23rd Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. John McLeay) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– Mr. Speaker, in view of my reply to a question yesterday, honorable members may enjoy a little well-earned hilarity to-day when I tell them that contrary to my first desire I propose now to make a quick journey to the United Nations General Assembly where, of course, I will look forward to seeing my friend, the honorable member for Banks. As the meeting of the Assembly has developed it has been attended by an increasing number of heads of government, including heads of Commonwealth governments. Only yesterday the attendance of the Prime Minister of New Zealand was announced. Therefore, I should think that honorable members would not wish Australia, speaking in terms of heads of government, to be conspicuous by its absence. Matters of great importance are under discussion, and if one may make even a small contribution to the solution of the world’s problems, the trip will be worth while.
– Can the Minister representing the Minister for National Development say whether, during the negotiations that took place for the sale of the Commonwealth’s interest in the Bell Bay aluminium project, consideration was given to the question of preserving the existing practice of determining the conditions of labour and rates of pay by negotiation? If consideration was not given to this question at that time, will it be given now?
– From what I have heard and read, I feel sure that consideration was given to the matter that has been raised by the honorable gentleman, but I am not in a position at the moment to be explicit. I shall obtain details of the nego tiations and of the conclusions that were reached, and let the honorable gentleman have them.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Immigration. As the Australian National Committee for the World Refugee Year Appeal has this year allocated £750,000 in various ways to assist the settlement of refugees in many countries throughout the world and, as a result of this work, an Australian village is to be erected in Hong Kong for Chinese and European refugees, will the Minister endeavour to ensure, first, that the village and the homes in it will be designed by Australian architects, and secondly, that the cost of this design work will be borne by the Commonwealth Government and not by the Australian National Committee?
– As at this time, I have received no full report from the Australian National Committee for World Refugee Year, but I believe that the committee has allocated £516,000 to refugee projects in various parts of the world, including £100,000 for the housing project for Chinese refugees, to which the honorable member refers, in Hong Kong, and 61,000 dollars for the re-settlement of European refugees from the Far East. The finance, as a supplement to that provided by the Hong Kong Government, will be forthcoming, as the committee has announced, and I should imagine that it would be sent in the first place to the head-quarters of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in Geneva.
I understand that the design of these housing settlements provides that the dwellings shall be merely one-room cottages, but, as to employing an Australian architect in connexion with their construction, I think it would be probably better to leave such things in the hands of the Hong Kong Government itself which has already done tremendously good work in the resettlement of Chinese refugees on the island of Hong Kong and in the adjacent territories. I would remind the honorable member that there is also in Hong Kong a representative of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
As to the Commonwealth Government making a contribution, I would say to the honorable member that already we have sent to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees the sum of £50,000. As the House will know, too, Australia has already made what I think we can truly claim to be a quite liberal gesture, in practical terms, for re-settlement, especially of the hard core cases in the refugee camps of Europe, and I think that, for the time being, sympathetic as we are, we have made what the world would describe as a just contribution to this cause.
– On the assumption that the Deputy Prime Minister will be the Acting Prime Minister during the Prime Minister’s temporary absence abroad, I ask the Deputy Prime Minister who will be Acting Minister for External Affairs and who will be Acting Acting Treasurer while the Prime Minister is abroad.
– I am sure that replies which will be satisfactory to the Leader of the Opposition will be forthcoming. The information for which he asks will be announced in the course of the next 24 hours.
– Can the Minister for Territories say when the proposed work on the new high school at the old Vestey site at Darwin will commence? The honorable gentleman may recall that evidence adduced before the Public Works Committee emphasized that this work was urgent.
– There is no doubt that the work to which the honorable member refers is one of the most urgent public works we have pending in the Northern Territory. Some differences of opinion about design have arisen. These are at present under investigation and discussion, and we shall try to get a decision on them as early as possible.
– I preface a question to the Minister for Territories by reminding him that some two or three weeks ago he implied that the reason for the long delay of some two years or more in bringing into effect the new labour ordinances in New Guinea was the delay on the part of the local authorities in preparing the regulations. Is it true, as has recently been stated by the Administrator or somebody from his staff, that part of the delay was due to the fact that the department in New Guinea had to wait more than a year before it could get a decision from Canberra?
– It is true that a statement was made in some Australian newspapers towards the end of last week, to the effect that some one, who was described as a senior spokesman for the Administration, had said that a delay of one year had occurred because of delay in Canberra. I made some inquiries from the Administrator and can say explicitly on his behalf that no such statement was made by him or by any senior officer of the Administration and, in fact, it is completely false. The whole reason for what was an understandable and excusable delay was that after the passing of the legislation and the very prompt assent to it, a long period elapsed in the drafting of regulations and the drawing up of procedures in order to put the legislation into effect. That work was done wholly in the Territory. There was no delay of any kind in Canberra, and that is a statement in which the Administrator acquiesces in every detail.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Trade. Since negotiations are about to start on the renewal of the Australia-Japan trade agreement, will the Minister give consideration to allowing dairy products, and particularly butter, to be included in the Australian commodities that will be under discussion? I ask this question because Japan has employed severe protective devices against imported dairy products. If the Australian dairying industry could get access to this market the prospects for sales of butter to Japan in future would be tremendous. With the rapid improvement in standards of living in Japan there is evidence of a growing demand for dairy products in that country.
– The Australian official negotiators leave to-day for Japan, where negotiations at the official level will commence next week. On the last occasion Japanese officials came to Australia for the negotiations, and the visit of Australian representatives to Japan this time is a balancing arrangement. I am glad to assure the honorable member that it is our intention during these negotiations to endeavour to procure right of access to the Japanese market - on a continuing basis - for our dairy products, as well as for all those
Other products that are already included in the trade agreement. It is the intention, at the same time, to endeavour to procure access to the Japanese market for some Australian manufactured goods which we and the Australian manufacturers believe can be sold successfully and competitively in Japan. In the trade agreement as it now Stands, we have a right of nondiscriminatory access to the Japanese market for one important dairy product, dried skimmed milk. Quite recently, I think, we were successful in tendering for 1,000 tons. At all events, we can sell dried skimmed milk under the trade agreement. We have recently sold butter to Japan as the result of separate negotiations, apart from the rights under the agreement. I think we sold some 500 tons of butter on that occasion. I will endeavour to have written into the agreement a continuing right of access for Australian butter. I should add that there is a right of access for Australian natural cheese now.
– My question is addressed to the Deputy Prime Minister in his capacity as Minister for Trade. Has he seen the statement of the general secretary of the Farmers and Settlers Association that glucose, which is a by-product of subsidized American maize, and which is being dumped in Australia below its fair market value, is a threat to the wheat industry? Is the Minister prepared to stop the dumping of this glucose, which is likely to cause Australian wheat-growers a loss of at least £500,000 as glucose is manufactured in Australia from wheat by-products?
– J am sure the honorable member knows that “ dumping “ in the context in which he uses it is a technical word and capable of definition. There is complete provision within the Australian statutes for the protection of Australian commodities against dumping. The administration of this matter is within the control of my colleague, the Minister for Customs and Excise, who, from time to time, of his own right, protects Australian industry against dumping. When there is a doubt as to whether dumping is actually taking place, he has the right to ask the Tariff Board to offer its opinion on that matter. I am sure that if a complaint is brought to the attention of the Minister for Customs and Excise appropriate steps will be taken, since he has the power to take them.
– My question is addressed to the Deputy Prime Minister as the Minister representing the Treasurer. In view of the fact that there is a considerable back-lag in property valuations to be made by the Commonwealth valuer in Tasmania, particularly as they affect war service land settlement, will the right honorable gentleman consider the appointment of an additional valuer, not only to remedy the existing situation but to meet the ever-increasing demand for this work?
– I am sure that there is importance in the point raised by the honorable member for Franklin. I will see that it is studied without delay with a view to an appropriate conclusion being reached and action taken if desirable.
– My question is addressed to the Deputy Prime Minister as the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs. In view of the importance attached to the present meeting of the United Nations by the Prime Minister, will the Government consider extending an invitation to the Leader of the Opposition to attend as the representative of at least 50 per cent, of the Australian people?
– Meetings of the General Assembly of the United Nations are composed of representatives of governments. I am sure that the present arrangements for Australia’s representation conform to what is expected in the United Nations.
– In a speech which he made on 19th March, 1959, the Minister for Territories stated that the Government had not completed its examination of certain proposals on finance in the Northern Territory and that, therefore, it would be wrong for any one to assume that they had been either accepted or rejected. Is the Minister able to inform me whether this examination of the possibility of a change in the financial arrangements for the Northern Territory has been completed? If so, what were the results of the inquiry?
– The House will recall that the point at issue is whether the Northern Territory should receive from this Parliament an annual grant so that the amount concerned would appear as a single line entry in the Estimates and the detailed estimates would be left to consideration by the Legislative Council for the Northern Territory. That issue is still unresolved. The matter that has been examined and is still being examined, relates to constitutional questions regarding the possibility of making that sort of arrangement in the case of the Northern Territory. The examination by our legal advisers is still proceeding.
– My question is addressed to the Deputy Prime Minister as the Minister representing the Minister for External Affairs. Is it a fact that the 650,000,000 people of China, representing one-third of the world’s population, are at present without a voice in the councils of the United Nations? Does the Minister consider this circumstance compatible with the apparent need to develop the United Nations as an effective medium of conciliation between nations? Will the Minister say whether the Australian delegation has been instructed to support the admittance of China to the United Nations?
– The admittance of new members to the United Nations is within the control of the United Nations itself. I am sure that the honorable member knows that this is a matter which has been debated there from time to time. I am also perfectly sure that he knows the decisions that have been made and the arguments that have been adduced in the course of debates.
– Will the Minister for Health consider having the new range of pharmaceutical benefits, and particularly the regulations governing them which, it is announced, will be introduced on 1st November, circulated among chemists for at least one month before they come into operation, so that the chemists may have some opportunity to familiarize themselves with the many changes that are now forecast?
– This matter is already receiving the attention of the Department of Health and I hope to be able to tell the honorable member more about it later.
– My question is directed to the Deputy Prime Minister as representing the Treasurer, and concerns advances to ex-servicemen from the War Service Homes Division. I ask the Minister: Is he aware of the great difficulty being experienced by ex-servicemen in raising temporary finance until their advances from the War Service Homes Division become available? Is he also aware that trading banks to which requests are made for loans by these people excuse their inability to provide temporary finance by blaming the credit squeeze imposed by the central bank? In view of the fact that the Government’s policy is blamed, will the Minister assist these exservicemen by reducing substantially the waiting period in respect of advances from the War Service Homes Division?
– To go immediately to the core of the honorable member’s question, I am sure that on analysis the implicit suggestion made by the honorable member involves a proposal that more money be found presently by the Commonwealth for this purpose.
– It is a question of reducing the waiting period for advances.
– The waiting period can be reduced only by finding more money. The Commonwealth has been finding money for ex-servicemen at the rate of £35,000,000 a year, which is a very big sum and, in the judgment of the Commonwealth, represents an appropriate proportion of total Commonwealth revenue. The Commonwealth would not be able to add to that amount at present.
– I direct to the Minister for Supply a question concerning the I.B.M. 7090 computer shortly to be installed at the Weapons Research Establishment. I ask the Minister: What are the terms of purchase of this computer? If the Department of Supply exercises its option to purchase the computer, at a price which I believe is in the vicinity of £1,000,000, will any rentals paid prior to the purchase be deducted from the purchase price?
– It is a fact that the Weapons Research Establishment is renting a digital computer of the I.B.M. 7090 type at a cost of £330,000 for the first year. We have an option to purchase in relation to it, and if we exercise our option a substantial part of the rent will in fact go towards the actual purchase price of the computer. I appreciate, Mr. Speaker, that the amount of money involved is substantial, but this is the largest digital computer in the world. As an indication of the work that can be done on it I mention the fact that the computer can carry out 229,000 additions or subtractions, of numbers of ten digits each, a second.
– My question is addressed to the Deputy Prime Minister. The announcement by the Prime Minister that he proposes to attend the General Assembly meeting of the United Nations is a tardy recognition of the fact that this is a very important conference and also indicates to us that in these great issues we are running a bad last. Does the right honorable gentleman’s answer to the honorable member for Hughes a moment or two ago on the question of the admittance of China to the United Nations indicate that in this particular matter also we are going to run a bad last and vote against China’s admittance?
– I am sure that the House knows that at an earlier stage in relation to this meeting of the United Nations it was the announced intention that various heads of government of the Western powers would not be attending. For reasons that were thought good by certain leaders of the West that announced decision was reversed. The President of the United States of America has attended at this session of the United Nations. The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom is there now. It is quite appropriate, in these circumstances, that the leader of this great country, who is recognized as a very great and wise man in the field of international affairs, should also attend. His status among the representatives of the countries which make up the United Nations is very great, but that status will not be added to - indeed, it will rather be lessened - if the Australian Parliament in any way ridicules his attendance. I put it strongly to the Parliament that the Prime Minister has taken a decision that was not easy to arrive at. Twenty-four hours ago he said he was not going. The best contribution that this Parliament can make towards increasing the weight of his presence at the United Nations is to display enthusiastic support for him as the Australian spokesman.
– Is the Minister for Shipping and Transport aware that some Victorian shires and boroughs have expressed dissatisfaction at the decreased financial allocations made to them by the Victorian Country Roads Board for road building and maintenance? Has the Commonwealth Government, under the Commonwealth Aid Roads Act, recently substantially increased its grants to the States for these purposes? If these are facts, will the Minister endeavour to ascertain whether the Victorian Government, although it is receiving greater Commonwealth aid, is allocating less to local government authorities than it previously did?
– It is true that the States are now receiving more money, under the Commonwealth Aid Roads Act, than they formerly did. It is stipulated that a minimum proportion of 40 per cent, of the grant to a State be allotted to rural authorities such as shires. Of course, the manner of making such allocations is a matter for the individual States. I understand that in the past shires have been receiving a higher proportion than the 40 per cent, now stipulated as the minimum. Without going into the detailed figures I could not say whether those rural authorities have had their allocations reduced to less than 40 per cent, of the total. I shall certainly look into the matter and try to obtain detailed information. When I have done so I will inform the honorable member.
– I ask the Deputy Prime Minister a question. When was it realized that the presence of the Prime Minister was required at the United Nations, and when was it realized by the Government that the Attorney-General was proving completely inadequate for the task he was required to perform at that gathering? Who summoned the Prime Minister to attend the conference at such short notice? Can we take it that the situation of the Western world, which is usually described as the free world, is so desperate that it was necessary to summon a man who has had many ignominious failures in the international field?
– In view of the way in which the question was couched, I think I would be warranted in not replying to it. I say this, however: The Prime Minister has decided that it is right for him to go to the United Nations in order to add the weight of his presence to that gathering. In this he has the entire support of his Cabinet. It is appropriate, Mr. Speaker, that the Prime Minister, who is so respected in the Commonwealth of British countries, should be present with the leaders of the other Commonwealth countries. It is a very good thing that the leader of the Australian nation - a nation respected by all the small and middle-sized; powers - should be in attendance and make a contribution by providing a kind of bridge between the great powers and the medium-sized and former colonial countries. Apart from his great powers of advocacy, this is a function that the Prime Minister is well-equipped to perform and will perform with great advantage to the cause of peace and wellbeing in the world.
– My question is directed to the Minister for the Interior. What are the names of owners of properties rented by Commonwealth Departments in the city of Adelaide, where are those properties situated, and what are the rentals paid for them? Will he state whether any tenancy negotiations are contemplated for new buildings being erected or about to be erected in the city by private interests? Will he also give details of existing tenancy leases or agreements between the Commonwealth and the owners of private properties?
– I did not hear the first part of the honorable member’s question, but I gather that he asked for particulars of Commonwealth-owned properties and properties leased by Commonwealth departments in Adelaide, with details of the leases and rents. I will endeavour to obtain that information for him. It was supplied a short time ago, I think, to the honorable member for Bonython, who asked a similar question. However, in case there have been changes since then, I will get the information for the honorable member.
– My question, which is addressed to the Minister for the Interior, refers to the question asked by the honorable member for Hughes regarding the recognition of Communist China. In view of the possible confusion arising from the similarity in the names of the electorates of “Hume” and “Hughes”, will the Minister consider adding some words to the name “ Hughes “, since this is a new name in Commonwealth electorates, and so make the distinction between the electorates clear, in the interest of both members?
– This is certainly an interesting question. I wonder whether the honorable member for Hume would prefer the name of his electorate to be changed to “ Hume-non-Communist “!
– My question is directed to the Minister for Territories and is supplementary to a question asked by the honorable member for Wakefield. As the question of powers of control of financial expenditure for the Legislative Council for the Northern Territory has been under consideration for more than two years, when can the Legislative Council expect a decision? Are not the powers sought already in existence in respect of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea? Therefore, what difficulties prevent the granting of these powers to the Legislative Council for the Northern Territory?
– It is a fact that the Commonwealth grant to the Territory of Papua and New Guinea is given by means of a single-line entry in the Commonwealth Budget. It is also a fact that the estimates for the Northern Territory are passed in detail by this Parliament. The difference between the two Territories is associated with the fact that constitutionally one is in a different position in relation to the central government from the other. It is these constitutional problems that have delayed mia! consideration of this question.
– I direct a question to the Acting Prime Minister, without notice. In view of the very valuable trade friendship existing between red China and Australia - £16,000,000 worth of Australian goods are sold to red China and Chinese goods to the value of about £5,000,000 are brought by Australia - will the Acting Prime Minister, in his capacity as Minister for Trade, remind the Prime Minister that it would be desirable for Australia to extend that friendship into the diplomatic field by supporting the admission of red China to the United Nations? Further, will the right honorable gentleman remind the Prime Minister that in a recent address in Wesley Church, Melbourne, the head of the Methodist Church of Australia expressed the opinion that red China should be admitted to the United Nations?
– I wish to make it clear that I am not yet the Acting Prime Minister, the Acting Treasurer or the Acting Minister for External Affairs, but for the purpose of this question time, I will stand in. In reply to the honorable member for Lalor, I am aware - and the Prime Minister is aware - of the purchases by mainland China of Australian wool and some other products. That is a very useful contribution to the Australian balance of payments situation, and mainland China is a useful competitor for wool in the auction room. We are glad to have that contribution to our trade, and will sell to China what it wants to buy. We will also buy from China what our merchants decide they want to buy. But the essence of the answer is that, valuable as a trade relationship may be for the purposes of trade itself and as a medium of contact, which is not to be discounted, there are still diplomatic considerations, and Australia is conscious of its diplomatic relations with its very great friends. We will not bargain for a trade opportunity at the cost of impairing diplomatic relationships with our great friends,
– I direct a question to the Minister for Territories. Are there many hundreds, even thousands, of indigenous inhabitants of Papua and New Guinea, such as employees of the Government, local government councils, co-operatives and missions, who are already well qualified to understand and exercise a direct franchise? Will the Minister’s interim plans for the elections to the Legislative Council for the Territory permit such persons to vote in those elections only if they reside in existing local government council areas, and then only by an indirect ballot?
– There are some thousands of persons who can exercise a vote in the same way as we exercise a vote here. They number only some thousands among millions. The interim arrangement was an arrangement which was recommended to the Government and adopted by it after consultation with those advanced leaders of the native people who take an interest in these matters. Their unanimous opinion was that, during an interim and provisional period, an indirect method of election would be more likely to produce candidates capable of representing the native people than a method of election restricted to a comparatively small number of voters.
As I attempted to explain to the House when introducing the Papua and New Guinea Bill, this method of using the native local government councils to form electoral colleges in each electorate to vote for the members to be elected will not exclude any of those advanced and articulate groups of native people who may be in native local government council areas. The provisions of the bill and the ordinances to be carried consequentially in the Territory itself will make it possible for groups of advanced people outside local government council areas to be formed so that they too can send delegates to the electoral conference for the selection of members.
– Did the Minister for Trade see a recent statement by the leader of Communist China that that country would not accept recognition by, or exchange diplomatic representatives with, other countries unless Communist China’s claim to Formosa was recognized also? Would not recognition of this claim mean that 10,000,000 people would be committed to slavery?
– I understand that it has been the standing attitude of mainland China that it will not enter the United Nations, even if invited, unless Nationalist China is conceded as being a part of mainland or Communist China. As I am sure that the Western powers have never been prepared to contemplate the abandonment of Nationalist China, this really means that the absence of mainland China from the United Nations has been determined by mainland China itself.
– I ask the Deputy Prime Minister a supplementary question. Does he recollect saying last year that eventually Australia would recognize red China? If so, will he state how many more bales of wool red China has to buy to earn recognition? Has the Government ever discussed with the Government of mainland China the question of the recognition of two Chinas?
– I merely say this: In the world of reality I have no doubt that at some time red China, mainland China - however it is described - will become part of the comity of nations. When that time comes, if the Australian Government reaches the point of supporting the proposal, that support will have no relationship whatever to trading circumstances or how many bales of wool are sold. I make that point perfectly clear on behalf of this Government.
– I addressmy question to the Deputy Prime Minister. Is he aware of the terms of a treaty which the Premier of red China, Chou En lai, and the leader of the Socialist Party who is visiting Japan this month, suggested should be entered into by Japan and China? If so, is not the first principle laid down by Mr. Chou En lai that the treaty must be between governments, and the second principle that Taiwan must be handed over to red China?
– I must confess that I am not familiar with the details of the matter that has been mentioned by the honorable member. But we all know that unhappily at present a war of power politics is proceeding in certain areas of the world and some of these things have to be interpreted against the background of that war.
– by leave - I make this statement on behalf of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies). Part II. of the Australian National University Act provides for the appointment by the Governor-General of twelve members to the council of the Australian National University. I have pleasure in announcing, for the information of honorable members, that the following persons have been appointed for a period of three years as from 30th September, 1960: Sir Frank Richardson, Sir Kenneth Fraser, Dr. Frederick William George White, Professor Alexander George Mitchell, Mr. Warren D’Arcy McDonald, Mr. Norman Lethbridge Cowper, Mr. Herbert John Goodes, Mr. John Qualtrough Ewens, Mr. Edmund John Buchanan Foxcroft, Mr. Stephen Lackay Kessell, Mr. Brian William Hone, Mr. Arthur Thomas Shakespeare.
– On behalf of the Prime Minister (Mr.. Menzies), and for the information of honorable members-, I lay on the table of the House the following paper: -
– Following the procedure which was adopted by the Prime Minister last year, I move -
That the paper be printed.
– I take a point of order. I want to put this proposition to you, Mr. Speaker: When a Minister is given leave to make a statement, or to present a. statement, he himself should move that the paper be printed. I do not want to debate this matter. Instead, I ask for leave to make a statement on the Minister’s statement.
– I think that any Minister is entitled to move that a paper be printed. The Minister for Primary Industry has moved that the paper which was presented by the Minister for Health on behalf of the Prime Minister be printed.
– That is unacceptable to the Opposition, and I ask for leave to make a statement on the document which has been presented by the Minister for Health.
– Order! I shall put the question. The motion is -
That the paper be printed.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I ask for leave to make a short statement.
– Will you move that that paper be printed when you have made the statement?
– There will be no need to print the paper from which I shall read because it merely refers to the report, the printing of which has been ordered.
– In the circumstances, I have no objection to leave being granted.
– by leave - In tabling the third annual report of the National Radiation Advisory Committee, I should begin by referring to the further contribu tion which the committee’s work has provided on matters which, until recently, were regarded with a certain awe and were veiled in considerable doubt and confusion.
This report is the work of a distinguished group of Australian scientists and as such bears the hallmark of authenticity. Honorable members will be interested to learn that during the year the committee has been further strengthened by the addition of another three eminent scientists to cover the fields of public health, patholgy and genetics. The report is presented in terms that can be understood by every one and it places the various radiation questions in perspective. But more important, as far as honorable members and the people of Australia are concerned, its conclusions on this complex subject are most reassuring.
The committee has been able to reaffirm the assurance contained in its previous reports and states that, allowing for the most pessimistic set of assumptions, the radiation risks we face in Australia from fallout are insignificant compared with the normal daily hazards of life. The committee concludes that during 1959 the increase in fallout levels in Australia from nuclear weapon tests to date was one-tenth the increase of levels in the more densely populated regions of the Northern Hemisphere, and that the fallout levels in Australia are now about one-fifth to one-fourth of those in the Northern Hemisphere. To learn from such a committee that Australia is one of the “ cleanest “ countries in the world is, I am sure, most reassuring to us all.
In its last report, the committee directed attention to the inevitable increase in potential hazards to the Australian population by the increasing use of ionising radiation in medicine, agriculture, research and industry. The committee then recommended that, in order to meet this situation effectively, the Commonwealth should accept responsibility for the legislative control of all uses of ionizing radiation throughout Australia. However, since this would present constitutional as well as other problems, as honorable members will well appreciate, I sought from the committee a statement of the reasons which led it to such a strong conclusion. During 1959-60 the committee has devoted particular attention to this matter and its- detailed report has now been received. It will be given careful study by the Government.
In accordance with its role, the committee has reviewed its assessment of the biological effects of ionizing radiation and the present report revises its earlier evaluation of biological hazards associated with radiation exposure in the light of increased knowledge in this field. Honorable members will note that the committee’s various recommendations made in earlier reports are receiving active consideration and much progress has already been made in various directions, not only with the State authorities but with the medical profession and associated bodies.
When I tabled the previous report in August, 1959, I referred to the loss sustained by the resignation of Sir Macfarlane Burnet as chairman of the committee, but I am happy to say that his place has been most ably filled by Professor Sydney Sunderland, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Melbourne. Despite the many other important preoccupations of Professor Sunderland and the members of the committee, they have been able to meet formally on eleven occasions during the past year as well as devoting considerable time between meetings to their committee work. The Government is greatly indebted to them for their efforts. 1 commend this report to all honorable members for their study not only because it is reassuring for Australia but because it is an arthoritative assessment of a complex subject which will continue to be of special concern to all of us.
– by leave - When the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) presented the second annual report of this body to Parliament last year, he spoke, just as the Minister for Health (Dr. Donald Cameron) did to-day, about the uses of ionizing radiation. He said that the committee had recommended that the Commonwealth Government should accept responsibility for the legislative control of uses of ionizing radiation throughout Australia. We of the Opposition thought at that time that the Government would take some action upon the matter, but we are told to-day, on. the occasion of the presentation of the third report of the committee, that the matter is still under consideration.
In our view, the question should never have been referred back to the committee for elaboration or further elucidation because, when it comes to a matter of control, the question is not primarily a scientific one; it is a legislative or constitutional one. Another committee, the committee appointed by this Government to review the Constitution, submitted a report after three years, and it is common knowledge to honorable members that the committee made quite a number of important recommendations. One of those recommendations was that the Commonwealth should seek power, by referendum, to enable it to do what the committee recommended should be done. The National Radiation Advisory Committee, in dealing with this question of Commonwealth legislative control of the uses of ionizing radiation in Australia says -
The States were first advised of the model act in 1953 and of the model regulations in 1957.
Now we are told that although most States have taken some action there has been considerable delay in the adoption and implementation of the legislation. I do not wonder at that because it is almost impossible to get the six States to agree at any time on even one simple proposition. The fact that they have divergent views on the question of the control of the uses of ionizing radiation in Australia is not to be wondered at.
According to the committee’s report, it seems that at the present time all the States are not adequately equipped to effect even minimal control over the uses of ionizing radiation. In these days of danger of a third world war and of fall-out, in these days when people fear the effects of strontium 90, in these days when people are worried every time an atomic bomb is exploded anywhere in the world, about what might happen over large parts of the earth, not merely to the present generation,’ but to succeeding generations, it seems impossible to believe that the States are indifferent about the matter or, worse still, that the Commonwealth has been so indifferent that it refuses to do what this committee wanted it to do last year and what the Constitutional Review Committee said in 1958, and again when presenting its final report in 1959, that it should do.
In paragraph 2 of its third annual report, the National Radiation Advisory Committee says that there are significant differences in the legislation adopted by the various States. That is bad enough, but these differences extend even to the provisions for the implementation of the legislation. We have scarcely any civil defence force anywhere. We have a nucleus in one or two places, but there is no real civil defence force in this country. There is no co-ordination on a federal level in the matter of civil defence, and, as yet, there seems to be no intention on the part of the Government to protect the Australian community from the effects of fall-out.
The committee rightly reports that some of the differences which exist in connexion with the provisions of State legislation, and in connexion with its implementation, will become critical in the future. Emphasis is rightly placed on this view by the committee by its use of the words “ Particularly with the increasing use of ionizing radiation “, and then it goes on to say - andI think these words should be incorporated in “Hansard”- and -
We of the Opposition regard this matter as one of very great urgency. We think the Government should not dally with it any longer. We think that this committee should be asked to conclude its deliberations and make its report to the Government on the latest request at the earliest possible moment.
Above all, we of the Opposition think the Government should seek, by referendum an alteration of the power of the Commonwealth so as to put the matter beyond all doubt and so that Australians all over the Commonwealth will be given as much protection as any Australian Government can give them - as unanimously recommended by the twelve members of that allparty committee which represented both Houses of the Parliament and both sides of politics.
Motion (by Mr. Adermann) agreed to -
That Government business shall take precedence over general business to-morrow.
In Committee of Supply: Consideration resumed from 27th September (vide page 1391).
Proposed Vote, £12,401,000.
Proposed Vote, £1,306,000.
.- The estimates of the Department of Shipping and Transport for the year ending 30th June, 1961, show that it is proposed to spend £1,306,000. The department also administers certain acts and miscellaneous services the proposed votes for which far exceed that amount, but do not appear directly under the estimates of the department on page 66 of the Estimates of Receipts and Expenditure. For instance, there are the payments to or for the States, shown on page 156 of the document, where under “ Commonwealth Aid Roads (Act No. 39 of 1959) “ there appears the sum £42,253,715 for 1960-61. That figure is the total of main grants and matching grants. Next year the grant under this act to make financial assistance available to the States for roads will increase by £2,000,000, and by a further £2,000,000 in 1962 and again in 1963. By that time the full amount of £250,000,000 will be expended.
I take this opportunity to make some observations about our highways problems. I do not want it thought that in making some criticism of our present approach to this great problem I am unmindful of the Government’s heavy financial contributions towardsour national roads system, particularly at a time when there are very heavy demands by the State governments for increased financial assistance for housing, education, social services and so on. At page 156 of the Estimates under “ Special Appropriations “, one sees that this Government is making available to the States an amount of £350,030,000. This is £29,396,000 more than last year. lt is easy during the debate on these Estimates to make political capital out of our transport problems, but I assure the committee that that is not in my mind at the moment. In fact, 1 want to remind the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Bird), who spoke so feelingly on this matter last night, that Australia’s road problems are due mainly to our remarkable economic expansion, which, in turn, has brought about a car density problem which, has few equals in the world to-day. All the demands that are made on our roads system call for a long-sighted plan on the part of the Commonwealth Government, together with a great deal of co-operation from the States and, if necessary, the abolition of State boundaries if these are found to be an obstacle to a national highways system.
But I feel that something further is required. I think that a system of priorities to determine how the money should be spent is a question for the Premiers’ Conference to consider, because it is obvious that we cannot do simultaneously all the things that we would like to do and are trying to do at the present time, unless we are prepared to consider priorities in regard to the public works of the States and the Commonwealth. Unless we do that, I believe we will find confusion worse confounded.
The recent Commonwealth Aid Roads Agreement is a very great improvement on anything that preceded it and provides a number of advantages. As honorable members know, the agreement provides for the expenditure of £250,000,000 during the next three years. Nevertheless, as each month passes, the funds that flow from this agreement become more inadequate. I think the honorable member for Batman referred to that matter last night, and I agree with him because the economic expansion of this country at present is so great that the provision of increased funds for roads is urgent. We must plan for the new road construction which is so important for the handling of our increased traffic density; otherwise we will fall behind with road maintenance. Official statistics show that motor vehicle sales during the Government’s period of office have been steadily increasing. Indeed, sales are over 100 per cent, more than they were when this Go vernment came into office, and the next decade will probably produce an even higher percentage increase. In 1958-59, over 250,000 new motor vehicles came on to our roads and the figures for 1959-60 will, I think, be still higher.
The figure of 2,500,000 motor vehicles on our roads to-day, as mentioned last night by the honorable member for Batman, gives one an appreciation of some of the problems with which we are faced at present. If traffic density is not going to be allowed to defeat the value of our already improved existing highways we must put into operation, in the shortest possible time, some kind of traffic motor ways, freeways or modified autobahns
If we are not prepared to do this to relieve traffic density then we are not only going to have a traffic problem of great magnitude, particularly in the eastern States, but we are going to add considerably to the cost structure of our most marketable products for the home market and particularly to the cost structure of our exports at a time when costs are affecting our ability to export successfully. In my constituency I have interstate highways so I have this problem brought home to me, probably daily. Other mem bers no doubt see it in the same light as I do. I see no real answer to this question until we have a national highway system operating between each State. I cannot see this coming into vogue until some interstate roads become a Commonwealth responsibility. This is a financial problem of very great dimensions, to say nothing of State politics. The present Commonwealth Aid Roads Agreement is similar to the agreement which was drawn up in 1956, but it has a different and much more liberal formula. However, it makes no provision for a national plan whereby certain highways would become a Commonwealth responsibility. Only last week I saw several traffic jams in which great motor freight vehicles waited long periods for a clearance to get merchandise to destinations which probably were many hundreds of miles away. This doling out of national funds to one State and then to another, according to some artificial formula laid down in the Commonwealth Aid Roads Agreement and designed to take care of State rights does not achieve very much in correcting a great national problem and makes confusion worse confounded. 1 understand that according to the Minister’s own departmental estimates, £949,000,000 will’ be needed for maintenance and planned improvements to national highways and ancillaries in the next ten years. This expenditure of approximately £95,000,000 a year compares strikingly with the average of £42,000,000 proposed to be spent annually in the next three years under the present act. How much of the £42,000,000 is to be devoted to new highways and how much to maintenance of existing roads I do not know, but it is safe to say that the greater part of this sum could be provided by international loans if there was a national plan to take care of interstate highways at least.
– But that would prejudice other developmental projects.
– I have raised that point before. I believe that this is very largely a question of priorities which should be dealt with at the time of the Premiers’ Conference. Public works could be given an order of priority in order to provide for all those which are of outstanding importance at the present time. If this is a Commonwealth responsibility, surely it is a State responsibility as well to realize that we can never fully achieve our objectives of better highways and lower community costs with seven road authorities, each having a share in the financial administration of national highways. The States and Commonwealth must engage in greater co-operation in regard to this matter.
The second item to which I want to refer also comes under the control of the Department of Shipping and Transport, although the vote for it comes under the heading of “ Miscellaneous Services “. I refer to road safety practices, on which the department spends about £150.000 annually. It seems that much of this money must be wasted while traffic density remains at its present state. The road toll of human life was never so disconcerting as it is at present. On the casualty side, in 1958-59, 2,264 people were killed on Australian roads and 55,359 were injured. In war-time this could be considered in terms of two battalions killed and over two divisions injured - a major engagement with the enemy. This is appalling and it is just another reason why T believe that we should consider this sub ject in a national way and provide a national plan. The time has arrived when we should pool the resources of the States and the Commonwealth and deal with the problem on a truly national basis. The Minister has a great national problem to deal with and the sooner he can get the support of all bodies for a national plan, the better it will be for the whole of this nation, not only for the economy, but for the saving of human life as well.
.- In discussing the estimates for the Department of Shipping and Transport, I make a plea to the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Opperman) to approach the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) or Cabinet for approval to extend the shipbuilding subsidy to apply to the new vessel planned by Captain Bob Houfe for the King Island run. We know that vessels of less than 500 tons are not entitled to the subsidy, but I feel sure that the Minister, after his recent visit to King Island, will agree that there are exceptional circumstances in this case. At present, Captain Houfe operates the “ Loatta “ and the “Darega”. The “Darega”, in the last twelve months, has lost £3,000 despite the fact that in a slack season on King Island the vessel tramps into places like Smithton and Flinders Island in order to keep on the run for the whole of the twelve months.
Freight rates on these two vessels have not been raised since 1954, despite the fact that there have been rises in wages, operating costs and wharfage. The operator considers that there are three alternatives. One is to increase the freight rates substantially. Another is for the Commonwealth Government to take over the vessels and operate them. The third ls for the operator to obtain an alternative ship. He does not want to increase freight rates, because by so doing he would jeopardize the future of the soldier settlers, of whom there are approximately 150. I feel that the Commonwealth Government should give some assistance, because millions of pounds are already invested in the island. Captain Houfe has planned a vessel incorporating the recent revolutionary trend in design of ships which provides for loading doors in the bow in the war-time fashion. Thus it will be a roll-on, roll-off vessel. With two round trips weekly, this ship would shift 400 tons of inward cargo to King Island, and 240 head of cattle, 800 sheep and 120 tons of general cargo on the return trip. Such a ship could be the solution to King Island’s transport difficulties. The design was approved last Wednesday by Lloyd’s of London. I appeal to the Minister to make representations for assistance by means of a subsidy and for other financial assistance through the Development Bank in order to have the vessel constructed as speedily as possible. I see no valid reason why the ship could not be constructed at the Mersey shipyards at Devonport. It would provide extra employment there. The Tasmanian Government is interested in these shipyards and is also interested in the construction of a roll-on. roll-off vessel for King Island to cope with the difficulties being experienced there. In the interim, while this ship is being constructed, it will be necessary, I feel, to extend the subsidy provided by the Government for the air lift of meat by early morning planes, in order to cover the forthcoming export season. The Estimates provide for an amount of £500,000 for subsidies to the Department of Civil Aviation. Meat prices are high at present, and it is difficult to forecast the market; but experts believe that settlers on the island will be lucky to get from 30s. to £2 for their lambs. Until an airline is prepared to make early morning nights at the usual freight rate of 3d. per lb. it is essential that the subsidy be continued so that King Island producers can make marketing arrangements well in advance, and so that some stability can be brought about.
I desire also to refer to the item “ Aerodromes development grant “ and request the provision of electronic navigational aids at the Smithton airport on the north-west coast of Tasmania. Several protests have been made to the Minister about the diversion of aircraft from this aerodrome. Trucks have taken meat to the aerodrome only to find that the plane has been unable to land. The meat and other primary produce has then had1 to be returned to the cool stores, at considerable expense to the companies concerned, and deterioration has occurred through loss of colour and change of temperature. Electronic navigation aids should be installed to enable planes to land at
Smithton, instead of their having to make an instrument approach to Wynyard and then proceed visually to Smithton. Between those two towns there is a range called Sisters Hills, and weather conditions can vary greatly on either side. If we are to expand, if we are to encourage primary producers to export more, they should be given the green light to go ahead. There should be no fetters, no restrictions, no hold-ups imposed on them through an inadequate system of communications and transport, and I urge the Government in this case to reconsider the request for electronic navigation aids for the Smithton aerodrome.
I should like to see money spent on providing night landing facilities at the Wynyard aerodrome. This aerodrome ranks eighth or ninth in importance in Australia, and serves the rapidly expanding north-west coast area of Tasmania. We believe that there is every justification for the expenditure of money to improve facilities at this centre. The provision of night landing facilities would be a boon to business people, sporting organizations and people who desire to travel to Melbourne for the day but do not wish to stay overnight in that city.
I have made representations on several occasions to this Government also about the Trans-Australia Airlines terminal building at Wynyard. This was erected originally as a temporary structure, and space was provided on the lawns for a building to be erected later. An air traveller last week described the present terminal as a chicken coop, and that term describes it very well. There are no amenities such as exist at other terminal buildings, and the place is too small, especially in wet weather. For air travellers, Wynyard airport is the gateway to the holiday coast of Tasmania, and merits something better than this building. The Trans-Australia Airlines building there is in the same category as the post office and the Commonwealth Trading Bank building in the rapidly expanding commercial centre of Burnie - and these structures are no credit to this Government.
Now I turn to the shipping problems of the north-west coast. I wish to compliment the Australian National Line and its executive officers, Captain J. P. Williams and
Mr. Mercovich, for their lead in providing specialized ships in an attempt to achieve a faster turn-round and a reduction in freights. The present service to north-west Tasmanian ports provided by the Australian National Line’s vessels incorporates a regular service between Stanley and Melbourne by the “ Eugowra “. The advent of the “ North Esk “, with its revolutionary discharge equipment, operating from the mainland to Devonport and Launceston, as well as to Hobart, has enabled the freight rates on wheat to be reduced substantially. The “ Princess of Tasmania “, which recently celebrated its first anniversary of service, made 304 trips in the year and carried about 70,000 people and about 35,000 vehicles. This ship has provided a grand start to the “ searoad “ service, allowing a wide range of cargoes to be transported at much greater speeds and at lower costs than before. This service will be extended appreciably when the “ Bass Trader “ is commissioned, and the benefits that will accrue from the roll-on roll-off container and unit load principles of cargo handling will be available to shippers in the Burnie, Devonport and Launceston areas, and indeed the whole of Tasmania, as is now the case with the “ Princess of Tasmania “.
The conversion of the “ South Esk “ will take place shortly at a cost of £150,000, and the vessel will embark upon its new role probably in December next. When this eventuates, the major ports in the area will have the services of a further specialist ship designed specifically to handle, swiftly and economically, cargoes of timber and other items of general cargo and produce suitable for handling on the unit load principle. We look forward to this vessel’s entry into the service, because it is expected that freight rates on timber will be reduced by at least 20 per cent., enabling us to compete more fairly with imported timber from low-wage-level countries. The specialist ships will offer greater speed, less handling, fewer ancillary charges and a consequent lower cost to the consignor and the consumer, whilst the conventional tonnage will be available to augment the present services or to to ensure continuity of shipping in the event of emergency.
Conventional ships of the Australian National Line include the “ Eugowra “ on the weekly Stanley-Melbourne run and the “ Nilpena “, on the Burnie-Melbourne run and the “ Edenhope “, which shifts back-lags of timber on request. The “ Eugowra “ came into the service eighteen months ago and has had a quick turn-round on its voyages. I compliment the company and the watersiders of the port of Stanley for their fine effort in the last eighteen months, because as a result this ship has proved to be one of the best money earners of the Australian National Line fleet, and does a fine job for Circular Head.
However, despite all these advances in the shipping services between Tasmania and the mainland which we have seen, and are likely to see in the next few years, I must emphasize again to the Minister the’ need for a better service for the potato trade to Sydney. We could do with two E-class vessels, and could guarantee to provide full cargoes from February until October each year. A regular service, with top priority given to potatoes, would re-vitalize our export trade to Sydney. This is important to Tasmania’s economy, because this trade has been worth, on an average, £2,675,000 annually over the past five years. It must always be remembered that the potato export trade in the early days provided the revenue which originally built the wharfs and the harbour facilities on the north-west coast. Under the very progressive. Labour Government, which has been in office in Tasmania for 27 years vast hydro-electricity schemes have come into operation, which have attracted secondary industries to our shores. We hope that the trade mission which returned recently from overseas will attract many more. At least 90 per cent, of the output of those factories must go by sea lanes to the markets in Melbourne and Sydney where there are more people than in the three smaller States of Australia combined; but, although we are forced to give special consideration at the moment to this trade, this should not mean that potatoes have to take second, or even third, place to paper or other exports. Every effort should be made to see that a fair allocation of space is given for the export of potatoes. I go a step farther, in conclusion, and hope that those who designed the ships specially constructed for carrying wheat, timber, iron ore, petroleum and other such products will soon design a ship solely for the transport of primary products, such as potatoes, from our island to the mainland.
– I want to make a special plea this afternoon for assistance to be granted to Australian shipping operators. Australian coastal shipping companies, particularly the privately owned lines, are in a very serious position. I know that the Australian National Line has expanded, but that line, we must remember, engages in a different kind of trade from that pursued by the privately owned vessels on our coasts. Retrogression has been most noticeable, I believe, in the passenger trade. Before the war twelve passenger ships operated on the Australian coast. Now we have only two, the “ Kanimbla “ and the “ Manoora “. It would seem that when those ships eventually are scrapped, the prospects of replacing them will be very poor. I realize, of course, that in the passenger trade demand is not as great as it was a few years ago, mainly because of the impact of air transport. I understand that the passenger traffic across the Atlantic, for instance, has declined by 60 per cent, because of the competition of the airlines.
So far as our economy is concerned, the most significant factor in this shipping decline is the falling off in the amount of cargo carried and in the number of cargo ships available. In 1950 Australia had 148 freighters, with a total capacity of 672,710 cargo tons. In 1960 we have only 132 ships, the capacity of which is 651,786 cargo tons. Taking the interstate trade separately, I mention that the falling off is found to be very much more pronounced. In 1950 we had 52 ships of 40,287 cargo tons capacity, while in 1960 there are only 29 ships, with a capacity of 28,594 cargo tons. In 1945 New South Wales had three intrastate shipping companies. To-day not one of them is operating. The position is obviously deteriorating.
Competition from motor transport and from the railways is now very serious. We all know that the interstate road transport operators do not contribute greatly to the maintenance of the roads used by their vehicles. We know, too, that the railways are government-owned, and that practically all of them run at a loss. In other words, they run at the expense of the taxpayer. On the other hand, the shipping companies have to pay dividends on their operations, and from their incomes they must set something aside for replacement of vessels. The cost of a ship has increased practically fivefold since pre-war days. A vessel that cost £150,000 in 1939 costs £750,000 to replace to-day. This means that tremendous amounts of money have to be set aside from incomes on which tax also has to be paid. The shipping operators are therefore in a practically impossible position.
The United Kingdom Government has seen fit to provide for an investment allowance of 40 per cent, with regard to shipping. This means that when a company brings a ship into operation it can immediately write off 40 ner cent, of the vessel’s cost in depreciation. This is a great advantage to a shipping company. If, for example, a ship which cost £150,000 in 1939 is replaced by a ship costing £750,000, the 40 per cent, investment allowance operates and £300,000 of the cost is written off. To this is added the £150,000, which was the cost of the original vessel and which has already been written off, because the life of a ship is considered to be twenty years. The result of these calculations is that the company in question enjoys a total tax concession of £450,000, and only £300,000 has then to be found to put the new vessel into service. This, of course, still represents a considerable drain on the company’s income. My point is that if the United Kingdom Government, which has the greatest mercantile fleet in operation in the world, can provide this assistance to shipping companies, then it is only reasonable that we should do likewise.
I know that there is a subsidy on shipbuilding in this country amounting to 33i per cent., and I understand, from the report of the Department of Shipping and Transport, that £3,000,000 will be allotted this year for that subsidy. We must not forget, however, that this subsidy is an aid1 to the shipbuilding industry rather than the shipping industry itself, because the amount of the subsidy in respect of a particular ship represents just about the difference in the cost of building such a ship in Australia and in Great Britain. This leaves our shipping operators- still at a great disadvantage compared with shipping companies in the United Kingdom.
Another important factor is represented by the very high costs that our shipping operators have to meet. In addition, they are unfortunately more or less at the mercy of the Communist-controlled Seamen’s Union and Waterside Workers Federation. This, of course, does not improve their position. In view of all these factors, 1 particularly ask the Government to look into the matter of providing investment allowances for our shipping companies. After all, shipping is vital to our economy. At one time it was the cheapest and most reliable form of transport in Australia. In time of war, of course, shipping is most necessary. We remember particularly the vital part played by converted passenger ships in the last war. Practically all our hospital ships had been passenger vessels before the war. If we allow these ships to disappear from our coasts we will be at a very serious disadvantage in the event of any future war.
I wish now to make a reference to the Coolangatta aerodrome, which is in my own electorate. As we all know, this aerodrome serves the Gold Coast, which is one of the world’s foremost recreation centres. The present aerodrome is quite inadequate to cope with the considerable amount of traffic that uses it. Figures that have been made available to me show that Coolangatta is one of the busiest country aerodromes in Australia. The present terminal was constructed six years ago, and the facilities for parking aircraft have been improved and the parking space for cars increased in that time. But nothing has been done to improve the terminal. It is important that the Government should play its part in encouraging the tourist industry, which earns considerable income for us, and should provide a terminal in keeping with the progress and development of the Gold Coast. I think it is quite unnecessary for me to add this, but I point out that an overseas visitor arriving at a terminal such as this and seeing the inadequate facilities there would immediately form a bad impression. I particularly ask that consideration be given to providing a terminal commensurate with the importance and use made of the Coolangatta aerodrome.
.- It is pleasing to see the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr.. Opperman) at the table during the course of discussion on the estimates for his department. I hope that at the conclusion of this discussion, he will follow the excellent example set last night by the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Freeth), who gave rather detailed answers to the various questions that were asked by honorable members. Although the answers he gave may not have been to the satisfaction of those who asked the questions, he at least let the committee know that he had noted what had been said, and endeavoured to advise honorable members, evidently to the best of his ability, on matters of interest to them. That attitude could well be followed by other Ministers, particularly those who remain periodically in this country. I congratulate the Minister for the Interior on the example that he set and hope that others will follow it in the course of the debate on the Estimates.
I wish to raise a matter of interest to me and no doubt of interest to others. It concerns the refreshment room service at the terminal at Mascot. This would possibly be let by tender and be controlled by private interests. What I am concerned with is the un-Australian- method, adopted in making that basic beverage of ours known as tea. When one asks: at the counter for a cup of tea, one does not get a pot of tea, a billy of tea or a cup of tea poured from a large pot. The people serving there produce a bag of tea similar to the one I now hold in my hand. On it is printed, “ Van Nell’s Perfecta Tea Bag “. There is nothing more un-Australian than a tea bag. Honorable members know, of course, that tea made with a tea bag is not worth drinking. It takes half an hour of specially directed energy to make strong tea and by the time you have made strong tea, you have cold tea. In addition, such tea is out of character and out of keeping with things Australian.
I have some idea of the cost. This bag that I have here cost me 4d. and I was charged ls. 3d. for a cup of tea; so the people providing this service at the terminal are making a good profit. I do not say that this arises from the attitude of the Government, but over the years the services associated with Trans-Australia Airlines have been broken down. The first things to disappear, as mentioned by the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron), were the lollies served on the aeroplane. Later, the newspapers disappeared, and now we find that the terminal used by this Australian airline serves tea a la American. Imagine an American coming to this terminal, expecting to enjoy a cup of the tea for which we are famous and being given a tea bag with which to make a cup of tea for himself. This is the sort of thing he can obtain in any secondrate restaurant in America.
I ask the Minister to look into this matter and ascertain whether it is possible to serve tea in a pot or in some other satisfactory way at the refreshment counter. Members of the Liberal Party may not like this tea, but if they can afford to drink more expensive beverages, good luck to them. I am concerned with those who want to drink an Australian beverage in an Australian way. Apart from the fact that this is not good tea, it is not satisfactory to find that we are adopting these unAustralian methods.
The refreshment service at airline terminals could well be speeded up. A person in a hurry to catch an aeroplane and wanting a quick cup of tea would be disappointed. I find that, even at the AnsettA.N.A. terminal, it takes a considerable time to get this service. Instead of the conglomeration of goods that are to be found at these refreshment sections, methods which will provide quick service should be adopted. Passengers should be able to sit at the counter on a stool and be provided with speedy service. However, I mainly want to stress that the use of tea bags is unsatisfactory and should be changed. Evidently, these people are guided by the profit motive instead of a desire to serve Australians with tea that is satisfactory to them.
Another matter I want to deal with concerns the reduction in the price of petrol. This is of considerable interest to those engaged in the transport industry and to airline operators and others. I mention it to-day in the hope that the Government will do something about this matter. Reports indicate that there should be a reduction of the price of petrol for those engaged in industry and commerce and for the owners of private vehicles. This could be termed at this stage the great petrol scandal. I have noticed that a Minister in another place who is continually asked questions on this matter has stated that in due course some decrease should be given. I have every reason to believe that stocks of the dearer petrol are exhausted and that petrol companies are operating on stocks purchased at a price that would permit a reduction of Id., or possibly 2d., a gallon without affecting their profits at this time. 1 believe that the Government knows this and is trying to persuade the oil companies to reduce the price, and rightly so.
I do not attack the Government’s good intentions so much as its ineptitude on this very important matter. I would like to know what the Government has done. Has it asked the South Australian Government, for instance, a State which maintains a price-fixing organization, to investigate the position? Why has it not taken this concrete step? Why does it rely upon moral pressure and requests to bring about the price reduction? In doing this, the Government is showing a weakness in its attitude. I suggest that there is a reason for the Government’s weakness in dealing with the oil companies on this question. The reason is that the oil companies contribute heavily to Liberal Party funds at election times and the Government, naturally, is too timid, despite its good intentions, to deal with them, and instead handles them with kid gloves. If it took effective action against the oil companies, it would lose the sinews of war for the next election. I know that this is really a matter of party politics. I say this more in sorrow than in anger. But that is the probable reason why the people to-day are paying more for petrol than they should be paying.
This situation cannot continue. The public interest is at stake. Each reduction of Id. in the price of petrol takes £5,000,000 off Australia’s internal transport bill, and that is worth worrying about. The Government is always talking about reducing prices, and it now has an opportunity to take some effective action. Once petrol prices come down, the psychological effect generally would be very good indeed. Others would be persuaded to adopt the view that this is not entirely a world of rising prices that rob the worker of each wage increase as soon as he receives it.. I put these concrete suggestions to the Government in the hope that it will take some action to effect a reduction of petrol prices: Let the Government get in touch with the price-fixing authorities in, say, New South Wales, Queensland and South Australia, and wherever else such authorities may be available. Ask these authorities to supply the Commonwealth with whatever knowledge they have of the position of petrol stocks in this country. Let the Commonwealth then make these figures available to the public.
The Government has been talking about taking action against restrictive practices. The restrictive practices on the part of the oil industry have frozen the sellers of cheap petrol out of the Australian market. No doubt, the Commonwealth Government is having difficulty in framing legislation to deal with this type of monopolist. I acknowledge that legislation of this sort is difficult; but here is a chance to force a fall in the price of petrol by exposure and not by legislation. There is a motor car to every 3.8 persons in the Commonwealth. The price of petrol now is almost as important a key factor in the economy as is the price of bread. It affects almost every person in the community. If the Government accepts my suggestions, it should get results.
I hope the fact that the oil companies are among the big contributors to Government party funds will not frighten the Government from its duty to the public and from beneficial efforts to reduce the price of petrol. I mention this in passing because I believe it is a vital matter. Something is being put over the Australian people and I hope the Minister for Shipping and Transport will take full notice of what I have said. On studying Division No. 262 of the Estimates - Maintenance and Operation of Civil Aviation Facilities - I notice that patrol, fuel oil and lubricating oils alone are estimated to cost £215,000, so this matter is vital to our discussion. I make these suggestions to the Government and hope that it will not be deterred from trying to reduce prices by the support it receives from those concerned.
I listened with interest to the honorable member for McPherson (Mr. Barnes) on the question of shipping as it affects various aspects of the economy. I am one who believes that ultimately this Government, or some other government, will have to legislate to break up the shipping combines and the hold that they have over the people of Australia and the economy. The Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) has gone on record as having said in this chamber that the great increases in freights asked for and gained on many occasions by the shipping companies throughout the world, and particularly those trading with Australia, were putting an undue strain on primary producers and citizens also because of their effect on exports and imports.
The shipping conference lines, consisting of companies carrying cargo as well as passengers, dictate to those- who wish to trade between Australia and other countries. Governments are frequently powerless in this connexion because of the crippling grip that the conference lines have on the shipping lines to-day. I recently raised in this Parliament the question of a Greek shipping company which wished to trade with Australia. It was frozen out by the conference lines, not only in relation to passengers but also in respect to the carriage of cargo, simply because the combines are able to dictate to governments what shall be carried, where ships will sail and what tonnage of shipping is necessary. I ask the Minister for Shipping and Transport to keep this in mind.
– It has nothing to do with me. I am concerned with coastal shipping.
– If the Minister has no control over shipping, he must be the most inept Minister for Shipping and Transport on earth.
– I have no control over international shipping.
– After all, the shipping conference is concerned with shipping - it decides what goods shall be carried - and I find it hard to believe that the Minister for Shipping and Transport is not vitally interested in this matter.
– Of course I am interested, but I have no control over international shipping - only coastal shipping.
– There is an admission! The Minister has said that he is interested, but has no control. That is a fantastic situation. Why should not the Minister for Shipping know precisely what shipping is going to do if the Minister for Trade has a responsibility to see that supplies are forwarded or received? Common sense dictates that the control of these shipping companies should be within the scope of the Minister for Shipping and Transport. I feel certain that the Minister is not unintelligent and he should use his best endeavours to see that shipping which trades with Australia comes within the control of this Government. Thousands of people in Australia would be grateful if the Minister would take action through the Government to assist the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) in any efforts he is making to break up the shipping combines as we know them. Throughout the years this matter has been passed over as something that does not come within the responsibility of this one or that one, but sooner or later some one must face up to the task.
This problem only emphasizes what I said about petrol. When we are controlled by monopolists, the nation suffers and the interests of the people become a secondary consideration. There is a great responsibility on the government of the day to take action on the question of shipping which was touched upon by the honorable member for Mcpherson. He referred to the difficulties concerning trade and certain aspects of shipping which required attention. In the broader sphere of international trade, particularly as it affects exports and imports, something should be done to ensure that reasonable freight rates are maintained and, in addition, to make certain that the shipping companies do not exploit the people. It has been said that labour costs will price our goods off the export markets, but the fact is that high freights will price our goods off the market and put costs up unduly unless this Government takes effective action.
It has been the policy of this Government to lower the price structure by allowing goods to be imported in unlimited quantities, but unless action is taken to ensure that freights are maintained at a proper level and so avoid exploitation, the Government’s objectives will be defeated entirely and it will be useless trying to bring down prices by making imported goods freely available. These are matters which should be looked at from the point of view of the community. When all is said and done, freights, shipping combines, the price of petrol, trade and commerce are matters which affect every one. Every rise in freights brought about by shipping combines unduly affects every person in the community, and it is the responsibility of the Government to take action. I suggest to the Minister for Shipping and Transport that he would do well to give consideration to these matters.
Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- It is a pity that the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) is misinformed in some respects. He dealt with tea bags, oil companies and the price of petrol, and alleged shipping monopolies. It so happens that, as usual, he was extremely wide of the mark in every case. If the honorable member for Grayndler had gone outside the luxury hotels when he was in the United States of America on a first-class allowance during his various trips, and if he had gone into the homes of the people, he would have learned more about tea bags. I want to point out to the honorable member that the trouble with tea bags is not that the tea is in a bag, but that the tea is not brewed with boiling water. If the honorable member for Grayndler were taken into the bush, and two billies were boiled in true Australian style, a tea bag could be thrown into one billy and loose tea could be put in the other, and he would not be able to tell the difference. Unfortunately, his investigations into this matter, as in so many other matters, were slapdash.
The honorable member referred to the price of petrol. He ought to know that we are all sympathetic with the idea of bringing down the price of petrol. He showed a reaction in many ways to sentiments that have been expressed by a Minister in another place, but here again he was addressing his remarks to the wrong places. The people who control the price of petrol are the State governments and in the case of the honorable member, as in mine, that means the New South Wales Government.
If the honorable member would go to his close colleagues in the New South Wales Government instead of uttering his sentiments on petrol prices in this chamber, and if he would exhort them to do something about this matter, we might get somewhere. But what did the honorable member do? He mistook the forum and came to the wrong place. However, it is not too late for him to correct the error.
Then the honorable member referred to overseas shipping monopolies. The word “ monopoly “ is a strange one to use in speaking of what is probably the most competitive business in the world, even in relation to ‘the shipping conference lines to which he referred. There are many conference lines in the world which compete with each other. They have not, and have never had, a monopoly of the carriage of goods or passengers overseas. Any Australian in London who has cargo to transport to Australia, can go to the exchange and arrange for it to be moved. No shipper of Australian goods is compelled or obliged in any way to use the conference lines. It so happens that over the years it has suited most exporters to make a deal with the conference lines, particularly in Europe, and they have agreed on freight rates and a schedule of ships. But any exporter is free to approach any person outside the conference lines if he so wishes. There is no monopoly. Rather is there a good deal of competition. When any government has interfered in this matter, as the Government of South Africa attempted to do not so many years ago, the results have been very unfortunate.
The honorable member for Batman (Mr. Bird), who has made so many pleas in this chamber for a national roads plan, repeated his plea yesterday. What continually impresses one about members of the Opposition is that they want additional resources to be absorbed in every avenue which interests them. If the honorable member for Batman can point to any large unused resources in this country, which enjoys hyper-full employment, or if he can inform the House of any activities that he would like to be restricted so that the Government or private persons would spend less and thus free the resources which he wishes to be expended on roads, he will be making some kind of a con structive contribution. I am not sure whether he advocated that a little overseas finance be obtained for his project. If he did not, others did. But he has not indicated where the resources for his national roads plan could be obtained.
– He advocated the investment of overseas capital.
– This is very interesting. The honorable member realizes, in part, the limitation of Australia’s resources. He realizes that it would be desirable to seek finance overseas. He realizes also that the development of this country can proceed quicker with a certain amount of capital inflow from outside. I hope the honorable member impresses some of these notions on his colleagues so that they will be encouraged to make fewer demands in other directions and thus free the resources necessary to implement the honorable member’s road plans.
Is a national roads plan the solution to Australia’s transport difficulties? If the honorable member had suggested a national transport plan he would have been on sounder ground because we must start with a rational distribution of transport by the most economical means. Government subsidy to road, rail, air and sea transport varies considerably. Surely, the greatest economic return for expenditure on roads is not to be obtained by building long national roads across our vast areas, joining mere points on the map. The first task is to free the congestion in our capital cities. The ineffective use of transport, particularly around Sydney and Melbourne and, to a lesser extent, around our other cities, causes annually a serious economic loss.
If the best minds were focused on a national roads plan, they would not be focussed on something that is more essential - good transport between the main centres of production. The road system between Newcastle and Wollongong, including all the industrial area between those points and around Sydney, is archaic. Basically, the improvement of the position is a job for the Government of New South Wales. It is not a matter of providing a national roads plan. Although people speak on these matters in general, no effective plans seem to exist or, if they they do exist, they are not made manifest to the public. The primary task of any one who is interested in improving our road system is to ensure that we get the maximum economic return for any money that we expend in this direction. Already the railways have to charge freight rates for the transporting of goods between our capital cities which are too high. The railways have to charge these high rates because of the much lower rates which they are obliged for various reasons, political or otherwise, to charge on their other traffic. If you had a national transport plan, and if you analysed the relative cost of transporting goods in different ways, you might perhaps come up with a much more sensible approach to the problem than we have had to date. A national roads plan is too narrow an approach to this wide problem.
I rose originally to speak about shipping which, as the honorable member for Mcpherson (Mr. Barnes) pointed out, is in a very bad way in Australia. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to control this matter. The cost of operating a small general cargo vessel round the Australian coast is split up, very roughly, into stevedoring charges, which represent 53.9 per cent, of the total cost, and ship’s running costs which represent 36.1 per cent, of the total. Crew wages and allowances represent 35.6 per cent, of a ship’s running costs. If you add crew wages and allowances to the stevedoring charges, you get a combination which represents two-thirds of the cost of running a ship under Australian conditions. When you consider that these two occupations are controlled by two Communist-dominated trade unions, you must face the fact that the Communists in Australia have won a great victory and have made a very serious inroad in what is basically one of the most economical forms of transport.
Shipping freights are very high. For instance, it costs as much to transport one ton of general cargo from Brisbane to Fremantle as it does to transport one ton of general cargo from any Australian port to any European port. It costs more to transport one ton of canned or dried fruit from Brisbane to Fremantle than it does to transport one ton of canned or dried fruit from any Australian port to any European port.
Let me make another comparison between the cost of operating Australian and overseas vessels. If you engaged an Australian freighter to do the same job around the Australian coast as is done by a similar overseas ship, the cost to run the Australian freighter would be £44,000 more per voyage. The Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Opperman), his department and the other organizations which control shipping in Australia face a very formidable task.
I congratulate the Minister and his department on producing some very useful statistics to assist us when discussing these estimates. The information contained in the Etimates is rather scattered, but it has been collated very efficiently in the production to which I have referred. This is all the more commendable when one remembers that the estimates for the Department of Shipping and Transport are, per se, only a very small portion of the total. The expenditure for this department represents only £1,300,000 out of a total of £16,700,000 if all ancillary services are taken into account. We can also be pleased at the fact that most of the increase of £1,400,000, from £15,300,000 to £16,700,000, is required for the payment of extra shipbuilding subsidies for this means that our shipbuilding yards will be more active this year than they were last year. I would ask the Minister to endeavour to ensure that the report of the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission covering the activities of the Australian National Line be presented to us before the Estimates are being discussed. The reports of that body are usually well presented and very informative, and the latest would be of immense benefit if we had it before us in time to enable us to peruse it before discussing the Estimates. After all, this Parliament is in effect something akin to a meeting of shareholders discussing the activities of their instrumentality, and just as the annual report is of benefit to the shareholders of a private undertaking so is this report of benefit to us in discussing the activities of the Australian National Line and the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission.
On 27th March the Minister stated that a permanent Australian shipbuilding board was to be established and that legislation was to be introduced-
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- First, I congratulate the Minister and his department upon producing for our benefit this excellently documented instrument relating to the expenditure of his department. The notes contained in it will be of immense benefit to us. It is one of the best documents we have ever had presented to us for use during debates of this nature. It covers every detail of the activities of the department. I have never before seen the expenditure of any department presented in such detail, and I congratulate the Minister and his officers for having it prepared for our benefit. I have not the time to refer to it at length, but we are glad to have it for use as required. Some departments seek to hide their projected expenditure under all sorts of weird names, but in this document this department explains every item under which the money is to be expended. It will be of incalculable benefit to honorable members.
The honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Bury) ridiculed two of the proposals supported by honorable members on this side. The first matter to which he referred was our proposal for a national roads programme. Let me tell the honorable member that he will live to see the day when an Australian national roads plan will be not only developed but put into operation.
– I did not ridicule it; I said it was premature at this stage.
– We do not expect it to be carried out quickly because it is a very big programme. America has given us a lead with her federal roads plan which will link up every State in the United States and which will cost several billion dollars. We need such a plan here, but it must be financed largely from Commonwealth resources and put into effect through such State instrumentalities as roads boards. The man-power and equipment of the States could be used, the Commonwealth to be responsible for the cost. It would be a road network of which we might justly feel proud, and it would be in keeping with our present status. At the present time, we have only a higgledy-piggledy roads system, each s*at» being responsible for a small part in it. The Commonwealth has some responsibility in the matter. Our roads system is suffering through lack of any planned Commonwealth programme and we on this side urge that such a plan should be devised and put into operation.
Next, the honorable member for Wentworth criticized the attack by the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) on shipping monopolies. We on this side view the growth of monopolies in shipping with great gravity. We believe that the overseas Conference lines are virtually a monopoly of 21 lines. Again, the fact that the Greek line endeavoured to join the group but was rejected is proof that restrictive trade practices exist even amongst shipping companies. Australia could be very gravely affected by any further growth of monopolies in connexion with shipping for it could lead to increased freights even without the approval of the Minister.
Next, I wish to refer to a matter relating to air transport. It has to do with our fight for a new airstrip at Swansea on the east coast of Tasmania. Several years ago Swansea had a very poor airstrip which was eventually condemned by the Department of Civil Aviation. Since then, Swansea has been without an airport. Recently, a big deputation comprising ten representatives from the Commonwealth Parliament - they included both members of the House of Representatives and senators - together with representatives of both Houses of the Tasmanian Parliament, met representatives of the local council and the progress association. We inspected a proposed new site which has been suggested to the department for investigation. It is situated on a property owned by Mr. Burbury about 3 miles out of the town on the main road. It is indeed an excellent site, and we very grateful to Mr. Burbury for having made it available to the Department of Civil Aviation.
I took the matter up with the Minister who asked one of his officers to visit Swansea on 21st September and inspect the site. We sincerely hope that the Government will agree to the proposal for it will be of great benefit to the east coast of Tasmania. The proposed site requires hardly any clearing and is ideally situated from every point of view. I hope that the department will approve of it and the Government will agree to construct the airstrip which is so urgently needed at Swansea. The benefit resulting from it would be extremely great. First, such an airstrip would be a great boon to the tourist industry in that it would enable aircraft to land at this great tourist attraction in Tasmania. Secondly, it would be a vital link in the aero club network of Tasmania, which has been expanding rapidly over recent years. Thirdly, it would provide a convenient landing spot for private aircraft of which there are many in Tasmania now. Fourthly, it would be of tremendous benefit to the fishing industry in that it would provide local fishermen with a direct air route to Melbourne for their fish, an advantage which the fishermen of the St. Helens area now enjoy. I submit that these are all important reasons why it is necessary to re-establish Swansea as an airport. I wish finally to mention the “ Princess of Tasmania “. It is just twelve months since this ship of revolutionary design went onto the Bass Strait run from Melbourne to Devonport.
– To a revolutionary State.
– Quite. In that time over 70,000 passengers have been carried and over 35,000 vehicles have been transported across the Strait. It is now a common sight to see great furniture vans and semi-trailers from Melbourne travelling the roads of Tasmania - new names and new types of vehicles. The ship has been absolutely revolutionary in the matter of our tourist traffic and also general trade between the mainland and Tasmania. Great semi-trailers now load up at the factories in Melbourne, run onto the ship and run off again at the end of the voyage to go to Hobart or Launceston with goods. It may astound the honorable members to know that, at a rough estimate, the passengers transported to Tasmania by the “ Princess of Tasmania “ have so far brought to our State just over £2.000.000 in revenue. That is the sum that has been spent in our island as the result of the operations of the “ Princess of Tasmania “ in the twelve months.
– Tasmanians must be millionaires now!
– That is the amount spent by the people coming to Tasmania from the mainland. They are not millionaires as one honorable member suggests, but ordinary people coming to a delightful place for a delightful holiday. On our conservative estimate that is an expenditure of from £35 to £40 Der head.
The construction of a new vessel, which is to become the “ Princess of Tasmania No. 2 “ for the Sydney-Hobart run, has been agreed upon, and we have already thanked the Government and the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Opperman) for the decision to put on that run another roll-on-roll-off ferry, which will operate over 600-odd miles of ocean. We hope that that vessel will call at Bell Bay, because there the “ Bass Trader “ will load and unload and the terminal is suitable for ships like the “ Princess of Tasmania “. According to the Minister, the vessel will be completed in from two to two and a half years.
I come now to the question of the woodwork in the two ships and particularly in the new vessel that is to be built. I understand that as the result of representations by my colleague the member for Braddon (Mr. Davies) and the co-operation of others in Tasmania, the “ Bass Trader “ will be fitted with Tasmanian blackwood from Britton’s Swamp, one of our famous blackwood areas on the north coast. We trust that the Minister will consider putting some Tasmanian wood into the new “ Princess “ vessel, because that would be a great lift to our Tasmanian timber industry.
I wish now to make a few suggestions about the present “ Princess of Tasmania “. This is a ship of revolutionary design, but, although a lot of planning was put into its construction, there are one or two ways in which it could be improved. I hope that notice will be taken of my suggestions in the building of the new ship. The worst weakness of the “ Princess of Tasmania “ is that no general lounge is provided other than that attached to the bar at the stern of the ship. There is nowhere for all those folk who do not drink - and for the children of the passengers, of whom there are many - to relax except in their own lounge seats on the port bow and starboard bow of the ship and the front lounge. They can use only their own lounge chairs, where they sleep later in the night, lt would have been a wonderful boon if a lovely lounge had been provided in this ship, where people who did not wish to use the bar lounge could relax before going to bed.
– Is there such a lounge on all normal ships?
– There is on all overseas ships. Even the old “ Taroona “ had it. I think it was a very grave mistake not to include a general lounge in this vessel. As it is, all those who are not travelling as lounge chair passengers have to go to their cabins to relax, and that is pretty hard on the passengers. I wonder whether even at this stage it is possible to utilize some of the upper deck space of the “ Princess of Tasmania “ for the purpose I have outlined. That is only a suggestion. Another suggestion is that on the new vessel a large glass-enclosed map of Tasmania should be placed in a prominent position.
– You could make it lifesize.
– I do not mind that, if the honorable member thinks Tasmania is that big. As Tasmania is the destination of holiday-makers I think a large glassenclosed map, with indirect lighting and clearly showing the roads and so on of the island would be of advantage to folk going there for the first time.
– The Melbourne footballers would only break the glass.
– It is true that we had a lot of trouble from them a year ago on their trip. The provision of plenty of Tasmanian literature would also be of advantage, as also would an information bureau staffed by officers of the Tasmanian Government tourist bureau.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I wish, first, to refer to the speech by the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Bird) who opened the debate last night on this section of the Estimates. Year after year I have heard the honorable member speak on the subject of roads and year after year he has stated that our roads are deteriorating and that the situation is becoming worse. I deny that statement. If we confined our activities to a small area in the capital cities we would possibly be justified in expressing that opinion, but not when taking an overall view of the roads in Australia. Even when studying the statistics of our roads we cannot come to the conclusion that the road situation is deteriorating year by year. I will not say that the road problem in Australia has been completely solved. It will probably remain with us for as long as people inhabit the earth, because with greater development there are greater demands on our roads and there is always something requiring to be done to them. I feel that the statement of the honorable member, when he said that the Australian States generally would have received more money if the formula had not been changed is not quite true-
– I did not say that.
– In actual fact I think the new formula-
– I never mentioned the word “ formula “ at all last night.
– I will quote your speech. Under the new distribution of these moneys the States will receive something like £42,000,000, as against some £40,000,000 that they would have received under the old formula. I think Western Australia still receives the same amount as it received under the old formula, although had that formula remained that State would now have received more. However, the Western Australian authorities were agreeable to the change so long as their planning for roads was allowed to go on as in the past.
The honorable member stated that our roads are deteriorating, yet no less a person than the director of the Shell company tourist service, who did not confine his attention to a small stretch of roads but examined the position all over Australia, stated publicly that he found the roads in Australia better than ever before.
He said that road construction had been intensified in the last two years and if we took into account the mileage that we have to cover the Australian work in hand compared favourably with that in overseas countries. In 1948 we had 32,000 miles of paved, sealed and concrete roads. By 1960 we had 56,000 miles of similar roads, there had been an upgrading of other types, and many roads had been widened into multi-lane highways. Bridges had been improved, railway crossings eliminated, overpasses and expressways were being built and a general improvement was taking place. It is obvious that larger vehicles are now used on our roads and that the average motorist can travel better to-day than he could fifteen or twenty years ago. Admittedly, there are snarls in city traffic at peak periods but there is not a city in the world where this problem does not occur, lt would take a little more than present engineering skill or financial capacity suddenly to solve a problem brought about by the fact that within one hour, there is a 100 per cent, usage of vehicles in a given area in which there is not that usage for 99 per cent, of the time. If you consider the overall condition of our roads you will see that they are being improved.
As I said earlier, I feel that the problem is not completely solved. Throughout the year, all honorable members read statements in newspapers and periodicals by automobile authorities throughout Australia who seem to consider that there is but one national problem to be solved and that is the problem of the roads. Every Government has problems other than the road problem and everything has to be looked at in proper perspective.
The notes which the Minister for Shipping and Transport has made available to members for their information during the discussion of these estimates refer to roads and national highways of defence significance. It has been said in this debate that every road has a defence significance. This is not the responsibility of the Department of Shipping and Transport. Strategic roads are the responsibility of the Defence Department. If you want to get anything done, one of the oldest tricks in the calendar is to attach the word “ defence “ to the job, in order to make your case better. Nobody can deny, for instance, that the Eyre Highway has defence significance. No one can deny that the road between Melbourne and Sydney has defence significance. Nor can it be denied that the road from here to Queanbeyan has a defence significance.
Every bridge and road and footpath in Australia has some defence significance.
But somebody has to work out a system of priority. The Department of Shipping and Transport has only two highways for which it takes any maintenance responsibility. One, I think, is the Barkly Highway in Queensland and the other is a section of the Eyre Highway which crosses Australia from east to west. From these highways the provision for 1960-61 is £35,000. The expenditure in 1959-60 was only £18,071 although £25,000 had been allotted to the Eyre Highway alone. I will not take up time on this matter now except to state that I will place a question on the noticepaper seeking an explanation from the Minister of the under-expenditure on the Eyre Highway.
The next matter to which I refer concerns the annual grant of £185,000 to aero and gliding clubs. The provision of this amount results from a five-year agreement. I think that the grant for gliding clubs is in the region of £9,000 and the rest goes to the aero clubs. Under the agreement which expires at 30th June, 1961, the aero clubs train pupils to commercial and private standards. The agreement also enables the clubs to re-equip their fleets. This has been vitally necessary with the growth of aviation in the post-war period. The amount decided upon included £145,000 for pilot training and £31,000 towards the replacement of aircraft.
At present, 25 aero clubs are scattered throughout the length and breadth of Australia, and they have a membership of about 5,000. There are also 35 glider clubs. I hope that the decision to renew the subsidy will be made shortly by the Cabinet, because the agreement expires on 30th June, 1961, and an early decision is necessary to enable the aero clubs to continue their plans unbrokenly. I feel that it would not be in their best interests to have to wait until the 30th June, 1961, to find out whether the subsidy of £185,000 a year is to be renewed. I suggest that the Government should not hesitate to inform the clubs at the earliest possible moment that the subsidy will be continued.
One should realize the value of aero clubs apart from the fact that they train pilots who can afterwards take their place in civil aviation in Australia. Only recently, I think, an agreement was drawn up between the clubs and the aviation companies to provide that pilots trained to a certain standard would be guaranteed employment in the airline companies. This has solved a problem for the airline companies, because, as the pool of war-time Australian pilots dried up, it seemed that some difficulty would be experienced in getting new men. But the trained aero club pilots serve other useful purposes in the community which I consider warrant the subsidy at present paid.’ They are always available to give assistance in flood relief, as pilots of aerial ambulances, to carry blood plasma for the Red Cross, and for bush fire control and other emergencies. Consequently, I think that the subsidy is money well spent. I do not think that a call for an aero club machine or trained pilot to act in an emergency has ever been refused. Therefore, I ask the Government to give early consideration to the renewal of this subsidy.
I was interested to be informed of something that occurs in civil aviation in Canada, where, although the summer period is short, there is a high bush fire risk. In that country a method of fire fighting has been developed into which I would like the Department of Civil Aviation to inquire. It is probably unique in the world. In Canada, the authorities have purchased aircraft which would be obsolete for normal civil aviation use. They are flying boats equipped with special tanks and are used in an emergency to quell bush fires. This does not mean that they are called into service when half the State is on fire, but when a fire is first spotted and reported the aircraft takes off, laden with water which they dump on the fire. They are within easy reach of lakes or the sea where they can land and replenish their tanks in one run. Some aircraft are equipped with special tanks to carry a chemical extinguisher instead of water.
It was pointed out to me by the executive of a timber company in Australia that since the Canadian summer is so short and these aeroplanes cannot be used in the long winter months, some arrangement might be made to charter the aircraft and place them in strategic areas in Australia for use in bush fire control. I understand that in South Australia particularly they will be independent of overseas suppliers of soft wood. I think that the incidence of fires in softwood forests is extremely high in summer. Even in my own State, whose forests have the best timber in Australia - karri - this system could also be used. I realize that the Department of Civil Aviation is a busy department, but perhaps it could look at the method used in Canada, to see whether it could be adapted to Australian conditions.
.- As federal members we are here to represent our constituents and present their views. I deplore the absence of any financial provision in these Estimates to enable the 1,634- foot runway at Kingsford-Smith aerodrome to be extended. I complain on behalf of a large number of my constituents who reside at the southern end of the aerodrome. I know that there are many people who are insensitive to noise, but there are also many people who are exceedingly noise-conscious. These are the people who feel that some relief should be given to them because they have the misfortune to live near the southern end of the long runway at the Kingsford-Smith aerodrome. If the short runway were extended, KingsfordSmith airport would become a truly international airport, which at the moment it is definitely not.
I have been told that there is an unofficial estimate that the extension of this runway would cost about £3,000,000. Since it is only a matter of finance I think that the people whose nerves have been tortured by the noise of piston-engined and jet aircraft ought to be given some consideration, and something should be done about the nuisance, to which they are at present exposed. Tt would not be so bad if the noise were confined to the daylight hours, but there are many occasions when piston-driven planes and jets land at KingsfordSmith airport during the night hours. 1 suppose that this occurs because at some other airport something has happened to the engine which requires attention, and the aircraft concerned has been unable to adhere to its timetable. It is undeniable that these night landings occur. I have quite frequently heard planes come in during the night hours, even as late as 3 o’clock in the morning. When a jet comes in to land at 3 o’clock in the morning in the relative silence of Sydney it must disturb many thousands of people.
If there were any prospect of the number of jets in the air decreasing, or even remaining at the present level, I would not complain so bitterly on behalf of these people. The indications are plain, however, that the number of jets using the KingsfordSmith airport will multiply by at least five times in the next three or four years. As a result, these people can expect a multiplication by at least five in that period of the amount of nuisance they are suffering from.
I want to make particular reference to the K.L.M. Constellation aircraft which is obliged to take off from Kingsford-Smith at an early hour of the morning very heavily loaded with fuel so that it can by-pass Darwin. This plane is causing a great deal of nuisance to the people at the southern end of the aerodrome. The only reason it is causing this nuisance is that it has to carry extra fuel to enable it to by-pass Darwin. If this plane were permitted by the Department of Civil Aviation to take off with a lighter load of fuel it could land at Townsville, refuel there and still by-pass Darwin if that was wanted. However, loaded with fuel as it is, it passes over the homes of some of my electors at the southern end of the aerodrome very low. I have heard numerous complaints about what happens as a result. It is very hard to know whether the complaints are justified, of course, but I feel that they are. They include complaints about cracked tiles on roofs, cracked windows, interruptions to radio and television programmes, showers of soot from chimneys, showers of plaster from ceilings, and so on, as the plane passes overhead. These are. things that happen, and I think that the complaints are justified. On Sundays it is not infrequent to have noisy aircraft disturbing sermons being preached in the various churches in the area, and on other days they disturb patients in hospitals, students in schools and gatherings like those at performances of musical societies and such bodies.
Some time ago a very curious incident occurred at Essendon aerodrome in Victoria. As a large plane flew overhead 24 tiles on a roof of a building nearby suddenly exploded. There appears to be no scientific explanation for this curious happening.
There must be some strange relationship between the vibration caused by the passage of the aircraft and the effect it has on solid matter such as a tile. An illustration of such a relationship is the experiment which can be carried out with a wine glass filled to a certain level with water so as to reach the same pitch as can be reached on the E string of a violin. When the violin is suddenly struck violently along the E string in a downward direction you have synchronized pitch and the glass disintegrates. Something like that must have happened in the tile incident I have described. As the aircraft flew over a sheet of fibro cement also disintegrated. I think that all these things merit some attempt to relieve the residents at the southern end of the long runway at Kingsford-Smith aerodrome of the nuisance from which they are suffering.
Another complaint I want to raise concerns the absence of instrument landing equipment at any airfield in New South Wales other than the Kingsford-Smith airfield. I think that the department might well provide such facilities at some other airport besides the Kingsford-Smith airport. On one occasion I watched a Hercules aircraft - one of our great military transport planes - make 22 practice descents at KingsfordSmith airport. In the course of these practice descents it flew over the homes of residents in the area and caused people very great annoyance. It is not a fair thing when a great noisy plane like the Hercules has to come to Kingsford-Smith aerodrome and fly over the homes of residents in order to give the crews experience in the use of this instrument landing gear. My inquiries reveal that there is no other place in New South Wales where these aircraft can carry out this practice. I wonder why the Air Force cannot carry it out at Richmond or Nowra and so take these aircraft away from the homes of our people.
That is what is going on. Now I want to make a few references to Boeing aircraft. The Boeing is well known as the noisest plane to come to Australia. It is claimed that a Boeing flight has been diverted from Kingsford-Smith on three occasions only because a cross wind was blowing, and that the planes concerned were able to land elsewhere. They had enough fuel to continue to Brisbane, or to Avalon in Victoria. But there might come a time when one of those airports is in such a condition, as a result of fog or a dangerous wind having sprung up, that a Boeing diverted from KingsfordSmith cannot land there. As a result of the lack of a second long runway at KingsfordSmith, therefore, there might be a tragedy. 1 know that this is unlikely, but it could happen.
If I wanted to have another shot at Boeings, 1 could remind honorable members that when they were transporting the Olympic Games team from Australia to Rome the team members were lucky to get there, it seems to me, because the aircraft broke down so frequently on the way. I cannot understand why the Government did not buy Comets. I very seldom get complaints about Comets. They rise much faster from the ground than the Boeings do, and consequently make much less noise, since they gain height more rapidly. I pay a high compliment to the makers of British planes.
Another matter to which I want to make reference is that certain assurances were given to the Rockdale Municipal Council by the Department of Civil Aviation and the representatives of Qantas when the Boeings were to be introduced. When they were handing out the soothing syrup one of the things they said was that the Boeings would make less noise than conventional planes. That claim has not been borne out. I asked the Minister to arrange for readings to be taken of the noise levels reached by the Boeings at various points at the end of the long runway. Whether he did so or not I do not know. I certainly have not been told of any results. Perhaps the results were so alarming that it was decided not to make them public.
Until a plane is produced that will rise and descend vertically, there seems to be no hope of relief unless the runway that I have referred to is extended. Such runway extension was carried out at the Kai-Tak airport at Hong Kong, where the runway was extended into Kowloon Bay. If the British Government could undertake this work for the oriental citizens of Hong Kong, surely the Australian Government can do it for the people of this country. I do submit that we are entitled to have at least one truly international airport in Australia, and at the moment we have none.
Some time ago the Minister for Civil Aviation received a letter from a gentleman living at Tullamarine in Victoria. I would like to read to the committee some of the comments that this gentleman made, because what he predicted would happen with the advent of large jet aircraft has actually happened in Sydney. He said -
In the words of an American editorial, “ Unless you have heard the piercing thunder of a multiengine jet plane, you cannot fully comprehend just how noisy one of these high-powered planes really can be. . . . Planes with conventional piston-driven engines will seem like the sweet sounds of a string quartet when compared to the roar of those gigantic jets.”
He said, further -
The University of Chicago, in a study of neighborhood tolerance of noise, came to tha decision that from 87 decibels and higher people begin to complain. At that stage conversation is difficult and it is annoying to people. Consequently, it has been assumed that if noise can be kept to the level of 87 decibels it will be acceptable to airport neighbourhoods. Official tests at Seattle on July 18 last with a fully-laden Boeing 707 showed, however, that at 3-i miles from the start-of-roll the Boeing passed overhead at only about 850 feet and the overall decibel reading was 102. Using Bolt Beranck and Newman’s Factor of Subjective Equivalence to the sound of a piston-engine plane, the noise on the ground would be equivalent to a piston-engine plane with a decibel reading of 117.
This gentleman made the further comment that Her Majesty the Queen, when opening the Gatwick airport in England, made the statement, “ I sympathize with all those people whose lives are going to be affected by this airport “.
Further in his letter to the Minister, the gentleman to whom I have referred had this to say -
To-day’s jet airliners are already close to breaking the sound barrier and it is only a matter of time before newer models do so, bringing additional noise hazards not only to the neighbourhoods of airports, but to the metropolitan area generally. Warning of what is to come is to be found in the statement of Mr. C. O. Turner, chief executive officer of Qantas Empire Airways, following a recent visit to the United States, that United States aircraft manufacturers were confident they would have supersonic jet liners operating by 1965 or even earlier. These planes, Mr. Turner was reported as saying, would fly at 1,800 to 2,000 miles an hour and would bring New York to within six hours’ flying time of Sydney! Clearly the great additional power required to attain these speeds will spell tremendously intensified noise.
A great deal of money has been spent on attempts at noise suppression. I understand that in the United States of America the Boeing people have spent 10,000,000 dollars in an endeavour to find a satisfactory way of suppressing the noise of jet engines. This further statement appears in the letter I have mentioned -
Suppression of noise in aircraft means loss of horsepower or thrust. Giving evidence before a special sub-committee of the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee, Mr. W. B. Davis, Director of the Office of Flying Operations and Air Worthiness, said, “ The manufacturers of the aircraft have agreed they can sacrifice between one and two per cent, of that power at take-off and that is the limit to which they can go and still have a paying or efficient aircraft. Now, for instance, a one per cent, loss of power means this to jet transport - You increase the take-off distance by 2 per cent.
Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I want to make a few comments on the estimates for the Department of Civil Aviation. I refer to Division 263, Development of Civil Aviation, appearing at page 44 of the Estimates, and particularly to the item “ 06. Aerodromes - Development grant, £260,000 “. The estimated expenditure is much less than the amount made available under this heading in the previous year. My electorate is particularly affected, because it contains about eighteen aerodromes that have been taken over by the local authorities under the local ownership plan. Regular air services operate in and out of these air strips, and a number of the local authorities have been proceeding with developmental work at the aerodromes under the Commonwealth Government’s subsidy scheme. They have been carrying out work which was originally approved by the Department of Civil Aviation, but some of them have been informed recently that the amount of the subsidy has been reduced. As a consequence they have been unable to complete the work.
I think I am right in saying that this expenditure reduction is the most drastic of any shown in the department’s estimates, and this is another example of the way in which country residents will be particularly adversely affected. Most of the work in question is designed to improve amenities at the aerodromes, and it is tragic that the people in the districts concerned are denied such facilities, particularly when honorable members of this Parliament are continually talking of the necessity to encourage people to go to these outlying areas and develop them. I ask the department to have another look at this matter, because it is of vital importance to people in country areas. I believe - and I speak subject to correction - that more local authorities in my electorate have taken advantage of the local ownership plan than in any other electorate in Australia. They have been very disappointed to receive letters informing them that the subsidy has been reduced, and to realize that as a consequence they cannot proceed with the projected works.
I do not wish to say anything further about this matter. I simply repeat my plea on behalf of the people concerned, and 1 ask the department to reconsider its decision. If it has to make a cut in expenditure, then I suggest that it should be made somewhere else, and that the country people should not be asked to suffer further inconvenience. (Mr. E. James Harrison having risen) -
– The honorable member for Blaxland. (Mr. Opperman having risen) -
– The Minister for Shipping and Transport.
– On a point of order, Mr. Chairman, 1 direct your attention to the fact that I received the call. I understand that when a member is called the Minister should wait until that member has spoken before moving that the question be now put.
– Although I would like to give way to the honorable member for Blaxland, I must inform you, Mr. Chairman, that a definite arrangement was made that I was to speak at this time. It was obvious that I was in consultation with the Opposition Whip, and it was for this reason that I missed the call on the first occasion. I think that in the circumstances I must reserve my right to speak.
– Does the Minister wish to speak now?
– I do.
– I would like a ruling on my point of order, Mr. Chairman, because I understand that the Minister intends to apply the gag when he has finished his speech. The same procedure was adopted last night in reference to another matter. I want to protest on behalf of the Opposition. I would far rather have the guillotine in operation than this kind of practice. I had the call - -
– The Minister may insist on speaking if he chooses.
– After 1 have been called?
– After you have been called. You can move that you be now heard, if you so wish.
– I do not do that kind of thing with such a large majority against me. As I understand previous rulings, once a member has been called, the only way that he can be prevented from continuing to speak is by the adoption of a motion that the question be put. Am I right or wrong?
– You are wrong.
– May I ask this question as a further point of order? Can a Minister rise after a member has been called and has commenced to speak? Can a Minister break into a member’s speech anywhere? If he can, that is something new in the procedures adopted in this chamber.
– The Minister rose simultaneously with the honorable member. I call the Minister for Shipping and Transport.
– I still would not-
– If you want co-operation, you had better give us some.
– I would not have exercised a right to speak and I would not have intruded in this way if further time were available for all who wish to speak to do so. At the time the honorable member rose seeking the call, I was in conver sation with the Labour Whip endeavouring to reach an understanding with him that would have permitted the honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. £. James Harrison) to speak on these estimates. I had intended to shape my remarks to fit a shorter time, so that the honorable member would have had some time in which to speak. Moreover, one reason that 1 had in mind in rising was that an Opposition member expressed the view that Ministers should reply to questions asked by honorable members during this debate. In the circumstances, 1 believe that my action is justified and not in any way objectionable. I point out that 1 was endeavouring to be cooperative.
At the outset of my remarks, i want to say that I appreciate the comments concerning the distribution of information about expenditure by the Department of Shipping and Transport. This is a compliment to members of the staff of the department and illustrates that they are really dedicated to giving service not only to the public but also to honorable members. 1 am sure that they will continue to give this service.
I want to refer now to the speech of the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Bird). We all appreciate the enthusiasm and energy that he has put into a consideration of problems concerning roads. He has been on the wrong track frequently but at the same time no one wants to take from him any of the credit that is due to him, but I did not appreciate his deprecation of the Australian Transport Advisory Council. He referred to its ineptitude in general terms and asserted that it was incapable of doing anything to solve road problems. I point out that the council has provided a forum for discussion of many of the major transport, policy matters. The financing and development of roads, the operation of long distance road transport, the co-ordination of transport, railway standardization and transport development policy are all matters that have received its attention, and as a result very valuable policy advice has been given to governments.
Under the council, the Australian Road Safety Council has for some years conducted a nation-wide educational and public relations road safety campaign. Despite the high road toll referred to by the honorable member for Isaacs (Mr. Haworth), although this is not much consolation to the relatives of deceased victims or the injured, a comparison with other countries favours Australia. Then we have the Australian Road Traffic Code Committee, which has also been working for some years. As a result of this, the States have adopted many uniform items in legislation relating to the road traffic code. Instances of this are rules governing intersections, qualifications of drivers, right hand turn driver signals, right of way and road worthiness of vehicles. This committee will meet in Perth on 4th and 6th October and undoubtedly will make recommendations to the Australian Transport Advisory Council. At the meeting of the council, these recommendations will be debated by the State Transport Ministers. I think that any criticism of the Australian Transport Advisory Council is ill advised; its record of performance is well known. With the system that we have in Australia, which pays regard to State rights, it is desirable that we have a co-operative body such as this to dissect the available information, to reach decisions and to report back to the various State Governments.
The honorable member for Isaacs referred to road safety. This matter has been wider scrutiny by the Commonwealth. During 1960-61, as in previous years, the Commonwealth is making £150,000 available for the promotion of sound road safety practices. The Commonwealth, perhaps, will have the largest share of this amount, but £50,000 will be made available to the States for expenditure on road safety. In the future, the States will, of course, pay their own administrative expenses. The Commonwealth will use its share of £100,000 to conduct national road safety campaigns through film strips, publications, television and radio publicity. Attention will also be given to posters, pamphlets and other methods of education. The Australian Road Safety Council will conduct a continuous advertising campaign during holiday periods.
The honorable member for Isaacs expressed the view that, although an additional sum was being made available for roads, the total expenditure did not com pare favorably with the amount that wasconsidered to be necessary during the next” ten years. I point out that when the Commonwealth Aid Roads Bill was introduced,, the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) said that, the Commonwealth’s contribution would total £250,000,000 over a period of fiveyears an increase of £100,000,000. He said further that the total expenditure by all authorities on roads, streets, and bridges throughout Australia would be approximately £470,000,000. With the expenditure by the Commonwealth, on itsown account, and with additional expenditure by State and municipal authorities, a total of £720,000,000 would be expended; in that period. Although the Commonwealth has been chided with adopting a passive attitude, the effects of the expenditure of this money on road improvements arealready being felt. In New South Wales in 1958-59, 397 miles of additional bitumen roads were constructed and in 1959-60, 742 miles were constructed. In Queensland, 376 miles of additional roads were constructed in 1959-60 and in Victoria, 544 miles were constructed. This was a record year for highway improvements, and already there is evidence of the virtues of the new bill to which I have referred.
The honorable member for Braddon. (Mr. Davies) raised the question of a subsidy for Captain Houfe. In a few brief sentences, let me say that I do not think that any one can estimate the value of the personal interest that Captain Houfe hastaken in shipping for the islands around’ Tasmania. I believe that this latest development of his will prove most practical and will eliminate a number of the difficulties associated with the islands. The question of subsidy was dealt with by the Tariff Board, as far as the tonnage of ships wasconcerned. I think that Captain Houfe’s best plan would be to put the situation before the Tariff Board as quickly as possible. The Government will cooperate to enable his application to be heard as quickly as possible. I am sorry that I have to deal with this matter only briefly. I should like to speak about King Island and the inspection I was fortunate enough to make, but since the honorable member has brought up the question, this is the best way to deal with it.
The honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie) referred to Tasmania’s pride and joy, the “Princess of Tasmania”. We know, for example, that every endeavour is made to construct a new model motor vehicle for the road as perfectly as possible, and that applies to this ship. As time passes, variations in construction that could be made become apparent. I point out that the “ Princess of Tasmania “ was specifically designed for a voyage of approximately fourteen hours’ duration. In consequence, some of the features usually found in passenger vessels which are at sea for some weeks were not incorporated in the “ Princess of Tasmania “. I could speak in detail of the “ Princess of Tasmania “, but my friend will realize that I am not able to elaborate now.
– I intend to write to you about these matters.
Mr- OPPERMAN. - Then we will clear them up in that way. We are now testing the possibility of putting foot-rests with the seats on the ship and increasing the lounge accommodation. Any deficiencies that may be found in the amenities on the ship will be watched when the new sister vessel is built. I shall leave other matters to personal correspondence with the honorable members concerned. Matters relating to aviation and airfields, which have been referred to during the debate, will be brought to the attention of the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation in this House.
– The Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Opperman) has been helpful to me in an awkward situation, because I did not understand that a strict time limit was being imposed on this debate. I have a strong interest in transport generally and feel that certain observations should be made in that connexion. It is a strange experience to find that, possibly for the first time, I agree wholeheartedly with the comments of the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Bury), who said that the time was overdue for a national transport plan. He was referring not necessarily to a national railway, road or air plan, but to a national transport plan. When we think of a national road plan, we are reminded that 90 per cent, of all commercial vehicles engaged in road transport are not competitive with the railways. We need a national transport plan because our economy is geared to transport more closely than is the case with any other country. We have vital transport problems to face.
I have read the last report of the Australian Transport Advisory Council, to which the Minister for Shipping and Transport referred briefly. The council set out what would be needed in the decade beginning with the financial year 1965-66, and it estimated that an expenditure of £1,643,000,000 would be essential. The report stated that that amount would provide minimum road needs for the increased traffic density in the decade and would make no provision for desirable roads. Such a programme is one of the major problems confronting the Government and road authorities.
The honorable member for Batman (Mr. Bird), who is continually pressing for an improvement in roads, did not speak in terms which were derogatory to the Transport Advisory Council’s reports, but referred to the amounts required by that authority. At page 47 of the report of the council entitled “ Railway Costs and Co-ordinating Summary “ it is stated - the aggregate of costs in the road transport field are very high annually compared with railways and the other forms of transport, the total estimated cost of road transport in all its aspects being 34 to 4 times the total annual costs of railways. Having regard to the performance of railway transport, which on the freight side is broadly equal to the ton-mileage performed by road, the importance and economic significance of rail transport is evident . . .
It requires most favourable circumstances of high loadings and high annual mileages for road transport to achieve the low operating costs of approximately 3id. per ton-mile. Nevertheless, this low competitive cost is being achieved at present on interstate hauls . . .
Under similarly favourable circumstances of long distance railway operation, average operating costs as low as 0.7 5d. per ton-mile for bulk commodities and 2.5d. per ton mile for general commodities can be achieved bv rail.
Those are the factors which have caused me to devote my attention to the need for a national transport plan to which the honorable member for Wentworth referred. I stand aghast when I realize the importance of a proper co-ordinated road plan in the economy. In a booklet prepared by the
Manufacturing Industries Advisory Council entitled “ Australian Manufacturing Industry in the Next Decade “ which was presented to the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) in April, 1959, we find this comment at page 19 -
Public investment in transport, power, land development and the like is vital to the expansion of private industry and the development of a balanced economy. Private industry cannot expand unless it has Rood roads, railways, telephone exchanges, harbour facilities and an educated and trained labour force.
Leaving aside all other factors, I am thinking particularly now of the transport problem that confronts private enterprise. I think of what is happening in Sydney and Melbourne. There is a proposal to construct another satellite town outside Liverpool at an expenditure of £25,000,000, and in that connexion I think of the inability of this Government to follow the plan envisaged in 1947 relating to decentralization in Australia. It is high time this Parliament and this Government started to think of a co-ordinated transport plan for Australia. On more than one occasion, I have pressed the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) for a non-party committee to investigate transport in Australia. Each time, the Prime Minister has shelved the suggestion until finally he said in the House that the Government had set up inside the Cabinet a special committee of six to deal with transport problems. Later, when I asked the Prime Minister when that committee was likely to function, he assured me that it was functioning and in due course would present a report to the Parliament. Since the Minister for Shipping and Transport is willing to talk on every subject that is raised in this connexion by the Opposition, I should like to ask him what became of the committee that was set up by the Government to deal with the transport problem in Australia. I had hoped to ask this question before he spoke.
Nobody will convince me that the New South Wales Government is not doing everything it can to foster decentralization. When I go to Orange I see the Electricity Meter Manufacturing Company Proprietary Limited trading as Emmco with 1,600 to 1,800 employees and a pay-roll of £16,000 a week. The operation of that industry was made possible only by the co-operation between the company and the railway system of New South Wales. That is an example of what can be done with a properly co-ordinated transport plan. People think in terms of redeveloping Sydney. The “ Sydney Morning Herald “ of 30th July this year reported that certain financial magnates had met to re-plan Sydney, a city that has already overgrown itself because industries have been placed in one area and every one is brought to that area every day to work.
We see the fight that is going on between this Government and the New South Wales Government about the release of the land on which the Newington State hospital stands. This Government claims that the 125 acres which are now available for investment should be a buffer between the land at Newington and the land that is being released by the State Government. At the same time, we see Sydney’s rail transport so overloaded that it cannot now handle the traffic in the peak period.
Those of us who are real Australians surely must be concerned to see a distribution of our work force throughout country areas and not concentrated in Sydney and Melbourne. Until such time as this Government follows up the plan which was suggested by the Chifley Government, there will be no improvement in the position. Let me remind the House, and my Country Party friends in particular, that in August, 1945 the Chifley Government called together the State Ministers to see what could be done about decentralization. The Commonwealth, among other things, undertook the responsibility to collaborate closely with State governments - in regard to all matters of Commonwealth industrial policy which may affect the development and location of industry, with particular reference to the means of bringing before industrialists the possibilities of decentralized locations for development.
The Chifley Government in 1945 intended to locate industries in country districts and to provide rail transport to meet the needs of those industries. I have been to Dubbo, a town in western New South Wales, where a flourishing industry has been allowed to die. The only substantial industry which functions now in the country districts of New South Wales, apart from the one at Lithgow, is at Orange, and this has been able to function only because of the cooperation of the State transport system, particularly the railways. You cannot develop this country unless you have an organized plan to decentralize industry, and the Commonwealth Government must be the coordinator in that plan.
When I was in EnglandI saw plans for new towns. Already fifteen new towns have been built in the country areas. Thousands of people have been taken out of London to the new areas and the Government has provided schools, hospitals and the big industries in which the people can find employment. In this country we talk of re-developing Sydney and of making it a city of 5,000,000 people. We talk of building satellite towns and carrying people on trains, which are already overloaded, into industrial areas which are already overcrowded. The whole thing is cock-eyed and haywire. Until such time as this Government calls the State Ministers into conference and plans the transfer of industries to the country - no one industry can stand on its own feet unless it has the undertaking that other industries will be brought close to it - we shall not develop this country in the way in which it should be developed.
It has been said time and time again that my interests lie with the railways. My interests lie with the railways to this extent: I have had a look at the Emmco factory in Orange andI am convinced that rail transport goes hand in hand with decentralization. I am convinced that a properly planned economy and a properly planned transport system, with railways linking the cities and the main country towns, are essential. I want to see a plan for decentralization formulated on the CommonwealthState level to provide for industries being established in the country areas. Of course, the work force would have to be there to enable industries to function.If industries know that a reliable and cheap transport system is available to them, they will go to the country. Then you will not be faced with the problems which confront the main country towns in Victoria, which, it anything, are worse off than those in New South Wales.
We are training in Orange to-day some of the most highly skilled apprentices that are being trained anywhere in Australia, but the day on which they finish their training they will have to go to the metro politan area of Sydney for a job. The whole thing is cock-eyed, and unless this Government takes a hand the position will not improve.I had hoped that when the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Opperman) was appointed to his portfolio we would see an improvement.I remind the Minister of the Cabinet committee of six gallant men which was set up by the Menzies Government to look at the transport problems in Australia at the highest national level. However, we have never heard a squeak from the committee. That is the usual approach of this Government to transport problems.
I realize that the Minister would rather spend half an hour in replying to a statement by the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie) in relation to the “ Princess of Tasmania “ than get down to tick-tacks on our transport problems. Until the Government takes up where the Chifley Government left off in 1945, until it gets together with the State governments to plan the location of industries in country areas and until it sets up an adequate transport system, Australia will continue to develop in the lopsided way that ithas developed in the past with Sydney and Melbourne growing larger and larger and an increasing number of country towns withering away. It is a national scandal that the plan which was put forward by the Chifley Government in 1945 has not been proceeded with. Unfortunately the Chifley Government was defeated in 1949 and the plan was buried by the Menzies Government in December of that year. The Minister, and those around him, should awaken those people who are responsible for Australia’s transport system. They should not think that another “ Princess of Tasmania “ is the answer to this country’s transport problems.
.- Mr. Chairman-
Motion (by Mr. Adermann) put -
That the question be now put.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. G. J. Bowden.)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Proposed votes agreed to.
Sitting suspended from 6.5 to 8 p.m.
. -I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to enable the Australian Government to give effect to the Antarctic Treaty, signed in Washington on 1st December, 1959. The treaty will come into force when ratified by the twelve nations whose representatives signed it. These were Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Chile, the French Republic, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, the Union of South Africa, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, the United Kingdom and the United States of America.
The treaty has three principal objectives -
The preamble of the treaty recognizes that “ it is in the interest of all mankind that Antarctica shall continue forever to be used exclusively for peaceful purposes and shall not become the scene or object of international discord “. Article I. of the treaty prohibits any measures of a military nature, such as the establishment of military bases and fortifications, the carrying out of military manoeuvres, as well as the testing of any type of weapons. Again, Article V. prohibits nuclear explosions and the disposal of radio-active waste in Antarctica. In order to promote those objectives, contracting parties conducting substantial scientific research in the Antarctic may appoint observers, with freedom of access to all areas; they have agreed to a system of unrestricted aerial observation; and they have obliged themselves and each other to circulate to other parties details of their own activities in Antarctica.
Scientific co-operation is secured under Article III. By that article the contracting parties agree to exchange information regarding their Antarctic scientific programmes, to exchange and make freely available the results of scientific observations, and to exchange scientific personnel between their expeditions and stations.
Encouragement will be given to the establishment of co-operative working arrangements with United Nations specialized agencies having a scientific or technical interest in Antarctica.
The third objective, the freezing of territorial claims, is achieved by Article IV. The effect of this article is that, while the treaty is in force, nothing which countries do, or fail to do, will make their position any stronger, or any weaker, with respect to their assertion or recognition of sovereignty over Antarctic territory. I should like to examine this aspect of the treaty in more detail, and to explain the position with which its negotiators had to deal.
The twelve governments negotiating the treaty were faced with a complex legal situation. Sectors of the Antarctic are held by Australia, France, New Zealand, Norway and the United Kingdom; while Argentina and Chile have also made claims. Thus, seven of the twelve signatories had asserted rights to sovereignty; some of their claims overlapped and were in conflict with one another. The remaining five governments - including those of two Great Powers, the United States and the Soviet Union, whose Antarctic activities are on a very large scale - had made no territorial claims.
– And they recognized none.
– And they recognized none. They did not, for example, recognize Australian sovereignty over the Australian Antarctic Territory. Consequently, any Antarctic treaty had to take account of the diverse positions of the twelve countries concerned. The solution found is expressed in Article IV. of the treaty.
Paragraph 1 of Article IV. provides that nothing in the treaty is to be interpreted as a renunciation of asserted rights or claims to territorial sovereignty. There is, therefore, no detraction from Australian sovereignty over its territory as a result of Australia’s becoming a party to the treaty. Moreover, under the second paragraph of Article IV., no other party can use its activities in the Australian Antarctic Territory to build up a claim of its own or for the purpose of weakening Australia’s claim; nor can any new claims be asserted. There is necessarily a quid pro quo.
For its part, Australia will not be able to say, for example, that the United States, by entering into the treaty, is to be treated as having recognized Australian sovereignty over the Australian Antarctic Territory. Nor will Australia be able, as against any other treaty party, to rely on its activity during the period of the treaty for the purpose of supporting or enhancing its own position. In short, Article IV. means that, as between parties to the treaty, the question of territorial sovereignty will be set aside and the status quo entirely preserved for at least 34 years - since this, under Article XII., is the minimum period the treaty will remain in force. If after that period the treaty should for some reason be terminated, Australia’s position in relation to other parties to the treaty will not be any stronger than it is now, but neither will it be any less strong. The Australian Government considers that this solution properly protects, for the full period of the treaty, Australian sovereignty over the Australian Antarctic Territory.
With that survey of the chief features of the treaty - I shall outline the other provisions in a moment - I come now to the provisions of the present bill. The bill is short, with only one operative clause. Its purpose is to enable Australia to give effect to Article VIII. of the treaty, relating to the exercise of jurisdiction over persons in the Antarctic.
In exercise of her sovereignty Australia has applied a complete code of law to the Australian Antarctic Territory. That law is, in our view, applicable to all persons in the Territory, and a breach of the criminal law, for example, would be punishable in an Australian court. But, having regard to the conflicting views existing among the twelve governments on the question of sovereignty, the only practicable course to adopt in the treaty was to give to each government authority, in the entire treaty area, over certain categories of its own nationals. These are observers, exchanged scientists and their accompanying staffs - those people who would be most likely to come into contact with nationals of other countries. With the safeguards contained in Article IV., this is quite acceptable to Australia, as it is indeed for the United
Kingdom, New Zealand and other countries whose positions on the questions of sovereignty are the same as our own.
To give effect to Article VIII. some legislative adjustments are needed. First, the way must be opened for another contracting party to exercise jurisdiction, in the Australian Antarctic Territory, over the particular personnel in question. This is provided for by sub-clause (1.) of clause 4. Secondly, it is necessary for Australia to be in a position to exercise jurisdiction over our own observers in respect of acts committed elsewhere in Antarctica than in our own territory. This is achieved by subclauses (2.) and (3.).
Sub-clause (4.) of clause 4 is designed to protect the rights which countries have under international law with regard to high seas within the zone of application of the treaty. The zone of application is the whole area south of 60° South Latitude except that nothing in the treaty is to prejudice or affect the rights of states under international law with regard to the high seas. The Australian Government sought agreement on as wide a zone as possible, and is satisfied with the result.
Those who took part in the negotiations at Washington were the twelve nations active in Antarctic research during and since the International Geophysical Year. In Article XIII., they provided that other countries may accede to the treaty in future. In addition to the original signatories, any state may join which is a member of the United Nations or which is unanimously invited to membership by the original signatories and by adherents conducting substantial scientific research in the Antarctic.
There is a further provision that the treaty may be amended only by the unanimous agreement of all the contracting parties who are either original signatories of the treaty or are qualified by virtue of conducting substantial scientific programmes in Antarctica. Only these countries may take part in the regular consultative meetings aimed at formulating measures to further the objectives of the treaty. Such contracting parties are bound to membership of the treaty for at least 34 years, although other “ inactive “ adherents who do not wish to accept modifications adopted by the major participants may withdraw upon two years’ notice. These provisions are reasonable, since they recognize the special position of countries which demonstrate an active and continuing interest in Antarctica.
As the House will realize, the nonmilitarization clauses are of special interest to Australia, because of our proximity to Antarctica. Inspection arrangements are laid down in Articles VII. and VIII. These give parties the right to designate observers to carry out surveillance in any area, at any time, provided they are nationals of the countries which appoint them. Unrestricted aerial observation is permitted. The treaty also provides for the exchange of information among contracting parties regarding expeditions, stations, military equipment and such matters, in furtherance of the principle of demilitarization. The operation of these provisions should give the participants valuable experience in the detailed processes of inspection which, we all hope, may come to have a wider application in the world, in connexion with disarmament.
Article X. obliges parties to undertake appropriate efforts to see that no one engages in any activity in Antarctica contrary to the purposes of the treaty. Under Article XL, disputes are to be resolved by negotiation, mediation or other peaceful means. Failing this, a dispute will be referred to the International Court of Justice for settlement, subject to the consent, in each case, of all parties to the dispute. It was not possible to obtain agreement to compulsory reference to the court.
The first consultative meeting under the treaty is to be held in Canberra within two months of the treaty coming into force - that is to say, within two months after the last instrument of ratification has been deposited with the United States Government. Our latest information is that the governments of Belgium, France, Japan, Norway, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States have ratified the treaty, and it is expected that action by the remaining signatories will be completed in time for the Canberra meeting to take place early next year. We are gratified by the tribute paid to Australia in selecting Canberra as the site of the first conference. This reflects the importance of our role in the Antarctic, and the significance of our diplomatic contribution to the negotiation of the treaty.
Australia has a long record of exploration and scientific activity dating back to the exploits of the sealers and whalers of the nineteenth century. Australians took part in the expeditions of Scott and Shackleton, and we sponsored the Australasian Antarctic Expedition of 1911-14 under Sir Douglas Mawson, and the British-Australian-New Zealand Research Expedition of 1929-31. Two Australians - Sir Hubert Wilkins and John Rymill - were pioneers of Antarctic aviation. In 1947, the Australian Government formed the Australian National Antarctic Research Expeditions, known as A.N.A.R.E. Between 1947 and 1953, this organization established the two bases on Heard and Macquarie Islands, from which it extended scientific research. In 1954, our third station and first permanent base on the mainland was set up at Mawson. In the following year, Heard Island Station was closed down, but in 1956-57 a second mainland base was opened and named Davis, a name which recalls the work of Captain J. K. Davis, who was prominent in many Antarctic expeditions and is now a member of the A.N.A.R.E. Executive Planning Committee. An automatic weather station was erected on Lewis Island in the same year.
Early in 1959, A.N.A.R.E. took over the administration of the American base at Wilkes Station. From these places, scientific research and exploration have been carried out on a considerable scale, and have resulted in the accumulation of a large amount of information on the weather, geomagnetism, ionospheric studies, cosmic radiation, and such matters, as well as much geographic work. Australian scientists made a significant contribution to the International Geophysical Year and the subsequent period of co-operation organized by the Special Committee on Antarctic Research. At the invitation of the Special Committee on Antarctic Research, we have set up an international centre in Melbourne for the study of Antarctic weather. This is a considerable record of activity, and it is still growing.
Any account of Australia’s activities in Antarctica should include some reference to the tireless work of our former colleague, Lord Casey, who played a leading part in the negotiations for this treaty. Tt is most appropriate that his name is commemorated on the charts of the Antarctic continent.
Apart from wider international issues, the Antarctic Treaty has several advantages for Australia -
The fact that agreement has been reached in spite of divergent, and often conflicting, views and interests is a tribute to the farsightedness of governments taking part in the negotiations. The treaty is a hopeful step forward in international relations. We believe its prospects for ratification by all signatories - including the Soviet Union - are favorable. When in force, it will adequately protect Australian interests by ensuring, through the prohibition of military activity of every kind, that nothing takes place in the Antarctic which might threaten our security. It will provide a legal framework in which scientific exploration and research may continue to the general benefit of mankind, unhindered by controversy over territorial ownership.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Haylen) adjourned.
In Committee of Supply: Consideration resumed (vide page 1432).
– Apart from the votes relating to the Australian Capital Territory, the group of estimates now before the committee covers the Territories under my administration. They cover the Department of Territories at Canberra, the Northern Territory, Norfolk Island, the Territory of Papua and New Guinea, Nauru, Cocos (Keeling) Islands, and Christmas Island. Although no funds are provided for the activities of the British Phosphate Commission, the Christmas Island Phosphate Commission or the South Pacific Commission, I assume that it would be appropriate for any member who cared to do so to discuss Australia’s interests in these bodies so far as they come within the function of the Department of Territories.
I would draw the attention of honorable members to the fact that financial provision is also made for these Territories under a number of other headings in the Estimates, for example, under the Department of Civil Aviation, the Department of Defence and the Department of Health. We are now dealing only with those expenditures that come under the control of the Minister for Territories. Following the practice that I established some years ago, I have distributed to all honorable members some notes en the Budget with respect to the larger Territories - the Northern Territory and the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. My present purpose is not to go over the ground in detail but only to indicate broadly some of the developments in which honorable members might be interested.
The first point to which I wish to draw attention is the expenditure of the Department of Territories at Canberra. This is estimated at £354,000 for the current financial year, compared with an expenditure last year of £341,328. The greater part of this provision is devoted to the salaries of public servants at the head office of the Department of Territories and the remainder is for a comparatively small number of items of general expenses. I should like to mention that the total staff of the Department of Territories at Canberra stands at only 168. That figure includes every one from the typists to the people engaged in senior administration. Contrary to an impression that has been fostered in some quarters, the department does not attempt to control or administer the Territories. Those tasks are performed by public servants resident in the Territories themselves. The size of the Canberra staff- 168- when compared with the total of over 5,000 engaged in the administration of the Territories, reveals how extensive is the decentralization of territorial administration.
Before turning to the two larger Territories, I should like to say something about the smaller island Territories. For Norfolk Island, the appropriation is £32,000 - the same as last year. This annual appropriation, when added to some small local revenues, will be used to provide the general services on the island. The committee will recall that, by passing the Norfolk Island Act in 1957, the Parliament introduced new provisions in relation to the administration of justice on the island and also provided a form of local government for the island community. It took some time for the island community to express its opinion regarding the acceptance of the burden of local government and until it had expressed its willingness to undertake this burden the act was not brought into force.
On 7th April last the act was proclaimed and, as a consequence, the new Norfolk Island Council consisting of eight elected members was formed. In addition to having certain advisory functions, this council has been given control over a defined field of government including the making of bySaws, and within that defined field of government it controls its own expenditures. Broadly, the powers given to the Norfolk Island Council correspond to the field occupied by local governing authorities in any rural area on the Australian mainland.
The same act of 1957 provided for the establishment of a supreme court and for an appeal from that court to the High Court of Australia. It also provided for the establishment of other courts by ordinance. These changes in the judicial system required comprehensive revision of Norfolk Island legislation. This revision has now been carried out and a new series of ordinances put into operation. T may mention that the economic outlook of Norfolk Island is still difficult because of the difficulties of communication. Nevertheless, the whaling station continued in operation and it was greatly assisted by an increase in quota for the 1960 season from 150 whales to 170 whales.
The only remaining hope for any major increase in economic activity appears to be in the promotion of the tourist industry. The island has very great attractions in natural beauty, in the mildness of its climate, and in historic interest in old buildings, all of which are surrounded by many legends that might sometimes be better than the truth and all the more interesting for that. Again, the difficulty of developing the tourist industry is set by the difficulties of transport, and until that obstacle is overcome there is unlikely to be any major investment in extensive accommodation for tourists. This is a matter in which we are always hopeful of attracting private enterprise of a suitable kind.
I turn now to Nauru. The services at Nauru are financed by the British Phosphate Commission and are not a charge on the estimates before the committee. Honorable members will be interested to know that the amount provided by the commission this year will be £494,600 which, added to some small local revenues, will give a budget of £512,600. In addition to this, the Nauruan Local Government Council which is elected by the indigenous people has its own budget of about £35,000. During the past year considerable progress was made by the British Phosphate Commission in its programme for extending phosphate handling facilities at Nauru at a cost of about £1,500,000. When this work is completed, early in 1961, it will be possible to increase the annual tonnage of phosphate exported to 1,600,000 tons.
The main development in our own administrative concern has been in the field of education. There has been a steady growth in enrolments with the increase in population. A total of 962 children now attend school - many of them at a higher level than previously. There are 30 Nauruan students, mostly scholarship holders, receiving higher education in Australia.
I turn to the Cocos (Keeling) Islands in the Indian Ocean. The relevant appropriation by this Parliament this year is £54,900, compared with £29,807 for last year. The main items of expenditure include provision for the transfer of about 13,000 Cocos Islanders to Christmas Island, expenditure on salaries and wages of our administrative staff, and the maintenance of roads and buildings. There are, of course, at Cocos much more considerable expenditures by the Department of Civil Aviation and the Overseas Telecommunications Commission because the importance of the island to us mainly derives from its use as a civil airport and as a station for the world cable service. During the past year there* was a hydrographic survey of Cocos Lagoon and the consequent selection of an anchorage for tankers discharging oil fuel. Increased air traffic through Cocos has made it necessary for the oil company concerned to modernize its facilities there and to begin the construction of bulk fuel oil installations.
The only productive activities on the island are carried out by the Clunies Ross estate in the production of copra. The estate, I am glad to say, is continuing to make very considerable improvements in the housing and general welfare of the Cocos islanders.
At Christmas Island the total expenditure provided for the coming year is £158,000, and all except £100 of this will be provided by the Christmas Island Phosphate Commission. The main expenditures again are on the maintenance of services and on salaries of administrative staff. Following the transfer of sovereignty to Australia we have now established a complete structure of administration. The phosphate production on the island is being increased to a total of 800,000 tons a year as the result of the development programme which involves the installation of new works and plant as well as bulk oil storage.
We now come to the first of the two large Territories - the Northern Territory. The estimates for the Northern Territory provide for an expenditure by the Northern Territory Administration of £10,241,000 in the current year, compared with a total of £8,870,956 last year. Tn addition to this there are, of course, Sir, considerable expenditures by other departments in the Northern Territory, notably by such departments as the Department of Defence, the Department of Civil Aviation, the Department of Health, the Attorney-General’s Department and the Department of National Development, all of which in their respective spheres are contributing a great deal to the activities in that Territory.
Expenditures under the control of the Administration will include £4,500,000 of capital expenditure and £5,700,000 of expenditure on the maintenance of services. The main headings of what I will loosely describe as the maintenance expenditure, apart from the provision of salaries for the public servants who work there in various branches of government are education, native welfare, mines department, agricultural department and lands department.
One interesting development - and I think a development which in the long run will prove very significant for the Northern Territory - is the growth of the Water Resources Branch which was founded comparatively recently and is doing a very valuable pioneering work of vital importance to the Territory in the investigation of water resources and in the location, development and conservation of water. This year there will be an increased provision of £51,000 for this branch.
The works programme to which I have referred includes a provision, in round figures, of £2.526,000 for new works. The major item included in that total is £390,000 for the Darwin high school. Another major work commenced under last year’s Estimates and continued in this year’s Estimates is the construction of new ad ministrative offices at Darwin. Other major items in the works programmes are housing, £458,600, town engineering services in the various towns, £786,700, developmental roads and stock routes, £373,000, and works for native welfare, £127,700. In addition to the provision I have already referred to in the works programme for housing there will also be the provision of £435,000 as advances to the Northern Territory Housing Commission. The commission is now fully established and well under way, and is doing some extremely useful work in providing, as best as it can under Territory conditions, low-cost housing to meet the needs of the low income people who are either not entitled to receive accommodation from the Administration or are not provided with accommodation by their employers. There will also be a provision of £240,000 for loans for private dwelling construction, and £120,000 for loans at a nominal interest rate to church organizations for the building of hostels for school children.
On the economic side, the mining and pastoral industries continue to provide the main production of the Territory. Happily there has been continued progress in both industries. Mining was responsible for a production, in the year just closed, to the value of approximately £6,000,000, and the pastoral industry had a production to the approximate value of £4,250,000.
I should like to say a few words about the pastoral industry. It seems to me that with the prospects of a firm world market for beef there are great opportunities still ahead of the Northern Territory. In this industry 1 would suggest that transport, water and pasture improvement are the major tasks which face both the industry and the Government. I am sure that the opportunities that exist in the Territory will not be fully realized, and the production of the Territory will not reach the heights to which it ought to go, unless further achievements are made under all three headings.
When one talks of transport in the Northern Territory to-day, one sees roads as being the most direct immediate and economic way in which transport can be improved. Last year, over 54,000 cattle were moved by road transport. Although expenditure on both the construction and the maintenance of roads in the Northern
Territory has been considerably increased, [here would now seem to be economic justification for preparing plans for an even more extensive system of developmental roads and for the improvement of existing roads to suit the traffic they will carry, and 1 am proposing in the year we are now entering to set on foot a further practical examination of both the needs and the opportunities in this regard. At present we are expending approximately £500,000 a year on a five-year programme to improve the Stuart and Barkly Highways, our two great arteries, and this year we are providing in addition £339,000 for other road projects in the Territory.
As a result of the declaration of the pleuro-free area in the centre of Australia, very considerable expansion of the cattle industry has been made there and the fruits of that expansion have been made freely obtainable because of the existence of the outlet by rail to the southern States. I believe, however, Sir, that major increases in the cattle population of the Territory, and a major increase in the annual turn-off, will come when we have mastered some of the problems of the wetter northern region generally referred to as the top end of the Territory. At this top end of the Territory there is undoubtedly a great deal of country which would respond to an increased measure of investment in the improvement of pasture and the improvement of herds in a way in which the more arid regions, valuable as they are to the cattle industry, could not be expected to respond. This top end is an immediate challenge in trying to expand our pastoral industry in the Northern Territory. In that connexion, F think it is extremely likely that full pastoral development will not be achieved unless it is allied with some measure of agricultural development, and in this connexion we are awaiting with a great deal of interest the report of the Forster committee, of which our colleague, the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly), has been a member, which throughout the past year has been making a detailed investigation of the possibilities of agriculture in the Territory. In the Territory considerable progress has been made in the provision of social amenities and services for the community and the steady improvement in all districts can be observed. I think the transformation of some of the towns in the Territory in recent years has been remarkable and reflects considerable credit on the townsfolk. You can go to the Territory and find places like Pine Creek, Katherine and Tennant Creek which are a pleasure to be in and a credit to the people living there. I should like to say something in passing-
– How long will it take?
– lt is an extraordinary thing, but whenever any one wants to talk on a subject of importance such as the development of Australian territories, some obscure person from Tasmania interjects and says, “ How long will it take? “ I think this indicates not the insularity of the community to which he belongs, but the insularity of his own mind. To the people of the Territories, and particularly those Territories which do not have the privilege of being directly represented in this chamber, these are matters of some importance which the people would like to have brought before honorable members for their attention. 1 am sure that, in spite of interjections from the Opposition, the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson), who does represent his people here, would not feel that the importance of that Territory is being given too much attention.
There is one special problem which arises in the Northern Territory and to which I think I ought to make passing reference. That is the welfare of the aborigines. Expenditure on measures for native welfare is now running at about £1,000,000, plus the salaries of the officers engaged in this phase of administration, and plus some building projects, so in total the expenditure is something in the order of £1,250,000 per year. This expenditure includes assistance to Christian missions, which will total £375.000 in the current year. That amount is expended in subsidies paid for persons engaged in teaching, training and nursing aboriginal wards, the provision of essential medical equipment and some contribution towards capital works such as housing, schools, hospitals and other facilities. As the result of the efforts which have been made during recent years we are now coming fairly close to the point where we will be fully equipped with the instruments for advancing native welfare. We will have the schools, settlements, hospitals. clinics, pre-school centres, gardens, pastoral training ventures, workshops and all the instruments which will enable us to undertake our task of advancing the welfare of these people.
We now have over 2,000 aboriginal children regularly attending schools and receiving education of a reasonably high standard. In that connexion a very interesting experiment was conducted last May when, for the first time, seventeen native teaching assistants drawn from missions and settlements were brought into Darwin to attend a course of training for teachers. One hopes that in the course of coming years more and more native people will be taking part in this task of educating their own people.
– How long did the course last?
– It was a comparatively short course. Speaking from memory I think it was a matter of weeks and not of months, but of course it had very useful results. These were people already engaged in teaching and they were brought in partly as a measure of training and partly as a measure to encourage them in the importance of the task they were undertaking.
In the notesI have circulated to honorable members on Papua and New Guinea the main features of the programme of development are outlined. In the current year the proposed expenditure on the Territory budget will be £22,000,000, which is £2,700,000 higher than the expenditure in 1959- 60. Of this total, the only item which appears on the estimates before this chamber is the Commonwealth grant of £1 4,500,000, which is an increase of £1,500,000 on the grant provided last year. It is estimated that the local revenues for 1960- 61 will total £7,000,000 and funds available from local loans will total £600,000.
In all departments of the Administration, there will be increasing expenditure, reflecting the progress being made. Out of the total budget of £22,000,000 approximately £4,300,000 will be spent on capital works and services. Other major items - I use round figures - will be education £2,050,000; health £2,400,000; native affairs £1,300,000; and the Department of
Agriculture, Stock and Fisheries £1,000,000, a large part of which will be spent on agricultural extension work among the native people.
There is one feature of the Territory budget to which I think I should draw attention because it is becoming significant for both the people in the Territory and for this Parliament. It is the increasingly large element in the budget which has to be devoted to the maintenance of works and services inaugurated in previous years. I can illustrate my meaning more clearly, perhaps, by reference to one subject - roads. Only a few years ago when we commenced a programme of road-building, nearly the whole of the sums devoted to roads were actually spent on the building of new roads throughout the Territory. The majority of them were of improved earth construction, strengthened with gravel at certain places and with timber bridges. This year, before we apply any money for the construction of new roads we will have to provide £750,000 for the maintenance of existing roads and bridges.
That simple illustration can be carried through the whole of the Territory budget because now, as the result of post-war achievements, we have in being comprehensive Administration services and undertakings and the whole structure of public service, and the maintenance of this makes an increasing annual demand, apart from the fact that there is an urgent need still for the inauguration of new services and undertakings each year. That need will continue for many years to come.
Another element in the situation which I think calls for attention from this Parliament and which needs to be watched very carefully when we are considering the level of expenditure in the Territory is the future capacity of a self-governing State to maintain the structure of government and the services which we establish. We have to give some thought to what it is that we will eventually hand on. At the present time we are certainly able to bring services such as health and education within the reach of large numbers of people at a much lower cost than we could in the Australian States. We have been able to provide class rooms for primary schools, or district hospitals at a fraction of what similar facilities would cost in Australia, because we have improvised and have used native materials in some cases and have built at a lower standard than the Australian customer - the parent or patient - would demand. We are now moving to a stage, however, where the demands of health and education will require buildings and equipment of a superior kind.
We have started to build base hospitals -we have built four - at a cost of approximately £1,000,000 each. We are beginning to build technical and secondary schools and when they are allied with the boarding accommodation for the pupils they will cost far more per pupil than the village primary schools with which we have been mainly concerned up to date. Inevitably the cost per capita for health and education will rise in the coming years. What I think is of significance to the people of the Territory is that while we have to aim at an efficient and properly equipped system of health and education, and of services generally, is is equally essential, for the sake of the future of the country, that we should be practical and economical in what we do and fit our work closely to the actual needs of the country. Of course, this raising of standards is presenting us with a problem of budgeting to-day, in a more acute form than in the past.
I think that the Territory people, both native and European, particularly now that they are paying direct taxes, should have the opportunity to express an opinion regarding the standards of services that they seek and the kind of services that they regard as being best suited to their needs and to the needs of the country. It is my hope that in the reformed Legislative Council for the Territory, there will be increased opportunity for participation by the members of the council in the examination of these matters. At the Government’s direction, provision has already been made in draft legislation to enable the council to set up to its own Public Works Committee to scrutinize public undertakings above a certain value and to give attention, amongst other things, to the sort of considerations that I have roughly outlined. It would seem to me that there would also be room in the structure of the reformed Legislative Council for the creation of its own Public
Accounts Committee to help ensure that moneys voted by the council are properly applied. I am sure that the efficiency and the practicality of the Territory Administration could be ensured by the watchfulness of the members of the Legislative Council no less than by the watchfulness of a Minister who, of necessity, lives a. long way from the Territory.
I want to mention only two other aspects of the affairs of Papua and New Guinea. The first concerns the criticisms that are sometimes expressed about the rate of progress. The rate of progress, in fact, has been faster and the kind of progress has been far more broadly based than most of the critics understand. Over the past ten years, the total of the Territory Budget has risen from less than £7,000,000 to £22,000,000. During the same period, the Administration staff has been trebled, the scale of annual expenditure on capital works has been trebled and the overseas trade has been more than doubled. In some instances, Administration services have increased fivefold, fourfold or threefold. Other activities which previously were not carried out have been inaugurated. Standards of living have been raised. Notable conquests have been made in the field of health. What is more important than that record of progress is that, I am sure, we have laid broadly based foundations for future progress. Without any rashness, we can confidently predict that progress in the next ten years will be greater. It will be much greater and will extend widely over all parts of the Territory and be shared by at least half of the population instead of by a fraction of it.
The other subject on which I wish to touch briefly is the question of whether political advancement for the people of the Territory is urgent. I raise this simply because there is a tendency in some quarters to think that political advancement means everything and that once political change has been given, all other things will be added to the people. In the United Nations Charter, the order in which the objectives of the trusteeship system are stated is, “ The political, economic, social and educational advancement of the people “. I am quite sure that a realist would reverse the order and talk of educational, social, economic and political advancement. That is the order in which change can best take place. At the moment, although we have the dawn.ings of political interest largely emerging from the system of native local government councils, political advancement means less to the people than does education, social change and economic opportunity. Schools, hospitals, agricultural extension services, education in the broadest sense, labour conditions, vocational training, land tenure, advancement of women and better communications - these are the sort of things that mean most to the people of the Territory to-day.
Of course, the claim for political advancement will come; it is always there and the interest in it will grow. We must be ready for that growth of interest and be prepared to meet it as soon as it emerges. But let us make sure that we put first things first, that we start climbing the ladder from the point where it rests firmly on the ground instead of trying to climb it from the top.
I shall not go into the details of the estimates for Papua and New Guinea, because they are not actually before the committee. They will be presented in due course to the Legislative Council of the Territory. However, I commend the annual grant of £14,500,000 to the committee, together with the votes proposed for the other territories to which I have referred.
Mr. BEAZLEY (Fremantle) [8.561.- The Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) spoke in the closing part of his speech about the coming of self-government at some future point of time to the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. He stated what he considers to be the priorities in preparing the people of Papua and New Guinea for ultimate independence. Unfortunately, Papua and New Guinea cannot be treated as areas completely insulated from the hurry for selfgovernment that is taking place in the rest of the world, nor from the hurry for selfgovernment that is taking place right next door in Dutch New Guinea, where the Dutch Government perhaps will not be pleased, as Australia is pleased, to make nice decisions as to whether the native people are prepared for independence. The Dutch may take steps ultimately to grant independence to West New Guinea as a result of pressures from the outside world ana, in particular, pressures from Indonesia.
The London “ Economist “ of 21st May, 1960, contained an article concerning this matter. I shall read only the first and last paragraphs. The article contains a warning that we might well remember. The first paragraph reads -
It is a nice quirk of history that Australia of all countries seems likely to be the last colonial power on earth. When white administrators everywhere have packed their bags and thrust the files into any dark-skinned hands prepared - or half prepared - to receive them, His Honour the Administrator of Papua and New Guinea may still be entrenched in Port Moresby; back in Canberra, the Department of Territories may still be rejoicing over the establishment of yet another local government council to teach the Papuans the first steps towards democracy; and at the United Nations, the Australian representative may still be refusing, as he did once again last week, to name a day for independence.
The concluding paragraph - I think this is the warning - reads -
This, however, is a world in which the irresistible Ulogie of nationalism reduces democracy to the absurd. However much Australian administrators may wish to get on with the job at their own pace and in their own way, they cannot be unaffected by events in the western half of the island, where some Papuans seem to be rushing towards self-determination with plumed head-dresses waving, ornaments bobbing in their nostrils, and roasted portions of their vanquished enemies sitting heavily on their stomachs.
I think that the Minister is right in speaking about the need for education as the first step. But the Administration’s time-table with regard to education is unimaginative and unreal. We are thinking in terms of 25 years and, honestly, in the revolution of colour in the world to-day, I do not think it is 25 years. The sort of structure of education that we have now has given a considerable number of native peoples of Papua and New Guinea primary education and the beginnings of post-primary education, and I think it is now time to consider the establishment of a university in Papua and New Guinea. If they do not have groups of professionally educated men, they cannot have a viable self-government, and I believe that the time has come to make the decision now to establish a university in the Territory within the next five years. The Minister did indicate, in answer to a question several weeks ago. that this matter had passed through the minds of the Administration, but that it had not really been considered in the sense of its being a matter of policy. I feel that now is the time when it should be considered a matter of policy.
I believe that such a university will need all the faculties. It will need first, the faculty of law. There should be a native judiciary, a native magistracy and a legal profession before independence is granted, and we should be taking steps to perform the necessary groundwork now. There should be a faculty of medicine, so that native medical practitioners, fully qualified, will be available when independence is granted. There should be, too, a faculty of education, a teaching body fully qualified at the highest level. If you have such an elite cadre you can make the mass attack on illiteracy that will be necessary. The educational process will be speeded up if you build from the top downwards as well as building, as the Minister undoubtedly is doing in this field of education, from the bottom up. The history of my own State of Western Australia shows what an impetus was given to the process of education when, after having taken the first basic steps in the 1870’s, the University of Western Australia was established 41 years later and started on the work of educating the community from the other end, thus completing a kind of educational pincer movement on the population.
The university would require a faculty of agriculture, because when these Territories gain their independence their basic industries, at any rate for the early years, are likely to be primary ones. A faculty of engineering will also be required, because there are many tasks of development to be performed in these areas for which engineers will be required. Finally, the ordinary science and arts faculties will be necessary.
While going ahead with the establishment of the university, we must keep in mind the middle level of education, which involves the establishment of technical schools and agricultural colleges. The Minister has told us of the work of agricultural extension services, and those services are important. It is important also, I suggest, to establish agricultural colleges.
I think the film that many honorable members saw to-night on New Zealand’s administration of Samoa - granting all the differences in the cultural levels of Samoa and the Territory of Papua and New Guinea - showed the sound approach of the New Zealand Government to its task of administering the trusteeship. Throughout the film the idea was being constantly conveyed that self-government will come to Samoa soon. The Samoan national flag was displayed in the film, and it was stated freely that before long it would be the only flag flying from the official masthead, and that it would not be accompanied by the flag of New Zealand, as it is at present.
If our ultimate objective is selfgovernment for the Territories, then the things I have suggested must be done. We have a number of reasons to be grateful to the Minister. I believe that he has been adopting a sound approach to the reform of the existing European-administered law in the Territory. Honorable members will remember that Mr. Justice Mann commented in his report on the fact that in the Administration there were officers who, besides being administrators, were also magistrates, and that the Administration seemed to believe that when those officers acted in their capacity of magistrates they were under the orders of the Administration just as when they were acting as administrators. In other words, it was suggested that there was no independent magistracy, and that a native charged by the Administration with a crime was in the position of having judgment passed on him by magistrates who were the servants of his accusers. The impression gained was that this situation existed not only with relation to those who were ex officio magistrates as well as being officers of the Administration, but that the Administration adopted this attitude also with respect to the independent magistrates. Mr. Justice Mann’s criticism of the position is very valuable, and it is cheering to know that the Minister appears to be really investigating the matter. After all, the whole of our experience and our inherited western European experience has shown, even before the time of Montesquieu - although he was the one who directed our attention to the fact with greatest force - that liberty springs from the separation of power, and that the magistracy and judiciary must be independent of the Administration.
We will have to be prepared, during the remaining period in which His Honour the Administrator will be administering this vast colonial empire, to regard these colonies as dead losses from the point of view of any economic gain to ourselves. It was Disraeli, 1 think, who complained that colonies were millstones around the necks of the people. He was living at a time when the British colonies had not begun to be profitable, and he regarded them as a burden. I believe that we must dispense with any idea that our Territories will be profitable for us. We must never regard them, using the French phrase, as colonies d’exploitation We must face the fact that they are going to be dead losses to us if we are to prepare these people, the control of whose destinies we assumed in the strategic interests of our own country, for self-government. In other words, the Territories are going to be a charge on the revenues of the Commonwealth, and we cannot expect any economic investment in those communities to produce a return commensurate with Commonwealth expenditure.
In this connexion I believe we need to revise our attitude towards the Territories in some respects. There is the defensive tariff attitude towards goods produced by the colonies. I say again, with regard to these colonies, what I have said about Asia. It is mere empty sentimentality on our part to talk about the necessity for Asian countries to improve their standards of living if, as soon as they start exporting their products here, we say to them, “ You are cheap labour countries; keep your goods out “. If we refuse to accept the products of these countries and impede their trade, they will never get on their feet. This applies with equal force to our colonies’. If the tropical fruit and other produce grown in those Territories happen to compete with similar commodities grown in Queensland or northern New South Wales, that is bad luck, but those goods should have some place on the Australian market. There are rather tragic stories to be told about another colony, although not a tropical one, the produce of which, consisting of fruit, was shut out from the Australian market, with the result that the fruit industry of that colony ultimately disappeared.
We should also look at the labour ordinances with a view to establishing adequate standards of living within the framework of the native culture. The protection of labour in New Guinea is an important step in the preparation of these people for selfgovernment. If we are to give that Territory a viable tropical agricultural economy in the period of transition to selfgovernment, we should consider the granting of subsidies in the early stages, when the Territory’s economy is weak, on freight charges of ships transporting cargo between Australia and New Guinea.
I want to make a reference to Christmas Island before I close. This is our newest colony. It was ceded to us, I think, from the British Crown colony of Singapore quite recently. In this case we are taking over a population which, although not a native population, is non-European. It is an immigrant population, composed of persons who have come to Christmas Island really for the purpose of serving the European community. It is a delicate situation, because these immigrants have come from Asia, and if there is any inferiority about their status it will be felt very keenly in Asia. Any community which has a body of migrants to serve a group of Europeans is likely to be watched closely in Asia. I believe the administration of this Territory by Australia will be fraught with the most delicate problems, and the way in which our Department of Territories carries out its task may have far-reaching effects on Australia’s standing amongst the Asian countries.
.- The committee is considering the vote for various Territories of the Commonwealth, the Northern Territory, the Australian Capital Territory, Norfolk Island, the Territory of Papua and New Guinea, Cocos (Keeling) Island and Christmas Island. When one looks at these Estimates one is driven to an appreciation of the responsibilities that the Commonwealth must accept in these areas. First, we have our own Northern Territory, with which are associated a very great number of problems, but which can make a great contribution to our progress and development. We all know the problems that the people of the Northern Territory face in their cattle industry, particularly with regard to water shortages. We know of many other problems that confront people on the land in that area. In our own Australian Capital Territory we have seen progress and marked development in the space of a few years. It is natural, however, that emphasis should be placed upon the Territory of Papua and New Guinea in this debate because the Territory has been prominently in the news recently in the light of the international situation. That does not mean that honorable members have no sense of the importance of other associated matters contained in the Estimates before the committee.
I wish to comment on the reference made by the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) to the establishment of a university in Papua and New Guinea. I think something should be done in that direction as soon as possible. By establishing a university in the Territory, we would solve two problems. One is the problem of bringing people from that area to attend Australian universities and thus taking them out of the conditions in which they live only to send them back later after they have associated themselves with the life of the Australian universities. There are times when that is detrimental to the persons concerned. If we established a university in the Territory, the children of the Europeans living there would be able to attend. Thus we would achieve a degree of assimilation and association which would be beneficial to all concerned. That is one of the things we could do and should do with the utmost speed.
At this point, I should like to congratulate the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) and the Administration on the contribution they have made towards the development and progress of the Territory. It has been said on many occasions that Australians can be proud of the men who are working within the Administration in the Territory.* Sometimes we have heard that said without a full appreciation of the depth of the achievements there. As honorable members may be aware. I was in the Territory a few months ago. Everywhere I went, I was impressed by the standard of those who are serving Australia and the people of the Territory in the Administration. That reflects credit on the Minister because he is the driving force and the inspiration for those who work in the Territory. We cannot speak too highly of all concerned.
Some criticism has been voiced because a target date has not been set for various sections of our programme in the Territory. If this Government set a target date and was not able to complete a certain step in the designated time because of various circumstances, we could expect much sharper criticism from certain countries within the United Nations Organization which would then be able to say to us, “ You promised to do this at a certain time and you have not done it. What is wrong? “ No matter how justifiable the explanation might be, these countries are in such a mood that they would only respond with more emphatic criticism. I am not closing my eyes to the situation in which we find ourselves, but T think there are times when we could add fire to the criticism from outside countries by some of the statements that are made within Australia. The countries which criticize us are not doing so because they think we are not doing the job, but because they want to criticize us.
The reports of the committees that have visited the Territory from the United Nations have been full of praise of the Australian Government for the work in that area and the progress and development that have been achieved. There is nothing in our record of trusteeship and responsibility in the Territory for which we need to be ashamed. Before we give a country independence, we must lay the foundations. The early stages of the foundations necessarily will be slow because there is a tremendous amount of work to be done before you can actually start to build on the foundations you have laid. I am sure that in a few years we will see the progress and development in the Territory accelerating because of the sure foundations that have been laid.
We can see what has happened in the Congo. It is not just a matter of saying to people, “ Here is your independence; now govern yourselves “. You must give them the sure foundations for their independence so that they can govern themselves. Anybody who has visited the area and has seen the work done by the Administration with local governing bodies will be conscious of the fact that the task of giving the natives a sense of responsibility has been well done to a marked degree. I had the privilege of attending a local council meeting. The members of the council were natives and the council clerk was a native. 1 was impressed by the sense of responsibility of these people, by the work that had been done by the clerk and the way in which he had kept his records. I was impressed by his sense of trust and responsibility. Two officers of the Administration were with us at the meeting, and it was evident that the natives felt that the officers were men to whom they could go for advice and official assistance and with confidence that they would be given any help they required.
This is something we should emphasize. One gets rather tired of the charge of colonialism directed against Australia and several other countries. Such charges are ironical when we study the source from which they come. Some of the countries concerned ask us to get out of the area and give the people their freedom. Such charges coming from the Soviet Union and mainland China after what Russia has done to Hungary and other countries of Europe, and in the light of China’s record in Tibet and other countries is ironical when you consider what we have done in Papua and New Guinea.
One matter to which we should give attention is the economy of the Territory. To a very large degree it is founded upon the land and primary production. If people have their own land they grow their own food. As you travel around the area, you do not see any evidence of malnutrition as you do in other countries where there is not the same industrial progress and development. I realize that progress is being made in the field of industrial development, but I still feel that attention must be given, not only to this problem but also to the problems associated with the urbanization of the people. Hand in hand with any planning designed to establish more industry in this area must be associated the welfare of the people who will be taken away from their little plots of land and placed in what might be called an urban area. I think that this is a matter which should be considered, and T am sure that it will receive attention.
We have done nothing of which we need be ashamed. We in this country have a sense of moral responsibility towards the people of that area. We have shown that in the work that we have done. We should stress that we shall not abdicate that moral responsibility even under political pressure.
– I direct my remarks to the estimates for the Australian Capital Territory. The honorable member for Lyne (Mr. Lucock) has said that great development and progress are taking place within this Territory. While that is true and while there is much to admire in the work that is being done, I propose to devote the fifteen minutes at my disposal to expressing - constructively I trust - some criticisms, which I hope may lead to some changes in the planning and development of the Territory. As honorable members will know, the population of this city is increasing at a rate exceeding 5,000 persons a year. The population has doubled in the last eight years and will again double in the next ten years. But the greatest need of the people is the one facet of development that is falling behind. 1 refer to housing.
The Government stresses that its efforts are directed towards encouraging private home-building. That is a very worthy objective and one that I support. I would like to see every one have the opportunity to own his home. But when there is development, as there is in the national capital, with an ever-increasing population and the progressive transfer of departments from Melbourne there is and there must continue to be, a real and pressing need for continuation and extension of the government home-building programme - that is, the building of homes for rental. In this city there is a large changing population. A large work force is attracted here to engage in the various fields of engineering construction, in home-building and in other developmental projects. These are not people who are making their home here for all time. These are people who come here to build this place. So there is a very large transient population. Then there are those who are making their home here permanently. It is right to encourage private homeownership, and every step that the Government takes towards that objective is a step, which
I applaud. But I want to stress the need for a continuation and extension of the programme of building homes for rental.
To illustrate that need, I have only to say that since the establishment of Canberra the increase in its population has been something completely within the hands of the Government because this is a government city. It exists only for the purposes of government and it can grow only as the Government dictates; that is to say, if the Government accelerates the transfer of departments, the population increases, first, because of the transfer itself, and secondly, because other people must come here to provide goods and services and to carry out the constructions that are necessary for the building of a city. When the Government embarks on a programme of transferring departments, it has certain knowledge of the number of people who will be transferred. It can have in its possession, even at the date of the decision to transfer, information as to the size of the families to be transferred, the sex of the children and so on. The Government knows the exact number of people who will be needed to carry out the construction work to provide the services and the facilities that a community must have. So the Government has an ideal opportunity to assess the needs of the people in housing and in other matters, and it should be able to plan and work to meet those needs. But the fact is that within the past couple of years - since the commencement of the transfer of the defence departments - the housing situation for those who are already living in Canberra has worsened considerably and progressively-
When the defence transfers were announced, the then Minister for the Interior said - and he said it in good faith - that the transfers would not affect the position of those who were already on the list for homes; that the homes being built to meet the defence transfers would be in excess of the normal requirements of the city, and that, indeed, the waiting time might well be reduced. It is not the responsibility of the then Minister that those objectives have not been attained. The fact is that waiting time for houses for those who are here has extended until to-day it is more than two years nine months and is ap proaching two years ten months. This means that those who are to-day being allotted homes by the Government registered for housing in January, 1958. There is no form of temporary accommodation in this city, and there are not the facilities here that there are in other cities for a man to acquire rooms in which to house his family until a government house becomes available. There are in this city, which we all admit is a beautiful city and which we hope will be kept a beautiful city, literally dozens of families living in the most shocking conditions while waiting for their turn on the housing list.
I had brought to my attention yesterday the plight of the families of two British migrants who are engaged in the building programme here and who are accommodated in the Ainslie migrant hostel. Both families have been on the waiting list since February, 1958. In the ordinary course of events they could expect the offer of a home within a few weeks, but when they go to the Housing Branch of the Department of the Interior, to emphasize their need for a house and to ask when they might expect one, they are told that because they need a four-bedroom home due to the age and sex of the children, there is no prospect whatever of getting one. No one can give any forecast of when one will be available. One of the two families to which I have referred comprises five children - four boys and one girl - with another child expected in January. Obviously that family needs a four-bedroom home. The other family comprises three boys and a girl whose ages are such that it is essential to have a four-bedroom home.
It is true that under the planning of the National Capital Development Commission the percentage of four-bedroom homes being constructed in Canberra has increased and, I understand, is now 10 per cent, of all construction. But it is also true that all of the four-bedroom homes that have been constructed within recent months have been set aside to meet the needs of personnel in the defence departments who have been transferred to Canberra. No fourbedroom’ homes are becoming available to the people who are already in this city and waiting for them. Let me remind honorable members that Canberra has the highest birth rate in Australia. This is a city of large and young families. Not only has there been that change in planning, but to-day’s architect sees no need for a separate dining room. To-day’s architect sees no need for a verandah on a house. The homes that are being built have only the bare essentials of a home - three bedrooms, a living room with a dining annexe, a kitchen and, of course, what the house agent calls the usual offices. They are not the types of home in which accommodation can be provided for large families.
The commission has had put to it on several occasions the suggestion that it should make funds available for the addition, where possible, of rooms to existing homes. On to-day’s allotments it is not always possible to add an extra room, but with many of the homes existing in Canberra it is possible. It has been done in some cases. I suggest that it has been done in cases where pressure from high sources was brought to bear. But when a family with a similar problem and living in an exactly similar type of house asked for an extra room, the answer was that the commission had no funds available for this purpose.
It has been shown - the estimates and the specifications are available - that with the type of home of which I am speaking an additional room could be built for £850. In one particular case, that room would provide accommodation for the parents of the mother of the family. By building an additional room onto that home for a cost of £850, those elderly people could be accommodated with their daughter, their soninlaw and their grandchildren, but the commission says, “ We have no funds available for that “. These people can put their names- on the waiting list for flats and, in the course of time, when their names reach the ton of the list, they will be allotted a flat which will cost £2,500 or £3,000. That just does not make sense. By adding one room to this home, the commission could provide accommodation for an elderly couple to live where they should live - with their son or daughter and their grandchildren. That would cost £850. But the commission says, “ No, we will not do that. They can put their names on the list, and when their names come to the top of the list, we will give them a house or a flat costing £2,500 or £3,000 at the least.” I suggest that this is something the Minister and the commission might look at again.
In the few minutes that are available to me, I should like to refer to the standard of housing that is being constructed in Canberra to-day. In its report for this year, the commission has referred to the fact that during the year the average unit cost per dwelling was less than in the previous year. We are entitled to ask why that was so. Wages have not fallen and the cost of materials has not fallen. I would suggest that the cost of everything associated with building has increased rather than decreased, yet, from the figures that are published regularly by the Department of Works as to the contracts let for housing, it is apparent that the cost of the average house being built for the commission in Canberra to-day is less than the cost of the average house built twelve months ago.
We are entitled to ask the reason for that. I suggest that in a great many cases the homes that are being built now are homes which will mar the appearance of this city in the future. They are homes constructed to an inferior design, with inferior materials and with inferior workmanship. That is no reflection on the men who are engaged on the construction of the homes, but it is a reflection on the type of competition that has developed between builders here. The cut-throat tendering that has been encouraged is leading to this type of building. I emphasize that these remarks do not apply to all contractors - there is one contractor whose work is known to the commission and those engaged in the building industry as being excellent indeed - but they do apply to a great many of the contractors. The finish of the homes that are being constructed is really shocking. If the commission wants to leave its mark on Canberra, it should not leave it by that type of construction, but should be seeking to maintain the standards that were established here in earlier years. I ask that the Minister and the commission have a look at that also.
Some months ago, I had reason to refer to the construction of flats on a hill near Manuka. I was struck by the great similarity between those buildings and the ruins of the convict settlement at Port Arthur.
At that time, the “ Canberra Times “ published, side by side, reproductions of photographs of the buildings at Port Arthur and the flats at Manuka, and one could hardly tell the difference. But the commission has exceeded itself. I have here a photograph of the very newest building in Canberra - the Russell Hill offices to be occupied by the defence force over near the American War Memorial. If ever there was something that looked like the penitentiary at Port Arthur, we have it there. We are putting on this city the mark of mediocrity. The private people who are engaged in business here, those who are working for private enterprise and establishing their business here, are giving a lead to the authorities by the type of buildings they are constructing.
– The only difference is that the Russell Hill offices have a copper roof.
– The coppers used to march round the Port Arthur buildings. I am suggesting that we should not be erecting buildings of the standard of the Russell Hill offices; we should be building to a standard far above that. The people of Australia will not thank those responsible if they build here a national capital which looks cheap, and which does not do justice to Australia.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I address my remarks to the estimates for the Territory of Papua and New Guinea, and I think it appropriate that I should draw the attention of the committee to the form in which the relevant items appear. The committee will notice that there are four items shown. Of those four, by far the largest is the grant of f 14,500,000 to the Administration towards expenses. I invite the committee to contrast that with the type of estimates which we will be considering from time to time for other Territories administered by the Commonwealth, where item after item is listed to show in great detail just how the money will be expended.
This is not without some significance. The Parliament will, I trust, vote the sum of £14,500,000 towards the finances of the Territory, and this, added to the finances collected by the Territory itself, will comprise its total budget. This Parliament has no control over the way in which this £14,500,000 is to be spent. This Parliament is content, and has been content over the last few years, to say in effect that there is in existence an administrative or legislative machine in the Territory capable of carrying out the essential role of government.
I listened with my usual attention to the remarks of my friend, the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley). If I may say so with respect, I was reminded, when listening to him, of an occasion some years ago, at a conference of members of the various Commonwealth Parliaments, when a prominent member of the Parliament of one of the new nations said -
My people have achieved freedom, but they are now learning that they cannot eat freedom.
I do not wish to be unfair to or critical of the honorable member for Fremantle. He spent, however, a great deal of time in dealing with what to him was a matter of very great importance - the setting up of a university in the Territory. I think that in discussions of this sort we who are responsible for providing the funds that send into the field the men to whom my friend, the honorable member for Lyne (Mr. Lucock), referred a little while ago, and which make possible in a financial sense the magnificent effort that is being carried on in the Territory, must look at the matter from all aspects. Education, although admittedly of great importance, is not the only important matter. Indeed, I do not think that many would disagree with me when I say that in practical terms, when it comes to the consideration of self-government for new nations, the really fundamental requirement is that every new nation shall have an effective administration. In other words, it should have a trained and competent public service. Nobody who has any knowledge of affairs in some countries that are not so very far distant from us will disagree with that.
I am not talking party politics now, because I do not think that we should talk party politics in a debate of so much importance as is this one. I believe that we should look at this problem from the stand-point of governments. All Australian governments have adopted substantially the same policy. In general, that policy has been to protect the rights of the peoples of Papua and New Guinea while leading them as rapidly as can be done with safety towards the attainment of standards that will enable them to govern themselves. As the honorable member for Fremantle very rightly pointed out, since the war one of the factors that have intruded into discussions on matters of this sort is the existence in the world to-day of nationalistic movements and movements of an even more sinister nature that affect the attitudes of governments towards the development of territories such as the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. Some of these joint pressures at least would completely ignore the well-being of the peoples of the Territory for the sake of world power policies, and may well create a situation in which we who are charged with the responsibility for this Territory must accept the responsibility of handing over to the peoples of Papua and New Guinea the administration of this Territory under conditions in which self-government is not only an idealistic conception but also a practical possibility. That may happen within the period of 25 years mentioned by the honorable member for Fremantle. Other more distinguished representatives of his party have recently mentioned 30 years. I think that the period that most people have had in mind is something like 25 or 30 years.
In this set of circumstances, there are three main needs. The first is a machine capable of administering the affairs of the Territory - in other words a trained and competent public service. The second is an economy capable of maintaining and improving standards of living and of maintaining the essential services without which no civilized community can exist to-day. The third is the provision of opportunities for the people of the Territory to progress towards advanced culture, the desirability of which nobody would attempt to deny. That is putting the problem in general terms. Perhaps it is put in too general terms, but in the short time available in debates of this kind one must deal with the matter in general terms.
The evidence submitted to the committee by the Minister for Territories (Mr.
Hasluck) in this debate, and in statements that he has made on earlier occasions, indicates that during the 1950’s there has been continuous, steady and assured progress in all the factors that count. There has been very great progress in extending the area within which law and order prevails. Speaking from memory. I think that something like 50,000 square miles of territory has been brought within the domain of law and order within the last ten years. There has been great progress in communications also. Something like 5,000 miles of roads have been built. 100 airfields have been established and five main ports have been modernized. In education, too. great advances have been made. The latest figures given to us by the Minister indicate, if my memory is correct, that there are now about 396,000 pupils attending schools in Papua and New Guinea. About 9 per cent, of the officers of the civil service are natives. I think that there are approximately 330 natives in a total of about 3.600 officers. All that progress seems to me to represent a reasonable achievement in ten years.
Furthermore, in the area of local government, in which we must operate if selfgovernment is to be effective, progress in the last ten years has been dramatic. To-day, something like 250,000 people in the Territory have the benefit of local selfgovernment. The honorable member for Fremantle quoted from an article with reference to this matter. The representatives of those people have obtained and are practising the basis of administration and self-government. They are learning it not from school books but from the hard practical facts of life. I think that any reasonable person will agree that in health, agriculture and all other fields of activity the last ten years have brought very considerable results - results which, I submit to the committee, are in accordance with what has been accepted as our national policy. That policy, as I have already indicated, has been the policy of all governments and it is a policy of progress, the rights of the peoples of Papua and New Guinea being safeguarded.
Now I come to what is perhaps the most difficult aspect of the matter. I think that this committee may well ask: Is the base which has been established in the last tea years sufficiently strong to permit, if necessary, an expansion that would meet the practical needs of self-government, not within 25 or 30 years, but maybe within ten years? Subject to the emphasis being placed on certain aspects of activity in the Territory, the reasonable answer appears to be “ Yes “. I think that what has been done has been sufficient to satisfy the requirements of United Nations missions which have visited the Territory in the last few years and to lift the overall standard of living in Papua and New Guinea very considerably. Although 1 would not disagree with the honorable member for Fremantle, or my friend, the honorable member for Lyne (Mr. Lucock), for that matter, on the question of the eventual establishment of a university, I consider that the more compelling task to-day is to train the peoples of Papua and New Guinea in the tasks of administration. In other words, we must train public servants who will be competent to move up through the levels of the Public Service of the Territory and conduct the administration effectively.
A second, and again a compelling task, is to increase the creditable and already large activities in the fields of agricultural education and technical education. Such activites can be commenced and show some results very rapidly. I do not dispute for a moment that, while that is going on, we might well look at the higher educational field to which other members have referred.
Finally, I put this point which I think the Minister has already mentioned: The obligations that we have to the peoples of New Guinea are translated in terms of a vote in the Estimates. To expand the programme in the manner I have heard suggested would mean, in blunt terms, more money - money which is probably being equally effectively spent in other ways. That is a problem which I believe the selective committee must face next year or the year after. In the meantime I would say only this: What has been done up to date justifies the faith that the United Nations placed in Australia and its trusteeship. It gives us a sound reasonable base from which, if necessary, expansion can take place to meet the needs which, at the moment, we cannot estimate but which, on the other hand, we cannot ignore.
.- I thought, for a moment, when the honorable member for Deakin commenced, that I would be in agreement with a good deal of his speech. He pointed out that the Estimates were vague in the extreme. Of course, the estimates before the committee relate to a part of the general programme for Papua and New Guinea. The people of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea have no spokesman in this chamber to represent them personally as have the people of the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory. In effect, this whole Parliament is their representation.
I believe that there is a good deal to be said for a reconsideration of the whole parliamentary and governmental structure of the Territory. The Territory of Papua and New Guinea, I know, is the brightest jewel in the crown of the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck). Let us compare for a moment, the position of the Minister in discharging this governmental task, with that of any other parliamentarian in Australia. He is the Minister in charge of an area twice the size of Victoria. He has under his command in Papua and New Guinea alone the equivalent of almost the total population of Queensland. Add the 500,000 square miles of the Northern Territory and he becomes an Australian Caesar. He has an empire of his own. Queensland, with its equivalent population, has a Parliament of some 76 members plus about eighteen Federal members and senators. It has a Cabinet, I think of eleven or thirteen. Yet this one man - this Minister - has responsibilities equivalent to those of the Parliament of Queensland! This is a task even beyond the capacity of a Labour member.
I am prepared to admit that, compared with some of his colleagues, the Minister for Territories has made a real contribution to government by his administration of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. But this job is beyond the ability of one man. We would be much better off if, instead of having five defence ministries we had five Territory ministries and one defence ministry. As I think the honorable member for Deakin showed, the approach of this Government to the examination of the affairs of Papua and New Guinea is vague, and it is difficult to measure exactly what is being done.
The honorable member for Deakin struck me as being essentially timid in his approach to the subject. He mentioned that administrative development was needed-. But he denied the thesis put forward by the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) that universities were important to this development. He struck me as considering that the people of Papua and New Guinea could contribute the lower orders of administration but that the higher orders would come from somewhere else. I think that this is some of the philosophy that has produced the situation in the Congo and other difficulties of colonial nations when their administrations have finally left. The honorable member conceded that the economy of the Territory needed development but was still full of praise for the Government and the Minister.
There has been no real development of the economy of the Territory. On the side of cultural development, I think that the work has been meagre in the extreme. Let us consider the subject of universities. There is, unfortunately, a tendency to think that you cannot have a university unless you have the equivalent of the present-day universities in Melbourne, Adelaide- or Sydney University, with a multitude of faculties, staff and students. We should recall that all Australian universities started with very small numbers. The Melbourne University when it opened its doors in 1 855 had seventeen students. The Adelaide University in 1876 had eight matriculated students and 52 non-graduate students. The Canberra University College in 1930 had 32 students. The New England University when it opened in 1938 had nineteen students.
The university is the pinnacle of an education system and there has been no attempt, as far as we can determine, to establish one in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. This is another instance of undue timidity. I am interested in the development of an education system. Let us remember that our task in the Territory is to develop a society of the same standard as our own, with an industrial complex, a national development plan, and cultural facilities such as our own. Let us also remember that the Territory has a population equivalent to that of Queensland and children of school age numbering more than those at present attending the State schools of Victoria. I do not condemn the Minister for not having produced all that is necessary in ten years but I do condemn the Government’s attitude of complacency.
Let us consider Victoria, which has fewer children in the State schools than are the responsibility of the Commonwealth Government in Papua and New Guinea. In 1956 Victoria had 2,100 schools, 17,209 teachers and 268,000 students. As I have said, the Territory of Papua and New Guinea has more children of school age than there are in the State schools of Victoria. That is the challenge that is before us. I realize that the Government has made some rather tardy recognition of its task in this case. It has ventured, perhaps, upon a crash programme in the recruitment of teachers. This is a very belated recognition of the problem.
I believe that there is a budgetary deficiency in the Government’s approach. Education for the Territory has to take its turn in the general budgetary arrangements. The amount that is provided has to produce the education system. That is not how education is dealt with on the Australian mainland, where every State Government attempts to face its task by seeing what has to be done and doing it. Each State Government faces great difficulties, but, generally speaking, it attempts to supply schools for everybody and to find teachers for the schools. It does not ascertain how much money is available and then produce a system to suit. I understand that although we have had control of education in Papua and New Guinea for many years there has not been one university graduate. About 29 students have been through the medical school in Fiji. I believe there have been, so far, no matriculated students. Three or four have reached the equivalent of the leaving certificate and only about 40 have passed the equivalent of the mainland intermediate certificate. This is a very poor beginning for an education system, remembering that in Victoria there are nine teachers’ colleges, one university, and another in the making, 2,000 schools and 17.000 trained teachers. Yet in New
Guinea, I understand, taking the Minister’s own statement in this chamber, there are some 400 European teachers and about 5,400 native teachers, the latter with rather meagre academic qualifications for their work. This means that perhaps only 8,000 or 9,000 of the school-age children in New Guinea receive an education from trained and qualified teachers equivalent to what is provided in the States.
– It might be a good thing if you went up there.
– It would probably be a great advantage, but I cannot do two jobs at once. I feel that in this instance I am probably doing a better job by standing here and trying to convince the honorable member for McMillan (Mr. Buchanan) that there is a task to be done. I might have some difficulty in doing so, I admit.
I put these matters forward not in any critical attitude but in an advisory capacity. I say that this is a case of desperate emergency. I do not think that the honorable member for Fremantle really set 25 years from now as the D-day for our leaving New Guinea. I think he implied that another 25 years would be too long - that the pressure of world events and the demands of the people of New Guinea could mean that we would have to smarten up a good deal. These are the things that we must face. The creation of a university is essential. The creation of a secondary education system is essential also, but we have hardly scratched the surface there. The creation of a professional teaching service belonging for the moment to the Commonwealth is another thing that is required. One of the great difficulties with this present Government, of course, is that although the Commonwealth has great educational responsibilities it has made no real attempt to produce an education system in Papua and New Guinea comparable with the systems in the six States. The Minister does not feel himself directly and personally responsible for the education given in the schools of Papua and New Guinea. He has no professional educational advisers available to him. The Commonwealth Office of Education, which should be the logical medium for the development of an education system in the Territory, has stood static for eight or ten years. It is an advisory body. It is not a part of the educational administration. The School of Pacific Administration, in Sydney, worthy as it is, well directed as it may be, and sound in conception as it may be, is still very meagre when you compare it with the task that faces us in producing an education system for the Territory.
I believe that there are many other things necessary for us to consider very carefully. There is, for instance, the development of a broadcasting system for Papua and New Guinea. The radio is probably the greatest medium for getting through to the people. Of course, unless you develop a system which gives the people the kind of economic background to enable them to buy and own wireless sets on which they can listen in, you cannot do anything with that.
– There will be an item for a broadcasting station this year.
– That is very fine, but this is a country that has a population about the size of that of Queensland. How many radio stations are there in Queensland? How many radio networks are there in Queensland? How many people in Queensland own wireless sets? How many newspapers are available to the people of Queensland? AH those things are part of an education system. It would be worthwhile if we sent a delegation to study what progress has been made in, say, basic education in India or Indonesia, which face a problem perhaps not so severe as ours but somewhat similar.
All this is part and parcel of producing a mature, adult society. I believe that in these matters this Government has only scratched the surface. On these questions, which are great and fundamental ones, the Government has a lot more work to do. I am not going to deny that the Minister himself has done a great deal more than one would expect, in view of the political philosophy of this Government. I believe he has done great work in retaining land for the native people, and in other fields. However, our approach to the development of New Guinea is timid in the extreme. We approach the question of political development with a great deal of timidity. There is a bill before the House dealing with this, so there is no point in discussing the question now. But surely the whole idea should be to get as many people as possible voting in as many elections as possible for as many representatives as possible.
What progress have we made toward social equality? The evidence that comes to us shows that this is still a pipe dream. What progress have we made towards industrial development? Practically none How do the working conditions of the native people of Papua and New Guinea compare with those of white people working in the same area? We know that the natives work for lower wages and that they do not have the protective cloak of workers’ compensation to the same extent as the European workers.
The establishment of secondary industries is important. You cannot develop a Papuan society capable of standing on its own feet unless you take practical and immediate steps to establish secondary industries. I am astonished at the gasps from the people on the other side, who base their whole philosophy on the dominance of industrial life.
– But you object to a plywood factory being established. That is what you said before.
– I am deeply grateful for the assistance of the honorable member for Perth. I think that his contribution so far is more fictional than factual. I do not recall worrying about a plywood factory. We have a smallish plywood factory up there, two breweries and1 a couple of tobacco factories. That is not the way in which to develop a society such as that in which we live. What have we done about establishing an industry for the provision of clothing, textiles and a lot of other things? Nothing whatsoever. The people there must wear clothes. They all must have these things. Why is nothing manufactured in Papua and New Guinea by the native people themselves?
Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Within the limited time available in this debate I do not propose to answer the arguments produced by the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant). He seems to have the capacity to babble on like Tennyson’s brook, but without heeding any obstruction that he may meet in the course of his argument. I wish to devote my time to the estimates for Papua and New Guinea. Recently, Mr. Temporary Chairman, our attitude to New Guinea has been overstimulated by a line of reasoning which has resulted in giving us a verbal hangover. “ The winds of change “ may have been apt coinage for an epitaph to outmoded British colonialism, but the phrase is hardly good tender for New Guinea. Too frequently we are prone to accept the British outlook as an Australian standard, but we must realize that the winds of change may well have disastrous results if they blow in the wrong direction, from our viewpoint.” In New Guinea we have a problem which is peculiarly Australian, and although we may be guided by happenings elsewhere we should set about solving that problem by practical Australian thinking.
The winds of change are much talked about these days - but they are fever-ridden. They blow from the unhealthy jungles and swamps of Africa, and it is to be hoped that they will not reach New Guinea, both for the sake of the natives and for the sake of the white people who live there.
The world is full of theorists with ideas about colonies and native people - theorists ready at the slightest excuse to express dogmatic views on countries they have never even visited and about which they know nothing. The great danger to New Guinea comes from people who have never been within thousands of miles of it. They are people living in Europe and Asia who, reasoning from what has happened in entirely different circumstances in- other countries, want to force on us impossible policies and impossible time-tables. Pushing these theorists forward for its own purposes is, of course, the Soviet, which is ready to profit by any folly which the United Nations may force on us. Mr. Khrushchev himself reached new heights of hypocrisy at the present meeting of the United Nations General Assembly when, in the sacred name of anti-colonialism, he called on Australia to quit New Guinea. Yet he backs the Indonesian claim to Dutch New Guinea, which is colonialism naked and without excuse. Apparently colonialism is all right provided the imperialistic nation in the case is an
Asiatic nation. Unless we resist these pressures there is danger that the fruits of 80 years of courageous and devoted service to the Territory by many Australians - some honoured, some unknown - will be thrown away, lt is merely playing with words to talk of an independent New Guinea now or ever. There is no such thing in the modern world as a really small independent nation. Australia itself is not independent. She can keep her freedom only by the grace of a friendly America and of Great Britain. How then, could New Guinea, smaller and infinitely weaker than Australia, survive alone? It would be completely impossible. For New Guinea to try to walk alone on the fringe of the Asiatic jungle, would bc an act of suicide. That is not to say that New Guinea cannot have self-government eventually, but that will be a slow process and in the meantime we must proclaim to the world that we do not intend to vacate hurriedly and permit a situation like that which exists in the Congo to develop.
In a strategic sense Australia and New Guinea each needs the other; but in the economic sense New Guinea is valuable to Australia. For New Guinea itself a link with us is a matter of far greater t> importance. On the economic front we - must insure the future of those Australians living in the Territory and of the Australian enterprises they have established there. They are the Territory’s economic lifeblood. That is why we want to keep them there, and, in particular, to give some guarantee to those European people Who were born in the Territory and those Australians who have settled there and established themselves there. Those men and their enterprises produce nearly all the income of the Territory. Bluntly, the position is that unless we can not only mainlain but also increase the privately produced wealth df both the natives and the European population of New Guinea, the Australian taxpayer will have to carry a burden which will be crippling to development at home and there will still not be enough money to develop New Guinea, which was the point raised by my colleague the honorable member for Deakin (Mr. Davis).
We have obligations to New Guinea and to the inhabitants there for education, hospitals, defence, roads, power and all the other things which go to make up a better way of life for the population. To raise those facilities to even reasonable standards from the present primitive ones will cost an astronomical amount of money. At the same time we have many commitments in Australia, and particularly in those rapidly growing communities which are woefully short of the same services. That is our dilemma. I have had experience of these communities in my own electorate, because it is a quickly developing area. How would my constituents, desperately in need of more school accommodation, receive it if 1 said, “ I am sorry, but we cannot do anything for you, because we must spend money building schools in New Guinea? “ I am not prepared to give that sort of answer, nor, I think, are other honorable members.
There is only one way to solve the problem, and that is to maintain and extend the productive machine in the Territory itself so that, as far as possible development will be self-supporting.
The present Estimates provide for £14,647,000 to be spent in New Guinea in the forthcoming year and yet we are meeting only a fractional part of the demands being made on us. Those demands are being stepped up enormously every year. World pressure to increase the pace of extension of education, hospitals and such like is too strong to be resisted. Production can be stepped up to correspond in large measure to meet these demands. A couple of years ago, before this talk of independence threw its blight over the scene, New Guinea seemed to be on the verge of great things. Rubber growing was well established and timber, plywood, coffee and cocoa seemed likely to add millions of pounds to the revenue which up till then had depended entirely on gold and copra. It seemed that the Territory, left to itself, might be able to become selfsupporting within a reasonable time.
Now, although development is going on, the pace has slowed down and it is stupid to think men will put their energies and money into New Guinea indefinitely without some guarantee of permanence. The alleged demand for independence in New Guinea does not come from the natives. That small fraction of them which is able to take an independent interest in world affairs is fortunately showing more wisdom than some of its overseas advisers. These natives know that their future lies with Australia. In any case there are not enough of them to provide even the spearhead of an independence movement if they wanted one. You cannot bridge the gap from the stone age to the atomic age in a generation or two. The Administrator of New Guinea, Brigadier Cleland, in a speech not long ago, held India up as an example to be followed in the granting of independence. It is a pity he ventured into the field of politics at all, but his example at least served to show how futile it is to judge New Guinea by what has happened in other parts of the world.
India had a civilization thousands of years old and also a history of hundreds of years of British colonial administration, which had built up a big body of trained native administrators. India also had recognized national leaders - men of education and ability, versed in the ways of European civilization. New Guinea has none of these things. It has not even the rudiments of a national movement such as the Congo had. In fact, New Guinea may be said to be hundreds of years behind the Congo; and we can see what a tragedy the granting of independence there was. The overseas theorists do not seem to be able to grasp that Australia and New Guinea are unique in their isolation from the rest of the world. Even in so-called darkest Africa there have always been influences and contacts from outside on even the most primitive people for some hundreds of years past. New Guinea has not had that advantage. From its position and from the mountainous nature of its terrain, it retains quite extensive regions which are the true Shangri-las of the twentieth century and the people on the whole, when Australia first went there, were completely primitive. Considering that, the progress made has been rapid, but the granting of self-government may take longer than our impatient critics anticipate and we must make the world understand that.
There is something else, too, which we must make the world understand, and that is that New Guinea is hallowed ground to us. Together with our allies we fought over it to repel the Japanese invaders. Many Australians and many Territorian natives died there; and they died in vain if we allow ourselves to be divided and conquered now over the question of the independence of New Guinea. It is disturbing, therefore, to find so many Australians - including some left-wing members of the Opposition - who are willing to repeat Soviet cliches about imperialistic exploitation, and to support policies which can only result, in the long run, in the Communists gaining control in New Guinea.
I repeat that our obligation can only be met if we provide proper freedom for the Territory to develop its own productive resources. The present air of uncertainty and insecurity in the Territory must be dispelled, and dispelled quickly. Recently, one meeting of white settlers asked the Government to take over their properties. It was, of course, a natural reaction. They apparently feel that the situation, is hopeless and that they might as well get some compensation now rather than wait for the time when they will be expelled without it. This is a gloomy view, but it is indicative of the wave of pessimism which is spreading throughout the Territory. Even more hopeless is the proposal that production in the Territory should be handed over and developed by Commonwealth Government enterprise. This would reduce industry to the level of the Sydney transport service, for instance. We want it to contribute something to the cost of developing the Territory, but socialistic enterprises do not contribute to anything. They only show losses. This would be a very poor end to our notable achievement as administrators in the Pacific. It has been a proud career and I hope we will not spoil that record now by too hasty a withdrawal from the Territory. If we go, New Guinea loses its only real hope of self-government.
– I would like, first, to express my thanks to the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck), to the Administrator and to the administrative officers for the help and for the many courtesies that they extended to me and to other members of the party led by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) during our recent visit to New Guinea. Without that help, it would have been impossible for us - or for me, at any rate - to have obtained the information that I did in the fifteen days during which I had the privilege to be in the Territory. 1 also want to thank the district commissioners, district officers and assistant district officers who so kindly provided us with hospitality and, in some instances, with accommodaton in their private homes. That brings me to the first point with which I want to deal when speaking on the estimates for the Territory. It is completely and grossly unfair to these officers that they and their wives should have imposed upon them members of Parliament and other dignitaries outside the Parliament who visit the Territory. These people who visit the Territory have no alternative but to stop in the private homes of district officers and, in my view, that is entirely unfair to the district officers. I believe that it is important that members of Parliament and other public figures - and especially the press - be encouraged to go to New Guinea more often than they do now. If it is agreed that this is important, that we should have a greater interest in the Territory than we have had hitherto, the Government should accept the> responsibility of providing accommodation where hotels are not available in the large centres. It should be possible for the Government to provide accommodation for people visiting the Territory and to charge them a reasonable sum for staying at the accommodation so provided.
I think it is terribly important that we should get the press interested, and the Government should bear the cost of periodically sending to the Territory members of the press who can become more fully aware of the problems in New Guinea and be in a position to support fair-minded criticism and to condemn irresponsible criticism of what the Government is doing. It is only by an enlightened press that criticism of the Government’s action can be examined and presented to the public as being fair, if it is fair, or irresponsible, if it is irresponsible. I believe that the criticism I have offered of the Government’s administration of New Guinea is responsible criticism - so responsible indeed that I am sorry that there are not enough pressmen in Australia able, from first-hand knowledge of the Territory, to say whether or not they agree with my views.
One mistake in the administration of the Territory is, I believe, the practice now adopted of shifting district officers, assistant district officers and patrol officers from one area to another at rapid intervals. In a report submitted to the Administration more than ten years ago, the recommendation was made that the Government, as a matter of policy, should leave patrol officers, assistant district officers and district officers in areas as long as possible. They do not become really efficient or proficient in their work in an area until they have been there long enough to understand the idiosyncracies of the native people in the area, their customs and, in some instances, even their languages. Once these officers gain the respect and confidence of the local native population, they begin to be able to do their work usefully. 1 know that these frequent shifts are not the fault of the Minister. Perhaps they are not the fault of the Administrator. I am not attempting to pin the blame on to anybody; what I say is that wherever the fault lies, the reason for the shifts should be ascertained and rectified, whether the reason is lack of sufficient officers or something else. I hope that the importance of this will be recognized. lt is useless, quite idle and quite unfair for anybody to say that Australia has achieved absolutely nothing in the Territory. Oddly enough, I believe that Australia has succeeded up to a point in solving the most difficult problems and has failed dismally in meeting the more easily solved problems in the Territory. The most difficult problem that one must face in a Territory of this kind is the problem of health. One had only to be with us on a trip we made to an outpost from Goroka to realize what was the condition of health of the native people. When Australia first entered the Territory, the native people were suffering from yaws. Some of the people had nearly the whole of their face eaten away by yaws. This at one time was a common sight. To-day I doubt whether more than 20 or 30 bad cases of yaws can be found in the whole of the Territory of New Guinea. That speaks volumes for the work we have done there.
I visited this outpost that had been opened only on 2nd June of this year. We had with us Senator Dittmer, who is a medico from Queensland. We got out on this magnificent plateau of some 10,000 or 12,000 acres of some of the best territory in New Guinea. It was so described by no Jess a person than Ian Downs and by Dan Leahy. But only about 300 or 400 native people occupied the area. Senator Dittmer said, “ It is easy to see why so few people live here “. Practically all of them are suffering from malaria and hook worm and many of them were riddled with leprosy. That was the condition of the native people in many parts of the Territory when we went there first; but we have been able to stamp out these diseases. Oddly enough, we have succeeded in stamping them out, but we have failed to succeed in the smaller, but very important things. They are smaller in the sense that they are easier to solve, but they are equally important - perhaps more important - from the point of view of meeting our obligations to the United Nations Trusteeship Council.
I cannot deal fully with all the points that I would like to make in a speech of only fifteen minutes. However, on health, I want to say this: So successful have been our efforts in the field of health with a limited amount of money - too limited, I believe - that the very successes we have had have created for us another problem, that of population increase. In the Gazelle Peninsula, the rate of increase is no less than 3.5 per cent, per annum. This in itself is creating the problem of land shortages and of demands for greater assistance from the Government in meeting economic needs. But here again, this is the result of our success with one of the difficult tasks, lt is a result that could easily be met if the Government would only do some fundamentally simple things such as establish native land settlement schemes. Instead of giving Bulolo Gold Dredging Limited a lease of 19,000 acres in the magnificent Markham Valley only a few weeks ago for practically nothing, charging no more than 6d. an acre per annum on a 50 years lease, the Government should have used the land - the 19,000 acres that we had ready in the Markham Valley - to establish a native land settlement scheme by proriding a cattle property there under Government supervision. The cost of this could have been recovered from the profits eventually to be made. Do not forget that the Government is already meeting the cost of transporting cattle to New Guinea for the purpose of re-establishing herds there. In these circumstances, the Government should see some merit in meeting the cost of taking cattle to the Territory for the purpose of establishing a native cattle ranch in the Markham Valley instead of giving this land to the gold dredging company and paying subsidies to that company so that it may make a profit.
In the Whagi valley there are thousands of acres of swamp land practically useless and being used only for breeding and grazing pigs. With comparatively little expenditure trenching machines could be brought in to drain the swamp and thus throw open many thousands of acres of beautiful land for coffee-growing and other purposes. This would immediately relieve the tremendous population pressures that now exist among the Enga people. The population pressure in these areas, as I have said, is very great, mainly because of our magnificent efforts in the field of health.
The matters that I have mentioned are matters that we should be looking at. We have succeeded up to a point in the sphere of education. We have done reasonably well in this direction in recent years, but one cannot help but feel that we did not do as much as we should have done in earlier years. I must say, however, that I cannot understand why the Government was not able to employ more than 70 of the 1,000 who recently applied for jobs as educationists in New Guinea. I think more money should be made available for education than the Government is making available this year. It is idle for the Government to say that it could not employ more than 70 because it did not have enough schools. Why does it not provide the money to build schools, so that more than 70 persons can be employed as teachers out of the 1,000 who applied?
Again I do not lay the blame at the Minister’s door. I know from inquiries I made in the Territory that the Minister laid down in very firm terms that the aim of the Administration should be to instruct at least 2,000 teacher trainees every year. This is a laudable objective, to be sure, but the fact remains that only 600 are now being trained. It is not through any lack of desire on the part of the Minister that more should be trained. Somewhere along the line between the Minister and the Administration something seems to go wrong, and 1 would like to know what it is. Somewhere there is sabotage of ministerial directions. Somewhere there is lack of co-operation between the Minister and some other person. I believe a full-scale inquiry should be held, at the very top level, to find out why ministerial directions are not being implemented as they should. Why is it, I think we should inquire, that when the Minister ordered the Administration to bring down new labour regulations concerning workers’ compensation, two years elapsed after the passing of the ordinances before they were implemented by the local authorities? Even then, this is only half the story, because it is four years since the Minister first directed the attention of the Administration to the fact that he believed that the provisions for workers’ compensation for natives were inadequate.
All these matters are very important and very serious, and they should be considered by this Parliament. Honorable members on both sides should take cognizance of what I am saying. I declare this: Having observed carefully, in a fair-minded way, the whole situation in New Guinea, having seen the position in New Guinea and at this end, and knowing something of what ministerial instructions have been given - and the information was given to me not by the Minister but by officers of the department itself stationed in New Guinea that he had given the instructions - 1 want to know where the breakdown occurs. Why is it that ministerial instructions are completely ignored and sabotaged? lt is the Minister’s job, of course, to defend his administration. No Minister worth his salt would get up and publicly tell the truth about weaknesses in his own administration. But if the Minister cannot rectify these obvious weaknesses of his own volition, then the Cabinet ought to step in and, on the very highest plane, give him the support necessary to ensure that when he gives a direction, the people responsible for carrying it out will have to do so.
Now I turn to the question of agriculturists. The Government has done a reasonably good job in this direction, but here, too, I had evidence of ministerial directions being sabotaged by the local people.
– But the Minister is to blame if he does not see that his directions are carried out.
– Of course he is! In theory the Minister is to blame, I know, but I do not believe that he is a weak Minister.
– You are scratching his back.
– No, I am not. This is a serious matter. I believe that his officers in Canberra are taking notice of his ministerial instructions. 1 do not think that the officers here are letting the Minister down. My view is that some of the officers of the Administration in New Guinea are to blame. It is not that the Minister is weak, but rather that he is powerless, because the powers vested in the Administrator are such that there is very little that the Minister can do if his instructions are not carried out.
The CHAIRMAN (Mr. Bowden).Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– The debate that has taken place, particularly concerning the Territory of Papua and New Guinea, has reflected, on the whole, very great credit upon the Parliament for the interest that it has taken in this very important subject. In the few minutes that are allowed me for discussion of the matter, I shall address myself, first, to the remarks of the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron). I appreciate his rebuttal of any suggestion that the present Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) is a weak Minister. I am glad that he rebutted that suggestion, because it is absolutely incorrect. I would say that not only is he not a weak Minister, but that he is certainly one of the most intellectual and intelligent Ministers who have ever tried to administer this very important portfolio, especially in its particular application to New Guinea.
I wish to refer to comments that have been made, I think, without sufficient weight having been given to the various factors involved, concerning education. My mind travels back to July, 1950, when I first visited this Territory. That was only ten years ago. The administration, as the previous Minister for Territories, the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) will recall, had been literally smashed to pieces by the war. When this Government came to office, the Administration was being slowly repaired with the aid of some of the experienced officers who had escaped being shot or otherwise disposed of by the Japanese, with the assistance of a great many young people who were inexperienced in native administration.
I can, perhaps, claim to have some nodding acquaintance wilh the subject of education, and from what I saw at that time the provision of education by private organizations was extremely satisfactory, especially that provided by one of the missions which I visited. But on the public side, education was very poor. This was not the fault of the Administration at that time. It was caused by an accumulation of troubles that had descended upon the Administration as a result of the break-up of the old Administration cadre, to which I have made reference. When I went back to the Territory exactly seven years later I found the change that had occurred simply astounding. During a fortnight of the most intensive tour I have undertaken, in company with a number of colleagues of both sides and both Houses of the Parliament, I saw a great deal of what had been done in regard to education. In the Rabaul area I saw a very fine group of young men who were being trained as local government clerks.. I saw another group of younger Papuan and New Guinea natives who were being trained in education work, and I saw some of the practical work being done in the erection of a house. I also saw a pretraining school for teachers and I had the opportunity of addressing them.
Subsequently, on the other side of the island, I saw some 250 boys collected from village schools and about 200 girls. They were very bright children. The boys were accommodated in a school of native design very suitable for the climate. The girls were about to be accommodated in a very modern school. They were a fine-looking lot of intelligent youngsters, very likeable and attractive. That is only a quick glance over what I saw and of which I approved, having in mind what I had seen only seven years before. The progress that has been made had taken place mainly during this Minister’s administration.
When I find my friends opposite talking, about establishing a university there - and I am all for universities - I wonder whether they had weighed up the proposition before they spoke. In the first place, you need to have a body of young people trained from the primary schools up who can speak the English language which is the most convenient language for this area. They must have the basic primary and secondary education. We must also face the fact that probably no more than 10 to 15 per cent, of the population of any country areintellectually equipped for university education.
So we have to provide a university education for the product of our schools. First we have to consider whether we have a suitable group coming forward intime. I am not referring to technical education although that requires a fair grounding; I am talking about the university which the honorable member foi Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) suggested. When we have done that, we have to make up our minds where we will place our graduates, and how we will place them.
One criticism I have heard that has some force is this: Some of the young people we have brought to Australia have been received as Australians receive people of all nations; we have treated them on the basis of their natural qualities. But those young people then go back to Papua and New Guinea and find a place neither among the native people nor among the white population. That can be the beginning of serious trouble. If we establish a university, we must have a position where the young people who attend the university will be accepted into society according to their training and status, and then we must have places where we can occupy their talents. Otherwise, we will have people who are naturally disappointed and embittered.
I am certain that there will be plenty of work for these people as the administrative work develops. I also feel that there is a lot in the suggestion that we must have secondary industries in the Territory. I have some nodding acquaintance with land occupation, and I would say that one of the most important things would be to develop a cotton industry in the Markham Valley. The natives could be brought in either to work on plantations or on their own properties to supply cotton. I shall tell the committee why that is essential. In the highland, the people live under poor conditions, huddling together in little grass huts. Mostly they are plastered with grease and wear some dubious ornaments. Many of them have tuberculosis and spit on the ground in their little huts where they huddle for warmth. They are without proper clothing. So we must first grow the stuff that will give them an occupation and manufacture the cloth to give them work. They must be properly clothed and housed.
But the whole story of the development of primitive peoples is this: Until people live in villages they do not develop arts. Until they develop industries they do not develop cities, and until they develop cities - and cities can have some bad aspects - they cannot hope to expand to meet the requirements of their population. As an example, one has only to look at Italy and see the difference between the industrial north and the purely agricultural south with all its problems of over-production of primary commodities and not sufficient secondary industries to occupy the surplus population. These are the lessons to be learned.
Reference has been made to health. I saw the very primitive conditions of the native hospitals in the Chimbu Valley. I saw a lot of very fine hospital facilities nearer the coast. Much more has been done since I was there. I spoke to the supervising officer in the Chimbu Valley and commented on the set-up of the native hospitals. He told me that two things are vital to the restoration of the people’s health. First, they must be happy and contented in their surroundings. They are very primitive and would not be happy and contented if they were moved away to a white hospital or even if they were put in a local white hospital at this stage of their development. Secondly, they must receive the very best life-saving drugs as are provided in every other hospital in the Territory.
So I congratulate the Minister upon the work he is endeavouring to do for the people of the Territory. I want to say just a few more words. What is going to be our future policy? Are we to have white people settling in the Territory, living in amity and co-operation with the natives, making the Territory their home and accepting responsibilities of leadership according to their ability and not putting themselves before the natives? Are we then going to say to the native people, “ You cannot come to Australia “? That is something we must face. We have two alternatives. The first is that in proportion to the number of white people who settle permanently in those places, we will accept people of equal status here. If we do that, we must ask ourselves whether we will produce a second Algerian problem. We will not create such a situation if we face the facts and prepare ourselves mentally and otherwise for the future, but I believe we cannot escape consideration of these matters.
Motion (by Mr. Hasluck) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- This morning the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) informed the House that he would attend the United Nations General Assembly. I think that this is an appropriate time to raise the matter of the admission of the Chinese People’s Republic to the United Nations. Many questions on the recognition of Communist China - as honorable members opposite like to call it - were asked this morning of the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen), who is the Deputy Prime Minister, but he evaded them and sidestepped the real issue. Until such time as we face up to this great human and realistic issue, which is vital to world peace, the United Nations will not be able to function in the way that it should.
I have just returned from a visit to China and I should like to make some remarks about it. Before doing so, however. I want to remind honorable members on the Government side that the tide of public opinion is rising. The Melbourne “ Age “ on Thursday, 2nd June, 1960, in an editorial headed “ New Thinking about China “, had this to say -
The time has come when some of America’s allies should indulge in a little plain talking on this urgent topic.
I do not think that any more appropriate opportunity will present itself to indulge in a little plain talking than does this session of the United Nations. The Prime Minister should tell the American people of the growing feeling in Australia that 650,000,000 Chinese should not remain unrecognized by the United Nations.
Coming closer to home, I direct the attention of honorable members to the editorial which appeared in to-day’s issue of the “ Sydney Morning Herald It is in these terms -
The problem is not whether, but how and when, Communist China should be admitted - for, if admission is inevitable, self-interest alone dictates that the West should make a virtue of necessity and take the initiative in trying to improve its communications, if not its relations, with China. This initiative in fact is overdue.
First, there was the Melbourne “ Age “ and then the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ - two great newspapers in Australia - urging recognition of Communist China.
What is the real truth that lies beneath the surface? The honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) has pointed out that last year Communist China purchased £16,000,000 worth of goods from us, but we imported from that country only £5,000,000 worth. We know that trade is important and necessary for the development of our country. But there is a division among supporters of the Government. We know that the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Anderson) is a staunch anti-Communist, but when his pocket is concerned he is prepared to trade with Communist China. We know that the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes) said not so long ago that money in the Country Party’s pocket was blood-stained. We know that the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen), the honorable member for Ballaarat (Mr. Erwin) and many others are not interested in trade with Communist China.
I have been to China and I want to tell honorable members that the Chinese are wonderful people. I do not care what form of government controls China, it is achieving something for the Chinese people. Honorable members who have been to China will support my statement, and I advise those honorable members opposite who have not been to that country to take the opportunity to go there to see for themselves what has been done. I know the feeling of the Chinese people.
Mr. B. A. Santamaria, who is parading in the electorate of Calare at present, has said that he is there by accident and not to interfere in the forthcoming by-election. He is reported in the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ of Tuesday, 27th September, as having made this statement on the previous day during a speech at Cowra -
Communist China intended to gain territorial control of the Australian mainland.
If ever there was a deliberate downwright lie, that is one. Time will tell; time will be our judge. I say that as surely as I stand in this Parliament to-night China will never make any advance on any country’s territory. China has no designs on Australian territory.
In the short time at my disposal I want to tell honorable members of some of China’s great achievements. It is said that life is cheap in China, but I found that the Chinese people struggle for life and that life is precious to them. In the history of China the Yellow River has taken many millions of lives. No government, whether imperial or colonial, has ever before controlled this river. But the people of China now have controlled it at San Men Gorge, where they have built a dam 106 metres high and 360 metres wide. The Yellow River is a peril to life no longer. Now that it has been controlled, it will be used to raise the standards of living of the inhabitants and to assist in meeting the needs of a population even when it is double what it is now. The river will have 46 dams, 44 of which will be used to provide hydroelectric power and water for irrigation. The other two dams will be used only for irrigation. Thirty-six dams will be upriver from the San Men Gorge and the remainder will be downriver.
The Chinese Government will develop China for the benefit of its people. Honorable members opposite talk about Tibet and try to drag other red herrings across the trail, but let me remind them that China was plundered and purged and the guts were torn out of it for over 100 years by colonial powers and by the interests which honorable members opposite represent. After a century of exploitation, China took control of its own destiny in 1949. I know that Government supporters will adopt their usual smear tactics but it makes no difference. The truth about China must be made known. Somebody has to say these things. We must face up to this issue. For too long have Australians been sticking their heads in the sand like ostriches.
This Government is a smug government. It has much to do, not only for the people of Australia but also for the people of Asia and for other under-developed nations. But what is it doing? Nothing! It is smug. Honorable members opposite have only to talk to people who have been to Asia to learn of the achievements of the Chinese Government. We must face up to these issues realistically. The government in China is doing a wonderful job in uplifting the standards of the people. We do not say for one moment that that type of government would be the right type of government for Australia. We have our own type of government and our own development to foster. In China they have a saying that seeing is believing. If honorable members opposite do not believe me, 1 advise them to go to China and see the things that I saw. I have mentioned only a few of them. I ask honorable members not to be misled by the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Malcolm Fraser) who spoke about handing the 10,000,000 people of Taiwan over to slavery.
Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I think we have all been most interested in the excellent brainwashing of the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren). He went as a delegate to an antinuclear bomb conference in Tokyo. I understand that before he went he wrote a letter to the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ in which he stated that the conference was not anti-American, but was a conference held in the interests of the people of the world. He has not told us that every resolution passed at that conference in Tokyo had a rider condemning the United States of America for being an aggressive imperialist country. Why has he not told us that, when he went to Tokyo believing that there was to be no antiAmericanism in the conference? He has not told us that that conference was a Communist front, as he must have known, in spite of the fact that he chaired the preliminary session, to the great joy of the Sydney “ Tribune “. Apparently he did not know the authorities of Hiroshima would not have the conference held there because they said that the conference was entirely Communist-controlled. They were the people most interested in not having any more nuclear bombs dropped about the place. The honorable member apparently did not know that that conference was financed with a Sino-Soviet draft of £131,000 in 1959. Altogether, he seems to have gone around with his eyes open only for certain things that he thought he would like to see.
I suppose he was very much in favour ot Radio Peking’s broadcast of a talk by Mr. Geoff Anderson, the leader of the Australian delegation which went to Peking, in which he said -
May I first of all take this opportunity to express our sincere thanks to the people of China for the warm, friendly hospitality extended to our delegation-
He might have added, “ And in presenting me, like the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) with the first-class order of the oriental sucker” - from the moment we were welcomed at the border by representatives of the Peace Committee some three weeks ago.
Perhaps also the honorable member does not know that the World Peace Committee is one of the organizations which was banned by the British Labour Party as a Communist organization. As I have said, the leader of the Australian party was a member of the Australian Peace Committee and he said -
Our delegation of members represented several hundreds of thousands of Australians.
I do not know whether the honorable member would regard that as being as deliberate a downright lie as the statement that red China was aggressive. Red China admits herself that she is aggressive. As I said earlier to-day we have only to read the speech of the vice-president of the All China Federation of Trade Unions to the World Federation of Trade Unions Conference held in Peking, at the beginning of June when he said that war was a necessary part of the Communist policy to find proof of that. Now the honorable member for Reid says they are peace-loving people. He said that they had not been guilty of aggression. He seems to have forgotten Korea as well as Tibet. And here I mention that the honorable member need not take my opinion about Tibet; he need only refer to the report of the international jurists, which has just been published. The broadcast speech to which I have referred continues -
Our delegation of members-
Which was supposed to be representing not thousands, but several hundreds of thousands of Australians - included a member of our national Parliament, Mr. Tom Uren, several trade union officials, a Christian clergyman, representatives of women’s organizations and officials of our peace movement.
I have not the time to read the whole of the two pages, but it is very interesting. I notice from it that at one place to which he went he was most impressed by the fact that child labour was employed. Apparently a child of ten was foreman of a factory making a really good type of radio set. I do not know what the Labour Party thinks of child labour of that character.
Then he said they visited one of China’s former millionaires who was still earning 5 per cent, on his large investment. I expect that former millionaire was named Mr. Yung.
– Hooker was the name - the Chinese Hooker.
– You may joke as you like. I am putting the Australian point of view. You try to make a joke of it because you are a fellowtraveller.
The honorable member for Reid should on this point peruse the White Paper which was published containing the evidence of Mr. Robert Loh, who was the official conductor of foreign guests such as himself when they went to China. It is a White Paper containing evidence given before a committee of the American Congress. In that paper the honorable member will see the whole story of how the programme was cooked up for China’s foreign tourists. Only a year or eighteen months ago Mr. Lot escaped through Hong Kong.
Finally, may I also read from the “ Peking Radio “ report of Mr. Anderson’s speech -
Without question our most vivid impression is of the peaceful aspirations of the Chinese people and the peaceful essence of the new socialist society which they are building. We are now much more conscious of the contemptible slanders of the United States imperialists who propagate the myth of Chinese aggression and the policy of two Chinas.
We have also a much deeper appreciation of the tremendous- struggles and sacrifices of the Chinese people to liberate their country from the barbarous bondage of imperialism and the correctness of the evaluation of the United States imperialists as the major and common enemy of the peace-loving people of the world including, of coarse, the American people.
I ask the honorable member for Reid if he endorses the words of the leader of the delegation, of which he was a member, as stated in those terms. This is Mr. Anderson himself, on the Peking radio, and I am merely asking the honorable member for Reid, if he endorses those sentiments, to stand up and say so. If he does not believe in them, he should deny them. When the honorable member says that we should recognize red China, he knows himself that one of the stipulations laid down is that we must not indulge in the policy of two Chinas. He can read that in a statement as recent as that made by Mn. Chou En-lai, in connexion with the three basic principles of Sino-Japanese trade, as published in the “ Peking Review “ of September 14th when he said -
Secondly, the Japanese Government must not follow the U.S. in the “ two Chinas “ plot. The U.S. will carry on the “ two Chinas” intrigue whether the Democratic Party or the Republican Party wins the presidential election. Taiwan-paid newspapers in Hongkong say the Republican Party is passive about the “ two Chinas “ and taking its time, while if the Democratic Party comes to power it will carry on the “ two Chinas “ business with energy and initiative.
The honorable member for Reid asks, “Why should we bother about 10,000,000 people in Taiwan?”. Is he prepared to hand them over to red China? If he is not, his policy of recognition is just senseless, because, ever since 1949, when Mao Tsetung said so, the Chinese Communists have laid it down that Taiwan must be handed over. Up to the present day they say they will not have any recognition unless Taiwan is handed over to them. When all is said and done, the population of Australia is only 10,000,000. I think it was Lord Lindsay who said of the honorable member for Parkes that he was warm hearted and woolly minded. We want something more than idealism. You must have realism and know the facts you are talking about before you get up and advocate what the honorable member for Reid advocated. Otherwise you are following a policy of turning the Australian Labour Party into a front organization and are following the Australian Council of Trade Unions principle of trying to impose a neutralist policy upon the Labour Party. To do that is very dangerous to the whole of Australia.
.- The honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes), who has just launched an attack upon the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren), is a man who is always striking an attitude. But he strikes an attitude which does not last him for long. I can recall the time - it was before I was elected to this House - when in the narrow limits of the Victorian Parliament he said, “I am a fascist without a shirt “. He beat his chest and changed his medals from one side to the other because the ironmongery was dragging a little. Later, after his honorable war service, he came back from Manchuria. Some one in the chamber made some reference to the Chinese and he said, “Don’t say anything about the Chinese. One of them saved my life “. Now, when the Chinese are mentioned, he wants to know whether reference is being made to mainland Chinese or to Formosans before he will have any time for them. All the honorable member has done in this chamber has been to reduce his mental stature before us because of his blind attacks upon honorable members who have held a different view from his. It is all very well to speak about the noble order of the sucker. We do not respect decorations of any kind. The real suckers might be those people who think that by wearing some sort of gaud they represent a particular period of thought and manhood. But we on this side of the chamber do not think so.
The honorable member quotes freely from some service that he gets. I should say that he lines up with Santamaria as his marching partner. He always has a complete dossier at hand. He says, “ Listen to what Peking said. Listen to what Formosa said “. Who is feeding him with this information? Is it the American State Department? Is he being fed this information by the groupers or the Santamaria rural movement or whatever it is? Wherever he gets it, the fact is that he gets it. Every one of the reports he quoted was badly sub-edited, slanted and tainted. You could not accept them as being fact.
The honorable member talks about Peking radio. He talks about what has happened in Tibet, but he has never been there. He is the wise man who knows everything about these countries but will not go there. The nearest he has touched down to those countries has been to go to Formosa and look across the water and say, “ There they are “. The honorable member does not see anything, except in the imagery of his mind. We all know that in the three or four years that have elapsed since he was dropped from the Cabinet he has had a series of visions. Who was getting the medal for suckers in those days? It certainly was not the honorable member for Parkes. Every time the honorable member for Chisholm has a vision he sees something terribly nasty in the wood shed and asks, “ What is happening in Communist China? What is happening in Formosa? “ He is the rabble rouser de luxe against those human beings who are trying to set up their own country.
The point about the honorable member’s speech is that it was not an attack on communism; it was an attack on the honorable member for Reid, who had the courage, the guts and the decency to rise and say, “ I have been abroad. I have seen the country. It is lifting the poor, the hopeless and the dispirited, by the boot straps. It is repairing the damage that white imperialism did to it over a period of 300 years.” When the honorable member for Reid tells this House what he has seen, we ought to respect him and listen to him instead of gibing him by asking, “ What did you say on Peking radio? “ The honorable member for Chisholm becomes a little’ peephole expert, a little retailer of rude gossip and the things he has heard. What he says must be measured against the honesty of the honorable member for Reid, who at least says what he believes, lt makes a big difference when one comes into this chamber and speaks with pride from one’s experience.
The honorable member for Chisholm had a horrible vision about two months ago. He was listening to an Australian Broadcasting Commission broadcast. I know that is tough enough, but the honorable member was listening to the children’s session. He heard a terrible thing. The little children were being urged to cross the border from Germany into Czechoslovakia. In the episode to which he took exception a bluff and hearty American serviceman said, “You will be in Prague to-morrow “. At that point of time the honorable member flew into the chamber and accused the A.B.C. - that monument of propriety, that follower of the Government in all respects, that most obedient servant - of trying to subvert the children of Australia who were listening in by saying “ Hop on the whistler. Prague is the next stop.” Every child who listened in must have asked himself, “ What curious sort of Santa Claus is the member for Chisholm? What a funny old man he is who tells us that we should not see these people on the other side of the iron curtain. What sort of man is he? Where does he come from? Why is he listening to our programmes? Does he read fairy tales? “ Is that why the fairy tales he tells us about China are the same as the ones he listens to on the A.B.C?
Rather than be scorned because of what he says, the man is in need of our sympathy. When one gets on to the more serious problems associated with China, one is asked, “ What would you do with Formosa? Would you throw those 10,000,000 people to the people of China?” The Chinese have a point of view, just as everyone else has. It is their province. It is not likely that anything would happen to the 10,000,000 Chinese. The question I have just posed could be asked about the renegade Chinese leader, Chiang Kai-shek. That is the real issue. When you are asked - I daresay the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) will be asked this when he gets over” to New York - about the recognition of red China, what sort of bargaining point are you going to put down? Then we will see who are the suckers. Then we will see who has the modern thought and who are the peddlers of fairy tales.
I have become very tired of listening to smears in this House. Every time there is a debate on the motion for the adjournment, it is left to half a dozen honorable members who have the courage of their convictions to say that they do not believe that the system which operates in China would in any way work in their own country. But each of them adds, “ Having seen and observed it, I would be a liar and a cheat if I came back to this country and said that the things that were being done in China were not useful and helpful. When all is said and done, industrialization abounds, buildings are going up everywhere, and attention is being given to education and development. The ruined country of China has been slowly rebuilding.” That is all the honorable member for Reid said, and I respect and admire him for saying it. But I discovered that that was happening some years before he did. He corroborates what I have said. If we are regarded as being members of a noble order of suckers because we believe truth instead of what the State Department peddles to the temporarily bereft member for Chisholm, and instead of what disturbs him in the radio communication with the kids, we are prepared to be on the side of fact rather than on the side of fantasy. ls it not about time that the Government, which has a duty to discharge or which it pretends to discharge, treated the Opposition as being the second leg of government in this country? We should be treated to sober statements on international affairs and not be treated like a lot of kids who missed a joy ride to Prague because they could not get on the American bandwagon. I believe the honorable member for Reid, an ex-serviceman who was a prisoner of the Japanese, has rendered a most signal service to the House. All the more credit is due to him for going to Japan and showing the Japanese - the men who held and tortured him - that he had the Christian spirit, that he was a man of peace. And a very good job he did. Judging by his size and deportment, I should say he would be a jolly good advertisement for this country in the streets of Tokyo which re-echoed years ago to the march of the most devilish enemy we have ever faced. If he has the human charity to talk to the people of Hiroshima and elsewhere in terms of peace, all the more credit still is due to him. I hope that if the peace society has not 100,000 members, it will attract that number in due course as a result of the example of men such as the honorable member for Reid.
.-! do not think that the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) should be so terribly sure of himself this evening, because the speech just made by the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren) was not very welcome to the Opposition. I doubt very much whether there has been made in this House in a long time a speech that has so shaken any section of this Parliament as did the speech made this evening by the honorable member for Reid. The effect of his remarks was quite obvious, Mr. Speaker. Indeed, one could sense the fear of many Opposition members at- the enormity of the observations made by the honorable member for Reid. He posed and tried to make out with a measure of sincerity that Communist China to-day has no spirit of aggression. For impious humbug, that takes a little beating. The honorable member pushes to one side as though it simply does not exist the historical record of aggression in Korea and in Tibet, and he says inferentially that the report of the International Commission of Jurists is not to be believed. I should be very interested indeed to hear whether any honorable gentleman opposite would dare to say of that body that its authority and word are in question.
Surely the attention of the honorable member for Reid has been directed to the fact that Mao Tse-tung has observed that the First World War brought into the Communist camp 200,000,000 people and that at the end of the Second World War th*’ number had increased to more than 900,000,000. Furthermore, Mao Tse-tung says with a note of reservation that after World War III. many more millions will have been drawn into the Communist camp.
Then there is the report on forced labour which was prepared by tha SecretaryGeneral of the United Nations and the Director-General of the International Labour Organization. That report makes the claim that Communist China has 25,000,000 slave labourers. I made this charge against Communist China before, and the honorable member for Parkes wiped it aside. But this was not a bald statement. Catalogued in that report are the sites of the camps and the number of prisoners in the camps, as well as the sources from which the information was obtained. But the honorable member for Reid just pushes that to one side.
Then we saw come in to bat the honorable member for Parkes - the author and poet, who is Parliament’s Marco Polo. That honorable member is the author of a great mystery - “ Chinese Journey “. At the beginning of this great book, the honorable gentleman wrote with typical modesty, that he was indebted to a number of people, whom he named, for information and assistance, and he went on to say that he was indebted also to “ China Reconstructs “, a magazine from which the honorable member purports to have taken one or two passing references. It so happens that Richard Walker, a most competent observer of China, analysed the honorable member’s book and showed in precise detail how greatly the honorable gentleman was indebted to “ China Reconstructs “. The honorable member has plagiarized whole sections of that Communist magazine and represented the material as coming from his own pen.
– You are a dirty little liar.
-Order! The honorable member will withdraw that remark.
– Why do you not have a decent debate? I am sorry, Sir.
– The honorable member will withdraw his remark.
– I withdraw it, Sir. I withdraw it most humbly.
– This is the other side, Sir. I wonder whether this is a two-sided arrangement. I shall recite very briefly to the House several stanzas from a poem entitled “ Ripe Grapes “, which appeared in an issue of “ China Reconstructs “. I wonder very much indeed whether this is not a contribution made by the Parliament’s poet, the honorable member for Parkes.
– Shut up, you rat!
– You can dish it out, but I doubt whether you can take it. The poem runs -
The grapes hang ripe and full
Among the green, green leaves.
The young men are back from the fields,
The girls still work in the vineyard.
In a group by the roadside the young fellows stand,
Strumming the dombra, serenading the girls.
They sing away till their throats are parched,
But not one grape do they receive.
There is the touch of the metaphysician in this. You can see the likeness to the work of the old metaphysical poets in the writings of the honorable member for Parkes, the author of “ Chinese Journey “, who has depended so much on and who is indebted so much to “ China Reconstructs “.
The honorable member turned and savaged the honorable and gallant member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes). Whereas the honorable member for Chisholm had replied to the honorable member for Reid with argument based on points, facts and historical records, all that the honorable member for Parkes could say of the honorable member for Chisholm was that that honorable member was trying to score a few cheap and miserable points. I think that when to-night’s events are analysed, it will be seen that the honorable member for Parkes is the one who has endeavoured to score a few cheap and miserable points. The fact is, as was clearly stated by the honorable member for Chisholm, that in this propaganda struggle, most unhappily, there are attached to the Australian Labour Party many elements that are joining in the struggle and embarrassing the Australian Labour movement. Those elements are doing no credit to the tradition of that movement and they certainly are not rendering any service to this country.
.- Mr. Speaker, I shall not take up very much of my time in replying to the China lobbyists on the other side of the House.
– ‘The Formosa lobbyists.
– Yes, the Formosa lobbyists. Those who form the China lobby are attached to what they term Nationalist China. They seemto have the idea that Australia is a great military power and that we ought to be continuallly trailing, our coat. I think that the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren) is to be complimented on at least expressing a point of view contrary to that expressed on the Government side of the House. In my opinion, we cannot achieve world peace unless we bring China into the discussions in world councils. China is a great power in its own right, no matter how much the puny sawdust Caesars opposite try to belittle it, and sooner or later Australia will have to recognize the fact that we live in the Asiatic area and that China is one of the great powers which will dominate the situation in this part of the world.
Important though what is happening overseas may be, what is happening in Australia is equally important, and that is what I am concerned about. When we talk about preserving the freedoms of other people, we ought to have a look at what is happening to our own freedoms in Australia. If we are not careful, we shall have in charge of affairs in Australia men like the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes) and the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen), who do not believe in the democratic form of government and who believe that there ought to be established a tyranny and that the trade unions ought to be what are referred to as company trade unions.
The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), who is also Minister for External Affairs, is rushing overseas again and escaping from his responsibilities in this country. If the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) is a competent representative of the Minister for External Affairs, there is no need at all for the Prime Minister to go overseas. Great problems confront us in this country, and government supporters could justify sending the Prime Minister overseas only if they wanted the present session of the United Nations General Assembly to fail and break down completely as did the Summit conference. If ever there was a man who proved a complete flop and bungled every negotiation in which he participated while overseas on international missions, it is the Prime Minister. He bungled the negotiations with Nasser and he bungled negotiations with Adenáuer and de Gaulle. When he negotiated with the International Bank for Reconstruction and’
Development, he failed again. I think that in the interests of world peace the Prime Minister ought to be kept in Australia permanently and not allowed to go overseas.
Let me now turn to one other aspect of this matter and show the House what is happening. It is rather interesting to note - I ask members of the Australian Labour Party particularly to note it - that when proposals to amend the Crimes Act were being explained in this Parliament recently, the Attorney-General, acting on the old theory of “ Divide and conquer “, stated that these proposals were designed only to deal with the Communist Party of Australia and that they would not affect anybody else. But the moment Government supporters experience a little opposition in this Parliament, they begin to talk about fellow-travellers and about the Australian Labour Party being a front organization for the Communist Party. I think that the honorable member for Chisholm has now let the cat out of the bag, because what the Government intends to do is to use the great powers which it is seeking under the Crimes Act in an effort to destroy the effectiveness of the Labour movement, both politically and industrially.
In Sydney, recently, organizations representing what are termed the white collar workers called a public meeting. Anybody who wanted to listen to the speeches was able to attend. The purpose of the gathering was to discuss wage justice. Representatives of these organizations had tried to see the Prime Minister, but he refused to receive a deputation from them. So they met publicly to discuss their difficulties and problems. It is now admitted that a member of the Commonwealth Police Force attended the meeting. A verbatim record was taken of the proceedings. The organizations then protested to the Prime Minister about it, and I have a copy of the letter which the Prime Minister eventually sent back to those organizations. It reads - 1 have received a report of the recent protest meeting in Wynyard Park, Sydney. It is true, as you have suggested, that members of the Commonwealth Police Force were present and that a partial record of the proceedings was taken.
I can assure you that there is nothing in the record which has not appeared in the Press and you can take it for granted that it will not be used as a basis for adminstrative or any other action by the Public Service Board or Commonwealth departments against any employees who were present at the meeting.
This is the important point. First, why was a record wanted? All that the Prime Minister has said is that it will not be used against any of the employees who were speaking. He has not explained why the record was taken and he has not said that this practice will be discontinued. So evidently the practice of members of the Commonwealth Police Force attending meetings lawfully conducted by trade unionists to discuss their problems will still be followed, so that dossiers can be built up in the security service against trade union leaders in this country.
The letter states - it will not be used as a basis for administrative or any other action by the Public Service Board or Commonwealth departments.
I want to know whether the security service is a Commonwealth department. Of course, it is not recognized as a Commonwealth department. The Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick), who is the Minister responsible to the Parliament for this organization, refuses to answer any questions about it. No doubt the Commonwealth Police Force is being used now to secure these reports which are then available to the security service to enable to it to build up dossiers against trade unionists in this country. I therefore say that the Government and the Prime Minister have not explained the matter away satisfactorily to the Labour movement. We now ask whether this practice is to continue and whether the Government is to have its spies at any trade union meetings. Why do they want records of what is happening in the trade union movement if they do not propose to take any action on matters discussed? Of course, we are reaching a stage in this country where we have a police state, with the security service being a party-political police force used by the Government parties.
Let me turn to another matter, because I like correcting the Prime Minister. He is an expert on skating around a question and misrepresenting matters raised in this House from time to time by honorable members. I asked the Prinme Minister a simple question about parliamentary privilege. He did not answer the most important part of it, in which 1 asked whether he would honour his promise given some years ago to afford this Parliament an opportunity of considering, defining and discussing parliamentary privilege. He used his usual smear tactics and tried to represent to this Parliament that when Browne and Fitzpatrick were imprisoned by this Parliament there was no opposition to that decision. 1 have examined the record of the event, which was on 10th June, 1955. It is perfectly true that the report of the Committee of Privileges was accepted by this Parliament without a division, but there were actually four divisions when the Parliament was imposing a penalty on these men. The Prime Minister seemed to think that he was scoring a smart point when he said that there was no opposition or dissent. I just want to make it clear that I had been suspended from the sittings of this Parliament on the previous night and I have every reason to believe that I was suspended merely because the then Speaker wanted the decision next day to be unanimous. I was put out the previous night, and I was not permitted to be here to express a point of view or to exercise any decision at all in the matter. So honorable members can see that the Prime Minister himself was misleading this Parliament and misleading the country when he allowed it to be assumed that 1 had been present and had not opposed the course adopted by the Parliament.
Now let me turn to one other matter, because I understand that the Prime Minister is hurrying away from this country and escaping his responsibilities. I have raised this matter previously.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I do not propose to reply to the serial of the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward). That serial will continue throughout the life of the Parliament with the same things being rehashed. But 1 am concerned about the approach that the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren), who is a friend of mine, and the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) have made to the question of red China. I know that some one else is infinitely more concerned and worried than I am. I refer to the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell). These honorable members have done a very grave disservice to the Labour movement. At a time when the very best brains of the Western world are doing all they can to find a solution to the greatest threat that civilization has ever faced, it is distressing to hear speeches such as those of the honorable member for Reid and the honorable member for Parkes. I believe that if it were not for the shield of America, in five years’ time not more than 5 per cent, of the Australian population would be alive. That is an indication of the way in which I regard the threat, and I am no alarmist.
Members of the Opposition are inclined to confuse the Chinese people with the Chinese Government. Many Australians who served in the war in the Far East have the greatest affection for the Chinese people they met there, and for Chinese in our own country. The Chinese are a very attractive people, but their government is not attractive. That is the point that 1 should like honorable members to remember. We have no quarrel with the Chinese people or with the Russian people, but we have a quarrel with their governments.
Members of the Opposition think it is a great line to say that the Australan Country Party is pro-Communist because it will sell wool to the Chinese people, and in this context they name mc as a woolgrower. Under the auction system, we have no control over where the wool go;s. but that is not an excuse at all. Do honorable members opposite think that the Government proposes that we should always live at enmity with citizens of other countries? The best way of breaking down hatred and suspicion is by trade. Therefore, there is nothing at all wrong with trading with people whom we suspect have different ideas from ours about our future. It is at least one attempt to bridge the gap. It does not mean that I am proCommunist. I believe also that we should buy their goods, except those that are made by slave labour, although it is very hard to differentiate between commodities on this ground.
The honorable member for Reid spoke very highly of the Chinese people but he was very confused about the Chinese Government. His knowledge of history is very scanty. He talked about the colonization of China. He said that we on this side were smug and that we were the same people who colonized China. But China was never colonized; it was never a colonial country. There were treaty ports and treaty concessions whereby there was trade between certain Western nations and the Chinese people. He said that the Chinese Government would raise the standards of the Chinese people from the poverty that he said existed. Here again he shows a lack of knowledge. The Chinese Government was responsible for the killing of 21,000,000 Chinese between 1949 and 1955. These figures have been verified by the American labour organization. Those 21,000,000 people were killed by this magnificent government which the honorable member said would raise the standards of the poor! The honorable member discards Tibet, where we saw an instance of genocide - the destruction of a race. The truth about Tibet is available to anybody who cares to read it. Here is an instance of a fine people being completely destroyed by this Chinese Government. After the experience of Korea, Opposition members still allege that the Chinese leaders are fine people. The recognition of mainland China depends on our ceasing to recognize Formosa. That is to say, we would hand over 10,000,000 people to the Chinese. How many of those Formosans would survive? Do you want to cast them off to be slaughtered? As the Chinese Government killed 21,000,000 of its own people why would it not kill all the Chinese in Formosa?
But there is more to it than that. Khrushchev’s policy has been that it is possible to co-exist with the Western capitalist countries. Mao Tse-tung, this benign leader of the honorable member for Reid”s pet government, says that is not possible. What does Mao Tse-tung mean when he says that the Communist world cannot co-exist with the capitalist countries? There is only one possible interpretation - that he is convinced that world domination by communism can be won only by war. There is no doubt about that. Mao Tse-tung has said time and time again that Communist countries cannot compromise with capitalism. That means that they must destroy it. Yet here is an honorable member, the honorable member for Reid, who has experience of an Asiatic conqueror, who is prepared to recommend the recognition of China. Is he prepared to risk the future of all the people of Australia on his judgment? I do nol think he is.
– I do not want to enter too deeply into this disputation, but I want to direct the attention of the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Anderson) to the fact that he recently informed the House that Mao Tse-tung was responsible for the death of 23,000,000 people. He indicates that he accepts that statement. I have heard of many atrocities alleged to have occurred in World War I. which were completely disproved afterwards. The same applies to World War II. All sorts of stories are told, during and after wars and revolutions, which are subsequently shown to be completely false. We have recently read of the alleged immoral behaviour of Dr. Fidel Castro in Harlem. On reading those stories one would think that the press of the United States had peeping Toms at the door of every hotel room that the Cubans occupied in Harlem. You never heard such nonsense] Dr. Castro has had to point out that the United States journalists had printed damned nonsense.
The honorable member for Hume (Mr. Anderson) stated that 21,000,000 Chinese had been killed by Mao Tse-tung. A few minutes previously he had apologized because his wool was sold to Communist countries, and explained that it was not possible, under the auction system, to determine where one’s wool went. If the honorable member is not prepared to take the precaution of instructing his broker that under no circumstance must his wool go to red China or red Russia, obviously he is helping to supply material most valuable to the people who, he said, quite recently destroyed 23,000,000 people. He has his finger in the pie. He is supplying wool to people who, he believes, threaten the inviolability of the people of Australia. The honorable gentleman knows that he can sell his wool direct through agencies on the London market and obviate, by precautions he can take, any possibility of its being sold to red China. He can sell it direct to any Australian woollen mill such as Felt and Textiles of Australia Limited, which has been proved by Mr. Justice Cook to be in a wool-buying pie.
The honorable gentleman is trying to extricate himself from his own prison.
Our great manufacturers, like Felt and Textiles of Australia Limited, undoubtedly would take his wool at a valuation if he liked to offer it to them. Look at the inconsistencies in the behaviour of the honorable member for Hume. Yet he and his colleagues, including the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), have had the cheek to accuse the Opposition of being a Communist front. Let the honorable member get himself out of his own filthy inconsistencies, then he will be in a position to accuse this party and not before. 1 leave it at that.
– 1 would not have spoken in this debate except for the concluding remark of the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren) in relation to a question which was asked this afternoon. It is worth noting that succeeding speakers on the Opposition side, knowing quite well that the honorable member for Reid was on very weak ground, have done everything possible to divert this debate into some other course. The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) went on a completely different tangent about some meeting held in Sydney. The honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) did the very thing that he accused the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes) of doing. He could not answer any one of the facts put or the points made by the honorable member for Chisholm, so he entered- into ten minutes of abuse. The amusement that the honorable gentleman tries to derive from these exercises perhaps was not quite so great on this occasion as it has been on some previous occasions. The honorable member tries to achieve by ridicule and humour what he cannot achieve by logic and reason.
Probably many people on both sides of the House respect the sincerity of the honorable member for Reid. 1, for one, do. But I think that most of us, including many members on the other side, doubt the reasoning by which he comes to his conclusions. He said that the present Peking Government was progressive. It is quite obvious that some tremendous material strides have been made in China since the Communist Government has been in control. It is much easier to make material strides when you are prepared to be ruthless and give orders, and make sure that people carry those orders out. Ultimately the people of China will benefit materially, but to deduce from that that Communist China has no territorial claims that it wishes to fulfil is complete and utter nonsense, because it is quite patent that Communist China has many territorial claims which it wishes to fulfil. We have the examples of Formosa, Tibet, India and Korea, in the last of which the United Nations went to war because of action which emanated, or was at least supported, from Communist China. There is also the present position in Laos as the honorable member for Chisholm reminds me.
These facts are given support in another sphere which has nothing to do with material things or with obvious or overt aggression. Recently the Russians produced a certain map. In Russia the publication of maps must have official approval. This map was produced at the end of last year, or early this year, when an argument was going on between China and India. The map supports the Chinese claims to Indian territory. It also shows Formosa as a part of Communist China. It includes South Viet Nam as part of Viet Nam, making that country all Communist territory. It shows Hanoi as the capital of the country and makes no mention of the 1954 Geneva conference on the demarcation line between North and South Viet Nam. It makes no mention of the capital of South Viet Nam. The Russians gave approval to the Chinese Communist’s territorial claims in those areas.
By way of interjection, the honorable member for Hughes (Mr. L. R. Johnson) asked, “ What about the United Kingdom’s recognition of Communist China? “ The honorable member should know - I think he probably does know - that when the United Kingdom recognized the Communist regime as the de facto government of China, the Communists had not defined their attitude to Formosa. At that time the Communists had not said, as a complete and absolute prerequisite to recognition, “ You must recognize our claims to Formosa “. The United Kingdom Government has never recognized Communist China’s’ claims to Formosa, and it would not do so. Communist China has since defined its attitude to Formosa.
– What about the Yalta agreement?
– You do not want to listen to me. Since Communist China has defined its attitude to Formosa, the exchange of diplomatic missions by the United Kingdom Government and the Communist Chinese Government has never been satisfactorily concluded, although superficially the United Kingdom Government gave some recognition to Communist China. If any one believed that the Communists had no territorial ambitions, the events which have occurred recently in the Congo should make even the most naive person understand quite clearly that the Chinese and Russian Communists wish to expand the acceptance of their doctrine and to gain control of as many people as possible.
Although originally the Russians supported the United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding United Nations action in the Congo, they then decided to act on their own behalf. It was the ferrying of troops by Russian planes and trucks which made much of the tribal warfare in the Congo possible. Russia’s complete nonrecognition of the action of the United Nations in the Congo has made it extremely difficult to restore peace and order there. The Russians, quite clearly, argued that it looked as though the United Nations was going to be successful, and if it was successful there would be no opportunity for them to establish a base in the Congo for future expansion of their activities in the other African States. Therefore they said, “ We must see that the United Nations does not succeed “. The Russians have done as much as they could to achieve their aims.
When it appeared that they had failed in the Congo, at least for the time being, they turned their attack onto the SecretaryGeneral of the United Nations and did what they could to destroy him and the present organization of the United Nations, so that they could make that organization into a tool better fitted to support their aims. If any honorable member opposite says he believes that the Russian or the Chinese Communists have shown that they sincerely want peace, he is either a rogue or a fool.
.- Mr. Speaker, the cheers from off-stage have stimulated my enthusiasm to continue this debate. I do not quite know what the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Malcolm Fraser) was attempting to prove. It is unfortunate that when we wish to have a debate such as this, the Minister for External Affairs is never in the chamber. If we ever have an opportunity to debate these matters while the Minister is here, I suppose the honorable member for Wannon will be silenced.
There has been such a fury of freedom fighting to-night, with the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes) in full flight demanding human rights, that I feel I should address my remarks to the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen), a representative of Queensland. As I listened to honorable members opposite saying that we should turn our attention to the slave camps of Asia and to the people in bondage in Europe, Africa and elsewhere, I thought it might not be a bad idea if honorable members from Queensland turned their attention to their own State. It would be a good idea if they had a look at an act of the Queensland Parliament known as the Aboriginals Preservation and Protection Act. I wish to refer to some of its provisions. They are provisions which are actually implemented.
The Director of Native Affairs in Queensland has absolute authority over every person of aboriginal descent. Aborigines in Queensland can never be free. The honorable member for Moreton might well return to his northern clime and take up their case. I will simply state the case from the legal point of view. The honorable member who is interjecting can go to Palm Island and elsewhere and see the position for himself. The fact is that if one of the grandparents of a person in Queensland is an aborigine, that person can be declared an aborigine under the act, and if he is so declared the Director of Native Affairs has certain powers. The Director may remove him to a reserve and keep him there for the rest of his life. If you go to Palm Island you will find at least 30 or 40 aborigines there. They are thinking beings; people who can speak our language, i spoke to one of them. I asked him, “ Were you born here or what made you come here? “ He said, “ I did not come: 1 was brought. 1 had an argument on a mission station and here I am.” He was never charged with any offence and he has no right of appeal. The honorable member representing that part of Australia did not speak for him. Those are some matters to which honorable members from Queensland might turn their attention. They are offensive to everything in the Declaration of Human Rights.
The Director of Native Affairs has the right to move aborigines to prevent marriages, to see that their mail is censored, and to take over their wages. Under the Queensland Act, the wages of aborigines in Queensland are actually taken from them and cared for by protectors. These aborigines have been in that position for a long while, and they are waiting for their members of Parliament to speak for them.
– Do you know the conditions in Queensland three years ago?
– I am living for to-day, as the honorable member could well do. I do not charge the honorable member for Herbert. As far as I can see, he is a good man and true. I ask him to look at the act. He will find, for instance, that in the regulations there is a provision which allows the superintendent of a settlement to require an aborigine on the reserve to work for upwards of 32 hours a week without remuneration. I do not think the Director of Native Affairs in Queensland is a man of ill will. I do not think these things are done with malice. However, the simple fact is that in Queensland there are 17,000 fellow Australians who cannot vote and have fewer rights than the latest migrant to arrive in Australia. They have no right of appeal. Even those who are exempted from the act can have their rights taken away from them at the stroke of the director’s pen.
If members on the opposite side of the chamber are fair dinkum and really mean what they say about freedom for the Chinese, the Formosans and the people in the Congo, they might well turn their hearts and minds to an examination of the legal position of Australian aborigines. At this hour, I will not go much further into the matter. The simple fact is that any aborigine in Australia who wants to travel round and keep himself out of the hands of the police needs to take his legal adviser with him. In Victoria, an aborigine may be exempted from all restrictions under an act introduced by a Liberal Party Government. In Victoria the Liberal Party is not notably liberal, but in this matter it was. The honorable member for Ballaarat (Mr. Erwin), who is interjecting might look at some of the activities of that party and see if he can apply some of its spirit in other fields. If an aborigine from Victoria goes to Queensland, he can be brought under the Queensland act and lose his right to vote. I am appealing to the honorable member for Ballaarat in the spirit of Eureka. I always feel that he makes his most effective contribution sitting down rather than standing up. I pose this legal question to honorable members opposite: If a Queensland aborigine goes to New South Wales or Victoria and is given a right to vote, and then returns to Queensland, is he still entitled to vote? What I have referred to are anomalies and restrictive provisions of Australian law which should not be tolerated any longer. If the honorable member for Chisholm, in the kindness of his heart, were to turn his mind to the workings of the Liberal Party and bring some of his liberal minded approach to the rights of the people of China to the rights of the original inhabitants of Australia, he would find me on his side for once.
.- I would like to inform the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) that the legislation to which he referred as being unfair to the aborigines in Queensland was Labour Party legislation which was supported and well and truly assented to by John Duggan, the present leader of the Labour Party in Queensland, when Labour was in government in that State. Since the Labour Party went out of office in Queensland, there has been tremendous development there in the welfare and care of natives. If the honorable member would acquaint himself with the facts he would find that there has been general applause for the very sympathetic consideration which has been given by the new Government to the natives-
– Nicklin did not oppose the legislation and has not repealed it.
– I am reminded by the interjection from the Deputy Leader of the Opposition of the real crux of the argument before the House to-night. Were it not for the inherent danger associated with it. honorable members on this side of the Parliament would be watching with amusement the rat race within the Labour Party to reach the front bench of that party and to become a member of its shadow cabinet. It has become patently clear to everybody in this Parliament as well as to the electors generally that if you want to stay on the front bench of the Labour Party your policy must coincide completely with the expressed policy of not only the Australian Communist Party, but also international communism.
– On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, is it permissible for an honorable member to speak from the aisle?
– Order! The honorable member is in order.
– According to the Standing Orders, I may speak from anywhere on the floor of the House. It has become clear to members of the Labour Party that if they want to get to the front bench, that is the policy they must follow. That truth emerges from the fact that a new member of this Parliament, the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns), defeated the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Luchetti) for a seat on the front Opposition bench. It was made clear when the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly), who was reputed and known to be the leader of the right wing element within the Labour Party, last week was a guest of the Russian Ambassador, drank his host’s vodka and came back into this Parliament and tried to convince the majority of the members of the Labour Party who belong to the left wing that Australia should recognize red China, he - then made a speech in this House which was the complete reverse of the policy which he had hitherto espoused. He said that Australia should recognize red China. Of course, if he wishes to stay alive in the Labour Party he has to back the policy of recognition of red China; but it was complete reversal of principle and not a sincere belief on the part of the honorable member for Grayndler or the honorable member for
Kennedy (Mr. Riordan) who, if they are to survive in the Labour Party, have to back the left wing Communist policy.
It has become obvious to us all that that is the only way to advancement in the Labour Party. That is why the electors are so concerned and why Labour will remain in the wilderness until the Labour Party splits, as it did split in recent memory, and the left wing got complete control of it. Labour will be rejected at election after election so long as it has members like the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren), who will stand up in this House and say that Mao Tse-tung and the Government of China are not aggressive and who will make statements of such obvious inaccuracy as that the Communists will never seek control in Australia. Then the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) completely contradicted him. The exact words that the honorable member for East Sydney used - I wrote them down as he said them and we may read them in “ Hansard “ to-morrow - were, “ We will live to see the day when China will dominate all this part of the world “. Let me remind the House that this is the first time that the honorable member for Reid has risen in the House and spoken without the Communist reporter from the “ Tribune “ being in the gallery waving a paper and saying, “ Good on you. 1 have taken down every word you had to say.” It is the first time that has happened.
We, on this side of the House, could nominate who would rise on the Opposition side to defend Mao Tse-tung. It is always the same clique, and it is the clique which is destroying the Labour Party. I am glad that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition interjected a while ago, because it is common knowledge that the leaders of the Labour Party are living on borrowed time because their politics are not those of the extreme left wing. That is why we saw the honorable member for East Sydney last week challenge his leader and contradict him in this House, and the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) contradict the Deputy Leader of the Opposition as to whether there should be a division, and the Le.ader of the Opposition and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition lost. Of course the Leader and the Deputy
Leader of the Opposition are living on borrowed time. They are only there until the left wing group of hungry wolves are able to decide which is the toughest and most hungry wolf to take control of the Labour Party so that its policy can be clearly stated to the people of Australia - that it represents all the thoughts and views of the Australian Communist Party and international communism.
Now let me answer the charge made by the honorable member for Parkes against our friend the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes), who he suggested was getting information from some secret source overseas. But the information in question is available in the Parliamentary Library; it was published in “ The Peking Review “ which is filed in the library - and there are other sources of such information. The honorable member for Parkes knows that he can get more from broadcasts from Peking Radio which are translated and published in English. Information of that kind is readily available, and honorable members on this side of the House make sure that their statements are completely factual. We repeat what Mao Tse-tung and Chou En-lai say, and what the Communist party says in order to show how wrong the honorable member foi. Reid was.
Only this week we heard a statement by the Minister for Defence in the Mao Tsetung Government to the effect that there could not be peaceful co-existence, that there must be war. Only this week I received a letter from a man in Katmandu - a Nepalese born and bred from a long line of Nepalese people, and with no associations with anybody in the west. He told me that there were in his country 20,000 refugees from Tibet; people who were driven out and whose only hope of surviving was to escape from the Chinese who are still massacring the people of Tibet. He said that along the northern border of Nepal, from east to west, the Chinese Communists are mounting armies and increasing their numbers. We had a letter only recently from India, which indicated the plans that were being adopted by the Chinese Army to ensure that it would not have any trouble, if the need arose, in launching an attack on India. The honorable member for Parkes and the honorable member for East Sydney try to joke about this. Why? Because they are well and truly so closely in league with the Communist Party that anybody opposed to them has to be held up to ridicule, because that is the best smear and it is the most certain way of putting over Communist propaganda. Let me conclude by saying that the people of Australia are completely aware that at this moment the Labour Party executive is composed of men whose policy parallels that of the Communist Party. Therefore our people realize that to elect the Opposition to Government would be tantamount to electing the Communist Party to govern the Australian nation. That would involve a complete re-alinement of our defence policy and alliance with the Communist bloc in the United Nations organization.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
Motion (by Mr. Adermann) agreed to -
That the question be now put.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 12.10 a.m. (Thursday).
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
m asked the Minister for the Army, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - 1. (a) 3,328. 1,460 applications were outstanding as at 1st July, 1959, and a further 1,868 were received from 1st July, 19S9, to 30th June, 1960. Ofl 1.425.
r. - On 20th September, during my absence from the House, the honorable member for St. George (Mr. Clay) directed a question to the Prime Minister concerning the sale of alcoholic liquor to Citizen Military Forces soldiers not qualified to enter officers’ or sergeants’ messes.
I now furnish the following reply to the honorable member’s question: -
The very aspects of this matter which were raised by the honorable member are at present under consideration by myself and my colleague the Minister for Defence. I will further advise the honorable member when a decision has been taken on the subject. j Banking.
asked the Acting Treasurer, upon notice -
s. - The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
asked the Acting Treasurer, upon notice -
s. - The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
d asked the Minister for Trade, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
d asked the Minister for Trade, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
e asked the Minister for Trade, upon notice -
What was the total value of all exports from Australia to (a) Russia, (b) Czechoslovakia, (c) East Germany, (d) Poland, (e) Rumania, (f) Yugoslavia and (g) mainland China during the years 1958-59 and 1959-60?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is shown in the following table: -
d asked the Acting Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - 1, 2, 3 and 4. I have no information relating to a take-over bid by G. J. Coles and Company Limited beyond that which has appeared in the press.
y asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - 1 and 2. Gross collections from the customs and excise duties levied on petrol in the last five financial years have been as follows: -
These collections have all been paid to Consolidated Revenue Fund where, along with other revenue receipts, they have been used to finance the whole range of expenditures met from that fund. No part of them has been specifically set aside to finance road grants to the States. Total Commonwealth aid roads grants paid to the States in each of the last five years have been as follows: -
m asked the Prime Minister upon notice -
Research Council on 19th May, 1954, and 7th November, 1957, respectively, and when did they do so?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Tasmania - Radioactive Substances Acts, 21st September, 1954 and 3rd April, 1957. Regulations: none promulgated.
Western Australia - Radioactive Substances Act, 30th December, 1954. Regulations: 12th December, 1958.
South Australia - Health Act Amendment Act, 15th November, 1956. Regulations: none promulgated.
New South Wales - Radioactive Substances Act, 25th March, 1957. Regulations: 20th March, 1959, and 9th October, 1959.
Queensland - Radioactive Substances Act, 7th May, 1958. Regulations: none promulgated.
d asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - 1 and 2. Yes. The committee last met on 18th August. Its annual report for 1959-60 was tabled in Parliament to-day.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 28 September 1960, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1960/19600928_reps_23_hor28/>.