23rd Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr. G. J. Bowden) took the chair at 11.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister a question without notice. Will he confer with the honorable member for Mackellar, who appears to have assumed, or to have been appointed to, the role of adviser to the Commonwealth security service, with a view to arranging for Brigadier Spry, the Director-General of Security, to call upon me so that I may have made available to me all the information which will enable an examination to be made of the bona fides of those associated with the convening of what is officially described as the Australian and New Zealand Congress for International Co-operation and Disarmament, or is this service exclusive and available only to those who have been selected by the Prime Minister, the AttorneyGeneral and the honorable member for Mackellar?
– The answer is, “ No “. Indeed, it would be offensive to the honorable member for East Sydney to offer him access to material in relation to a matter on which he has already publicly made up his mind.
– I address my question to the Minister for Air. Is the Minister aware that buildings are being removed from the Royal Australian Air Force school of radio, Ballarat? Does this indicate that the school is about to be closed?
– No, I am not aware ot any movement of buildings at Ballarat except from what the honorable member has told me very recently himself. There are, however, a large number of empty buildings of a temporary war-time nature at Ballarat, and I have no doubt that the movement to which he has referred concerns some of those buildings. As I have assured the honorable member previously, there is no immediate plan for the closing of the radio school at Ballarat. It is ex pected that, in the long run, this will have to be done in the interests of economy, so* that the school may be embodied in a larger establishment with permanent buildings; but there is no plan for any early movement of the school.
– For the assistance of honorable members who will be participating in the debate on the National Health Bill, would it be possible for the Minister for Health to supply us with a copy of the list of drugs or medicines that are available to pensioners at present and which, I understand, will form the basis of the pharmaceutical benefits that will be made available under this legislation? I, for one, would very much appreciate having that information. It would help honorable members to know what is really contained in the proposal to widen the scope of the present free medicine scheme.
– I think it might be a very formidable undertaking to provide copies of the list. However, the information that the honorable gentleman wants could probably be supplied to him in a much shorter form, and I shall see whether that can be done.
– My question, which is addressed to the Minister for Social Services, refers to the allegations which are constantly being made that people frequently dispossess themselves of their assets in order to qualify for the age pension on reaching pensionable age. Is the Minister aware of the particular allegation that it is a familiar sight in Sydney to see elderly men and women patronizing departmental stores, car dealers and travel agencies in a frantic endeavour to reduce their assets to the permissible limit and thus qualify for full pensions?
– I am indebted to the honorable member for Phillip for directing my attention to these stupid and cruel allegations, and I share his concern. These allegations offer a gratuitous insult to some 600,000 aged men and women who qualify for pensions under the Social Services Act, and they serve only to harm some 500,000 aged Australian men and women who, by their providence and their more favorable circumstances, are excluded from social service benefits of any kind. The honorable member knows that the Social Services Act expressly forbids the granting of a pension to a person who has divested himself of his property in excess of the permissible limit in an attempt to qualify for a pension or for an increase in the rate of pension, and the department has no alternative but to reject applications from such people if and when they are made. Oke the honorable member for Phillip and, I believe, all other honorable members, I can only deplore allegations of this kind when they are made. I can do nothing to stop them. They are intended to be pernicious and vicious, and I regret to say that frequently they are both,
– I desire to ask the Minister for the Interior whether the installation of filters in the pipes leading from the Canberra reservoirs which provide drinking water for the residents of the city is being considered. Is it possible to prevent the carrying in drinking water of surface soil in suspension every time heavy rain falls here, and is the planting of shrubs or trees in order to hold the surface soil in the catchment area being considered?
– I do not know whether the installation of filters, as suggested by the honorable member, is actually being considered, but I shall have inquiries made and shall let him know.
Study by Overseas Visitors.
– I should like to ask the Minister for Primary Industry whether members of the United States Congress, and other important overseas business representatives, are visiting Australia in order to learn something of Australian agricultural conditions? Are the inspections by these visitors being limited practically to areas south of Sydney, which is south of the thirty-second parallel of latitude? As some 80 per cent, of Australia is north of that parallel, and as that area produces many of the most important of Australia’s typical crops, will the Minister use his influence to ensure that such visits are ex tended so that farms on the eastern coast of Australia and along the Great Dividing Range in the northern sector might also be investigated, and perhaps those in Western Australia also?
– The visit of the two American Congressmen covers only the short period of six days. I understand that they will arrive in Sydney to-day and will come to Canberra to-morrow. After the usual courtesies, it is intended that the two Congressmen should have a conference with representatives of the Departments of Trade and Primary Industry. Mr. Boulware, the United States Embassy representative, will then bring the Congressmen to Parliament House. I suggest that any honorable members who desire to see them might contact Mr. Boulware. Actually, I assume that the United States Embassy is arranging the itinerary of the Congressmen in this instance. I suppose that the short time that they will be in Australia is a factor that prevents their going to many areas. They intend to visit the Wagga-Junee district, Albury and Shepparton. They will then meet the Victorian Minister for Agriculture. I agree with the implication in the honorable member’s question that green fields and pastures can be found other than in the south of Australia - and no doubt the right honorable gentleman’s area seems particularly green to him at present.
– I preface my question, which is addressed to the Minister for Immigration, by stating that, in answer to my question on notice a few weeks ago, the honorable gentleman revealed that a total of 206,000 migrants who possess the necessary qualifications have as yet failed to apply for naturalization. I think it is agreed that both the Government and the Opposition would like to see this problem resolved as soon as possible. Will the Minister consider the issue and circulation to these people of a prepared brochure setting out in detail the many advantages to be gained by becoming naturalized? I suggest that such a brochure be supported by a personal written appeal by the Minister and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition.
– I shall certainly consider the honorable gentleman’s suggestion, but I remind him that three weeks ago I tried to initiate a new naturalization campaign by making a statement in which I pointed out the advantages of naturalization. A direct appeal was made to all those eligible people whom the honorable gentleman mentions. I add, also, that the Government by devious means within the last twelve months has tried to bring to the notice of European settlers who have not yet taken Australian citizenship some of the many advantages of it and the means by which they can do it. But this matter, of course, is a continuing process. What I said three weeks ago is only the first of a number of steps that I hope to take in order to accelerate the naturalization rate.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for National Development a question. In view of the Government’s decision to continue the embargo on the export of iron ore from Australia, will the Minister make a statement in the near future enlarging on the reasons lying behind the embargo and what steps are planned to stimulate prospecting and the development of further iron ore deposits, the discovery of which would presumably remove the main expressed reason for the embargo?
– I will convey the question to my colleague in another place and ask him to let the honorable member have an answer in due course.
– I ask the Treasurer whether, during the discussion on the European Common Market and the Outer Seven at the Commonwealth finance Ministers’ conference in London five weeks ago, he sought support for further international agreements to ensure that the agricultural and mineral commodities of Australia and the Commonwealth countries in Asia and Africa should have stable prices and markets in Britain and the Outer Seven as well as in the Common Market. If he did, will he make a statement on the results which we may expect from his efforts? If he did not, was this because he does not think that commodity agreements are as important as they were claimed to be by the
Minister for Trade at the Commonwealth trade and economic conference at Montreal a year earlier?
– The conference of Ministers in London, described as the Commonwealth Economic Consultative Council, was made up, primarily, of the finance Ministers of the various parts of the Commonwealth, but its discussions were not public- Therefore, it is not proper for me to disclose publicly all that was advanced in the course of that conference. However, I can assure the honorable member that Australia’s viewpoint - which I think would be the viewpoint held, irrespective of any party labels we might carry - on the importance of the removal of restrictions to agricultural trading, acceptance of obligations under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade and the development of the widest European Economic Community were stated quite forthrightly by myself and, indeed, were also put forward vigorously by the representative of New Zealand, whose interests in these matters lie very close to our own.
I have already indicated that I hope to be able to make a statement to the House regarding my various official activities while overseas, and if opportunity presents itself before the session is much older, I shall do that. In the course of that statement I will say as much as I feel able to say in the direction sought by the honorable member.
– My question to the Minister for Trade concerns the residue of discrimination in our import licensing system against goods from the dollar area. In view of the prolonged and continued deficit of the United States in its payments with the rest of the world, involving an outflow of gold in 1958 of 2i billion dollars and the general dismantling of discriminatory restrictions against the dollar by other countries, is it considered by the Government that there are still financial grounds for continuing to discriminate against dollar goods? If not, are the items concerned ones awaiting a hearing by the Tariff Board which this Government seeks to protect in the meantime by import licensing? If there are no financial grounds for continuing discrimination and the items are not listed for Tariff Board hearing, what are the grounds upon which the continued discrimination is based?
– The honorable member and the House will be aware that, flowing from a circumstance of grave dollar currency shortage affecting the whole sterling area, we have, in this country, pursued a general policy of abating discrimination against dollar imports as the dollar availability to the sterling area has improved. We have gone a very long way indeed towards removing the discrimination against dollar imports that arose from the shortage of dollar currency. This is a policy which the Government will continue to pursue. There remains only a comparatively small area in which it operates. I am sure that the United States of America, which in the last year or so erected a very grievous barrier against Australia’s opportunity to earn dollars by arbitrarily imposing a quota restriction on lead and zinc - Australia’s principal dollar earners - will not feel a sense of grievance because there still remains an area in which we can operate in removing discrimination against dollar imports. I point out that the American restrictions on the import of Australian lead and zinc reduced our dollar earning capacity by 49 per cent, in one fell swoop. It is the policy of the Government to continue in the direction I have indicated, until discrimination has been eliminated.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister a question without notice. Is the right honorable gentleman in a position to make an announcement now regarding a successor to Sir William Slim as GovernorGeneral of Australia? If not, will he say when he will be able to make the announcement? When the time comes to make the announcement, will he make it to the Parliament, if it is in session, rather than to a press conference, as a recognition of the importance of this office? Is it true that a prominent member of the Government has been considered for appointment to this most important office?
– I hope to be in a position to make an announcement on this matter before very long, but I think I am right in saying that the announcement of the appointment will come from the Palace. That is the normal practice, but I take note of the honorable member’s suggestion.
– In which kingdom, the United Kingdom or Australia?
– The United Kingdom. The Palace is situated in the United Kingdom. Does not the honorable member know that? Since my friend wishes to be pedantic, let me say that the announcement will be made from wherever Her Majesty may be at the time. I would not like to take the honorable member for Werriwa even notionally around a galaxy of palaces. The announcement will be made from where Her Majesty is situated at the time.
As for the other matter that my friend from Bonython is good enough to inquire about, I have had a refreshing experience. I have never yet seen any speculative story about it which was even remotely true.
– I ask the PostmasterGeneral: Has his attention been directed to a recent analysis of the television programmes which are screened in Sydney and Melbourne between the hours of 6.30 p.m. and 9.30 p.m.? Does he know that this analysis shows that, with the exception of 15 minutes per day on two stations, one in Melbourne and one in Sydney, all the programme material used between the hours I have mentioned is imported film? Does the honorable gentleman agree that this seems to indicate that television stations established in the country areas would be able to provide programmes between those hours at least equal to those available to city viewers? Also, does not the analysis indicate that in regard to what are known as the prima donna hours of the day when most people watch television, the Australian producer of television material is getting rather a lean deal?
- Mr. Deputy Speaker, I have not seen any recent analysis of the content of television programmes to which I think the honorable member refers. From time to time I am advised by the Australian Broadcasting Control Board on such matters as this. The board is required to keep a supervision over the programme content of both broadcasting and television licensees and advise me on this matter of Australian content. From time to time, I have made statements in the House on that matter, and the board includes a reference to it in its annual report. Therefore, I am generally aware of the position outlined by the honorable member for New England.
The honorable member has asked me whether, if I am aware of these facts, I consider that programmes should be provided by country television of merit equal to that of city television. This is a matter on which I can only express a personal opinion. I have done so previously and will do so again. It is my personal opinion that licensees in country areas could provide programmes of merit and interest equal to those available in city areas.
As to the Australian producer, we desire to encourage the development of Australianproduced films. I have pointed out previously that this is a matter in which a considerable amount of technical knowledge and know-how has to be developed. That development is going on. It is my hope and belief that, as a result of the further extension of television throughout Australia, the increasing market will enable the development of Australian-produced films and that, therefore, the result which we are seeking will be achieved as television in Australia continues to expand.
– I ask the Minister for the Army whether suggestions have been put forward in his department to the effect that future promotion to ranks above lieutenant-colonel should be reserved for members of the Australian Regular Army and that members of the Citizen Military Forces should not be considered for them. Has the Government yet made up its mind as to what will be done with regard to these proposals?
– I am at a complete loss to understand what caused the honorable member to make such a suggestion as this. The facts are very simple. The members of the Citizen Military Forces are civilians who have volunteered for military service. I think it is well known that amongst the Citizen Military Forces we have some very brilliant men. I think that Australia owes them a great debt for the work they do in a voluntary capacity. The members of the Australian Regular Army are permanent soldiers. From thepoint of view of their activities in the Army, there is no difference between them, and members of the Citizen Military Forces. We have only one Army whether its members are citizen military forces or permanent forces.
The question of the allocation of rank is related only to the task performed. There is no discrimination whatever and’ no thought is being given to the matter mentioned by the honorable member. There is no reason at all why the citizen military soldier should be limited to the rank of lieutenant-colonel.
– I desire to ask the acting Minister for External Affairs a question without notice. In view of the world clamour for the principle of selfdetermination to be applied to the whole of Ireland so that the opinion of the Irish people - and the Irish people alone - will decide whether partition should be abolished or retained in that country of a little more than 4,000,000 persons, will he support the efforts of the representatives of Ireland in the United Nations to have this unjustifiable division of their country submitted to a plebiscite of the 4,000,000 inhabitants?
– Due partly to the noise in the chamber, and perhaps to a difficulty that I have with respect to languages, I did not hear all of the honorable member’s question. If he will put his question on the notice-paper I will see that he receives an answer.
– Can the Minister for Primary Industry inform the House of the progress that has been made in this country in wool research? Do the results so far clearly indicate that wool fibres can hold their premier position in future world markets?
– I think that the achievements of the Australian Wool Bureau, the Australian Wool Testing Authority and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization indicate that we are making rapid progress towards our ultimate goal with respect to wool research. The results of research In the last twelve months have been greater than ever before. I think the best answer that I can give the honorable member is to say that I will compile a list of the achievements, and supply it to him so that he may be fully acquainted with the facts.
– I ask the Treasurer a question. In view of numerous protests from Burnie business people and other citizens with regard to the inadequate facilities at the Burnie branch of the Commonwealth Trading Bank, will the right honorable gentleman take up with the Commonwealth Bank Board the matter of the erection of premises in Burnie befitting that important commercial centre and satisfying the needs of the bank’s customers? I may add that the staff of the bank, despite unsatisfactory accommodation, give excellent service.
– I am glad to learn from the honorable member that the staff of the bank in his area is giving the same good service that we have learned to expect from the staff of the Commonwealth Bank in other parts of Australia. I shall be pleased to convey to the Governor of the Bank the representations put forward by the honorable member.
– I ask the Minister for Trade a question concerning import licensing in New Zealand. As Australia is New Zealand’s major and traditional supplier of raw materials, manufactured goods and other goods, can the Minister say whether the proposed lifting of the import ceiling in New Zealand will directly lead to an increase of exports to that country?
– My understanding of the position is that as from 1st January next the ceiling set for imports into New Zealand will be raised by £25,000,000. Australia is an important supplier of New Zealand’s requirements. In recent years, Australia has supplied about 17 per cent, of the total imports into New Zealand. Judged on that basis we are entitled to expect an increase of our exports to New Zealand, as a result of the relaxation on imports, of about £5,000,000 to £6,000,000 a year. The items that Australia supplies to New Zealand consist of manufactured goods and raw materials that are not indigenous to New Zealand. The manufactured items that we export to New Zealand, the volume of which can be expected to increase, include canned fruits and petroleum products as well, of course, as sugar and some fresh fruits.
– Is the Treasurer of opinion that the present rapid rate of development in Australia makes joint ventures between domestic and overseas capital highly desirable in the interests both of investors and of the economy generally? If he is of this opinion, will he advocate that overseas and local investors should participate jointly in any project by an overseas commercial or industrial undertaking to establish itself in this country?
– I think the Government has made its general attitude to this matter quite clear in statements by the Prime Minister and the Minister for Trade, as well as in statements by myself and by other Ministers. We recognize the need, in a rapidly growing Australia, for a regular and steady inflow of overseas capital for investment, whether that capital comes by way of our overseas loan raisings or by the expansion of private industrial enterprises in this country. Indeed, a good deal of our prosperity and of our capacity to absorb the rapidly increasing population over the recent years has been made possible by the inflow of capital from these sources. One of the questions that affects the mind of the overseas investor is the degree to which governments are likely to interfere with or intrude into normal commercial processes. We welcome this kind of capital, and recognize the danger of causing investors alarm by any suggestion that the Government may interfere arbitrarily in some way with the disposition of that capital in Australia, but we believe that the best arrangement is one in which Australian working capacity and Australian capital is associated with capital and technical knowledge coming to us from overseas. We have made that point of view known to people who have inquired of us what their prospects are in Australia. We do not attempt to dictate terms in these matters, but we do attempt to encourage the kind of friendly association which, I am certain the honorable member would agree, is in the best interests of this country.
– Would the Minister for Trade comment on reports in the press of a statement made by the United States Under-Secretary of State, Mr. Douglas Dillon, when addressing the Tokyo session of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, in which he called for further efforts to expand world trade?
– I am aware that Mr. Dillon, the Under-Secretary of State in the United States of America, who is representing his country at the Gatt session in Tokyo, has made an important public statement on this matter. I have not yet had the opportunity to study Mr. Dillon’s statement, although it is quite clear that he has dealt with the desirability and, indeed, the urgency of taking steps to provide for greater freedom of world trade. This is music to the ears of Australians, because Australia is one of the great trading countries of the world. Our policies have been consistently directed towards opening up further opportunities for this country by expanding world trade through the abatement of restrictions. I am sure that Mr. Dillon has made constructive proposals, and Australia can be counted upon to support the general objective.
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. John McLeay).I wish to direct the attention of the House to the presence in our galleries this morning of a large number of distinguished visitors, who have come from the many countries within the Commonwealth of Nations. They represent their branches at the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Conference to be held in this chamber next week.
As honorable members know, there is to be an opportunity later to-day for them to meet our visitors, but I am sure that the House wishes me to convey its very warm welcome to them and its sincere desire that their visit to Canberra will be thoroughly enjoyable, and that the demands of the conference will not prevent them from seeing something of our National Capital.
On your behalf, I wish the delegates well, in their discussions at the conference. I trust that they will leave Australia with thehappiest memories of their stay with us.
– I desire to ask the Prime Minister a question which is related to a question that he answered some ten days ago regarding the proposed summit talks todeal with outstanding matters affecting the nations of the world, including the matter of armaments. I mention that the Prime Minister of Great Britain has stated his. view that it is a matter of urgency that the date for the talks be fixed as soon as possible lest the world experience a renewal of the intense feelings that were created during the so-called cold war. I ask the right honorable gentleman: Will he, by every reasonable means, endeavour, especially at this time to which Mr. Speaker has referred, to bring the whole strength of the Commonwealth, which is so well represented here to-day, behind the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom in his desire that the summit talks be held at an early date?
– The view which the Government holds on the summit-talk proposals, and which has been expressed through me, is, of course, well known. If it is necessary for me to lend whatever weight I can lend to the very powerful views of the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, I would unhesitatingly say that delay on this matter is most undesirable. At present, there is a state of affairs internationally which has been produced by personal contacts already between some of the world’s leaders, and I would think it most unhappy if the atmosphere so created were allowed to dissipate or if the symptoms so’ far disclosed were allowed to fade away. Therefore, we are strongly in accord with the views that have been expressed by the Prime Minister of Great Britain in relation to this matter - that there should be a summit conference at the earliest possible moment. We take this position, not with any rather foolish idea that one summit conference will solve all the problems but because I, and the Government, believe that the very holding of a summit conference should enable some preparatory discussion to occur which will open up fruitful avenues for further discussion.
– My question is directed to the Treasurer. Is there any truth in the statement that was made in an authoritative publication in Western Australia this week to the effect that the alteration last June in Commonwealth and State financial relations is estimated to cost Western Australia £1,500,000 a year?
– I do not know by what process of reasoning anybody could come to the conclusion that has been indicated by the honorable gentleman. As he is aware, the proposals which were put forward by the Commonwealth to the State Premiers at the last Australian Loan Council meeting and Premiers’ Conference, and the final form in which they were adopted unanimously by all present, provided increased payments for all the States, including Western Australia. Those proposals provided a formula under which the States would enjoy the operation of what has become known as a betterment factor as year followed year and, at the same time, left to Western Australia and Tasmania the right of recourse to the Commonwealth Grants Commission. Incidentally, Western Australia had the advantage of this avenue previously. In the aggregate, I think, the amount provided for Western Australia in the present financial year was increased by something of the order of £2,000,000. Certainly, at the time of the Premiers’ Conference the representatives of Western Australia did not give the impression that their State had come out of the discussions other than favorably. It is my own belief that the proposals were certainly to the benefit of Western Australia and, I believe, to the benefit of all States, and in the best interests of the Commonwealth as well.
– I address my question to the Prime Minister. Does he hold the view that a Communist is necessarily insincere in any expressed desire to maintain world peace, and uses peace movements and peace conferences only as propaganda media and for the purpose of cloaking the aggressive intentions of Communist-controlled nations? Does the Prime Minister regard summit conferences with Communist leaders, which have the declared intention of preserving world peace, as being in the aforementioned category? If he does, on what basis does he justify his support of a summit conference?
– I venture to say that this is a question which invites opinion and argument. I have stated my views on the matters to which the honorable member has referred, and I would not think fit to repeat them at any length now.
– Has the attention of the Treasurer been directed to a report of a claim by Mr. T. A. Hiley, M.L.A., Treasurer of Queensland, to the effect, first, that the Commonwealth debt is fast decreasing while State debts are increasing, and secondly, that the Commonwealth is able to use revenue for capital expenditure without the payment of interest, whereas States have to bear a heavy interest burden? Will the right honorable gentleman comment on these allegations for the information of honorable members?
– I have not seen the report to which the honorable member has directed my attention, but the general argument which he has expressed as representing the view of Mr. Hiley is one with which I have become familiar at the various discussions that have taken place with the State Premiers. I think that honorable members generally are aware of the position. It would take me far longer than time permits this morning to deal adequately with this matter. Briefly, the situation is that the Commonwealth Government’s debt before the war was about one-third of the total debt of the States. During the war years, when the States’ debt remained virtually stationary, the Commonwealth debt, which was a result of loans raised for unproductive but very essential war purposes, increased by about £1,300,000,000. Since the end of the war, the State debt has, of course, increased relatively to the Commonwealth debt and relatively to its former situation to a significant degree, for revenueproducing assets which the States have been able to provide out of the moneys that have been made available to them.
The Commonwealth has been required to redeem a certain amount of the debt that was incurred during the war years, and that process is continuing. As honorable members know, that has placed a very heavy burden on Commonwealth budgets over recent years. The fact that the Commonwealth, because it makes all the loans that can be raised available to the States, finds it necessary to finance its own capital programmes out of revenue, is not a matter of great comfort to the Commonwealth. We must carry the odium of raising the taxes necessary for this purpose. The interest paid by the States is one of the matters taken into account when financial assistance that is provided out of tax reimbursements and in other ways is decided by the Commonwealth.
– My question is addressed to the Postmaster-General. Can he indicate the intentions of the PostmasterGeneral’s Department concerning the extension of television to the Broken Hill area of New South Wales, where there is an isolated community of about 35,000 people?
– The Broken Hill area is not included in the list of areas in respect of which the Australian Broadcasting Control Board is at present investigating applications for television licences; that is to say, it is not included in the third phase of television development. However, it will be remembered that, when I announced some time ago the Government’s policy in this matter - a policy which has not altered since its inception, and which is intended to promote the steady development of television - I pointed out that areas not included in the third phase, or the first extension to country districts, would certainly be considered immediately this phase was completed. I have no doubt that that applies to the Broken Hill area, just as it applies to all other areas in similar circumstances.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Defence. I understand that, in a recent statement, the Minister for Supply referred to certain experimental work being carried out with respect to the use of brown coal as an alternative fuel for jet turbine engines. In view of the lack of any worthwhile strategic reserves of oil in Australia, compared with our large natural deposits of brown coal, and having regard to the military aspect of the matter, I ask the Minister whether he is satisfied that every possible impetus is being given to these experiments.
– I have not seen the statement which the honorable member attributes to the Minister for Supply, but I myself have some knowledge of the work which is going on. As late as last week, I was talking to the engineer in charge of it. I must impress on the honorable member that this use of brown coal is in a very early experimental stage. A section of the Aeronautical Research Laboratories, in the Department of Supply, has been given over to it, and it is being followed up as quickly as possible.
– I address my question to the Treasurer. Is it a fact that, recently, during one of the right honorable gentleman’s many jaunts around the globe, he purchased an apparatus designed to prevent him from hitting rock bottom during his excursions into Davy Jones’s locker, as an underwater spear fisherman? Is it a fact, also, that if the Minister has a heart attack or is attacked by cramp while on one of these excursions, he can pull a string, be carried to the surface by this apparatus, and float about unconscious? As the Australian taxpayer is certain, after feeling the impact of the right honorable gentleman’s recent Budget, that he used a similar apparatus prior to the presentation of that Budget, can he inform the House whether, and when, he will regain consciousness?
– It is a fact that I have acquired a quite simple piece of apparatus designed to maintain in certain circumstances my otherwise natural buoyancy. This equipment, although of a mechanical kind, maintains buoyancy by the generation of hot air, and I feel that there will be no difficulty in maintaining an adequate supply of this agent as long as the honorable gentleman is prepared to remain in attendance in this place. However, I think that, even in an unconscious state, I should find myself able to cope with whatever he can produce here by way of a question. I am quite certain that the taxpayers of the Commonwealth and the other citizens who are now feeling the very real benefits which have flowed from the recent Commonwealth Budget will be glad to know that I am taking proper precautions to maintain myself in a state of activity in this place.
Motion (by Mr. Harold Holt) agreed to -
That the House, at its rising, adjourn until Tuesday, 10th November, at 2.30 p.m.
House adjourned at 12.26 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
d asked the Minister representing the Minister for Customs and Excise, upon notice -
What quantity of (a) silk, (b) rayon, (c) cotton and (d) synthetic fibres was imported in (i) the year preceding the introduction of import licensing, (ii) the base year, including any new base year since determined, and (iii) the year 1958-59?
– The Minister for Customs and Excise has furnished the following answer to the honorable member’s question: -
z asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 29 October 1959, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1959/19591029_reps_23_hor25/>.