23rd Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. John McLeay) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– As I announced yesterday, I am proceeding overseas to-day to attend the United Nations General Assembly. I desire to inform the House that during my absence the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) will, of course, act as Prime Minister and, until the return of the Treasurer, will also administer the Treasury portfolio. The Minister for the Navy (Senator Gorton), who has been assisting me at External Affairs, will act as Minister for External Affairs and the Minister for Trade, the Acting Prime Minister, will represent Senator Gorton in this House.
– I have to announce that last night I received from Mr. John Brooke Howse a letter resigning his seat as member for the electoral division of Calare, with effect from midnight on 28th September.
– My question is directed to the Deputy Prime Minister. I ask the right honorable gentleman, in his capacity as leader of the Australian Country Party, whether he is aware of the threat presented to the development of Australia by the drift to the city, and whether he is aware of the urgent need to push ahead with a Commonwealth-State plan for decentralizing secondary industries? Can the right honorable gentleman inform the House whether the Government has maintained close collaboration with the 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 as envisaged in the decisions taken at the conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers held in August, 1945?
– This Government is conscious at all times of the desirability .of ensuring that there are attractive opportunities for decentralizing industry. No opportunity is lost to point out to potential industrial developers the opportunities available and the desirability of decentralizing industry. It does appear most frequently that problems of railway freights and the cost of road haulage are the principal inhibiting factors in this con>nexion. These are matters which are completely within the control of the State governments. The honorable member can be assured that if State governments found it possible to be more modest in respect of freight charges on State railways in particular, there would be less concentration in the city areas than there is now.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Labour and National Service. I ask the Minister whether he or any representative of the Government conveyed to the president of the Australian Council of Trade Unions such advice as would justify him in making this statement -
We do not say that we should not have any political levies, and the Government has not pushed us to that stage. It was also true that the Government had recognized that a union could subscribe to a political fund, and if it got into difficulties, could recoup the money by imposing a levy after the election was over.
– I did not see the statement attributed to the president of the A.C.T.U., but I can state this quite clearly: The Government’s policy is that it is opposed to compulsory political levies, and it is opposed to any device that might be designed to get round the Government’s policy. Action of the kind that was mentioned in the question addressed to me by the honorable member would be designed to frustrate the Government’s policy and, therefore, would be contrary to what I have stated to be the Government’s policy in this House. This is well known to the A.C.T.U., particularly its president. I have been informed through my department that the president of the A.C.T.U. sees nothing inconsistent between the Government’s decision and what he has said publicly.
– ls the Minister for Social Services aware that allowances paid by municipalities to presidents or mayors are treated as being exempt from income tax by the Taxation Branch as they are not regarded as personal income? Is he aware that when a service pensioner or an age pensioner becomes a mayor or a president the Department of Social Services reduces or withdraws the pension because he receives an allowance, although it is not used for personal purposes?
– The honorable member will know that income is defined in the Social Services Act, and that I am required to apply the income test when application is made for a social service benefit under the act. 1 have no discretionary powers in the matter. If income comes within the definition, the social service benefit must be prejudiced to that degree.
– 1 preface my question to the Minister for Labour and National Service by reminding him that over the past couple of weeks I have sought clarification from him of some of the provisions of the Crimes Bill so that I could reply to questions which have been asked of me by some of my constituents. I now ask the Minister whether any of the new or amended provisions could operate to the detriment of the trade union movement, as has been alleged frequently by critics of the legislation.
– 1 cannot answer this question categorically, but I can say that prior to the departure of the AttorneyGeneral for overseas, 1 discussed this aspect with him, and I can state emphatically that there is no clause in the amending bill now before this chamber which is directly or indirectly aimed at the trade unions as such. This bill is aimed at acts of sabotage and subversion and acts of treachery and treason, and it is only proven acts of that kind which come within the purview of the bill. If I can make one comment, it is this-
– No, you cannot make a comment.
– Order! The Minister has a right to make his reply.
– It seems incredible to me that to-day, the Communist leaders of the Waterside ‘ Workers Federation-
– I rise to order, Mr. Speaker. When a measure is before the chamber and the Minister has made the second-reading speech and the debate has been adjourned, is the Minister entitled now to anticipate the debate which is to take place, we understand, some weeks hence?
– Order! 1 think the Minister is in order, but I indicate to the Ministry as a whole that we are endeavouring to apply the Standing Orders more rigidly so” that question time will have some value. If a lengthy answer to a question is necessary, the Minister concerned should seek leave to make a statement.
– Speaking to the point of order, Mr. Speaker, I point out that you directed our attention yesterday to the Standing Orders and especially to the rules printed on the back of the “ Notice of Question “ form which provide that questions should not refer to debates of the current session, or to proceedings in a committee’ not reported to the House. I ask you whether the question asked by the honorable member for Henty relates to a debate of the current session.
– We are concerned with the answer, not the question, at the moment The question as framed by the honorable member for Henty is in order. The reply is left to the discretion of the Minister, who also has an obligation to observe the rules.
– Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I conclude on this note: It is incredible to me that the Communist leaders of the Waterside Workers Federation should call their men out on strike to-day to protest against the Crimes Bill at a time when the Federal Labour Advisory Council, including Australian Council of Trade Unions’ representatives, is considering the terms of the bill. This indicates that these Communist leaders of the federation are completely out of touch with the Labour Party and with political opinion in this country as a whole.
– I ask the Minister for Social Services whether it is a fact that when a pensioner enters a mental hospital payment of his or her entire pension is immediately suspended because it is involved with the lunacy laws of the States. If this is a fact, will the Minister confer with the appropriate authorities of the various States to ascertain whether it is possible, by agreement, to make some allowance to these unfortunate people so that they may have a little spending money?
– There has been no change in the administration of the Social Services Act with respect to those who are in receipt of social service benefits and who, unfortunately, are required to enter mental hospitals. It is necessary, when they do enter mental hospitals, that the social service benefits they are receiving shall be suspended until such time as the patients are discharged. Immediately upon discharge of the patient, the social service benefit is restored, and payment is made retrospective for four weeks.
– I ask the Minister for Health, who administers the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, whether in view of the fact that, after several rainless months, heavy clouds are now appearing in the sky over the northern coastal districts of New South Wales every day without rain falling, he will examine the possibility of using this opportunity to test the value of seeding clouds on coastal areas in order to bring rain.
– Having regard to the conditions which have prevailed in parts of Australia recently, I have again discussed this question with senior officers of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. The position is that this organization is engaged in a long-term investigation into the possibilities of what is loosely called rain-making, but what I think might be more accurately described as assistance to the precipitation of rain from certain types of clouds.
These investigations are being carried on in different parts of Australia because it is only in certain parts of the continent that the appropriate types of clouds occur, lt is considered that it would be inadvisable to interrupt these experiments, which are only in their early stage. It is quite misleading for people to imagine that in these experiments we have at hand a droughtbreaking instrument. The fact is that in dry conditions the requisite type of cl’oud is very seldom at hand. It is because of this that there is a drought. So that while I may appear somewhat unhelpful to the right honorable gentleman, it would be of no service to any one to allow the impression to be gained that we have ready at hand a drought-breaking weapon.
– I ask the Minister for Labour and National Service whether he has seen the well-worded and very reasonable statement on the Crimes Act issued by the Australian Journalists Association through its federal organization directing attention to the fact that the provisions relating to the gathering of news and information could be highly dangerous to an esteemed and honored profession. Does he consider this statement by the Australian Journalists Association to be an authoritative expression of the general fear felt concerning the Crimes Act? Would he, in his general condemnation of people opposed to the Crimes Act, consider the journalists of this country to be Communists?
– The answer to the last part of the honorable member’s question is, “ Certainly not.” That is a political question and I repeat the answer with an emphatic, “ No.” As to the first part of the question, as the honorable member will know, the memorandum from the Australian Journalists Association was received only to-day by members of this Parliament. Naturally, I have not had time to look through it. Every suggestion and every criticism that has been made is being carefully studied by me and by the department. I can give the honorable gentleman the assurance that members of the Australian Journalists Association will be treated in exactly the same way as others.
– My question is directed to the Minister for the Army. What are the reasons which prompted the Department of the Army to disband nine school cadet corps in New South Wales? If the purpose is to free training instructors for the permanent Army, would it not have been better to train more Army instructors and so preserve the Army’s association with the schools? How many schools will be affected by this reorganization of cadet training?
– The fundamental reason for the disbandment of certain cadet units is the general re-organization of the Army throughout Australia. It will be appreciated that the Government has increased the total ceiling number of cadets to 38,500 within two years. It has not increased the number of instructors, but the existing number of instructors, with certain re-adjustments, is sufficient to handle the increased number of cadets. It has been necessary in these circumstances to impose certain conditions on the establishment of school cadet corps.
The first is that a unit must consist of not fewer than 50 cadets. The second is that it must be a five-year school, that is to say, a school at which a reasonable number of boys will go to the fifth year, because honorable members will appreciate that as the result of the termination of national service training the school cadet units are of very great importance to the Citizen Military Forces. The third condition is that a school must be situated within a reasonable distance of a Citizen Military Forces unit because in many places throughout Australia the instructor deals with not only school cadet units but also with the local Citizen Military Forces unit. Honorable members will know also that recently we reduced from eighteen to seventeen years the age at which boys may join the Citizen Military Forces. Because of this reorganization it has been necessary, in certain cases, to disband some of the smaller units, but I cannot tell honorable members the number at present because opportunity is being given, in some cases, to meet the conditions that have been laid down.
– I ask the Minister for Trade: In view of the United States of America import tariff of 25i cents on greasy wool and 27i cents on scoured Australian wool entering the United States of America, why does the Australian Government allow highly competitive nylon from the United States of America, which is dutiable at 50 per cent., to enter Australia under a by-law at 7i per cent., and rayons which are dutiable at 7i per cent, to enter free? Will the right honorable Minister negotiate with the Government of the United States of America for a reduction of the tariff on Australian wool entering that country, in return for the 85 per cent, tariff reduction which the Australian Government is allowing the United States of America on nylon synthetics, which are highly competitive with wool?
– I have announced previously that it is intended at the session of General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade which has just commenced, and which provides an opportunity for negotiation .on items of tariff on a multi-lateral basis, to seek some improvement in the terms of entry of Australian raw wool and scoured wool to the United States of America.
– Why do you allow nylon in at reduced rates?
– It is not done, as the honorable member’s question would imply, as a gesture to the United States. The Minister for Customs and Excise has always been able, at his discretion, to permit by-law entry if he is satisfied that it is in the interests of Australian industry and of the public generally. Australia is so keen to preserve free entry for Australian wool throughout the world - a privilege that we have, I think, in virtually every country except the United States - that we would not wish, and would not think it any advantage, to engage in a tariff war with the United States on this issue. Having some confidence that we might come to terms on entry there, it would be indefensible for us to insist in world circles that we have the right of free entry for our wool without allowing the products of other countries a reasonable opportunity of entering this country.
– I ask the Deputy Prime Minister whether it is a fact that one of the duties of Australia House, London, is to publicize Australia and its products. If so, can the right honorable gentleman explain why, at official functions, a famous Scotch product has pride of place on the table while an equally palatable Australian product is consistently left off the table?
– I cannot answer this question with precise knowledge, but I am sure it is understood that it is not the primary function of Australia House to publicize Australia. The High Commissioner is the diplomatic representative of the Australian Government, accredited to the United Kingdom. Within Australia House are branches of Australian departments such as the Department of Defence, the Department of Immigration, the Department of Customs and Excise and the Department of Trade. Those branches function as extensions of the Australian departments. Of course, there is a consciousness of the desirability of publicizing Australia to the best advantage. I am sure that the opportunities for the presentation of this mysterious, unnamed product, which I can only guess at, are no less at Australia House than they are in this building.
– Has the Minister for Territories had consultations or does he propose to have consultations with the Netherlands Government in order to learn how that Government is able to hold elections in the near future for the New Guinea council by direct vote of all inhabitants, indigenous or not, in the urban centres of that territory?
– As I think the Deputy Leader of the Opposition knows, when I was in The Hague last June, I had discussions with the Dutch Government .and canvassed with it various proposals for legislative reform in its territory. It was in the light of that discussion and in the light of consultations with native leaders in our own Territory that I put forward my recommendations to the Government The Government accepted them and they are embodied in the bill before the House. Without expressing criticism of the Nether lands Government, which is free to make its .own decisions in its own domain, I would be prepared to defend our proposals as being better.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Primary Industry. Many wool-growers are uneasy about the wool futures market and its possible .depressing effect on wool prices. Has the Government made an examination of this aspect and, if not, will the Minister consider doing so? Will he also give emphasis to this matter in any terms of reference that he may draw up for the proposed inquiry into wool marketing?
– There are different views on the possible influence of futures transactions on the prices paid for wool at the auctions. I think that it is too early to assess any effect that the futures market may have on prices paid ‘for wool, but it is generally accepted by authorities in the industry that the prices paid at auction for a primary product determine price levels for futures and not vice versa. As to the honorable member’s suggestion that we might take this aspect of marketing into consideration in any investigation of the industry, I inform him that this point will certainly be considered.
– My question without notice is directed to the Minister for Health. Is it a fact that cheap rubbish in the way of drugs and preparations such as seidlitz powders, chlorbutol, olive oil and cod liver oil are available under the pharmaceutical benefits scheme at 8 oz. for 5s., when they can be purchased without prescription for 3s. 2d.? Is it a fact that tranquillizer drugs such as largactil, karmazine atarax, equanil, vallergan, siquil, prozin, spann and stelezine, which are urgently needed by hundreds of thousands of people who suffer from nervous disorders due to the hustle and bustle of modern life, are not on the list? Can the Minister tell me why? My authority for this question-
– Order! I think that the honorable member is giving a great deal of information. I suggest that he ask his question now. He has done pretty well so far.
– What I should like to know from the Minister, for the benefit of my constituents, is why people cannot obtain these necessary drugs as pharmaceutical benefits when they are suffering from nervous disorders. My information in regard to this-
– Order! The honorable member has asked his question.
– You are quite unfair.
– Order! The honorable gentleman will withdraw that remark. He must not reflect on the Chair.
– I withdraw it.
– As I have no doubt the honorable gentleman is aware, the admission of drugs to the list of benefits is decided by an expert committee. If the honorable gentleman considers that seidlitz powders are cheap rubbish I can only suggest that he give them a try.
– My question to the Minister for Labour and National Service refers to the recent controversy in the trade union movement over the imposition of a levy of twopence on individual trade unionists for the purpose of bringing alleged trade unionists from red Communist China to Australia. I understand that the so called unionists of Communist China were due to pass through Hong Kong on their way to Australia on Tuesday last, 27th September. I ask the Minister whether those Communist alleged trade unionists are on their way to Australia or have yet arrived. What arrangements are likely to be made for their welcome in Australia? Will there be an official welcome or only a trade union welcome?
– I am not aware of what is happening to those so-called leaders of the trade union movement in China. ] have stated in this House that I believe that this matter is one of internal concern to the trade union movement itself. No official welcome will be given to those gentlemen? What the Australian Council of Trade Unions and the individual unions do with them is their own concern.
Contracts for Government Building Projects
– I ask the Minister for the Interior, as a matter of the gravest urgency: Will he institute an immediate inquiry into the conditions of contracting and sub-contracting with regard to government projects in Canberra? Will the Minister accept my assurance that some sub-contractors, including nominated subcontractors for special trades and for the supply of certain goods, are this week facing complete financial failure because some principal contractors, who have received payment in full for projects completed for the Government, have not carried out their obligations to pay the sub-contractors and suppliers of goods? Will the Minister accept my further assurance that I fear the gravest results from this development?
– 1 cannot accept the honorable member’s assurance without having some further facts to back it up. 1 suggest that he call and discuss this matter with me at the first opportunity. I have already explained to the House quite clearly the general position with regard to contractors and sub-contractors. It is not always easy to determine exactly how a contractor should use the funds with which he is supplied, and to what extent the liabilities which he undertakes arise directly from government jobs. This is particularly so in the case of a contractor doing two, three or four jobs at the same time, some for the Commonwealth and some for private interests. This problem is a difficult one, as also would be the problem posed if a contractor went bankrupt anu the Commonwealth had given some preference to certain creditors of that contractor. The position at present is that if sub-contractors or suppliers of materials to a particular project are finding difficulty in obtaining payment from the principal contractor, they may approach the Commonwealth, and the Commonwealth will then institute discussions with all the parties concerned, and try to arrange for payment to be made, or to persuade the contractor to assign any moneys due from the Commonwealth to sub-contractors or suppliers of material. But we do not feel obliged to do anything different from what is done in similar circumstances by private interests which let contracts.
– My question is directed to the Acting Attorney-General. Two weeks ago, I asked the AttorneyGeneral whether something could be done, as a matter of urgency, on behalf of certain independent motor tire distributors and tire retreading firms whose existence was under imminent threat from the action of tire manufacturers because they had insisted on their right to sell their goods and services at prices lower than those prescribed by the ring of manufacturers. I ask the Acting Attorney-General whether he is now able to offer advice on this matter. The firms whose supplies have been suspended have contracts with governmental and other organizations, and the jobs of the employees of those firms must be terminated unless the Government takes immediate action to protect the right to engage in free’ competition in this country.
– 1 will have a look at the question raised by the honorable gentleman and see whether I can give him a reply some time next week.
– My question is directed to the Minister for the Interior. Has the Minister seen a film that has been shown in Parliament House this week concerning the development that has taken place in Portland harbour? Will the honorable gentleman recommend that all members of this House should see the film, so that they may have a better understanding of the vigorous and energetic development that is occurring in this part of Australia?
– From the frequency and enthusiasm with which the honorable member for Wannon mentions this place, Portland, 1 gather that it is somewhere in Victoria, and possibly in the honorable member’s electorate.
– It is the counterpart of Albany.
– As I am reminded by my friend from Chisholm, it is evidently the counterpart of Albany in Western Australia. I have not had an opportunity to see the film to which the honorable member refers, but I . note that it is one of a series entitled “ Australian Diary “, and I think it is No. 109 in that series, which is a part of a project designed to publicize Australia and Australian development, both inside Australia and abroad. 1 understand that it will have a very wide circulation overseas. It was produced by the News and Information Bureau as a routine operation, and pays tribute really to the development of that part of Victoria. I am told that it will go out to all the Australian overseas missions, will be released, throughout the United Kingdom, and will appear on commercial television stations in the United States. Indeed, the general series “ Australian Diary “ is one of our best sellers overseas and has one of the widest circulations. It also circulates inside Australia. I am sure the honorable member’s suggestion is a good one.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Trade. Have any overseas countries that are signatories to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade eased their support of their massively assisted primary industries during the past five years?
– In general terms, the answer is, “ Yes “. Some countries have abated the high level of price support for their primary industries. I think 1 can say that this has occurred to some extent in the United States, the United Kingdom and in some other European countries. I will endeavour to assemble some information for the honorable gentleman and let him have it. However, it is a phenomenon of life that farm industries in those countries have a capacity to exert some pressure on governments.
” PRINCESS OF TASMANIA
– I wish to ask a question of the Minister for Shipping and Transport. Will the Minister take up with the Australian National Line and the Tasmanian Government the possibility of having a small information bureau set up on the “ Princess of Tasmania “, to be staffed by an officer of the Tasmanian Tourist Bureau, in order to give travellers maximum information about our island State, which is the mecca of all discerning holiday makers?
Would it be possible for this officer to have a 16 millimetre projector on the ship so that he could show documentary films, particularly of Tasmania, in the forward lounge in the evening?
– I am somewhat surprised to hear the admission that Tasmania is not as well known as I had understood it to be. However, we know that the “ Princess of Tasmania “ is carrying record numbers of tourists, and anything that can be done to “give them educational information about Tasmania, I think, would be very desirable. I will bring the matter before the Australian National Line and ascertain whether facilities for the purpose suggested by the honorable member can be made available on the “ Princess of Tasmania “.
- Mr. Speaker, I address a question to you. On looking around this chamber, I am surprised at the number of hearing aids being used. In consequence, I wonder whether something may be wrong with the acoustics of the chamber. Would you, Sir, endeavour to make some arrangements to have the acoustics of the chamber tested during the next recess and some action taken so that honorable members will not be inconvenienced, by having to use these mechanical devices to hear what is said?
– I will give some consideration to the honorable member’s question.
– I ask the Deputy Prime Minister whether it is a fact that the committee set up in Victoria to inquire into the distribution of population in that State, and into the decentralization of industry, requested permission of the Commonwealth Government to interview and obtain information from Commonwealth departmental officers. Is it a fact that the request went unanswered for some months, until a communication was received from the Premier asking for the co-operation of the Prime Minister? Was the request finally refused and was this committee, which is investigating a matter of great national concern, advised to put its questions in writing? Further, was that refusal an intimation that the Commonwealth Government is not interested in the decentralization of population and industry?
– I do not know anything about the matter that the honorable member mentions. The Commonwealth Government is very interested indeed in the decentralization of industry. I am sure that where the Commonwealth could properly contribute to such an inquiry, it would be found to be co-operative.
Assent to the following bills reported: -
Repatriation Bill 1960. Social Services Bill 1960.
– 1 move -
About 400,000 persons a year now visit Canberra, and it is expected that this number will increase as the city develops. In addition, many persons pass through Canberra on their way to and from the Snowy Mountains area. There is no recent study available of the various factors bearing on the tourist industry in the Australian Capital Territory, and the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory has therefore been asked to inquire generally into this subject. To conduct its investigations satisfactorily, the committee may require to take portion of its evidence in the Snowy Mountains area and possibly elsewhere. This motion is designed to obtain the approval of Parliament for the committee to move from place to place.
– I do not want to oppose the motion, but I do think that for a joint committee to inquire into the tourist industry in Canberra is rather below the dignity of the Parliament. When this committee was formed, I understood that it was to be concerned with the development, the lay-out and, in general, the larger matters affecting the future of the capital of Australia and of the Australian Capital Territory. If we intend to authorize a joint committee to move from place to place to find where tourists may lay their heads in the Australian Capital Territory, we had better think of having the committee go all round Australia. If the purpose were to encourage more tourists to come to Australia and so improve our overseas funds, or to further Australian publicity generally, 1 would be all in favour of it and there would be some reason for it. But I feel this investigation of the tourist industry in the Australian Capital Territory region is a matter for either the National Capital Development Commission or the commission and the Snowy Mountains Authority in conjunction. A joint committee of the Parliament should not be asked to ascertain where tourists can be accommodated when they come to the Australian Capital Territory.
, - lt has not been a custom of mine over the years to be always in agreement with the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes), but I am in agreement with him on this matter. I felt disappointed that a matter of this kind had been referred to the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory. I felt that the committee on its establishment would be entrusted with important inquiries relating to the development of the Australian Capital Territory.
– Such as late shopping!
– The Minister of the day chose to refer the question of late shopping to the committee, and the committee considered it. I do not think that the matter that is now being referred to the committee is one which should engage the attention of a joint committee such as this one. I make no secret of the fact that I have opposed this proposal in the committee and elsewhere just as 1 now oppose the necessity for the committee to move from place to place on an inquiry such as this. First, 1 think a committee should not be required to devote its time to this matter. As the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes) has said, it could be handled by existing agencies of the Commonwealth. If the committee is to embark on this inquiry, I personally can see no reason why it should be necessary for the committee to journey from place to place as I have already intimated to the committee. If it does intend to journey from place to place, I shall not undertake to journey with it.
– in reply - I will not detain the House long, but I wish to refer to two points. In the view of the National Capital Development Commission itself, this is a matter of some importance. As I indicated to the House, 400,000 people pass through Canberra every year. That creates quite an impact on the growth and development of a city of only 54,000 people. This is not a mere job of simply seeing where these tourists are going or how many travellers’ hostels there are. I had rather hoped that the joint committee would undertake a fairly comprehensive study, and outline for the benefit of this Parliament and the National Capital Development Commission the kind of impact that this influx of visitors will have on the whole designing and planning of Canberra. Tourism is a major industry in this city and as such I think it is well worthy of examination by the committee.
The question of whether it is right for the joint committee to journey from place to place depends on the committee itself. Since the Snowy Mountains area is adjacent to the Australian Capital Territory and since there is a developing tourist activity in that area, I believe it will not be necessary for the joint committee to journey any farther than that. I have the greatest faith in the sense of responsibility of the joint committee and I am sure the committee will not abuse any privilege that is extended to it. As the joint committee has nothing else on its plate at present, I think it could be usefully employed in assisting the commission in this important job.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
In Committee of Supply: Consideration resumed from 28th September (vide page 1461).
Proposed Vote, £354,000.
PART 3.- TERRITORIES OF THE COMMONWEALTH.
Proposed Vote, £6,822,000.
Proposed Vote, £4,881,000.
Proposed Vote, £32,000.
Proposed Vote, £14,647,000.
Proposed Vote, £54,900.
Proposed Vote, £100.
– I was surprised to note that the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) made no reference to the rice project in the Northern Territory when he opened the debate on the estimates for the Territories. I wish to refer to that matter because I feel that it is of the utmost importance to the Northern Territory. On 11th April, 1956, the Director of Lands in the Northern Territory, Mr. Barclay, introduced into the Legislative Council of the Northern Territory a bill to approve an agreement between the Commonwealth Government and Territory Rice Limited for the purpose of granting to this company exclusive rights to develop 500,000 acres of rice-growing land at Humpty Doo at a rental of 2s. an acre when it took up its development leases. Until it did so, no charge was to be levied on the company. You will recall, Mr. Chairman, the fanfare that accompanied the announcement by the Minister for Territories at that time. I should like to quote from the Minister’s press release to illustrate what I mean. The statement was headed “ Rice Venture in Northern Territory “, and the Minister made this comment -
Territory Rice Limited is backed by big American and Australian capital interests . . . Territory Rice Limited accepts the responsibility to provide housing, shopping facilities and other community buildings; and roads, water works and other facilities to enable the project to be developed The Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) said that this is a case where private enterprise is prepared to venture a large amount of capital in an endeavour to prove its opinion that a large-scale rice industry could be established. The element of risk in the venture, and the large amount of capital required for development, could only be undertaken by a company backed by substantial capital resources.
The Minister emphasized throughout his statement the substantial capital backing that the company had behind it. Further, he said -
In the negotiations leading up to the agreement, the Government has taken special care to protect Australian interests.
Let us go from the Minister’s statement to the debate in the Legislative Council, as recorded in the Legislative Council Debates (“Hansard”), of 11th April, 1956. The Director of Lands, in introducing the Rice Development Agreement Bill, stated -
The company is required lo provide itself with all the necessary plant and machinery to carry on its operations, lo have sufficient capital and resources available each year without recourse to mortgages over any of the leases granted by the Government . It is one of the boldest experiments in large-scale land development that has even been made by private enterprise in the history of Australia. The developmental programme of the Commonwealth and State Governments is such that the Commonwealth has not at its disposal the means of launching such a scheme within the time envisaged under this agreement.
Replying to the second-reading speeches of other members, Mr. Barclay gave this assurance -
Not one penny of Government money is going into the project and I am quite sure the company will not create an unnecessary hazard.
So, Mr. Chairman, we see the emphasis that was placed on the backing and the standing of this company and the fact that the agreement protects the interests of the Australian public and the taxpayers. I want to exonerate the Director of Lands from any blame for misleading the Legislative Council, because, knowing Mr. Barclay, I believe that he would have made the statements he did only as a result of specific briefing. Let me quote here from a press statement made by Mr. Allen Chase, an American, who was the promoter of Territory Rice Limited in the original stages and concluded negotiations with the Government. As reported in the Adelaide “ Advertiser “, of 10th May, 1956, Mr. Chase said -
The company planned to spend £5,000,000 to develop the area - which was only a part of 2im. acres of potential rice country - gradually.
That is the kind of ballyhoo which accompanied the so-called multi-million dollar developmental project.
Over four years have elapsed since the scheme was introduced. Let us now, therefore, have a look at the sorry picture which the venture presents to-day, as expressed in a statement of its financial position which was issued recently. The statement is dated 24th August of this year, so it is not yet two months old. It is headed “ Territory Rice Ltd., 24th August, 1960” with a sub-heading “ Statement to creditors regarding financial position, Territory Rice Ltd.” It commences in this way -
On August 25th, 1960, Territory Rice Ltd. has approximate liabilities to various classes of creditors, and assets available for payment of those liabilities, as follows -
A statement then follows showing secured and preferential liabilities to the Commonwealth Bank amounting to £11,000; to hire purchase £34,000, and taxes £2,400, a total of £47,400. The company is beating even the Treasury. It has unsecured liabilities to a shareholder, Mr. R. P. Mcculloch, amounting to £205,200; to the Commonwealth Bank £120,000, which was guaranteed by Mr. Mcculloch, and to other trade creditors £226,150, a total of unsecured liabilities of £551,350. The total liabilities of the company amount to £598,750. Its working capital is made up of the estimated sale value of the crop, £57,900, less future costs of bagging and selling, £13,080, giving a total working capital of £44,820 as against liabilities of £598,750. The statement continues -
The company at the present time has an estimated operating loss of £1,200,000 available to be carried over and applied against any income for the succeeding seven years.
That is wishful thinking on the company’s part. On page 4 of the statement, the following appears: -
If the company is wound up within the next six months, (a) McCulloch would not be bound by any of the proposed arrangements; (b) he would be entitled to prove in the winding-up for the whole of the amounts owed to him (£205,200) plus any amount which he is required to pay under his guarantee of the Commonwealth Trading Bank loan, so that the meagre amount available for the unsecured creditors other than Mcculloch would be nearly halved; (c) nothing would be realized for the value of the operating loss, for such value depends on the company remaining in existence.
That is the threat which the company holds over the heads of its creditors to prevent them foreclosing. It would liquidate the whole of its assets, which are over-valued at £500,000 - the true value is about half that amount - and McCulloch would take the lot because the company owes him £205,200. The statement continues -
It should be noted that one of the principal assets available to the company now is its operating loss. This loss would have a substantial value lo certain prospective purchasers in so much as it could produce a tax saving of £480,000 to a taxpaying company if applied against earnings otherwise subject to present tax rates. It is therefore imperative that for the benefit of all creditors no action be taken by them to throw the company into liquidation. Were such attempted, furthermore, McCulIoch’s offer to waive his rights to participate with the other unsecured creditors as to approximately £193,380 would lapse. Moreover nil of the available funds from the crop will probably be required to pay liquidators’ fees and other costs and will leave nothing for creditors’ balances.
It is the belief of Mr. Mcculloch and other principals in Territory Rice that the value of the tax loss and the land, machinery, equipment and other assets of the company would be worth to some prospective investors not much less than the cash deficiency shown above and a very serious attempt will be made to realize the maximum value of these assets of the company.
This company is now in the process of hawking the venture around Australia. It is trying to sell a failure so that some one else can make a profit.
– And the Government will be the donkey.
– As the honorable member for Melbourne Ports has said, the Government will be the donkey. What a sorry state of affairs! If the Government makes agricultural land in the Northern Territory freehold, what a wonderful opportunity will be presented for some one to step into this venture and make a profit out of a total failure. What a hopeless mess the company is in at present! On several occasions I have expressed doubts as to its bona fides. I have contended always that it was more concerned in the real estate possibilities of the venture than in developmental prospects - an aspect that the Government should have safeguarded all along the line. The people, therefore, are entitled to ask, and have answered immediately, two questions: First, who advised the Government in its negotiations with the company; and secondly, who investigated the financial and technical background of the company before these negotiations were completed?
We know now that far from having £5,000,000 at its disposal for development, the company has paid up capital of a little over £1,000,000. Those are all the resources that it has. The company has been financed largely by its creditors and by Commonwealth Bank advances. The trades people of the north cannot afford this kind of extended credit to any one. They must face the fact now that they stand to lose everything that they have advanced. It is up to the Government to make good some of these losses because the trades people relied on the Government’s word as expressed by the Minister in a press statement on 11th April, 1956, which is in these terms -
The Minister added that in the negotiations leading up to the agreement, the Government had taken special care to protect Australian interests.
We now know the way in which Australian interests were protected. I demand that there be a public inquiry into the affairs of this company and into the Government’s handling of the negotiations with it. Such an inquiry probably would reveal that a royal commission is necessary to clean up the sorry mess that this company has created in its operations. If a government department had bungled the development of a scheme such as this, it would have been held up as an example of ineptitude and inefficiency and would have been made the butt of ridicule throughout the land. 1 shall be interested to see the attempts that the Government will make to white-wash private enterprise over this classic effort. We realize that private enterprise has a part to play in the development of the Northern Territory and the north of Australia, but it should not play its part in the way that this company has played its part. This company has committed continued breaches of its agreement.
I demand that the Government take over the project and co-opt officers of the New South Wales Department of Agriculture, who have wide knowledge and experience in rice-growing. If this were done I am confident that the Government, with the assistance of those officers and of officers of the agricultural branch of the Northern Territory Administration and of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, could make this rice project one of the richest agricultural undertakings in the Commonwealth. The Government’s contribution towards the development of the north could not be assessed in terms of pounds, shillings and pence, and I urge it to get on with the job and allow the capital gain - there will be a terrific capital gain involved - to go, not to the Hookers and other speculators, but to the Australian taxpayer, to whom it rightly belongs.
The Government could make such a scheme as this the basis of soldier settlement. No such soldier settlement scheme has ever existed in the Northern Territory, and this would be a grand opportunity to implement one now. Soldier settlers would then receive the benefit of this cheap land - this 2s. an acre land - that the Government intends to hand over to private enterprise.
Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I propose to devote the short time at my disposal to a discussion of matters affecting New Guinea. These may be divided into three questions: First, what is our objective; secondly, by what means do we seek to achieve our objective; and thirdly, how quickly ought we aim to achieve it? I spoke on this question on 11th October, 1956, when the Estimates were being debated, and much that I then said proved, in the light of subsequent events, to be right. At that time, my speech did not rate a single line in any Australian newspaper nor create a ripple in this Parliament, but now, four years later, it is good to know that the newspapers and the Parliament have awakened to some of the issues that I then discussed. I have not time, in the few minutes available to me, to go into this matter with the particularity that I would wish. Therefore, I shall leave much unsaid and to be inferred from a few sketchy headings.
One cannot look at the question of New Guinea with any degree of dogmatism. Nobody can be certain about these matters. Indeed, no solution that is sensible and would be acceptable to this country may be possible. All one can hope to do is look to that kind of solution that has the greatest possibility of success.
One must look at the New Guinea problem in its context. First, we are in the midst of a cold war in which the old imperialisms are in full retreat and the new imperialism - communism - is on the march. Secondly, to the north we must look to the expansion of China as we have seen it in Korea, Viet Nam and Tibet, and the expansion further southward of this new giant in Asia. Thirdly, we must look to the claims that Indonesia is making upon West New Guinea, for we cannot isolate West New Guinea from the rest of the island. This could be the springboard for an attack by either psychological or physical means upon our part of New Guinea. Fourthly, we must look to the fact that the Dutch are speeding up events in their part of New Guinea with a view to getting out as quickly as they decently can. These are facts upon which I have not the time to expand. Finally, there will be increasing pressures upon us to speed up the development of New Guinea. There will be both internal pressures and external pressures. Again, since the battle is now being waged, nobody knows what may be the future of the United Nations. Its authority may be either increased or diminished by what is happening in New York at the present time. In either event, I suggest that pressures upon Australia in relation to New Guinea will be increased. I have not the time to go into the reasons; I merely state this categorically.
There will be also internal pressures as the years go on in New Guinea itself. The growth of native skills and native responsibility must inevitably be matched by a growth of native ambition. Those in the lower branches will be ambitious to attain to the higher branches of authority. There are a number of points at which friction may arise and be fomented by those who wish to subvert our interests and authority in the island. This friction could arise from social discrimination - the right or privilege apparently to drink alcoholic liquor is highly regarded - and from censorship of films and things of that nature. There could be friction from the fact that white settlers own land which the natives, as their numbers increase, may covet. There could be friction through wage rates - 1 have not the time to go into details on that - and through discrimination in trade. For example, if we should exclude, say, peanuts or plywood from the market in this country, friction could arise, and it could arise from resentment at the white Australia policy as more New Guinea natives perhaps turn their eyes to Australia as they become educated. These are all friction points that can be made very difficult by people who set out to subvert our authority in New Guinea.
The alternative to this advance is the slow advancement, the uniform development, that the Minister has advocated in the past and says is still the policy of the Government I hope he does not really mean that. Then we would have external pressures forcing us to get out before we had prepared the people for self-government, in which event the people would, to use the Minister’s own phrase, “ go over a cliff in the dark “. So, indeed, there is really no alternative at all. We must press on with advancement as quickly as we can.
I have not time to go into possible goals. I discussed four years ago whether New Guinea could become a seventh State, and T have not the time to go into that matter again. It was a fantastic proposal at the time. I drew attention to it and nobody took the slightest notice. Now I am glad to see that it is accepted by the Government that the independence of New Guinea is the goal at which we must aim. Australia’s interest is a perfectly simple and straightforward one. We want friendly neighbours at our doors. We want simply that and nothing else.
What are the requirements of a viable State, if this is the goal to which we are moving? I suggest there must be political leadership and this means an organized government. It means administrative capacity of the people - that is to say a public service. It means a judicature-r-a legal system, a means of administering justice. It means police or army, and it means technical know-how amongst a sufficient number of the people. In addition to politicians, administrators, lawyers and soldiers, you would still need, if your country is to become viable, teachers, medical men, engineers, agricultural experts, tradesmen and, on the higher level, professors of the liberal arts, for people do not live on bread alone. Again, you, desirably, need an enlightened electorate, and you certainly need a viable economy. I should like to make a few comments on these matters.
So far as political training is concerned, steps are being taken by the Government, I am glad to see, not only through the local government machinery which it has built up, but through the expansion of native representation in the Legislative Council. That is good, for it is the only way to get political leadership. I will not go into the question of the structure of the educational system. I believe there is much truth in what the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) said, namely, that, while building up from the bottom in your primary schools you have also to build down from the top, that is to say, to create the teachers who will further that project. Unfortunately, we have, I think, only something like 60 or 70 teenage natives in the secondary schools in Australia - none, so far as I know, in New Guinea - and this is a very small nucleus from which to begin with university education. But there it is, small as it is, and I believe the honorable member for Fremantle said something worthy of the attention of the Minister.
Now I want to say something about this question of an enlightened electorate. This is highly desirable but we must not expect that a modern democracy, full-blown, can come into existence in the space of a few years. There is the old fable of the goddess who sprang full-armed from the head of Zeus. We cannot expect a full-blown democracy to arrive in the twinkling of an eye. We must be realistic about this.
Our own parliamentary institution began back in the middle ages with Simon de Montfort. The franchise was very narrow indeed until 1832 in England, and it still remained very narrow then. It was not until Stanley Baldwin introduced what was called the “ flapper vote “ that women over 21 got a vote in England. So far as literacy is concerned, in the English electorate there was a large number of illiterate people up till the time of compulsory education in the 1870’s when Robert Lowe, a former member of the Legislative Council of New South Wales, later Viscount Sherbrook and Gladstone’s Chancellor of the Exchequer, said at the time when the first compulsory education act was introduced, “Let us educate our masters “. One must also remember that in the 18th century the English masses, although the people perhaps did not engage in cannibalism, were pretty brutal, as anybody who is familiar with the history of that time will know. 1 have mentioned the various elements which make for a viable state and I have deliberately put the enlightened electorate last, because it is the last thing which comes and may take scores or even hundreds of years. That does not mean that we should not make the masses as enlightened and literate as possible in the interval; but if we are to wait until they have reached the stage of an Australian electorate we must hope to remain in New Guinea for about 300 years. It is on the other elements which make for a viable state - many States have managed without an enlightened electorate - that we must concentrate our attention and build up what has been called a dynamic nucleus, which I hope will be as numerous as possible so that within measurable time there will be an efficient body of New Guinea natives who can fulfil the essential functions of government. The honorable member for Mitchell (Mr. Wheeler) directed attention to one of the very great problems, the establishment of a viable economy; and I understood him to suggest that the Australian taxpayer should not bear the burden of development towards self-government within a short time, because the cost would be prohibitive. That may well be true. He suggested that the only solution was that the New Guinea economy should be so developed that New Guinea itself could shoulder a large part of the burden of its development. I think the implication of what he said was that this could be done only by the introduction of more white settlement and more industry from the mainland. I may be wrong in supposing that that is what he had in mind, but it is what I inferred from what he said. I do not believe that the creation of a Kenya problem in New Guinea is desirable or practicable. The honorable member spoke of the fact that during the war Australian blood was shed in New Guinea, in defence not of New Guinea, I suggest, but of Australia. I am quite sure that no Australian blood is going to be shed in New Guinea in defence of a white hegemony resulting from the introduction of a number of settlers and a great deal of industry from the mainland. In my view the creation of a viable economy depends on production by the natives themselves and on giving them every assistance from a technical point of view in developing their industries which at first, of course, must be primary industries.
But the Government, in the not distant future, will have to give guarantees that will make it possible for the personnel and capital necessary to go into New Guinea if we are to achieve our objective. I spoke first of personnel, because you cannot expect public servants and technical people to go to New Guinea if they believe that within ten, fifteen or twenty years they may find themselves out of a job. Nor can you expect people to invest capital in that country if they believe that it may be confiscated within a measurable time. So, the Government must consider guarantees. For example, there is no reason why teachers should not be taken into the State departments with the certainty that if they have to leave New Guinea before they reach retiring age they can come back to positions waiting for them on the mainland. So far as capital is concerned, the Government should make up its mind that if it is necessary for the development of the people to introduce capital in certain forms, guarantees should be given to those who introduce capital in selected fields. I think it is obvious that the Government must also look to financing the development through the World Bank. These are great problems. Furthermore, there is the question of finding markets on the mainland of Australia and making them available for the products of New Guinea.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I intervene at this stage - and of course it is rather unusual for a Minister to come into the debate in the middle of it - in order to correct some wrong impressions and some unfortunate effects which might be created by the statements made by the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson) about a company known as Territory Rice Limited. It is rather important that I should correct those wrong impressions, because not only are the fortunes of the company involved but the continuation of the work is also involved and, with all respect to the honorable member, I think he has been somewhat unfair to the company in his description of the present situation. He certainly has not served the interests of either the creditors of the company or of the Northern Territory by the way in which he has presented this matter.
If I may go back to the beginning, the situation is this: On the one hand we have had, for a long time, government experiments in rice-growing conducted in the Northern Territory and they are still being carried on. Those experiments are into matters such as variety trials, fertilizer trials and various cultural and pest problems and so forth. That is a purely experimental undertaking at present being conducted by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization and is getting fundamental knowledge of a great number of matters relating to rice cultivation in the north. Very happily - and I say “ very happily “ with full emphasis - while the Government was conducting these experiments some private interests, at that time mainly centered around the name of Mr. Alan Chase, became attracted to the possibilities of rice-growing there and entered into discussions with the Government. The Government welcomed that interest because their investment, if it were forthcoming, would give an opportunity to test the commercial possibilities of rice-growing under actual farm conditions. An agreement was made, and I would emphasize that it is an agreement that, having been negotiated with a company known as Territory Rice Limited, was endorsed by the Legislative Council for the Northern Territory and was received with a great deal of public acclamation in the Territory and commented upon very favorably by most residents of the Territory.
The substance of the agreement was that the company would invest money in the commercial growing of rice, not for the sake of an immediate expectation of profit but in the hope of proving by various developmental undertakings that rice could be grown commercially and then, when it had done so, it would have the right to subdivide the land and its expectation of some reward for its investment would be the receipts from the subdivision of the land. But in that agreement the public interest was very carefully safeguarded by provisions to the effect that the company was required to make progressive investments and could only take up land according to the progress of its developmental experiments. At the present time, although the honorable member has talked about 500,000 acres, what the company has in the way of leases in its own name is a ricegrowing lease of 6,905 acres, which is taken up in accordance with this scheme and, in addition, a miscellaneous lease for ancillary projects and the protection of the ricegrowing area, of 46,080 acres. Under the agreement it has the right to take up additional land only if and when it makes additional investments and embarks on the cultivation and development of additional ricegrowing areas.
So, this talk of half a million acres is misleading. There is no land locked up in that sense. The rights of the company are confined to those areas over which it has leases if it continues in operation; and if, under the terms of the agreement it makes further investment and proves further development, then it has an expectation of being able to take up further land. So the public interest is carefully protected.
The history of the company, which is really the company’s business, not the Government’s business, is this: I think I can say without being unfair to the company that it has experienced two handicaps. There were difficulties of management. I do not think that the company itself would claim that its management was, at all stages, efficient and, speaking from the Government’s point of view, I would think that its management was sometimes rather loose. The company also suffered from the fact that, as a base to all these experiments, some engineering problems had to be overcome. Although an unfriendly critic might say that the company has made at least two false starts in tackling the engineering problems, a more friendly critic would say that, having tried one way of overcoming the engineering problems of water control and having found it did not work as had been expected, the company was obliged to abandon that method and adopt another one.
It is possible that, because of defects in the engineering planning, even the second method did not work as well as had been expected. The second method depended to a certain extent on pumping and the pumps did not operate in the way in which the engineering calculations had led the company to believe that they would operate. So one must not think of any of the present difficulties of the company as being a proof or a disproof that rice-growing is possible.
– Do you think the company will succeed?
– It still could. That is my reason for intervening at this stage. I do not want to imperil the chances of a major development of the Territory by precipitate action which might shake confidence in the future. Without excusing the company for any miscalculations or errors of management, I want to present this picture: In the eyes of people outside the company who are qualified to pass a judgment on these matters, including those with financial as well as agricultural experience who have investigated the project, the possibilities of successful rice-growing are about 90 per cent, or, perhaps, 80 per cent, proven. It is of the utmost importance, I think, in the interests of the Northern Territory that the project should be enabled to continue to a further stage in order to find out whether 100 per cent, proof can be achieved. If operations are discontinued at this stage we will leave the final proof of the commercial possibilities of major rice-growing development in uncertainty. We have nearly reached the final point of being able to say, “Yes. This has the possibilities of a great agricultural industry.” I would urge upon the committee the importance of our approaching this matter thoughtfully in order to see if we can get a conclusive answer and so avoid losing the benefit of the major effort that has already been made.
What is the situation of the company to-day? Over recent weeks, Ministers directly concerned have been in close consultation with the company about its affairs. Although the Government recognizes that the management of the company’s affairs is its own concern, we do have a public interest in trying to ensure that it continues in operation for the benefit of the Territory so that we can complete this great developmental experiment by passing from the stage of 80 per cent, or 90 per cent, proof to 1 00 per cent, proof.
Before I leave that phase of the question, I should say that there seems to be emerging quite clearly from the results of the experiments of the past three or four years, the view that rice growing has a better than even chance, judging by what we know at present, of succeeding so long as it is done by the individual rice farmer, working his own property. It is possibly not the sort of farming operation which can carry, in addition to ordinary farm expense, the expense of the whole overhead structure of a company organization. It is probably a farm operation, not a large-scale company operation.
Another reason why I think that we should avoid doing anything to shake confidence in the project is that there are, with their fortunes closely involved in it at Humpty Doo, four or five farmers who are still working the land and who are preparing for seeding at least 2,000 acres this vear. It is of some consequence to them and to their families, and it is certainly important to the completion of this experiment, that that land should be seeded and another season’s crop produced.
The situation of the company, as I understand it, is this: The company, the major contributor to which has been Mr. McCulloch, has invested at least 3,000,000 American dollars in this experiment. I am not counting in that total the amount owing to the creditors for, as the honorable member for the Northern Territory rightly pointed out, if the creditor has not been paid he is. in fact, a contributor to the amount of cash available to the company. I do not know where else you are likely to find people who would put 3,000,000 dollars into trying to prove a developmental project without an immediate expectation of return. 1 think that we ought to be grateful that there have been people with that sort of imagination, with that sort of money, and with that sort of confidence to go forward and spend 3,000,000 dollars on an experiment. I do not think it would have been easy to find anywhere else - certainly not in Australia - some one who would have put up this large capital purely to try to prove something.
We should not in any way discourage or belittle the contribution which these people have made. They have lived up to the expectation expressed when the. agreement was made with Territory Rice and have made a substantial investment.
As the honorable member for the Northern Territory said, the company now has debts amounting possibly to £500,000. When we come to analyse those debts we must not get the picture of a number of Australian creditors who are likely to be done out of their money. Of the outstanding debt, £205,000 is an unsecured debt to Mr. McCulloch. In addition, the Commonwealth Bank has been guaranteed by the Bank of America, on Mr. McCulloch’s guarantee, for £120,000. So of the large outstanding debt £325,200 is, in fact, a debt to Mr. McCulloch and it represents, in addition to the large sum of money that he has put in as a shareholder, an additional cash contribution by him to this experiment. Of the remaining debt there is a sum due under hire-purchase agreement, and it is not immediately due. Other amounts are due to fairly substantial creditors who, I think, in view of the size of their organizations, will not immediately suffer if they do not get paid next month.
The total of what might be called small debts owing to people who, perhaps with greater or lesser urgency, do need the money is as low as £70,000.
– Those less able to look after themselves?
– That is right. The total is about £70,000, and the cash requirement to get out of the difficulty and to still the clamour of those creditors would not be more than £70,000. So, against the picture presented by the honorable member for the Northern Territory, a picture that would shake the confidence of everyone in the possibility of any one being paid, I want to present this other picture which shows that a very large part of the outstanding debt is due to the main investor in the company over and above his shareholding and unsecured advances by him.
– I do not think that in your presentation of the case you are being fair to the honorable member for the Northern Territory. What he is afraid of is that some shark will come in.
– 1 can assure the committee and the honorable member for Melbourne Ports that we are not going to allow the sort of position to arise where some one scoots out with the money bag and leaves a lot of people lamenting, and I am quite sure that the company itself has not that sort of conduct in its mind at all. In our discussions with the company on its difficulties we have found Mr. Mcculloch and his representatives forthright, simple, plain and in no way displaying any of those characteristics which the honorable member for Melbourne Ports and the honorable member for the Northern Territory fear.
The important thing, Sir, is not to spread abroad the idea that there is going to be an immediate collapse, that there is going to be some sort of immediate default. Let us frankly admit that the affairs of the company are in a difficult position for the company. Let us recognize that these financial difficulties of the company are matters internal to the company. They are not matters which arose from the nature of the agreement, and normally would not be the concern of the Government. Let us also recognize that, because of the importance of completing this experiment, which is already nearly 80 per cent, or 90 per cent, completed, and the importance of proving the experiment right or wrong, it is important that that operation should continue. Let me inform honorable members again that, because of its recognition of that importance, the Government has had discussions with the company. I am not in a position yet to indicate what the final outcome of those discussions may be, but I would suggest that before an issue is made of this, and before something is done that shakes confidence finally, we should await the outcome of the discussions between the Government and the company. I would hope that no one will get into a state of panic over this. I would hope that no one will do anything which might lead to the interruption of that most important operation, the preparing of the ground and the seeding of the ground for next season’s crop. I would myself hope that the company will find it possible to make arrangements that will enable it to continue in operation, and that, as a result, this great and very hopeful experiment will continue, and in the end have a very happy outcome for the Northern Territory.
.- I wish to address myself to the estimates for the Northern Territory and for Papua and New Guinea. Later, I shall have something to say about the explanation made by the Minister, but first I shall have a word or two to say about the estimates themselves. Honorable members who examined these estimates closely will inevitably come to the conclusion that they are confusing and fail to give a clear picture of the financial situation affecting the Northern Territory. I turn to the items on page 147 of the Estimates, especially those dealing with stores and material. One item is, “ Victuals for welfare and other establishments, £268,000 “. Last year’s appropriation was £204,500, of which £46,048 was actually spent. The next item is, “ Technical stores, £159,000 “. Last year’s appropriation was £65,875, of which £7,896 was actually spent. One could go right through these items and find very substantial under-spending shown. Large sums have been appropriated for the items, and will be appropriated on this occasion, but the amounts actually expended are much smaller than those appropriated. I believe that estimates ought to convey to members of the Parliament and to people concerned with administration a true financial picture of the activities of a government department, a service or an organization. These estimates fail to do that. I understand that perhaps some action is being taken.
Canberra through branches in Darwin and Alice Springs. All the activities necessary to the Northern Territory should be coordinated there, wilh administrative responsibility to this Parliament and to the committees of the Parliament. I further believe that greater authority should be given to the Legislative Council of the Northern Territory. Greater financial control could well be vested in that body. I think that if the Northern Territory is eventually to take its place as a State, bearing the responsibilities that other States bear, it is necessary that on every possible occasion opportunities ought to be given to the Territory to develop politically and governmentally, and to acquire the political and governmental equipment necessary to do so.
Last year, the vote for the Northern Territory was £8,870,000. This year, it is £10,241,000. That may appear to some honorable members to be a substantial increase, but when one considers the fact that there is raging inflation in this country and that money buys so much less than it did previously, the increase is not so important. It is certainly far from being impressive considering the number of items included in the estimates which call for no more than re-votes - the appropriation again of moneys that government departments failed to spend during the preceding year or years.
Those matters are of the utmost concern to the committee, and I suggest that they ought to be reflected upon by all concerned. The disclosure that certain government departments have failed to spend their votes certainly shows the effectiveness of the activities of parliamentary committees.
I think you will agree with me, Mr. Chairman, when I say that we are not providing sufficient money for the development of the Northern Territory and the effective carrying out of the Administration’s services. The development of this Territory should be an exciting subject in the minds of the members of this Parliament. We should be uplifted by the realization that we have in the Northern Territory a large part of Australia which is under developed, and that we must plan energetically to carry out this development. Above all, we must provide sufficient money for the purpose.
While recognizing the Minister’s enthusiasm in other matters coming within his control, I repeat that I see no worthwhile policy with regard to the Northern Territory, no extra efforts being made, and no speeding up of the developmental process which would result in the peopling of this important part of our country. The Minister referred to the necessity for improved transport services, for water conservation schemes and for pasture improvement. I heartily agree with him. It is most important that improved transport facilities should be provided, but outside of making a vote for some improved road, what has been done to achieve this laudable objective? What new steps have been taken to improve transport services in the Northern Territory? While speaking of the matter of transport, let me say that the most pressing need in this country is for an effective rail system. We should do something along the lines of the recommendations contained in the Clapp report. I believe the western line in New South Wales should be extended from Bourke, through the drought-prone back country of Queensland and into the Northern Territory. This should be put in hand as an urgent project.
No words of mine are needed to emphasize the importance of water conservation, and again I think it will be agreed that nothing worth while is being done in this direction in the Territory. As a matter of fact, no planned development is being carried out at all. Any development that has occurred has been simply the result of some chance find of mineral wealth, and not as the result of the implementation of a carefully planned policy. This is a most unsatisfactory state of affairs. One matter that needs close attention, of course, is the necessity for an enlightened land policy in the Northern Territory. I regret to say that at present there is no land policy worthy of the name, and the failure to define such a policy constitutes one of the greatest blots on the Government’s record in this area. We find the Hooker organization taking over Victoria River Downs. Is that the kind of land development that will result in the peopling of the north? In my opinion it certainly is not. The Minister made some mention of the Territory Rice organization, and I personally thank him for his efforts to set the record straight. He tried to tell us something of the policy and activities of this company. He said that no land was locked up in the Territory. I have been in the Northern Territory on one or two occasions, and my experience was that people were having very great difficulty in obtaining land for the purpose of developing the area.
The Minister said, and I agree with him, that the growing of rice is a matter for the individual farmer working his own farm. What is the Government doing to provide individual farms for farmers to work them? It has made land available to the Chase group, which has received an option on a substantial area of land on the eastern bank of the Victoria River. It was my unhappy experience in the Northern Territory to listen to various ex-servicemen pleading for the right to take over the marginal land along the Victoria River and the Daly River. They told me of their attempts to establish themselves as rice-farmers and of the frustration which they experienced. When I returned from the Territory I reported the facts to the Minister and I can only hope that the grievances of those individuals were redressed.
I say again to the Minister that a more enlightened land policy is needed in the Northern Territory, and that at present there is no policy worthy of the name. As the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson) has said in this House on innumerable occasions, there is no war service land settlement scheme which would give ex-servicemen an opportunity of carrying on agricultural development in the Territory. The Minister has an opportunity to do a valuable job by ensuring that individuals who want to establish themselves as farmers are given every encouragement to do so. This should not be done by promotion schemes controlled by Hooker’s or any other such organization. The necessary assistance should be given by this Government, through the agency of the Minister and the Administration. It will be a shameful thing if people wanting to establish themselves on the land have to go cap in hand to some finance company and pay interest rates of 8, 10 or 12 per cent, for the right to develop Australia. The Australian pioneering spirit is dying out. In other days adventurous people were given opportunities and encouragement to go on the land and develop it, to carve out their holdings and improve them, but such opportunities are no longer available.
I have spoken for longer than I intended about matters affecting the Northern Territory. I merely repeat that an enlightened land policy is required for the further development of the agricultural and pastoral industries. An increase in mining activities would accelerate development perhaps to a greater extent than any other single factor, and this is another matter calling out for attention by the Government, by the Minister and by his department. I can only hope that something will be done in this direction, and that the pleas of honorable members on this side will not fall on the deaf ears of people who will do nothing to help those in the Northern Territory who want real, effective and positive development of the area.
I had intended to say a few things about the Territory of Papua and New Guinea, but time will not permit me to discuss it at any great length. I shall merely say that all members of this Parliament have a solemn obligation and responsibility to do nothing that will undermine the development of this Territory and the future of its people. Australia has close ties with the Territory of Papua and New Guinea, ties that were cemented in time of war, in the time of our extremity. This Territory presents us with a great challenge. We have a responsibility to provide sufficient finance for its development. It would be a grave mistake for us to go to some world organization or some agency outside Australia seeking funds to do a job which is solely ours to do. If we accept funds from some overseas organization, we must also accept the controls that will accompany them.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– The honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory (Mr. J. R. Fraser) last night referred critically to the work being done by the National Capital Development Commission. I want to take the time of the committee, briefly, to deal with some of bis comments. He had three main matters of complaint. The first was that the waiting time for Government rental houses was increasing, and he also had some comments about the availability of certain types of houses such as four-bedroom houses. The second matter of complaint was that there had been a falling off in the standards of houses. The third matter was that there was a very poor standard of architecture in the public buildings being constructed by the commission.
It is very easy for the honorable member, from the comparative comfort of an Opposition seat, to talk in a large way of what the Government should be doing in this Territory. He is not limited in any sense by lack of funds; he can say that the Government ought to be spending many millions more. The problem of finding the money, of course, does not necessarily trouble him one bit. When the compulsory transfer of the Defence departments from Melbourne was first mooted, the Government did give an undertaking that it would not reduce the allocation of houses in Canberra to those on the waiting list because of the necessary construction of homes for the compulsory transferees who were given a priority. That undertaking has been honoured, as the figures I shall quote will show. But the honorable member conveniently transposes that undertaking into an undertaking that the waiting period would not be increased. I cannot find that any such undertaking was given. It may have been mistakenly inferred from the actual undertaking that was given by the Minister for the Interior at the time.
The figures show that the Government has more than honoured the undertaking that was given. In 1957-58, before any Defence transfers took place, 646 Government houses were allocated to tenants. In 1958- 59, when the first group of Defence transferees were moved to Canberra and 510 houses were allotted to them, 702 houses were allotted to those on the waiting list - quite a substantial increase. In 1959- 60, when 293 Defence transferees received housing units, 770 people on the waiting list received houses. It is proposed in the current year, 1960-61, that at least 725 people on the waiting list will receive houses.
I am aware that the waiting list is growing. This is because far more people are coming to Canberra and they consider, rightly or wrongly, that they have a claim on the Government for housing. I will concede immediately the point made by the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory that there will be for some time a steady demand for Government housing for the type of transient personnel coming here to undertake work which, in the development of the city, is of importance. However, when that development work is completed, they may no longer wish to stay here. In addition to providing in this year more houses for those on the waiting list than were provided in the time before the compulsory transferees were moved here, the Government has also undertaken a vast programme to encourage private building. Although it may be quite true that the ordinary employee who comes here to undertake developmental work may not wish to stay permanently, many businesses and firms have established themselves permanently in Canberra. Surely the greatest guarantee that they can have for obtaining employees in the future is to invest a little of their capital in building houses for their employees rather than relying on the Government, whose resources are strained to the limit, to provide houses from the waiting list for these people. Part of the commission’s programme is designed in the hope that these people will engage in building houses or groups of houses. In this financial year, the commission hopes to release for private home-building at least 950 blocks of land, as against the previous record established in the last financial year of 570 blocks. That is a very big increase. In order to provide easier finance for people who would wish to build their own homes, either with the assistance of their employers or assistance from other sources, a sum of £500,000 is being made directly available this year to the co-operative building societies to finance comparatively low-deposit home building. In addition, low building covenants have been set on a number of building blocks.
When all things are considered, the Government’s housing record is excellent. In the proportion of houses provided in the Territory, for reasons which I accept as quite justifiable, it is certainly far ahead of any State housing commission or the number of houses provided by any government anywhere in Australia.
The honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory also complained about the cost of housing. He said that the cost of housing had gone down, although wages and the cost of materials had not gone down, and therefore the commission was reducing standards quite unnecessarily and was producing houses of shoddy workmanship. On many occasions, the honorable member has said that he could not understand why the cost of home building in Canberra was so high. He has referred to the cost for which he was able to build his home, and he has made those statements on a number of occasions to a number of people. Part of the task of the National Capital Development Commission was to find why it cost between 20 and 25 per cent, more for each house here than for a comparable house in one of the other capital cities. It has approached this job in a most determined way and has evolved many means of reducing the cost of houses. It has succeeded in making the tendering for homes far more competitive and has induced a far greater number of builders to come here. It has attracted to the Australian Capital Territory a number of those builders who are building low-cost homes in other capital cities. At the same time, the highest standards have been insisted upon and no homes that are built for the Government or privately are passed unless they comply strictly with the building regulations, which have not changed in the Australian Capital Territory.
– Wooden floors are being put in bathrooms, contrary to regulations.
– That is what the honorable member says, but there is no evidence of it. The only one example he gave to me was not substantiated.
The honorable member complains also about the small number of four-bedroom houses being provided by the Government for government tenants. The proportion provided is higher than any State housing commission provides. It is quite true that there is a lag at present. The increase of the proportion of four-bedroom houses to 10 per cent, of the programme from the previous 5 per cent, should help to take up that lag. As with the general time-table, the allocation of these houses is interrupted from time to time. As in the case of the waiting list, which has been fluctuating on the average between two years and three months to a period a little longer, so the availability of four-bedroom houses fluctuates according to whether a move of defence personnel is in progress. Moves of defence personnel are made in bulk. At a certain planned time, a number of men are transferred together. During that time, the availability of houses from the list is necessarily cut off, but when the move is completed, the normal flow of houses to the waiting list, including any available fourbedroom houses, continues.
The final point raised by the honorable member was related to the Russell Hill offices and the flats at Manuka. The honorable member is on pretty safe ground there. Standards of culture and the like are matters of personal opinion, but I do suggest that it is not quite so easy for the honorable member to rise and say in this House that the Russell Hill offices and the Manuka flats are unworthy of this city when he is pitting his own judgment against the very wellconsidered judgment of a number of experts. The National Capital Development Commission does not design these buildings. In the first place, the general requirements are considered; and in both these cases, designs were obtained from private architects who have an undisputed reputation for competence in design in these particular fields. The designs were examined critically by the National Capital Development Commission itself, but further than that, they were examined carefully by the National Capital Planning Committee which advises the commission and includes among its members architects and engineers with the highest academic qualifications and the highest practical experience in the Commonwealth. Those people consider that the buildings we are discussing are a very fine adjunct to the National Capital. I do not wish to quarrel about this. If the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory does not like the buildings, he is entitled to his opinion. Indeed, we welcome criticism.
– Would the Minister contrast those buildings with the Administrative Block?
– That building was constructed in another day and age. It was built when building costs allowed for that kind of artistic extravagance, but in these days you will not find buildings anywhere in which the kind of luxury we have in the Administrative Block is indulged in. We welcome criticism of work, but when one considers the utility of the buildings we are discussing and compares them wilh modern buildings erected elsewhere in Australia, it is evident that they arc very fine buildings indeed. I do not say that they are the final word in beauty, but there is plenty of room for difference of opinion on that point. I think the honorable member will agree, however, that in the light of the experience, qualifications and judgment of the men who examined the plans for these building, the National Capital Development Commission itself has done a reasonably competent job.
– I complain of the uniformity of all these buildings.
– The honorable member is entitled to his view, but so far as the public is concerned, the commission has observed its responsibilities honestly and I think with due regard for the normal every-day tastes of the community.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
.- The committee is at present discussing the Budget Estimates and, in particular, the estimates for the Department of Territories. A discussion on this subject is interesting because it pertains, not only to the Territory of Papua and New Guinea but also to the Northern Territory. I think all honorable members recognize that an increasing degree of controversy has centered on the Territory of Papua and New Guinea and that the attention of the world has been attracted to it, especially as it is governed under United Nations trusteeship.
The indigenous inhabitants of various countries in the world are finding for themselves a new way of life and a new standing in the international community. We hope that Australia will play its part in contributing towards the realization of the dreams of the people in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. The Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) is probably one of the most enlightened of those who sit opposite. We are fortunate that he holds his present portfolio because, after looking at his confreres, we must come to the conclusion that the welfare of some 2,000,000 people in the Territory, would be in very dangerous hands if any one else was responsible for administering the Department of Territories. i do not agree completely with the Minister’s policy in relation to New Guinea. 1 know that he has some regard for the future and that he is inclined to contend that Australia should encourage the idea of a partnership between the indigenous people and the Europeans. This is a noble aspiration but hardly a practical one which has any hope of real success. It is very difficult to imagine a partnership which would be so unbalanced, because you would have, say, 20,000 Europeans and 2,000,000 natives. I do not think that the Minister’s idea will catch on and, if it does, in the long run the native people will be disillusioned. In thinking of the future of New Guinea one must have regard to the natural inclinations of the indigenous inhabitants. I believe that the Territory is ideally suited for the development of a real people’s State - a socialist society, if you wish.
– Would you not leave thai to the people themselves?
– Yes, indeed. 1 think it would be a good thing to leave lo the people themselves. I hope that they will be given the opportunity to adopt such a society as early as is possible. On one occasion I had a conversation with a native who had come to Canberra. I asked him his impression of the place and he said, “ It is most impressive, but I cannot understand why you have a street of banks standing side by side “. Honorable members no doubt are aware of the present set-up in relation to the banks. I asked the native what he meant, and he said: “ I cannot understand this useless competition. I think it would be an improvement to use one building as a bank, one as a motor registry, one as a baby health centre and so on”.
When one considers the way in which the natives share their resources and make the best use of everything for community purposes, one can see that the socialist concept is fairly instinctive in them. “We are bound to bring the capitalist system into disrepute if we perpetuate it in its past form.
It is important that Australia should provide self-government for the people of New Guinea in the shortest time possible, although I must confess - as has the visiting United Nations mission - that the indigenous people of the Territory are not making any clamour for self-government. However, it would still be advantageous for Australia to be the first to issue a proclamation to the effect that it would allow the indigenous people the right to govern themselves within a prescribed time.
– What time do you suggest?
– I do not have to suggest any time at this stage. That is not my prerogative. However, I shall make some suggestions if the honorable member will be good enough to listen. It is important that in the future the country that is closest to us should have friendly inclinations and a friendly attitude towards us. Whether those who sit opposite desire it or not, one day New Guinea will be a self-governing entity and it is highly desirable that the indigenous people of the Territory should hold us in high esteem.
We should inform the Europeans in the Territory that the native people will govern in the future. That is most important. The Europeans will have to adjust themselves to that situation. When all is said and done, we have not done so well, even in Australia, in relation to the assimilation of the aborigines, even though we have been in this land for 172 years. The sooner we realize that we have to give the people of New Guinea a fair go in the matter of self-government, the better. We should encourage them towards accepting selfgovernment by setting target dates, particularly in relation to education.
Every aspect associated with the Territory, including reports of visiting United Nations missions, indicates to me that we are unable to finance the rate of development that is required. Recognizing that ill over the world there are nations which take the view that the rate of development should be accelerated, I cannot for the life of me see why the rate of development in New Guinea should be geared to the speed at which Australia can finance it. We are trustees for the Territory, and it is important that it achieves self-government one day. We have no particular incentive to invest in the Territory and to pour in large sums of money which the Australian people can ill afford. To encourage Australians to expend increasing sums on the Territory would seem to indicate that Australia has some kind of claim on it which is not likely to be relinquished in the future. The time will come when Australia must tell the United Nations that we do nol intend to dominate the New Guinea scene forever and that we want to stimulate the Territory’s development. That is the inclination of colonial people all over the world. We should look to every member of the United Nations which, we hope, has as much interest in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea as we have, to contribute financially to the Territory’s development.
There has been speculation about the future of the Territory. I have been interested to hear a contention that a seventh Australian State should be established there. It is most significant that a suggestion along those lines has never come from the indigenous people; it has come from the Europeans who are comparatively privileged people in the Territory. They have installed themselves as planters, landholders and operators of various businesses. I wonder whether the contention to which I have referred has been advanced as a means of serving the best interests of the indigenous inhabitants! Of course, we must consider the idea of establishing a seventh State, but in considering it we must take into account the neighbouring territory of Dutch New Guinea, because the problems associated with that territory remain unsolved. Indonesia’s attitude must be borne in mind. Most Australians oppose the idea that one-half of New Guinea should go to Indonesia and the other half in some other direction, thus splitting the homogeneous inhabitants. If Australian New Guinea is separated permanently from Dutch New Guinea, the latter territory has no alternative but to acquiesce in its incorporation in Indonesia. This will have the effect of splitting permanently the Melanesian people, which would be highly undesirable. lt is apparent to me that the future of New Guinea lies in the political integration of that area. A multi-racial society policy ignores a number of important things, including economic, political and social difficulties. Further, when thinking of a seventh State, we have to recognize the likelihood of the development of a secondclass citizenship, and to think of the economic consequences. For instance, we must think of the need to finance, perhaps, social services similar to those which are available to Australians. I refer to age pensions, widows’ pensions, child endowment and so on. Then there is the problem of equalizing industrial conditions for the natives, together with the provision of educational facilities for all the indigenous people. That could be a most expensive task. Indeed, it could require the expenditure of an amount that it would be beyond our capacity to provide. Another problem would be facilities for freedom of travel. Under our Constitution, freedom of travel between States is mandatory. We could possibly contract out of that, but it would involve some alteration to the Constitution. Certainly the creation of a seventh State would give rise to some very real problems. 1 do not believe that the natives are interested in second-class citizenship. I believe they want true independence. I suggest that with a seventh State we would be developing what might be termed an Australian ghetto, which could bring with it great problems of the type that have been in evidence in other parts of the world. In New Guinea to-day there is discrimination between the Europeans and the indigenous people, and I suggest that it is only reasonable to expect that discrimination to manifest itself in a seventh State. I saw discrimination with respect to shopping in New Guinea two years ago. I noticed at that time that the native shops catered for the natives and the European shops, while catering for both Europeans and natives, did not cater for the natives adequately or give them the attention they deserved. At that time there was also discrimination in connexion with transport. When I travelled by air from Wewak to Rabaul the Europeans were accommodated on conventional seats while the natives were required to sit on steelframed seats placed in the aisle. Housing was another matter in which there was blatant discrimination. They still had the boys’ house behind the European house. The boys’ house could be likened to a dog box, and I could never condone such conditions. In the hotels, restaurants and the theatres that same spontaneous discrimination is taking place to-day, and that would be another problem if we had a seventh State.
I was interested to read a short time ago in a visiting mission’s report that the native employment ordinance provided for a wage of 325s. a year for ordinary work and 455s. a year for heavy labour. There is very strong discrimination in connexion with wages and other industrial conditions. There is even discrimination in connexion with cemeteries. In New Guinea they have European cemeteries and native cemeteries. Wherever one goes one sees that sort of thing, and it is just what we can expect to obtain if the seventh State is ever established. I do not know whether the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Opperman), who is interjecting, advocates a seventh State. If he does, he is at variance with his colleague, the Minister for Territories.
To a large extent, education is the key to the problem in New Guinea. There are 400,000 children of school age there, and the Administration schools are catering for less than 20,000 of them to-day. As yet, many of them are unable to obtain any education, whilst others are receiving from mission schools a type of education which is often described as unsatisfactory and substandard. We have made progress, but it is apparent that we shall have to make a great deal more progress, just as it is apparent that this problem, like so many others I have not the time to deal with, is beyond the economic capacity of Australia. I make the serious suggestion to the committee that we indicate to the United Nations that, while we are prepared to carry out all necessary work on developmental projects, we are unable to meet the cost and will need financial aid.
I should like to make another point. My colleague, the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant), advocated the establishment of a university in the Territory. That is a fair and reasonable suggestion.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- The remarks by the honorable member for Hughes (Mr. Johnson) are typical of many comments made by people who are ignorant of the position in New Guinea. The proposal to invite the United Nations to share the burden of developing New Guinea is quite unrealistic. Any one who has any experience of the handling of New Guinea’s problems by the United Nations knows just how unrealistic it would be to invite that body to help. For belter or for worse Australia has accepted responsibility for these tasks in New Guinea. We are faced with the responsibility of raising the New Guinea people to the point where they can stand on their own feet as an independent nation, and that is an obligation we are proud to accept. I strongly believe that our record over the last ten years will bear comparison with that of any other power, great or small, in the world that has undertaken similar tasks.
New Guinea is the most difficult of all countries in the world to develop. We have in New Guinea 2,000,000 stone age people speaking 500 different languages, one group being separated from another by rugged country. New Guinea is the most rugged and formidable island in the world. It is a tough proposition in New Guinea. It always has been tough for the pioneers and the Administrators there, and there is no reason to expect that it will become any easier for the Administrators and the people who carry the light of democracy to the dark people of New Guinea in future times.
We know it is costing us a lot of money in New Guinea. We know that there is an unfavorable balance of trade, just as we know that it will be unfavorable for as far ahead as we can see, on present indications. But we should not be deterred by that. I think the Administration is to be complimented on the way it has been able to withstand the pressures that have been brought to bear by private, sectional interests, by groups of idealists and by the completely ignorant people who think that we can adopt some sort of crash programme to bring these stone age people up to the level of the civilized races in a matter of five or ten years. 1 was in New Guinea 25 years ago. Those 25 years have passed like a flash. In another 25 years’ time, we shall still be talking about the development of New Guinea, because it is a long haul in that country. Nothing we do, no amount of money poured into that country by us will shorten that distance at all. I repeat that it is a long haul, and we should not be ashamed of the fact that it is taking us so long to bring up to a state of self reliance, personal independence and self-discipline these people who, 200 years ago, were using stone implements to obtain their food. Indeed, they were using such implements only a very short time ago in the inland parts of New Guinea, and I am reminded that they are using them still right up in the hills.
The point J should like to stress at this stage is that our objective in New Guinea is to build up the character of the people themselves, to build up the independence, self-reliance, self-respect and self-discipline of the men and women of New Guinea. That is our objective in New Guinea. We have to build up those qualities of character to a point where New Guinea can act as an independent nation in the world and stand on its own feet. But yOU do not necessarily develop those qualities of character by education or, necessarily, by the maintenance of law and order or bv the process of extending health services to the people. In fact, very often the provision of governmental help in a paternal fashion has the very reverse effect and actually destroys the self-reliance of the recipients. We must avoid that particular event happening in New Guinea. We must avoid the danger of thinking that in some way paternalism is going to produce better people in New Guinea than colonialism did.
There is a vast change that has occurred between the present time and the days of straight colonialism. But it does not necessarily mean progress from the point of view of our long-range objectives. The development of the New Guinea people depends more on the development of the structure of the economy of the country than upon the extension of health services, education services or the like. The building up of the structure of the economy is taking us quite a while in New Guinea. I am sorry that we have not been able to make more rapid progress with secondary industry there. Secondary industry is vital to New Guinea’s economy and it is vital also from the point of view I have been expressing - the point of view of the individuals who make up the New Guinea people. We can do much more than we have done to attract secondary industry to New Guinea, because we have there one great advantage - resources from which cheap hydro-electric power could be generated to a degree that we on mainland Australia have good cause to envy. But very little has so far been done by the Government or the Administration lo develop the hydro-electric potential of New Guinea and make it available for the uses of industry. lt is true that we have a scheme on the Ramu River and another on the L a 10 k i which is just outside Port Moresby, and there is also something going on up in New Britain. Apart from that there is no major scheme of any consequence to use the abundant waters which flow from the snowcapped mountains in New Guinea. Consolidated Zinc have rights over a site on the Purari River which, it has been estimated by the engineers of that company, will develop 800,000 kilowatts of continuous power. That is the sort of proposition which the Government should be investigating for the development of secondary industry in New Guinea. Secondary industry is vital to the economy. Although the population of New Guinea is only 2,000.000 people, in 50 years’ time it might well be 10,000,000. That is the order of the rate of increase of population that has been encountered in other countries when health services have been extended to a primitive people. So we must look a long way ahead in New Guinea. We cannot be content with simply providing special governmental inducements to small factories like breweries, plywood factories or factories to process copra.
We must look to the day when New Guinea will have a vast number of small firms manufacturing a wide range of products; and that will come about if we are able to offer industrialists in this country, and in overseas countries, cheap power that is available in New Guinea from the tapping of the hydro-electric potential which exists there. I see no reason why we should not approach the World Bank for a loan to develop the hydro-electric resources of this island. I think it is the type of proposition to which the World Bank would give sympathetic consideration, because it is obvious that a country like New Guinea, where there is very little arable land to support a growing population, and where the potential for the export of its traditional commodities, such as copra, is very limited, must go in for manufacturing at some stage in the future in order to survive. So. I urge the Government to give this proposal earnest consideration. The administrative officers no doubt look at the problems in New Guinea from their own peculiar point of view. They believe that all will be well - I think it is a view largely held in government services - if the Administration is able to grow large enough and to spend enough money. Unfortunately that does not produce goods and services; and it does not produce the kind of people we need in New Guinea to lead the country when it becomes an independent nation.
.- It is quite evident, listening to the speeches of members on the Government side of the chamber, that their attitude to New Guinea has not changed materially in recent years. They still regard it as a large island to the north of Australia with resources and a population which should be available for exploitation by those who want to invest their capital in it. What the Government is now doing, because it is showing some consciousness of the need to do something about the development of New Guinea, is being done because the Government’s hand has been forced in this matter by international pressure and the concentration of the United Nations Trusteeship Council upon the work of the Australian Government in the Territory. But until this position arose the Government had done very little to discharge its obligations in New Guinea. I have heard one honorable member after another talk about the great progress and the great work that has been done in New Guinea; and then we had the honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Ian Allan) getting up and saying that practically nothing has happened in New Guinea in the last 30 years and that nothing is likely to happen in the next 30 years, which seems to be rather a contradiction of the claims of some speakers that the Government has done good work in the Territory.
What happened under anti-Labour governments before the war? I think the amount then spent annually in New Guinea on the administration and development of the Territory was not more than about £40,000. When the war interrupted operations in New Guinea, the civil administration was suspended. Later, the Labour Government of the day restored the civil administration. What are the things that the Government talks about to-day? They are the establishment of village councils, the establishment of a legislative council on which the natives have representation, the development of native co-operatives and industrial standards. First of all, the village councils were initially established by the Labour Administration. The Legislative Council, with native representation on it, was also the work of the Labour Government of the day, and anybody who has time - time will not permit me during this debate to go back over the old records - will discover that speaker after speaker now on the Government side of the chamber criticized what the Labour Government was doing at that time. They talked about our trying to advance the natives too rapidly. We sent an investigator to the Territory to have a look at the proposition of increasing immediately the wages being received by the natives, which in one part of the Territory were 5s. per month, and in another part of it 10s. per month. Our officer came back from the Territory and recommended an immediate increase of 15s. a month, a better ration scale and other improvements.
We then set out to advise a regular examination of native living standards so that they could be regularly improved. At the time, the Liberal Party member to whom I have referred said that while he had no objection to the Labour Government’s attempting to improve the standards of the natives in New Guinea, he thought that we were doing it too rapidly and were likely to spoil the natives. It had taken approximately 50 years of
European rule to get their wages up to 5s. a month. That should have been gradual enough for the greatest conservative in this Parliament.
Let us see what the Government proposes to do about the present position. When we first proposed to give the natives representation on the Legislative Council we discovered that many white settlers opposed the idea. That attitude was supported by Liberal Party and Australian Country Party members in this Parliament. At one period, the European representatives on the council threatened that they would not sit with the native representatives. When the Legislative Council was officially opened the Labour Government had ceased to exist and I am given to understand that Europeans at the function refused to serve the native representatives who were present. A very nasty incident would have arisen had not Labour representatives at the opening of the council filled the breach and extended this courtesy to the native representatives.
I think that the advocacy by some honorable members of a multi-racial community in New Guinea is dangerous. This is a rather inconsistent attitude. I realize that the New Guinea people have to be assisted materially from Australia at the present stage of their development. They need Europeans to provide various services which they themselves are not qualified to give at the moment, but that is vastly different from sending in Australian capital for development. I am talking about private capital, not government capital. The use of private capital entails building up in New Guinea a white population with vested interests in the Territory. It is strange that in New Guinea some white people are now talking about creating a multi-racial community - the very thing that we have refused to do in Australia. In time, complications and conflict might easily arise in such a community and that could lead to great difficulties for Australia.
I know that there are people who have sunk their capital in New Guinea. Exservicemen have gone there. Some are working on plantations’ and some have their own properties. I do not argue that they should be abandoned or prejudiced in any way by the policy that I am indicating. But if these people ever choose to leave the country or if conditions become too difficult for them, they must be assisted by the Australian Government and must be compensated for any consequent loss. It would be far preferable, from Australia’s viewpoint, that such a policy be pursued than that we should undertake to defend the rights of these people in New Guinea. That is a situation which we have to examine.
Let me return to what the Government has done to show that it is a free enterprise Government. I would like to see New Guinea developed, as I have said, with both financial and other assistance from this country. The native co-operative system which the Labour government established should be developed. I think that the best way to assist the natives is by helping them to lift their standards of education, to establish their own health services, and to develop their co-operative movements. Instead of doing that, what does the Government do? When the Labour Party went out of office it had in the island services a line of ships which were either governmentowned or operated under charter to the government. Let us recognize that in the pre-war period New Guinea was completely under the control of certain private financial interests.
– Burns Philp
– That is true. It was under the control of shipping companies such as W. R. Carpenter and Burns Philp. When the civil administration of the Territory was suspended early in the war, the Labour government recognized that it would be to the advantage of the Territory to have a government shipping line because it had no substantial road system. The people of the Territory are almost exclusively dependent for the carriage of goods on shipping. Labour set up the government shipping line, but as soon as this Government took office it began to dispose of the government ships and hand them back to private enterprise. Had the Labour Party remained in government, not only would we have had a government inter-island shipping service, but we would have had a shipping service operating between the Territory and the mainland of Australia.
When the Labour Party left office we were negotiating with the Bulolo Gold Dredging Company Limited for the resoiling of the Bulolo Valley. Anybody who has been in the Bulolo Valley will recognize that in the area over which the dredges have operated fertile country has been turned into a desert waste. We considered that the people who were there for private profit ought to be obliged to restore the valley, at least to its previous state of fertility. We set out to negotiate with them for the resoiling of the valley. When I asked the Minister for Territories recently what had happened to those negotiations, which had not been concluded by the time we left office, the Minister said that he regarded the proposal as impractical. He said that it was too costly to undertake. It did not matter what damage the company was causing to the future of the Territory. Everybody is aware that certain parts of New Guinea are fertile but that other areas are not so productive.
It is important for the future of the natives that the fertility of their island should be preserved, but this Government has been prepared to allow the private interests to exploit the Territory. The honorable member for Gwydir (Mr. Ian Allan) now talks about the great cost to Australia. Let me put it this way: There has also been a great deal of wealth taken out of the Territory and I am of the opinion that the people who have been exploiting the Territory have not been making an adequate contribution to the cost of maintaining the Territory services.
I fully realize that some of the people who were offering criticism at the United Nations probably do not realize to the full the problem of developing New Guinea and the great difficulty that this will create for the Australian community. We are only 10,000,000 people. We are a very highly taxed community. I recognize that if we had to push on with the development of New Guinea at the rate expected by some members of the United Nations it would mean the expenditure of many more millions of pounds of Australian taxpayers’ money and higher taxes in this country. I do not object to the United Nations authorities wanting the advancement of New Guinea to be speeded. But if they want more rapid development, then possibly the countries which press this point in the United Nations ought to help Australia by providing some of the finance necessary to develop services for the Territory.
Let me turn to native standards and conditions. The Labour government declared its intention, within a period of five years, of ending the objectionable indentured labour system which existed in the Territory in the pre-war period. Although the present Government talks about the “ old system “ of indentured labour having been abolished, indentured labour still exists. It is now talked about as an agreement between the employer and employee but it is the same old system, probably with certain modifications. I had hoped that, by this time, the idea of indentured labour in the Territory would have been abandoned. When we suggested it on the first occasion, as speech after speech recorded in “ Hansard “ shows, Liberal members opposed this great change. They said that we would ruin the economy of New Guinea. We set out to prove that it could be done. The policy of the Labour Government, given as a direction to the Administration, was that work was to be on the basis of free labour - men were to be free to be employed or free to leave employment if they were dissatisfied with it. We set out to do this, and I understand that that practice has not been departed from. But the Government has not continued with the policy of abandoning the indentured labour system to which all sorts of people in this country and in other parts of the world have objected. The representatives of the missions supported the Labour Government in its objective of abolishing indentured labour. I say that indentured labour still exists in the Territory. I asked the Minister some questions regarding the scale of wages that the native people in the Territory could receive in various occupations. He set out the categories in which they could be employed, but I found that no natives qualified for employment in the highest categories, which were alt filled by administrative personnel. In one of the replies the Minister gave to me he talked about these being career occupations. I do not know how he describes them as that, but probably later he will tell us what he meant.
.- It is very difficult to find words that would adequately describe the irresponsible speech that has just fallen from the lips of the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward). One could possibly describe it as vicious, vitriolic and irresponsible, and perhaps be persuaded to leave it at that, though 1 think that even the extravagance of that language is manifestly inadequate to describe the honorable gentleman’s speech. Indeed, as the honorable gentleman was speaking he reminded me of a political pterodactyl. I presume to remind honorable members that a pterodactyl was a prehistoric bird that had teeth.
I cannot imagine a more irresponsible speech coming from a senior member of Her Majesty’s Opposition than that which came from the honorable member for East Sydney. One could not even describe it charitably as a woolly speech because the sheer irresponsibility, from beginning to end, of the honorable gentleman’s speech, is a very sad thing to find in an important financial debate. The honorable gentleman has not changed. He has not grown up. He has not matured. He has not been able to develop any sense of responsibility in regard to these great matters. For the benefit of the committee I am bound to quote some evidence of this from a speech made by the honorable gentleman on 2nd November, 1938. Here are the words he used -
It is amusing to hear people say that we shall not give up New Guinea. To those people I would say that if it should become necessary to defend our Mandated Territory, they should defend it themselves. As far as I am concerned all I can judge about the necessity for retaining New Guinea is that a handful of exploiters have got hold of the country, some interested in aerial transport-
With the finger raised - some in gold mining-
With the finger pointed - and some in the search for oil-
With the finger going down - which, according to reliable reports, has already been found. These people want to retain New Guinea in order to preserve their own commercial interests.
Those sentiments were uttered by the honorable member for East Sydney 22 years ago. Normally, after 21 years have gone by a person is reckoned to have reached maturity and is handed the key to the house. We have given the honorable gentleman from East Sydney one extra year for luck, but he still has not grown up. This afternoon he has offered this irresponsible criticism of the Minister’s administration of New Guinea, and has completely ignored the fundamental problem. The honorable gentleman has alined himself with the honorable member for Hindmarsh, who, in the course of the last few months, has earned himself the well-deserved reputation of stirring up harmony and goodwill throughout New Guinea! One could just imagine the honorable member for East Sydney standing before his mirror, regarding his features and saying to himself, “ Edward, the mantle of Edward the Peacemaker sits lightly on you “.
I want to turn now to the great problem that is predicated by this discussion on New Guinea. There is no more sensitive issue facing this country to-day than the problem represented by New Guinea. Honorable gentlemen opposite have joined in the piteous clamour to fix a target date for self-government for that Territory. The honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson) said that we must fix the time, that we must prevail on the United Nations and convince them that we are in earnest about this. I presume to remind the committee that our ancestors in the thirteenth century dragged the protesting King John to Runnymede and forced from him an undertaking that he would govern according to some settled elements agreed on by all. Nearly eight centuries have passed, in which the parliamentary democratic institution has been developing. Is there any person in this chamber who would deny that even to-day, after nearly eight centuries of test and trial and experience, it is still a most fragile thing? Any person who earnestly regards the parliamentary institution will see the difficulties and weaknesses of it - the surrender of power to the Executive by the parliamentary oligarchy, and the surrender by the parliamentary oligarchy to the oligarchy of the bureaucracy. Yet here are people who insist that in the course of one or two days we should fix a target date for self-government in New Guinea. Nothing could be more dangerous for the people of New Guinea than premature self-government, and nothing could be more dangerous for the people of this country than the grant, to the people of New Guinea, of self-government that was not associated with a sense of responsibility or a sense of maturity.
So I say to honorable gentlemen opposite who have joined in this irresponsible clamour to grant self-government to the people of New Guinea in accordance with some hard and fixed time-table, that it just will not work. It is all very fine for the theoreticians and the long-haired, detached from active work in this field, to say that there is nothing wrong in setting the year 1985 as the time for the introduction of self-government to that Territory. But those who have some sense of realism, who are anchored to some sense of responsibility, will not subscribe to that view at all. Having dealt with that point 1 shall now- -
– Sit down.
– I know that that would thrill the honorable gentleman, but I do not want to give him that thrill at this point. I want to make a few references to the very lively criticism that has been levelled against the Minister for Territories regarding his administration. In recent weeks, there has been created a storm of protest surrounding a certain anthropological gentleman by the name of Professor Gluckman. Because of the action taken by the Minister and the Government people have seen fit to drag into dispute, and to put into the balance, the whole of the Minister’s administration - a grossly unfair thing to do, if I may say so! But. I shall deal with the merits of the issue as I see them. I think it is very proper that the Minister and the Government should reserve the right to say who may go into the Territory and who should be prevented from going into the Territory. Once again, it is all very fine to deal with this matter in a detached and theoretical way, and to say: “ Look, shades of Mill, let every one go into the Territory! Why restrict any one? “ But again, that attitude does not show very much sense of responsibility, and I want to deal with the specific refusal to grant Professor Gluckman entry into the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. The Minister has stated quite publicly that over the course of a number of years a mere handful of people, about twelve in number, have been prevented from going into the Territory. That is the first point want to make. The second is this: It was not the Minister for Territories who called a press conference or held a public meeting and announced to the people of Australia that he and the Government and the Administrator of the Territory had rejected Professor Gluckman’s application to enter the Territory. It was not the Minister, it was not the Government, it was the professor. That is the only possible conclusion to be drawn.
– The Government wanted to cover it up.
– 1 will let the honormember examine this from all angles. He can look at it from one side or from the other. It was not the Minister who made the announcement, and it was not the Government-
– It was the butler.
– You are stupid enough to believe anything, so I will let that remark go by. The only other party to the application was the professor himself, and accordingly one can only conclude that it was the professor who made known the fact that his application had been refused. The honorable member for Kingsford-Smith (Mr. Curtin) is trying to interject. As I look at him and think of the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) and the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron), I ask myself: If this trio of irresponsibles is allowed to enter New Guinea, what harm could be done by letting Professor Gluckman go there? I know the honorable member for Kingsford-Smith would be the first to agree that it is a question well worth asking.
Let me return to my first point, that the applications for entry into New Guinea of a handful of people have been rejected over the years. If honorable members opposite insist that the Government should give its reasons for rejecting Professor Gluckman’s application, then they must be prepared to agree that the reasons for rejection of the applications of the other twelve persons, or thereabouts, should also be released. In the case of those persons, as the Minister has told us, some of them had criminal records. Would those persons be very happy to have it made known that they had criminal records? Would the other persons, whose applications might have been refused on the ground that they suffered from some singularly unpleasant disease, be very happy to have the reasons made known?
– Are you suggesting that these reasons apply in the case of Professor Gluckman?
– I am making this point because I contend that if you adopt the principle in one case you must be prepared to apply it generally. You cannot simply say that it is okay in one case but not in another. Let me make it quite clear, for the benefit of the honorable member for East Sydney, whose tortuous mind is always perilously obsessed with this kind of allegation, that I was not referring to Professor Gluckman when I suggested possible reasons for the exclusion of certain persons from the Territory. I am merely putting it to the honorable gentleman, and to the committee, that if you say that the reasons for the exclusion of a particular person must be made public, then you must also be prepared to say that the reasons in the cases of other persons must also be given publicly. You cannot suggest that simply because of his eminence in the anthropological field the reasons should be given in the case of Professor Gluckman only.
Let me carry the argument a step further. If there are security reasons for the exclusion of a particular person and the Government is compelled to disclose them, it would then be the simplest thing in the world for 5,000 members of the Communist Party to make applications simultaneously to go to the Territory. Then, on the principle that the reasons for rejection of an application must be made known, the Government would be compelled to give the security grounds upon which the applications of those 5,000 persons had been rejected. Can honorable members think of any simpler way of stripping to the bare bones the whole framework of the Australian Security Intelligence Organization?
One of the arguments advanced in favour of Professor Gluckman being granted permission to go to the Territory was that he has been associated with the Christian Action Fund. This was, indeed, one of the arguments put forward by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell). Let me put this to the honorable gentleman: On the professor’s own statement, he is an atheist. Does not the Leader of the Opposition see anything odd about a professed atheist being associated with the Christian Action Fund? Surely, the honorable gentleman would agree that this sort of humbug should be nailed. It so happened that the same Christian Action Fund with which the professor was associated had also as one of its supporters none other than Earl Russell, who wrote a book, “ Why I am not a Christian “, to which that saintly, seraphic soul, the Dean of Canterbury, felt constrained to issue a reply. I put it to the committee, therefore, and, above all, to the Leader of the Opposition, who is quite genuine in his approach to these matters: How can you reconcile a profession of atheism, on the one hand, with an alliance with the Christian Action Fund on the other?
Let me make one final comment on this subject. The use of the Gluckman episode to bring into disputation the administration of the Territory by this Government, and, above all, the work being done by the Minister himself, has been grossly unfair, and the criticism has been most undeserved. Whatever the history of New Guinea may be, I feel quite sure that the historians will be driven by the sheer, irresistible logic of events, to say that the present Minister for Territories, whatever his faults and weaknesses may have been, was a man of good will and good works.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– The honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen), who has just finished speaking-
– This is the second speech of the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory.
– Yes, Mr. Chairman, and I hope it will be as good as the first.
The honorable member for Moreton prates of the benefits of democracy and of the traditions and institutions of Parliament, but he almost invariably uses his time in debate in this chamber to vilify and abuse individual members of the Opposition or the Opposition as a whole. The honorable member went back to the year 1938, and quoted remarks in “ Hansard “ attributed to the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward). In that year the honorable member for Moreton might have been in his third or fourth year at high school.
– I was chasing sheep, and they were more intelligent than you.
– And you have not yet lost the look of it. Having listened to and watched the honorable member for Moreton during his short address to the committee this afternoon, I feel that there was no need at all for Professor Gluckman to apply to go to New Guinea to follow his anthropological researches. He could have done so either here or in the Moreton electorate.
I do not propose to speak on the estimates for the territory inhabited by the Tolais, the Chimbus the Sepiks or the Kuku Kukus, who are shortly to be given a measure of self-government. I speak to the estimates for the Australian Capital Territory, the people of which have not yet been given that benefit. The Minister for the Interior (Mr. Freeth) joined in the discussion of these Estimates to-day and, quite rightly I think, spoke in defence of the National Capital Development Commission and the various spending authorities and construction authorities in the Australian Capital Territory. I hope the Minister does not think that any of those organizations was under attack when I spoke earlier. I had hoped that my remarks, although certainly critical, would have been accepted as an endeavour to be helpful and constructive.
The Minister referred to the change in design of housing and of public buildings, and he expressed the view that in such matters you must, of course, be guided by the experts. With that contention I do not disagree, but I do claim that one may choose one’s experts. The experts upon whom the Minister relies are the experts who advocated the construction in this city of eightstory blocks of flats and of numerous other blocks of apartment houses in which families are now living. I suggest that in this field the expert is not always the architect, the engineer or the planner. The expert could well be the housewife or the family man. Indeed, when a survey was conducted by the National Council of Women among residents of the National Capital, a very strong preference was expressed for houses with certain facilities which are not always made available in those now being constructed. A survey was taken of families living in flats. If the percentages 1 give are wrong, it is not an intentional error. My recollection is that 67 per cent. - it may be 62 per cent. - o! any event it is more than 60 per cent. - of the residents in flats said they would prefer to live in houses. They had accepted flats because houses were not available to them unless they waited for a considerably longer time. Of this 60 per cent, or more, 47 per cent, said they would move out that day into any house in any suburb just to get out of the flat. These flats were provided on the advice of experts, they were designed by experts and the fittings were decided upon by experts. I prefer to take the opinion of the other experts, the people who are actually living in fiats or houses provided by the Commonwealth.
The Minister took me up on an earlier suggestion of mine that means should be found to reduce the cost of construction of houses. I believe that that should be done and is now being done. I have suggested that means should be found to develop lowcost housing. This could be attractive in appearance, similar in outward design to other types of housing, but without some of the frills, if I may use that term, found in many modern constructions. When I speak of the reduction in the cost of houses constructed in Canberra over the past twelve months, I want to make the point that the commission is building the same types of houses as were being built twelve months ago, but the cost is less. I believe that, it is less for the reasons I gave when I spoke on this matter earlier. I said that design was inferior, not inferior from the technical and architectural point of view, but inferior from the point of view of living qualities in the house, on which any housewife can give an expert opinion. I said that inferior materials were used. The Minister must realize that in many brick veneer constructions in this city green timber is being used. The outer timbers are tied to the brick wall and cannot shrink and when the inner timbers shrink, warping occurs, with the result that any one who drives along numerous streets in Canberra can see the dipping roof line, caused by this factor of shrinking in brick veneer constructions. The effect is rather like a Chinese pagoda.
This weakness in materials has cost the Commonwealth considerable sums for repairs and maintenance. If honorable members look closely at the houses of which I am speaking now, they will see that repairs have had to be effected to nearly every ridge capping because leaks have developed due to this sagging and shrinkage of timber. In addition, because of the very competitive tendering between building contractors, there is now a lack of finish and a lack of workmanship in the government-constructed homes. 1 referred also to the need for homes with four or more bedrooms. The need is obvious, lt is recognized by the department and by the National Capital Development Commission. But it has not yet resulted in sufficient numbers of this type of home becoming available. Indeed, I suggest to the Minister - I do not doubt that he could have statistics either to prove or to disprove this - that the floor area of houses now being constructed in Canberra is considerably less than the area regarded as the average or the desirable area of houses here even a few years ago. It is completely true that hundreds of families occupying government-constructed homes in Canberra are living in very cramped conditions, because the modern home simply does not provide adequate living space and bedroom space for the average family. In Canberra, the size of families could be considerably above the average. I have mentioned before that in my files I have particulars of numerous families with ten. eleven and twelve children living in the standard three-bedroom home. Where this occurred some years ago in homes with a separate dining-room and possibly a verandah of some kind, a family was able to make do; but in to-day’s butter-box type of house, a family is not able to make do because there is nothing other than the bare minimum of space. The three bedrooms are far too small and instead of a separate dining-room, there is a dining annexe. There is no separate room anywhere that the children can use when studying or doing homework, and there is no space to spare in the home.
The Minister spoke of the efforts being made to encourage private home-building and home-ownership. With these measures, 1 agree, but 1 want to see them extended. One of the methods adopted recently by the commission to encourage private homebuilding was a modern homes exhibition. Great admiration was expressed for the efforts of the commission in arranging this exhibition. I went through these modern homes, as did thousands of others. In some of them, furniture had been placed in position. As you opened the door of the largest bedroom in the house, the door missed the end of the bed by only a few inches. If you wanted to move along the side of the room on which the door opened, you had first to enter the room, then close the door behind you and so make space to enable you to move. In a two-story home, the front door when opened narrowly missed the newel post of the stairs. I suggest that homes such as this are not adequate to the needs of families.
– You are too big for the houses.
– I was not talking about the height of the ceiling. The Minister can go and look at these houses for himself. He, of course, knows something of Canberra; he spends a good deal of time here. I am talking now of the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck), who is at the table. I think he must sometimes feel somewhat disappointed at the nature of the development taking place in the National Capital.
I spoke critically of the appearance of the Russell Hill offices. We have been told time and time again that the building of a national capital is not merely the building of houses, schools and other facilities, but that monumental buildings are also required. Those are the terms used by the Minister for the Interior and by the National Capital Development Commission - the feature of the National Capital will be the monumental buildings. These offices at Russell Hill are some of the monumental buildings now being constructed. The Minister defends their appearance on the ground of costs. Admittedly, cost must be taken into account, but I hope when a new Parliament House is being constructed, as has been suggested by several honorable members, we will not construct a building similar to the offices at Russell Hill. If it is necessary to keep to a budget of costs, is it also necessary to keep all public buildings now being constructed similar in appearance? I know that the modern architect finds great beauty in repetition. He likes to see row upon row of houses all exactly the same.
– Have you mentioned Port Arthur?
– I think the similarity could hardly be denied. The honorable member for Wilmot, of course, is familiar with the penitentiary from the outside, and, of course, its similarity to the offices being constructed here is patent. It is a pity they could not be incorporated in “ Hansard “. However, these are the offices at Russell Hill to be occupied by defence personnel. Every other block of these offices to be constructed will look the same.
I ask the Minister to compare them with the Administrative Building, which a former Minister for the Interior described as a white elephant and a monument to cost plus. However that may be, it is certainly a more graceful building than anything now being constructed in this city. There is no reason why the Commonwealth should cut everything to the bone. The people of Australia expect the Government to build here a decent national capital and a fitting capital for this growing Commonwealth. The 400,000 people who come here as visitors each year are the severest critics of the mistakes being made in the development of this National Capital.
The Minister spoke of efforts to encourage home ownership and make more land available. I want to see more land made available for homes and I commend the Minister on the action that is being taken. But recent sales of land have shown that the building covenants placed on the blocks are, in many cases, far below the average cost of home construction under government contracts. At a recent auction sale of 119 leases, 76 had covenants not exceeding £4,000. Some of the building covenants were as low as £2,750 ranging to £3,000, £3,500 and up to £4,000. The average cost of a government house in Canberra is approximately £4,400. As approximately half the land is being made available with building covenants of the type I have mentioned, the Government evidently expects the private home-owner can build his home at those figures.
Obviously these blocks were designed for purchase by men of moderate means to enable them to establish a moderately priced home. I am referring to the estimate for the general land services of the Department of the Interior. In the recent auction sales, the home owner who sought to purchase a block with a low building covenant so that he could get a moderately priced home was outbid by spec, builders who will build a house to sell for £8,000 or £9,000 and so take an unearned increment from land that should have gone to the man of moderate means.
– I want to take a little time to reply to the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) who replied to charges I made concerning the operation at the rice field at Humpty Doo and particularly the actions of Territory Rice Limited, the company which has been given a franchise to develop the area. First, I shall reply to the fantastic statement of the Minister that the company does not hold rights over 500,000 acres of land in that area. He said he did not know where this figure came from. After studying the records, I have found that, far from holding rights over 500,000 acres of land in the Territory, the company has reserved for its selection 750,000 acres of land from which it is allowed to select 500,000 acres for the development of rice growing. I want to refresh the Minister’s memory by quoting from the “ Hansard “ record of the Legislative Council of the Northern Territory. On 11th April, 1956, the Director of Lands, Mr. Barclay, in introducing the Rice Development Agreement Bill stated -
Under the agreement, the company is bound progressively to develop for rice growing a total area of half a million acres of the sub-coastal plain system lying to the east side of the Stuart Highway. . . .
In order to provide the company with reasonable protection, and at the same time to permit other development, also on a large scale, to take place, the company during this rive-year period is required to make sufficient investigation to nominate a definite area of 750,000 acres within which its total development will take place. Inside this area the Government will not grant any leases for large scale agricultural development until either the period for the leasing programme has expired or the company has notified the 300,000 acres to be taken on lease, whichever first occurs.
I can also refer to the ordinance itself as well as the bill that went through the Legislative Council at that time which also underlines the fact that 500,000 acres is the area over which this company has a franchise to develop at 2s. an acre when it eventually takes up developmental leases. The company actually has 500,000 acres reserved to it under the terms of the agreement.
It is true as the Minister has said that the Legislative Council gave the project and the agreement full support; but it was given on the strength of the statements made by the Government at the time and because of the assurances given by the Government that the interests of Australia and everybody else concerned were protected. However, we find that in the four years that have elapsed since the signing of the agreement, the members of the Legislative Council of the Northern Territory have become restive over this project. At the meeting before last of the Legislative Council, Mr. Richardson, a member, criticized it. At the last Legislative Council election, Mr. Ward criticized the company’s activities and demanded that the Government take over the project. Those men are elected members of the Legislative Council who are fully aware of their responsibilities and have intimate knowledge of what is going on in the areas they represent. If this land is not actually within their areas, it is only a few miles outside them. I have not yet been able to ascertain the actual amount of money owing to the Government by this company in respect of its contribution towards the development of the area. I have had a question on notice since 20th September but have had no reply.
– It is not very much.
– That is good to know, but I want to know what the amount is. I know that electricity accounts are still outstanding, and there are probably maintenance charges and other amounts outstanding as well. As soon as we get that information, we will know what the Government itself is up for. The Minister has said the rice-growing possibilities of the area were 80 per cent, proved and that if the company was allowed to proceed it could succeed. We are all aware of that; but is the company prepared to proceed? Has not the company been going around Australia within the last few weeks hawking this project?
– No. That is not right.
– Would the Minister deny that Hooker interests were negotiating to take over?
– They made an offer but did not proceed with it.
– The company was prepared to negotiate on the basis of a takeover. That is a fact according to the company’s own statement. I agree with the Minister that this is essentially a farmers’ project; it cannot be developed on a largescale basis. Farms should be limited in area. Rice farming in this area can be undertaken successfully only on the individual effort of farmers. We know the technical difficulties of large-scale operalions. This is not only a matter of £ s. d.; other things come into it. The Minister has pointed out that already four or five farmers are undertaking farming in this region and their interests must be protected in the event of the Government taking over the project, lt is an ideal situation for soldier settlement.
– You would not put settlers on that land until you had proved it.
– lt has been 80 per cent, proved with Commonwealth funds. The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization has done good work. The Administration farm is conducting experiments, and all this has been done at the taxpayers’ expense. For the extra 20 per cent, that exists in the Minister’s mind, the development of the area could be put into effect with advantage to the taxpayers. We could produce rice there as cheaply as the coolies produce it. The company has indicated its willingness to sell and protect its interests. At page 4 of the company’s statement we find this passage -
It should be noted that one of the principal assets available to the company now is its operating loss. This loss would have a substantial value to certain prospective purchasers in so much as it could produce a tax saving of £480,000. . . .
If that does not indicate that they have purchasers in mind, what does it mean? The company itself has stated - . . it could produce a tax saving of £480,000 to a tax-paying company if applied against earnings otherwise subject to present tax rales. lt is idle for the Minister to say that this undertaking is not being hawked around. The company statement to which I have referred is less than two months old. You cannot tell me that at this stage it has not lost interest in growing rice and is prepared to recover portion of its losses and get out of the business.
– The statement is not much more than one month old. It is dated 24th August.
– That is right. The inducement that this company is holding out to a prospective purchaser is that taxes amounting to almost £500,000 can be evaded. That is the attraction to the prospective buyers. For £500,000 the Commonwealth could take over the project itself because, if that amount of tax is evaded, it is a charge against the taxpayers of Australia. The Commonwealth, by using that £500,000 and the services which it has provided to date, could complete the project and put it in working order. It could then be made available to soldier settlers and others because possibly a sufficient number of soldier settlers would not be available. There is a demand for rice-growing land. I receive applications and inquiries day after day from young fellows who want land in that area but cannot get it. Why can the Government not make the land available to these land-hungry people at, say, 2s. an acre instead of giving it at that price to this company which is now hawking the project around the country? The Government would see some return for its investment.
– Has the company any other land?
– Not in the Territory, although I believe that a branch of the company is operating in Western Australia. These taxation evasion proposals which 1 have mentioned are not proposals that I have read into the scheme; they are proposals that have been outlined by the company.
– As a basis of negotiation.
– That is right. That is the attraction - the bait - that it holds out. If the Government allows the company to proceed, it will be responsible for encouraging a scandalous state of affairs because the taxpayers stand to lose £500,000 which could go, if not the whole of the way, at least most of the way towards putting this venture on a sound footing and removing the 20 per cent, uncertainty that remains in the Minister’s mind.
No one could deny that Hookers were negotiating a deal on the basis of this company’s proposition, but after investigating the affairs of the company, it appears that Hookers were so unhappy about the deal that they lost interest. The Minister has told the House that Mr. McCulloch is concerned only with proving a point - that rice can be grown in the Territory - and nothing else. I think that that is one of the most naive statements that I have heard for a long time.
– Have you ever met Mr. McCulloch?
– I have never met him.
– Then 1 have an advantage over you.
– He is a businessman, and presumably he has put money into this company on the basis of earning rich rewards.
– He has done more than that. He is an extraordinary man.
– On the basis of probability, we must accept that he is engaged in a business venture. No one would come to Australia and invest 3,000,000 dollars, as the Minister has stated, just to prove to Australia that rice can be grown in the north. The proposition is too fantastic to be accepted. The fact is that he has invested this money on the assumption that he will earn a rich reward from his investment. That is a reasonable proposition, and
I do not blame Mr. McCulloch. The fact that he has failed and stands to lose his investment now is due entirely to the bungling of the company’s operations in the initial stages. Under the present set-up, it cannot recover.
The suggestion has been made that I am doing a disservice to the Territory by raising this matter. What kind of service has this company done for the Territory by hawking its proposition around Australia on the basis of tax evasion? I have no regrets about bringing this proposition before the House. I was requested to do so by creditors of the company, and I have done so because of my own sense of responsibility, and because of my obligation to the people of the Northern Territory. I have been urged by shareholders to ventilate this matter in the Parliament. They realize the hopeless state of the company. It is up to the Government now to take over the whole of the assets of the company and to reimburse those shareholders who were induced to provide credit on the basis of certain undertakings by the Commonwealth Government. The Government has a responsibility to reimburse them, at least in part, for the losses that they have sustained.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I return to a discussion of the estimates for the Territory of New Guinea. This Parliament must ask itself what it thinks it will achieve in New Guinea. What are we trying to achieve in New Guinea? How do we justify the expenditure of £14,000,000 this year- and probably £16,000,000 next year - of the taxpayers’ money in New Guinea? Is it because New Guinea is still regarded as a defence project? Obviously the answer to that question is “No”. Now that we have reached the stage of nuclear weapons and guided missiles, no one really believes that New Guinea can any longer serve a major defence purpose. Are we spending the money to demonstrate our good faith to the rest of Asia, of which we are an important appendage geographically? Whether we like it or not, we must learn to live with Asia and to come to a good understanding with the Asian people. They are our nearest neighbours. They could be our best friends; they could be our best customers. Or are we spending this money because of a desire to preserve the privileges which are enjoyed by foreign investors and by the European planters in the Territory?
Those are the questions which we must ask ourselves. I have provided the answer to the question relating to the defence aspect. I hope, soon, to supply the answer to the question of whether we are spending the money as a demonstration of our good faith to the rest of Asia. Whether we are spending the money for no other purpose than to preserve the privileges of those who enjoy the rich rewards of foreign investments is something that must be considered. As an Australian - I think 1 can speak for the majority of the ordinary Australian taxpayers - 1 say unhesitatingly that if 1 thought that the £14,000,000 that we are taking out of the Australian taxpayers’ pockets to pour into New Guinea was for no better purpose than to preserve the privileges now enjoyed by foreign investors in New Guinea, I would be utterly opposed to spending even 14d. in the Territory. I am not prepared to spend Australian taxpayers’ money for no other reason than to preserve the privileges that are enjoyed by the shareholders of Burns Philp, W. R. Carpenter, Lever Brothers and the other great international cartels which together represent a capital of something like £400,000,000.
Is this the reason for our interest in New Guinea? If it is, I am utterly opposed to the proposed expenditure. I would like to think that our interest in New Guinea - the reason why we, as a nation, are willing to spend £14,000,000 in return for which we can expect nothing - is because we want to demonstrate to the world that whatever may be said against white people in other parts of the world. Australia is a nation of white people which is willing to demonstrate its good faith to the Asian people and to show that we treat them as equals and regard them as human beings. I should like to think that our interest in their country is purely altruistic, that it is aimed at uplifting their standard of living, their standard of education and their standard of health. I said last night that I believed that we had done a reasonably good job in the field of health and. in recent years, in the field of education. But still, we have no reason for being complacent about the whole situation. We have done some good things in restoring law and order. For the first time, hundreds of thousands of those people can walk peacefully along a road from one village to another knowing they will not be murdered on the way. These are all achievements of which we have cause to be proud.
Turning aside from the good things we have done, let us see whether we have done as much as we could have done, or should have done, in other directions. I believe that we have not. I believe that in some respects our administration of New Guinea is very closely akin to the Portuguese administration of their African possessions. There they used the local chieftains as stooges or Quislings in order to impose upon the native people the Portuguese system of government and an acceptance of what flowed from Portuguese investments. I do not mind a government using the chieftains of the villages in order to induce the people to accept our form of government. Indeed, I think that is a laudable thing. I would much prefer to see a government have enough common sense to use the influence of the luluais and tul-tuls in seeking to impose some decent sense of law and order on the tribes than to endeavour to ram it down their throats at bayonet point, with wholesale bloodshed. One thing that must be said in favour of the administration of Papua and New Guinea by Australia is that there has not been much bloodshed there. That is probably one of the bright spots of Australian colonization, and it compares more than favorably with the tragic, sorry colonization of Australia itself when hundreds of thousands of the original inhabitants of Australia were literally murdered by our forefathers. What we have done in New Guinea is a great improvement on that.
But 1 do not think that is any justification for maintaining the influence of the luluais beyond the point of getting the native people to accept law and order. It is wrong to use the influence of luluais to make the native people accept such things as the exploitation of their natural resources and of the native people themselves. And there is exploitation of the native people. Again, no one can deny that there is racial discrimination in some fields. The particular field to which I refer is wages, working conditions, workers’ compensation and so on. Can anybody say it is anything but racial discrimination to force a native to work for 6s. 3d. a week and single rations, irrespective of whether he is married? Is there any justification for saying to a married man with a wife and children, “ The only reward you will get for your services is 6s. 3d. a week and rations for yourself “? When I asked the Minister how many of the married men working in New Guinea were in receipt of family rations, his answer, as reported on page 1 394 of “ Hansard “, was that of the 8,904 married men working in New Guinea only 527 are in receipt of family rations. He further said that those who bring their families to their place of employment without the permission of the employer are not entitled to family rations. He said that the wives and families of such workers either live with other natives in the same area, sharing their food, or return to their villages where ample native food and accommodation are available.
As an immediate step towards meeting this form of exploitation, racial discrimination and this major cause of unhappiness in the minds and hearts of those young married men who have to live away from their families for two years at a time, the Government ought to provide that no employer, in any circumstances, shall be permitted to escape his obligation to provide rations for the employees’ families whether they live with the employees at the place of employment or in their own villages. Where an employer does not provide accommodation for the family of a worker, at the place of employment, then there ought to be a further provision forcing the employer to pay the return fare of the employee to his home village once every three months so that he may rejoin his family for a while.
I could not help but observe, when I was in New Guinea, the look of utter hopelessness on the faces of these indentured labourers. I insist on calling them indentured labourers because the mere use of the word “ contract “ instead of “ indenture “ does not get away from the fact that when people are torn away from their families and signed on bv contract for two years at a time to work up to 300 miles away from their villages, not being allowed to return to them for two years, it is a system of indentured labour, in my book, no matter how it might otherwise be described. Sometimes these men are taken long distances from their families, and could not return if they wanted to because there is 300 miles of sea between them and their villages.
– Who tears them away from their families?
– In many cases they are torn away from their families by misrepresentation of the position that awaits them on the part of private recruiters. I have no complaint with the government recruiters. I believe they are honest men who try to explain the true situation. But the true situation cannot be told to men who have never previously been away from their families for more than, say, six hours at a time pig hunting. They do not know what is involved in leaving their families for two years. They have never been away from their- families for any longer than is necessary to chase and kill a pig. Therefore, to say to them that the work involves their staying away from their families for two years does not explain what is actually involved by way of mental and the other forms of unnatural torture that go with tearing a man away from his family for such long periods. They do not understand that.
In Goroka, the government officers go to the villages to recruit labour. They take the recruits into Goroka, have them medically examined, and then hire them out to the various European plantation owners and other people, such as Burns Philp and Carpenters. They charge European employers £6 17s. 6d. a head for each native supplied, and that native is compelled to sign a contract undertaking to work for the employer for a miserable 6s. 3d. a week and rations for himself only. There is no provision whatever for rations for his family. That is the sort of thing that is causing more unhappiness in New Guinea than any of the other mistakes the Government makes there. Tremendous unhappiness follows from the separating of primitive native people to whom family life is their only real joy. That is the one thing they can share in common with us, who are civilized. They have not, however, the distractions that we have as compensation for the absence of family life. We take them- away from their families fon two years, and then we wonder why they become sullen, sorrowful and- resentful ofwhat is happening to them.
Another thing that is. quite, wrong is discrimination in. connexion with, the standard, working week.. Every native, is obliged by his contract to work a. standard week of 44 hours, whereas the standard, for the Europeans is only 40 hours. The native is entitled to no annual leave, and he enjoys only, the bare minimum in the way of worker’s compensation. If a native is killed while at work, the only compensation his family obtains is a miserable £J00j whereas, the widow of a- white man killed in employment receives £1,750.. That,, incidentally, raises another question. Why should the maximum worker’s compensation for a white man in New Guinea be £1,750. when it varies in Australia from £2,700 to £3,500? Why should the dependants of a white man. in New Guinea get less in compensation on his death than do the dependants of the white man down here? But 1 am concerned1 principally with the natives.
Native housing ordinances have been promulgated in New Guinea, but- nobody, not even the Government itself, observes them. When I complained to an. officer of the department that a hotel owner in New Guinea; was not- compelled to observe the housing; ordinances- which- apply to. the natives-, he- asked, “ How could we possibly force any employer in, this area to carry out the native housing ordinances when the Government itself- does not do so? “ I then asked, “ Why do you not carry them: out? “ And- the officer- said, “ Because we have not enough money “. This is the tragic sort of thing which, happens.. We- go to the- United Nations Trusteeship Council and produce sheafs of ordinances and- regulations and say,. “ Everything is all right in New Guinea. Look at these.” What the Trusteeship Council ought to ask us is, “ Do you enforce these ordinances and regulations which you quote? “
The- CHAIRMAN. - Order! The honorable member’s time Has expired.
.- I suppose- that the British race, pre-eminently, of all. European races, has- a singularly proud’ history of colonialism. Those who criticize what is being done in New Guinea try to give colonialism a bad name, but wherever the British have colonized they have left behind a magnificent basis upon which the people can live. That is history, but at every opportunity those who- can detract from that fine history- of colonialism do so. They talk about exploitation- of- the- natives4 and’ all that- sort- of thing, but give no creditwhatever to– the dedicated men- and women’ who- have given their- lives to raising primitive peoples, to- a position where they canenjoy a form of life- which is attractive to man. Much of- the colonialization has takenplace in- countries where brutality and tyranny existed and where there was grave ill’ health- and life was miserable and primitive: Wherever Britain has. colonized she has: raised the people’s standards, and left behind: stable government, trained, efficient’ civil! servants and a judiciary, something upon/ which, to build.
Only a proportion of any primitive people can reach the higher standard of education which can fit them to govern their, less-qualified- brethren. I would like the. committee to realize that when you hand over- government to a primitive people you hand if over to people with no history of justice. It has taken us 2,000 years to get where we- are, and sometimes, on looking around this chamber; I feel that there are some people who- could- well do with another 1,000’ years. Those who are engaged in administering British, colonies, and, in particular, New Guinea and the other Australian territories, would have cold- shudders, down their back if they listened to the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr.. Clyde Cameron), a man. with no knowledge at all of primitive: people,, who criticized the dedicated men who. do. understand them. It is. not merely a matter of raising people from stone age standards. Often young people are. goings from grass houses to. schools and- then back to their parents in. grass, houses and a stone, age environment, and it is impossible to, raise them to our. standards, in a short time. I do. not know whether officials of the department listened, to the speech of the. honorable member for Hindmarsh but, if they did, I think they, would shudder at what he. said.
– What experience have- you- had, of primitive: people?
– I have been among primitive people for many years in Kenya.
– What about the Mau Mau?
– The Mau Mau practices were common to the Kikuyus before the white man came. Now we have the present condition of the Congo, which was given freedom before it was ready. It was given its freedom at this stage because the socialist Opposition in Belgium forced it on the Belgian Government. That Opposition was not co-operating with the Government. In New Guinea we have a national obligation and, while constructive criticism is invaluable, some of the criticism offered by the honorable member for Hindmarsh is dangerous. No honorable member of this Parliament who has ever visited the Territory has dropped more bricks than the honorable member did when he went there recently. He was a source of terror to his leader, in view of the statements he made. I saw the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck), who was sitting at the table, shudder several times as he listened to the honorable member for Hindmarsh; because after all the Minister does know something about New Guinea and has in his department very highly trained men who are determined to bring these primitive people to a stage where they will not make the mistakes that have been made in the Congo.
If any one wants to read something intelligent on this subject, he should read the speech of the honorable member for Mitchell (Mr. Wheeler) yesterday. He pointed out the problems of raising these people from the conditions in which they are to-day. I understand quite a lot of the problems of the natives. The idea that if you are bringing native people up to European standards, you can do it in a short time is wrong. I assure the honorable member for Hindmarsh, who I believe is actuated by the highest motives - it is only egotism that made him speak as he did - that his ideas cannot compare with those of people with years of experience of native problems. It has been suggested that the same cash payment should be given to a native as compensation for injuries as is given to a white man. Nothing would destroy the native people quicker than to give them great wealth before they understand it. They are stone age people and nothing but damage would be done if we measured them by our standards. I have a great affection for the coloured people, and I believe a great deal of harm can be done by the do-gooders who come along, like the honorable member for Hindmarsh, and criticize the people who administer the territories in the interests of the native people. Just as Great Britain has a very proud history of colonialism, so can Australia have the same proud history as long as people do not knock it as some are doing to-day.
– I think it would be true to say that Australia is just getting a purpose in New Guinea and Papua. My comment on the speech of the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) would be that a lot of the problems he raised are real ones and have to be faced. The honorable member for Hindmarsh, who came into this House after 1949, is somewhat better placed to make a critical speech than I am, because for four years I was supporting a Labour government and I cannot honestly say that in that period all the things which the honorable member for Hindmarsh recommended applied under that Government and under the various Ministers for Territories in it. There is very little interest in the Territory on the part of the Australian people and no government will be made or unmade in this country on its record in the territories. We begin to see that what is needed is an enlightened group in this Parliament, in the Cabinet and in the Administration, which can formulate a policy in New Guinea which public opinion there is not yet in a position to ask for.
If the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Anderson) found his blood running cold at the comments of the honorable member for Hindmarsh, my blood runs cold at the idea that the United Nations Commission will study the analogies that the honorable member for Hume has drawn between our administration of New Guinea and the administration of the Congo. The late Sir Roger Casement was given his knighthood by the United Kingdom Government for his exposure of the horrors in the Congo and the United Kingdom
Government of that day was not, by any means, radical. It was a Conservative Government of the vintage of the early portion of the century.
I want to ask some questions of the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) about some of our minor colonial territories. I notice that no reports have been submitted to the Parliament on Christmas Island. Therefore, the Kind of question that I am going to ask might well be answered subsequently in a report. I understand that the educational system at Christmas Island is conducted by the Education Department of Western Australia. Western Australia has a standing order in education that there must be no colour discrimination in schools. I notice, however, that these estimates provide for school teachers at an Asian school and that they provide separately for a school teacher at a European school. I do not feel that that is a desirable situation on a small island such as Christmas Island.
I do not say that there is a plot on the part of the Government. The honorable member for Hume may well remember that very often the history of colonial territories is the history of a struggle between the government at home and the white man on the spot. In Kenya, in 1921, the white men on the spot kidnapped the governor because they did not believe in the policy being pursued by the home government. Such people always feel that those on the spot know the natives and that the people in the administration at home are ignorant. Very often, the administration at home tends to be disinterested and the people on the spot tend to be very far from disinterested. The colour discrimination that emerges is usually not the product of a policy at home but of the outlook of the people on the spot.
This, I would remind all honorable members, is not a country which is free from colour discrimination. We point pious lingers at South Africa, but in Western Australia we tend to have colour discrimination in hotels and elsewhere against natives. The English people have been pointing pious fingers at South Africa but the moment that West Indians came into the English community in large numbers colour discrimination started there. This is not something for which we can all stand back and denounce the capitalist. There has been exploitation of aborigines by good union shearers in very direct personal ways with regard to aboriginal women, just as there has been exploitation of natives in New Guinea by the owners of plantations. Some of these things are in human nature. I am not saying that, therefore, they should be made legal or that they are defensible, but it indicates a very superficial point of view to say that race relations are susceptible of a purely economic explanation. However, the first point on which I would like information from the Minister concerns the schools on Christmas Island.
The point raised by the honorable member for Hindmarsh concerning the breaking up of families to suit the convenience of the European economy is important. The report on the Territory of Nauru indicates that the island has a naturally balanced native population. Nauru is only 5,623 acres in extent - the size of a couple of Australian farms. It has a population of 2,196 natives, 1,141 of whom are male and 1,055 of whom are female. That is a natural balance. In the Chinese community which has been brought to Nauru to serve the needs of the European economy there are 611 men, 33 women and 68 children. That is undesirable. Among the Pacific islanders who have been brought in, mostly from the Gilbert and Ellice Islands, there are 683 men, 90 women and 193 children. Among the Europeans there are 114 men, 112 women and 136 children. The Chinese are recruited in Hong Kong.
There are tragic backgrounds to this business of bringing labour into other people’s territories to suit our convenience. The tragedy of Fiji is just that. In Natal, some of the problems which the South African Government faces to-day are the products of the period before Natal was part of the Union of South Africa. At that time indentured Indian labour was brought in to meet the needs of the British community. If we find that the local people of a territory do not provide the quality of labour that suits our economy and we bring in outsiders I feel that there is an obligation on the part of the administration to see that a natural family life can be led by those people who are brought in. I believe that the Minister for Territories will be seised with all these issues because >oi his background and knowledge of colonial history.
There is another factor, too. The phosphate commissioners on Nauru include a representative of the Government of the United Kingdom, a representative of the Government of Australia, and a representative of the Government of New Zealand. They jointly operate the phosphate industry. If, ultimately, you are going to give a stable independence to a people they must he shareholders in their own economic resources. I know that -the people of Nauru in their primitive condition did not develop the phosphate industry just as the people of New Guinea did not develop many of the -industries in which Europeans are interested in the Territory. But if the native people are not taken into economic partnership at some point of time and there begins to be a handing over of economic resources to them, the granting of political self-government is an incomplete and unbalanced thing.
I believe that we need to re-think a lot of these matters and ask ourselves whether those whom we expect to be the ultimate owners of the resources of our Territories should not now be brought in as shareholders. This could be done by paying some of the returns from industries into a native welfare fund. Ultimately when the self-governing community came into existence it could take over these resources. This proposal might be difficult to implement in connexion with private investment, but not in connexion with public investment.
There are some features of the report on Nauru of which one would like to have details. In the Estimates there is mention of £13,000 which has been paid to finance the migration of people from Cocos Island. The report on Cocos Island states -
Between 1948 and 195 1 over 1,600 Islanders immigrated from the Territory at the expense of the Clunies-Ross Estate and the Singapore Government. Some of them went ‘to Christmas Island and Singapore but most elected to go to British North Borneo.
That occurred before the period of Australia’s administration, but the report shows that -in 1959 also there was a movement of population. In the Estimates there appears ;this item .relating to the financing of the population movement. I would be grateful if the Minister could explain that in his winding-up speech.
The other report to which I wish to draw attention concerns Norfolk Island. Here we are dealing with an entirely European population - I should say that we can now regard the descendants of the “ Bounty “ people as Europeans and fully European in outlook. The report, in Chapter V., says this -
The major economic activities of the island are primary production, whaling, the tourist trade and employment by .government instrumentalities.
The report continues -
The main agricultural commodity produced for export is bean seed, the production of which has been stimulated since the appointment of a full-time Agricultural Officer in 1955. Small quantities of pine, palm, passion fruit and lemon seed are also exported.
I must say that that is a mystery. What is this export of lemon seeds? The report goes on -
There is a limited trade in cut flowers with New Zealand, but partly owing to transport difficulties exports of fresh fruit and vegetables to New Zealand have declined to negligible proportions.
The history of the fruit industry of Norfolk Island seems to be rather tragic. I understand the island had a considerable citrus industry, and could export oranges to New Zealand and Australia. If there is one thing in British colonial history that stands out it is that when the British establish colonies they at least take the responsibility of taking imports from them. But in this country, under all sorts of governments, irrespective of party, we have accepted no responsibility whatsoever for taking the products of the economic units of people whose destiny we have taken into our hands. It seems to me that in Norfolk Island there is at least an obligation on the Commonwealth to run some kind of shipping service to Australia and New Zealand, the natural markets, or to subsidize a shipping service tat would enable a .-real fruit industry to be developed, as I understand - I may be wrong in this - there once was in the Territory of Norfolk Island. But the thing that I -think is important to remember is that we will perhaps not be deciding the time at which
At is right for these people to have self.government. I feel -that the honorable ^member for .’Hume .should face the problem of -what is going to happen if the Butch leave West New Guinea and give self-government prematurely .to the people »of that area. One can imagine the pressures that -would be put on .Australia. “ The -Economist “ >had :some comments -to make when speaking about the anxieties in Australia over New Guinea. ‘In ;its issue Of 28th May it said -
Such .anxieties might ‘be avoided if the Netherlands -and Australia were to work .together to bring their respective pants of the island to the point of self determination at the same time giving t’hem a common language (it would ‘have to be ‘English) which would make possible ‘a nation of -United New Guinea or ja Melanesian Federation .to .include .some of the outlying islands. The Dutch want this kind of cooperation but although ‘by an agreement of 1957 the Netherlands and Australian governments declared that ‘in -advancing the (peoples of their territories towards .self .determination they .would recognize their “ ethnological and .geographical affinity “, the Australian government ‘has in practice refused ‘to .cooperate in political matters, and has restricted .the agen’da to questions of health, agriculture, air lines and limited matters .of administration.
I do not know whether that criticism by “ The Economist “ is valid .or .not. It is quite a responsible journal, but it is not infallible. If the criticism is true that is rather sad, because I feel that, after all, if ‘New Guinea ever does emerge as an independent nation it will be a united New Guinea of -the whole island.
The TEMPORARY ‘CHAIRMAN. -
Order! The honorable gentleman’s time has expired.
– I did not intend to speak on this section of the debate on the ^Estimates, because most of the speeches made were statements of points of view, and although J do .not accept all the points of view expressed, I did not -wish to contest them. They stand on the .record and can be compared with contrary points of view. However, .the .honorable -member for Fremantle (Mr. .Beazley) asked ,me a number of direct questions. ,1 think that they .are .the first .direct questions addressed in respect- of those Estimates, and I feel that I owe him the .courtesy of an immediate reply.
The honorable .gentleman’s first question related to the schools ton Christmas Island.
He was in error in suggesting that the education system of -Christmas Island was run by the Department of Education of Western Australia. The position there is that the school population consists of close on SOO Asian children who are the children of Asian ‘workers with the “Phosphate Commission who have come from Singapore. These workers eventually will return to Singapore and their future life, and presumably the future life of their children, will ‘be in Singapore. So, for the ‘benefit of those ‘500 or so children who may be s regarded strictly as Singapore children, although resident temporarily on Christmas Island, ‘we have devised an education system at the head of which there is a British subject - an Asian - as the superintendent of education. The school is staffed entirely by Asian teachers recruited in Singapore, and teaches according to a curriculum which will be of advantage to the children when they return to Singapore for secondary education, or, if they return earlier than that, when they wish to continue their primary education. ‘So, that school is staffed by Asian teachers recruited in Singapore and teaching according to a curriculum which fits in with the Singapore education outlook. At the same time we have on the island the children of a few Australian employees. Speaking from memory,- 1 think the number of these children is about twenty. They .are the children of Australian employees who are there for comparatively short terms and who, on the completion of their terms, will return to one or other of the .States of Australia, when their children will resume their schooling in Australia. Accordingly, the children need to be taught according to a .curriculum and by teachers who fit in with the Australian education pattern. For the benefit of those twenty or so Australian children we borrow from the Department .of Education of Western Australia a single teacher who conducts a one-teacher school with the Western Australian curriculum for those children. There is certainly no intention to have racial discrimination.
The honorable .member then asked about the breaking-up of .families “.when labour moves .from -its place of abode to more distant places of employment. He cited the case of .Nauru. The immigrant labour there consists of -Chinese and Other Pacific
Islanders - those Pacific Islanders mostly coming from the Gilbert and Ellice Islands. They are all on shortterm indentures. The Other Pacific Islanders - that is the local term used for them, and is usually shortened to O.P.I. - are, I think, in the very great majority single men who of their own volition, and to see something of the outside world, have taken a job for a short term with the British Phosphate Commission and will return with some money in their hands, a few possessions and a little bit of experience to their own islands when their terms expire. So a separation is a temporary and not a permanent one. I am aware, of course, of the evils to which the honorable member directed attention, and of the difficulties that can be created.
Then, turning to the operations of the British Phosphate Commission, the honorable gentleman asked a question which really had relation to the way in which the Nauruan people benefit from the use of the island’s resources. He suggested what I might broadly paraphrase as a partnership for them in the enterprise. Their benefits are derived, first, from the rents paid to them for their land when their land is worked for phosphate. The owner of the land is paid a rent by the commission and receives that as personal income. The owner of the land on which phosphate is being worked also receives, as a personal income, royalty on the phosphate taken from it. These payments are the personal benefit of the individual land-owner. Over and above that the British Phosphate Commission pays, by way of annual contribution to administrative expenses. Consequently, the whole of the cost of the housing, education and health services and the general maintenance of all the amenities and services which the people enjoy on that island have been paid for by phosphate. In addition to that, the British Phosphate Commission, by way of fixed royalties, pays certain moneys into funds which are to be used, over the long term, by the Nauruan people.
I do not think the ultimate outlook for the Nauruan people could be envisaged in terms of a self-governing community living on the island. With the exhaustion of its phosphate deposits the island will be incapable of supporting the present population at the standards of living they now enjoy.
We are consulting with the Nauruan people to try to find ways in which they can be transferred to a new home, where they will have an opportunity to develop a fullyrounded life at the higher standards towards which they are advancing. Of course, when this re-settlement project is undertaken, a substantial part of the cost will have to be borne by the Phosphate Commission.
The fourth question related to the migration of people from Cocos Island. At Cocos Island there is a Malayan population which has been established there for more than a century, living wholly on the Clunies Ross estates and engaged in work on those estates. Because of the general health and happiness of the Malayan community on the island, and because of their limited opportunities of moving elsewhere, the size of the Malayan community is increasing steadily, and so we can expect on Cocos Island a recurrent employment problem. Before the transfer of sovereignty to Australia there was an extensive migration of the surplus population, of their own volition, mainly to British North Borneo. After the transfer of sovereignty a situation arose on Home Island in which another group of people wished to leave. The Government consulted with Mr. Clunies Ross, and eventually an arrangement was made to the complete satisfaction of all parties concerned, under which a party of about 90 - certainly less than 100 - chose to go to Christmas Island. There we found employment and accommodation for them. I visited them both before they left Cocos Island and after they arrived on Christmas Island, and I found them completely happy and satisfied with the transfer.
– Did it cost £13,300 to shift 90?
– Yes. Provisions were made at the Christmas Island end for the building of houses and the setting up of the newcomers with furniture and so on. It was not simply the passage money that was involved. We tried to conduct the transfer under conditions which would give them a real opportunity of a good life in their new home.
The basic difficulty with regard to Norfolk Island is that that island has no harbour. When the honorable member speaks of marketing problems and links those problems with shipping, he must realize thai there is no harbour on Norfolk Island, and that everything has to be lightered to and from ships lying a mile and a half off shore under the lee of the island. This is a major factor in making difficult the economic expansion of the industries of Norfolk Island. Just as a matter of curiosity, the honorable member speculated about why Norfolk Island should export lemon seeds. The lemon is a native of the island. It grows wild there. Although I am not a nurseryman or a horticulturist, I can say that apparently the lemon stock on the island is of some value to nurserymen elsewhere, who like to get the seeds in order to propagate lemon seedlings, which are then used either as basic stock or for grafts. A further large part of the trade of the Territory of Norfolk Island is in other seeds, particularly bean seeds. These are the seeds of what we generally call the French bean. They are little brown seeds. Norfolk Island can produce disease-free seeds, which are exported to Australia and bought in quantity by nurserymen. If any of the kitchen gardeners amongst honorable members go to a seedsman and buy a shilling packet of French bean seeds, the chances are that some of them, under certain brands, might have come from Norfolk Island. Being a light and reasonably valuable commodity, the return from seeds repays the cost of air transport.
In closing, I thank the committee for the comments it has made on various aspects of Territories administration, and particularly for the tributes paid - and, I think, well-deserved tributes - to the departmental officers and the officers employed in the different Territories. I can assure honorable members that all that has been said will be carefully considered.
Proposed votes agreed to.
Proposed Vote, £4,934,000.
Proposed Vote, £2,141,000.
Proposed Vote, £2,012,000.
.- The Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) is daily becoming more and more like Mr.
Micawber. It must be obvious to every body in this chamber that he is waiting for something to turn up. The Department of Trade exists for the purpose of regulating the trade of Australia to the advantage of our people. How should this be done? The Prime Minister of Australia (Mr. Menzies) set out exactly how it should be done in a speech which he delivered to the Empire Industries Association and the British Empire League, in the Central Hall, Westminster, on 9th June, 1952. The Prime Minister set out the rules that should govern our trade with other countries. He said -
It is a good homely rule that one should not buy goods unless one can pay for them . . .
We must watch our imports, and if the volume is more than we can pay for out of our earnings and out of our reserves-
There is no mention here of borrowing or of enticing investment from overseas - we must see that the volume of imports is reduced.
The Prime Minister went on -
We ought always to have overseas a prudent proportion of the year’s business in sight in terms of money.
He made it clear that floods or famine might reduce by half our exports, and he said -
We are determined … to have at all times overseas such an amount of reserves as will enable us to honour our obligations and pay our debts even though drought and fire and flood may have come upon us … To sum up, we must live within our earnings. That is the oldest British principle, and it is a principle to which we must all come before we are much older.
The Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) addressed a dinner during an export convention that was recently held in Canberra. He said -
We have lifted import restrictions, and imports will come into this country at an increasing rate. We must be able to export goods in order to pay for those interests.
Do these things that were said by the Prime Minister in June, 1952, and by the Treasurer this year, still hold good? 1 have here two documents, one issued by the Associated Chambers of Manufactures and the other by Staniforth Ricketson, chairman of J. B. Were and Son, both containing an article dealing with our reserves of foreign exchange. I shall take first the article issued by the Associated Chambers of Manufactures. It states -
Monthly imports since the virtual abandonment of import licensing in February have been: lt: then gives figures for each month,, total?ling £536,000,000,. and continues -
This is an annual rate of £1,072 million or’ £21 million, per week. Most informed, observers, despite Government statements to the contrary, now accept this rate, as a continuing annual level.
Assume for the moment that £1,050 million is close- to a reasonable (but most conservative) figure and £250 million, for invisible payments (freight, insurance, &c.) and we have. a. foreign exchange bill of £1,300 million, for the year 1960-61.
The article then goes on–
This leaves a deficit of. £400 million to be financed either from borrowings abroad (both public and private), overseas investment, or the running down of our hard won reserves of foreign exchange. lt points out that inflow of foreign- investment at present is. about £200;000,000” per annum. With that inflow of foreign capital into Australia, our overseas funds would diminish by £200,000,000. The article points out that this is a conservative estimate, but that our overseas funds would diminish if the inflow of capital continued at the rate of £200,000,000 per annum. But will it continue at: that rate? A gentleman representing Australia in New York,, in. a statement, reported in a news broadcast to-day, said, that the securing of capital from New York was much more difficult now than it was in the past. He gave two reasons. One was. that investment of capital in Europe was more attractive now than previously, and the other was that, as import restrictions had been lifted here, goods could be sent to Australia and the market exploited by importers, and this meant that there was- not the same desire by investors to invest their, capital, in the production of good* in Australia. He pointed out that the inflow of capital into Australia would, therefore, diminish.
I was anxious to find” out what capital had come to Australia during the last three months and whether the amount was less than it had been in previous years. I inquired from the Bureau of Census and Statistics and’ was informed that they had no means- of telling at present, that they would need to go into lengthy deliberations, examinations and investigations to find out what the position was. Therefore, we do not know at> what, rate this country is drifting into debt. The article issued by the Associated Chambers of Manufactures stated’ that, there were, only’ two ways in which we- could! meet- our’ liabilities: One was: the restoration- of import restrictions. This would mean that the Government would) do; what it said, it would, not do. The Government, said;. “ We have abandoned import restrictions! and they will not. he reintroduced “. The Associated. Chambers! oft Manufactures says, that import: restrictions must be. introduced, or we will, be unable to meet, our obligations: The. other: measure: mentioned in this article is a. savage deflationary internal fiscal policy which would: no doubt reduce the demand for imported goods, but’, would depress the: demand, for locally produced! goods, even more:. They arc “the alternatives - international insolvency or a deflationary lowering, of the living standards- of.” the people.
– You have been predicting, that for years.
– It has been predicted for years,, our friend’ says.
– No, he said that you. have been predicting it.
– Of course, and every year I point out that we are more and more in. debt. During the past ten years, we have sold £1,000,000,000 worth of industries and Australian land to overseas capitalists,, mainly in the United Kingdom and the United States. Our overseas debt is £100,000,000. more than it was in 1953. But the point is that I am not saying these things now; the Associated Chamber of Manufactures and Staniforth Ricketson say them. Staniforth- Ricketson said that the invisibles for last year could well be £250,000,000 or £260,000,000, or even more. He said: - . assuming that the inflow of capital into Australia will continue at recent high level’s - and the Treasurer has already, indicated the probability of a fall in total receipts from Commonwealth loans abroad - we must face up to a substantial drop in Australia’s international reserves. As at 30th’ June last, these reserves amounted to £512 million but, as shown, they could well come down by £250 million to £260 million or even, more this year . . .
This would be the position; if our exports remained at about £900,000,000, if there were no intense drought in Queensland or elsewhere and if the inflow of capital continued at the same rate. But this will not bet &®. Staniforth Ricketson points out that there i& a second, line of defence, and that is ‘Gut ‘partnership -in ‘the “International Monetary Fund. Money can fee .drawn from .that fund to a total of .£2:11,000,000. But this amount would .come in the form of Joans that must be repaid and on which interest -.must be (paid. I ido not say that; :that is what Staniforth Ricketson said. He ‘stated - furthermore, moneys -could be drawn from the above -Fund-
That is, the international Monetary Fund - only in the ‘form of ‘loans, whic’h would ultimately have to be repaid ‘and would involve : large annual payments .for interest as ‘well as -other charges.
It is not difficult to appreciate -the damage which would be done to Australia’s credit status abroad, “not to mention the internal repercussions, if our international reserves were severely depleted ‘and we were under the necessity of raising large loans from the International Monetary Fund, which has been suggested as a possibility in some -quarters.
It is not the radical .member for Scullin who speaks; it is the conservative Staniforth Ricketson and the Associated Chambers of Manufactures. They .point out to the Government the dangers that face this nation. The warning pen shall write in vain, the warning voice grow hoarse, but inevitably those conditions that produced disaster in 1929 or thereabouts will again occur and will produce the same result. These ‘results are being fostered by a Micawber-like government, a Government which is hoping against hope that something will turn up. But the Government .does not take the advice of Micawber which honorable members may remember. He said something like this, “Income £1, expenditure 1.9s. Hid. - prosperity and salvation; income £1, expenditure 20s. 0 1/2d - disaster “. This Government, with an income of £900,000,000 and an expenditure of £1,300,000,000 is travelling along the path where lies not merely personal but national disaster.
.- I have heard the honorable -member for Scullin (Mr. Peters) make similar speeches before, and 1 am sure that honorable members can recall them also. It is interesting to note that the honorable member should quote as an .authority for his point of view .the Director of the Associated Chambers of Manufactures of Australia, an organization which, -of all similar organizations, has a ^vested interest -in seeing that we return to the situation which existed before ‘the aban donment of import licensing. Apparently the honorable member sees eye to eye with the -Director .of the -Associated Chambers of Manufactures because, for bis own reasons, he -wants to see .exactly .the same thing.
The honorable member a’lso quoted the dictum of Micawber. That -moral -was -quite correct in isolation; but ‘Micawbers point would not “-have “been valid if the gentleman who -received an “income of £1, at the same time had -substantial reserves in the bank. That is precisely what we have - substantial overseas reserves. The honor.able mem’ber -spoke as if overseas reserves were something -that should ‘be put in one place, piled up and never used. The fact -is -that international reserves are a means to -an end. They are something to be -used in -varying circumstances such as those which exist at present when we have .a change -of policy in the interests of the country as .a whole, and .the abandonment of an albeit inefficient system of controlling imports. The temporary increase in imports that we will .get as a result is .inevitable and will ensure that, .during that time, we do not :get dislocation -of .the Australian economy or a running-down of our rate of development.
I rose, however, to speak about the wool industry. Many things have been said in this House recently about the position of our primary industries in Australia. I spoke -on the Address-in-Reply in March, and I pointed then to the danger which confronted Australian .primary industries if the situation in which costs were always rising and there was a general pressure downwards on prices continued. I said then that if that situation did continue, we would be forced in the end - and in the not too distant future - to subsidize or give some price support to our primary industries. I commented that the situation then, particularly in respect of the wool industry, would be disastrous. I said that when we were forced inevitably to take that action for the wool .industry, this country would start to decline because wool is our major industry.
Many statements have been made in the House (recently on this subject, and 1 agree with everything that has been said; but fto-day I want to speak about the wool industry specifically. I want to do that particularly because the problems an :the other branches of primary production are manageable. I refer to problems of cost and the prices squeeze. In the case of other primary industries, it is possible to introduce a scheme of price support and subsidy to compensate the rural industries concerned for a situation which has arisen through no fault of their own. It is a situation in which the incomes of producers engaged in those branches of primary industry do not represent an adequate or an equitable return. In fact, this Government has introduced such schemes into many industries. It is not my intention to talk about them. I have singled out the wool industry because the problems affecting the other industries are manageable but the problems of our wool industry, which is our biggest and most fundamental industry, are not manageable in that way.
The wool industry is the most important industry in Australia and I ask: What sort of shape is it in? Many figures have been produced and quoted by organizations outside the Parliament and by honorable members to show the low return on capital to the sheep industry. The most authoritative figures are based on the continuing surveys of the sheep industry by the Bureau of Agricultural Economics. These show that over the last three or four years, the return on capital to the wool industry, particularly in the high rainfall areas, has not been adequate. To me, this is pretty conclusive proof, if not of the depressed state of the industry, of the fact that it is going through a very difficult time.
I have the impression that the mere quoting of figures based on a survey spread over very many farms, averaged out and expressed in terms of return on the capital invested, has not made an impression on the Australian public that it should have made. For that reason I want to adopt a different method. Instead of looking at figures derived on the basis of a survey over about 800 properties all over Australia, I want to turn the spotlight on one particular wool-grower’s property. Honorable members might argue that one property is not enough to enable one to draw conclusions of the type I intend to draw; but I believe, because of the peculiar nature of this property and the situation existing to-day, that you can draw very strong and definite con clusions from the results of the operations on that property over the past few years. I have chosen this property because it is typical, in size, type of country and rainfall, of many properties in the high rainfall zone. I emphasize that I am speaking principally about the situation in the high rainfall zone - a very important zone in Australia - because it is the only one of the three zones in which we can expect any great increase in wool production in future. This property is not typical of many properties, but the differences are on the right side and are of such a nature that it can be said confidently that the results obtained from most other properties in the high rainfall zone would certainly be worse than this one.
The other reason why I have chosen this property is because it has been surveyed regularly each year for fourteen years by the Bureau of Agricultural Economics, not for the purposes for which I am using it now but for the specific purpose of attempting to determine whether, in the high rainfall zone, it is a more economical proposition to engage in merino wool-growing or in fat lamb raising. The bureau’s survey showed that merino wool-growing, even in the high rainfall areas, was more profitable than fat Iamb raising. I have selected this property also because it is in my electorate in the south-eastern section of South Australia.
The property is in typical red gum country, flat, undulating and well-drained. It has an average annual rainfall of 22 inches. It has improved pastures over the whole area, and it is top-dressed annually. There is fodder conservation, supplementary feeding and fodder cropping when seasonal conditions require them. The standard of management is considerably higher than average. The property covers 586 acres and carries now - as it has for many years - about three sheep to the acre. The farmer owns the property outright; he has no mortgage on it.
The bureau did not carry out a survey in 1959-60, so the figures which I shall quote cover the three years from 1956-57 to 1958-59. The net farm income to which I shall refer is the difference between total returns and total costs. Total costs do not include any labour income for the farmer himself. In 1956-57 the net farm income was £4,361. In 1957-58 it was £1,540 and in 1958-59 it was £618. The capital value of this property, as assessed in the survey, varies from year to year but it is approximately £45,000. The wool price received in the first year when the farmer’s income was £4,361 averaged 95d. a lb. That was the price that he actually received. In the second year when the net farm income was £1,540 the wool averaged 66. 6d. a lb., and in the last year when the net farm income fell below the basic wage, the price that the farmer received for his wool was 48. 2d., which is slightly higher than the price that is being received this year.
When the wool price was 95d. a lb., the farmer made a return of 8.4 per cent, on his capital and property. When the price was 66. 6d. a lb. he made 1.7 per cent., and when it was 48.2 there was a loss of .3 per cent, on his capital. The return on capital is calculated after deducting from the net farm income an allowance for the farmer’s own labour which is fixed, on standard Bureau of Agricultural Economics practice, on the award rate for a station hand.
Despite the fact that this farmer’s net farm income in 1958-59 was only £618, he had actually reduced his costs from £3,636 in 1957-58 to £3,434 in 1958-59. A breakup of his costs indicates how the farmer did this. Expenditure on materials, the bulk of which is superphosphate, dropped from £1,332 to £876. In other words, in the face of falling wool prices, this farmer deliberately cut down on the top-dressing of his pastures. I point out that in that kind of country, and in most of the high rainfall country of Australia, you cannot do that for much longer than one year and get away with it without affecting your productive capacity.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– Of paramount importance in this country is the expansion of our trading activities. Try as we may, we cannot dissociate this factor from our desired future development. There is a growing public consciousness to-day that the expansion of our exports is very necessary for our future progress. This factor was admitted some months ago during the National Export Convention which was held in Canberra. Naturally, because the convention was representative of many sections of the community, many differing views were expressed by the delegates. However, they were unanimous on one point - that every avenue must be explored to expand our export trade, not only by the Government, but also by the various chambers of commerce, chambers of manufactures, private enterprise in every sphere, and by the trade union movement.
The delegates set themselves the very laudable objective of increasing our exports by £250,000,000 a year for the next five years. While being a laudable objective, it is also a very formidable one, and I shall be the first to metaphorically pat on the back the sponsors of the convention if this target is ultimately achieved. I am afraid, however, that at this stage it will be impossible to achieve it because of the economic problems that confront the countries with which we would like to trade or increase our existing trade.
The task is made all the more difficult because there has been a change in the volume of trade with some of our most valuable customers. For example, before the war the United Kingdom was a very prominent buyer of Australian goods, taking about 50 per cent, of our exports. To-day, for a variety of reasons which I have not the time to mention, the United Kingdom takes only about 30 per cent, of our exports. Not only have we to make good this 20 per cent, loss on the United Kingdom market, but also we have to increase, if we can, our exports at the rate of £250,000,000 a year- no mean task.
It is becoming increasingly evident that Asia, because of its rising living standards, represents a very prominent market for many of our basic commodities. In addition, we could, and should, seek to accelerate our trading activities with Europe and north America. However, for reasons which I shall enumerate shortly, Asia offers the best sphere in the foreseeable future in which we can seek to increase our exports. By doing so, not only will we help ourselves, but also our active participation in Asian trade at this early stage of Asia’s economic growth will help us to develop beneficial associations of an enduring nature with Asian countries. One thing we must do above all others is to promote amicable relations with the people, of the- various^ Asian nations. If- we are: able- to increase; our trade we shall achieve, a two-fold- advantage for, Australians! in- future; There are: three things that- the Government, can: do:. 1 suggest that, first it should concentrate on. finding new markets. Already the: Government is sending trade commissioners) and: trade’ missions to all points of the world;. But private enterprise, must- realize: that it, too, has an obligation in this direction. Frequently we read in the press that delegations are being- sent to various parts of the world from certain sections of secondary industry seeking: new outlets for their products. The second’ step to- be taken- by the Government is to promote an intensive selling- campaign. This call’s for the closest co-operation of all interested1 parties. Thirdly, the Government should encourage the- diversification of Australia’s- exports.
Reverting to trade with Asia, we have- to face the unpalatable fact: that, whilst we would like to increase our exports, the position over the last eight or nine years has not been so favorable. Basing my figures, on a constant money value, I find that Australia’s export income has shown. a. downward, trend in the last eight or nine years., For example, taking 1949-50’ money values as, the stanid’ard, the value of our. exports in 1950-51 was £107 per head, of population,, whereas,, by 1957-58 it. had fallen to the. miserable figure of £45. Taking present money, values,, a, different figure would apply, but. if we apply the 1.949-50 value as the constant, value, we find that there has. been a substantial drop over, the period-.. Whilst; wemight derive some satisfaction from the increase in our export activities over the last year or two, we find that if we compare last year’s return; with that’ for 119505:1/, and’ take as our base the t949-50> value of money; we cannot be happy about what has taken- place..
It is. said quite frequently, both in this. Parliament and elsewhere, that if we wish: to increase exports we should- concentrate-., to some extent upon increasing the export of manufactured goods. I,t has been, sug-Rested that we could find a ready; market for such goods in Asia. There- is mucin to: be said for the -suggestion- if it could be put into effect, but our exports; of- manufactured goods have not been very great. For in stance, in: 1948-49, they; represented 9s7 percent; of our total- exports, and: in 1958-59) only about: 1)3.9. per- cent.. It will be seen, therefore, that there is- a great deal of room for- improvement in’ that’ direction; but it is not se easy to effect an improvement, and I’ shall’ explain- the reasons1 for that later.
In the last nine years,. Australia’s: foreignreserves have run- down- at the rate- of £,45’,.000,.0Q0. a year-. If those reserves: are: not. to: be- depleted: still, further;, we must have a: continuous- excess of exports, over, imports; But- this, has not been, the case in the last, year or so. For example, in 1959, our exports totalled £806,000,000. That, figure increased, to £925,000,000 by 1960, but on. the other, hand, the value of our imports increased from £794,000,000 to £924,000,000 in the same: period. Again, it has to be, remembered that the- figures for imports, do not take, into account invisible charges,, so. that in actual fact there- was. a running, down, of our( overseas, reserves in the last two years,, despite an increase of, £119,000,000 in the value of our exports.
We; must! fact the incontrovertible fact that expanding exports: are vital to out economic, welt-being, and! I- suggest that’ the Government would be- wise, to: consider a substantial increase in. its- trade activitieswith Asian countries. I know that therehave, been trade missions tcn Asian; countries; but there isi still room; for putting more ginger into the work. It is. mainlyfrom exports to Asians countries, that- we- canhope to. increase our export income:
There has been a. gradual but perceptible increase in. exports to. Asia as the years have gone on. For instance, in the three-year period to 1951-52, exports to Asian countries increased by 14.5- per cent; ia the three year period to. 1954.-S5 they rose by- 16.7 per cent.; and for the, three-year period to 1957-58, the latest period for which I have been able to obtain; figures, they increased by, 23- per cent. That increase is to- beapplauded but there: is still room for improvement.
Owe off the greatest difficulties confronting Australis in- its- export’ drive- to Asia is; the low- level’ of our imports from- Asia. We must face- the- fact that trade- has- to be. both ways. It- cannot be denied that’ thelow? level of- our.- imports- from. Asia will react against us> in the long run, especially- if we attempt te- increase our exports to that country. In only two years during the last decade has the value of imports from Asia exceeded the value of our exports tothat continent. Therefore, if we expect; to increase exports to Asia we must be prepared to accept more imports from there. We must face the fact that trade must flow both ways. If. we do not give some encouragement to the importation of more Asian goods we shall find that there will he a restriction’ of imports in those countries with, which we- expect, to trade.
Another difficulty confronting us in our export drive is how to obtain more goods for export. They may be obtained in a number of ways. The first is by rapidly increasing primary production and to export the surplus. But to achieve a notable increase of primary production within two Or three years is difficult with our present methods of production.
The second method is to obtain a higher price for some of our more important commodities, such as wool. We did enjoy a higher, price for wool last year and this was a great advantage to our economy, but we must look for increased prices in other directions if we. want to increase our export income.
The third way in’ which we might achieve our purpose is to export- greater quantities of manufactured goods. Here we are faced’ with the fact that we cannot look for any great amount of trade with Europe or the United. States of America, as both those areas are- highly industrialized’ and aretherefore: unlikely to: want manufactured products from- Australia. Therefore we have to concentrate on- the countries of Asia if we wish to sell our manufactured products in large- quantities to overseascountries. At the present time, there is a. lack of balance in our- exports to Asian countries.. Of the 23’ per cent, of our exports that, went to- Asia last year, 13 per cent, went to one country - Japan. The remaining countries of Asia took only about 10 per cent, of our total exports. There has been no appreciable increase inexports to those countries, since 1951, when they took 9.4 per cent of our total exports. In other words, although the volume of our exports to Asia- has increased by 10 per cent, or 12 per cent, during the last eight or nine years, that has been due mainly to the increase- of exports to onecountry only.
Order! The- honorable member’s time has expired-.
.- I. wish to discuss Division No. 638, Item 11 - “ Grant for expansion of Agricultural Ad?visory Services, £300,000”.. It is good te see that the Government is increasing the, vote this year by £50,000; Qf course, the question whether the amount being provided is sufficient or whether more should be made available is open to debate. As many honorable members have said, some of the primary industries are ex:periencing difficulties, although I think we all agree that there will- be a continued demand fox our. primary products. So far. as we. can. see, the population of the world will continue to increase greatly year by year, which should mean that there will continue to be a demand for our products. I am certain that a good case can be made out for assistance to the primary industries, not only because of the peculiar nature of farming activities but also because of fluctuating- seasonal conditions. When we turn: to the position, in othercountries, we find that the farmers are assisted by governments and that in some cases production is subsidized heavily. In nearly every major primary producing country there are subsidy, schemes, and. a: considerable, sum is devoted to. extensionwork.
We may ask ourselves whether we also should help our farmers and, if so, how. that should- be done: We know that the farmers have been beset by rising costs, a. fact: which, has freely been stated- many times. I feel that it is somewhat difficult to legislate appropriately with the object of. reducing costs, but we can help to offset the costs that’ farmers have to meet by increasing their income. It is interesting to consider the many phases of primary industry. I have made, a list, of them,, and I find that, there are approximately 20 different aspects of farming with which, farmers are concerned. Of those aspects, eleven, or more than 50 per cent., are related directly to extension work or to the. acquisition of scientific knowledge to be. used in farming activities, including such. matters as crop chemistry, the treatment of soil, and the use of various manures, chemical fertilizers, insecticides and weed killers.
Agricultural colleges and co-operatives, experimental stations, and agricultural engineering all are associated with the application of scientific knowledge to farming methods. A relevant question is whether a sufficient number of agricultural scientists is available to meet our needs. I have it on good authority that there are not enough agricultural scientists or farm experts. For the purpose of my remarks, I regard veterinary scientists as covered by the term “ agricultural scientists “. During the last ten years, only 4 per cent, of the graduates of Melbourne University have been agricultural scientists, taking the degree of Bachelor of Agricultural Science, and only 4 per cent, of those who have taken higher degrees from that university have been farm experts. What is the reason for these low percentages? Is it because the work is not attractive, or it is because there is not sufficient incentive by way of salary?
I dare say that those who contemplated becoming agricultural scientists would want to know the salary they could expect to receive after graduation. We find that in the first year after graduation, a person may expect to earn £1,451 a year. That, according to informed opinion, is a reasonable sum. However, in six years the salary increases by only £320 to £1,771. My information is that that is just not good enough. I ask the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) whether his department could consider this matter. If we are not granting sufficient money to the States to enable them to pay better salaries, we should certainly do something about it.
I wish now to refer to a statement issued by the Minister for Primary Industry, headed “ £350,000 a year for better farming “, in the course of which he stated -
The level of the grant will be £350,000 a year, of which £300,000 will be allocated as a general grant to the States’ agricultural extension services and £50,000 will be available at the discretion of the Minister for Primary Industry, after consultation between the Department of Primary Industry and the Treasury, to finance special investigation and extension projects on an appropriate matching basis with contributions by the States and/or the industry concerned.
I should like the Minister to investigate a special project that I have in mind and to consider whether it would be possible to contribute a sum from that £50,000 to pay the salaries of farm experts attached to farmers’ clubs or groups.
– The honorable member has mentioned this before, has he not?
– Yes, I have, and I want to stress it further now. The formation of farmers’ groups, or farmers’ clubs, as they are called in the United States, is really in its infancy in Australia. I am of the opinion that if the Government - which means the taxpayers - were to contribute funds towards the salaries of farm experts employed by farmers’ clubs it would encourage farmers to get together and to form more clubs. I have here an advertisement, published in Western Australia, seeking a farm expert on behalf of 30 or 40 farmers. I understand that at Colac, Victoria, and in Western Australia farmers’ clubs are being formed and that in northern New South Wales there is similar interest. Such clubs have proved a great success in America. I say that on the authority of Mr. Douglas, who, I am reminded by the honorable member for Richmond, is the Australian Broadcasting Commission’s director of rural broadcasts. Mr. Douglas has informed me that in America an experiment was conducted for the purpose of comparing the results achieved by certain farms to which a farm expert was attached with those of farms of a similar type which did not have such expert advice available to them. The income of the people who received the expert advice rose by 50 per cent, in a year and the income of those who did not receive it went down by 25 per cent. So, in that case it proved to be an outstanding success. I feel that if the Minister were to consider this suggestion seriously and could contribute 25 per cent, of the salary to be paid to a Bachelor of Agricultural Science attached to a farmers’ group it would give our Government a chance to take an interest in the results of this application of scientific knowledge and its availability to the farmers. It would also have the effect of uniting the farmers and giving them the co-operative idea which has always been strong among primary producers. It would be a contribution towards the betterment of the vital primary-producing industries of Australia and would increase the income of the farmers.
I ask whether the department could possibly investigate the curricula of the various universities and agricultural colleges in Australia, to see how they compare with those in countries such as New Zealand and the United States of America. Once again, 1 am informed that some of the curricula do not measure up. I do not pretend to be an authority on this question; 1 am speaking not from my own knowledge but from information given to me by people who have investigated the curricula of the various universities and agricultural colleges. In at least two instances I know they decided that the best way to make their sons really efficient farmers was to send them to the Lincoln College in New Zealand. I would like the three suggestions I have made to be investigated by the Minister and his departmental officers if they can find time to do so and think it is worth while. I do not think that the contribution towards the salary of a farm expert for the farmers’ clubs would cost very much, and I suggest that the payment could be made for a trial period of three years. I estimate that that would cost about £30,000 altogether and I think it would be a great investment in the interests of Australia and of our great primary-producing industry.
.- I support the suggestion of the honorable member for Indi (Mr. Holten) for attracting and training more field officers to be associated with the work of the Departments of Agriculture in the various States. No doubt these men do a wonderful job, but the whole trouble is that they are far too few in number. I think the Minister, who is now at the table and who kindly paid a visit to King Island earlier this year, will agree that many of the problems of King Island would have been greatly assisted had we had more of these officers to advise the settlers, who came from all walks of life and settled there. They have had their problems in respect of such things as ti-tree re-growth, pith rush and various animal diseases, and so I am not criticizing the agricultural officers on the island, but I feel that many of the settlers would have been able to do much better if we had had more of these officers there to train the settlers in the early period of their establishment.
With respect to the estimates for the Department of Primary Industry, I wish to refer to a statement by the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) on the occasion of the annual conference of Commonwealth and State Directors of Fisheries, held earlier this month in Canberra. On that occasion the Minister said -
Too little is yet known of the commercial potential of the waters ofl our long coastline and research and exploratory work generally needs to be intensified. 1 think we all agree with that statement, and I am pleased to see ‘ that a sum of £29,500 is being allocated for a survey of the barracouta fishery in Bass Strait. A vessel has been built especially for this work. Any development of the fisheries in these waters must materially assist the men from New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania who engage in the industry. It could lead to great expansion of the canneries in the northern part of Tasmania, such as the International Cannery at Ulverstone Which has the necessary facilities for processing fish as well as Hy Peak green peas, for which it is famous, and other primary products. It could lead to the establishment of a cannery at Wynyard, which is sadly in need of some secondary industry or factory. Let us hope that the barracouta research being conducted in Bass Strait will lead to a worthwhile development there and possibly the establishment of a canning industry at Wynyard. In his statement the Minister went on to say -
There has been a proposal that there might be established an Australian fisheries council which would operate on the lines of the Australian Agricultural Council and co-ordinate Commonwealth and State fisheries policies at the ministerial level. It seems the time may be at hand when such a move is warranted and the proposal is being seriously examined.
I hope that in closing the debate the Minister will have something to say on this matter. Any move to co-ordinate Commonwealth and State fisheries policies will, I feel sure, have the support of persons directly engaged in the industry. But I desire to point out that in the framing of any uniform regulations due consideration must be given to the needs of particular areas.
An this ‘regard <I “point out :that the Victorian waters are .closed for the taking of crayfish for the first -time on record for six weeks as from 1st September to 15th October. We fear -that recommendations will be made to close the season in all the south-eastern waters for a similar period each year. I trust that this proposed Australian fisheries ‘council would have -before it -the reports of the extensive : research carried out by the Common-wealth Scientific Industrial Research -Organization Fisheries Division. These experts have shown that crayfish in waters ‘from the Inglis -River around the north-west of Tasmania to the Arthur River, and including King Island, are «in -the hard shell stage and at their best from July to the end of November. Any closure during this period would be detrimental to the industry as this is the correct time, as proved .by extensive research, for the taking of -crayfish. The season is closed from 1 5th -December to 31st January “because ‘in that period soft shells are prevalent.
The extension of a closed -season to north-west -coast waters, similar to ‘that operating this year in Victoria, would have serious economic -effects on ‘the industry at Stanley. It would mean, -in effect, ‘little or no returns for a period df approximately 4£ months. The seriousness of this position is emphasized when it -is realized that about £I00000 is invested in “the fishing fleet at Stanley, and the average annual turnover o’f the local fishermen’s cooperative is about £60000. It is a major industry in a ‘town of about 700 people. While supporting the ‘move for ‘the establishment of an ‘Australian “fisheries council to co-ordinate policy, I hope that it does not ‘lead to uniformity of regulations to the -detriment of any .’particular area.
The crayfish industry is a .great dollar earner for Australia and must be fostered. [ am grateful to the Minister for Primary Industry for making available -some of the latest figures on ‘this industry. A statement provided by the Minister reads as follows: -
Exports df crayfish from Australia earned an estimated 8,500:,000 -‘dollars in ‘1959i60, or more than 20 per cent, above the ‘earnings ‘in the ‘previous “year . . . 1-959-60 exports -set new records both -in quantity and value. Total -exports of craytails anc! boiled whole crayfish were 8,322-000 lb., or about 312,000 lb. more than in the previous year and double ‘the amount- exported in 1955-56. The value of dollar exports has increased about 4£ times in .nine years.
That was a -remarkable-effort. In The United States of America we obtain about 2 dollars, or approximately 10s., ;per lb. for crayfish.
Turning ‘to another subject, ‘I ‘hope that the Minister, when closing the debate on the estimates for his department, will be able ‘to give ‘the committee some information on the proposed ‘federal -honey marketing board. The present -export prices for Australian ‘honey are ‘the “lowest for some years and are considerably lower than domestic prices. In England, in “1956, £136 a ton was paid for Australian honey. ‘In the following year, the .price fell to £109 a ton.. In 1958, it again fell, to £104 a ton. Last year, it dropped to the very low figure of £89 a ton. This fall in export prices has been due, primarily to increased competition, chiefly from the United States and central America and South America. Our best markets overseas are in the “United Kingdom and West Germany.
As a result o’f :the ‘fall in -export prices and ‘the build-up ;of stocks in Australia, the federal ‘council -df the Australian Apiarists’ Association ‘has submitted to the Commonwealth Government a -plan for the establishment of a federa’l ‘honey marketing board. I understand that this proposal -was originated ‘by Mr. “Mitchell, -who is an apiarist in a big way, lI think in “Warwick, in Queensland. It is proposed that the board will exercise regulatory powers over all honey exported from Australia, and it has been suggested that a levy should be imposed on local sales to assist in the provision of money for research and publicity. ‘I sincerely hope that if discussions have .gone far enough, the Minister will be able to shed some ‘light on this .proposal. The honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. .Duthie) also, df course, is interested ‘in th’is matter, as one o’f the ‘leading exporters of honey in Tasmania lives in -his electorate.
Various -newspapers ‘have published reports -on this ‘subject. One -penny has been suggested ‘in *some newspapers as the amount df the proposed levy. In ‘Western -Australia, ‘South Australia and some ‘parts of New South Wales where the “bee-‘keeper fis getting only 6d. or “8d. ‘per lb. for his honey, a levy of “1 d. per ;lb. would amount ;to one-sixth or one-eighth df ‘his total return.
It would. -be -out of all reason ‘to ‘expect ‘him to pay that amount, ‘which would be ‘far greater than ‘the amount that ‘the Commissioner ‘df Taxation takes from him. Tasmanians ‘are not opposed to :a aboard being se’t up to assist the mainland apiarists, but the Tasmanian ] Bee-keepers ^Association :is decidedly against any .board .controlling ;the selling »of Tasmanian ‘honey. In ^Tasmania we produce honey which has ;no superior in the world.
– What about Bathurst honey?
– I can tell the honorable member for Macquarie that ‘leatherwood honey from ‘Tasmania ;is ‘fetching about £-170 -a ‘ton in ‘England while other Australian honey, with due respect to -Bathurst, *is selling at ‘between ‘£82 and £90 a -‘ton. Leather-wood -honey, resembles a famous Scottish leather ‘honey ‘in flavour, and is world ‘famous. If Tasmania -is forced to sell nhat honey through a marketing :board under the name Australian honey, the ‘few apiarists in Tasmania would ‘be forced -out of -business in the first -year.
Owing ‘to the short -summers 4n Tasmania, Our bees ‘produce only about onethird of the quantity of ‘honey -per ‘hive that is produced by ‘bees on the mainland. Therefore, ‘we cannot sell at ;the (price paid for ‘mainland honey. The .mainland apiarists can sell their -honey at a low ?price and do reasonably well because of the ‘high production per ‘hive. The inclusion of Tasmania in <any marketing Scheme -would -be disadvantageous .to ‘that State. I speak for the Tasmanian .Bee-keepers Association .in seeking .exemption of ‘.the State of Tasmania .from .the provisions of -.the ^proposed honey board.
I would like to compliment ‘the Australian ©airy -Produce Board on .its sales ‘promotion campaign. This board is doing ;a ;magnificent job (for .the farmers ‘in attempting ‘to make ‘Australians more .butter conscious. Anything ‘that can be done in this -respect will .benefit the (industry and the .farmers throughout the country. It must be recognized that the home market is the best market for ‘butter at the present time. Anything ‘we Can do ‘to -popularize butter -will “help -our ‘friends ‘the farmers to gain more income. We on ‘this side of :the -chamber recognize that the dairyman is -receiving below the cost of production for his product, taking into account the long hours that he -works and the wages that should be set -aside in respect of the work of his wife and children ‘Who help him in the dairy.
I ‘think that the statement by a leading British surgeon, Sir William Ogilvie, which appeared in a newspaper to-day will be of great help in -promoting the sale of butter. This surgeon has denounced the current propaganda linking animal fats with heart disease and has called it nothing better than a racket. ‘He said that animal fats were health-giving and good for slimming diets. Often, -butter has to compete with the vegetable fats and margarine.
Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- This has been’ a very friendly debate, so far, and it -fortifies me in the belief I have held for a good while. that.people interested in primary production have a peculiar quality of friendliness. In order “to keep the debate on that plane, I would like to say how much I appreciated the contribution of the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Bird). I have not spoken often in this chamber. but I have always striven to convey the idea that our trade balance is of the highest importance and that imports can only be paid for by exports. I have often wondered whether the Opposition sees the matter as clearly as that. It was refreshing to hear the honorable member for Batman confirm ‘my belief that that is ‘the ‘pre-eminent problem, and that if we are to trade with Asia - as we must - we have not only to export to Asian countries, but .also to -import from them. With the Japanese Trade Agreement coming up for review, .this is, a most refreshing attitude and .one which I hope will continue.
T intend ‘ to speak mainly -about the inquiry that ‘has ‘been requested by ‘the Australian Primary Producers Union, the Australian Wool and Meat ‘Producers ^Federation and the Australian -Wool-growers and Graziers Council. To many honorable members this may not seem an important occasion. This :is a request that comes up quite often and not many -of us know ‘the story behind it, “but honora’ble members -may take it from me that -this story ‘is quite ‘considerable. I hope that the Government will accede to the request for an inquiry into wool marketing systems. My reasons for expressing that hope are three in number. First, from the point of view of the Australian economy, it is obviously important that wool, which is such an important part of our overseas exports, should be sold for as much as possible. It has been stated that a difference of Id. per lb. in the price of wool represents a difference of £7,000,000 in our income from wool. The figure used to be £5,000,000. From the stand-point of the Australian economy and our trade balance, this is a matter to which we should pay very great attention. For that reason I welcome the request for an inquiry.
I welcome the request also for personal reasons. I, as a wool-grower, could be expected to know which way I would vote if a referendum were held on this question. I suppose I have taken as great an interest in problems of this kind as most people have done. I have been a member of most of the organizations, but I admit quite frankly that if I were asked to vote at the present time as a wool-grower, I would not know how to cast my vote. Honorable members doubtless know that it has always been a cardinal point of government policy not to introduce a floor price plan unless it is agreed to by a majority of growers. No one could cavil at that, but the difficulty is to know whether to vote for or against the introduction of such a plan. This is not an easy question to answer. Many arguments on either side have been circulated throughout the country for years, but I admit quite frankly that I would not know which way to vote. That is why I welcome the inquiry.
As a member of Parliament I am, rightly, often asked by growers to advise them in the matter and I have often regretted my inability to give a clear lead in this matter. Obviously, the problem is very complex. We should recognize that the answer can clearly be given only by a body of people who have devoted themselves for a considerable period to an examination of the matter.
The chief reason why I welcome the request for an inquiry is more complex and I think that the committee ought to appreciate it. Whether or not we should alter our method of selling wool is a problem that has stood between the two main organizations of wool-growers and prevented their coming together. They have now agreed on this big issue which has divided them and caused so much bitterness among them since 1951. On many occasions it appeared as though they felt that they had to devote their energies to quarrelling with one another rather than to settling down to try to solve their problems. Now that they have faced this problem and agreed to ask for an inquiry, we are given hope that the two organizations can work together in the future.
The job that they have to do at this stage of the development of our economy is an almost overwhelming one. We primary producers know that we have to do more than fight our battles. We have to think them out. We have to equip ourselves and get finance to pay people to help us solve our economic problems and do some of our economic thinking for us. We must have virile farmers’ organizations, and we want only one in this industry. I feel that there is some hope that when this disagreement on a floor price plan that has divided the two great organizations is removed, they will be able to work together as a unit. That is what we as primary producers so desperately need. Any one who is not intimately concerned with the organizations cannot understand the tremendous step that has been taken, particularly by one of them. I should like to pay a personal tribute to four people in relation to this matter. The first is Mr. T. M. Scott, the recently appointed President of the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council who has, I understand, had a great deal to do with this matter in the last few months. I pay a tribute also to Mr. W. A. Gunn who, as all of us know, has given so much of his time to assist this branch and other branches of rural industry and who has for many years done all that he could do to bring the two great wool-growers’ organizations together and to get a reasoned approach to this vexed question.
I should like to pay a very sincere tribute also to two other persons to whom Australian wool-growers in particular and primary producers in general owe a great debt of gratitude. The first is Mr. Lloyd Heaslip, the recently appointed President of the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation. His influence has, to a large extent, I understand, enabled the federation to face this hurdle and ask for a referendum. There was always a danger, of course, that the referendum may be forced upon us and that we would have a snap vote. The Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation has always supported the floor price plan. The difficulty was that if it had insisted on a referendum without an inquiry, in a snap referendum many people, including myself, would not have been able to give a reasoned vote. The federation decided not to insist on a referendum but to ask for an inquiry in an effort to get this matter cleaned up, and a great deal of credit for the decision goes to Mr. Lloyd Heaslip. Even more credit should go to one who has fought this battle for a reserve price plan all over the country for more than ten years. I refer to Mr. Eric Hitchins, who has done a tremendous amount of work and thinking and has devoted the best years of his life to solving this problem. I am tremendously relieved to know that he came with the deputation to the Minister. I am sure that that will carry a great deal of weight in the organizations because everybody knows Mr. Hitchins’s views on this, and knows that if Mr. Hitchins asks for an inquiry he is prepared to take the risk that the resulting report will be adverse. He is prepared to do that in order to play his part in trying to help the organizations to come together.
I think that that is one of the most refreshing things that has been done in the primary industry organization field for some time. There are many people who could claim some of the credit for it. However, to the four people whom I mentioned, I say that a particular measure of praise is due.
Turning now from the Department of Primary Industry to the Department of Trade, there is one particular matter with which I should like to deal briefly in the time remaining to me. There are many of us who have, over many years, given lip service to the need to reduce farmers’ costs. We know that it is an easy thing to talk about but a hard thing to do. The Government’s relaxation of import restrictions was a courageous step in my opinion. I think this kind of action has proved of benefit in the past and will do so again. I am sure that it was a step in the right direction. Now there are two other steps that 1 think we are justified in asking the Government to take.
We have often asked for an inquiry into whether the tariff does really bear as harshly on the cost structure as we are led to believe. The last inquiry was in 1930 or 1931. It could have exonerated the tariff but the decision was that it did not make much difference. That is quite a while ago, and I think that another inquiry on the same lines would do a lot of good in assuring us that the fiscal policy of the Government does not bear heavily on costs.
The second step which I think the Government should take is in relation to shipping freights. This, too, is not something that is easy to deal with but I say, as a primary producer who feels the burden of costs heavily on his shoulders, that if we cannot tackle with courage the question of shipping freights - and the chief item making for high shipping costs is the waterfront position - we are not playing our proper part of shouldering the responsibility to reduce the costs of primary production.
Sitting suspended from 5.58 to 8 p.m.
.- I rise to direct the attention of the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) to the state of the plywood industry in the area I represent following the lifting of import restrictions. Many other areas are affected too. The value of imports of plywood rose from £887,478 in 1958-59 to £1,069,296 in 1959-60. I do not know whether those who are engaged in the plywood industry in the southern areas are concerned, but I do know that, pending the submission of the report of the Tariff Board on an application for tariff protection, those who are in the area I represent are very concerned. Unless a certain degree of protection is afforded, many of those who are engaged in the industry will be forced to leave it. Moreover, plants will not be able to work at full capacity, which means they will be operating at a loss.
I was pleased to hear the Minister say this morning that the Government was concerned about the decentralization of industry.. At any time actions speak; louder than words, and I feel that in. this instance the Government, should seriously consider affording- protection to> the industry. If it. does not afford protection, there will he an exodus, of people from.- north. Queensland, as, happened when automation and mechanization were introduced into the. sugar industry. If the plywood industry declines, people will be, forced to go to the larger cities for employment. Once they venture into the larger cities and dis: cover the. amenities that are available there for themselves and their children, they will, not venture back, again. If that happens, the decentralization of industry will be defeated.
Although the plywood industry is highly mechanized, it employs quite a number of people. Between 800- and 1,000 people are employed in the area that I represent. Because the mills are situated, a long way from the markets, the product has to travel long distances and be subjected to much handling. That is another disadvantage to the industry, because imported plywood is taken direct to the major cities in which it used. Even though the industry is faced with such difficulties, to date it has been able to cope with them. An increase in the forestry royalties that- are payable o the Queensland Government - no doubt those royalties, are; necessary to enable the Government to carry out its reafforestation schemes - will mean an increase in the cost; of plywood and perhaps have- the, result of placing the industry in a- more unfavorableposition, in- competition with overseas; suppliers. That is a factor that should he; considered by this Government- in determining whether a protective tariff’ should be given to the industry.
I appeal to the Minister and the Govern^ ment to look at this problem sanely and’ to’ consider not only the- people who- areemployed in this industry, but also those’ who are employed in many associated industries, such as- the furniture- manufacturing industry. Furniture- making firms, too, would, be placed at a disadvantage in competing with southern firms if plywood1 were imported from- countries that have alower standard of living. This problemshould receive the earnest consideration of the Government before? the recommendation of the. Tariff Board - if the board is. opposed to- the, granting, of- protection - is-, adopted. It is of no. use closing the gate., after the horse: has bolted. 1 have badseveral, requests from representatives of the industry generally to appeal to theGovernment to do something about the matter..,
No doubt the position of all the industries that are affected by the. lifting’ of import restrictions will be reviewed, but: in reply to questions, that I have addressed to the:: Minister in: the- past I- have, been told, that the: timber people, are doing: all’ right.. The making, of plywood is quite: different- from the milling of: timber. Even- though ply-, wood manufacturing is associated with the timber-milling, industry,, it is not in. the. same category. I repeat that the plywood industry is. in need, of protection,, not only because it needs assistance to enable it to compete- with plywood: from overseas,, but also to. help it maintain the people who are living in the area. Plywood mills usually are located in. timber, areas,, which, are in the far-flung parts of. the. country. We certainly want, people to live in the, outback areas, of this continent* and we must take, that factor into consideration as well as the matter of pounds, shillings and pence.
If a policy of decentralization is followed, it will’ be of benefit- to Australia. The Government could’ show that it is following such a policy by making- it possible for people to live in these- outback, areas, lt the existing- industries; are not assisted; otherindustries must: be. established. to> retain the people in these parts. If industries in these outback, areas close down, people not only lose their employment but are. obliged toleave their homes. In. fact, they lose them, because- nobody else will, bay them. They are forced to. sacrifice, the homes, that they, have built, up. over. the. years and in. which, they had hoped to live, for the remainder of their lives. If they cannot sell their homes, . they must walk out and leave them, hoping that somebody will be able to sell them, later on their behalf. Honorable members, know as well as I do what happened when automation was- introduced into the sugar industry. People simply had1 to walk out of their homes because they could not sell them. There are still homes in Mackay that are. awaiting, buyers.
I repeat that if, protection’ is not! afforded; to the plywood industry,, the same- thing. will happen in’ relation’ to it as Happened in relation to the sugar industry. Workers who have carried1 on in’ the hope that they would be able to get a holding of their own and who: have reared! their- families’ in the hope, that they- in turn would be employed in the industry will’ suddenly discover that, in the face’ of competition from overseas, the mills have been: forced’ ta close down or. ta work short-staffed and. thus halve their: output. If, that happens, the same: conditions will operate: in the- area around. Ravenshoe,, Kuranda andi Cairns asoperated’ in the. sugar- areas-. I repeat that these, people will be forced: to. sacrifice their homes and go. u> the- cities where: they can be absorbed in other industries. Once they go to the cities* obtain employment, and enjoy the amenities that are to be found there they will not. come back. Moreover, we: would not expect to get their children back either, and, the: net- result would be. to the detriment of north Queensland.
I appeal to the Government to consider that aspect of the matter as well as the financial aspect. The Government shouldconsider, not only whether the industry can afford to carry on without protection or whether the giving of. protection would hinder the Government in its efforts to curb inflation, but also the humanitarian aspect. It should’ adhere to its policy of decentralization. It should” grant a protective tariff to this industry and give it a chance to compete against countries that have a lower standard of living and1 which produce a similar commodity.
It would, now like. to> make a few remarks concerning the dairying- industry- in: north Queensland, which- is facing a very serious problem. There- are- families living, on the tableland who have been engaged, in dairying, for- many years.. 1 have: recently heard that some experts - I will not. name them because 1 do not really know who they were-. - naive told them that. they, would be: better off to, get out, of the industry and try some” thing else. They have- no knowledge of any other* industry,, and if they have to get out; after selling up their plant, their homes and. their goods and chattels, what will they be able to do?: I think these people should be given a chance to save their industry- and to expand: it> in the same way as the wool industry was helped- by. research carried out and advice given by the Commonwealth
Scientific- and’ Industrial Research Organization and other scientific bodies. The woolgrowers’ were told how to- increase their wool production by increasing the size of their flocks, and I believe that similar work should be done for the dairying industry.
Similar, remarks apply to- the plywood industry, which I have already mentioned. If the people in> that industry have to fold up; where will. they. go?> There is no other industry in which they can- be absorbed, in the districts- in– which- they now live, and so they must go to the capital cities-. That is the kind of thing that is happening all the- time- in the- far-flung areas of Australia, in- which’ many people have tried to make a go- of it with new industries but have met with disappointments and frustration.
– Why. have these people been advised to get. out- of, the industry? I have: had no- request from, them for advice or assistance.
– I do not say the advice came from the Minister or from the Government, r said that it came from experts. They may have been experts in the. dairying industry in the south. I’ want to know who they were. They told” the dairy-farmers in the north that they would” be far better off if they got out.
– That is- a pretty good dairying district.
– I think it is, too; but the farmers are troubled’ with a good deal” off weed’ growth’.
– Not skeleton, weed?
– No, we- do not have skeleton weed’ up- there, but we’ have a lot of other pests* and’ I think the farmers could be assisted if research were conducted into means of ridding the district of these weed nuisances, or if they could be told how to go about improving their properties or increasing their production, lt would be a great thing not only for the people there but also for the rest of Australia. I believe, as the Minister does, that the area is capable of becoming a very good dairying centre.
– Is not one of their greatest problems the difficulty of growing a legume? I understood that they could not get a legume established.
– They have tried certain legumes, but they have not been satisfactory, and they have not been given the necessary scientific advice to enable them to establish a legume. In any case I do not think they have the money to attack the problem properly. I do suggest that the dairying industry in the district could be helped by some means or other, either by financial means or by way of scientific research designed to help the farmers improve their pastures or to get rid of such scourges as the wild tobacco leaf and other weeds which grow so prolifically. If they can get rid of the weeds, and can satisfactorily grow the required legumes and grasses for their cattle herds, and be shown how to increase their production, the people will be encouraged to remain in the area. That is the point that mainly concerns me. If they are forced to go away to the cities, their children will be brought up in a different environment and will never come back to the land. They will be able to find employment in the cities in all kinds of industries, and they will have no further part of these far-flung areas, because they cannot find there the hospitals and other amenities that are available in the cities.
Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I hope I can give the people of McMillan a much more encouraging report than the honorable member for Leichhardt can give to the people of north Queensland.
Two of the highlights of these Estimates, Mr. Chairman, are the provisions for expansion of trade promotion activities and for research into methods of improving the quality and quantity of our agricultural products. The marketing of our primary products must be assisted greatly by the increased expenditure by the Department of Trade on conferences and committees, on advertising, on overseas trade missions, and on publicity designed to attract overseas investment in Australia, which would, of course, increase employment opportunities. We have been reading with great interest of the trade fair at Lausanne, where many buyers concerned with supplying the requirements of a large section of European purchasers will have the opportunity to see a wide range of Australian products, both primary and secondary. In view particularly of the common market which is now operating in the European economic community, it is vital to our welfare that our products should be presented to potential buyers under the most favorable conditions and in a way that will induce them to buy.
In spite of complaints that are sometimes made by people who have been overseas for a few months and who have expressed dissatisfaction because they did not happen to see a pound of Australian butter or a can of Australian fruit in the places they visited or the circles in which they moved, the general opinion in trade circles is that our advertising campaign is being judiciously carried out, that it is adequately adjusted to the available market, and that we are getting quite good value for the money we spend. That money is not inconsiderable. When we add together the contributions by the various marketing boards and the direct contributions of distributing merchants and Australian exporters, we find that the total available for trade promotion overseas - apart from the programme of the Australian Wool Bureau, which is carried out through the International Wool Secretariat and is quite separate - is of the order of £2,000,000. Of this, £1,500,000 will be spent in the United Kingdom, which provides our best market, and more than £300,000 in other countries.
I believe we could spend a lot more on promotion in Asian countries. The market there is a newer one, but it must be agreed that it offers our greatest opportunities for trade expansion. I am very . pleased to find that the Government plans to send another trade ship to Asian countries, to follow up the successful mission carried out by the “Delos”, in 1958. This ship will carry a wide range of primary and secondary products and will help to provide new opportunities for expansion of our trade.
I would like to support the remarks of the honorable member for Robertson (Mr. Dean), who said that it would be useful to send a member of this Parliament with missions of this nature. At the National Export Convention, in Canberra last May, I heard Mr. B. E. White, who had been a leader of one of our earlier trade missions, stressing the importance of the official stamp given to a mission by government participation. He said that wider publicity was given to a government-sponsored party than private individuals could hope to get. How much more effective would those missions be if they included a member of Parliament! The inclusion of a member of Parliament would be accepted as a compliment by the countries visited. Another aspect worthy of consideration is that if Australia is to take her proper place in the affairs of Asia it is essential that members of Parliament should visit Asian countries, meet the people there, and see at first hand the conditions that we now try to understand second-hand from articles that we read in newspapers. There can be no better way of doing this than by ensuring that at least one member of Parliament accompanies as many overseas delegations as possible.
Closely allied to the attention that we are giving to trade promotion is the great impetus that we have given to expenditure on research in the past two or three years. This year the Government is contributing almost £2,000,000 to research projects associated with primary industries. I am particularly pleased with the change of attitude, on the part of the dairying industry towards promotion and research. Instead of concentrating solely on prices, subsidies and anti-margarine propaganda, as has been the custom in the past, the industry has now realized that it can do many things for its own benefit. The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization has made suggestions over the years but it has been frustrated by the unfor tunate fact that although everybody approved enthusiastically its proposals and demanded action, nothing was done. The Australian Society of Dairy Technology has tried to promote the maximum use of technical knowledge in improving the quality and reducing the cost of dairy products. The continued industrial and economic expansion of Australia depends on a continued increase in the volume of our exports, 80 per cent, of which are primary products. Primary production will continue to supply the majority of our exports for a long time to come. In the next five years we are calling for an annual increase of 5 per cent, in the overall volume of primary products and the dairying industry, if properly directed, can make a considerable contribution to this increase.
Our highly developed and efficient properties in Gippsland can help greatly and their efforts will be encouraged by the news this week that Australian butter has recovered by 12s. per cwt. on the London market, where it is now fetching 282s. per cwt. The price of butter on the London market has dropped steadily in recent weeks but the present upward trend could indicate that rock bottom was reached and that we can look forward to a more favorable equalization payment for the rest of the season.
Caught as we are in the cost squeeze between the exaggerated generosity of the wage structure in secondary industry, which inflates all farm costs, and low world prices for surplus production, which effectively prevents farm incomes from rising in harmony with income from wages, salaries or the profits of secondary industries, the only way in which the dairy farmer - indeed, all others farmers too - can keep ahead of the bailiff is by increasing his productivity by his skill and application and by effecting improvements in the quality and attractiveness of his product, thus increasing demand for it. It is now realized that research can improve and cheapen manufacturing processes, widen the range of foods that can be made from valuable nutritive milk solids and vitamins, and produce better and more attractive dairy products. To this end, the Dairy Produce Research Committee has been established to advise the Australian Dairy Produce Board on the allocation of funds for the various subjects ‘into which research is ito be undertaken. The industry will contribute, by way of levy, at the rate of three-sixteenths .of a penny per lb. on butter .and .at the :rate o’f three-thirtyseconds -of -a penny per lb. on cheese this year. Two-thirds of .those amounts will ‘go towards promotion and onethird towards research. The Government will ‘match the contribution (towards research Last year the actual expenditure was £5 39,000 .and about £40,<000 was .put ,into .a trust account, for which a target of £ 1:00,000 has been set to provide for unforeseen ^circumstances or urgent problems that may ‘arise. As this ‘sum has now been exceeded, .’it is possible to make a further £60,000 .available this year. So the total amount it is “expected will be available for this purpose is £286,500.
So vast .and complex are the problems of this industry that it is difficult to know which avenue .is likely to give the :best results. As market research is one of the basic requirements and as hardly any attention has ‘been given .to it in the past, it “has been given a very ‘high priority. The report of the investigations conducted by “the University of New South ‘Wales as to patterns of buying and usage of various products in different social atmospheres and family .groups, when completed, will ‘be of great-value in planning other programmes. In all, a ‘total of 68 separate research projects has been approved - covering .pasture improvement, .pest control, anima’l husbandry, herd infertility, artificial insemination, bloat control and irrigation - to assist the farmer directly. Various aspects of butter -and cheese manufacture are -being examined, as well as the possibility of establishing new milk products to assist in better distribution. These programmes are being carried out mainly by the C.S.I.R.O. and the State departments of agriculture and State .universities. il do .not .have time to: speak -of the great -expansion that is .being undertaken .in -the fields of promotion .and research. Prom this brief -outline ‘I think it will be readily seen that the Department of Primary -Industry is actively engaged -in furthering the interests of the farming .community and .that the esti- mates for .this .year have been drawn -up to derive. the greatest .good from the .money allocated to .the department.
.- The honorable member for McMillan ‘(Mr.
Buchanan.) :has made .a very homely speech but :in in© way .did he touch on the fundamental problems that confront the people of .Australia .and the Government. !He referred, .df (.course, ‘to the exaggerated wage structure, :so-called, ‘which ;he considers to he a >problem. Me -did .not say .anything about exaggerated interest rates. He -.did not .say anything about exaggerated capital gains. He did .not say a word a’bout excessive loan raisings or excessive freights charged on our exports. “He did not say anything about ‘the real problems confronting Australia. The plain fact is that Australia is rapidly approaching a very dangerous ‘financial situation. This is recognized by all thoughtful people and by those who have given even ‘a moment’s study to our problems. We have only to look at the paper issued ‘by the Treasury entitled “ National Income and Expenditure “ to see that :in the .past seven years this country ‘has drifted on to the wrong side of the ledger to the tune cif £1,032,000,000 - a vast sum of money. In only one of those seven years did we have a credit balance. Surely that is very serious. No less an authority in the ‘business world than the managing director of J. B. Were ar.d Son, Mr. Ricketson, the stockbroker, has said that the situation in Australia to-day is reminiscent of the ‘bank crash and the land boom of the period between 1880 and 1890. To-day, we have a multitude of problems that should receive the attention o’f the Government. The honorable member for ‘McMillan referred to the .problem of primary industries and their importance.
– That is what we are discussing.
Mr. -POLLARD. - We are discussing <trade, and .that includes our adverse international trade balances. I have time :to devote attention to only -one problem, but before I :come to it, I want to say that the problem confronting primary industries, particularly the wool industry, to-day arises from the inflated .cost of production. This has resulted from the failure of theGovernment during -the eleven years that it has been in office ,to control the economy and prevent -increases df costs of our exporting industries. To-day, lt costs more than twice as much as ‘it did .in 1948-49 to produce a -bushel of wheat, a. pound of butter <or a bale of wool. Interest rates) and capital gains have doubled, but the honorable member for. McMillan referred to an. exaggerated wage structure. That is not the basic problem confronting us. Honorable members opposite should tackle some of the problems that compel the wage-earner to go to the Arbitration Commission seeking increased wages and salaries with which to meet inflated costs..
Let. me return to the subject of wool. As I see it, the first problem is inflation. Next, we have the. problem of promotion, which has been given great prominence, and then the. problem- of scientific research. The fourth problem is that of marketing. The remarkable fact is that, except for members of the Australian. Labour Party, inside the Parliament and outside the Parliament, every one places great emphasis on promotion and on. scientific research. The promotion of wool sales is of great importance, and- so is scientific research. But we must remember that last year about £1,500^000 was spent on scientific research, and magnificent work was done by the research people, and a further £1,500;000 was spent on promotion, and a good jobwas done. I do not deprecate the work that is’ being done in any way; but what do we find when we consider the problem of marketing? The interested parties, who batten and- fatten on- the primary producers, dodge the issue and place the emphasis on promotion and on scientific research.
Let us look at this problem of promotion. Here we find an extraordinary situation. In the past thirteen years, our carry-over of wool - that is, woof remaining unsold - has averaged only 75,000 bales out of an annual clip of 5,000,000 bales. A mere li per cent, of our wool remains unsold’ every year; so we need not worry too much about, or place too much emphasis, on, promotion. Let us turn then to the big problem, of marketing. Here we have 90,000 wool-growers unorganized, in the marketing, sense. They have no control, whatever over the sale of. their products. When, we consider what this, means from their point of view and from the point of view of- our national income, we get to the core of the problem.. This, is- one way we can do- something really practical to help solve- our adverse trade- balances.
I shall quote some: figures,, though I. know that figures: are-; tedious. Let us go back’ not too many years, to: L9.5.6-57’. Sales, of Australian! wooli to international, buyers brought us an income of- £482,000,000. In. J95T-58; our- income from’ wool sales was £337,000*000, a, less of income- in’ one. year, of £145.000,000. In 1958-59, the total from wool’ sales’ was down to’ £295,000,000, a further’ fall’ of ‘ £42.000:000. In 1959-60; there was a recovery to- £-359-000,000, or an increase in our national income of £64,000,000. I do not think- it is any exaggeration to say that if we had had a single selling entity, such as we have with wheat, and a complete control with a reserve price system or some other sensible organized marketing- system, in the- past seven years this country may well have enjoyed an additional income of £100,000,000 per annum or a total’ of £700,000,000. This would have meant that our adverse trade balances would’ have been only £300,000,000 instead of £1,032,000,000. Let us look at the price of wool in pence per lb. In 1956-57, the average price was 79.66d. In 1957-58, it was 62.45d., a fall in one year of I7.21d. In 1958-59, it was 48.57d., a further fall of 13.88d. This year there- has been a. recovery,, and the price has increased by 9.2 Id.
I know, of course, that any one whowould consider holding the world to ransom for a set price would be a lunatic. However, I do think that when’ we- are in such a strong position we can say to the buyers that we have set a limit below which we will not sell, our wool. When we are. in the happy position of having, a surplus of only li per cent: of our annual woolcrop, it is not a- matter 0t promotion; it is, a. matter- ofl growers: being able, as a united, body, to seek from the world’s- buyers the price we believe we should get for our wooli
The. Labour Party, has been concerned about the situation, since the disastrous fall of 17d. per lb. in 1957-5.8. We asked, questions in the Parliament and directed the attention, of the Government to- our. beliefs that pies and lot-splitting, practiceswere being, adopted, by wool-buyers in Australia, acting, on behalf of their overseas principals.. We were laughed to: scorn. But an alert. Labour government in New
South Wales appointed Mr. Justice Cook to inquire into the matter. What did he find? He found beyond a shadow of doubt that pies were operating to the detriment of the wool-sellers and of the national interests. This Government remained blind, but we did not let up in our insistence that these practices existed. What is the situation now? Notwithstanding continual urging by Opposition members, the only answer from the Government is that it is waiting for the growers to reach unanimity as to the plan they want. Only recently, some of the growers’ organizations suggested in desperation that an inquiry be held.
– Not by some; by every organization in the country.
– No; two organizations waited on the Minister, the Graziers Federal Council and the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation. The Wheat and Wool Growers Association has not yet waited on him to ask for an inquiry.
– They have stated that they want an inquiry.
– I will not be sidetracked by you. The organizations I have mentioned have asked for an inquiry in desperation. Do honorable members know what an inquiry means? The Government has now stated that it means a delay of two years, during which time the pie operators and the rest of the gangsters, commercially, will be able to continue their nefarious practices. The honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Malcolm Fraser) will probably argue that those who operate pies have agreed to a new regulation. One would think it was a government regulation. lt is an agreement with the brokers and the graziers’ organizations that they will be good boys and will not go pie-ing any more. In the meantime, with the blessing of this Government a wool futures market has been set up in Australia. When we peruse a list of the people who are running that market we find in it all those who were running the pies. Apparently, what you cannot pick up in a pie, you pick up in gambling on the wool futures market. Up to the present that system has not brought one atom of benefit to any wool-grower in Australia because interposed between the wool-seller and the wool-buyer is a gambling machine which somebody has to pay for. When you look at the long list of the people who are running this machine you see that it includes wool brokers such as Simonius Vischer and Company and William Haughton and Company. Even the Australia and New Zealand Bank is in it. So, the futures market is just another barnacle on the wool industry of Australia.
Let me come to the inquiry problem. What do some of the growers say about that? Mr. Howell, a member of the Australian Wool Bureau, has said that a federal inquiry into the wool industry was not needed. The proof was already available. The problems of the industry had been considered for years and an inquiry would be a time-wasting process. I heartily agree with him. It would be a time-wasting process because this country has all the necessary information available in the archives of the departments and in other places. It also has competent personnel to advise on these matters. The Government has available to it the records of the successful British-Australian wool realization marketing scheme which operated after World War I., a report made to the Graziers Federal Council by Mr. Chislett after eighteen months of work in Australia and abroad, and a review by Mr. Chislett. The Government also has the wonderful Bureau of Agricultural Economics, which has been collating a lot of information. Then there is the plan which the Government prepared in 1951, and which the growers rejected. All this information is available.
– You wanted to force the plan on to the growers without a ballot.
– Nothing of the sort. The Government has available the records of the great Joint Organization scheme, as well as documentary evidence and advice on what is happening in South Africa and New Zealand. All I say to the Government is this: “ Get to work and do what the Labour Government did “. Labour did not wait until there was unanimity among the wool-growers of Australia. With the information, records and the material it had gathered, it went to the wool-growers and said, “ Here is the plan. This is what we offer you.” Then we listened to the woolgrowers’ suggestions for amendments and improvements and finally we said, “This is our final plan. You can vote on it and if you accept it we will implement it.” And we did so. With all the information and records the Government has, why does it not adopt the same policy in principle and abandon time-wasting inquiries and nonsensical tomfoolery?
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I have not sufficient time to attempt to answer in detail the criticism by the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard). All I say about what is happening in the wool industry is that the people who own the commodity should have some say as to what is to be done with it. When I remember that very little of this tremendous passion was shown by members on the Labour side of the chamber in the years from 1945 to 1947, when, according to officers of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization Australia lost about £600,000,000 because nothing was done to counter the effects of drought, I think I may be able to offer to the Parliament more constructive suggestions than have been made by the Opposition.
It is quite obvious that the success of the primary industries of Australia, as of every other country of the world, depends in the final analysis upon abundant and continuous supplies of water. Those continuous supplies can only be available if the flood waters that come fairly regularly are controlled and stored so that they can be used to counter the effects of droughts. The losses that result from droughts and floods and the consequent lessening of primary production not only affect the primary producers themselves but also give rise to tremendous unemployment. When there is a flood the butter factories have to sack practically every employee because no milk comes in for a week or a fortnight. So a flood affects the whole community.
The Australian continent is very short of water in comparison with other continents. Unfortunately, Australia is also lagging behind other countries in water conservation. For many years sufficient money has not been spent on this work. Unfortunately water conservation has been financially starved by the State Governments. They are primarily responsible for dealing with this matter. I intend to make a constructive suggestion whereby the State Governments will be able, to obtain more money to assist them to provide water storage facilities. Under my scheme they would automatically secure and have under their control more money than they actually need.
Many years ago I had the privilege of seeing the Aswan Dam. Sir William Wilcox was there and he said to me, “It would have been good for Australia and South Africa if their engineers had been trained in Egypt or India and if Australia and South Africa had spent on water conservation and irrigation half as much as they have spent on railways and roads. The railways and roads would then have built themselves.”
– On a population basis we have better water storage facilities than any other country in the world.
– I am making these statements because at the present time there is a drought from the Macleay River at Kempsey up to Cairns and there is not much water stored in that area. The honorable member who interjects can ask the men who have come down from that area about it. At the same time there are floods in the south and very little is being done to store the water. The only place where there is any really worthwhile water storage in Australia is in Victoria. The Victorians have done a great job and have set an example which ought to be followed by the Commonwealth. By making free-of-interest loans to undertakings for the headworks, the Victorian Government has attempted to ensure that irrigation and flood control projects will be carried out. I desire the Commonwealth Government to come into the picture by assisting the States in that way.
During the past few years I have examined the Australian dairying industry. I have given evidence before committees of inquiry. South of the 32nd parallel of latitude, where there are about 2,000,000 acres of irrigated land, cows are giving sufficient milk to make about 100 lb. of butter more annually than are cows in the northern areas where the cattle are just as good, as is borne out by the fact that in a good season the cattle in the northern areas produce .just as well as those in Victoria, Applying a -value -of 2s. per .lb. -of butter,, ‘that means that .we .are .losing about £1.5,000,000 ,a year .because we have mot sufficient water for .irrigation.” That ,is a loss of £-15,00.0,000 in one industry alone. That money would ;go some of .the -way towards carrying out .the wor.k to which I have referred.
Therefore, I say that the time has come when we must devise some permanent machinery to put capital into major water conservation ‘works. The dams that were built would become part of -the capital assets of .the country. If tire darns are good they should last .for as long as Che mountains that surround it-hem. lit is absurd that their cost should -be written off -over a period of 30, 40 or 50 years when in fact they are good for at least 1 ,000 years. At any rate, the depreciation should be calculated on the basis of ‘the dams lasting for at least 100 years. That would mean the lowest possible .charges being made on the users of the water.
I believe we should look around and see what other countries are doing in this regard. We should make certain that the money is available. Since the introduction of uniform ‘taxation, there has been no opportunity for the States to tax incomes even if they desired to ‘impose taxes to obtain money for this purpose. The Commonwealth has taken over the Whole field of income taxation .and has also reduced the other fields of taxation by imposing customs duties, excise duties, pay-roll tax and so on. lt is up to the ‘Commonwealth to find the money for -this work. 1 hope that it will ‘find it in the same way as it finds the money for the federal aid roads scheme. We should assist them, but not as we are doing at present. Under our present system we tax the people and then lend the States the money, and it goes into the consolidated debt on which are levied interest and sinking fund payments. .Since the Second World War the federal -debt has gone down by about £100,000,000, but the debts of the .States have risen to £1,500,000,000 and their interest payments ‘have increased from £30,000,000 to more than £100,000,000. While they have to pay that extraordinary interest bill .they will ,not have much money to spare for .this particular job of work.
This Parliament should settle down to the task of devising a method by which this work can be tackled. The federation of the United States of America is almost the same size as Australia, and has a similar constitution. The Americans have created a permanent co-operative organization in which the federal government, the State governments and the authorities which control river ‘basins are all joined together. They meet and discuss, first, the works that Should be -done, and then decide on priorities and the matter of money. They found, when they studied the benefits obtained from irrigation, that the body that gets the most out of it is the federal government. Although the authorities get their ordinary service fees, and -the States get some extra traffic on their railways, the federal government gets increased revenue from income tax and all the other taxes it is able to levy.
This organization has been working in the U.S.A. for ten or eleven years, and the American Government has decided that it is no -the advantage of -the federation to find the cost of head works and provide the money free of interest. It allows long terms for the repayment of the money, which in many cases is not paid ‘back at all. If necessary, the repayments are spread over 100 or 200 years. But the .important thing is that the .man who has a farm can use the water to make his farm pay. That is one method which would .enable us to meet all sorts of difficulties overseas in selling our primary products, because the idea that we can force .an .unwilling buyer to pay just what we want is nonsense, and has been proved many .times to be nonsense. Therefore, .1 suggest that the Commonwealth Government should look .at this matter very carefully .and try to deal with it in a statesmanlike way. lt should be dealt with just as we are dealing with the universities.
– -We will restore you as Treasurer.
– If I were there mow, it would :be done -pretty quickly. It -can be done. The fact -is that the formula that -has been adopted has -been proved obsolete. It was .changed only last year. Previously, rft was (based on population. Then it was based on half the rate of increase of wages, and last year it was based on the whole of the increase >of wages. The .agreement will .’stand for six years. The provision is inadequate, .because the States have to deal with .the developmental work. At the same time :they -must also provide schools, all sorts of other services, and carry out development .generally. “That is their responsibility under the Constitution. “We have gone into the rmg at various times. When we have wanted roads, we have said, “ Here is the money. We will work with you, but there will be no interest charge. It is a final gift.” That is the way this matter must be dealt with by this Parliament. This is not a party matter,; it affects every party in Australia, because there are Labour .governments in office in certain States, and I suppose there will .be Labour governments in the federal sphere in the future, though I hope -that is a long way off yet. The fact .is that all the governments are interested in :one thing - the improvement of the conditions >of the working men, including those on .the land. I do not believe in all this stuff about .certain governments not trying to .help certain “sections of the community. They are Ml Spying to get the job done, but they do not get the help they ‘need to give effect to the intentions o’f legislation we pass to control various productive enterprises.
We in ‘the federal sphere have -the sources -of taxation at our disposal. We have taken them ;from the States, and the High Court of Australia has ruled that the States cannot get those sources of taxation back -unless we return them voluntarily. There is no evidence ;that the Government has the slightest intention of doing ‘that. ‘What we have to do first, figuratively speaking, is to decide which kid in the family is starving. Then we must give him a feed and build him up. This ‘year alone, we will lose “thousands of cattle and ‘ sheep, and a tremendous amount of produce, in an area extending from north Queensland to the Hunter River. We are suffering from one of the worst droughts that we have had for years in the north, and we have floods in the south. Providence is trying to teach us that we must conserve the floods so that we can deal with the droughts. This is one thing on which we should be able to get together on a non-party basis. If we store the maximum amount of water we will be able to ensure continuous production and ^employment. We will be able to feed the millions of people we wish to .have in Australia and we will be .able to help feed the millions of people to the north of us. We must feed them or we will lose this country.
The right honorable member for ‘Cowper (Sir Earle Page) has discussed a familiar topic - on which he has addressed honorable members previously on innumerable occasions. One must sympathize with the right honorable gentleman. He is a former Prime Minister, a former Treasurer and a former Minister for Health. He was one of the architects of the Bruce-Page Administration, and he has ‘held the power of government in his hands. It is pathetic, therefore, that the right honorable gentleman should find it necessary -after eleven years of Menzies-Fadden “and Menzies-McEwen rule, to come to this Parliament again to make a plea tor something that would be supported by all Australians, lt is astonishing that the right honorable gentleman should find it necessary to do this. His seems to be a voice crying in the desert wilderness of the Government’s administration.
I feel that I must reproach him on one -point, and that is his failure to do these “things when he -had the opportunity, and “held -the necessary power in his hands. At -that time there was mounting unemployment in Australia. Men walked the country looking for work. The right honorable gentleman neglected ‘then ‘the great projects he has mentioned, which -are vitally necessary to-day to stimulate production - and they are still neglected. Even work on the Snowy Mountains hydro-electric scheme, which was designed and started by a Labour government, is being reduced. Development associated with that scheme is being cut back. However, I do not want to go through all these matters now, because I applaud the sentiments of the Tight ‘honorable gentleman, and every patriotic Australian would feel the same way. There is a great need to push on with the class of works discussed by the right honorable gentleman.
The group of items we are discussing now includes the vote .for .the Department of Trade, .and I recall that the Minister .for Trade (Mr. McEwen), , who is also the
Deputy Prime Minister, has said that our economy is balanced on a razor’s edge. He has directed attention repeatedly to this problem. He has addressed all sorts of conferences on the matter, and called for action within his own party - the Australian Country Party - in this connexion. In addition, we have had statements from’ his party that exports must increase by 50 per cent, in the next ten years. A fight for trade has been declared by Mr. Sparkes of the Australian Exporters Federation, and Mr. Chislett, an economist, has declared that there is a need for a subsidy on wool. These declarations indicate without doubt that a serious problem faces our industries at the present time. What is the Government doing about it? It poses questions to the Parliament, and .honorable members opposite discuss these matters in their party rooms, but when it comes to action, the only thing that is done by the Government is to peg the wages of the working people. The Government closes its eyes to rising freights, high insurance costs and high interest rates - those things that are generally described as invisible items. It passes them by without taking any action.
While the Government takes no action to protect Australian export industries and raises not even a whisper of protest against high interest charges, freights and insurance costs, the nation is demanding leadership on these matters. It wants to see a bold imaginative plan evolved in an effort to win the markets that are so necessary to Australia. They will not be won unless the Government does something more than it has already done. Wages have been pegged but interest charges have been allowed to rise. The Government is prepared to watch a new financial Frankenstein monster ravage the country, challenging our banking institutions, compelling the people to pay higher interest rates, thus adding to production costs, and generally causing difficulties to men on the land and to those people who are trying to earn the export income that we so urgently require.
I believe that there are certain industries in Australia which could be so developed as to earn export income for us. These industries - some of them leading industries - are making substantial profits at present. If they sold their goods at more competitive prices on the home market, that might stimulate a greater demand for them in Australia. With a greater demand for their goods, the industries could expand and then might be able to build up an export trade. We would then be in a much better position to face our difficulties.
Turning to shipping, we find that the Government closes its eyes to every action taken by the Conference lines. Rarely is any action taken against the Conference lines or any suggestion made to fight them. The Adelaide Steamship Company regularly reports exceptional profits and makes bonus issues. The Peninsular and Orient Steamship Navigation Company does likewise. Private ship-owners send their ships to the shipping graveyards of the world - to the land of the rising sun and elsewhere - to be sold. Recently 1 saw the “ Duntroon “ heading north either to be broken up or to receive another coat of paint and then to engage in trade in the East, perhaps to the detriment of Australia in the long run. The Government closes its eyes to these things, but the need for development and for the production of goods persists.
I have referred to the important matter of high prices and profits. Now I wish to direct attention to our growing problems overseas. The formation of the new trading groups in Europe must give rise to increasing problems for our export industries. It is easy to say that the formation of the Six and the Seven - the two trading groups in Europe - will not hurt Australia’s trade with Europe in primary products. It is inevitable that that trade will be hurt. We are obliged to face the realities of the situation and to look for new markets. There is keen competition to sell manufactured goods. Competition by Japan, West Germany and other countries poses great problems for Australia, but we have great opportunities to solve our problems because we are blessed with substantial sources of many raw materials. We have also a great reservoir of men skilled in the arts of manufacture and production. Just as we are capable of producing high quality wool, so are we capable of producing other articles which are sought by people throughout the world.
We must fight for our markets. Tt is not good enough for the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) to remain in Australia and accept what is happening in other parts of the world. We send our goods overseas and hand them over to other people to sell them for us. I think it is essential to have our own trade organizations overseas. We should not be content merely to land our goods on wharfs abroad and allow others to sell them for us. We should have our own trade organizations which could take merchandise from our fields and workshops and sell it in the United Kingdom and elsewhere. From lime to time we have heard of the great difficulties experienced overseas by exporters of Australian goods. The wine industry has complained on a number of occasions that it has not been given a proper opportunity to market its product overseas.
I believe that opportunities do present themselves for marketing our goods in various parts of the world. The Asian market might well be developed by Australia. We live in the Asian part of the world. In Indonesia, Malaya and elsewhere to the north of Australia are people who need the goods that we produce. If we helped to build up their standards of living, they would be able to buy the goods that we are producing in abundance and that would help us to overcome our serious balance of payments problem.
Looking through the estimates of the Department of Trade, I notice a great disparity between the amounts of money provided for the stimulation of trade in various countries. Only £14,000 is proposed for Malaya. To my mind, that amount is hopelessly inadequate and will not meet the situation at all. A sum of £31,600 is proposed for Italy, as against £24,400 for France. We all know that the French market is a good one for Australia. We have a very favorable trade balance with France, and we should try to develop our trade with that country still further. We should buy more from France and try to balance the account. We could stimulate trade between the two countries to a great extent.
Reciprocal trade agreements are very important. We must have clear-cut ideas n trade, not haphazard, careless, comebychance arrangements for shipping our goods to people who require them here, there and everywhere. On a national basis, we should make plans to export our goods to various countries by agreeing to buy from those countries things which are required by the people of Australia. If countries become good customers of ours, we ought to buy from them. This is a reasonable suggestion that the Minister for Trade should adopt. Here is a field in which the Commonwealth Government could operate.
The wool industry has been dealt with adequately by the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard). He has referred to the importance of this industry not only from the point of view of the nation but also from that of the man on the land. When one realizes that 73 per cent, of those engaged in the wool industry are small men producing between one and thirty bales of wool, and when one considers the difficulties they are encountering in these days of inflation and high prices, one has good reason for suggesting that something should be done by the Government to assist them.
I leave the matter by saying that we have a clear-cut duty to ourselves. I have here an editorial from the Sydney “Sun” of 16th July, 1959, under the heading “ Sorry, there’s no butter, children! “ The editorial deals with the decline in the amount of butter that is being consumed by the people of Australia and the fact that children to-day are not eating as much butter as they used to eat. The home market, the best market of all, should be stimulated by the Government, but the Government does nothing to stimulate it. On the contrary, the Government restricts it. I make several suggestions to the Government: First, that it assists the home market; secondly, that it does all in its power to obtain the highest prices for our products on world markets; thirdly, that it ensures that our industries are owned and controlled by the people of this country; and fourthly, that closer attention be given to the invisible items, which are the heaviest burden on the expansion of our trade and which are seriously interfering with our development.
.- I am sorry that I did not hear the major portion of the contribution of the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Luchetti) to this debate, but I understand from my colleagues, that, his speech: did. not contain very much that warrants a reply. I wish to. speak to the estimates for the Department, of Trade. At the outset, I- pay tribute to the Minister for. Trade (Mr. McEwen), and: to his department, for the way in which, they have, performed, a very onerous task, during what I think we can rightly regard, as. the most challenging period in Australia’s history.
While paying that tribute; I” feel that I should make some criticisms, which I trust’ will be constructive, in relation to publicity and trade promotion in general, particularly in the United Kingdom. There does not seem to be the professional touch to a good deal’ of our advertising. To illustrate my point, I refer to one method of. trade promotion in the United Kingdom: which takes the form of sending very nice young girls, who are visitors to London from- Australia, throughout the United Kingdom distributing apples and canned fruits. Some of these girls are my constituents, well educated, and. intelligent. They are paid about £25 a week and their travel expenses. The first requisite of all. advertising is to create demand. Unfortunately, having created the demand we do not follow, it up. Every advertiser knows, that you must first create demand by advertising-, then make sure that an adequate supply of. the goods which you are advertising is available, and then cement the- preliminary work that you have done.. We have created a. demand for our apples, and canned’ fruits, but when people go to. their local shops they find that these Aus- tralian, goods, are not in stock,, so our effort to create a demand- has been wasted..
I have another criticism to: make. I- saw a- trade- fair at the Watford town, hallwhich was run by. a warehouse-. Admission-, was by, invitation- only. It was not open to. the public, The. notice, advertising the display was not on the front, door of the town hall in. a conspicuous position; it was. around the cor;ner. The notice was about 24 inches long by 18 inches wide, and it carried only the words “Australian Trade Fair “. The. displays, inside-, the- hall were quite, good. However, the wine display, carried only sherries and one kind’ of port, which was, bottled by this warehouseman, under, his. own labeL, Although, this, was- the warehouseman’s, display,, assistance had been- afforded by the.- staff, at Australia House..
The window display in Australia House is. open to criticism-. The location of Australia House - it is on an island on the junction of the Strand* - is particularly good for display purposes. It has a large number of windows which could be put to good use. They are used, but the displays are not. changed frequently enough. I saw cases of apples in one window for a couple of months- and, of course, at the end of that time they were badly shrivelled. The wines on display are again only sherries and ports’ which are manufactured byOrlando and- Mcwilliams. Sherries and ports are used to some extent in the United Kingdom, but surely we could display some of our other wines, the reislings, hocks and minchinburys which are put up in such attractive bottles in Australia.
Television does not seem to be used to any great extent as a medium for advertising our goods. Money is being spent in the wrong avenues. The national channel has a session called “ Week-end Magazine “. This would be a very good programme on which to publicize both our country and our goods. The use of a mock television cabinet with a color film projected on to it with a time-operated mechanism would attract a large number of people.. ‘ I have seen very few people looking at the existing displays, but across the road thousands watch television when tennis and football games are being telecast. I asked the Minister recently to consider transferring some of the exhibits from our remarkably good display at the Lausanne trade fair to Australia House so that we could get the maximum benefit from a decent portrayal of our good’s. The Minister said that he. would’ examine my suggestion.
Complaints affecting mainly containersand’ their’ packaging crop up in other countries’. Let me illustrate my point by using- jam as an example: The continental1 container most desired’ is what we would call a one-meal container; holding about- 6 ounces of jam. In most cases, manufacturers persist in exporting the, packs that we know in Australia. These are also becoming, out of date by modern, standards in our. country,. Another complaint is that when a. person. orders a package of strawberry jam*, for example, he receives- a mixed box containing melon and lemon,, and melon-, and. ginger jams- which have no appeal to people on the continent. There is another matter, to which I wish to. refer. Although I agree that we have made great capital from the tourist point of view out of the portrayal- of our flora and fauna, I think it is time we got away from the kangaroo and. emu as a basis for our- publicity, lt is about time we depicted Australia as. an industrial nation, as a nation which is building up its secondary- industries and getting somewhere. The other day; I saw a cigarette firm’s poster on which the background depicted a place like the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited works with smoke coming from: the chimneys and in the foreground there was pictured a farmer driving a tractor. It was titled “ The Big Smoke “. It was something much more alive than the kangaroo with a joey, like some of the joeys who are interjecting at the moment.
On the question of posters, I found that many of our offices were short of posters and short of exhibits for display. Again, many did not have proper places to display them.
Mi-. Pollard. - Did the honorable member ever speak to the State commissioners about these things?
– I am not referring to the State posts,, although I did feel that some of the State posts- were making, a. better job of publicity than we are doing.
– Why are you miming down your Government?
– 1 am not running it down; I am trying to be constructive. Again, some of the photographs in the posts are completely out of date. For instance, at some of our posts in the United States, I saw photographs of the American War Memorial at Canberra. It was a very old photograph which had been taken long before the gardens and lawns had been established around the memorial. An up-to-date photograph in colour of the memorial with established lawns and gardens would do more to promote good will than the sort of thing that is being displayed now.
In conclusion, I should like to say that. I feel that trade promotion is vital’ to our economy. I am quite sure that- any expendi- ture properly made, in this way will increase our harvest one hundredfold. We must have the best of publicity, the best of advertising and-, the best methods of presenting our displays. I think, it is high time we: got out of the amateur league and let the- professionals have- a bit of a go at this side of our promotion.
One other matter to which I would like to refer is the lack of information as to demand. I’ was talking to a business man from Malta, who was buying a lot of quickfrozen vegetables from other countries. He said he would like to buy them from Australia but that, as far as he knew, there were only beans and peas available. I know that manufacturers in Australia are supplying the kinds of vegetables this man wants. Whether they are producing in sufficient quantities to cater for the export, trade I do not know, but this man. was looking for corn on the cob, brussel sprouts and other kinds of vegetables. It is in matters like this that I feel that we should get on side a little by making sure that our manufacturers know what is required. I know that we have a council to do these things, but we should see to it that our advertising is kept up to date and. that our manufacturers are kept up to date with requirements. I suggest that we should leave promotion and advertising to the contractors, whose job. it is to do these things. It is of no use advertising anywhere unless the goods are in the shops to meet demand. Without that, we are wasting public money. It seems to be the. same story as we find in connexion with most of our efforts - we try to operate on a shoe string.
Again, some of these trade commissioners were not provided with cars. They had to buy their own cars. This they should not have to do. If we are to expect our representatives to meet maufacturers and buyers in other countries, they should have a certain amount of prestige. It is about time a little more thought was given to the benefits we can reap if we really do the job properly. As I said before, it is time we got out of the amateur league and got on to the professional side.
.- First, 1 want to speak about a matter relating to the Literature Censorship Board, which- comesunder the control of the Department of
Customs and Excise, provision for which is included in the group of items we are now discussing. A fortnight ago, a stipendiary magistrate in Victoria banned a book entitled “Carlotta McBride”. The interesting point about this is that despite the fact that the Commonwealth Literature Censorship Board had approved of the book, a State instrumentality decided that it must not be distributed or sold in Victoria, and all copies that were on the book-stalls and in store were confiscated. Where will we get to if this sort of thing becomes a frequent happening? Here we have a Commonwealth board, the Literature Censorship Board which is administered by Senator Henty. Why should a State authority duplicate its censorship? 1 am sure it will only make confusion worse confounded if the States override Commonwealth censorship. 1 do not know why the States cannot vacate this field.I have spoken about State rights on many occasions in this Parliament, but we have now reached the time in our history when we must grow up as a Commonwealth. This is one instance in which we must grow up. Surely the States can trust the Commonwealth Literature Censorship Board, which has been in existence for many years dealing with this awkward problem of censoring books from overseas. Tt is doing wonderful work. Duplication pf censorship is bad. Within the last three years, according to a list in the parliamentary library, about 180 books have been banned.
– Have you read them all?
– I have not read any of them. I have read only their titles. I could tell quite easily from their titles, and by reading between the lines, why they were banned. One evening, about a year ago, I quoted some of the titles in this Parliament. I did not have time to quote more than five, but honorable members could gain some idea from those five titles of what the books were like.
– What were the titles?
– I cannot remember.
– But you do not always judge a book by its title.
– I know you do not judge a book by its title when the title is a reasonable one, but the titles to which I am referring were not reasonable. I was able to decide from reading the titles that the Literature Censorship Board was doing a good job. Under the administration of Senator Henty, the board has relaxed its activity somewhat, and now a list of banned books is published in the “ Gazette “. Because of this, we are in a position to know what books have been banned. Previously, we had a kind of hush-hush system, of which I did not approve at all. An honorable member suggested that the Literature Censorship Board should be disbanded simply because of an incident that occurred in Victoria a fortnight ago. I think it would be ridiculous to disband the board simply because of a decision in one State which overrode a Commonwealth decision. I hope that the board continues its work and that in the near future the States will come to recognize and to accept its authority.
The next point I wish to raise was also raised by my colleague, the honorable member for Braddon (Mr. Davies), this afternoon. It relates to the possible setting up of a Commonwealth honey marketing board and the request that Tasmania be not covered by the provisions of the proposed legislation because the honey that is produced in that State is insufficient for our own local needs. Mr. Stephens, who is one of the leading honey producers in my electorate - in fact, he is probably one of the leading producers in Australia - has written to us on this matter. One of the suggestions that have been made in connexion with the legislation which, I understand, is to be introduced, is that a penny stamp should be placed on every 1 lb. jar of honey. The producer to whom I have referred points out that that would cost him £400 a year. He believes that only mainland beekeepers would benefit from such a scheme, because the proceeds from the stamps to be affixed to the honey jars would be used for research, advertising and general publicity.
The honey that we produce in Tasmania is superior to the honey produced on the mainland, as the honorable member for Braddon has pointed out. Leatherwood honey is superior to any other honey in Australia, and any one who compares it with other honey will appreciate the difference.
– Why is it better?
– It has a better flavour. I wish to mention one other point made by my friend Mr. Stephens in his letter to us. lt refers to control of the exports of honey to overseas markets. He states that this aspect of the proposed board’s activities has a lot to recommend it because it would prevent exporters from putting honey on the English market at a very low price. He points out that a few years ago, when the price of honey was high, two Australian firms, which he can name if necessary, cleared two small parcels in England at a very low price. Those two small shipments caused the English market to slump and brought the price tumbling down, to the detriment of other Australian producers. He also states that this year a big firm with interests in Melbourne and Sydney sold honey at 8s. to 10s. a cwt. below the ruling price. He goes on to point out that a board would have some effect in controlling the dumping of honey on overseas markets which causes prices to become chaotic and honey production to be uneconomic.
I want to refer now to the renewal of the Tasmanian potato trade with New Caledonia. Because of the present relationships between France and Australia, some of the previous difficulties have been ironed out. About two years ago, France banned the import of potatoes into New Caledonia, which prevented the export of Tasmanian potatoes to that country. I think that the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) should now do his best, on a Commonwealth level, to restore the excellent trade that our State enjoyed with New Caledonia previously. We are always looking for markets for Tasmanian potatoes. We want more stability in the prices for our potatoes. Many growers have gone right out of the industry because of irregular shipping and fluctuating prices, particularly on the Sydney market. Lack of shipping and irregularity of shipping services have caused us to lose practically the whole of the Newcastle market and also the Brisbane market which, a few years ago, were some of our principal markets on the eastern shoreline of Australia. I hope that the Minister will do all he can to help restore Tasmania’s potato trade with New Caledonia.
The final point I want to make concerns wool, a subject that has played a large part in the debate on this portion of the
Estimates. My friend, the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard), said that he wished he could speak for two hours tonight instead of for fifteen minutes, and his speech was so interesting that 1 also wish he had had two hours. I want to refer to some comments of Mr. F. R. Howell, who is the Victorian member of the Australian Wool Bureau and also vicepresident of the Victorian Wheat and Wool Growers Association. He recently conducted a big meeting at Balmoral, in the electorate of the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Malcolm Fraser), which was attended by 300 wool men.
– And a very good meeting, too.
– It was an excellent meeting and is well reported in the “ Hamilton Spectator “. I congratulate that newspaper for the account it gives of the meeting. Mr. Howell is reported to have said that Australian wool-growers were being looked upon as the suckers of world industry. He went on to say -
Growers are not game to exercise any control of their own industry. My assessment of the situation after travelling around the world recently is that every one is making money out of wool except the Australian grower.
The honorable member for Lalor referred to the control of wool marketing, as distinct from the production of wool. Once the wool-grower has produced the wool clip it is in no-man’s land, so far as he is concerned. He has practically no say in what happens to it after it leaves his property.
Mr. Howell stated that about 80 per cent, of wool-growers in Australia were not making any money out of wool at present. He said, “ Our industry is very sick “, and he went on to say that, unfortunately, growers’ organizations were split and could not speak with one voice. That is the great tragedy of the wool industry at the moment, Mr. Temporary Chairman. The wheat-growers speak with one voice. Look at the strength of their industry! Think how successful the wheat stabilization plan has been! As we know, there is the big shot wool-grower and there is the little wool-grower, and ne’er the twain shall meet. They do not even go into the same pubs. They do not even travel together on the same trains. They do not ride together on the roads. They are almost worlds apart. How ‘can they expect an answer to their problems until they get together, sink their pride and unite? If they could do so, they might be able to bring a plan to this Government that all would agree to. They are being exploited by the people mentioned by the honorable member for Lalor, because they are not united. It is a case of divide and conquer. The men who manipulate the wool markets certainly know the meaning of that phrase. The wool industry is divided and those manipulators are conquering the industry as a result.
Mr. Howell went on to say that perhaps the organizations were afraid of losing face. He said that the leaders must be told to get together and that pressure must be put on the Federal Government to do something about organized marketing and production costs. He added - lt could even come back to price control.
Fancy a leader of the wool industry talking about prices control to control costs! That shows how desperate the wool-growers are. Mr. Howell continued -
But definite steps will have to. be taken urgently to save our industry.
He said that a federal inquiry into the wool industry had been suggested, but there was no need for one. The proof was already available. The problems of the industry had been considered for years and an inquiry would be a time-wasting process.
I now quote the following passage, to which the honorable member for Lalor also referred. It is .headed “ Woolman has no protection against .the organized buyer “ and reads -
The wool-grower had no means of protecting himself against the concerted organized buying powers who put a ceiling price on wool. We are such a disorganized rabble that we have been unable to put any business methods into the control of our own product, and the world knows it.
Mr. Howell went on to say that he had advocated a floor price scheme for wool marketing for ten years and that he had not heard a better counter proposal. He is -right. I have studied this question during the last ten months. We have the example of the New Zealand floor price scheme and also that df South Africa. I have seen questions that were addressed to the New Zealand people about the scheme there, and the answers ‘given by them, .and I cannot see anything wrong with the introduction of such a scheme in this country if the growers were united and accepted it as a united body. It is successful in New Zealand and South Africa, so why should it not also -be successful here? Mr. Howell went on to mention that a floor price within the auction system would give growers control over marketing. He added that South Africa and New Zealand, Australia’s partners in the International Wool Secretariat, had put forward their own marketing schemes and that the New Zealand growers were satisfied and would not change from the floor price scheme. The article continues -
In the year before last, when the Australian clip averaged about 48d., the New Zealand clip averaged 45d., and New Zealand produced about 85 per cent, cross-bred wools.
That is not the fine wool we grow. New Zealand farmers averaged 45d. on crossbred lines. What could they have got if they had been producing the fine merino wools that we produce?
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– Mr. Chairman. I will endeavour to answer a few of the speakers who have raised matters relating to my department. I .appreciate the approach that they have made to problems concerning the Department of Primary Industry and I will try to give the answers that -have been sought. The first subject raised related to the extension service funds. This year there is a total vote of £350,000, an increase of £50,000 over the amount for the past five years. As has been pointed out, £50,000 of that is reserved for the Commonwealth to use on research projects. The honorable member for Indi (Mr. Holten) suggested that portion of this money be used to assist farm groups. He also raised the question of the curriculums of the universities of Australia. On making investigations I find that seven of our universities have a faculty of agricultural science. On Wednesday night of last week I had the honour to address the Golden Jubilee dinner of the Sydney University’s Faculty of Agriculture. The honorable member mentioned also that there is a shortage of agricultural scientists in Australia to-day, but I .am pleased to say that the faculty of agricultural science in Sydney University alone has 250 students. Of course the universities of New South Wales, Brisbane, New England, Melbourne, and Adelaide and Perth also have Faculties of Agriculture. I am hoping that as students at these universities complete their courses and graduate we will be able to fill the vacancies that now exist. More and more, we need a scientific approach to primary industry. The honorable member for Indi said that our curriculums were not as good as those in New Zealand. That is not correct, because some universities in Australia specialize in certain phases of agricultural science. I think what might have impressed the honorable member is the fact that pasture improvement and animal husbandry are given special preference in the agricultural courses taken in New Zealand; but on the information available to me I do not think similar courses in Australia are behind those in New Zealand. The honorable member suggested, further, that scientists are not paid enough, although he admitted that the first year’s salary of £1,450 for a graduate just starting out on his career was reasonable. Perhaps scientists, like politicians and other professional men, have to prove themselves in their industry or profession. I suppose there are graduates in agricultural science who become square pegs in round holes. Whilst I agree that more money could, perhaps, be provided to assist the farm groups I point out that of the vote of £350,000 to which I have referred, £50,000 is provided for allocation by the Minister for Primary Industry to approved research projects where there is a matching contribution from a State or industry. The peanutgrowing industry, I believe, is to receive £800, and I think that is a very worthy industry. There are a few other instances in which funds have already been earmarked for special purposes. In addition to the £50,000 that I have mentioned there is a further £36,000 which comes the Commonwealth’s way out of the remaining £300,000, and £17,000 of that is earmarked for scholarships, two for each State. Those are the Agricultural Council scholarships which are provided each year. In addition, this year we are providing for a film on pasture improvement, which we hope will be made available through the State -Departments of Agriculture to those interested in that branch of research.
There is also provision for films to be obtained from overseas. If our technical officers ascertain that a good film is available and the appropriate officer overseas recommends that it is worth buying, we will employ part of the £36,000 for that purpose. I think it can therefore be seen that the £350,000 is, in effect, already earmarked. I am afraid it is not sufficient to subsidize the salaries of experts for- these commendable farm groups. Some groups have used their own money to employ experts so that they can become better farmers. I am told of one group of 40 farmers in New South Wales which employed an expert. After he got to work, he found that by collective buying the group could save a lot of money on the purchases necessary for farm improvement. In that way members of the group saved more than they were paying the expert, but in the end they found that he was spending too much of his time in buying and therefore could not give the necessary technical advice. Then they altered the procedure and engaged a clerk to do the buying so as to free the expert to do the advising, and that system is working satisfactorily. The honorable member for Braddon (Mr. Davies), supported later by the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie) asked a question about the proposed Commonwealth honey marketing organization. Actually that request was made to me by the industry itself and I raised the matter at the meeting of the Australian Agricultural Council in Darwin, because we need the co-operation of the State Ministers in any such scheme. At that meeting it was unanimously agreed that we should investigate the possibility of instituting such a scheme. The proposed authority would be only a regulating authority. It would regulate the exports of any surplus honey that was available, because the export trade needs some regulating and assistance. I am surprised that Tasmania has’ suggested that it should be exempt. Of course if the Tasmanian producers have no honey for export they ,are, in fact, exempt. If there are exports of honey, and Tasmania and Western Australia adopt the same attitude, all the other States will have to combine in their own interests in order to regulate the distribution of export honey so that its placement and the price received will be in the best interests of the industry. The honey industry at present is going through a very lean time. At the moment officers of my department are checking up on the possibility of instituting such a scheme. The Standing Committee on Agriculture, which comprises the under-secretaries of the State Departments of Agriculture and the secretary of my own department, will be meeting in November and having another look at the matter. There might then be further discussions with the industry. That is the present position in regard to that matter.
– Would you tell us the details of the legislation?
– We have not got that far.
– Would that be your responsibility?
– It will be done in co-operation with the State Ministers at the next meeting of the Agricultural Council, if the scheme is proceeded with. The honorable member for Braddon also raised the question of a fisheries council. Actually, the under-secretaries of the State departments concerned - the Departments of Agriculture do not handle fisheries in all States - met the secretary of my department last week in relation to this matter, but I have not as yet had a report on that meeting. It is suggested that the States and the Commonwealth regulate fishing operations through a council formed on similar lines to the Agricultural Council. I should not think that that would warrant ministerial association. The departmental heads would probably operate that council if the scheme were proceeded with.
The honorable member for Leichhardt (Mr. Fulton) mentioned a matter in relation to plywood. That concerns the Department of Trade. I am not familiar with all the ramifications of the Department of Trade, but I have already passed to the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) a note concerning the representations relating to plywood. The honorable member mentioned that some expert had advised people to go out of the dairying industry. How this advice could be given to people in a very fertile district such as the Atherton Tableland is beyond my comprehension.
– Would he be a saboteur?
– He would be a white-anter
– He is a white-anter When I interposed to ask the honorable member the reason, he said that it was because of an influx of weeds. Surely, with modern scientific methods of destruction, we are able to control weeds to-day. I point out to the honorable member for Leichhardt, and other honorable members, that many funds are available for the purpose of assisting the dairying industry. A dairying extension grant of £250,000 is divided among the States. I have already referred to the extension grant of £350,000. Further, the Commonwealth is providing, under the dairying research scheme, £1 for every £1 that the industry provides. The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization has a vote of £7,000,000, and finally the State departments of agriculture do considerable work in relation to production methods, weed killing and other matters. With all these funds available surely a section of the industry could not be allowed to go out of production on the fertile Atherton Tableland merely because somebody said there were too many weeds. It would not be reasonable for any officer to make such a foolish suggestion.
The honorable member for Leichhardt said that the dairying industry ought to be assisted. I have mentioned some ways in which it is assisted. We have assisted the industry also by the appointment of a costfinding committee and by guaranteeing the price of butter locally consumed plus that portion of the amount exported which is equal to 20 per cent, of local consumption. We have provided £13,500,000 so that butter may be sold on the domestic market at 6d. or 7d. per lb. cheaper than would otherwise be the case. Surely it is unsound and totally erroneous to advise people in a fertile district to leave an industry that is organized in that way, and which in general is satisfied.
I want to say a word or two about wool, because it has been discussed quite considerably. I do not think I need say much about it. Most honorable members know the history of the wool industry in Australia. The honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) referred to other industries that have been organized both by the Government in which he was a Minister and by this Government. I have had the pleasure of arranging for certain organizational help to industries during my period as Minister. The overall policy that I have always adopted in my association with the orderly marketing of primary products is that the method of marketing should be, in the main, defined and agreed to by the people in the industry concerned. No Minister of any government knows all about every industry. I asked the honorable member for Lalor whether he would force a scheme upon the wool industry. He said, “ Certainly not “. And no more would I! If the wool industry does not want a scheme, while it is divided as it has been divided of recent times in regard to an approach to the Government, how is it possible to establish a successful marketing system?
If, while the industry is divided, any scheme is submitted to it, and because of its division the scheme is defeated by referendum, the last state of the industry will be worse than the first. It will be in such a chaotic position that a marketing scheme will never be obtained. It is far better to do exactly what we have tried to do. I got the organizations together last year on two occasions to discuss the welfare of the industry. After discussion they agreed that it would be better to leave the matter to the growers. As a consequence, the two main organizations have asked for a committee of inquiry. The Government is considering that request. The honorable member for Lalor said that the request was confined to two organizations. He was quite right when he said that only two organizations approached me, but I have also had written advice from the Australian Primary Producers Union to the effect that it supports the approach.
– That crowd has been fiddling about for a long while.
– All the main organizations in the industry have asked for the inquiry. The honorable member for Lalor says that I should submit a scheme as there is plenty of information on the subject in the department. I ask him and the commit tee generally whether the Government should submit a scheme such as that which was submitted to a poll of growers, in all the favorable circumstances that existed in 1952, and was defeated by four to one. Does the honorable member want a repetition of that?
– Not necessarily, but it is a pretty good base to work on.
– The honorable member says that there was such a scheme and that all the information is available in my department. If I understood him aright, he said also that the graziers’ section of the industry had made inquiries overseas and at home. That is so, and the graziers’ conclusion was that they did not want a floor price scheme for auctions. The division persisted.
– You will never get unanimity amongst them.
– I think that we might in this way.
– You might, and pigs might fly!
– Unless there is agreement in the approach of the organizations in support of any scheme the growers will not carry the scheme, and then the position will be chaotic. The buyers who, according to the honorable member, are taking advantage of the growers - whether or not that is correct is another matter, but he suggested it - will, knowing that the growers have rejected the scheme, take advantage of the position that arises. I say that the Government is doing the right thing.
– You have not done anything.
– The industry itself asked for the auction system. The industry itself wanted the auction system to be maintained. The industry to-day wants the auction system to be maintained and the honorable member cannot deny that. When it looked as though we would lose the auction system, this Government fought tooth and nail and succeeded in retaining it.
– The Labour Government re-introduced the auction system in 1945, before the present Government took office.
– I am not attacking the honorable member for what his Government did. I am telling’ him the position of the- industry.
– You say that you fought for the auction system. The Labour Government re-introduced it after the war.
– The honorable member misunderstood me. What I said was that when it looked as though we would lose the auction system in the postwar period, we fought to retain it.
– Who indicated that there was a- danger of losing it?
– There was a danger of losing it at the time of the Korean War.
– Why? Your Government was in office then.
– We fought to retain it.
– There was nothing to fight against..
– Was there not?
– There was nothing to fight against except a proposal by the Americans,, to which you nearly yielded.
– We did not.
– You would have done soexcept for the criticism of the Opposition..
– Order! The honorable member for Lalor will remain silent.
– The industry asked for the maintenance of the auction system and it insists, on the auction system as a basis of its operations to-day. Where do we go from there? What is the schemeproposed?
– A reserve price scheme.
– One section of the Industry has been calling meetings in Victoria to explain a ten-point scheme. Another section, with a seven-point scheme, has been- calling meetings in New South Wales. Another section has a five-point scheme. Who is to determine which scheme shall be submitted to the industry? The honorable member for Lalor has said that we need not necessarily submit the scheme, that was defeated in 1952. Does he want the ten-point scheme, the seven-point scheme or the five-point scheme? These things have to be determined’. In the first place, it is necessary for the industry, through its organizations, to indicate the scheme that it wants to- be submitted to the growers.
– You will not get that. We did’ not get it from the wheat-growers, but we produced a scheme which was generally acceptable to the majority of them.
– The honorable member draws a red’ herring across the trail. He knows that in the case of the wheat industry there were State organizations. In most industries, the basis of organization is State bodies, and action is taken by State legislation. Those conditions do not exist in the wool industry. The honorable member talked, about pies and marketing, but he knows that those matters come within the jurisdiction of the State Governments.. He tried to attack the Commonwealth Government for failing to do what be knows perfectly well is within the jurisdiction of the State Governments. The New South. Wales Government had an inquiry, and I have been glad to see the result of it. It was the function of the State Government to hold that inquiry; it was never ours. The honorable member for Lalor knows that the Commonwealth has no power in relation to price fixing.
– Why did the Commonwealth hold the inquiry into the dairy industry if it was not a function of the Commonwealth to inquire into an industry?
– Mr. Chairman, I rise to order. The honorable member for Lalor has made his speech in this debate, yet he is interrupting almost every sentence of the Minister. I suggest that he be asked to keep quiet.
– Mr. Chairman,. I apologize to you.
– I come back to the point that there are no State organizations associated with the wool industry, such as those which exist in connexion with the wheat industry, the dairy industry and other industries to which the honorable member for Lalor referred in his own speech. Those State organizations were created by State- legislation, and we were able to coordinate their activities by Commonwealth legislation, complementary to State legislation. The honorable member for Lalor knows that that is quite right. If we had such a basis of operation in respect of wool, it would be infinitely easier for us to deal with that industry.
It gets back to this: Unless you have the support of the industry for a proposal for an altered marketing system - if that is decided upon - you will have a divided vote. The proposal will be defeated, and the state of the industry will be worse than before. Various quotations have been made from statements made by Mr. Howell. He is a very notable figure in the wool industry. He is a prominent member of the Wool and Meat Producers Federation, the executive of which has asked for a committee of inquiry. The Wool-growers and Graziers’ Council, previously the Graziers’ Council, has now made an approach which shows that it is adopting an attitude different from its previous attitude. The members of that organization said that they would not have anything but the present auction system. Their representatives went overseas and investigated the position there. When they came back, they said, “ We shall stick to the present system. We will not support a floor price plan or an appraisal plan.” That is a matter that has to be determined. Is there to be an appraisal plan, a floor price plan, or some other plan put to the grower? Obviously, the information available in the Division of Agricultural Economics and in other sections of my department would be placed at the disposal of any committee of inquiry that was appointed, if the Government decided to appoint such a committee.
I put it to the committee that the industry has been divided for the last two years. Within a day of the approach that was made to me, I started to prepare my request to the Government. Within three or four days, when the first subsequent Cabinet meeting was held, the Government acted immediately and appointed a sub-committee to try to determine this matter. So we have acted expeditiously. I am quite sure that we will give our decision in a short time.
There is only one other matter to which I want to refer. There has been some criticism to the effect that not enough money is provided for the promotion of the sale of our goods overseas. I do not think that that criticism is justified, in view of the activities of the Department of Trade, the provision that has been made in the Estimates, the number of trade commissioners who have been appointed and the international commodity agreements that we have made with other countries. We have international commodity agreements. We have also trade agreements with other countries. Even the honorable member for Lalor gives his approval to our measures for the promotion of sales of wool and the other products to which he has referred. He now nods his head in assent to these remarks.
I think it must be admitted that the Department of Trade is right on the ball in its efforts to sell our goods overseas to the best advantage. As everybody knows, the Gatt committee will be meeting in a day or two. Our representatives have left for Japan to seek a renewal of an agreement which has been very valuable to us. We have a trade agreement with the United Kingdom concerning meat, wheat and other products. We have trade agreements with Indonesia, Germany, Ceylon, Malaya, Japan and Canada. Also, we have international commodity agreements in relation to sugar, wheat and tin. That shows at least that we are trying to do the best we can to obtain export credits and to obtain the major markets that we require for our products. I think it was the honorable member for Scullin (Mr. Peters) who said that we need more and more primary produce. What we need is more overseas earnings. It is difficult at times to sell all our primary products on competitive markets. If we have the extra produce, it is so much better if we can get the extra markets. From 1952 onwards the primary producers have really increased the volume of our overseas earnings. If, because of seasonal conditions, they cannot further increase it, at least they have done their part for the Australian economy.
– I do not intend to sit on the stockyard rail and argue with such competent authorities as the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) and the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) about certain aspects of primary production, with which both honorable gentlemen have been closely associated. They are men of great integrity. The Minister is one of my true friends in this chamber. I believe he is a really useful and modest Minister. As honorable members know, I am not given to fulsome praise of those who sit on the Government benches, but the Minister may feel that that is the opinion of a Jot of honorable members on both his side and this side of the chamber. He has as a protagonist the honorable member for Lalor, who was once the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture and who is a dynamic authority on marketing and primary production. The honorable gentleman is steeped in primary production; it has been his life’s work. So he is to be listened to with respect.
I as an Australian rise with great humility to express my opinion about the major problems that are associated with our trading position and our primary production. I made notes of what was said by honorable members opposite. I was rather dismayed to hear Government back-benchers referring to the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) as one who fights out a crisis, who sees it through, and who faces up to a situation with calmness. We get all these rather neurotic statements, which do not come in a very orderly manner, in this day of affluence about which the Government is always telling us. I wonder whether, with wheat bringing 17s. or 18s. a bushel and wool bringing 46d. per lb., the crisis is one of markets rather than one of prices.
– Wheat is not bringing 17s. The figure is more like 13s.
– That is the figure I have written down, but I shall amend it. The point we on this side of the chamber have been considering in our committee discussions is whether we have a crisis of markets rather than a crisis of prices. There will alway be the difficulty of deciding whether the primary producer is getting a good price. There will always be questions about whether he is efficient. There will always be questions about whether orderly marketing should apply to every aspect of primary production and about whether the wool-grower, who is swinging free at the moment, should accept some form of control for his own benefit. All these things have been thrashed out. Do not the primary producers, or those who represent constituencies which consist largely of primary producers, feel that the problem is not so much one of getting an economic price but is one of markets?
Surely some one is concerned about the customs unions that have been formed in Europe - the Inner Six, which includes West Germany, and the Outer Seven which includes Britain, the Scandinavian countries, Switzerland, Spain and Portugal. Surely this turning in of the European market in order to be self-sufficient and the decision of these countries to sell to themselves first is of some consequence. Is not that a challenge? Surely the forming of these countries into close customs unions will have an effect on us. Surely the Minister for Primary Industry and honorable members on both sides of the chamber realize that there has been a change in the axis of sales, that, there are abiding markets in our own hemisphere which did not exist twenty or 30 years ago, and that because of the development of Afro-Asian man and his civilizations our markets are abounding not 17,000 miles away but nearer home than > that. I know, as the Minister said, that we have created agencies, have formed friendships and have appointed trade commissioners to these places, but is that enough?
I shall return to that subject. Before I do, I wish to refer to something that has been said to me because I come from the land. Even though I come from the land, I have never been a farmer. My family was on the land, and my relatives are on the land.
– You look like a farmer.
– I escaped from the Country Party. In some cases the men who have the land are not working it. Let me mention something which I believe to be true; at least it is reasonably suspect. A man who goes to an accountant and asks how many sheep he may run or what acreage of wheat he may plant so that his provisional tax does not get too high and so that he will have to pay only a certain amount of tax in a particular year is doing a disservice to this country. If we have not overseas credits, the crying need is for products and, to use a newer word, productivity. We have to make it grow; we have to produce it. If we do not, this country will be in trouble.
We have heard the long story to the effect that in a period of 15 minutes one cannot cover the bank’s lack of usefulness to the primary producer. We know from our asociation with the Temora by-election in New South Wales that the situation in the country is vastly different from that in the city. There is prosperity of sorts in the city, which has been brought about by abounding employment in secondary industries. Some of our secondary industries are able to sell to other parts of the world and to provide for the 1,000,000 migrants who have come to this country. We have noticed - and this has been commented upon by members of the Australian Country Party - that because of restricted bank credit some country areas are going through a minor recession. There is not the same looseness of money or the same planning that was observable twelve months ago. There is another thing which is exterior to the problem of production and the problem of developing our overseas markets.
We know from the conversations we have had with farmers and graziers in the Temora electorate that they are by no means optimistic about the future. They want to see something done. They want to see a very hot drive for markets. Let us consider what may happen in regard to our butter and eggs. With the consolidation of the European market and the supply of Danish butter and eggs, and also the supply of eggs from West Germany, our market for these commodities will probably be wiped out altogether. That is one of the reasonable results about which one may conjecture as a result of the establishment of these inner custom union markets in Europe. We must expect that sort of thing to happen. There will also have to be a diminution of our sales of wheat to the British market, and of our sales of meat, because we have developed other markets. How long those markets will stand is another thing.
I rose to speak for this quarter of an hour in our National Parliament in order to emphasize to honorable members that we should be aware of what is happening. I have not heard any evidence of that awareness in many of the speeches that have been delivered. It has not been displayed even by members of the Country Party, who should know that our future is linked up with the new and developing influence of the tremendous demand that is being created by people in other coun tries who are adopting higher standards of living, and that our production will have to be increased to fill the gap between what is demanded and what we have. We have a toe-hold in Japan. Because of a nonsensical attitude to political recognition of China, the Government has completely ignored the market that exists in that country. Seato countries may not be interested in trade with Australia, because they are used more or less as buffers in a cold war. But if we are to be concerned with our future as a country, we must realize that our future lies in the hemisphere in which we live. Nothing can separate us from our destiny, and our destiny is as Asians. We are Australasians, and whether we cling because of colour or feelings of loyalty to the old countries of the world, we must face the fact that our destiny was arranged for us 180 years ago. We belong to the South Seas, to SouthEast Asia, and our destiny will march along with that of the Afro-Asians who are emerging from slavery and establishing their own countries. It has been recognized by all countries, as it was recognized by our Labour Minister before he relinquished office, that these would be the resurgent countries, and that it was in these countries that our future markets would be found.
We should look at this matter not from the narrow political level, and not on the basis of the price of wheat or wool at the present moment, but from the point of view of the future of our children and our children’s children. We should consider the degree of our efficiency to gain these available markets. Having agreed that we can produce reasonably well, that inflation has had an effect on prices and that both demand inflation and investment inflation have had disastrous effects upon primary production, we then must come back to the big question of the future, that is, the undetermined markets. But even when those markets are determined, they may be changed as the situation changes.
What of the markets of the future? Where will we sell our country’s products in the years to come? I suggest that these are the questions that honorable members of the Country Party particularly should be trying to answer, instead of adopting a cynical and hypocritical attitude towards the development of Australia. The Country Party, of course, has a vested interest in keeping our country towns sleepy and unprogressive, because it knows that as those towns develop they will build up strong units of the Labour Party, and it will then be difficult for Country Party candidates to hold those seats. The Country Party has no land settlement scheme. It has instituted no sensible scheme on the grand scale, supported by the trading banks, for the development of industry in the country areas. Its members merely talk a lot of poppycock about decentralization. The honorable member for New England (Mr. Drummond) delivered a long speech on this subject, but it did not mean a thing, because the cynical attitude of the Country Party is to the effect, “ Let us graze the land and grow the wheat, but do not let these townships get too big,’ because we will then meet our nemesis “. When industry comes it brings a strong Labour movement, and seats in this Parliament may change hands. One of them, in fact, in the New South Wales Parliament will change hands on next Saturday week for the very reason I have given. I refer to the seat of Temora.
However, I do not want to make a political speech in the short time at my disposal. I do say to honorable members of this Parliament, and with a great deal of sincerity, that we should be looking towards our future markets. The old cocky cannot sit down these days on his holding and say, “ I am the salt of the earth; I am the backbone of the country “. I think his wishbone has been more prominent than his backbone for a very long time. He must get up, if he is the big man he professes to be, and help us out of our dilemma. Our secondary industries cannot yet do the whole job. They may be able to later on, or at least they may have a very much more powerful influence.
The Labour Party, the socialist party, with its love of the land and its desire that the land should not be exploited for the benefit of special interests, knows that we must live off the land. Therefore we wish, and pray and demand, as the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) has said, that our opposition to pies and prices control systems of that nature and our resistance to cartels and other such things, is closely associated with our opposition to the penurious autocracy on the land, the members of which like to make as much as they can for themselves, and who say, “ These are our boundary fences; all other people keep out “.
I return to the point I have been trying to make, and I think the Minister will understand it, even though I am putting it in a rather jagged way. What I am trying to say, as an Australian, is that you are in trouble. Never mind about the shorter issues, the price of wheat or butter or eggs. What will happen when the debacle comes if you ignore your logical markets for political reasons? What would happen if a completely satisfactory substitute for Australian wool were found? At present from £12,000,000 to £18,000,000 worth of our products are bought with the hard-won credits of China. That country has nowhere else to turn, and willy nilly, to ensure warmth for her citizens and for her preparations in other directions she has to have wool, and so we sell our wool to China at the highest price, while we give insults rather than comfort to one of our best customers. It is in Africa, India, Ceylon, China and the Philippines that we should look for our markets - and these countries constitute only a small part of what we might call the eastern hemisphere, which is where our destiny lies, where the farmers of the future and the secondary workers of the future, the people of Australia, will live and have their destiny. With those countries we can achieve a great unity.
How stupid and fantastic and utterly out of common-sense concept would it be if our ships ploughed the main and went through the Red Sea and the Mediterranean to Merrie England to dump our primary products on an overcrowded market, while all the new resurgent countries of Asia and Africa were crying out for the things we produce. Let me try to explain what I mean, by speaking of some of the things I saw during my visit to China. No man would feel easy in mind after seeing the Chinese children eat their breakfasts, with indulgent mothers giving them a bit of steamed bread, dusting upon it a covering of a substance called sesame seed to give it a bit of sweetening, and then, to provide a little protein, some lard or something of a similar nature. the CHAIRMAN.- Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– In general the debate on these Estimates has been temperate.
– In general!
– If has been mainly temperate, although not completely. Honorable members have, for the most part, devoted themselves to matters concerning the estimates before us. There are one or two comments I would like to make on what the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) has said. He pointed out, quite rightly, that one of the problems facing many of our primary industries is the necessity to find new markets, because of expanding production in the case of some products and because some of our’ existing markets tend to contract. If the honorable member realizes the importance” of Australia securing and maintaniing new markets, t would like to ask him why he so keenly and earnestly opposed the Japanese Trade Agreement, which has done more than anything else that this Government has sponsored to open up new markets for our primary industries, particularly for the wool industry, which is the one primary industry facing some difficulty at the present time.
The honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie) referred a little earlier to a meeting held, by the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation in my electorate. I think I interjected and said that it was a very fine meeting indeed. The honorable member has not brought himself up to date on what has happened since that meeting. He spoke as though the industry was still divided right down the line. He evidently does not realize that in recent weeks the new chairman of the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation, Mr. Heaslip, and the new chairman of the Australian Wool-growers and Graziers Council, Mr. Scott, have conferred together and have joined in deputations to the Minister, and that we now see the beginnings of a most amicable understanding between the two organizations. If this feeling can be fostered, encouraged and endured the wool industry will be in a much stronger position. It is surprising that the honorable member, who comes from Tasmania, is not aware of these things* and of the fact that these organizations want an inquiry. Although the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation is not represented in Tasmania, the Tasmanian Farmers Federation and the graziers in Tasmania have for some time been wanting a full inquiry into all aspects, of wool marketing. I thought the honorable gentleman would have known better the feelings of the growers in his own- State.
Earlier the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard), who, it is right to say, has been for many years an expert on these problems, made a speech which was perhaps not so temperate as some of the other speeches that have been made. He charged this Government with inaction in regard to many of the problems of the wool industry. He referred to some matters which lie within the province of this Government, but he mentioned many others, which lie within the province of State governments. He mentioned’ regulations and laws under which the auction system is conducted. Auctions are held under State laws. If States want to legislate in regard to pies they have a perfect right to do so. It is true that the New South Wales Government appointed the Cook royal commission to look into some of these matters. It is also true that the New South Wales Government has not legislated following the issue of Mr. Justice Cook’s report. All that it has done is accept the changed regulations that have been brought in as a mutual agreement between the buyers, the brokers and the various people concerned with selling wool. The New South Wales Government, appears to have been content with that.
The honorable member for Lalor said that the futures market was established by this Government. That is incorrect. This Government was concerned in only one aspect of the futures market and examined the futures market from that one aspect. I shall, deal briefly with the position. The Government was concerned to know whether the futures market in this country would be a potential drain on Australian exchange. The Government, in its wisdom’, Came to the conclusion that the futures market would not be a drain on exchange and accordingly said that, from that stand-point, it had no objection to the establishment of a futures market.
The futures market was established under New South Wales law and I would be happy if the New South Wales Government would look more closely at the operations of this market to see exactly what is being done. In the United States there are several commodity markets of this kind. There is a central body - a federal organization - called, I think, a commodity control authority, to which any futures market must make reports on a weekly or fortnightly basis. Those reports must set out the type of operation and the size of the operation that is taking place. In addition the federal authority in the United States has officers on the floor of the commodity futures market who keep an eye open for and report any improper practices that may arise. I would like to see something of that nature instituted in the Australian futures market. Since the futures market is established under New South Wales law, and since there is no uniform Commonwealth company law in regard to these matters, clearly only the New South Wales Government can legislate in respect of them. I for one would like to see it do so and I hope that the honorable member for Lalor will use his good influence to bring some pressure to bear on the New South Wales Government in this matter.
I should like to devote a few remarks to marketing, because clearly this is the one subject that has bedevilled the wool industry for many years. It is time something was done about marketing. The industry seems to have realized this more than the honorable member for Lalor, because in this respect his speech was indeed intemperate. He seemed to suggest that a plan would be rammed down the throats of the growers even though they did not want it. He seemed to forget that, after all, the wool belongs to the growers and it is for them to decide how they want the product to be sold. They would like the system to serve their best interests and those of the country.
Having regard to the moves that have been made in the wool industry in the last six or seven weeks, the honorable member’s speech was particularly ill timed. As I said earlier, I believe it is our duty as politicians - certainly it is the duty of all woolgrowers at present - to do everything pos sible to foster co-operation between leaders in the wool industry. If anything can be done to promote that co-operation, the wool industry will be in a much stronger position in the future. That, too, will react to the benefit of the industry and to the benefit of the country.
I should like to analyse some of the points made by the honorable member for Lalor. He seemed to suggest that this Government in recent months should have done more than it has done, but he cannot seriously advocate that the 1951 plan that was rejected by a four-to-one majority should be put before the growers again. That proposal, surely, would not make sense. He said that there was sufficient evidence before the Government in the Chislett and Weatherly reports, and other papers and documents relating to the 1951 plan, for the Government to make up its mind. But the industry knows these things. It knows all about these reports and has not been able to arrive at a united decision in respect of any of its problems.
I would say that never in the history of Australia has the industry faced so many problems. Even with the 1932 committee of inquiry into the wool industry and the reports of recent years, there has never been a comprehensive survey into all aspects of wool marketing. I say that with deference to the sincere efforts made by various organizations to examine aspects of wool marketing. I do not think there is a comprehensive document that growers may see and pass judgment on. It is true that the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation has gone into several aspects and that the graziers’ organization has gone into other aspects, but the results of these inquiries have not been brought together in a proper impartial manner so that growers may look at them and pass judgment on them. There is no solution to current marketing problems in these documents particularly those mentioned by the honorable member for Lalor.
It is worth looking at the point of view that is currently held in the industry. The Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation wants a floor price plan. Some of the constituent parts of the graziers’ organization want a floor price plan. The graziers in Queensland want it. Other constituent parts of the graziers’ organization do not want a floor price plan, and if such a plan were introduced to-day or to-morrow they would fight it as bitterly as ever. If that happened, the industry would be left completely and absolutely divided. In recent weeks or months the Australian Primary Producers Union has been studying the problems of the wool industry and produced a document a short while ago which shows that it has put a great deal of thought into the matter and has made a fresh approach to some of the problems bedevilling the wool industry. These things have not been looked at as a whole so that the growers may judge the opinions of the various organizations and decide what finally is best for their industry.
I think that the organizations within the industry realize, after making their own inquiries, that they are not able to agree. I think it is because of this that they have developed the idea of asking the Minister for Primary Industry to put before the Government a proposal for an impartial inquiry into all aspects of wool marketing in order to enable them to decide these matters. Such an inquiry will not mean that a decision will be reached by the committee on these matters. The growers ultimately will pass their judgment, using the findings of the inquiry as a basis. It is because the organizations realized that their inquiries would not bring unity, which is so sorely needed, that they asked the Government to take this step as a means of settling this marketing issue and, at the same time, dissolving the bitterness and dissension that has been present in the wool industry for so long.
Speaking now as a wool-grower and not as a politician, I cannot see in what other way growers can decide between the rival claims of the different organizations until there has been an impartial inquiry into these matters. For instance, everything is not known about wool marketing and what happens to the wool. The honorable member for Lalor pointed out that even when the price of wool is low all the wool that is offered is sold. We know that at such times consumption in overseas countries is very low and is falling. Nevertheless, all the wool that is offered is sold and most of it leaves Australia. But it does not go into a store. The Bradford mills and other mills are reducing stocks. Who holds the wool and where does our wool go? If an inquiry showed that our wool was held by speculators to be resold later at a gain, that perhaps would be a powerful argument for a floor price scheme. I do not know whether an inquiry would provide the answer to this problem but I hope that it would.
If a referendum were held in the industry to-day while it is not fully united as to the manner in which the referendum should be held, whatever happened would divide the industry and cause dissension, argument and bitterness which would endure for the next twenty years. If the industry were divided over the next decade or twenty years, having regard to possible economic difficulties, this division may spell the destruction of the industry. Unity of the industry is a most important requirement. We hope that two results will flow from this inquiry, if Cabinet, as I sincerely hope it will, approves of an inquiry being undertaken. The first is to solve the marketing issue. Until that is done, nothing else can be achieved. The second is to further the co-operation which is beginning to emerge and which will be of great benefit to the industry and to the country. If full co-operation is achieved, the industry will be in a much sounder and stronger position to face the difficult times that lie ahead. The industry would then be able to place a united point of view before the government of the day, if it needed to do so, and that is important and vital to the future of this great industry.
.-! would like to touch on four fairly general aspects of the problem facing primary industries. First, I want to say something about the integration and inter-dependence of primary and secondary industries in a plan of decentralization. Secondly, I would like to speak about the place of research and extension services in primary industry. Thirdly, I would like to deal with the question of finance for development, and finally, if I have time, I will suggest some possible economies in the communal use of farm equipment.
Before referring to these matters, I want to touch on a point raised by the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Malcolm Fraser) concerning the onus on the New South
Wales Government to implement some decision as a result of Mr. Justice Cook’s inquiry. I think the point is well made again that one State can do this, but if only one State does it, the action tends to be rather ineffective. If a satisfactory attack is to be made on monopolies, whether occurring in primary industry or secondary industry, it must be made by the Commonwealth Government and the sooner this Government makes up its mind about this, the better it will be not only for primary industry but for Australia as a whole.
It is hardly necessary at this stage of the debate to remind ourselves that all is not well with primary industry. A few facts have been brought to my notice. For instance last year, while all other incomes increased and while all prices rose, the total net farm income remained as in 1958-59 at about £453,000,000. Deposits of farmers, as a group, with the major trading banks are about £30,000,000 less than they were in December, 1947, but the deposits of all other vocational groups - if I may call them that - with the major trading banks increased in that period. I am further reminded that there are 4,000 fewer farmers to-day than there were ten years ago in 1949, and 35,000 fewer rural workers than there were twenty years ago in 1939. These are some of the facts which indicate that we cannot be complacent. However, I do not think that any one in the Parliament is being complacent about the problem that confronts our rural industries to-day.
– There were even more rural workers 50 years ago.
– There are other factors allied to this that come into consideration, apart from the number of rural workers.
– Mechanization would reduce the number.
– True enough, mechanization has played a part. The problem of the decline of rural production is associated with the problem of decentralization. The rural population in 1947 was 21.7 per cent, of the total population. By 1954, when the last census was taken, the rural population had fallen to 21 per cent. This shows - and I have good reason to believe this from casual observation, without referring to specific statistics - that our immigration programme has not effected any increase in the work force in our rural communities. So we have this concentration of population and industry in the large cities. This is most uneconomic, because it makes big demands on the housing, land and services available within the large cities. Besides being uneconomic, this demand for scarce services within the restricted city area is highly inflationary.
On the other hand, I know from a close personal interest that people in country towns who, for one reason or another - perhaps they have been transferred to another centre - try to sell their homes, cannot get more than £2,000 for a reasonable home, although it may have three or four acres of land with it. Country towns are being denuded of the population that once supported services there. We have built post offices, railway stations and schools and we have provided other facilities in country towns, but to-day they are virtually rusting because populations have moved away. Transport centres have changed with the introduction of railway dieselization and for other reasons. Thus, services, buildings, and community equipment provided in country areas are no longer being fully used. This is a waste of community resources.
I recognize that there is a close relation between the prosperity of the country town and that of the primary industries associated with it. That is quite obvious. If a country town can be at least partly sustained by industry and by a thriving town population, the cost of transport as it affects the farmer outside the town will be shared with the local town population and with the industries associated with the town. This applies not only to .transport, but also to the cost of providing electricity and other services. So, the shift of population to the larger towns means not only the loss of use of community resources that I have mentioned but also the loss of the opportunity to share more widely the costs of such services as transport, electricity and water services.
I am quite sure that the decentralization of industry and population is not a problem that will solve itself. The Commonwealth
Government, the State Governments and the Australian people must be very purposeful, very definite and very precise about what must be done. We must develop a purposeful plan to induce people and industries to settle in country centres. We, as a Federal Government, must provide financial inducements and assistance by such means as tax remissions to people who choose to live in these areas. But no such incentive has been provided in the Budget for this year. I shall speak a little later about the lack of finance from banking institutions and how that detracts from the stimulus that should be given to people to establish themselves in country towns. Decentralization of industry and population is vital to any attempt to reduce the costs of our primary industries.
I turn now to research as an extension service. I have always been very impressed by the system of land grant colleges which have been established in various parts of the United States of America by the United States Government. When education was supposed to be absolutely taboo to the federal government of the United States that government established these land grant colleges under the guise of helping agriculture and primary industry in general. People from all over the country, including the wives as well as the husbands and other menfolk, were induced to attend the colleges for either part-time courses or full courses. The information and attitudes that were gained in the colleges were not just retained by the people who were able to attend them; there was also an extension service. More often than not the people who attended the colleges were delegates from decentralized groups in the community, and they took the information back, and by demonstration and teaching relayed it to the other members of their groups.
Australia has a long way to go before it begins to catch up on some of the great services provided by the land grant colleges in the United States. I have very great respect for what our governments are doing through research institutions and extension services, and through the Australian Broadcasting Commission. The service provided through the A.B.C.’s rural sessions is a continuing joy to me. That service to the community is very much appreciated in the country areas. I am suggesting that colleges similar to those in the United States should be established. That is something the Commonwealth Government could do very easily. We may talk about the number of graduates from our universities - and that is very important. But only 4 per cent, of the graduates of Australian universities are agricultural scientists. The important thing to do is not just to try to increase that precentage of the total number of graduates, but rather to enlarge greatly the total number of which that 4 per cent is part. Of course, we have laboured previously the desirability of federal aid for education. I was very impressed to see that at the big conference held in Sydney some of the strongest support for greatly increased federal aid for education in Australia came from the National Farmers Union and other primary industry groups which were represented.
I also make the point that we should not just think of this teaching research function being confined to agricultural high schools and universities. There is a place for it in our technical colleges. They are taking some part of it, but not nearly as much as I would like to see. I believe there is room for great development at that intervening level between high school and university. Many people are not able to go to a university after they leave high school, but they could go to a college such as they have in the United States and in Russia to help develop primary industry and also to help the housewives in rural communities.
I indicated that I would like to say a few words about finance. Of course, this matter has been touched upon by other speakers. The fact that the farmers have not the necessary resources available from their incomes means that they will be hard put to find the finance which it is vital to plough back into primary industry to pay for applying science to industry. It is all right to give the farmers a new technique or carry out the research that discovers a new technique; but it is also vitally important to have the finance available to put those new techniques into practice. As I have said, the resources available to the farmer are in short supply. Th trading banks have clamped down on lending.
They are putting a big onus upon the Development Bank which is virtually a new creation. I hope the Development Bank will respond to the challenge. The position to-day does not call for the restriction of credit in our community. Rather should we ensure that such credit as exists in Australia to-day goes into the channels through which it will help the development of this country. That is why I think it is a great pity if the Government comes along like a bulldozer and says, “ All credit is tightened up “. We should be more selective in the use of our credit resources than we are. I hope the Development Bank will be placed in a position in which it can help the farmers, especially the smaller farmers who have less resources available to them, because I suspect that at present there is a tendency for small farmers to go out of business.
There are oilier reasons besides the shortage of funds.
THE CHAIRMAN- Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- The honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) blamed the Government for the high cost structure of primary production, but in doing so he overlooked many factors. It is very easy to blame the Government by saying that it is completely responsible for the high-cost structure of primary production. When that argument is analysed I think it can be pulled around a good deal. The honorable member also emphasized the lack of a proper approach to marketing. He put great emphasis on the problems connected with the marketing of wool. We have very great sympathy for the wool industry in its very great problems. The problem of getting the wool-growers together has been patent for a long time. Apparently it is more difficult to do so than it was to get the primary producers to agree on representation on the beef cattle research committee which was recently set up. It is extremely difficult to get the primary producers to agree. I think we should have great sympathy for the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) because of those problems.
The honorable member for Barton (Mr. Reynolds) said that all is not well in primary industry. I think that statement is pretty right. It has been made in this chamber a number of times. He also dealt with the question of finance. I am very much in agreement with most of what he said. At present there is no money available for rural development or, if there is, it is not apparent.
– How are you getting on with the Development Bank up your way?
– The Development Bank is one institution to which we are certainly looking for a solution of many of the problems of development in its purest sense, but as yet there is no great evidence that the bank is playing the role for which it was apparently designed. That is my answer to the honorable member for Wilmot. The Development Bank may be having teething troubles. I do not know what is wrong, but we sincerely hope that the bank will play the role it was designed to play and be able to assist in the proper development of primary production. Without long-term finance rural development just will not be carried out. Short-term finance is of very little use in rural development. We have great opportunities in many fields of primary production, but we need finance in order to take advantage of them.
One of the great problems of the primary producer is that when he goes to his trading bank or the institutions which have traditionally lent money over the years, he just cannot borrow money; he is referred to the Development Bank. The bank manager says, “ This is a case for the Development Bank “. I believe this is a very dangerous set-up, because it is so easy for a bank manager to say, “ This is clearly a case for the Development Bank”. Then the application goes from the branch in the country town to the head office of the bank in the city. The head office will probably say, as it often does, “ This is clearly a case for the Development Bank. We think this is a good case, and we will back it.” Already there have been applications on which strong recommendations have been made to the Development Bank by the trading banks, and the Development Bank has, to put it bluntly, knocked them back cold. The position is confused, and one wonders in what sort of cases the Development Bank will help. We do not want to be too hasty in coming to conclusions about this matter. It takes a while to train personnel. Probably most of the members of the staff of this bank were trained initially in trading banks, so their tradition has been to be rather cautious about lending money. They will have to be educated to look into a proposition to determine whether it is really a proposition for development and whether they should lend money from this bank on the scale that we expect.
To-night there has been great emphasis on the wool industry and its problems. Some reference has been made to dairying, but the discussion has centred on the problem of wool marketing and the other problems facing the wool producers. I have heard nothing about the extraordinary opportunities that are open to the beef cattle industry. Beef is one product for which we do not have to search for markets. The chairman of the Australian Meat Board, Mr. Shute, and many others have said that we are looking for beef for markets and are not seeking markets for beef. The markets of the world are open to our beef, and we cannot meet the demand. I doubt if we will ever meet it if we go on as we are going now. The problems of the beef cattle industry are immense, and we are not facing up to them properly. The years pass and very little is done. We are missing out, and the time is coming closer when we will be in a serious position regarding beef production.
It has been said that by 1975 we will need to increase our beef cattle population by 40 per cent., but we are doing very little to build up production. I doubt whether we will be able to meet the demand of the home market in 1975, let alone meet the overseas demand. The markets overseas are crying out for beef. The Argentine has its problems - exports and foot and mouth disease - and possibly it will overcome them. If we want to take advantage of the opportunities that are open to us, we must get cracking.
In Queensland we have about 6,000,000 cattle, or half the Australian beef cattle population. About 4,000,000 of them are north of the tropic of Capricorn. The seasonal problem is always with us in the meat industry. Year after year, the season cuts out at about this time. There is no export market for chilled beef. There is a limited kill to meet local consumption, and the works killing beef for export close down. The result is large-scale unemployment. We have come to accept that situation and have done practically nothing to correct it. Steps are now being taken, and we hope that something will be done; but it is all too slow. We in this Parliament should concern ourselves with this problem. We should study it carefully and see what impact we can make on the industry to get it moving into production as quickly as possible. When an industry, primary or secondary, has opportunities for trade such as those open to the beef industry, we should be doing something about it.
The industry in Queensland is faced with many problems. There are arguments going on at present about whether money will be spent in the Channel country or elsewhere. The Queensland Government wants to build roads in the Channel country, and feels very strongly about it. There are critics of that project, however, and only to-day the Queensland Treasurer, in presenting his Budget, said the Commonwealth Government had been approached for assistance for this scheme, but had refused it. I agree that the Commonwealth should refuse assistance for a large-scale scheme in the Channel country because I believe that other schemes have a greater claim to priority. For many years, the turn-off in the Channel country has averaged about 50,000 head and it does not seem to me to be the place where we should spend £3,000,000 at this time. The population of the Channel country, in the area which would be served by the proposed roads, is only 4,500. It would be nice to think that we could, in effect, spend £750 on each person for roads, but we need roads all over the country and it is a question of where the money can be spent to give the greatest return. I do not think that the expenditure of money on roads in the Channel country would add one head to the population of the district.
The extensive form of pastoral activity which is essential in the Channel country does not lend itself to closer settlement. The average rainfall is from five to ten inches and it is only when the season is good - and that is about two years in five - that you can get anything out of it at all. The comments of Mr. J. H. Kelly, of the Bureau of Agricultural Economics, are worthy of attention.
Commenting on the Channel country, he stated - la the hundred years of its occupancy by cattlemen, development of the beef production resources of this unique area has been bedevilled by disastrous stock losses in severe droughts that have occurred not infrequently in its chequered history. It often happens that the Channel country becomes a drought-stricken waste when other parts of Australia are enjoying normal seasonal conditions. Being in one of the dryest areas of Australia and so largely dependent on floods (their occurrence is unpredictable) for its pasture abundance, this is quite understandable. The annual average rainfall at the northern extremity is about nine inches, and five at the southern extremity.
Mr. Kelly is an authority on the Channel country and we must take some notice of his opinions. Admittedly, it is necessary to get the cattle out, but I do not think the Channel country is a place where we should spend £3,000,000 on roads when the great proportion of production in the beef cattle industry comes from further north. Mr. Kelly also said -
The Channel country is best suited to the purpose of fattening young store cattle of good quality, bred elsewhere. The best sources of store cattle are the Barkly Tableland, the western areas of the Queensland Gulf country, the southern areas of the Darwin and Gulf district, and the eastern part of the Victoria River district.
Those places are very far away from the Channel country. Mr. Kelly’s statement continued -
Suitability of the Channel country for breeding and fattening is limited by three highly critical factors: Low and unreliable rainfall, unpredictable nature of flooding, and remoteness of location.
We admit that. It seems tragic that large numbers of cattle can be lost in that area, but it is only a catch fattening area, not a stable fattening area. Conditions there are unpredictable, and I sincerely hope that the Queensland Government will have another look at this proposition before it spends the amount of money it has in mind. I believe that that money could be spent to greater advantage somewhere else. You cannot increase the cattle population very much except in these catch-fattening areas in the cattle country. You have to depend generally on bringing store cattle from the gulf and even the peninsula. They can be brought also from the north-west and from the Territory. We will never have stability in the cattle industry in Queensland until we have at least one stable fattening area where cattle can be fattened year in and year out and which , are completely reliable.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I want to make a few brief remarks about rural production. I take it that the object of the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) and of the Department of Primary Industry should be to increase primary production and to increase the number of farms in Australia; but under this Government the number of farms has considerably decreased. In 1939, there were 253,000 farms and since that time, at a cost of several hundred millions, 8,000 soldier settlers have been placed upon the land. Assuming that no civilians have left their farms there should be at least 261,000 farms to-day. However, we find that there are only 251,000 farms which represents a reduction during that period of 10,000 farms. That, of course, is a very undesirable position.
The honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) suggested that the Government should implement irrigation schemes in order to put more people up on farms. I agree with that. More should be done to create farms for intensive cultivation. But what has happened in the past? We have irrigation schemes in Victoria which should have been payable propositions because they increased vastly the value and productivity of the land, but they have not been payable propositions. People went on to farms under intensive culture and then because the price of products fell they applied to the Government for a reduction in their water rates. They obtained that reduction and the Victorian irrigation authority transferred at least £30,000,000 of the cost of the scheme to Consolidated Revenue. That happened because, when an irrigation scheme went through land, the owners sold or rented their properties at ten times their dry value. They either sold or rented their properties and got out. In effect they sold not only the land but also the irrigation facilities on it which had been provided by the Government and was not paid for by them. In many cases the vendors went into retirement. A system such as that cannot bring about agricultural development.
In America they have anti-land speculation legislation. Under that legislation a person may own a farm for irrigation purposes of an area of about 40 acres, or a family may own a farm of about 80 acres. If a person owns a larger area than that and an irrigation scheme goes through his property, he can use only the irrigated land to the extent I have mentioned. He must sell or rent the remaining land to somebody else, and the approved price is the value of the dry land. In America a person is not allowed to sell a portion of the water supply scheme and then retire allowing the settler who comes on to his land to be, as it were, a subsistence farmer. In Australia a person who buys a portion of an irrigated farm at an inflated price has none of the advantages of the irrigation scheme because all the advantages are capitalized and accrue to the person who originally held the land.
If this Government takes any notice of the honorable member for Cowper and of the scheme which he suggested, it should certainly ensure that such irrigation and developmental schemes are not allowed to make a few land owners wealthy at the expense of the taxpayers of the community generally, and at the expense of those who work on the irrigated areas. After all it is of the utmost importance that to-day, when we have nearly 3,000,000 more people in Australia than we had in 1939, we should have considerably more farms. We need properly developed rural communities spread throughout this country if we are to export more goods; and we are told that there is a need to export more products. Our main exports should be rural products because we can produce such products more cheaply than we can produce secondary products. In order to safeguard our overseas balances and enable our secondary industries to expand and develop smoothly we must produce greater quantities of rural products, and to do that we must have more and more farmers in the community.
During the period the Minister has been in control of the Department of Primary Industry he has succeeded only at vast expense to the community, in reducing the number of farms and the number of people working on farms, although at the same time the population of Australia has increased considerably.
This tendency is continuing and in another twelve years, if the present Government continues to occupy the treasury-bench, there will be even fewer farms than there are at the present time, even though our population during that period may increase by another 3,000,000 people.
.- The honorable member for Scullin (Mr. Peters) has some quaint notions regarding the markets available for primary products in Australia. He gave us the impression that all we had to do was to grow more sugar and then sell it to some mythical people overseas. He should know that possibly 30 per cent, of the sugar grown in Queensland this year cannot be sold overseas. The figure may be even less than 30 per cent, depending upon drought conditions. One honorable member opposite suggested that it could be given away overseas. I should like to ask him the following questions: Who will pay for the cost of cutting that cane? Who will pay the cost of transporting it to the mill? Who will pay the cost of milling it? Who will pay the cost of transporting the raw sugar to the refinery? Who will pay the cost of refining it? And, finally, who will pay the cost of transporting it overseas and ensuring that it is fairly distributed and is not sold on a black market? I should like to know who would bear those costs. Does the honorable member who interjected expect the farmer to pay for all that? If he does not, whom does he expect to pay for it? Someone will have to pay.
The honorable member for Scullin seemed to suggest that all we had to do was to produce more butter which we could sell overseas to some mythical buyers. Apparently he does not know that at present the surplus butter which we are selling in England - which is practically our best market, disregarding some minor ones - is sold for about two-thirds of the cost of production. Who will meet the extra cost to the farmers if they are expected to continue producing butter for a return of two-thirds of the cost of production? But perhaps I am paying too much attention to an honorable member who knows nothing about his subject, so I shall discuss the Estimates.
Most of our primary products are being produced either at cost or below cost, but this is not so in some industries. One such is the beef industry, another is the cotton industry and the third is the tobacco industry. I shall deal, first, with the cotton industry. The Government has been very wise in continuing the subsidy on cotton, because at present we can produce only a small proportion of our cotton requirements. Because of the fall in the value of the £1 - and therefore of the penny - I suggest that the Government increase the guarantee of 14d. per lb. on cotton in proportion to the fall in the value of money, otherwise the subsidy this year and next year, in effect, will be less than it was in the past. The cottongrower cannot make a fortune, as the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Malcolm Fraser) seems to suggest. I assure him that the cotton-grower never will be able to make a fortune while he receives a guarantee of only 14d. per lb. However, I have not the time to indulge in a discussion on this matter with the honorable member. I say merely that if we value our cotton production, we will agree that it is desirable that the cotton-producers should be given the means to produce this article which Australia requires so urgently.
I have mentioned the tobacco industry, which some years ago was worth very little, but to-day is producing tobacco worth over £10,000,000 a year. We do not export tobacco - at least, not to my knowledge - but we do save over £10,000,000 a year on our imports of this commodity. I commend the Government for the excellent support that it has given to the tobacco industry by the system of rebates against customs duty. I have no doubt that the Government will in the future assist the industry to an increasing degree.
I wish to speak now about the most important industry to which we can turn for added income from overseas - the beef industry. In doing so I shall refer specifically to two points which were raised by the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Murray). He made a statement to the effect that we do not want to be too hasty in criticizing the activities of the Commonwealth Development Bank. I agree with the honorable member because perhaps it is not known that that bank is expanding and making an increasing number of loans.
It is operating on sound lines, and I forecast that before very long it will have exhausted the capital which was made available to it. Immediately the bank reaches that stage the Government should make available an additional £20,000,000, £30,000,000 or £40,000,000 for the bank’s use.
One of the main ways in which the Development Bank can use its resources to good effect is to help the grazier to produce more beef. I agree entirely with the remarks of the honorable member for Herbert in this regard. The beef industry not only will help us out of our present troubles but also will help us considerably in the future. As Mr. Shute has said, the future of the beef industry looks as bright as we can possibly expect it to look and, as the need is present now and will be present in the future, there is every reason why the beef industry should be helped as much as possible to expand quickly. In spite of all the help that can be given, this expansion will take some time. It will take time to knock down the forests in the north and to plant the centro and the guinea grass which will produce the fat cattle to which the honorable member for Herbert referred. It will take time to knock down the many millions of acres of brigalow in central Queensland. Some of this land will be used for sheep-raising, but there are plenty of brigalow areas on the coast near Rockhampton. Recently I had a conversation with a bulldozer operator who has knocked down brigalow on about 140,000 acres. There is plenty of room for development, but it will take time and money. The difficulty is to find the money to pay for knocking down the scrub, grassing the land, buying the stock and providing water. There is a great and pressing need for finance to assist the grazing industry.
I do not agree with one matter which was raised by the honorable member for Herbert. He has thrown cold water on the suggestion that roads be provided in the Channel country. It is not my function to say who should provide the money. That is a past issue. Although the honorable member stated that on the average 50,000 cattle a year are coming out of the Channel country, he did not say that possibly another 50,000 a year would be saved if there were good roads and the means of getting them’ out of the area in time of drought. You could certainly get the young stock in much faster on a sealed road to fatten in good times on the most luxurious grass that commences to grow after a flood. He stated that in the Channel country you can expect only two good seasons out of five, but I remind honorable members that in the greater part of Queensland, except in the very far north, we have one drought in every five seasons. This applies in the electorate of Wide Bay, which is on the coast. The Channel country is not far behind when it has two or perhaps three droughts in five years. Let us get the matter into perspective.
I do not claim that all the available finance should be spent in the Channel country. It is desirable that better communications be provided. There are plenty of other places in Queensland where a good system of communications is necessary. I shall mention one that I have in mind. It is the Cook shire in the north where the Queensland Government is building one road. It is a good road and it will serve a very useful purpose. This is a start in the right direction, but I remind honorable members that the Cook shire covers an area about the size of England. There are fewer than 500 people in the shire, compared with about 52,000,000 in England. Could England function satisfactorily with only one good road through its centre? I do not suggest that there should be as many roads in the Cook shire as there are in England. I merely mentioned that to demonstrate that communications are essential. Until we have more and more roads in all parts of Queensland, we will not get the production that we require because, without communications, the producers are, metaphorically speaking, tied hand and foot.
– You are off the air.
– I may be off the air, but I can still feel the rush of hot air coming from the honorable member. We must have a big outlook with regard to any industry. It is of no use our cavilling at the expenditure on one little section. What we should have is a complete investigation so that a decision may be made as to where money should first be spent and where next it should be spent. But I think it must be borne in mind that another £20,000,000 will not cover all requirements for the development of our industries in the future. We have to remember that the advances of all the trading banks to-day, although not as high as they should be, possibly total £1,000,000,000 while the advances from the Development Bank possibly total less than £20,000,000. That being so, it is quite clear that there is plenty of scope for the development bank to make further loans to primary producers in Queensland. My plea is that it is essential that we help those primary industries which will give us the best overseas returns quickly, and the beef industry is the outstanding one.
There is one other matter I must mention before resuming my seat. I believe that the time has come when we should no longer put aside the question of fodder conservation in Australia. The time to consider fodder conservation is now. Too many cattle have been lost in the past through lack of fodder. In my division, people are paying over £40 a ton to-day for baled hay in order to keep their cattle alive. If they had had the money to buy lucerne twelve months or so ago, they could have purchased it for £10 a ton or thereabouts, delivered to their properties. I suggest that the time is ripe for the consideration of a fodder conservation scheme.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I believe the committee is prepared to vote on this group of estimates in a few minutes. I rise merely to tell honorable members, who know that I have not been in the chamber very much during these discussions, for reasons which they understand, that I have made arrangements for a record to be prepared of everything that has been said about the Department of Trade by honorable members on both sides. I assure honorable members that all points raised by them will be studied by me. I feel that honorable members who have made both constructive and destructive references to the department are entitled to that assurance.
Proposed votes agreed to.
Message received from the Senate intimating that it had concurred in a resolution transmitted to the Senate by the House of Representatives relating to the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory.
Motion (by Mr. Adermann) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- Mr. Speaker -
Motion (by Mr. Adermann) put -
That the question be now put.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. John McLeay.)
Majority . . . . 16
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.43 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
d asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - 1 to 5. The honorable member knows that I do not have a personal body-guard. I move around Australia quite freely, and without any need for personal protection. Should I be engaged in work in my office at Parliament House at a week-end, which is not uncommonly the case, and no member of my staff is required, the Commonwealth Police posts an officer in the entrance lobby to prevent me from being interrupted by unauthorized persons. Normally, this function is, of course, performed by the usual staff.
d asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Will he and his Ministers, when making comparisons between current governmental expenditure and amounts expended under a like heading in any preceding year, make allowance for the depreciation in the value of the currency in the intervening period, and the growth of population, so that the general public will be able to assess whether there has been any real improvement or whether the reverse is the case?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
No, but I may add that development growth and improvement of facilities and services under the present Government are plain for all to see.
n asked the Prime Minister., upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
y asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - 1 and 2.
The results and traffic for 1959-60 will be included in the T.A.A. annual report which should be tabled in the Parliament shortly.
d asked the Acting Treasurer, upon notice -
– The following are the answers to the honorable member’s questions: - 1 and 2. Mrs. Holt and the Treasurer’s Private Secretary.
d asked the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows:1 - 1 and 2. To ask a question involving the expression of a view on constitutional law is not normal practice and is indeed forbidden by the Standing Orders. I shall not therefore attempt to supply a detailed answer to the honorable member’s question. But it is a well-known rule in British countries that formal parliamentary action is not required in connexion with a treaty unless it involves an alteration of the law or the provision of funds. Parliamentary approval of major international agreements has, nevertheless, ordinarily been sought, especially since World War II, even if no further parliamentary action is required. I may add that international agreements entered into by Australia are registered with the United Nations and are published in both the United Nations and in the Australian Treaty Series.
z asked the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
s. - On 21st September, the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen) asked me a question without notice concerning the report of the International Commission of Jurists on Tibet. He asked whether the Australian Government had had an opportunity to consider the report and, if it had had an opportunity, had the government, as a consequence of its consideration, made any recommendations to the United Nations General Assembly. He asked if I could inform the House whether the report of the International Commission of Jurists would, in fact, be debated during the current sitting of the Assembly.
I replied that I could not answer the last part of the question positively. On the first part I said the report was being examined by the Department of External Affairs. I now give the honorable member the following information: -
A supplementary item on the question of Tibet has been proposed by Malaya and Thailand for inscription on the agenda of the current United Nations General Assembly.
The Australian Government hopes that the item will be inscribed and our delegation to the Assembly has been instructed to support inscription and to encourage other delegations to do likewise.
The honorable member will recall that this item was first introduced at the 14th Session of the General Assembly - last year - proposed by Ireland and Malaya. A resolution supported by Australia, was adopted by a substantial majority, expressing grave concern at reports that fundamental human rights and freedoms of the people of Tibet had been forcibly denied them, and calling for respect for the fundamental human rights of the Tibetan people and for their distinctive cultural and religious life.
The recently published report of the International Commission of Jurists on Tibet has been examined and I am sure it will be appropriately referred to in the forthcoming debate on this item. It does appear to constitute the most accessable source of reliable information on occurrences in Tibet and I understand that many of its observations have been confirmed by evidence available elsewhere.
The Australian delegation will take its full part in the debate and will press for the adoption of a resolution by as large a majority as possible on this subject.
d asked the Minister for Trade, upon notice -
Will he indicate, particularly in view of his repeated claim that the Government’s campaign for an expanded export market for secondary industries is succeeding, why in the year 1958-59, the latest year for which I could obtain figures, confectionery imports into Australia rose by 32 per cent, whilst exports fell by 6 per cent.?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
Figures of imports and exports of confectionery available from the Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics for the past three years are as follows: -
The value of output of the Australian confectionery industry is in excess of £28,000,000 and imports for 1959-60 represent less than 1 per cent, of total Australian supplies. The export figures, as quoted above, do not show any significant downward trend and, in fact, exports in 1959-60 are higher than those in 1958-59.
m asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
How many Commonwealth scholars failed in (a) the first year and (b) the later years of their courses at each university last year?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
The State education departments, which are responsible for the detailed administration of the Commonwealth Scholarship Scheme, have provided the following information concerning scholars who incurred a failure under the rules of the scheme last year, that is, whose progress was such that their scholarship was either suspended or withdrawn: -
It will be noted that, in the light of subsequent information, the numbers shown as in training in the first year of their course at the Universities of New England and Western Australia differ slightly from those given in “Hansard” of 31st August, 1960, at page 671 in reply to a previous question.
d asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - 1 to 4. Recommendations for honours and awards are made in accordance with the Statutes of the various orders by the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth or the Premier of each State. 5.I have no knowledge of any case of the kind suggested.
d asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
t asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Will he supply the following information in respect of each department within the Commonwealth Public Service-
What educational activities, including correspondence classes, are conducted within the department for in-service training of departmental staff?
What scholarships, fellowships, bursaries and travel facilities, &c, are granted?
What educational institutions are conducted by or for the department?
What is the function, staff and student strength of each institution?
What is the annual cost of each educational activity conducted by the department, and when was each introduced?
How are these educational activities of the department co-ordinated with other departments or State authorities?
How are the activities planned as regards scope and curriculum and what departmental officer is responsible for their administration?
What legislative or other authority exists for these activities?
What research functions, not included in these activities, are carried out by or for the departments?
What reports or other publications are available covering any of the department’s educational activities?
What has been the cost of these activities in each year from and including 1944?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Under the Public Service Act powers the board maintains a broad, general oversight of training in all departments and its own training officers inspect the work being carried out in departments, act as advisers when requested by departmental training officers and assist in disseminating training information. Additionally the board conducts an extensive course for training officers and successful completion of such a course is a qualification for advancement within the training field and assists in providing a co-ordinated approach to in-service training generally. Conferences of training officers from all departments are called periodically in order to discuss problems and new approaches in the training field. The board has also co-operated with State services and since 1958 three Commonwealth-State central courses for the administration field have been conducted.
The scope and curricula of courses within individual departments vary of course according to the needs of a particular department. Some courses follow a similar pattern wherever they are held - for example, induction courses for new entrant officers. Others are adapted to meet perhaps a particular staff problem within a department which is not necessarily of a recurring nature.
The Postmaster-General’s Department has developed a limited general education service available to its officers. In that department the Postal Institute conducts a series of educational classes, including correspondence courses, which are designed to assist candidates to improve their education and to enable them to sit for various public and Public Service examinations. The Postal Institute is mainly a staff organization but receives some assistance from the department.
The Public Service Board grants a limited number of scholarships for specialized purposes associated with departmental work. These are associated with both Australian and overseas universities and other institutions. Additionally use is made of such institutions as the Australian Ad’ministrative Staff College, the Melbourne University Summer School of Business Administration, short courses of the Australian Institute of Management, technical colleges, institutes of technology, &c. The Australian National University has provided fellowships which have been available to members of the Commonwealth Public Service and overseas fellowships made available by the Fullbright, Harkness, Carnegie, Rockefeller and other foundations have also been used. A number of university “free places”, for the most part on a part-time basis, are granted each year to assist officers to study for university degrees. The board also grants a number of cadetships in various university faculties.
Public Service Board reports have included considerable detail on the scope and purposes of Public Service training programmes. The preparation of complete detail in respect of all sections of the Public Service would, however, be a major task. Training, for example, is taken as a general administrative purpose of the board and the departments and separated costs are not readily available. This is also the case with regard to research which is carried out by many departments related to the policies and functions of those departments.
d asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - 1 and 2. In March, 1956, when I announced an increase in sales tax on non-commercial motor vehicles as part of a set of economic measures to combat inflation, I stated that the Government was convinced that proper counter-inflationary action required that some temporary restraint should be laid upon this industry. There was, in fact, only a temporary decline in purchases of new motor vehicles, which have recently been at record levels.
d asked the Prime Minister, 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: -
Although Mr. McCarthy found in 1958 that the Australian industry was not threatened as a result of the Trade Agreement with Japan, he reported that the local industry was relying on the incidental protection afforded by the existence of import licensing and indicated that the industry Should seek some more permanent solution to its problems. In view of this clear warning, it is surprising that, if the Australian insulator industry is threatened to the extent claimed by Mr. Deane, Mr. Deane’s association has not taken any steps to secure a Tariff Board inquiry into the question of increased tariff assistance for the Australian industry.
d asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - 1 and 2. 1 refer the honorable member for East Sydney to my statement, during discussion of the Estimates on 8th September, on the question of the recognition of Communist China. The Government’s policy was also stated at length by the Minister for External Affairs in the House of Representatives on 13th August, 1959. The views which 1 expressed in the London interview in 1959, referred to by the honorable member for East Sydney, were consistent with both statements.
Papua and New Guinea.
k - On 21st September, the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) asked the following questions, without notice -
I now supply the following answers to the honorable member’s questions: -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 29 September 1960, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1960/19600929_reps_23_hor28/>.