported as follows: -
It was not true that Britain was putting all het eggs into the “ nuclear basket “. The nuclear deterrent power it was planned to provide would not absorb more than 15 per cent, of the country’s total defence effort. For a long time the bulk of military expenditure must continue to go into conventional forces.
Mr. Sandys does not see push button warfare as the immediate problem. He maintains that we must rely upon conventional weapons to meet the dangers of conventional warfare. That is the view that the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) has constantly expressed in his attempts to assess the dangers that Australia may have to meet.
What are the chances of an outbreak of conventional warfare? In considering this question, we should bear in mind that great rifts are appearing in the Communist world. There is general dissatisfaction in Russia’s satellite countries, and grave dissension has arisen since the Russian pressure on those countries was slightly eased and the people in them have had an opportunity to voice their desire for freedom. Exactly the same sort of thing has happened in China. We recall Mao Tse-tung’s recent invitation for criticism, “ A hundred blossoms may bloom in the garden “. Grave cracks are showing in China. The moment the terror is lifted the cracks appear. Those cracks must be known to the leaders of Russia. It is common knowledge that, as soon as dictators have tension in their countries, they divert the people’s attention by pointing to external influences. It is easy to unite people by saying that enemies are on the doorstep ready to destroy them. That is the classical means of uniting people. Hitler. Mussolini and Stalin used that method and Khrushchev will use it also. Tensions are appearing in the Communist world, and we must face the fact that for a long time to come the world will have an atmosphere of tension created away from centres which could cause a global war but in circumstances detrimental to the Western world. Such a state of tension is arising now in the Middle East. If those who criticized Eden look at the results of their attitude now, they must admit that Eden’s action would have stopped Russia; but Russia has not been stopped.
For many years to come we shall face the danger of conventional war, but Labour’s policy is to reduce the defence vote by ?40,000,000. Opposition members, using humbug, say that we are not defending the people. We have heard the military expert of the Opposition, the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant), speaking in a blind man’s country. He criticized the waste of money, as he called it, on national service training. We have 87,000 partly trained troops. I have had to serve with untrained troops. In addition to an effective and fairly well advanced civilian force to make up the main army in the event of war, we have 87,000 partly trained men who have completed the first six months of their training and who, with two or three months’ further training, could be effective soldiers. Yet the honorable member for Wills says that that money has been wasted! How is it wasted in training manpower? What nonsense he talks! He then flies round like a Sputnik and criticizes something about which he knows nothing. He criticizes the purchase of twelve C130 aircraft for troop movement, but they are considered to be probably the finest machines developed for that purpose. He talks about the Government destroying the voluntary system. The value of his criticism can be discerned when we recall that it comes from a man who supports compulsory unionism for the workers.
We can expect a much better criticism from the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley). He made a thoughtful speech in which he tried to ascertain the role of the Royal Australian Navy in future wars.
Sitting suspended from 5.59 to 8 p.m.
– Before the suspension of the sitting, I had pointed to the failure of the Opposition to support any of the charges that it had made against this Government over the last three or four years in relation to defence policy, and I said that it had concentrated the whole of its attack on .2 per cent, of the total defence expenditure, the .2 per cent, representing the St. Mary’s filling factory. It must be remembered that that plant is probably the most modern ammunition filling plant in the world to-day. It appears to me that honorable members opposite have been doing this country no good service by arousing doubt and suspicion in relation to expenditure on this capital undertaking. They have had the opportunity, year in and year out, on the occasion of the Estimates debate, to make the searching inquiry about which they have spoken, and to prove that they were criticizing the Government on sound grounds. On this occasion, the Minister for Defence (Sir Philip McBride) and the Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer) have made it easier for honorable members opposite to understand the Estimates by giving full particulars of the proposed votes. The members of the Opposition have had the opportunity to analyse the substance of each point made by the Ministers, but they have not done so. Instead, as I have said, they have concentrated the whole of their attack on only a small proportion of the total defence expenditure.
I also said that we must expect, as a nation, a continuance of the international incidents with which we have been faced during the last few years. Russia will provoke these incidents as the tension in the satellite countries grows. Therefore, the defence policy of this Government must be based on well-balanced forces which can be integrated with the forces of our probable allies, and which will be ready to assume the roles that they may be called upon to play. Such a policy has been applied by this Government. We have a balanced force, of all arms, which is in good condition and well equipped.
The honorable member for Fremantle, unlike his colleagues in the Australian Labour party, gave a thoughtful address on the probable role of the Australian Navy, but I suggest that that role will be decided by the expert advisers of the Government. The honorable member criticized expenditure on the cruiser “Hobart”, but it must be remembered that when that expenditure was planned, certain conditions and tensions prevailed in the Far East. It is easy to have hindsight and to criticize action taken at a previous time. We must not forget that, at the time the alterations were made to this cruiser, there was every reason for doing so.
The honorable member said, too, that virtually all defence spending was inflationary. That, indeed, is one of the main results of the cold war. The United States of America spends on defence more than 50 per cent, of its revenue from taxation. Everybody knows that defence spending is inflationary, but when the Government allocates money for the defence Services it must have regard to the national economy. My own conviction is that the defence force that the Government has planned is a well-balanced force. There is nothing in it that I would change, but I think we should do more, not by altering the force we have, but by raising more money, towards a greater effort in the defence of the Western nations against communism.
It is the duty of the Opposition to check governmental expenditure, but I submit that if we examine all seven speeches that have been made by honorable members opposite who have spoken to-day, we shall find that not one has made out a case for the Opposition. The St. Mary’s factory will make a great contribution to the defences which are based on the SouthEast Asia Treaty Organization. We are now probably in a position to supply many of the allied forces with ammunition of Australian production. Indeed, we know that an American general, together with his technical advisers, has been out here to examine the potential that we have in Australia.
– Order! The honorable member has exhausted his time.
.- The special pleading of the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Anderson) has answered nothing, nor has the pleading of the succession of Ministers who have given the committee explanations that have been totally inadequate and most unsatisfactory. I cannot see how the Government can possibly escape the necessity to have some form of inquiry into the charges that are being levelled at it in regard to expenditure on certain defence projects.
At the moment, we are considering the estimates for the defence services, of a total amount of £190,000,000. This is the largest proposed vote of all the departments covered by the Estimates, and therefore it is right that it should be fully examined. The queries that honorable members may have regarding the vote deserve more effective consideration than has been given to them by the members of the Government so far. Of that £190,000,000, we of the Opposition pin-point the amount of £26,000,000- it was £23,000,000 originally - that the St. Mary’s project will cost, together with an amount of £2,000,000 by which construction is to be reduced. Whatever honorable members opposite may say about the statements that have been made by members of the Opposition in connexion with the St. Mary’s filling factory, they cannot seek to answer in the same way the very definite charges that have been made by the Auditor-General. I am afraid that all too little emphasis has been placed on that aspect of criticism of the action of the Government in this regard.
I find in the Auditor-General’s report for the year ended 30th June last, statements that I think justify very serious examination. After all, the AuditorGeneral is an officer to whom we pay a substantial salary with a view to his safeguarding public moneys and ensuring that nothing of an irregular character occurs in relation to public expenditure. At page 77 of the report, he states -
It also reported that, at times, the whole job was “ over-manned “, and it brought to the notice of the architects and contractors specific cases where costs were excessive. The architects were advised by the Control Authority that, during the week ended 11th May, 1957, it costed, in terms of labour only, the whole of the work carried out in Area 30. The report stated, “ This costing makes a liberal allowance for all items affecting production in this area for the week . . Frequently, job specifications were varied and did not conform to the architectural drawings. Another unsatisfactory feature has been the failure of the architects to meet their responsibilities regarding presentation of regular cost forecasts. These, and other instances of lack of efficiency in organization, direction and control indicate that the architects failed to carry out completely their obligations upon which the Government agreed to this type of cost-plus fixed fee contract.
– What about when you were a Minister?
– There was no question of any kind about any expenditure that took place during the time I was Minister. Although I administered during the difficult period of the war there was no question, at any time, regarding the satisfactory nature of the work performed or the way in which public moneys were expended. The honorable member for Macarthur (Mr. Jeff Bate) does not gain anything by that kind of inane interjection. In regard to this matter, a definite charge is made by the Auditor-General. It has not been answered and there has been no attempt to give anything like an adequate explanation of the unsatisfactory nature of the supervision of this work or why this expenditure exceeded what was justified.
But if honorable members wish to be given further indications that something is radically wrong I refer them to the questions on this subject which were asked of the relevant Ministers in June last year. They indicated that the project would certainly be completed for the amount that had originally been estimated. That, in general terms, was the answer given to the various questions asked by honorable members as to whether the St. Mary’s project would be completed on the terms that had been originally set down. Now, we find that the cost of this project has exceeded the original estimate by £3,000,000. That fact, in itself, certainly demands investigation, but the cost is estimated to be still further increased by £2,000,000. The question is whether we have received value for that expenditure. After what was said this afternoon by the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Bland) I shall be very surprised if the Public Accounts Committee does not accept its responsibility to make some kind of check of this expenditure of public money. It is only right that we, who are expected to he the custodians of public welfare and of public moneys, should see that adequate explanation is given for any expenditure of the kind that I and other members of the Opposition have brought to the notice of this committee and of the country.
The action of the Opposition in raising this matter again is further evidence of the serious situation that presents itself. If we desire to maintain the confidence of the people in the Legislature, there must be a full and adequate explanation of expenditure of this kind. If the actions of this Government in regard to defence expenditure are in any way to be compared with the pathetic and terrible lack of provision that is evident in regard to civil defence to-day, then members on the Government side surely cannot sit in their places, in the docile manner they appear to adopt and allow such things to pass without their strong condemnation. I earnestly ask them to recognize the public obligation that rests upon them to review these accounts. They must be prepared to make their Government understand that they want a clear statement concerning this expenditure for which it has been responsible.
Members of the Opposition have brought forward case after case to illustrate the Government’s failure to ensure full security in respect of work undertaken on its behalf. During the time I was Minister, the services of the Department of Works were utilized to the greatest possible extent. That was found to be a very satisfactory way of exercising not only a direct control but also of completing the work in hand expeditiously. More than 30 defence establishments were undertaken throughout the country and in not one single instance was any question raised about the moneys spent on them. That is an illustration of the difference between the way in which a Labour government goes about establishing the claims of the Australian nation and undertaking its work and the way in which this Liberal-Australian Country party Government discharges its responsibilities.
The Government is deserving of the censure that has been levelled against it by the Opposition. I trust that in the vote which will be registered on this matter Government supporters will recognize their obligation by joining with members of the Opposition to bring home to the Government the fact that this committee is not satisfied with the explanations that have been given. I was astounded to hear the Minister for Defence (Sir Philip McBride), in his belated statement, say that we have received full value for the moneys expended. How can he possibly say that in the face of criticism such as that voiced by the Auditor-General. The people of this country are earnestly desirous of having a more adequate investigation into this affair and a proper estimate made of the real position.
I have received a communication from representative people in my electorate which I will read so that it may be incorporated in the records of this Parliament. It is from a body of people living in an area which is essentially connected with the defence projects of this country. This is what they say -
A resolution was unanimously passed in which grave concern was expressed in the policy and administration of the Menzies Government re the St. Mary’s Explosives Filling Factory. Members condemned a policy in which such large sums of money have been allocated to promote outdated defence methods while such niggardly sums are being spent on the training of scientists and technicians upon whose researches our survival as a nation depends in peace as well as war.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– The honorable member for Bonython (Mr. Makin) has delivered himself of a great number of eloquent words, but has really said very little. He has confined himself to the one relatively small item of defence which has been dealt with by almost every speaker on the Opposition side - a fact which reveals, I submit, the paucity of ideas in the Opposition on the true problems of defence. This St. Mary’s question has been ventilated very thoroughly in the last few weeks, and the Government has given very complete and adequate explanations of the situation. The members of the Opposition have heard, and know these explanations just as well as do the members on the Government side and the people of Australia; but. because the Opposition is so destitute of any real ideas of how this country should be defended, honorable members of the Opposition fall back on this device of attacking the Government on one isolated small item which has already been adequately explained. I do not propose to waste any more time on side issues. I want to deal with an aspect of defence which seems to me to deserve some further consideration.
The money shown in the Estimates to be provided in the coming year for civil defence - £119,000 - indicates quite clearly that it is the intention of the Government to do little more, or no more, than maintain the existing civil defence school at Mount Macedon. This school has done a great deal of useful work, particularly by means of indoctrination classes. Under its system a cross-section of the various groups of the community have been selected and taken into the school for a short period. The school impresses on them what civil defence implies, teaches them the effect of an atomic attack on this country, and gives them some idea of the elementary precautions necessary to enable the community to offset the attack with a minimum of disastrous results. To that extent I think the school deserves congratulation and praise. However, I feel that something more is required; and why something more is not being attempted at the moment is quite clear. From some points of view the explanation is quite reasonable and logical. The Government has been informed by its expert advisers - and it accepts this advice - that the probability of an atomic attack on this country is quite small. In fact, it is so small that the money and effort expended on civil defence fall into a very low priority.
The Government has said, quite rightly, that in a country like Australia, with limited resources, we must shape our defence policy on those items of priority which appear to us to be the most pressing. On that line of argument the Government is perfectly correct in allocating a low priority to civil defence. Now, I want to suggest that civil defence falls into a quite different category. It is, if you like, the exception that proves the rule. The situation concerning civil defence in this nuclear era makes special circumstances obvious. I say that for reasons which I think are tenable. In the first place, an atomic attack on this country would certainly be a surprise attack. It is possible, currently, for our potential enemies to attack us from their home bases with submarines and aircraft, and, if not to-day, then in the very near future, with guided missiles. It is no longer necessary for a potential enemy to reveal his intention to attack by taking advance bases within range of his target. He can attack this country to-day from his home. That lends great emphasis to the probability, almost the certainty, that an attack, if one come* will be without warning. The disastrous results of a complete surprise attack can be gauged from the historic occasion at Pearl Harbour when the American Pacific Fleet was practically annihilated.
In addition, an atomic attack, if it comes, will be in quite a different category from the attacks to which we have been accustomed. In the past, if the defence could reduce the weight of attack, even by 60 or 70 per cent., the remaining effort of the enemy - the remaining 30 or 40 per cent. - was not necessarily, nor was it likely to be, vital. In fact, persistent and repeated attacks had to be made to obtain a a cumulative effect which would be to the serious detriment of a nation’s resources. This, historically, is very clearly indicated by the length of time required, and the massive repeated attacksrequired, to produce a vital effect on German industry and population from the air during the last war. The defences had to be worn down, and repeated attacks had to be made. The weight of an attack which actually got home had to become progressively greater as the defences were worn down. But in this nuclear age that no longer holds good. Anything less than 100 per cent, passive defence - and by that I mean stopping the enemy from hitting you - is no good, because if the enemy gets one thermonuclear or even one atomic bomb on one of our major centres of industry and population, the result will certainly be chaos and havoc, with the will of the nation to fight destroyed overnight. So I say that this question of civil defence falls into a particular category. It should be governed by special circumstances. While it is true and proper to say that with our limited resources, we must deal with our defence requirements on a priority basis, governed by probability, in this particular case, in my view, it would be incredible foolishness to do so, because nobody can deny that, however remote the probability may be, the possibility of a nuclear attack does exist to-day. I “believe that we should accept this development. I do not believe that we can afford to take these risks, and I believe that relatively inexpensive preparations would be well worth while. All that is really needed as a start is some intensive educational campaign throughout the country to give people confidence, to take away the nightmare, the unknown fear of what the results of an atomic attack will be. Let us tell them the truth, and acquaint them with the simple methods of personal survival so that they will not be taken unawares. Let them know whether to go under cover, whether they should change their clothes, whether they should wash them, or burn them. Give them the simple, personal survival principles, of which 99 per cent, of the population to-day is completely ignorant. The way to begin such simple measures is ready to our hands. The suggestion was made in this House to-day that we should utilize the already existing machinery of national service training to achieve this object.
I suggest that the 12,000 national service trainees whom we now call up to meet the proper requirements of the Army should be increased by some number which can be settled in consultation with the experts. The men themselves could be selected through the birthday ballot if you like, then taken into the Army and given special training in civil defence. The first question is: What about instructors? One of the reasons why the Army intake was reduced was because the instructional staff absorbed so many of the trained people that we could not sustain the strain on Army resources. However, instructors in this relatively simple phase of defence could be provided from the already established school at Mount Macedon.
The realistic thing to do, I suggest, is to take in these additional national service trainees, use the Army organization, administration, and accommodation, which must be available since we took in large numbers of national service trainees up to last year, and give them continuous training in civil defence for a limited period - I suggest a month or six weeks would be sufficient. The instructors for this purpose should be provided through the Mount Macedon school, and at the conclusion of the continuous training period of a month or six weeks, the trainees should be sent back to their own areas. Thereby we automatically get a dispersion throughout the whole country of people trained in the elements of civil defence. It has been suggested that we would need some organization similar to the Citizen Military Forces in order to keep these people under control for the remainder of the period that they would be liable to national training. That, I believe, is not only unnecessary but undesirable. They should be absorbed as auxiliaries in State instrumentalities such as the police, fire-fighting organizations, ambulance services and hospital staffs. They would be paid by the Commonwealth for the period of their liability to national service training, but they would be under the control of the State instrumentalities. By this means, without additional overhead expenditure, and with very little additional effort, we could make a useful beginning in a civil defence educational organization, which would be extremely useful. I suggest that the idea deserves further consideration by the Government.
.- The House always listens very attentively to the honorable and gallant member for Indi (Mr. Bostock). He speaks rarely in the House, but no one speaks more incisively and authoritatively than he does. I think he has brought to this discussion of the Defence Estimates a sense of urgency, which was first imported into it by the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley), and by that honorable member alone, in his references to this vital question of civil defence. The honorable member for Indi has gone further, and has proposed a thoroughly practicable means of ensuring that civil defence is placed on a proper, nation-wide footing, and that young men are trained to carry it out. In every other member country of the western alliance civil defence is given equal prominence with strategic and tactical defence, but in this country, and in this country alone, the national Parliament makes virtually no provision for civil defence, and of all the States I believe only New South Wales has made any practical move in that direction.
It is not as if expenditure on civil defence would be wasted if there was never a war, because civil defence, as the New South Wales organization has made very plain, is equally applicable to the national disasters which peculiarly affect this country, such as fire and flood.
What disappoints me about the contribution of the honorable member for Indi is that he, the highest ranking service officer in this chamber, should have made no reference to the matter which is above all the subject of the censure motion introduced by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean), and the subject which has occupied practically every other speech last night, this afternoon, and this evening. I refer to the question of St. Mary’s. I suggest that it is significant that the honorable member for Indi did not mention that because-
– The honorable member did mention it.
– The honorable member mentioned it at the beginning merely in order to discard it. After all, he had to make some link with the speech that preceded his. The very good reason why the honorable member for Indi did not deal with the St. Mary’s project was that he, above all others in this House, has links and liaison with the high service chiefs who are still serving, or who were serving in 1951 when this project was first mooted and when it should have been first put into train. The honorable member knows quite well that Sir John McCauley, who was Chief of Air Staff in 1951, and Sir Sydney Rowell, who was Chief of the General Staff at that time-
– You are wrong in your dates.
– The significant thing is that the only service chief who has been heard in public on this subject - the honorable member for Indi - quickly got off the subject. He knows that all the Chiefs of Staff, in 1951, said that in the interests of speed and cost it was essential to rehabilitate the old St. Mary’s, as we call it, and that the succeeding chiefs of staff, in 1954-55, when they were told that the old St. Mary’s would not be made available, said, “ We must still have a filling factory “. When they were then given the choice between no factory at all or a new one, whatever the cost, they said, “ We will have the new one “.
Everything that has been said in this debate on the Estimates by various service Ministers, not all of whom spoke on this subject, failed to cut down in any respect those two propositions. When there was a choice between the old and the new in 1951, the recommendation of the Chiefs of Staff was in favour of the old. In 1954-55, in secret conclave in the Cabinet room, they were given the choice between a new filling factory or none at all, and they chose the new one. The Chiefs of Staff are the only non-Cabinet members who have ever been allowed into the Cabinet room, with the exception of members of the Liberal party Federal Executive. In each case, the choice of the Chiefs of Staff was inevitable, and nobody has cavilled at it.
The only new feature imported into this debate was the graphic and pictorial contribution by the Minister for Defence Production (Mr. Beale) this afternoon. He showed photographs of this St. Mary’s site when the project was commenced, and it is a pity that those photographs cannot be incorporated in “ Hansard “. One would have thought that they depicted a Dutch landscape. The land was completely inundated.
I believe it is known to all honorable members, from experience and observation, that the area along that river has been subject to ever more frequent and more extensive inundations as the years have gone by. What has happened before could happen again, and if during war-time the river rose to the same extent and with the same force, the whole St. Mary’s project would be put out of action. It is true that we could erect dykes or form polders around it. Let us hope we do that in time to preserve the site. The extent of the flood risk is the only new light thrown on this project by the Minister who, as he would be the first regretfully to admit, took over the project only one year ago. His contribution must have caused disquiet to every one who listened to him this afternoon.
Let us clear away some of the side issues sought to be imported into this debate by honorable members opposite. There is no question that this is a good factory. There is no question that a filling factory was necessary in order to complete Australia’s war preparations. We would be completely unbalanced in our defence preparations without a filling factory to bring together the explosives and the casings. The criticism that we have made all along - because this is so. well established as the most notorious of the examples which people have suggested tentatively from time to time - is that this is indicative of the whole of the Government’s defence planning over the last six, seven or eight years. We do not criticize the necessity for a filling factory. We do not suggest that this is not a good filling factory. It may be that it is infinitely better than all the facilities which it will bring together, that is, it is much ahead of existing facilities for the manufacture of explosives and casings; but we do criticize the Government because of the fact that Australia has had to wait so long for the factory and has to pay so dearly for it. The Prime Minister stated publicly at a meeting of State Premiers on 2nd March, 1951-
The possibilities of war are so real and so serious that Australia cannot, with justice to herself or her allies, grant herself a day more than three years in which to be ready.
When 2nd March, 1954, came around the factory had not even been started. At that time we who were campaigning in the very narrowly held Government seat in the St. Mary’s area remember quite well the consternation at the insecurity of tenure of the people in the old St. Mary’s factory. 1 believe one of the crucial reasons why the whole of this project was delayed so long and why in the end this expensive and unnecessary new factory was adopted instead of adequate, prompt and economic rehabilitation of the old factory, was to save the Government’s electoral fortunes in that area. The honorable member concerned is not here to-night, and I will not pursue that line further, but if honorable members refer to “ Hansard “ and the questions he asked of the responsible Minister at that time regarding the insecurity of the tenants in the St. Mary’s area, they will see that it was conceded and stated at the time by the Minister that those tenants could not expect any long tenure in that area.
– We put it there and we still won.
– The position is that if the normal procedure had been followed of the Department of Works planning, carrying out and supervising this project, and if the Auditor-General had come out with the condemnatory reports he brought to the Parliament last year and this year on the performance of the Department of Works, honorable gentlemen opposite would be the first to seek to expose its deficiencies instead of covering them up as they have for the last week or so attempted to cover up the deficiencies of private enterprise at St. Mary’s. Public money has been wasted on this occasion, but because that has occurred through faulty planning, construction and supervision by private enterprise, Government members think they must at all costs rally to the defence of their friends and supporters. If the Department of Works does wrong, we should expose it; if private contractors, supervisors and agents have done wrong, no less should we expose them.
The Public Works Committee, a standing committee of this Parliament, cannot deal with this project since it relates to defence and the charter of the committee excludes such matters. The Public Accounts Committee can deal with it as it dealt with the Bell Bay project, but it has not yet done so. The Government last week voted to preclude a parliamentary inquiry into the subject. One would have thought that if they really had at heart the interests and reputation of these large contractors, eminent architects and senior service chiefs the opportunity would have been given to those concerned to clear themselves at a public inquiry. Instead of that, we have the Government selecting documents, soliciting statements and fighting on side issues.
I turn now to the allegation made about the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner). I am not going to make any allegation against his honesty in this matter, but he was in the compromising position throughout this period that the managing partner of his firm was the chairman of the company which held one-quarter of the factory space. The Prime Minister said that the reason why this old factory was not rehabilitated was that 1,000,000 sq. feet would have to be taken from existing tenants. If, as the Minister for National Development said in another place, it was never proposed to expropriate 250,000 sq. feet of that 1,000,000 sq. feet, then the Prime Minister’s statement cannot stand. Then we have the statement made by the honorable member for Darebin (Mr. R. W. Holt) last night regarding Sir Sydney Rowell. The Minister for Defence Production (Mr. Beale) left the House, rang up Sir Sydney Rowell, came back and, in a perfect non sequitur, stated that Sir Sydney Rowell had said, “ I have not had a conversation with the honorable member for Darebin for the last ten years”. That, of course, does not deny the statement made by the honorable member, who never said he had had a conversation with Sir Sydney Rowell.
We require positive clarification of these things: Why will this project cost £5,000,000 more than the sum of £23,200,000 which was announced originally, which included £1,950,000 for contingencies and projected rises in costs and which the Treasurer (Sir Arthur Fadden), the former Minister for Defence Production, the present Minister for Defence Production, and the Minister for Defence in the Estimates debate last year were still asserting would cost only £23,000,000 or £23,200,000? Why is it going to cost £28,000,000? On 15th June last, the Minister for Defence Production gave five reasons for this disappointing increase. The first reason was the flooding at the outset. I exposed his next reason, the unexpected electrification of the railway line - and this afternoon he had the good grace to admit that this reason would not hold water. They knew, or should have known, electrification would take place. The third reason he gave was the site allowance granted by the Industrial Commission of New South Wales. The commission delivered judgment in this matter on 2nd December, 1955, a year and a half before the Minister announced the rise. The former Minister was represented before the commission by counsel who did not cross-examine the witnesses for the unions or the employers, but merely made oral submissions. His fourth reason was cost of living adjustments under State awards; these came into effect from November, 1955.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
Several honorable members rising in their places,
Motion (by Mr. Harold Holt) put -
That the question be now put.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. C. F. Adermann.)
Majority . . . . 18
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question put -
That the vote proposed to be reduced (Mr. Crean’s amendment) be so reduced.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. C. F. Adermann.)
Question so resolved in the negative.
Proposed votes agreed to.
Proposed Vote, £4,625,000.
Australian Capital Territory
Proposed Vote, £3,025,000.
Proposed Vote, £33,000.
Papua and New Guinea
Proposed Vote, £11,258,000.
Cocos (Keeling) Islands
Proposed Vote, £29,000.
Part 4. - Payment to or for the States -
Department of Health
Proposed Vote, £2,550,000. (Ordered to be considered together.)
– I shall confine my remarks to the proposed vote for the Northern Territory. The item with which I want to deal, chiefly, is that which concerns capital works. This matter was dealt with in the notes that were circulated recently by the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck). My reason for referring particularly to the item concerning capital works is that this item gives a true indication of the Government’s intention with regard to the Northern Territory and of its confidence in the development of the Territory. The item represents the capital investment that Australia will make in the Territory during the coming twelve months. On this occasion, we find that the Minister, in his notes, had this to say -
A new work programme estimated to cost £3,900,000 has been approved by the Cabinet Committee on Works for 1957-58. Revotes carried forward from 1956-57 are estimated at over £1,500,000, making a total works programme for 1957-58 of £5,400,000. Against this a cash provision of only £2,222,900 (including oncost) has been approved for 1957-58.
This last item, of course, is the one that so vitally concerns the development of the Northern Territory. Although the Cabinet has approved of a works programme amounting to £5,400,000, in reality the cash provision for the coming year totals only £2,222,900, and that includes a re-vote from the previous year of £1,197,000, so that the new money available amounts to only about £900,000.
– New works, not new money.
– Yes, this is for new works, and this is the item that we are concerned with, because it is the new works that measure the progress that is being made, or will be made, in the Territory.
The item for re-votes is a recurring item. If we look back over a period we find that in the last three budgets the proportion of re-votes on the new works programme has been not less than 50 per cent. It was 60 per cent, last year and is over 50 per cent, on this occasion. The people of the
Northern Territory are concerned about the actual cash that is being provided on this occasion. They know that whilst a certain works programme may have been approved, the cash actually provided is only a little over £2,000,000, and that, of course is less than was made available in the preceding year. If we look at the notes supplied by the Minister last year we find that with re-votes of £1,528,000, on-costs of £147,000, and new works amounting to £924,000, we then had a total of £2,600,000, which was actually £400,000 more than is being provided this year to start with.
This is a matter which causes us great concern. In the explanatory notes that were supplied the Minister had this to say: -
Funds made available in 1956-57 for capita] works to be carried out by the Commonwealth Department of Works on behalf of the Administration were £2,601,000. However, due partly to an enforced cutback in works potential in the last quarter of 1955-56, it was not possible to carry out the works at this rate, and works of only £2,014,000 were achieved.
The disturbing question is this: Why cannot the works potential in the Northern Territory be increased so that the vote made year by year by this Parliament may be used? After all, one would think that an amount of £2,500,000 would not represent a great volume of work to be done by the various works agencies. However, we find that even a sum of £2,600,000 could not be spent by the various establishments in the Northern Territory. This Government has been in office for over seven years, and it should have ensured that a work potential was built up in the Northern Territory of sufficient strength to deal with the approved works programme. We should have a works programme drawn up each year which is within the capacity of the works authorities in the Northern Territory. Instead, we find that those authorities are able *o expend only 50 per cent., at the most, of the funds made available for new works. It is certainly true that estimates for other works and services have increased but those works anc’ services are of the kind that must necessarily be provided in any growing community. Health services, general services, and the like, must keep up with the requirements of a growing community. The capital expenditure being undertaken is an indication of the development that is taking place in the Northern Territory.
I ask the Minister for Territories to indicate what the Government proposes to do to increase the work force potential in the Territory so that even the small additional amount of work to be undertaken can be completed. I think that one of the reasons for the inadequacy of the work force is the uncertainty of private contractors about a continuing works programme. The uncertainty on the part of the private contractors, of course, is reflected in the instability of the employers in the Territory. One cannot expect contractors to move their entire organizations, including plant and workshops, to the Northern Territory unless and until they can be assured of a continuing programme of works, under which new works will be undertaken every year. Nor can one expect tradesmen to remain in the back country if they can get only sporadic and intermittent work without any certainty of continual employment. It is hard country to settle into, and the tradesmen and contractors needed to undertake the works that are required think twice before they will undertake work in the Territory.
Among the new works needed are new roads, new water conservation schemes, and new schools. It is interesting to note, as reported in the Sydney “ Sun “ of 22nd October, that the Minister for Territories informed a Liberal party conference held recently, I think in Canberra, that public expenditure, works, production, and trade, have increased more in the Northern Territory than in any other part of Australia. Certainly, the figures that the Minister gave to the committee this evening do not indicate a great increase in any of those fields of activity. Where are all the developmental works that should be undertaken if such an expansion in expenditure were in fact taking place?
New schools are needed in the Northen Territory to meet the needs of the increasing school population. The needs of Darwin, of course, are being provided for, and when the new schools now under construction are completed, the immediate requirements there will probably be met. The position at Katherine is similar, but Alice Springs, in the centre of Australia, is not so fortunate. New schools, the construction of which was approved some years age, have not yet been started, and pupils are at present attending classes “in converted
Army huts, which are totally unsuited to the climatic conditions. They lack the heating that is necessary in winter, and the cooling that is needed in summer, to keep the children comfortable, and to counteract the extremes of heat and cold that are usual in that part of Australia.
Additional water supply schemes are very much needed. Under the present programme the storage reservoir from which Darwin draws its supplies will be enlarged, and this should meet Darwin’s needs. However, water supplies at Tennant Creek and Alice Springs are totally inadequate. Over the last eighteen months, it is true, efforts have been made to provide a satisfactory supply at Tennant Creek, but the work is not being pushed ahead as expeditiously as is necessary to meet the requirements of that centre, which produces commodities worth some £3,000,000 annually. It is still in much the same position as it was in about twenty year ago, because the residents have to cart water for distances of up to 50 miles in dry times, and 7 miles at other times, for their domestic needs.
Many new roads are needed in the Northern Territory. Some of the needs will be met in the current financial year’s programme. However, I should like the Minister to indicate what works are envisaged in the current programme. Is an all-weather road to the Daly River agricultural settlement to be constructed? Is the southern road to the border of South Australia to be completed? Is the road to the western districts of the Northern Territory, including the Dry River road, and the road leading into Western Australia, to be constructed? Has provision been made for allweather roads on the Barkly Tableland in order to provide reasonable transport facilities for the residents there? I know that there are graded roads in the parts of the Northern Territory that I have mentioned, but they are in poor condition, and are totally inadequate for the traffic that they carry. They are not by any means all-weather roads, and they are regularly out of commission for many months of the year.
These things that I have mentioned are of the greatest interest to the people of the Northern Territory. We who live in the Territory are not so much interested, at the present time, in an increase in the size of the Northern Territory Administration. We are interested more in the capital expenditure that will be undertaken to provide new hospitals, and so on. We feel that work that should have been completed at many centres in the Northern Territory years ago should not have been omitted from the works programme, and shelved from year to year. I recall that the right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page), who was at the time Minister for Health, once assured me that certain work that was urgently needed to improve the Alice Springs hospital would be undertaken. That work has not yet been commenced. Even the amended works programme to be put into effect in the current financial year will not cater for the additional health services needed by the residents of the Northern Territory.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– At the commencement of his remarks, the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson) referred to some aspects of the works programme, which with all due respect, I suggest might be dealt with more suitably to-morrow when the committee considers the works programme. Because the opportunity to deal with those points will come then, and because I assume that my colleague, the Minister for Works (Mr. Fairhall), will take up those points then, I do not propose to dwell on them now.
I suggest that the honorable member for the Northern Territory has perhaps given a wrong impression of the amount actually to be spent on works in the Northern Territory this financial year, by singling out an item of £900,000 of new works. Of course, the amount that will actually be spent on works in the Territory this financial year includes the amount for re-votes as well as the amount for new works, and totals well over £2,000,000. I think that, by way of general comment on what the honorable member has said, I should indicate the steady rate of expenditure on both general services in the Northern Territory, which, of course, is mainly undertaken by the Northern Territory Administration, and on works. The official document from which the honorable member quoted also contains a table which indicates that expenditure in the Territory on general services, works services, health services, capital works, and capital purchases, in this financial year, will be close on £8,000,000, whereas, in the Budget that this Government inherited when it took office in the financial year 1949-50, the total provision was only £2,000,000. If one traces the figures year by year, one sees that there has been a steadily increasing scale of effort, and the rate of increase has been such as should encourage people to believe that we have confidence in the future of the Northern Territory, and that we intend to make a concentrated and expanding effort in the development of the Territory.
I shall comment briefly on the particular matters to which the honorable member referred. The difficulties with the water supply at Tennant Creek are difficulties which have been set by nature. The problem is to find a sufficient local supply of water. As the honorable member knows, during recent years some constant and steady activity has been carried out by the Northern Territory Mines Department in trying to solve that fundamental problem. It is not for want of good will on the part of the Government or readiness to provide funds; it is lack of water in considerable quantities, which means that Tennant Creek does not yet have the water supply that we would hope to give it. The honorable member anticipated correctly on the question of roads. The programme for road works includes a road from Alice Springs to Kulgera, a road from the bitumen to the Daly River agricultural settlement, and further work on the system of roads that includes the road from the neighbourhood of Katherine out towards Top Springs, the road from Newcastle Waters to Top Springs and beyond that to the Western Australian border.
In rising to speak to-night, I do not want to deal solely with matters raised by the honorable member for the Northern Territory. I should like to take the opportunity to give the committee some general information about the provision made in the estimate for the Territories and to refer to two of three particular points concerning the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. Unfortunately, the Territories of the Commonwealth are so extensive and so many activities are being carried on in those
Territories that time is literally not available for a Minister for Territories to traverse the whole ground without infringing too much on the privileges of other contributors to the debate. Therefore, I propose to select for particular attention only two or three items relating to Papua and New Guinea.
In passing, I think I would be entitled to say that most remarkable progress is being made in the Territories of the Commonwealth, considered as a whole. I shall give a broad indication. The financial provision being made to-day for all the Territories of the Commonwealth, excluding the Australian Capital Territory, is four times as much as it was when this Government took office. The contrast is a total financial provision of £5,500,000 in 1948-49 against a total provision in this Budget of £24,000,000. The works programme for the whole of the Territories has shown in the same period an eight-fold increase from £800,000 a year to a total provision for this year of £7,000,000. There has been a four-fold increase in the local revenues raised in the Territories from £1,600,000 to £6,000,000. The value of exports to all the Territories except the Australian Capital Territory has shown an increase of more than three times from £6,700,000 to £24,000,000 in the year that has just closed. Of course, in addition to that striking increase in the value of exports, there has been, particularly in Papua and New Guinea, an increase in production for local consumption. It is very hard to state the value of that increase statistically, but it is indeed considerable.
In the Budget for this year, we are making provision for the Northern Territory, in round figures, of £2,900,000 for general services, £882,000 for works services, £807,000 for health services and £3,360,000 for capital works and capital purchases, making a grand total of £7,986,000, which is a higher amount than has ever been available for expenditure on the Northern Territory before. The financial arrangements in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea are slightly different. As honorable members know, this Parliament votes an annual Commonwealth grant, which is then taken into the revenues of the Territory, and with the addition of revenues raised locally, forms the Territory budget presented to the Territory Legislative Council. This year, the amount of the grant from the Commonwealth is £11,000,000, and to that will be added a little less than £5,000,000, giving a Territory budget of almost £16,000,000. That compares with a Territory budget last year of £13,700,000 and a Territory budget in 1949-50 of only £5,500,000. So honorable members can see that in the course of less than ten years, from 1949-50 to 1957-58, the scale of governmental activity in Papua and New Guinea has increased from £5,500,000 to almost £16,000,000.
Having given that broad picture of the provision being made for the two large territories of the Commonwealth, I should like to refer in particular, for the information of the committee, to the way in which the budget of Papua and New Guinea is prepared. As I have said, the Commonwealth provides a grant, voted by this Parliament, local revenues are raised and the two are added together to form a Territory budget under the control of the Legislative Council for the Territory. It has been my consistent endeavour while I have occupied this portfolio to increase the annual grant available from the Commonwealth and at the same time to put pressure on the Territory to increase local revenue so that, with an increasing budget, the proportion between the Commonwealth grant and local revenue will remain approximately the same. In broad figures, we have attempted to raise from local sources about 30 per cent, of the total budget. This year, when the grant was raised to £11,000,000, I gave directions to the Administrator of the Territory that he should endeavour to raise enough extra revenue in the Territory to maintain the old proportion.
The way in which revenue is raised, whether by this form of taxation or by some other form of taxation, is mainly the responsibility of the Territory. The Territory Administration has accepted its responsibility and has done all that was required of it in raising the extra money. However, I am sure that the Territory Administrator would agree with me that, as a result of the sort of pressures which the Government has put on the Administration and as a result of the consequential improvizations which the Administration has had to make from year to year in order to raise additional revenue, we have a condition where possibly the method of raising revenue in the Territory is not as scientific as we would hope it to be. As all honorable members will appreciate, in the raising of revenue any government tries to achieve some standard of equity as between the various sections of the community and as between the various individuals in the community who have to contribute to the revenue. Of course, different political parties have different theories as to the meaning of equity. There is a tendency by parties of some persuasions to put the burden more heavily in one quarter, and for other parties of another political persuasion to put the burden more heavily in a different quarter; but by and large, with some freedom of interpretation according to their political ideas, governments do try to make the burden of revenue-raising fall evenly both on sections of the community and on individuals.
Any government, in raising revenue, must also be aware of the economic effect of its attempts to raise revenue. If you place the burden too heavily on one industry, it may have a crippling effect on that industry. If you allow some section of the community to escape its just share of contribution to the public revenues, you may set up undesirable stresses in the economic life of the community itself. One has to watch the economic effects of the proposals for raising revenue and, on occasions, one may have to direct the course of revenue-raising measures in order to produce certain desirable economic effects. That is the sort of process with which all governments have been familiar in the Australian scene, but I fear, that, in the Territory, over recent years our budget-making has been dictated largely by the search for sources of revenue, rather than by a scientific approach to the problems of budget-making. It is in my mind, in the course of the coming year, to carry out something in the nature of a financial review of Territory revenues to see whether, in fact, the revenues are being raised from the right quarters, are falling with some sort of equity on the taxpayers of the Territory, and are not having undesirable economic effects, but are having economic effects that are conducive to the long-term welfare of the Territory and its industries. That financial review will be carried out with the co-operation of the territorial Administration in the coming year.
The next subject to which I wish to refer briefly is the broad subject of the development of the resources of Papua and New Guinea. I mention this particularly because I think that sometimes there is a certain degree of misunderstanding when one talks of the development of those resources. If one could make a contrast, I should say that in the Northern Territory you could say, “ Develop every resource you can find. Develop it to the utmost, to the full extent of your efforts, and do not fear the consequences in the least, because the consequences cannot be anything but good.” But you could not apply that same rough rule in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea, because there you encounter a great number of social problems which do qualify, in some way, your approach to this task of the development of the resources of the country.
It is true that we must do everything we can to develop the resources, so that the materials produced will be available for Australia and for the markets of the world, and also, more importantly, so that the wealth that is produced from the development of the resources shall be available to all sections of the population of Papua and New Guinea in order to sustain the higher standards of living to which they are advancing. One of the follies, perhaps, in attempts to advance the welfare of dependent peoples has been the sort of activity that has put them into schools and educated them, and having educated them, has not had a job or an occupation to which they could go, has not had the means of livelihood for them. It is useless teaching a man to live in a house instead of in a hut if you do not provide him with the economic means of getting a house and maintaining the expenses of a house. Tt is senseless to teach a man a new skill, to teach him to be a carpenter, for instance, if he is going to have no opportunity to use his talent and his training as a carpenter. So, one must have this development of resources in order to sustain the social advances that inevitably will take place there, and in order to avoid the disappointments and the frustrations which will come if one of the indigenous people has been given training and then finds no outlet for his superior skill.
But, having said that, we have to recognize that the pace of development and the nature of development may be limited, and often is limited, by the social problems that are created. One thing that we have to realize about Papua and New Guinea is that we are carrying out a great social transformation. There are people in that country who, even to-day, are living in a state of primitive savagery and cannibalism. There are people who, less than a generation ago, were living in that condition, but have now advanced to something approaching or resembling the European way of life. That transformation is going on perpetually. It is going on day by day. One can say that in almost every week of the year the lives of some individuals or some groups of individuals in the Territory are being changed in a significant way. The trouble is that - and I say this with full consciousness of the sort of nonsense that is so often talked in the Trusteeship Council - we do not know with definiteness what the end result of the whole process will be. We will be foolish if we imagine that the indigenous Papuan people are going to be turned into Europeans. They are not. They are going to be transformed into some new kind of Papuans. We do not know exactly what sort of Papuan the Papuan of the future generation will be. He will be different from the present generation. He will not be like a European. He will be something that he has developed in his own nature, with his own capacities, to suit the conditions in which he lives.
A good deal of nonsense, I think, is talked to-day to the effect that you can get some commodity called democracy, or nationalism, or civilization, and just wrap it up in a parcel and give it to people and that they will unwrap it and, having unwrapped it, will at once be democratic, nationalist, civilized, or something else. It does not happen that way. How it happens is that an individual’s life is changed. A group of people begin to live in a different way. People become democratic; they do not receive democracy as a gift. The best we can do is to provide the conditions, to create the opportunities, to give the tutelage and the assistance to the full extent of our ability; but what happens as a result of that work is in the keeping of the people who are making the effort towards social, economic and political advancement.
Because that continuous transformation is going on, we cannot, at any period of time, make rough and ready judgments and say that this shall or shall not be, or that this shall or shall not take place. We have to watch the unfolding situation, to watch our principles, to watch the effects of our administrative actions and of our developmental projects, and be prepared at all times to make adjustments. To give only one illustration of many that might be given, that sort of fact does limit the glib acceptance of any proposal for the development of the resources of the country. It means that we have to watch most carefully what developmental projects we undertake, and the way in which they are directed. I say that because, so often in the course of the work which our officers are doing on behalf of Australia in the Territory, we get the unthinking criticism which looks for a cheap, easy and dramatic result. While our officers are engaged in the work, we so often get the international criticism which demands that we set a target date for this, that or something else to happen. I think that a part of our confidence in ourselves as Australians, and a part of our reliance on our own judgment, must be shown in the fact that, while we pay respectful attention to opinions offered from any quarter, we sometimes may have to have the courage to ignore those opinions and rely upon our own judgment and our own careful and close observation of the progress of change in the country.
The next point to which I wish to refer briefly is an entirely separate one. It concerns measures that are being taken by the Legislative Council for the Territory of Papua and New Guinea at the present time for a basic change in the native labour legislation of the Territory. The history of the matter is that in 1950-51 some changes in labour legislation were made, abolishing the old indenture system and replacing it with a system of labour under agreement, freely entered into by the indigenous worker concerned and supervised by the Administration. In practice, it was found that the abolition of sanctions which existed under the indenture system had led, in some cases, to instability in labour, to desertions of labour, to confusion in the mind of the labourer himself and dissatisfaction in the mind of the employer about the way the system was working. Having regard to that, and also having regard to the fact that throughout the country more and more people were acquiring new skills and learning to do things in a different way to which they used to do them in the old days, 1 instigated, in 1953-54, a basic inquiry into native labour legislation. That inquiry was carried out by a former director of the Department of Native Affairs, Mr. Jones. After he had presented a basic report on the problems of native labour, he was joined by an assistant secretary of the Department of Territories, Mr. Marsh, and their further work resulted in the presentation of what is known, in our administrative circles, as the Jones-Marsh report on native labour.
– Why do you take up so much time out of the debate on this?
– Because I assume that the people of Australia, if not the members of this committee, are interested in national problems.
– They are not interested in listening to you, from choice.
– If that is the attitude of the committee I will resume my seat and allow honorable members to be at liberty to talk as much as they like.
.- Mr. Temporary Chairman, I did not anticipate such a dramatic result so soon, but I remind the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) that only two hours have been allotted for the debate on the estimates now before the Chair. This national capital is a most unusual city. It is populated largely by those who perform the services of government and, indeed, carry out the administration of government. We have, in this city, those who are responsible for planning the political, economic and social advancement of the untutored savages in the Territories of Papua and New Guinea, yet they have one thing in common with those same untutored savages - they have no effective say in the day to day government of their own affairs. I believe - or at least I hope - that we are on the eve of very considerable development in this planned national capital. I say that I hope we are on the eve of that development, because from time to time plans have been brought forward and promises made that certain development would take place. But not always have those plans been carried into effect. It has been suggested that the theme song of the Administration here could well be that old Mexican ballad “ Manana “. “ Manana “ means “ to-morrow “ and the attitude of the Administration appears to be, “ Manana is good enough for me “. We have had these promises before; we hope that soon they will be carried out.
If we are to proceed rapidly with the development of this national capital, as I hope we shall, and have, ultimately, a population of something like 120,000 people-
– So we can administer the Dried Fruits Act and other acts which make life in the deserts of the Mallee more enjoyable. If we are to have that population and develop the city it will be necessary for us to look not only at the city but also at the country which surrounds it. I refer to that area within the boundaries of the Australian Capital Territory. In the areas outside the city itself, some 310,000 acres are at present held under leasehold, some 107,000 acres under freehold, and between 150,000 and 200,000 acres are reserved from occupancy as the watershed for the Canberra city water supply. I believe that we will not have a balanced development in this national capital unless we plan, now, the development of the rural potential of the surrounding area to provide the food supplies for the future population of the city.
The Administration of the leasehold land or the lands, generally, in this territory is the responsibility of the Minister for the Interior. He administers these lands under a leases ordinance which relates to the land outside the city itself, and the regulations made under that ordinance. It has been possible, over the years, for successive Ministers of the Interior to grant leases to applicants for land within the Territory, but certain requirements had to be fulfilled by the applicant for that land. First of all, the obligation was laid upon the Minister to satisfy himself as to the ability of the applicant or the proposed assignee to carry out the conditions of the lease. He also had to inquire whether the applicant owned, leased or managed other lands within or outside the Territory, whether the applicant resided or intended to reside in the Territory, whether he was a returned soldier, and examine any other matters which it was thought fit to be taken into consideration. It was laid down, also, that a lease should not be granted to any person unless the Minister previously determined that he was eligible to become a lessee.
In addition to those provisions, the ordinance itself provided that the Minister had power to grant leases under these terms and conditions for a period of 25 years. In another regulation a limit was provided to the amount of land which could be held by one lessee. That was a monetary limit. In my view, it would have been better if it had been a limit of carrying capacity - a certain number of sheep to the acre on unimproved land. But it was a monetary limit, which was varied from time to time - from £6,000 to £8,000 and later to £10,000. The regulation was framed in these terms -
No person shall hold under lease land of a greater assessed value than £10,000 (exclusive of the value of buildings, fences, dams, ground tanks, wells and bores). “ Assessed value “, for the purpose of this regulation shall mean the assessed value as at the date of the commencement of the lease.
It is my contention and that of many people in this Territory, that in past years, successive Ministers for the Interior, in successive administrations, have failed properly to administer and apply the ordinance and the regulations. I believe - and there is a considerable body of people in this Territory who are in agreement - that there have been aggregations of leasehold lands far beyond the limits permitted under the regulations. Those who, being the sons of farmers, or those who had served their country overseas and had returned and desired to take up land, were denied the opportunity of taking up land in the Territory because of this very aggregation of leasehold land which had already been permitted, in complete contravention I suggest, of the regulations as they existed at that time. However, those who sought land in the Territory took some comfort from an assurance given by the then Minister for the Interior, on 20th September, 1951, in writing, to me in answer to an inquiry I had made. He wrote -
All suitable Commonwealth-owned rural land is at present under occupation and will not become available until the expiration of leases in 1958, when it is proposed to review the conditions under which this land will be utilized in the future.
Those who felt that there were unsatisfactory features in the administration of land in this Territory took hope from the belief that in 1958, when current leases expired, there would be a review on a proper basis which would mean that right would be done by all people and that those who sought an equity would be able to secure it. However, the previous Minister for the Interior, on the very eve of the last general election, promulgated an ordinance which, first of all, removed the twenty-five year period which previously had stood as the limit of time for which a lease could be granted. This ordinance was No. 10 of 1955, and an important section of the ordinance amended Section 3 of the principal ordinance by omitting the words “ not exceeding twentyfive years “.
I point out to the committee that the ordinance was dated 23rd November, 1955 which, a rapid calculation will show, was just seventeen days before the general election after which that Minister for the Interior ceased to be Minister for the Interior. So, opportunity was immediately given for the new Minister for the Interior to grant extended leases to the holders of areas which had already been accumulated in contravention, I suggest, of the leases regulations, and there are cases on record, and within the knowledge of some members of this Parliament, in which these transactions took place. However, the amendment to the ordinance was followed very rapidly by a further amendment of the regulations. We have regulation 3 of Regulations No. 13, 1955 which were dated the 5th day of December, 1955 - just five days before the general .election. This new regulation said -
Regulation 7 of the Leases regulations is repealed, and the following regulation is inserted in its stead -
Regulation 7 was the one which placed a monetary limit - at that stage £10,000 - on the amount of land which could be held by any one lessee. The new regulation proposed to repeal that provision completely and to place, in its stead, a regulation which provided that the period for which a lease might be granted for grazing, horticultural, and fruit-growing purposes, &c, was to be a period not exceeding 50 years, and that the period for leases for purposes other than those specified was to be 99 years. The position then was that, first, we had an ordinance removing the provision for a limit of 25 years; secondly, we had the introduction of a regulation which removed the limit on the value of the land which could be held by any one lessee and which empowered the Minister to grant these leases for periods of up to 50 years. Action was taken in the Parliament itself to protest against that regulation and, indeed, a motion in the Senate for the disallowance of the regulation was carried. The argument used in the Senate was that it was felt that a limit should be maintained on the amount of land any one man could hold. Admittedly there was a difference of opinion as to the type or nature of that limit, whether it should be a limit of monetary value only or one assessed on the carrying capacity or the worth of the land in other ways; but the argument which prevailed in the Senate, and which resulted in the rejection of that new regulation, was that there should be a limit on the amount of land which could be held by one lessee. However, the effect of the Senate’s disallowance of the new regulation is that there is now no regulation at all, because I am told that, through the operation of the Acts Interpretation Act, a regulation which is so disallowed ceases to exist; but in the process, the original regulation has also ceased to exist, because the regulation made by the Minister on 5th December, 1955, replaced the original regulation 7. So, in the result, we find that although the Parliament has expressed its view, at least through one House, that there should be a limit on the amount of land which can be held by one lessee, and although Parliament has, in fact, disallowed a regulation which proposed to remove that limit, the regulation itself has ceased to exist because the new regulation 3 had already replaced regulation 7. So there is now absolutely no limit to the amount of land that can be held by one lessee in the Territory. I suggest that there is a very real need for the Minister to re-insert in the regulations that limit which at least one House of the Parliament says should be retained.
I should like the Minister to seek the opinion of the Attorney-General (Senator O’sullivan) or the Solicitor-General on the actual position that exists, because a regulation cannot truly have effect, I suggest, until it has lain on the table of each House for fifteen full sitting days and, if within that period either House moves successfully for the disallowance of that regulation, the regulation is disallowed. Here we have a regulation which says that regulation 7 is repealed. The Parliament, through one House, has disallowed that new regulation. Surely the natural corollary is that regulation 7 is not repealed. But we find that that is not the position, because regulation 7 had already been replaced by the regulation which was later disallowed. That may sound rather involved, but a very real point is at issue and I believe the Minister should have it carefully examined.
I suggest to the Minister that the whole question of the use of leasehold land within the Territory should be reviewed. It might well be that the same action could be taken now as was taken in 1929, when this question of the administration of leasehold land in the Territory was referred to the Public Accounts Committee, which produced a most valuable report for the guidance of the officers of the Department of the Interior and the Government.
There have been instances, known quite well to the Minister for the Interior, which have caused dissatisfaction not only to individual farmers and lessees but also to members of the Rural Lessees’ Association which speaks for its members on these matters. I do not propose to go into them in the few minutes that remain to me, but I want to voice a protest in this Parliament against the action which is to be taken to deprive a number of small lessees in the Ginninderra area of land which they have held under lease for nearly 25 years and which they expected to be the subject of review in 1958. These lessees are being deprived of their land to enable an extension of the activities of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. That organization says, in effect, “ We must have this land because it is the only land the Department of the Interior will make available to us “. The department says that this is the only land that can be taken because it is the only land that the C.S.I.R.O. will accept. There is a conflict of opinion. Admittedly the C.S.I.RO needs additional land. I think the mistake has been made in taking the land from small lessees when, in fact, a comparable area held by a man with, we will say, an aggregation of leasehold land, exists nearby. I leave it with the Minister at that point, as my time is now exhausted.
.- I much regret, as do other honorable members on this side of the committee, the circumstances in which the speech of the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) was truncated. One would have thought that when the Minister had taken the trouble to use the opportunity provided by the debate to give the committee some of the facts about his views, and some of the experience gained by him in the administration of the Department of Territories, honorable members would have been prepared to listen to what was said. There is also the fact that although there might not have been many people in the chamber at the time, the matter would be of some interest to the press and also to those people who read “ Hansard “. I was surprised at the exhibition by honorable members opposite of what can only be described plainly as bad manners in interrupting a Minister of the distinction of the present Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck).
I rose to-night not only to protest at the cavalier treatment given to the Minister for Territories, but also to make some observations on a matter arising out of the estimates for the Australian Capital Territory. This concerns the state of roads in the Territory. The estimate for the forthcoming year for road and bridge maintenance is £300,000, but I ask the Minister and the committee: Does the Government consider that this is sufficient, taking into account the rapid expansion set down for Canberra in the coming four years? The committee has been told that, with the transfer of the defence departments to Canberra and with the attraction of business to this city, the population is expected virtually to double between now and 1961, and I should have thought that since that is the programme which the Government has promulgated, one would look for a quite considerable increase in expenditure on roads, rather than, as the estimate reveals, a decrease on last year’s figure. I remind the committee that in the year just ended the sum of £301,870 was spent, and so the estimate for this year is down by £1,870. This, surely, is a retrograde action.
I think that all honorable members who are aware of conditions in the Australian Capital Territory will agree that our existing roads are not good enough for a national capital, possessing what I hope are the ambitions that all honorable members entertain for its future. Honorable members have been long and painfully aware, for example, of the state of the road to Cooma, which, at long last, is being put in a more reasonable condition. One applauds the Government’s generous offer of £400,060 to the Government of New South Wales as a grant towards the improvement of that road and also other roads of great concern to users in the Territory. I also remind honorable members of the state of that part of the Barton Highway within the Australian Capital Territory, between Canberra and the village of Hall. After all, this is one’ of the principal entrances to Canberra. It is the Melbourne road as well as the Yass road, and many thousands of people, each year, enter Canberra along it. All honorable members who are acquainted with that road must agree that it is too narrow, that its surface is indifferent, and, as with so many other roads in the Territory, it is quite unfitted for the amount of traffic which uses it.
I also remind the committee that the road to the Cotter Dam, a drive beloved of so many people, not only who live in Canberra but who visit Canberra, is still, in one part, not sealed. I can obtain no explanation for that. There is about half a mile of dusty, rough road in a drive of only thirteen miles, and I find it extraordinary that year after year this stretch is not completed.
I should like to direct the attention of the committee to the road up into the mountains, through to Brindabella, and the much more precipitous and narrow road to Mount Franklin, extending on to Gingera. Anybody who has travelled over these roads knows how dangerous they are. The Mount Franklin road, particularly, does not permit of two vehicles passing with any degree of safety. When one considers the great tourist possibilities, not only for winter sports but, with the increasing number of people who come here, for summer holidays, I should think there is a very strong case indeed for spending a good deal more money on these roads to make them really first-class highways so that they will add to the attractions and charms of Canberra and entice people from other parts, other States, and even from abroad to come here and spend money, to support local hoteliers, local traders, local garage proprietors, and other business people, and generally help to build up the wherewithal of the Australian Capital Territory.
I hope that next year the Government will allocate a considerably larger sum for roads in the Territory, bearing in mind that under its own plans, the traffic is increasing every year and Canberra itself is quickly becoming more important, not only administratively but, we hope, as an international centre. I know that this present estimate cannot be altered, such is the practice of this Parliament, but I trust that the Government will give earnest consideration to my suggestion next year.
.- Last July the Public Accounts Committee was obliged to go to Darwin to hold a public inquiry into the administration of the Northern Territory. I, like other members of that committee, was able to gain a fairly accurate picture of the workings of the Territory itself. I am firmly convinced that the future progress and development of the Territory is being greatly retarded by three contributing factors. Those factors are the exorbitant cost of living, the appalling housing situation, and the lack of incentive by way of tax concessions to the wage and salary earners of the Territory.
The basic wage in Darwin at present is £14 5s. a week. I consider that £16 is the least a worker should be asked to work for in the Northern Territory. Perhaps some honorable members of this chamber may think that £16 is an unduly high amount, but I intend to cite the prices of some of the essential commodities in Darwin, compared with prices in Sydney. The basic wage in Sydney at present, assessed on the cost of living, is £13 10s. a week, which is only 15s. less than the basic wage in Darwin. In Sydney, bread is ls. 2d. a 2-lb. loaf, compared with ls. 9d. in Darwin - a difference of 7d. Butter in Sydney is 4s. 73-d. per lb., compared with 5s. 6d. in Darwin - a difference of 10½d. In Sydney, sugar is lOd. per lb., but in Darwin it is ls. per lb., showing a difference of 2d. Tea in Sydney is 6s. 2d. per lb., and 8s. per lb. in Darwin. Bacon is from 2s. to 2s 6d. per lb. dearer in Darwin than it is in Sydney.
Powdered milk is used extensively in Darwin because there is no fresh milk supply, and a 12oz. tin costs between 4s. and 4s. 3d., compared with 2s. lOd. in Sydney. Flour is at least 6d. per lb. dearer in Darwin than it is in Sydney. Eggs in Sydney are 5s. a dozen, compared with 7s. a dozen in Darwin. Breakfast cereals are more than 50 per cent, dearer in Darwin than they are in Sydney. Very seldom are oranges less than 10s. a dozen. Apples and pears are at least 50 per cent, dearer in Darwin than they are in Sydney. Lettuce are between 4s. and 5s. each in Darwin. Cabbages are from 5s. to 9s. each in Darwin, and cauliflowers are up to 15s. each.
I come now to beer, and it is interesting to note that there are plenty of beer drinkers in the Territory who very seldom drank beer when they were in other places, such as Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. However, due to climatic conditions in the Territory they find they drink a lot more beer than they would in Sydney.
– And they get Western Australian beer, not Sydney beer.
– Yes, I agree with the Minister on that. The price of a 7-oz. glass of beer is ls. 6d. in the public bar and ls. 9d. in the saloon bar, and a bottle of beer costs anything up to 5s. 6d. The local bi-weekly newspaper costs 8d. and the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ costs 2s. 3d. I went to the newsagent on the first Sunday I was there and bought the three Sydney Sunday newspapers - “ Truth “, “ Sun-Herald “ and “ Telegraph “ - which cost me 8s.
– What was in “Truth” that week?
– Only a little bit about Marilyn Monroe. I showed it to all your friends. They were quite interested in it. We stayed at the Hotel Darwin, where the charges are £44 2s. per week for a single room, £34 2s. 6d. per week for a twin room, and a bargain rate of £30 12s. 6d. per week for those who wanted to rough it with three in a room. This hotel is owned by the Greek millionaire-
– Not now.
– It is still owned by him. He has leased it.
– He has sold it.
– If the honorable member checks his information he will find that the hotel has been leased, not sold, It is no wonder this man is a millionaire. One of the locals told me that the Greek was one of the very few men who knew how many £10 notes fitted into a 44-gallon drum.
With regard to the housing position in the Northern Territory, the secretary of the Northern Australian Workers Union, Mr. Steel, on several occasions told members about the appalling conditions in the slum areas of Parap, Stuart Park and Vestey’s. I thought Mr. Steel might have been exaggerating, but he invited the honorable member for Port Adelaide (Mr. Thompson), Senator Benn and myself on a tour of inspection and, on one occasion, members of the Government party on the Public Accounts Committee. What I saw convinced me that Mr. Steel had in no way exaggerated. The homes which I saw - one could not really call them homes; they were just shanties - were in an appalling condition. People were forced to live in these places which are owned by the Commonwealth Government. They were in a shocking state of disrepair and some of them were even supported on 44-gallon drums to prevent them from collapsing. There were open drains around certain of the homes and the toilet and bathroom facilities - one could not actually call them bathrooms - were absolutely shocking. The bathroom consisted of little pieces of second-hand corrugated iron erected around a shower; and users of it stand on the bare earth. The honorable member for Port Adelaide, Senator Benn and myself were invited into some of the homes, but we were warned to walk along certain parts of the floor otherwise it would collapse under us. Those are the conditions under which people in those areas are expected to live.
– What rentals are they paying?
– Admittedly, they are paying only small rentals, but there is nowhere else for them to live. I feel they should be paid to live in those houses. We went to Vestey’s building which is to be demolished and the site used.for a high school. The tenants are now receiving eviction notices, but they have nowhere to go except to Mindil Beach in a tent community. Already approximately 50 people are living there because they are unable to obtain homes. Those are the things I saw in the Territory, and I think the other members of the committee will support what I have said regarding the high prices and the homes. Judge Kriewaldt of the Northern Territory criticized prices when he delivered a decision regarding the Northern Territory police force, and his remarks were reported in the local paper, under the heading, “ Judge hits at Darwin prices “. Mr. Withnall, chief of the Crown Law Department, giving evidence before the Public Accounts Committee, stated that a salary in the Territory of £2,000 a year would be equal in purchasing power of a salary of only £1,500 in any of the capital cities in Australia.
– And he is an appointed member of the Legislative Council.
– Yes. It can be seen, therefore, that these are not only my views but also those of top public servants and a judge in the Northern Territory. It is apparent that this Government is falling down on its job, because if the future progress and development of the Northern Territory depends on stability, it has to do something about finding homes for the people and introducing some form of price control.
I turn now to the lack of incentive due to the paltry taxation concessions that are allowed wage and salary earners in the Territory. The Administrator, when giving evidence before the committee, said that the Northern Territory Public Service was seriously understaffed. Other independent members of the Northern Territory Administration and the Public Service stated that they could not attract the necessary staff to the Northern Territory because of the three contributing factors I have mentioned - not the housing shortage so much as the paltry and meagre taxation concessions and the high prices. That was one of the the main things that resulted from the inquiry.
If this Government expects to develop the Territory it must, first of all, have happy and contented people there. Several top Public Service officers told me off the record - I will not mention their names - that going to the Northern Territory from any capital city was deemed to be a sentence of two years. In conclusion, I congratulate my colleague, the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson) who is doing a very good job under great difficulties due to lack of foresight on the part of the Government.
.- It is a pity, in a sense, that this debate covers three such widely separated areas as the Territory of Papua-New Guinea, the Northern Territory and Australian Capital Territory, because inevitably while that is so there must be some lack of continuity in discussion. I had the privilege during July of visiting the Territory of Papua-New Guinea with other members of this House and the Senate, as members of the parliamentary delegation which usually visits that area each year during the long recess. Speaking generally, the delegation was received in that area with a great degree of enthusiasm. Due to the good fellowship of its members and the extreme degree of hospitality with which we were treated, we had an excellent visit. It was a highly strenuous one because every one there was particularly anxious to show us the sort of thing they were interested in. So while all of us came away with a sense of the importance of that area, we came away only with impressions and, I say without fear of contradiction, that none of us could state with any authority the final remedies for the many problems of which we were made aware during our tour.
However, we did receive the impression that those problems existed. I think that we received the impression of an area which was full of faith in its own future, full of enthusiasm, and which was going ahead as fast as it could go. Faced with that sort of impact on the mind, one can only start to relate these things which are so strange and new to things which are familiar. I was immediately struck by the fact that these territories are being developed at such a rate that many of their problems are on a larger scale than ours. Although they have a smaller population they have the same kind of problems as we are facing in Australia, with our post-war expansion and development. No expansion can take place in any one direction without a corresponding expansion in another direction, otherwise a distortion of the economy and the social order of the country’ becomes apparent.
One of the immense problems that are faced in the Territory is the proper order of priority of expansion in various directions. When we went to one part of the Territory we were shown with immense pride the advances that were being made in education and we can only say that a tremendous amount is being done there for the benefit of the native community and for the benefit of the relatively small European community. But expansion in education, as the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) rightly pointed out to-night, requires also an economic expansion to balance it because it is not possible to educate people, either technically or in the ordinary sense, unless they can use that education for their own economic betterment. So we found that the Territory was crying out for capital for economic development. Again, that can only be limited by the progress in building and housing, by the standard of living of the natives, and by many other factors. There was a sense everywhere of trying to relate, in their proper proportion to each other, the various needs of the Territory.
That the Government is aware of the limitations and, at the same time, of the necessity of expanding in all these directions in the Territory, is borne out by the figures which appear in the Estimates that we are now discussing. In 1939, merely £42,500 was granted by the Commonwealth Government for that area. In 1949, the sum had grown to £4,000,000. This year, happily, it has grown to £11,000,000. The problems in the Territory are immensely greater than the problems that we face in Australia in relation to our own expansion, because the people of the Territory have started with a primitive civilization which the people of this country cannot understand until they have actually seen it. In certain areas there is only one person who can speak a native dialect and who can also speak pidgin English. So, the only means of conversation between the white man and the native in those areas is through that one person. One can imagine the difficulties with which administration is faced in trying to bring these people up to a decent standard.
I think it is very dangerous to come to any hasty conclusions about the sort of remedies that are required to deal with the problems that arise in the Territory. For that reason, I hesitate to be very positive in anything that I say in this regard. As I have said, the main thing that we received during our tour was an impression. For that reason, and for that reason alone, I join issue very strongly with the honorable member for Stirling (Mr. Webb) who was one of my colleagues on that tour. He stated categorically when he returned to Western Australia, that a profits tax should be imposed in the Territory.
– So it should.
– The honorable member now reasserts that proposition. Oddly enough, the honorable member for Stirling is very interested in development. He is on record as having stated on many occasions that the north-west of Western Australia is crying out for development. I am sure that he will agree that the Territory of Papua and New Guinea is crying out for development. He is also on record as having said that the only way of encouraging development in the north-west of Western Australia is to make it a tax-free area. Yet he has asserted that the residents of Papua and New Guinea should be taxed! I can only imagine that the honorable member has become a little confused in his objectives.
As I have said, this is not a matter that I would assert positively, but progressively, as the area develops, it is inevitable that the inhabitants will have to pay more for their own development. I am happy to notice that the revenue already raised in the Territory amounts to approximately one-third of their requirements. Last year they raised in the Territory about £4,000,000 towards their own requirements. If they are to be independent and self-reliant, as they all wish to be, it is quite inevitable that, in time, a bigger proportion of their finance ‘ will be raised from their own resources. As I have said, the Territory is hungry for developmental capital. It is not possible to expand educational services, medical services, and all the other services of the need for which the natives are becoming more conscious unless, side by side with that expansion, there is healthy private development of the Territory.
I have referred very briefly to the very great enthusiasm which every one in the
Territory has for his own job. These people are dedicated to their task in the area. Therefore, it was with a great deal of surprise and regret that, having been entertained at a very high level in the Territory, when I returned to Australia I heard that the honorable member for Stirling, when we left the Territory, had made some statement to the effect that the European population in the Territory were middle-class people who were trying to lead upper-class lives. If there was anything that could possibly have led him to form that impression it was the desire of the people there to entertain us and to give us all the information at their disposal, and to impress on us their gratitude for the fact that some persons in Australia were willing to have a look at their problems.
I cannot speak too highly of the administrative officers with whom we came in contact. They have a tremendous problem. As the Minister said to-night, they cannot see very far into the future. They do not know what sort of country the Territory of Papua and New Guinea will develop into. Nevertheless, they are carrying on their work in the firm belief that the things they are teaching and preaching and doing are right. They have no fears that the Territory will follow the course that has been followed by other countries that have been developed by Great Britain. I refer to certain countries the citizens of which have turned on, and been highly critical of, those who have done so much for them. The administrative officers in Papua and New Guinea have faith in their simple purpose, which is to raise the mental, cultural, spiritual and physical standards of the country. They have faith in the ideals that they follow and express, and they believe that if they are right they will receive the reward which is their due.
I believe that the natives are indeed filled with a lively sense of gratitude for what Australia has done in this area. I speak now from impressions gained from the few natives with whom we were able to talk on terms of equality. We cannot expect that this gratitude will always exist. It is inevitable that demagogues will arise in the area who will say, “ Why is Australia doing this for us? We are being exploited. We are being used merely as a defence outpost for Australia.” But I believe that if we persevere in the course we are following in the Territory at present, the general feeling in that area will be of gratitude and of allegiance to Australia. We can only hope that that will be so, but there is no doubt that those employed in the administration of the Territory are dedicated to their jobs, whether they be research officers in an agricultural department, whether they be employed in lonely outposts amongst the natives, or whether they be doctors in native hospitals. They are all dedicated to their various purposes, and I cannot pay too high a tribute to the work which is being done in that area by all administrative officers from the Minister down.
.- I should like to make a few remarks regarding my visit to the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. I do not pretend to have become an expert in the complicated affairs of that Territory, nor do I share the smug complacency of the honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Freeth). Any one who has made a study or inspection of the Territory can only be convinced that there is a great need for a more positive approach, a more enthusiastic approach, to the problems of the Territory. I believe that the honorable member for Stirling (Mr. Webb) could not have come back from his visit to the Territory in anything but a critical frame of mind, prepared, of course, to pay tribute to the administration for the good things that have been accomplished, but prepared also to look in a critical and analytical way at the shortcomings of the Government. Indeed, it is the obligation and responsibility of Opposition members to do so, and I am pleased that the honorable member for Stirling has fulfilled his obligation in this matter, as he usually does with regard to his responsibilities in this Parliament. His comments with regard to the excess profits tax were well founded.
It is quite apparent that in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea are large numbers of persons who are intent on taking what they can get and giving very little in return to the Territory. Of course there are decent people there as well, particularly in the Government service. There are large numbers of dedicated people. T believe, who are associated with native welfare and other Government administrative matters. We met a great variety of people in the Territory, from members of the autocracy to those dedicated persons of whom I have spoken, and we met others who could be placed in various categories in between those two extremes. It is apparent that there are numbers of people who are principally and almost solely concerned with the exploitation potentialities that the Territory has to offer. It is alarming, indeed, to see that those who are conducting some of the business houses have returned so little after having derived huge profits from exploitation. Some of the retail shops, for example, are a shocking disgrace. In some of the major towns of New Guinea and Papua the shops are made of inferior materials, probably left-overs from the war years. They appear to have been constructed from materials taken from buildings wrecked in the war. The major business establishments of several large towns give one this impression.
For these reasons I say that the honorable member for Stirling has made a very important point, and I do not appreciate the fact that he has been taken to task for being so analytical in his approach to these matters.
I wish to express my regret at the fact that the last annual report made available in respect of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea is the report for 1954-55.
– The honorable member is very much out of date.
– I appreciate the excellent reports that have been made available in previous years. The report with regard to New Guinea was, of course, a very good one, because it is obligatory on the Government to produce a worthwhile report every now and then. Indeed, a notation on the report says that it is submitted in conformity with Article 88 of the Charter of the United Nations and on the basis of the questionnaire approved by the Trusteeship Council on 6th June, 1952. There were 850 copies of that report made available, and it is the latest decent-looking report that I have been able to obtain from this Parliament.
– Well, the Parliament is out of date, because there are later reports.
– I would not be surprised if the Parliament is out of date, under the administration of this Government, but it is a most regrettable fact that when the estimates for the Department of Territories are being discussed the latest annual report available is one for the year 1954-55.
– That is incorrect.
– It is quite correct so far as my experience is concerned, and I have inquired in the Parliament for later reports. I will admit that the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) has gone to some pains to produce some notes regarding his administration. We appreciate them. They are sketchy, and they certainly have not been prepared in accordance with a statutory requirement, as is the case with the report to which I have referred. They contain only the information that the Minister would like us to have on this subject, and, of course, that is not the information that the Opposition would like to have. So I make the point that more recent reports should be available to members when they inquire for them.
– If the honorable member would like to come over here I can give him the latest report for 1955-56, for both territories.
– I do not know where you get those from. I am talking about the reports that we are able to get in the Parliament. I would like to have the benefit of later reports when I am speaking on these matters. It is important that we should have some regard for the peculiarities of the Territory, and some knowledge of its historical background. We have sovereign rights over Papua, and probably we have more elasticity in the administration of Papua than is the case with New Guinea. We all know that we have a clear obligation to the United Nations with regard to the administration of New Guinea. I note that the Administration of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea, and probably the Minister for Territories, were a little disturbed about a report made earlier this year by a United Nations representative who had inspected the Territory.
– I see that the two reports offered to the honorable member by the Minister have just been handed to him. He is now up to date.
– I shall be veryhappy if my speech has at least served the” purpose of making these reports available. The Government was disturbed at particularly severe criticisms made by the United Nations representative whom I have mentioned. He was doubtless well shadowed, and I suppose that he was directed to the places that the Government wanted him to see. For all that, his criticisms of this Government’s administration of the Territory were most pertinent. I do not wish it to be thought that I am saying that the Government is making nothing but mistakes in every aspect of its administration. Nevertheless, criticisms are merited with respect to some very important matters. In the matter of education, the Government should pull up its socks, and get on with the job. In this connexion, I should like to introduce a few statistics. In the Territory of Papua and New Guinea there, are some 1,750,000 people, the majority of whom are indigenous to the Territory. Europeans number 16,510. In addition, there are 4,656 Asians and other nonindigenes.
The Territory is not very large. Its area of 184,000 square miles is about twice that of Victoria. It is a very challenging country, with tremendous untapped resources. It has already yielded a great deal of wealth in gold, silver, zinc, lead, copper, and manganese. It is, in some respects, a parasites’ paradise. Wherever one goes in the Territory, one finds the hotels filled with land-hungry Europeans who are anxious to get their hands on cheap land made available at between 10s. and 15s. an acre. The Government must consider the land problem very seriously. There are many special problems in New Guinea. What are our obligations there? First, we should do everything possible to educate the people. Secondly, we should encourage self-government, but not merely in a way dictated by a fear of agitating the minds of the natives. In a courageous way, we should set out to encourage selfgovernment by the natives. Thirdly, we should respect the fact that the land belongs to the native people of the Territory.
– And not to Burns Philp and Company Limited.
– Indeed, not to any private enterprise. It is very important that the Government should make a very clear declaration that it does not intend to set itself up as a sort of estate agency to compete with the Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer), and provide lavish opportunities for Europeans, and big business generally, to obtain cheap land in the Territory. Fourthly, we should encourage many kinds of development, and we should improve health standards, hospital facilities, and the like. A great deal should be done to stimulate the co-operative movement among the natives.
Education is a matter that I should like to discuss at some length. Excellent work is being done in education, but it is only on a small scale. It could be done on a much larger scale. According to the Minister, some 12,000 natives are at present being educated.
– That is the number being educated in the administration schools. Others are being trained in mission schools.
– In addition, of course, between 10,000 and 15,000 children are benefiting from the training provided by the various missions. The Government is doing an excellent job on a small scale. It should intensify its efforts as quickly as possible. The amount being spent on education by the Government is not very impressive. Last financial year, only £881,754 was spent on the administration schools, and on assistance to missions for education. I understand that grants-in-aid to the missions totalled £100,826 last financial year. I have noticed, Mr. Chairman, that there is a tendency for the missions to refrain from teaching English to the children that they are training. I know, of course, that the Government does not encourage this tendency, but I feel that stronger action should be taken to ensure that every mission that asserts itself as a teacher of native children trains them in the English language.
The native teachers, who number 460, deserve commendation. They are doing a magnificent job. Of course, they are not paid as much as European teachers in the Territory are paid. More than 250 native students are being trained in technical colleges. This is highly commendable, but more carpenters, engineers, mechanics, and the like, are needed to intensify this technical training. The education of European children in the Territory presents a great problem. I am told that about 450 European children have to leave New Guinea and Papua every year to further their education on the Australian mainland. This is very costly, because the Government makes an annual grant of £145 to each child. It is apparent that the Government has a clear obligation to improve education facilities for European children in the Territory as quickly as possible.
– And to eliminate pidgin English.
– It is, of course, essential to do whatever can be done to eliminate pidgin. Its use does not uplift the people of the Territory. The diversity of tongues spoken by native peoples, even in comparative proximity to one another, presents a great problem, and the Government should intensify its efforts to make English the universal language.
I turn now to electoral matters. No member of this Parliament could be content with the kind of sham democracy that prevails in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. I understand that the 16,510 Europeans in the Territory return only three elected representatives in a Legislative Council of 29 members. The natives are represented by three members, but they do not appoint or elect their representatives.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- The honorable member for Hughes (Mr. L. R. Johnson) has indulged in a remarkable performance. He told us, at the outset of his remarks, that he did not pretend to be an expert on the matters that he proceeded to discuss, and he then gave us a host of reasons to prove he is not. He said that he did not share the smug complacency of the honorable member for Forrest (Mr. Freeth). The most outstanding dissimilarity between the two honorable members that I was able to detect was that the honorable member for Hughes was smugly complacent, whereas the honorable member for Forrest recognized the nature of the problems involved, and did not claim to present an easy solution. The honorable member for Hughes proceeded to say that the honorable member for Stirling (Mr. Webb) ought to be critical, as he usually is. One can make no more damning criticism of a man than to suggest that his function in this chamber is always to be critical. Whether or not that is the means by which Opposition members have themselves elevated to the front bench on ihe other side of the chamber I do not know, but, if it is, it is totally wrong.
The honorable member for Hughes said that he went to the Territory and there met the new autocracy - the people who are concerned with exploitation. I cannot imagine a territory so free from exploitation as the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. The people there are the indigenes, Europeans who have gone to the Territory and public servants. I cannot imagine the indigenes wanting to exploit themselves, and I saw absolutely no evidence of Europeans who had gone to the Territory exploiting anybody. As the honorable member for Hughes, in an enlightened burst, said, there are dedicated people there and only such a term can be applied to the public servants of Papua and New Guinea.
The honorable member alleged that there have been no reports subsequent to 1954. Fortunately, the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) set him at rights immediately, but he did not have the grace to acknowledge it other than to say, “ I am glad that my comments have brought about its publication “, as though the Minister forthwith set a printing press into operation and produced it. Then, of course, the honorable member for Hughes made the classic statement that exploiters in the. Territory are looking for land. His wor-ds were, “ The land-hungry people seeking land at 10s. to 15s. an acre “. The people in the Territory are seeking land, but the enlightened policy of the Government, through the Administration, is to ensure that land will be preserved for the indigenes to use as they are educated and as their development proceeds. The criticism does not come from the native, who, in a large majority of instances, wants to sell his land and get money without realizing the consequences. The criticism is of the European who wants land which he cannot get because of the enlightened, responsible attitude of the Government and the Administration.
The honorable member for Hughes said, “ Let us have self-government “. Those who have been there, other than the honorable member for Hughes and the honorable member for Stirling, know how stupid the concept of self-government is at this stage.
At some time in the future, self-government may be possible, but it is not possible at present. The honorable member for Hughes spoke about sham democracy in New Guinea. It is remarkable that some people who go to the Territory come away with :such extraordinary ideas and express them *m this chamber.
I wish to draw the attention of the Minister to the need for an appeal court in the Territory. At present, the judges there are required to travel around the Territory. All the judges are very rarely at Port Moresby or any other centre at the one time. The present provision is that an appeal must go to the mainland. The civil jurisdiction is growing rapidly and will be contributed to by a very eminent lawyer from the Melbourne bar who was recently appointed Chief Justice of the Territory. I recommend to the Minister that future appointments follow that pattern and that an appeal court and a full court bench be created in the Territory so that appeals may be heard there and not necessarily have to go to the mainland with the tremendous expense that must be associated with such procedure.
That involves building up a larger legal profession in the Territory. At present there are possibly only half a dozen practitioners there. The number could be increased considerably if the Administration adopted the practice of giving briefs to private practitioners. That would attract practitioners who could be briefed by the Administration to do the tasks which are now done by the Administration in an extraordinary way. At present, an officer of the Administration first investigates a matter. He then decides whether a prosecution should be launched. It may even be the same officer who then assigns another legal officer as prosecutor and yet another legal officer of the Administration as defending officer. While such a practice may be necessary in the initial stages of development, I hope the Minister will bear my criticism in mind and at the earliest opportunity permit briefing of private practitioners so that there may be an increase in the legal profession and the concepts of jurisprudence developed in the Territory. Another matter of importance is the need for additional transport facilities for the judges. Every one who has been there knows the difficulties of transport and how long .a judge must be away on circuit. I hope that whatever can be done to speed up the travel of judges will be done.
A tribute should be paid to the efforts of the recently appointed Chief Justice of the Territory who has tried to bring some semblance of law to areas such as Goilala. Two other honorable members and myself were privileged to meet him recently and we heard his statement of his attitude. We also saw the subsequent press reports of how he brought the parties together in an attempt to prevent the continuance of feuding between the families by some reasonable economic exchange between the parties. Apparently he has been successful and a tribute should be paid to him. Whilst referring to that matter, I feel that I should mention that the press has given some coverage recently to the conviction of two Australians and a native policeman for offences relating to the administration of justice. In my opinion, that incident in no way reflects anything like the usual procedures adopted in the Territory. It is an isolated case and in no way bears any resemblance to the normal procedure of the enforcement of justice there.
The only other point with which I shall deal is education within the Territory. As the honorable member for Hughes has said, the word “ dedication “ is necessarily associated with the word “ education “. People living in the outback areas and doing what they can to further education there deserve the greatest commendation.
– I wish to speak briefly about the Northern Territory. When I was there, I was very pleased to see what was being done for the aborigines. We should be proud of the schooling there and the efforts that are made to bring the white and coloured children together. In Alice Springs, a bus takes the children to school in the same way as children in Canberra and other cities are taken to school. I saw the bus almost full of half-caste aboriginal children going to school. The Minister will be pleased to hear that the school at the Bagot settlement was an eyeopener to me. I found that in the school room there were tubular steel desks and seats which were the equal of anything to be seen in private schools in metropolitan areas. It happened to be a Saturday when
I went there, so that there was no school work in progress, but I picked up from a desk a school book of one of the aboriginal children. This child, of about eight years of age, had written about the teeth of the human being. Reading her work, I found that that aboriginal girl knew more about the human teeth than I knew myself. I think that the efforts of the welfare authorities in the Northern Territory, in connexion with aboriginal children, are very fine indeed.
– There are a lot of bad schools up there, too.
– There may be some bad schools, but I do not want to deal with those to-night. As we have so many reports from time to time in our newspapers about the poor treatment of aborigines in this country, I think that when we find good treatment we can well mention it. I happened to be at Darwin when the show was on. Going to the show and seeing the many hundreds of full-blood aborigines - husbands, wives and children - convinced me that we are making progress with these folk.
There is one thing, however, in connexion with Darwin about which I am not pleased, and that is the housing of the people. From my contacts with the people, I found that one of the greatest difficulties in the way of securing labour at Darwin is the lack of suitable accommodation for married people. Unless they happen to be public servants, it is practically impossible for them to get a house. The cost of building is extremely high, possibly double the cost in the south. Much of the additional cost is due to the price of labour. One of the main contractors, who gave evidence before the Public Accounts Committee, said that he had to provide hostel accommodation for the men working for him. He said that he had no trouble in getting labour, because he paid fares from Adelaide, Brisbane, or wherever the workers came from, and then provided hostel accommodation for them. Many of the workers were able to earn high wages because they worked seven days a week. He said that although the cost of providing hostel accommodation for a single tradesman working for him was more than £6 a week, he could charge him, under the award, only £2 15s. a week. Naturally, the difference of £3 5s. a week had to go on the cost of building.
The honorable member for Watson (Mr. Cope) spoke earlier to-night of the housing conditions at Darwin. It seems that people who are not permanent public servants have to take what housing they can get. Prior to the war, houses of a very poor type were built at Darwin. All of those houses are still occupied, and practically all of them are owned by the Government. The tenants may pay only 6s. or 10s. a week rent, but they cannot get away from them because there is no alternative housing. Those places are just shanties. It is almost impossible to live in them. I understand that the Administration wants to demolish Vestey’s meat works. It is rumoured - I do not know whether it is right - that to remove the buildings will cost anything from £150,000 to £250,000, and that the Government has not approved of their removal. In the vicinity of the meat works there were old houses, and the people in those houses were told that the land was required for school purposes and that they had to get out by some time in August. As the honorable member for Watson has said’, one of the places that we went to see had been eaten out by white ants. In one room, the floor had fallen away. Underneath the place there were 44-gallon drums to hold it up. It was in a terrible condition. Those people could not get another house.
– We are making plans for the rehousing of all those people.
– There may be plans now, but at the time of which I am speaking the people were told that there would be no extension - that they had to be out by about 15th August, I think it was, and that there was no possibility of their continuing to occupy the houses. These people were told to go over to the beach and pick out a place to live.
I believe that the Government should provide, particularly at Darwin, decent houses for the people to live in. Only 400 or 500 houses may be required, but unless the Government is prepared to build houses and to let them to the ordinary workmen, it will not attract people to the Territory to do the work that it desires to be done there. I think we have to face the fact that permanent public servants are not prepared to go to the Northern Territory for any lengthy period, because if they have young families they want to give them a better education than is available at Darwin. The Government will have to do something in the field of higher education there. Quite a large number of houses has been erected in Darwin, but practically all of them have been for civil servants and only one or two for the working men. The houses are of an improved type, and I think that they are suitable for the conditions there, but the man I am. concerned about is the man at the bottom who is not able to build a house because building is so costly. It is impossible for him to raise sufficient money to do so.
Darwin has a great future. I believe that quite a lot can be done in the field of agriculture, particularly if the work at the agricultural farm at Katherine is pushed ahead. It seems to me that the Department of Agriculture is doing a very good job by way of experimental work with corn. We know that the ordinary crops, such as wheat, oats and barley, are not a payable proposition there, but there are crops that can be grown and that will grow well. I believe that, with good administration, and if we spend the money that is required for the advancement of Darwin, we shall, in the foreseeable future, witness great progress in the Northern Territory.
– I rise to make a personal explanation. Earlier, during my speech on the estimates for this department, the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck), by way of interjection, and later the honorable member for Bruce (Mr. Snedden) also implied that I was incorrect in saying that reports were not available for the Territories of Papua and New Guinea. I have made further inquiries. They substantiate what T said earlier. The Minister’s remark conveyed the wrong impression altogether.
– Order! The honorable member may make a personal explanation only if he has been misrepresented.
– I merely want to make the point that the last report available for the Territory of Papua is that for 1954-55. which was tabled on 8th November, 1956. My inquiries at the office of the
Clerk of the Papers indicated that a report is not available to honorable members until it is tabled. The report for 1954-55 on the Territory of New Guinea was tabled on 5th June, 1956, and is still not available to members. I may say that 1 am grateful to have these reports, but make the point that they are not readily available to honorable members.
.- The timidity with which the administration faces ils responsibility for the development of the Northern Territory is disheartening to every Australian who wishes to see this nation develop, and its empty spaces filled with people. Quite recently I had the privilege of visiting the area. I thank the Minister for that opportunity and also for the facilities which permitted me to make an inspection of various activities in the north. First, let me say that I feel that the proposed vote for the Northern Territory is niggardly, and quite out of proportion to its importance. It is also out of proportion to both the actual wealth being won, and the latent wealth waiting to be won. One is left wondering just what value the Government does place on the Northern Territory.
Government supporters are quite vocal about the question of land development, and invariably direct attention to the failure of the State governments to pursue vigorous land policies. Quite recently I asked the Minister for Territories to give me precise information concerning the number of leases available over recent years in the Territory. That information is now available to all honorable members. The number of areas released to the land-hungry people of Australia is shockingly small.
Obviously, land development in the Northern Territory is important, and ought to be tackled without delay. The Government gives high priority to soldier settlement when it affects the States, but apparently has no plan for the settlement for ex-servicemen in the Northern Territory. One must have between £30,000 and £40,000 to obtain a useful area of land in the north. The Minister takes a personal interest in this matter, but I defy him to tell me where any returned soldier with a knowledge of land use, especially in the north, could find £30,000 or £40,000 to purchase and develop land in that important part of Australia. The matter ought to be faced realistically. lt would not be surprising if it were true, as alleged, that quite a number of people who are given land in the Northern Territory are only dummies for some one else. That view is widely held in the north. Drovers and other land-hungry people have approached me about it, but there is no land for them. Even when a vast area is subdivided - as will happen at Huckitta in the near future - very few people are likely to be able to find the capital necessary to enable them to enter a ballot or apply for a portion of the area. Many of the areas are too big altogether. Some are 5,000 square miles or more in area. This fact alone shows us the great problem facing the people in this matter of land settlement and development. 1 spoke to some of the settlers on the Barkly Tableland, where one finds some of the most valuable areas in the Northern Territory. The Chambers brothers, of Eva Downs, have an area of about 1,028 square miles. They told me quite frankly - and said that I could quote them - that they had twice as much land as they could economically and usefully utilize at the present time. They are good farmers, pastoralists and Australians, but their holding is twice as large as it need be.
In the Adelaide River area, I was approached by young men who complained bitterly that, of an area of 750,000 acres approximately 500,000 acres had been allotted to Territory Rice Limited. Exservicemen could not get, in other portions of the Adelaide River area, an acreage sufficient to enable them to grow rice. What sort of a policy is it that gives 500,000 acres to a company which is semi-Australian and semi-American, and represents certain speculators and investors? Moreover, it uses Australian labour for the development of this land. Eventually Territory^ Rice Limited must look for serfs and agricultural labourers to develop the area, more or less as a principality. In the end, this land must fall to the lot of the hardworking Australian - to share farmers and similar people.
If there is one blind spot in the administration of land, it is the development of the north. I do not say that the Minister is wholly responsible, but there are good and bad officers. The Director of Mines is an outstandingly good man, as also is the officer who controls the agricultural side. I have found other good men working in animal husbandry who are of exceptional quality, but something must be done to clear up the bottle-neck in the provision of land. Some one who appreciates the problems of the Territory is needed - some one who will translate into action the desire of the average Australian for the opportunity to develop his country. The work of Territory Rice Limited is largely being carried out by imported capital. I shall not attempt to assess the qualities of Mr. Chase or his copartners in that enterprise, or say how successful the scheme will be. I have great reservations as to its ultimate success unless it employs Australians as share-farmers, peasants and agricultural labourers. They will do the work for the investors.
Stimulus is needed in the mining industry. That can be given by helping the battlers who go out prospecting. The prospectors in the north have little or no capital. 1 was greatly disappointed, when 1 visited Hatches Creek to find many of the men who had gone into that area and had pioneered wolfram mining - a mineral of great strategic value required by this country - sitting back with great heaps of ore at their pit heads because there was no market in which they could dispose of it. A deputation of miners at Hatches Creek told us that United Kingdom buyers were buying wolfram from continental China; they were not worrying about Australian wolfram, despite the fact that it is just as valuable to-day as it was during the war. Honorable members will recall that during the war period the Government of Australia sent large numbers of Chinese to mine wolfram in the north because it was a strategic material required for the war effort. If it was important then, surely it is important now and also for the future.
I suggest to the Administrator and the Government that some effort should be made to meet the requirements of the miners at Hatches Creek. There should be a stock piling of this essential mineral so that if a situation arises in which wolfram is required, supplies of it will be available immediately. The Commonwealth ought to give these miners an advance -against the surplus ore they have on hand at the present time. It is wrong that they should have to travel over vast areas of the north prospecting for other minerals. It is tragic to see beautiful school buildings going to wrack and ruin and miners having to leave their homes as they had to do at Glen Davis in my electorate and other places as a result of the actions of this Government.
Fortunately, there are some bright spots in the north. The Peko mining company is doing a wonderful job and the Government has a responsibility to help it in its present time of difficulty because of a fall in prices. That company has done an enormous amount to make the lot of the workers at Tennant Creek worth while. It has provided a water supply which will last two years. This is an example of what can be done in the north provided that people have a will to do the job. If a two years’ supply of water can be stored by the Peko company to serve the needs of the people at Tennant Creek in the mining area there, surely the Administration could do a far greater job than it is doing now throughout the whole of the Northern Territory to provide water supply and other amenities for the people. The Peko company has provided other excellent improvements for its employees in the form of recreation grounds and halls, parks and gardens and messes for the miners. All these facilities have been provided by that company, but it is faced with considerable problems at the present time. Yet, at Noble’s Knob, nearby, where one of the richest mines in Australia is producing some of the richest ore in the continent, the conditions of the workers and their families leave much to be desired. The standard of leadership set by the Pecos company could well be followed by other companies using the services of Australian workers.
At Rum Jungle the work being done by the Commonwealth is deserving of praise. At the township of Batchelor services and amenities of quite a high standard are provided. All of these things indicate what can be done and what ought to be done to develop the north. I shall not expand on the matter of native welfare, which was referred to by the honorable member for Port Adelaide (Mr. Thompson). I content myself by saying that it gave me great joy and satisfaction to hear these native people singing ‘in English and French and then in their native tongue. That was a wonderful indication of the mentality of these darkskinned people of Australia to whom we owe so much and for whom we ought to be doing a great deal more. We should seize every opportunity to advance them to the status of full citizenship as soon as possible.
The potential of the north cannot be denied. Whereas one dry farm was carrying six beasts to 12 acres - they were fattening on Townsville lucerne and buffet grass - six beasts on 240 acres on another property were in a dying condition. That is an example of what can be done with the use of pasture improvement. That sort of work has been done by the Department of Agriculture in the north but it needs to be greatly extended. One of the first essentials is to provide the north with a better water supply and better transportation. These needs are a challenge to the Commonwealth but, as I said at the outset, the Government is facing these problems timidly. We have agreed to a vote of £190,000,000 for defence purposes. Surely, portion of a sum of that magnitude ought to be devoted to the development of the north. That would be a tremendous contribution to the defence of Australia. MajorGeneral Dougherty, speaking on civil defence at a conference of local government authorities directed attention to the need for making money available for strategic roads. Is there not a challenge in the north for strategic roads? The Government should face its responsibility to get on with the work of providing for road transportation in the north.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Mr. Chairman-
Motion (by Mr. Harold Holt) put -
That the question be now put.
The committee divided. (The Chairman. - Mr. C. F. Adermann.)
I Toes . . . . . . 30
Majority . . . . 18
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Proposed votes agreed to.
Criminal Charge against National of Pakistan - Hungarian Immigrants - Japanese Wives and Children of Australian Ex-servicemen - Atomic Weapons - Tuberculosis - Rural Research - Australian Coastal Shipping.
Motion (by Mr. Hasluck) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- I desire to raise a matter about which I endeavoured to secure governmental action the other day. I refer to the exit from this country of a man by the name of Mohammet Kundi, a national of Pakistan, who left Australia under rather peculiar and suspicious circumstances. When I asked the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) what responsibility the Commonwealth Government had for this occurrence, he said that it was a matter solely for the Victorian authorities and that Mr. Rylah, the Attorney-General of Victoria, was the man who withdrew the prosecution.
Honorable members should know exactly what happened up to that point. Some doubt exists as to whether this man came to Australia as a Colombo plan student or whether he came here independently, with the permission of the Commonwealth Government. However, that does not appear to be very important. What is important is that this man was alleged to have committed a very grave offence against an eight-year old Australian girl. He appeared before a magistrate on that charge and was committed for trial, but he will not stand his trial if this Government has its way. The Prime Minister tried to wash his hands completely of the matter, but I discovered that an official of the Victorian Crown Law Department had said that he was awaiting advice from the Department of Immigration before entering a nolle prosequi. I think that is the legal term for the withdrawal of a prosecution.
It is quite evident that the Commonwealth Department of Immigration and the Commonwealth Government were interesting themselves in this matter. It is perfectly true to say that influential people were moving in an endeavour to permit this man to escape standing his trial for a very grave offence, for which he had already appeared before a court and had been committed for trial. Why should this special consideration be given to a man because he is a national of another country? If he is living in Australia, even temporarily, he is obliged to obey our laws. Is this to be taken as a precedent? Is it not rather an intimation to all of the people from other lands who are now in Australia that they can, with impunity, commit grave and serious offences against the young females of this country and expect that the Commonwealth Government will use its influence with the State Crown Law authorities to see that they are not called upon to stand their trial? I think it is an absolutely scandalous state of affairs.
It is perfectly true that Kundi was in touch with the representative of his country in Sydney. It is perfectly true that his passage on a vessel was arranged through that channel and that the Victorian Crown Law authorities were waiting, according to the statement handed to me, advice from the Commonwealth Department of Immigration before they moved in the matter. No wonder the Commonwealth Department of Immigration is getting into disrepute in this country. Nobody has any confidence either in the statements it has released or the action it has taken in this matter. The Commonwealth Government cannot escape its responsibility. It is responsible for the man being in the country. He came to Australia under a permit. If he commits a serious crime and is out on bail, awaiting his trial, the Government has no right to allow him to leave the country until he has stood his trial. There is still time for the Government to act, because the “ Strathaird “, upon which this man is endeavouring to escape so that he will not have to stand his trial, is not due to leave Fremantle until 4 o’clock on Saturday afternoon.
I think that most of the Australian community will be revolted by this action of the Government in using influence and applying pressure on certain legal authorities to see that this charge is not proceeded with and that this man will not have to stand his trial. I wonder what the Australian womenfolk think about it. Is not it a fact that the Commonwealth immigration officials approached the mother of this unfortunate youngster - she is only eight years of age - to try to get the mother to agree to this procedure? I have no doubt they told heT the trial would have a bad effect on the child. What effect will it have on the Australian community if people can come to this country from overseas and commit grave crimes, but never have to stand their trial, or, if convicted, pay the penalty for their offences?
In the remaining time at my disposal I desire to deal with another matter which I have already raised in the Parliament. As usual, honorable members opposite immediately said that my information came from the “ Tribune “ and, therefore, from a polluted source. I happen to have a quotation from an anti-Labour newspaper which refers to a report made by the Good
Neighbour Council in respect of the plight of Hungarian refugees in Australia. Is the Good Neighbour Council now under the domination of the Communist party? Has this information come from a polluted source? What does the Good Neighbour Council report say? According to this press report, it says that these men are now at a loose end and are wandering around, insufficiently clad and crowding into the homes of their compatriots in the cities. Is not that exactly what I said and what other members of the Labour Opposition said - that these men were without work, that they had been turned loose by the Government and that the Government had completely washed is hands of any responsibility for them?
I want to know, now that we have this statement in a report of the Good Neighbour Council, what action the Government proposes to take about these men. Many of them are walking round the cities of Australia searching for work, looking for sustenance, which is denied to them in many cases because they are unable to give the authorities a permanent address. It just proves conclusively that this Government, time after time, tries to escape its responsibilities completely by raising the old Communist bogy. Let the Minister get up if he wants to and denounce the Good Neighbour Council as being under Communist control.
There is another matter with which I should like to deal. On two or three occasions in this Parliament I raised the question of the Government’s neglect to do anything in respect of the deserted wives and, in many instances, the illegitimate children of former Australian servicemen in Japan. The Government refused to do anything. I asked a series of questions on this subject and the answers that I have received make very good reading. The first question was -
Has any attempt ever been made by Commonwealth Authorities to ascertain the number in Japan of (a) illegitimate children of Japanese mothers and Australian fathers formerly members of the Occupation or Korean Forces and (b) deserted Japanese wives and children of Australian ex-service personnel?
The answer to that question was “ Yes “. So the Commonwealth authorities have made an attempt to ascertain the numbers of these people in Japan. If the authorities went to the trouble of ascertaining the numbers, did the Government not have any intention of doing anything about assisting those people? What was the use of making an investigation to ascertain the numbers if the Government did not intend to do anything about helping the people concerned?
The next answer says that the number of illegitimate children is about 40, but another authority that made information available said that the number was 104. Does it matter whether the number is one or 400? It is our responsibility. The Government has refused to do anything about these people. The answer given was that the number of deserted Japanese wives of Australian service personnel “ is not known “, although the answer to the first question was that the authorities had endeavoured to ascertain the number.
Order! The honorable gentleman’s time has expired.
.- I am prompted to speak to-night on the motion for the adjournment because the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) presented to the House yesterday a petition from certain citizens of Australia praying that the atomic bomb may be banned. Of course, there is a constant pressure and agitation from many sections of the community to have this done, and a great deal of it comes from the Communist party and many of its associates. The constant flow of propaganda which emanates from this source and other sources has influenced a great many people who are good and well-intentioned Australian citizens. They have, of course, no strong affiliations with any political party, and through their lack of knowledge they have been persuaded to become sympathetic to this idea of banning the bomb.
– People like Sir Marcus Oliphant.
– This propaganda has, of course, a very strong emotional appeal such as the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns) may make on the Yarra Bank. Of course, it is easily understandable. We all know the terrific destructive power of atomic weapons, and there is some misgiving about the foreshadowed effect of radiation on this generation and future generations. Radiation can come mainly from two sources - the carrying out of too many tests or atomic warfare itself. The possibility of a serious effect on human life as a result of radiation has caused fear and dread in the minds of many people, and poses a challenge to mankind itself. Not only our civilization, but also the very continuance of life as we know it may be threatened. But what is the answer? Obviously, it is not the banning of tests of atomic weapons, because we are living in the nuclear age and we must be prepared to learn to live in it. This is a period of evolution similar to the industrial revolution, when we got electricity. What did we do during the industrial revolution? We adapted its discoveries and achievements to the best possible uses for mankind. Here again, I believe that in this nuclear age we have to learn how to live in the circumstances of the age.
It is an extremely sad reflection that there is fear of the nuclear age in the minds of men, instead of a feeling of welcome for the benefits that the nuclear age can bring us in the form of higher standards of living. We must learn to live with the nuclear age. To talk about banning nuclear power and atomic bombs is, of course, to be unrealistic. In the minds of men is the knowledge of how to make these weapons and how to adapt them. It will remain there. That knowledge is not capable of being expunged from the mind of man. It will not be possible to brain-wash that knowledge out of anybody’s mind. It will remain in the mind of man until it is used for either peace or war.
If we ban atomic weapons, and if we can assume that the ban is enforceable, which previous experience has shown is unlikely to be the case, the ultimate result will be a race between the nations to equip themselves with orthodox weapons and to prepare for a conventional war. In this race, of course, the democracies will be at a grave disadvantage in comparison with Russia, because Russia has under arms now more people than all the free world combined. The Russian Government also has a system of control through which it has equipped itself with powers of compulsion and regimentation which lend themselves more easily to the maintenance of a constant state of military mobilization. But the democratic system does not lend itself to such a policy, and the democracies are virtually incapable of maintaining large standing armies.
The result of a race to be prepared for a conventional war would inevitably be a conventional war fought in the orthodox way. The result of that war would be in favour of the first nation to equip itself with nuclear weapons. If war starts, control ends. It is clear then that the task is to ban war in all its forms, not merely to ban nuclear weapons. The absence of atomic bombs would not mean that there would be no more wars, because right through history there has been a steady run of wars although there were no atomic weapons. But, let us assume that the banning of nuclear weapons is possible, although I believe that it would be most unlikely that it would be sustained. If we did ban them, in order to make the ban effective we would have to ban the whole use of atomic energy, because it is quite obvious that the by-products of nuclear reactors are the source of potential weapons of war. Therefore, it would be necessary to ban all forms of atomic energy in order to make a ban on nuclear weapons complete.
The effects of radiation require careful study, and it is indeed gratifying to know that the Government has set up, under Sir Macfarlane Burnet, a committee which will make inquiries into this most important matter. There is controversy among the experts themselves about the effects of radiation, and nobody knows the exact safety limits, nor can anybody assess the cumulative effects on human beings of the many tests of nuclear devices. When this is ascertained it will be necessary, possibly through the United Nations, to obtain some world-wide agreement on radiation control. This should be possible, because it is in the interests of all nations and of all individuals to maintain the necessary safety margin. Radiation knows no natural boundaries, nor does it recognize the right of individuals. It cannot be repelled by or kept within any nation’s borders. The second step which I believe it is important to take if we are to survive is to enter into an international agreement for the control of atomic energy for peace and for war, but this would be useless if at the same time we did not have an agreement for orthodox disarmament. It is useless for nations to seek agreement on the control of nuclear weapons if a race to arm with orthodox weapons follows. It is obvious, therefore, that this control can exist only while nations are at peace. The nation with the largest orthodox army would be free to precipitate war more easily whilst ‘ having the knowledge of atomic warfare, and it could gear itself to use atomic weapons more readily.
The theory that we have peace by mutual terror has often been put forward in this House, and it stems from a fear of the consequences of atomic war. It immediately suggests that the thinking of mankind has sunk to an extremely low level if he accepts the theory that peace can be obtained only by fear. Time and time again in world history, aggressors have emerged who have shown no recognition of the moral or spiritual rights of mankind. Whilst the rest of the world may have the highest motives for remaining at peace, it is the aggressor who provokes war. This has happened several times in our lifetime, and it may well be that such an aggressor may respect the language of fear even if he does not respect moral and spiritual values.
Furthermore, it would be a mistake to interpret the turbulence which exists in many places throughout the world as a threat to peace or a desire for war. This turbulence is, in many instances, an attempt by nations, by violent, inhuman or even revolutionary means, to catch up with the standards of Western civilization. It is a discontent with present low-living standards, a striving to reach the standards of Western nations. There is in it an understandable nationalism, and it is in our interests, and very much in the interests of world peace in the long run, to encourage and develop backward nations.
– Order ! the honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I am taking the opportunity to-night to correct a statement made in this House some little time ago. It will be remembered that some time ago I took the opportunity to inform the House in a non-party political way, and with a view to spreading the news further abroad, that Australia was in an excellent position in its fight against tuberculosis. I pointed out that the Australian death-rate from tuberculosis was lower than that of any other country with the exception of Denmark, and that it was equal to that of Denmark. In fact, it is eight in every 100,000.
When I spoke on that occasion I said that we should approach problems of health, and this fight against tuberculosis, in a non-party political way. I suggested that all parties in this chamber should be proud of the success we have achieved, because the Labour government had done certain things to help in this fight and this Government had rendered great service in achieving our splendid position. After I had spoken, certain honorable members of the Opposition brought the matter right into the party political arena. It is for that reason that I wish to quote what the Commonwealth Statistician has to say on this subject.
In considering what the Commonwealth Government has done in this fight against tuberculosis, let us first go back to the year 1946-47 when Labour was in office.
– I thought you were not going to indulge in party politics.
– That was my aim when I first spoke on this subject, but members of the Labour party do not seem to be able to keep any subject out of that arena. An old warrior like the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) knows pretty well where he can tread, and when we are dealing with subjects such as this, he either leaves them alone or treads very lightly. However, members of the Opposition who have been here for only a few years, and who have never taken the trouble to read and study Labour’s record, make statements that are absolutely erroneous.
Let me tell the House what happened. In 1946-47, the Labour Government provided £110,000 for this great fight. In 1947- 48, it provided only £28,000. In 1948- 49, that grant was increased to £151,000 and in 1949-50 the amount provided was £535,000. It must be remembered, however, that in 1949-50 Labour was in office for half of the year, and the great increase in the amount was due to the contribution made by the present Government as soon as it attained office.
Let us go further and study the position in later years. In 1950-51, there was a dramatic rise in the amount made available for this work. It was increased to £2,275,00. Compare that with the £28,000 made available by the Labour government a few years before. In 1951-52, this Government increased the amount to £3,879,000. In 1952-53, it was further increased to £4,876,000. The grant in 1953- 54 was £5,580,000, the provision in 1954- 55 was £5,567,000. In 1955-56 the amount provided was £5,697,000, and the average for the last two years has been more than £6,000,000.
After having endeavoured to refer to the matter without engaging in party politics - a perusal of “ Hansard “ will disclose that I did make the attempt - I was followed by the honorable member for Hughes (Mr. L. R. Johnson) who spoke about the great amount of work done and the large sum of money made available by the Chifley Government for this purpose. As many honorable members have been here only since 1949, it is possible that they believed what the honorable member for Hughes said. It is for that reason that I thought it necessary to quote the figures supplied by the Commonwealth Statistician. They show conclusively which government has really been responsible for the great success achieved in the fight against tuberculosis. I know that the honorable member for East Sydney and other honorable members opposite do not like me quoting these figures.
– I do. I should like you to repeat them.
– Finish on that.
– An honorable member suggests that I finish there. I could say many other things. For example, the amount provided for social services by the preceding Labour government was far less than that provided by this Government. Let me repeat that in 1947-48 the Labour government provided £28,000 for the campaign against tuberculosis while in the last two years the average contribution by this Government has been over £6,000,000. In face of those figures, members of the Labour party should never again stand in this House and boast about Labour’s great record of social services for its fight against this scourge. They should bow their heads in shame. -
Night after night, the honorable member for East Sydney rises during the adjournment debate and brings forward matters which are party political in the extreme, but the moment any honorable member on the Government side attempts to put the matter in the right perspective by quoting correct figures, we have all this howling that has been heard from Opposition members while I have been speaking to-night. It is only natural that they should not want the true position to be revealed, but the figures are there for any one to see. They have been provided by the Commonwealth Statistician and are available for the whole world to see. Labour members should bow their heads in disgrace. This Government is to be commended for the amount of money it has provided and the great fight it has made to rid Australia of a disease which was killing thousands of people. We have just about defeated it. Australia has less deaths per thousand of population than any other country in the world and I commend the Government for the great fight it has put up.
– I should like to take a few moments to deal with a matter which is without controversy. I am disappointed that for some time past there has not been anything like sufficient recognition in this House of the work that is done by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. It may be significant to note that during the debates on the Estimates not one. member spoke about this most important organization. There is one aspect of the work of the organization about which I particularly should like to speak. Primary producers very often say that they are the victims of chance, that their costs continually rise, and that they cannot pass on increased costs through increased prices because they have to take the prices that they can get on the open market. Largely this is true, but it is also true in one most important respect that primary producers can, and very often do, reduce their own costs by putting into operation more modern methods and techniques, which are made available to them through the efficient research of the C.S.I.R.O. I should like to quote a few examples of this.
In the last eighteen months aldrin and dieldrin have been made available to fight flies. The harm that flies can do to sheep is perhaps not known to many honorable members, but in some of the dry areas of Australia flies can mutilate a wool clip in one week if not attended to and this can mean a great loss. Dieldrin has made it possible for sheep-owners to make their sheep almost immune from fly strike ‘ for three months at a time. This is a great saving in cost to them.
A new vaccine has been made available to combat entero toxemia or pulpy kidney, as it is more widely known. Up to this year, no really suitable and thoroughly effective vaccine has been available, and in the spring season losses of fat lambs and young sheep in prime condition had been very great, especially on some properties. But with the research that has been conducted by the C.S.I.R.O., efficient methods of combating this disease are available to primary producers, and again, as a result of this, costs to primary producers have been definitely reduced.
Although very much has been done, there is much that still can be done in this field of reducing costs through increased research. I will mention two or three examples. The first, and I believe the most important, has been highlighted in the last few months by the legislation of various States, including Victoria. It concerns foot rot. It is against the law in Victoria, and other States, to sell sheep with foot rot to a grazier or through a public sale yard. They must go directly to the butcher. But the eradication of foot rot is not an easy task, as anybody who has had any personal experience with sheep will know. It is quite possible for an expert to inspect a flock in the autumn, the dry period of the year, and to class the sheep as 100 per cent, clear of foot disease. Yet in the spring, for a reason that is unknown to scientists and graziers at the present time, foot rot will again appear. If they could tell us the reason, and if they could make it easier for pastoralists to eradicate foot rot, it would mean a very great saving to graziers in wet areas. Let me give an instance of the cost that is incurred by foot rot in areas of Australia where the rainfall is relatively high - say above 22 inches or 24 inches. If there is any danger of getting foot rot, the feet of the sheep must be individually pared three or four times a year, and the sheep must be put through baths of arsenic or formalin several times a year. This costs a great deal, as experienced pastoralists would know.
I should like to mention one other aspect, namely, the spreading of superphosphate. Superphosphate is being increasingly used and I believe greater benefits can be gained from improved methods of spreading. I do not mean spreading from the air, which covers hill country which could not previously be covered by land-drawn spreaders. Most superphosphate spreaders cover a width of about twenty yards, and cover it fairly efficiently, but because they cover only 20 yards, the vehicle spreading the superphosphate must travel many times up and down the paddock in order to cover the whole of the paddock. If it were possible to develop a spreader which would cover 50 or 60 yards or even more, considerable savings would be made, because the vehicles would not have to travel anything like the distance travelled now.
I believe that a great deal can be done with respect to pasture research. In Australia, most of the improved grasses have been adopted from other areas and other lands. The clovers and the perennial rye grasses have not been adapted specially for Australian conditions, and what we need are grasses that will grow more in the extremely wet winters, when growth is very slow, and will also grow longer into the dry summers, so that the greener spring will last longer. If this can be done, the productivity of many areas will be considerably raised, with a consequent reduction in costs.
There has been one significant development in the last four or five years which has very greatly reduced costs, but which in future may not have anything like the effect it has had in the past. I refer to myxomatosis. What has happened to myxomatosis can be justly described as one of the misfortunes of federation. We were given a weapon that was ideally suited to combat the rabbit menace in Australia, but when we first got the weapon we were not equipped to make the best use of it. That was largely because of the division of power between the C.S.I.R.O. and the Departments of Agriculture in the various States, some of which did not play their full part in making sure that myxomatosis maintained its full virility. There were in the beginning hit-and-miss methods of spreading the disease through the rabbit population. That was largely because we did not have, and largely still do not have sufficient knowledge of mosquito life or insect life in Australia. It is true that the European rabbit flea has been introduced to Australia to overcome this problem, but if we had known in the beginning what myxomatosis was going to do, we would have had the European rabbit flea in Australia at the same time as myxomatosis. Great harm has been done because we did not know enough about the insect life of this country when myxomatosis was introduced. Mild field strains have been allowed to develop and spread which have not been strong enough to kill the rabbits, but which have allowed rabbits in certain areas to breed immunity to myxomatosis - immunity even to the strongest strains that are put out by the various departments at the present time. In Victoria this year, a most vigorous campaign is being undertaken in a State-wide effort to reduce the rabbit population. Field officers are examining the insects and mosquito population so that they can judge the best time to release the virus in each locality. However, there are not enough officers doing this work, and we may be lucky if the efforts that have at last been put into this side of the myxomatosis campaign can restore the virus as an effective means of destroying rabbits. However, I hope that all farmers will give the present Victorian campaign their full support.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I wish to express my hostility to the actions of this Government in connexion with our coastal shipping. We hear a lot about the Government from the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull) and others.
– Does the honorable member want to tell us about any rackets?
– Yes, this is a real racket. On behalf of the Boilermakers Society of Australia and the shipbuilders, I express my hostility to the Government for an action which is tending to destroy the Australian mercantile marine. The lengths to which the Government will go to please its friends who comprise the overseas shipping cartel should be emphasized, because the destruction of the Australian mercantile marine will be brought about if this Government carries on as it has been doing.
Under the Australian Coastal Shipping Agreement of 1956, the Menzies Government prevented the Australian Commonwealth Shipping Line, now called the Australian National Line, from competing on coastal routes. The ships of the Australian National Line could be chartered by the Australian Wheat Board to carry wheat to overseas markets or by other exporting interests. These ships made several successful voyages with wheat and flour to Ceylon and Indian ports, but the overseas cartel found that the ships were carrying foodstuffs and other cargo on the return trip and were competing with its ships. The cartel brought pressure to bear on the Government and it reacted by withdrawing the ships of the Australian National Line from the overseas trade and lending them to the Japanese Government.
Two of the ships were the “ Bulwarra “ and the “ Baralga “. They were lent to the Japanese Government so that they would not compete with the overseas shipping cartel. They are being used to carry nickel and scrap iron to Japan. Scrap iron is an appropriate cargo as the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) always seems to be mixed up with it. The last time he was mixed up with scrap iron we received most of it back from Japan, but it is doubtful whether we will get it back next time. These two ships are carrying nickel and scrap iron from New Caledonia and Malaya to Japan. Another ship, the “ River Derwent “, has been lent to Japan to carry scrap iron also from Malaya to Japan.
It is difficult to believe that our Prime Minister and patriotic supporters of our Government, who include so many exservicemen, would sit idly by and see our erstwhile enemies use our mercantile marine in any way they wish and take our ships away from the Australian coast. Why do the supporters of the Government sit idly by? Are the overseas shipping interests too strong for them? What happens in such cases? Who are these people who can bring pressure to bear on our Prime Minister and the ex-servicemen among his supporters? How can pressure be applied to them to remove competition from the overseas cartels in the Australian coastal trade? I should like to have those questions answered.
The Australian Coastal Shipping Commission Act must be repealed or the situation will become intolerable. Clause 7(1.) of the schedule to the act limits the shipping that the Commonwealth Government can operate to 325,000 gross registered tons over a period of twenty years. Less than 80,000 tons can be added in that period. Apparently the Government believes that the construction of an average of 4,000 tons a year over twenty years will be sufficient to keep our shipbuilders working full time. Is it sufficient to ensure that the yards will be kept at full productive capacity in the event of hostilities? Is there any mention of this action by the Government in the so-called Menzies doctrine for peace?
What are we doing to protect our coastline? We have 12,000 miles of coastline, but the Prime Minister is denuding it of ships. They are not available to be withdrawn from service for special use in the event of hostilities. The overseas shipping cartel could withdraw its ships at any time because of the favouritism that has been shown to it by the Prime Minister. The overseas shipping cartel has no patriotism. It could take its ships away from the Australian trade, put them on the most profitable routes and leave Australia at the mercy of the enemy. It is time this patriotic Government took appropriate action. It is time the ex-servicemen who support it had something to say at their party meetings about this matter.
Does the Prime Minister ride roughshod over the party? Does he crack the whip and force his followers to accept his commands slavishly? It seems that he does. In all seriousness, I suggest to ex-servicemen on the Government side that they should bring pressure to bear on the Government in the interests of their native land for which they fought and bled. They are allowing the Prime Minister to sell out Australia to the enemy as he did in 1940.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 12.18 a.m. (Thursday).
The answers to the following questions were circulated: -
n asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The information sought by the honorable member for 1956- 57 is contained in Tables Nos. 23 and 24 of the Finance Statement 1956-57. Information for previous years is contained in similar tables published in the Finance Statement for those years. The tables are, necessarily, lengthy and for that reasonI have not reproduced them in this reply.
y asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable members questions are as follows: -
olt asked the Minister for the Army, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 23 October 1957, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1957/19571023_reps_22_hor17/>.