23rd Parliament · 3rd Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. John McLeay) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– Is the Treasurer aware of a statement emanating from the chairman of Timber Holdings Limited that a major section of the home-building industry had become financially unsound? Will the Treasurer inform the House whether it is a fact that, owing to the Government’s credit squeeze and the severe restrictions on finance available for housing, as well as the slowing down of payments from home finance sources, many estate builders have been forced into liquidation?
– I was not aware of the statement to which the honorable gentleman has referred. If he cares to bring it to my notice I shall be glad to examine it. The remaining part of his question seems to be based on an incomplete view of the building industry as a whole.
– I ask the Minister for Trade: Is the right honorable gentleman in a position to explain to the House the effect of the introduction of the raised rate of bond deposits as applied by the Japanese Government to Japanese purchasers of Australian wool? Has he any information whether this increased rate of deposits is likely to remain in force, or whether it will be varied, during the present wool-selling season?
– My information is that, whereas it apparently has been the practice that a Japanese importer has had to lodge with the Japanese Government a deposit of 1 per cent, of the value of his intended imports before being allotted exchange, this has, in the case of about 140 items, including wool, been raised from a 1 per cent, deposit to a 5 per cent, deposit and, in the case of another range of items, to a 35 per cent, deposit. It is not possible to estimate the effect that this may have on Japanese purchases, or on the value of wool in the auction rooms at present. But the Japanese Government has said that this has a relation- ship to a deteriorating balance-of-payments. situation, that there, will be no further increase, and that: the required deposit will revert to the previous level as soon as the balance-of-payments situation improves.
– I address a question to the Minister for Social Services. Last Thursday, I asked the Minister to treat as a matter of urgency a decision on the eligibility for unemployment benefit of applicants at Mount Isa. I now ask the Minister whether a decision has yet been made in these case?If no decision has been made, when is sue a decision expected and what is the reason for the delay?
– I can appreciate the honorable member’s anxiety over this question since some of his constituents are directly involved, but I can assure him there is no undue delay. I am seeking legal advice on the question whether the applicants for unemployment benefits from Mount Isa and other parts of the affected locality are directly involved in an industrial dispute. As soon as I can get that legal opinion, I will communicate with the honorable member direct. I expect that decision in the course of the next day or two.
” HANSARD “ REPORT.
– My question is directed to you, Mr. Speaker. It relates to a statement appearing on page 1688 of “ Hansard “. The incident occurred on Wednesday night but, as you know, it was not reported - the hour being late - until the following morning’s “ Hansard “. By way of explanation, I remind you, Mr. Speaker, that the honorable member for Lalor was at that time offering his opinion as to whether of not it was a disgrace to be a Communist. The incident sticks particularly in my mind because I interjected and he replied to me. The question I ask you, Sir, is: Since the context as printed in “ Hansard “ is apparently at variance with what was said in the House, will you make inquiries and sight the reporter’s original text and let the House know the result of that examination?
– I rise to a point of order, Mr. Speaker. The honorable member for
Mackellar has claimed that what appears in “ Hansard “ is at variance with what was said in the House, but he has produced no evidence in support of that statement. He is just engaging in the usual mud-slinging so beloved of honorable members opposite. Before you answer the question, Mr. Speaker, I suggest that he should produce some evidence to justify his claim. Until he does that I think you should treat him with the contempt he generally deserves.
-Order! I do not think there is a point of order. I think the honorable member for Mackellar has a right to raise this matter. It is my obligation to see that the sense of the “ Hansard “ report has not been altered in any way. I will look at the report and see that justice is done.
– My question is directed to the Treasurer. On 7th April, 1960, I asked him the reason for the delay of almost six years in issuing the Commonwealth Statistician’s report on the 1954 census, and I directed his attention to the inconvenience that was being caused in universities and the inquiries that were being made abroad. During the course of the Treasurer’s reply the Deputy Leader of the Opposition interjected, “ Will the report appear before next year’s census is taken? “, to which the Treasurer replied, “ I would expect so “.
There has been no report on the census. I ask the Treasurer whether he is satisfied with the fact that no report has been made on the 1954 census notwithstanding the fact that the 1961 census has been taken. Is seven and three-quarter years sufficient time for the Commonwealth Statistician to produce a report? If the Statistician is short of staff, will the right honorable gentleman, in view of the importance of these reports, see that something is done to ensure that they are published?
– I recollect a question on this matter being asked. I think I caused inquiries to be made at the time. I understand that although a full report has not been issued, substantial areas of the findings and comments on the census were made available on request to such institutions as the honorable gentleman referred to. If I did not reply in writing to the honorable gentleman’s former question, I express regret. I will go into this matter without delay and see what information can be conveyed to him. I hope to be able to assure the honorable member that the report on the 1954 census will appear before the report on the recent census.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Health. Some local government councils in my electorate are disturbed at the shortage of poliomyelitis vaccine, a shortage which could have a detrimental effect on the poliomyelitis immunization campaign. Is the Minister able to say what steps his department has taken to ensure that adequate supplies of the vaccine are available?
– Every possible step is being taken to ensure that adequate supplies of Salk vaccine will be available. The honorable gentleman will be aware that recently my department released 300,000 doses of the vaccine for use by the States. It is hoped that before the end of the year another very large supply will be available for distribution. As the honorable gentleman is aware, distribution of the supplies available is made in consultation with the States. The States then distribute their quotas to their local authorities.
– My question, which I address to the Minister for Territories, arises out of a conference held in Canberra yesterday between the Minister, the Attorney-General and representatives of the Northern Territory Legislative Council. Was the Minister able to satisfy the councillors that his action in disallowing two ordinances of the council for a second time was proper? In respect of the other matters raised, which the Minister undertook to place before Cabinet, will the Minister state when the proposals are expected to reach Cabinet and how long it will be before a decision in relation to them is announced?
– I regret that the honorable member has completely misconceived the nature of the discussions that took place yesterday. No conference was held. A delegation from the Northern Territory Legislative Council presented its views to the Attorney-General and to me. We listened to those views. We discussed them with the delegation in order to make sure that we understood the delegation’s point of view. At the conclusion of the discussions we said that we would submit the case presented by the delegation to Cabinet. At no stage did the AttorneyGeneral or I attempt to canvass decisions made by Cabinet. Decisions in a matter such as this are for Cabinet alone. It was not within our province to discuss those decisions with the delegation. We did not attempt to discuss them with the delegation, and the delegation did not press us to discuss them.
– Is the Minister for Immigration aware that in the programme “ Meet the Press “ last Sunday the Deputy Leader of the Opposition said that ministerial secretaries had started a rumour that Mr. Brenner was a Polish agent? As this rumour had a record run to England and back to the Melbourne press by Monday morning, can the Minister inform me whether it was started by ministerial secretaries or by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition himself?
– I have seen the newspaper report to which the honorable member refers, and I must say that, if the Deputy Leader of the Opposition was rightly reported, I am very surprised indeed at his ever saying such a thing. For myself, I think it is a most unfair slur to make on ministerial secretaries. I would also like to feel that my honorable friend opposite, being a lawyer of some distinction at the Sydney bar, would not willingly lend himself to the circulation of mere rumours.
– I ask the Minister for Trade whether he has read that another 40 employees of the Australian textile company of Courtaulds (Australia) Limited have just been dismissed, thus bringing the total dismissals from this company’s tire cord section to 200 in the last twelve months. Does the Minister realize that the dismissal of these employees is in large part a consequence of a trade war at present taking place in the United States of America between the rayon and nylon giants in that country over the market for tire cord? Will the Minister intervene to prevent Australians from being made the victims of private trade wars occurring in the United States of America?
– I am not aware that the incident, which I saw reported in this morning’s press, has any relationship to the dismissals to which the honorable member refers. If he or the company concerned has any information to give to me on this subject, I shall study it with interest.
– As it is now some three weeks since the publication of the last departmental bulletin on employment in Australia, I ask the Minister for Labour and National Service whether he will give an indication of to-day’s trend in the employment figures. Will he say what will be the approximate increase in the work force within the next two or three months as the result of young people leaving schools and universities, or for other reasons, and are there good prospects of their being absorbed into occupations leading to suitable careers?
– I have already stated to the House that the full report on the labour situation will not be available until Monday next. I have also stated to the House that the Government expects that the trend in employment will show a steady improvement - that it will be steady and sure. In other words, we look at the trend in the employment position with some optimism.
As to the second part of the question, the honorable member will probably recall that as early as April, 1959, I think it was, the Manufacturing Industries Advisory Council issued a pamphlet relating to probable trends in the increase of the work force. In May of last year, I presented a document to Cabinet on what would be the likely increase for the next ten years. This has been the subject of very detailed discussion, at least since I have been the
Minister for Labour and National Service. Of course, estimates of the increase oyer the next three months, or during the current year, are a matter of opinion. During the course of the Budget debate, I did say that 1 did not expect the increase to be much more than between 90,000 and 95,000 during the current financial year. J believe that opinion to .be based on estimates that are as good as any that can be obtained. If the increase does reach that figure, I do not think it provides any insuperable or even major problem in terms of labour absorption. In conclusion, let me say that we look upon this possible increase as a heartening sign and a dynamic element in progress. We like to see the population increase. Not only do we like to see it increase, but when it is due to a large increase in native-born population, we welcome it all the more.
– I ask the PostmasterGeneral whether he is in a position to make a statement on the reinstatement in his department of Mr. Ray Roberts. If he is, will he state the terms and conditions imposed on Mr. Roberts as a part of the decision to reinstate him? Can the Minister also inform the House whether any investigation has been held, or is to be held, into the allegation by Mr. Roberts that he was threatened with a charge under the Crimes Act unless he resigned from the department or maintained silence on the misuse of a departmental car? If an investigation has been held, can the Minister inform the House of the result of it and whether any employee has been charged or punished in any way?
– As the result of an undertaking I gave to the House last week, the Director-General of Posts and Telegraphs and a representative of the Public Service Board had a discussion with Mr. Roberts in Brisbane yesterday. Mr. Roberts was accompanied by a barrister and a solicitor. He was not accompanied by a union representative only because he had not asked to be so represented. He could have been accompanied by a union representative if he had so wished. His advisers made it quite plain at the start that they did not desire to pursue any allegation of victimization by the threatened use of the Crimes Act. Therefore, the matters that were discussed referred to, first, the eligibility of Mr. Roberts for reemployment; secondly, the existence of a vacancy; and, thirdly, his medical condition, which had always been a matter under some question. It was found that the fact that he had passed an examination made him eligible for re-employment and that his former job was still vacant. The medical evidence was to the effect that he could be re-employed, but that certain provisions would be made regarding the payment of superannuation. It was made plain to Mr. Roberts that if he were reappointed it would be on the understanding that he would abide by departmental regulations. He undertook to do so. He was told he could be re-employed as from, I think, next Monday.
– Had he broken the regulations?
– I think it might be a good idea, if you really want to help Roberts, not to pursue such matters. We are trying to help him, but I doubt whether some honorable members opposite are.
Although Mr. Roberts did not pursue any suggestion of victimization or intimidation by the threatened use of the Crimes Act, the Director-General did make some inquiries of those officers who had conducted the investigation. The position is that Mr. Roberts was not intimidated with threats of action under the Crimes Act.
– Ha, ha!
– You may laugh! At one stage of the investigation, however, Mr. Roberts did ask to be advised as to what his position was under the Crimes Act. He wanted to know whether he was in any way liable to prosecution. The investigating officers, without any intimidation whatever but at his request, told him what the provisions of the Crimes Act were. He had already been informed of the provisions of the Public Service Act.
– My question is addressed to the Prime Minister. Is it correct, as announced, that the Prime Minister has invited the Premiers of Victoria, New South Wales and South
Australia to confer with him on the building of a dam on the river Murray at Chowilla in South Australia? If so, as such conferences are rare and apparently difficult to organize, and so as not to miss this opportunity, will the Prime Minister arrange for a full discussion to be held also on the long-sought and undoubtedly desirable well-known Marraboor weir project?
– The honorable member has such a persuasive effect on me that I always want to do something to please him, but I am bound to say that I find in discussions about dams on the river Murray that one at a time is enough for me and about as much as I will have time to discuss. I have, in fact, invited the three Premiers concerned in this proposal, which has been investigated by the River Murray Commission, to meet me. It will not be easy because the meeting will have to occur quite shortly. I am afraid that I cannot promise to attend another conference on another matter.
– I ask the AttorneyGeneral whether he made the following statement when addressing the Summer School of Political Science in Canberra in January, 1959:-
I have difficulty in conceiving that a community is free if there is some organization within it which is beyond its control.
If the honorable gentleman made that statement, how does he reconcile it with his refusal to comply with requests made in the Parliament for information even of minor importance regarding the activities of the Australian Security Intelligence Organization? In particular, will the Attorney-General explain what control is exercised by the community over the security organization?
– I should not have thought that even a boy twelve years of age would have seen any inconsistency between my statement at the summer school and my attitude in following the example of Mr. Chifley and Dr. Evatt in a former government in refusing to discuss the details of security matters in this House or elsewhere.
– My question is directed to you, Mr. Speaker. Has your attention been directed to what may well be regarded as a threat made against me in this House by my friend the honorable member for Hunter. As I am unable to contemplate the threat without dismay, let alone face its execution with equanimity, will you, if not in my cause then for a nobler and more exciting cause, intervene and ask the honorable member for Hunter whether he will give you an assurance that in no circumstances will he seek to subject me to such disabling and drastic surgery?
– I think the same answer applies as I gave to a question asked earlier by the honorable member for Mackellar - I shall see that justice is done.
– My question is directed to the Postmaster-General. Is it true that the fire which gutted the automatic telephone exchange at Civic Centre destroyed telephone equipment valued at £500,000? Is it equally true that by some miracle, the meters which record the calls charged to subscribers’ services were recovered intact and practically undamaged? Will the Minister make any statement to reassure subscribers who had feared that the Postal Department would suffer some considerable loss of revenue through the loss of telephone equipment?
– As the honorable member knows, there is to be a coroner’s inquiry into the fire at the telephone exchange at Canberra and a departmental inquiry is also being held. I have not yet received a report on the result of the inquiry, and until a report is received, I am not in a position to make any firm statement to the House. It is a fact that, fortunately, the meters were not destroyed; but that will have no bearing on the attitude of the department to the subscribers, and it will not in any way affect their charges or anything of that sort. As the honorable member knows, it has been pointed out that any subscribers who have been deprived of a service will have that matter taken into account when their accounts are adjusted.
– I preface a question to the Minister for the Interior and the Minister for Works ‘by saying that the Commonwealth Department of Works when inviting tenders for the construction of Commonwealth buildings still specifies the use of imported materials. I refer particularly to the post office to be erected at Dandenong, Victoria, where Swedish black granite was specified for facing purposes. Does the Minister know that black granite is available from South Australia and is equivalent in quality to, and lower in price than, Swedish black granite? I ask the Minister, also: Will he ensure that all specifications are perused before being supplied to contractors and that any reference to imported materials is omitted, so that local materials may be used when available?
– It is correct that all building contracts entered into by the Department of Works specify that Australian materials shall be used unless there is good reason to the contrary. I think I recollect that, in the particular instance that the honorable member has mentioned, both the South Australian and the Swedish granite were examined and it was found that the Swedish product was of better colour and durability. Only about £2,000 worth of granite was used on a building which cost about £156,000, and the total difference in cost between the Australian product and the imported granite would have been about £150.
– I ask the Minister for Immigration: When a person is refused a vise to enter Australia, would it not be sufficient for the Minister merely to announce that no vise will be issued? Why is it necessary for him to go so far as to say that a person is unfit to enter Australia, and, later, that the reasons for the refusal of a vise are far graver than the reasons that have been rumoured all over the country? Can the Minister, having gone so far as this, explain to the House why he should not state the reasons for the refusal of a vise?
– I point out that the whole impetus in the case to which I pre sume the honorable member refers has come, in this country, from certain Opposition members, and from the honorable member for Yarra in particular. If Opposition questionings and the raising of this matter by certain honorable members during debate on the motion for the adjournment of the House have impelled me to say certain things, those things have been said not out of any wish on the Government’s part, but on account of the attitude of honorable members opposite. I find it most extraordinary for the honorable gentleman now to ask a question of this nature.
– I address a question to the Minister for Health. Have arrangements been made to provide an antituberculosis hospital for mental patients at the mental hospital at Toowoomba, Queensland? Are these new hospital facilities being financed by a grant from the Commonwealth Government? If so, what is the amount of the grant?
– The construction to which the honorable gentleman refers is taking place under the tuberculosis arrangements with the States, and is part of a very large programme of hospital construction in Queensland, and, if my memory is correct, will cost about £240,000. This cost will be met, of course, by the Commonwealth Government. The project at Toowoomba is part of a chain of hospitals, including buildings such as the 500-bed hospital at Chermside and very substantial additions, in the form of fine, modern wards, to hospitals at Rockhampton, Townsville and Cairns and to another hospital at Toowoomba, which was opened, I think, two or three years ago. All these facilities are provided by the Commonwealth Government under the tuberculosis agreement with the State of Queensland.
– I ask the Minister for Immigration: In view of the high moral plane on which he purports to base his attitude towards the Opposition, how can he explain his having permitted Krupp, a war criminal, to enter this country?
– If the honorable gentleman chooses to talk about morality he may confine himself to that subject. I was not the Minister for Immigration when Krupp came here, but much more significant is the fact that Krupp came here, not as an immigrant, but merely as a casual visitor. The honorable member has been long enough in this Parliament to have learned enough about the immigration programme to appreciate the distinction between a migrant and a visitor.
– I address a question to the Minister for Works. Is it standard practice in the United States of America to call for performance bonds to cover constructional contracts? Is the Minister aware that the Master Builders Association of Australia is keen to have this practice adopted in this country? Bearing in mind the losses which the Department of Works incurred last year on certain contracts for work performed in the Australian Capital Territory, which were recently investigated by the Public Accounts Committee, will the Minister encourage the introduction of the practice of requiring performance bonds for Government construction contracts?
– I am aware that the requirements of a performance bond is generally accepted practice in the United States of America. The Department of Works has been conducting discussions with the Master Builders Association of Australia about the possibility of extending the practice in Australia of requiring performance bonds. Unfortunately there are some difficulties in the way of such an extension, mostly in connexion with finding institutions to back the bonds. Our financial institutions are not organized in quite the same way as those in the United States of America, and the forms of bonds generally used here are different from those used in that country. On some occasions we require performance bonds for Commonwealth contracts, and, as I say, we are examining ways and means to extend the practice.
– I desire to ask the Treasurer the following questions: 1. What is the purpose of the visit of the Governor of the Reserve Bank, Dr. Coombs, to Peking and Moscow and the capitals of other Communist countries? 2. Has it anything to do with the sale of Australian products on long-term credits to those countries and the closer working of the Australian and Communist banking systems? 3. Did Dr. Coombs go with the approval of the Government, or did he need to have such approval? 4. How long will Dr. Coombs be away from Australia? 5. Finally, why was the fact that the Reserve Bank mission was visiting Communist countries kept secret until the announcement by the Chinese Communists of the mission’s arrival in Peking made the preservation of secrecy no longer possible?
– If the honorable member will put the question on the noticepaper I shall give him as much information as I can. The Governor of the Reserve Bank did tell me his general intentions before he went overseas. In fact, he was good enough to re-arrange his programme so that he would not be absent from Australia at the same time as the Secretary of the Treasury and myself were absent. As he left before my return to Australia, however, I am not entirely familiar with the detail of his programme. There was not, to my knowledge, any banking arrangement contemplated by him in relation to sales of Australia’s primary produce in either of the countries particularly referred to by the honorable member.
– You have got Bob worried.
– On the contrary, 1 approved of it. That’s one up against your duckhouse
– I address a question to the Minister for Health. It is supplementary to the question asked by the honorable member for Lyne. Has the Minister seen a report that the Sabin anti-poliomyelitis vaccine, an oral vaccine, is used in socialist countries with great success? Has the Department of Health considered using this vaccine in Australia?
– The honorable gentleman will, no doubt, be glad to know that the Sabin vaccine was developed in a capitalist country. I am very familiar with the name, and I know that Sabin-type vaccines have been widely used in various countries, including Russia. The question of the use of oral vaccines is not altogether simple, but we have been advised from time to time, both by the National Health and Medical Research Council and by the Government’s other advisers, on the use in Australia of oral vaccination. The Department of Health is, of course, constantly reviewing the use of both injectable and oral vaccines for the prevention of poliomyelitis.
– I ask the Treasurer: Is it a fact that trading bank advances for the building and buying of private homes have fallen by £12,800,000, and for all sections of agriculture by £11,500,000? Does this fall reflect Government policy? Is the Government satisfied with the fall? Will the Treasurer explain whether this fall is the result of any directions by the central bank - or has it occurred because the trading banks cannot find enough borrowers to bring about an increase of the total advances?
– I think the fact is well known to the House that the Government has taken action - indicated in earlier statements by the Prime Minister, myself and others - to encourage the State savings banks to increase their lending for home-building purposes. What the aggregate result as between the major trading banks and the savings banks might be in relation to the total level of home building is not something on which I can give an answer offhand, but I shall examine the facts, see what I can ascertain, and see what additional information I can give to the honorable gentleman.
– By way of preface to a question to the Prime Minister I should like to ask whether the right honorable gentleman has been made aware of a statement in a publication called “ The Gap “, a booklet on child delinquency, made by Mr. E. A. Ellis, a Perth solicitor and a member of the Australian Labour Party. Mr. Ellis says in that publication that in the last decade the Commonwealth Government had attempted to ban a political party from which the Australian Labour
Party drew its basic ideals. Can the Prime Minister-
– Point of order, Mr. Speaker. What has this to do with the portfolios administered by the Prime Minister?
– Order! So far the honorable gentleman’s question is out of order.
– My question, Sir, is: What political party has the Commonwealth Government attempted to ban in the last ten years?
– Sir, the Communist Party.
– I preface a question to the Minister for Trade by saying that the imports of tires for aircraft, motor cars, tractors and other earth-moving equipment of a similar type have increased from a value of £1,273,000 in 1958-59- the last normal import year - to £2,358,000 in 1960-61. Is the Minister aware that these imports are seriously affecting employment in the tire industry and subsidiary industries? Have these imports brought about a reduction in the price of tires? Are the restrictive trade practices indulged in by the Dunlop, Hardie, Goodyear and Olympic tire companies compelling tire traders who have been deregistered by them to import tires so that they can stay in business? ls the importation of tires creating unemployment in the viscose spinning and tire yarn processing industry? Will the Minister take the necessary action to safeguard this industry?
– I cannot confirm the statistics given by the honorable member but it would not appear to me, from the figures that he has given, that an increase of imports of the dimension stated would account for a grave deterioration of the position of the Australian industry. The Australian industry knows quite well that, apart from its present approach to the Tariff Board for a normal hearing for further protection that it feels it needs, it can also make an approach for a hearing within 30 days by a deputy chairman of the board. If the industry wishes to make such an application, a hearing would be accorded if a prima facie case were made out. However, I am sure that the problem of this industry, as of other industries, relates to the deterioration of internal demand, which cannot be dissociated - as I have mentioned in this House several times - from the fact that our export earnings in the financial year just concluded were more than £400,000,000 less than they would have been if prices for exports had remained the same as in 1953. No economy of 10,000,000 people can sustain that loss of income without there being some impact on various sections of the economy.
Motion (by Mr. Menzies) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act relating to an Agreement between Commonwealth and the State of Western Australia in relation to certain Railways in that State.
NEW BUSINESS AFTER 11 p.m.
– I move -
That Standing Order No. 104 - 11 o’clock rulebe suspended for the remainder of the session.
I do not know whether the activity of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) at the table signifies that he intends to speak to this motion. I was not proposing to make any lengthy statement on the motion, because the reasons for it are obvious enough to all honorable gentlemen. Not only have we a considerable volume of business to conclude before the date on which, 1 understand, members from all sections of the House wish to be able to wind up the business of the session so that they can devote themselves to the more immediate claims of their constituents before facing the electors on 9th December-
– On what date do you mean to close up the House?
– I understand that it was the general wish of honorable gentlemen that 26th October be the concluding date, and that is the time-table I have been working to. Sir, I only want to spare the Leader of the Opposition the necessity of working himself into a quite synthetic passion on this matter by telling him that if he will consult the record of the way in which I have handled the procedures of the House over recent years he will find that there has been a minimum of inconvenience for honorable gentlemen. It is the degree of flexibility which this motion will make possible that will assist us in carrying through the business of the House with the least inconvenience and dislocation to honorable gentlemen.
Mr. WHITLAM (Werriwa) [4.20fl. - I oppose this motion. There are nine sitting days before we adjourn on the 26th of this month and the Leader of the House (Mr. Harold Holt) takes quite a facetious attitude to the proposal that we should sit after 11 at night to consider matters brought before us for the first time after that hour. I think it is not generally realized that the suspension of this rule is not necessary to permit the House to sit after eleven at night. It is only necessary in order to permit the House to commence the consideration of some matter, which is on the notice-paper, after 11 o’clock at night. There are sixteen bills on the notice-paper awaiting their second reading. Any of those, if called on before 11 o’clock at night, can be put through the whole of the second reading, the committee stage and the third reading during the rest of that night and, if necessary, the early morning. In other words, even if it is necessary for us to sit late at night to complete this business, it is not necessary to suspend this rule in order to do it.
The Leader of the House has given no indication of any bills which have yet to come before the House and on which discussion could not be commenced before 11 o’clock at night. The controversial matters which originated in the other place are already on a notice-paper and they can, if commenced before 11 o’clock at night, be put through during the rest of the hours of darkness. The Treasurer has not mentioned one bill not already on the notice-paper, which will have to be debated within the remaining three weeks of the session and which could not be debated unless this rule were suspended.
We will have nine afternoons, nine evenings and three mornings in which to debate the sixteen bills which have already had their first reading and on which Ministers have given their second-reading speeches. The Leader of the House surely will not dispute that all the bills on the notice-paper could be got through in the normal hours, and he has not told us of any other bills which have to come down and which could not be debated during those nine days.
I know it is always said on these occasions that our anger is synthetic, and so on, but we did not oppose the suspension of the 11 o’clock rule on the Wednesday just before the Parliament rose for a week recently. We knew that the rule was being suspended because the House had to pass the social services, repatriation and the seamen’s war pensions bills before we rose. The House knew what was before it and realized that in order to have a proper debate on the measures it would perhaps be necessary to call on some of those bills after 11 o’clock at night.
– Most of your party goes home then.
– I am indebted to the Minister, because his interjection shows why the Leader of the House is so anxious to secure the suspension of the 11 o’clock rule. Without suspending that rule any matter can be introduced after 11 o’clock at night provided an absolute majority of the House agrees, but the Leader of the House and the Minister for Repatriation, who has interjected, realize that there are never the necessary 62 members of the Government parties in the House after 1 1 o’clock at night. This is why it is not possible to suspend the Standing Orders to deal with any particular cases and the Government, therefore, wants a blanket suspension of the Standing Orders. When a good case is made out for the suspension of the 11 o’clock rule, as was made out before we last rose for a week, and when this was necessary to facilitate certain social service and repatriation payments, we agreed to the proposal without debate and without a division. But on this occasion it is clear that the matters on the notice-paper can be got through in the normal sitting hours and the Leader of the
House has not had the courtesy to mention any bills which have yet to come in for their second reading. For those reasons we oppose this motion.
.- Mr. Speaker, in Opposition and in Government, I have consistently spoken on this motion. The last time I spoke on it I said that, in an emergency, I believed the 11 o’clock rule should be suspended. At that time I thought the House might sit perhaps till 2 a.m. But 1 am very much against the House sitting until 5.30 a.m. or 5.45 a.m. as it did recently or as it did in the days of the Labour Government, when members were able to return to the Hotel Kurrajong just in time for breakfast. If that happens when we are in Government I will oppose it, because after all I would not be consistent if I opposed it when in Opposition and did not oppose in when in Government.
I cannot see eye to eye with the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) when he objects to the suspension of this standing order, because I cannot see anything wrong with the introduction of new business after 1 1 o’clock at night. But whatever party is in office I can see everything wrong with sitting until 5 a.m. when members are not in a fit state to discuss legislation. I would like the Leader of the House to say, “ We want the 1 1 o’clock rule suspended so that we can introduce new business, but it is not an indication that the House will sit, after say, 2 a.m.” I put that to him as a fair proposition. I do not regard this question as being serious enough for me to vote against the Government, but I do regard it as serious enough for me to state in this House what I think about it. I ask the Leader of the House to tell honorable members what he proposes to do when this rule is suspended. Is it intended just to introduce new business and perhaps carry on until 12 p.m., 1 a.m. or 2 a.m.? Is he prepared to say that under no circumstances will we have legislation by exhaustion until 5 a.m. or 6 a.m.? I am against that, and I want the House to know it.
.- The honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull) referred to certain things which occurred during the period of the Chifley Government.
– And of this Government, too.
– The honorable member should remember that there was one very good tradition in the time of the Chifley Government and all its predecessors - and that was sitting on Fridays. If we had not sat on Fridays in those days I think we would have had more late night sittings. I am against the suspension of the 11 o’clock rule basically because I dislike sitting at night and into the early hours of the morning, and I think it would be a very good thing, if, for the last three weeks of this 23rd Parliament, we were to revert to Friday sittings. Then if there is an accumulation of legislation with which the Government must deal, then we could sit at 10.30 a.m. on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, which was sometimes done during the period of the Chifley Government. A series of late night sittings invariably means that a raw edge of temper develops in the House. Relationships are poisoned and things are said which would never be said in the saner light of day and I do not think this contributes to the smooth working of this Parliament. The tradition that we must all rush away on Fridays can surely be set aside for the last three weeks of this 23rd Parliament, and consideration ought to be given to meeting at 10.30 a.m. instead of at 2.30 p.m. for question time.
.- This is a simple demonstration of the Government’s incompetence in handling its own affairs. This year we have sat for 46 days - to-day’s notice-paper is the 46th - and in that time we have sat sixteen times after midnight. Surely that is a case of serious mismanagement of the nation’s affairs. Honorable members opposite, who will rubber-stamp the Treasurer’s decision and who will go home grumbling about having to sit until 2 a.m. or 3 a.m., may interject now, but they would be better engaged if they gave to the nation’s affairs the same attention that they give to their own affairs. They should bring to a consideration of the nation’s affairs the full consciousness - of which they are rarely capable - which comes from considering these matters in the day time like reasonable and sensible people. No excuse exists for conducting the nation’s affairs in the manner proposed by the Treasurer.
Question put -
That the motion (vide page 1821) be agreed to,
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. John McLeay.)
Majority . . . . 32
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
In Committee of Supply: Consideration resumed from 5th October (vide page 1788).
Proposed Vote, £8,450,000.
Proposed Vote, £8,600,000.
– The failure of the Government to formulate a clearly defined plan for Australia’s development deserves the censure of this committee. What is undoubtedly required is a carefully prepared plan of action, but this has not been forthcoming from the Government. The Government has no blueprint of action. It is not surprising, therefore, that people who are concerned about the development of Australia have taken up this matter in a most serious manner. I propose to refer to a number of articles that were published on 14th September last in the “ Australian Financial Review”. Those articles should be taken to heart by the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) and his colleagues in the Government. There has been some new development, but that has been due to the incredibly rich mineral resources of north Australia. It is not in any sense the outcome of Government action. If one were to compare what has been done by this Government since a former Labour government pioneered the Snowy Mountains scheme, the result would be a lemon. This Government has taken no action to form a clearly defined pattern of development for Australia. Therefore, it is not surprising that those responsible for the publication of the “ Australian Financial Review “, on 14th September, decided to refer extensively to the need for the development of the north, and to quote the opinions of a number of eminent authorities. On page 30 of that publication is a significant article dealing with the development of north Australia, and the defence of that land north of the Tropic of Capricorn. The following extract merits the attention of honorable members: -
Will not the improvements that attract and sustain the population in developing the area also attract the very actions that development is expected to forestall?
These two questions highlight our national dilemma. They are questions that have been ignored by the present Commonwealth Government during its twelve-year term of office.
I emphasize that these are the views of the “ Australian Financial Review “. The article goes on to quote the following extract from the preface to the report of the Northern Australia Development Committee, which was set up by the Curtin Government: -
No matter what technical developments take place in the methods of warfare, there can be little doubt that the development of the north is essential to the future of Australia and a policy should be adopted which will make it clear to the outside world that Australia is vitally interested in this area.
The Commonwealth Government, led by the present Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) has lacked that interest in all matters which should be receiving the attention of the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner). Instead of being interested in national development, this Government seems to be more interested in liquidation, in closing industry, killing industry and destroying industry.
What is required is action. Many honorable members have suggested the establishment in north Australia of an authority to be responsible for the development of the north in much the same way as the Snowy Mountains authority has developed, and is developing, the vast Snowy Mountains scheme in the south. It is also essential that our water resources receive attention. Again, action must be taken in regard to transport. Instead of the miserable, paltry vote of a few million pounds included in the Estimates this year there should be some bold, imaginative plan for the development of our road and rail transport systems, similar to the recommendation in the Clapp report, which visualized the linking of the north of Australia to the southern railway systems with a uniform gauge line. But no action of that kind is contemplated. The question of land development also calls out for attention. This Government has no land development policy for the north. The fact that no opportunities for land settlement in the Northern Territory have been made available to ex-servicemen is of itself sufficient indictment of this Government for its lack of a land development policy. Power is another matter which should be given serious consideration. I believe that, instead of being concerned with the development of thermal power in the north, this Government ought to be considering the establishment there of a nuclear power station, fed by the vast uranium deposits of that region, and this view is supported by a number of eminent authorities.
It is obvious to all that the poor man has no chance of settling on the land in the Northern Territory. We all know that even £40,000 or £50,000 would hardly be enough to settle one man on land there. And this Government has no plan for assisting those who wish to settle on the land there. Here I pay tribute to the outstanding work done by Mr. C. H. Christian in connexion with soil surveys in the north. His views are included in the article published in the “ Australian Financial Review”. Amongst other things, he says -
The information gained now far surpasses that available for most agricultural regions in Australia prior to development.
It is now possible to speak with some confidence of the future development of several very large and very different areas of northern Australia which collectively could mean a substantial increase in population and a very significant contribution to national wealth.
But those brave words of Mr. Christian remain unheeded. The report covering the great pioneering work done by him will merely be filed in the archives of this Parliament without stimulating the Government to make the slightest move to develop the north. The article goes on to say -
But first it is necessary to plan the operation. This appears to be well understood in most quarters outside of the Commonwealth Government.
How true those words are! This article pinpoints the fact that everybody but the Government knows what ought to be done. Mr. Warren McDonald, chairman of the Commonwealth Banking Corporation, is quoted in this article as saying -
The Development Bank, which is already providing finance in the area is well-equipped to take its place in any grand plan to develop the north.
He gives general approval to the idea of planned development of the north, and he goes on to say -
Accordingly, in this field, Federal and State authorities will have a duty to set an environment in which developers will have good prospects of success.
Of course that is necessary!. People who have the courage and industry to take part in the development of the north will need a helping hand from all governments. Another advocate of planned development of the north is the chairman of Mount Isa Mines Limited, Mr. G. R. Fisher, who also advocates the formation of a permanent north Australia development commission. I repeat that this suggestion has been made by a number of men who have studied the question, and are anxious to see some action taken to develop the empty north of Australia. Even the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) has not been silent on this matter. When addressing the Scientific Liaison Conference held in Darwin in February of this year, he said -
Speaking for my own department, I would say that if to-morrow a decision was taken for major expenditure in the north, it would not take us years or months but only days to produce and submit practical and authenticated proposals for development measures, whether it be in roads, the testing of agriculture, mining or the pastoral industry, and we could put them into practice without recourse to any new instrumentalities or the starting of new inquiries.
In the opinion of the Minister for Territories, all that is necessary is a determination on the part of the Government to take action for the development of north Australia. But again, the Government is not prepared to heed the words of even one of its keenest Ministers, the man charged with the responsibility of developing the north. The Minister went on to say -
It is the plain shirking of national dufy if, when we have made our investigations and found a way to higher development, we do not take it.
Of course, the Commonwealth Government is neglecting its duty and is shirking its responsibility. It is failing the nation by refusing to take action for its development. The Australian Labour Party has formulated a plan to deal with this development and I hope that what the present Commonwealth Administration has failed to do to develop the north will in the near future be done by a Labour government, which will have the courage to provide the opportunity to develop the nation and to assure its security. National development and defence go hand in hand. The need for a considered plan which has regard to our geographic position and our national resources is apparent and such a plan should be implemented without delay. The Minister for Territories, the Chairman of the Commonwealth Banking Corporation, the head of the Mount Isa organization and the authors of the article in the “ Financial Review “ all suport the view of Opposition members that action to develop the north should proceed without further delay.
Our geographic position makes action imperative. What are the requirements? We require a plan that takes into account the need for water, transport, power and the development of mineral deposits. How can Australia be developed while the Government at Canberra is content to have some 140,000 to 170,000 unemployed? These people should be engaged in developing the nation and producing the wealth that is required to improve our balanceofpayments position. Australia should live in harmony with its northern neighbours. These are the challenging problems that face us. Are we, therefore, to be content with this present haphazard system of hit or miss? At present, Sydney and Melbourne are engaged in a population race and this seems to dominate the scene. We have fringe development along the east coast of Australia and development around Melbourne and Adelaide. But the inland of Australia is completely forgotten in any consideration of national development by this Administration.
I charge the Government with failing to develop the inland and the north of Australia. The most recent statistics issued by the Bureau of Census and Statistics, following the recent census, show that the population of Sydney has increased by 318,000 and that of Melbourne by 361,000. This race goes on apace whilst the country towns and villages languish because there is no policy to deal with these matters.
Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I wish to relate my remarks to the Department of National Development. In discussing the estimates for this department, we are dealing with an organization which not only directly affects the destiny of the nation but also affects the well-being of the Australian people. Australia’s history is one of tremendous achievement in a short time - achievement based on initiative and the effort of our earlier settlers, and not the result of any government or decree. It was, in short, based on a philosophy and a way of life that was the system of free enterprise. The early settlers overcame natural disadvantages - droughts, floods, apparently poor natural resources and geographic remoteness from the world’s markets - to give us a standard of living attained by few countries and attained only by those operating on a free enterprise economy.
Their success is an example to the free entrepreneur of to-day. But it seems he is faced in our times with problems just as formidable as those that faced the pioneers of this country. On the one hand, he is confronted with a party in opposition which is pledged to socialism. On the other hand, of recent months, the private entrepreneur has given reason to believe that the Government, elected on its policy of free enterprise, may have temporarily lost its sense of direction, which was clearly outlined when it came into office in 1949. In 1949, in an upheaval against the Australian Labour Party’s programme of nationalization, the Australian people threw the socialists out of office and elected as its government a party with a charter of free enterprise.
It causes me concern that, since then, the Government has run into conflict with the free enterprise part of our economy. At times these people, upon whose efforts a great deal of progress and development in Australia depend, have been disappointed and frustrated by the Government’s handling of its ideology. Whilst the Government’s large-scale national undertakings have contributed greatly to the wealth and employment of workers, private development also is important to the nation’s progress. The Government may aid this development in many ways, but continued success in this sector is dependent in no small degree on a free banking system. Unfortunately, it is apparent, after twelve years of office, that we have not closed as many loopholes as we could have done to prevent the elimination of competitive banking by the socialists, should they ever return to office. This is obvious from statements made recently by leading socialists that they would proceed to nationalize banking if returned to office. With this open threat of its continued faith in nationalization, I wonder whether some of our legislation passed in recent months has not played into the hands of the socialists.
The introduction of discriminatory legislation against the freedom of investment of assurance companies, for instance, was heartily supported by members of the Opposition. Their only complaint was that the legislation did not go far enough. To my mind, this was a sure indication that the nation would be subjected to the full blast of untempered socialism if the Opposition ever regained the treasury bench. The tragedy, of course, is that a free-enterprise government opened the door. However, if we are to have full confidence in our national development, I believe that Australia must gain its rightful profit resulting from industrial expansion. In March, 1960, 1 said that Australia was facing the danger of economic colonialization as a result of the post-war industrial trends, which prohibited Australian interests from taking out partnerships with overseas organizations.
I must emphasize that I am not attempting to discourage overseas investments in our nation’s future, nor am I directing any comment only at General Motors-Holden’s Proprietary Limited, an organization which has become the central figure in this controversial subject. I said then, in March, 1960, that success in these days of mass production lay with giant organizations which quite frequently were the only ones that could survive. Therefore, even businesses which were Australian-controlled would tend to pass into the hands of overseas firms. We want partnership for Australia, but on fair terms. However, there are more than economic aspects to the exclusion of Australian partnerships in the development of these great firms.
It is true enough that Australian workers are benefiting from the entry of overseas firms into our industry; yet we may begin to wonder whether that is enough. If Australian workers are to have confidence in our national development, they may begin to feel that the situation is being controlled completely by absentee employers. If this thought grows, it could lead to loss of morale and consequent lack of real interest in their jobs. In other words, are we getting too far away from the philosophy which stemmed from our early settlers and the system of free enterprise? I suggest now, as I suggested in March last year, that a committee should be appointed to draw up codes to be observed and respected for new flotations and take-overs where overseas companies are involved, for we could be reaching a situation which might be described as un-Australian in its sentiment and not representing the true spirit of Australian enterprise.
On the reverse side of the coin, we have a picture of an apparent attempt unofficially to nationalize the coal industry in New South Wales. At Lithgow, for instance, the chairman of the Joint Coal Board, Mr. S. F. Cochran, last August frankly told a meeting of interested parties that as the demand for coal falls in the west, coal produced from State mines would be substituted for tonnage previously obtained from privately-owned mines. Mr. Cochran said it was the State’s policy that public utilities should provide the main outlet for coal from State-owned mines, and this would explain an expanded order on the Lithgow State mine. At the same time, the New South Wales Railways Department decided to increase its purchase from the Lithgow State mine by almost 25 per cent., and drastically reduced its purchases from privately-owned mines. This was done despite the fact that coal prices from private mines in the west are substantially lower than those from the State-owned mine so that, in effect, the people of New South Wales are subsidizing purchases by public utilities of coal produced in mines developed by a socialist-minded government. Moreover, such an attitude prohibits capital being used for the development of privatelyowned mines in the area.
Perhaps the most serious aspect of the situation is that it poses the question whether the pattern is being set for other areas of the State where State-owned coalmines are in competition with privatelyowned mines. The State’s public utilities are heavy users of coal, and to provide them with concessions appears to me to be an intrusion into the field of free enterprise. The Joint Coal Board, of course, is a Federal-State instrumentality, but public utilities concerned are, in the main, State controlled so that marketing of coal by free enterprise becomes an increasingly important problem. It might well be asked what the New South Wales Government’s attitude will be to opening up mines in new areas where public utilities such as power houses operate. This is a serious situation ‘for th’e privatelyowned sector of the coal industry because pf the three major outlets for coal where the demand is increasing. They are exports, the steel ‘industry and electrical’ power; and electricity is almost entirely under State control.
The solid achievement of past development in this country did not rely on socialist. Similarly, if we are to progress in the future, it will be through the agency of a government which is prepared to recognize the rights of the individual and not make everybody subject to the State. Just as Labour has at this time, more than ever in it? history, an obligation to the people to rethink its basic policies and to realize that socialist doctrines are not for the Australian people, we on this side of the House have definite obligations to ensure that we are resolutely retaining the basic elements of free enterprise, and that we are not deviating from our course. The Opposition, like the ancient mariner, is politically becalmed. It is utterly confused and, with the albatross of socialism tied around its neck, it does not know what to do. Yet it is all too apparent that while the Australian Labour Party and its affiliated trade unions persist with their outmoded concept of class hatred, and while they confuse social welfare with socialism. they will not be able to avoid two damaging sets o.f circumstances. The first is that the Communists will continue to fasten on to them as blood brothers, because Labour is the only party with a policy close to that of the Communists insofar as both are based on a hard-core of socialist dogma. The second circumstance which. Labour cannot avoid is internal strife. The A.L.P. is going to be plagued and embarrassed with Communist hangers-on and will continue to be wracked by internal strife until it re-thinks its whole policy.
– Order! The honorable member is going a little outside ‘the estimates before the committee.
– I was trying to say that the whole damage^-
– I rise to order, Mr. Chairman. The honorable member has dis7tributed already to the press the speech he has been reading so carefully, and it is unfair to prevent him from continuing to read it.
-Order ! There is no substance in the point of order.
– The statement of the honorable member for Yarra is completely without foundation. I have not distributed any copies of my speech. If the honorable member * for Yarra would pay as much attention to the truth as is’ desired of a member of the Opposition, it would be better for this Parliament. He does not know what the truth means. [Quorum formed.]
I was pointing put that a free enterprise economy is the only form of society for Australians, and, indeed, for any civilized people anywhere. Under communism and socialism alike, the employer disappears. Trie state becomes the boss and the worker dare not fight for his rights when his job and his meal ticket are under state control. The only system known to man which cannot stop the worker from fighting for his rights is a system of free enterprise. Active trade unionism and free enterprise, far from being contradictory, can work harmoniously as a team. If we are to have development in this country which will mean something in a tangible form for everybody in the community, I believe it will rest on. free enterprise working in accord with the trade union movement.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- The honorable member for Mitchell (Mr. Wheeler) talks like a radical and acts like a conservative. He is a two-shillings-each-way member. Invariably, when he speaks in this chamber, he reads every word of his speech, and the newspapers in Sydney the following day print a verbatim report of part of what he has said. The speech he has just made is an illustration of the kind of work that the honorable member does in, this place. There was nothing original or undogmatic about what he had to say. The Government is ill-served by the honorable member, who attacks its measures and obtains what publicity he can in his own electorate, acts like an individual with a mind pf his own and then votes meekly for any measures that the Government intro. duce§. We would have a good deal more respect for the honorable m.ember and the heelers who sit alongside him if they would vote as resolutely as they speak in this place. We know,’ of course, that they meekly follow the lead pf the Whip in their yoting, regardless of the propaganda that they put put in order tq give the impression in their own electorates that they are strong.minded, individualistic and radical characters.
The honorable member for Mitchell attacks the Government for its measures to control excess , interest-lending by the hire-purchase concerns, which the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), the honorable member’s leader, said had caused the recent inflation, by injecting speculation into the economy. The honorable member thinks fit to attack his own leader’s measures in this respect, tho.se measures haying been based on the belief- probably a correct belief - that the recent bout of inflation began in the hire-purchase field. The honorable member for Mitchell is really opposed to those measures. He speaks against them, but, of course, he votes for them. In order to have 2s. the other way and appear to be a radical, the honorable member attacks overseas investment and calls resolutely for a committee to supervise the investment of overseas funds in this country. I suggest, Mr. Chairman, that, if the Government ever happens to appoint a committee to supervise overseas investment, the honorable member will speak against it and describe it as the greatest inroad on free enterprise ever seen. He would not, then, be consistent with this apparently independently minded radical attitude which, of course, he expresses purely for the effects that he hopes it will have on 9th December.
The honorable member for Mitchell attacks action to regulate the coal industry - an industry which was in chaos a few years ago and which has vastly improved as a result of reasonable regulation. He does npt yant competition by State-owned coal-mines. This great advocate of free enterprise and competition has no time for competition from State enterprise. He would leave no room for it in the economy. He regards competition by State enterprise as being, in some way, in breach of the principles upon which he bases his views. The honorable member’s main principle, I suggest, is that free enterprise, as he calls it, shall be allowed to get all it can when things are going well and shall not be called on to meet competition by public enterprise, and shall be assisted if ever it gets into difficulties, and that none of the assistance shall be described as socialism.
In order to be relevant in this debate, we have to discuss national development, Mr. Chairman. I think that, in order to discuss this subject, we have to get away from this dogmatic language of which the words of the honorable member for Mitchell were so clear an example. He speaks in terms of the dogmas of free enterprise and socialism without relating any of these dogmas to the specific needs of the country at a given time. I want to discuss some of the economics of national development. Australia needs a very rapid rate of economic growth. We need it because we are an under-developed country. A very small percentage - far less than 10 per cent, and probably only 2 or 3 per cent. - of our developed economic resources of capital and population are found in two-thirds of this country. Australia is one of the great under-developed countries of the world. This continent is unevenly developed and continues to develop at a very uneven rate. We have a fits-and-starts economy. We need much more rapid growth because of the inherent population increase that we are about to face.
We are beginning a period of much more rapid increase of the population and of additions to the work force than we have had for quite a number of years. It is fair to say that in 1960-61 about 117,000 people were added to the work force. In 196,1-62, about 126,000 will be added; in 1962-63, about 134,000; in 1963-64, about 134,00.0 again; and in 1964-65, 122.0QQ. These are conservative figures. The addition to the work force in Australia will be at least of this order in the years immediately ahead. How do these estimated increases, compare with the actual increases in the number pf people employed, in recent years? In 1960-61, the number of wage and salary earners in civilian employment - this is not the total work force- fell by 25,500, although we would have expected an increase of 117,000. This indicates that the official figures stating the number of persons registered as unemployed are an understatement of the situation and that the number actually unemployed at the end of 1960-61 should have been closer to 150,000 than to 110,000. In 1959-60, the number of wage and salary earners in civilian employment increased by 107,300; in 1958-59, by 50,200; in 1957-58, by 135,200; in 1956-57, by 10,000; in 1955-56, by 54,000; and in the year before, by 91,600.
I want to make two points here. First of all. the actual increase approximated in only one year - 1957-58, when it was 135,200 - the number that we must expect to add to the work force in every year immediately in the future. In 1960-61, there was an actual decline of 25,500, and in 1956-57 the work force increased by only 10,000. So, first of all, we have to achieve in the next five years a far greater increase in the work force than we have ever achieved in the past. Secondly, we have to remedy the fits-and-starts situation - 25,500 down one year, 107,300 up the year before, 50,200 up the year before than, 135,200 up the year before that, and only 10,000 up the year before that. This kind of thing is completely inconsistent with an effective policy of national development. We need a much more rapid rate of national development.
The Government ought to adopt a particular kind of economic policy which is fundamental to national development, because we need a much more rapid rate of national development. But what sort of economic policy has this Government adopted? Until February, 1960, at any rate, the Government at least paid some measure of lip-service to the policy of full employment, but, in that year, departed fundamentally from the policy of full employment. The Government has now adopted a policy which regulates expenditure on imports so that the amount so spent will not exceed the overseas funds available to pay for imports. This regulation is achieved not by direct control or regulation of imports but by indirect control. Imports are now controlled not by licensing but by reducing the aggregate level of demand in Australia. The result is an economy functioning at less than full employment - an economy in which everybody’s expenditure is cut back so that expenditure by importers will be kept within the limits that we can afford. In other words, the Government restricts the level of expenditure on everything. It restricts aggregate expenditure. It reduces the rate of development of the Australian economy so that we shall not overspend on imports. So we have departed from the policy of rapid national development and of full employment. That is the first point that I think the committee and the people ought to understand.
The second thing is that to achieve a satisfactory level of national development we need a significantly changed allocation of resources. There is something wrong with the aggregate rate of development and also with the composition of that aggregate. What is wrong with the composition of the aggregate is far more clearly recognized in the United States of America - the home of the kind of free enterprise about which the honorable member for Mitchell presumably was talking - than it is recognized here in Australia. The leading economic figures in the United States - men like Galbraith and Hansen - are characterized by their method of analysing the allocation of resources in the economy and the make-up of the economy. They have said some vivid things which very few people in Australia are prepared to say or to think.
I want to refer at some length to some statements made by Professor Alvin Hansen, the doyen of American economists. If these statements were made here, the honorable member for Mitchell and, no doubt, the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick), who is now at the table, would cry socialism. Professor Hansen is one of the most conservative of the American economists, and in a book recently published, “ Economic Issues of the 1960’s “, he refers to matters that are fundamental to national development in this country. At page 46 of the book he says -
This is only one example of the waste we see all about us in this rich country of ours. Instead of durable and quality products that are prized more and more as the years go by, we deliberately create things that we soon tire of- things that an effervescent scheme of social values quickly renders obsolete. Never before has there been so great a waste of productive resources on things that have little or no inherent value.
What Professor Hansen says of the American economy is applicable in slightly lesser degree to the Australian economy. He goes on to say -
The more pressure advertising is successful, the more will we reach a point at which private spending plus necessary outlays for defence will absorb so large a part of our gross national product that little room is left for public investment in scientific research, in schools, hospitals, housing, urban redevelopment, resource development, etc. Indeed we have already reached this point.
Pausing again, let me ask: Have we not already reached this point in Australia? Are we not short of resources for all these basic, essential elements of national development? Do we not find it as difficult as America to obtain resources? When the suggestion is made that more should be spent in these essential directions, are we not continually confronted with the question, “ Where is the money to come from? Will this not cause inflation?” Between now and the time of the forthcoming election spokesmen for the Labour Party will be announcing that a Labour government, if it is returned to power, will increase the proportion of national resources to be spent in the directions I have mentioned, and Government spokesmen will continue to reply: “ We cannot afford it. Where is the money to come from? “ There is something fundamentally wrong with the allocation of economic resources in the United States of America, says Professor Hansen, and I say that there is something equally wrong here. Professor Hansen continues -
The Eisenhower Administration has been driving this clinching argument home day after day.
The Eisenhower Administration drove the argument home in the United States, but the Government here never says a word about this problem. It looks at national development always in terms of private investment, and substantially in terms of foreign investment. It argues that national development depends upon a huge volume of overseas investment. Despite the selling out of Australian resources in the north to overseas investors, this is the attitude that the Government takes to national development. Yet, according to Professor Hansen, in the United States of America, “ The Eisenhower Administration has been driving this clinching argument home day after day “. It emphasized the fact that it is economically necessary to arrange a proper allocation of resources for national economic development. This kind of argument is not even understood by honorable members on the other side of this chamber.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- The honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Luchetti) referred earlier in this debate to the development of northern Australia, and he castigated the Government for what he claimed was inefficiency and lack of consideration for that area. I think a study of the Estimates and of the record of the Department of National Development and of the Department of Territories, together with a consideration of what has been done in the north of Queensland and the northern part of Western Australia, will show that the honorable member was mistaken. Let me mention just two matters to fortify my arguments. The first is the assistance given by the Government in the construction of the Mount Isa railway, which will play a tremendous part in the development of northern Queensland in the years ahead. Secondly, I remind honorable members of the fact that the Government is making a good deal of money available for the provision of beef cattle roads in the northern parts of this continent.
The honorable member for Macquarie referred to the 100,000-odd unemployed persons in Australia at the present time and suggested that they should be used in developing the northern part of the continent. I would like to ask whether the honorable member envisages the direction of man-power. If his party is elected to office, will he advocate that unemployed persons be sent, willy nilly, to those parts of Australia which in his opinion still need to be developed? The policy of this Government is one of free enterprise. We are against the direction of man-power, but we do stand four-square for the development of Australia as a nation. We do not want it to develop in a topsy-turvy fashion, growing up here, there and somewhere else without any proper cohesion. I believe that what the honorable member for Macquarie said about decentralization has much to commend it. But again I ask: How does he propose to persuade people to move out from the capital cities if he does not intend to employ some form of direction of manpower? It is quite true that there is a tendency for people to congregate to a disproportionate extent in the capital cities. I believe that in the course of time industries will spring up in various other parts of the continent and attract people from the cities. But what the honorable member for Macquarie seems to envisage in the immediate future is some transfer of man-power. Quite frankly, we are dead against it.
It is very easy to criticize a government. It is very easy to say that this should be done or that that should be done. The record, however, speaks for itself, as does the record of the Labour Government which was in office for eight years. I give credit to the Chifley Government for initiating, the Snowy Mountains scheme, which is what I really want to speak about this afternoon. Before going on to that, however, I must say a word or two in defence of my friend, the honorable member for Mitchell (Mr. Wheeler) who was subjected to a personal attack by the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns). The honorable member for Mitchell was described as a twobobeachway member, and he was accused of being inconsistent in his policies. During the twelve years he has sat in this Parliament the honorable member for Mitchell has been one of the most consistent and ardent advocates of the policy of free enterprise, on which this Government was first elected to power. He has been one of the most consistent advocates of a free economy and a free competitive banking system. These have been matters in which the honorable member has displayed a very considerable interest, and on which he has been consistently vocal in this place over a period of twelve years. Where is the inconsistency with which he is charged ‘by the honorable member for Yarra? I may, perhaps, take this opportunity to point out to the honorable member for Yarra that he is certainly not guilty of any fault of inconsistency. On the other hand, he is completely consistent, because every time he rises in this chamber he enunciates policies dictated by the most extreme left-wing elements in this country. He is, therefore, completely consistent in his utterances. I remember :i university debate I heard many years ago on the question whether consistency is a vice or a virtue. I do not want to enter now into th& realm of debate on that question, but I could not help thinking, while the honorable member for Yarra was speaking, that in his case consistency may be a vice, while in the case of the honorable member for Mitchell it is a virtue.
The honorable member for Yarra, like other Opposition speakers, sought to capitalize on the existing level of unemployment in Australia. I should have thought that many of the honorable member’s remarks would have been more appropriate in th? debate on the estimates for the Department of Labour and National Service or the Department of the Treasury. However, honorable members opposite lose no opportunity to capitalize on any grievance that may be felt by a section of the community, even distorting such grievances. No one would be happier than some honorable members opposite if the level of unemployment were to rise, because socialism thrives on unemployment and unhappiness. I can well understand the feelings of the honorable member for Yarra on this subject when he speaks of the. “ selling out “ by this Government to overseas capital, because socialism and the left-wing policy which he has espoused are completely opposed to any inflow of capital from other countries. I need not point out to the committee, because the great majority of honorable members already know the fact very well, that the. development of this country is to a great degree dependent upon a major inflow of overseas capital. Long may it continue.
In the short time remaining to me I wish to refer particularly to the work that has been done and is being done by the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority. On 3rd September the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt announced that an approach had been made to the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development for assistance in the financing of the second section of the project, and that the bank had decided to send a mission to make an on-the-spot examination of the whole project. It would be a wonderful thing for Australia if the International Bank decided to assist with the second section of this vast undertaking, because I believe that loan moneys should be substantially used in vast capital expenditure of this kind - capital expenditure which is fully warranted in every way now but which, at the same time, will benefit generations of Australians yet unborn. So it is proper that a loan should be sought from the International Bank for this purpose.
Honorable members will find from Division No. 935 of the Estimates that under the heading “ Capital Works and Services “ it is intended during the current financial year to appropriate £16,560,000 for the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority, a sum less by £1,940,000 than the appropriation and expenditure for the last financial year. Recently I had the great privilege of making a week-end visit to the Snowy Mountains scheme - the third visit I have made over a period of twelve years or so. On each visit I have been tremendously impressed by the immense success that has been achieved. I was impressed, first and foremost, by the fine leadership of the commissioner, Sir William Hudson. I was also impressed by the fact that from the top officials down to the very lowest workman in that vast undertaking there appears to be a wonderful spirit of enthusiasm and esprit de corps which is greatly to be admired, and which has no doubt played a tremendous part in the rapid progress made with the scheme. Honorable members who have studied the commissioner’s latest report, or who have taken an opportunity in the last year or so to visit the scheme and have seen for themselves what has been done, will agree with me that industrial troubles appear to be unknown up there. We were informed that approximately 40 nations are represented in the work force which totals 4,200 persons.
Another feature with which I was tremendously impressed is the great development that has taken place since my last visit in June, 1956. Some of the major projects then under way have been completed, and fresh ones are well under way. The SnowyTumut development, with the exception of the Tumut-2 power station, has been practically completed, and now the authority is turning its mind and its energies to the second section of this great scheme - the Snowy-Murray development.
The third point with which I was greatly impressed is the number of contracts finished well ahead of schedule - not just one or two contracts, but several major contracts which were finished well ahead of the contract dates. I mention for the record, for the information of honorable members, and also for the information of the nation - because I believe that people outside this Parliament also should know what is going on - some details of what has been achieved and of the degree of efficiency and enthusiasm that is carrying this great project forward to its completion. One example is the Tooma-Tumut diversion, which was undertaken by a Queensland firm, Thiess Brothers Proprietary Limited. That project was finished well ahead of time. Utah-Australia Limited and Brown and Root Sudamericana Limited finished the MurrumbidgeeEucumbene diversion well ahead of time. The completion of these works ahead of time means, of course, that the authority will have increased revenue as a result of being able to supply power from an earlier date than was originally envisaged. The commissioner has pointed out that on the completion at an early date of the Tumut-2 power project almost double the supply of electricity will be produced by the use of the same quantity of water. The contractors for the Tumut-2 power project have also done a magnificent job and will finish their contract well ahead of the due date. Those contractors are the Kaiser.PeriniMorrisonRaymond interests, which have been working there for some time and will no doubt be well known to honorable members who have visited the project. The Guthega and Tumut-1 power projects have been producing peak-load electricity at competitive prices during. 1960-61.
The fourth feature that greatly impressed me was the first-class public relations observed everywhere, not only in respect of visitors to the scheme, who are extremely well looked after, but also as shown by the splendid co-operation with various departments and outside organizations, and even with other countries. I can mention only a few of those organizations, which include the United States Bureau of Reclamation, the Commonwealth Bureau of Meteorology and the electricity and water supply commissions of Queensland, Victoria and Tasmania. The authority is even giving assistance under the Colombo Plan, and several members of its staff are working on the Mekong River project in SouthEast Asia. The authority has also helped with hydro-electric development on the Laloki River, in Papua, for the extension of electricity services to Port Moresby. So, the Snowy Mountains project is not just a local effort restricted to the south-east corner of Australia.
I would need considerable time to deal with other features of the project with which I was greatly impressed, and as my time is running out I shall have to deal with them only briefly. The first is the erosion control measures that are taken everywhere. The second is the extensive use of rock bolting in tunnels, which saves a great deal of expenditure. The third is the extensive and careful scientific tests which are undertaken in the engineering laboratories at Cooma under the engineering chief, Professor Leech, with whom I was privileged to have a very interesting discussion for half an hour.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Honorable members on this side of the chamber would agree with the tributes to the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority voiced by the honorable member for Ryan (Mr. Drury). The Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority is the most striking example of the form of national development which can take place in a field in which the Commonwealth shows an interest. We on this side regard it as the model for further urgent national development on Commonwealth initiative or at Commonwealth instigation. It happens that the Snowy Mountains project is operated on the borders of New South Wales and Victoria, which are the longest-settled, the most closely settled and the most highly industrialized States in Australia. Yet those States, for all their resources, for all their history, were unable to embark on this very great scheme until the Commonwealth itself took an interest in it, bore the whole cost of it and attracted all the experts needed to carry it out. If other schemes of this character are to be carried out in other parts of Australia, quite clearly the Commonwealth’s interest is still more required. There are greater water resources going into the Gulf of Carpentaria and into the Timor Sea than there are available from the whole of the Southern Alps. But the investigation and the implementation which have been done in the Snowy Mountains scheme clearly cannot take place in the northern or north-western parts of this continent unless the Commonwealth takes an interest. This Commonwealth interest in northern development is required because Queensland and Western Australia are the States most extended in their finances and the most extensive in their area. If it was impossible for the relatively wealthy States of New South Wales and Victoria to harness the waters of the Murray and the Murrumbidgee and their tributaries for hydro-electric power and for irrigation, still less is it possible for Queensland and Western Australia to act similarly in the north. The Australian Labour Party believes that it is now time to set up a federal body such as the United States Federal Government set up decades ago - the Federal Bureau of Reclamation. We shall set up a similar body in Australia. The United States Bureau of Reclamation has made deserts in western United States blossom like the rose, and a similar authority in our continent could make the northern parts of Australia blossom like the rose. But this cannot be done until the Commonwealth comes into it.
The other reason why it is necessary to have this scheme now is to provide the continuity of planning and employment which is required for such national projects. The Snowy Mountains scheme is now more than half spent. The whole of the planning has been done and more than half of the scheme is now in operation. The authority reported to us about six weeks ago on the increasing turn-over in its staff. In the financial year before last, one-fifth of the employees resigned, and in the first half of the financial year recently concluded that rate of resignation was maintained. The rate of resignations fell only after the credit squeeze of last November and accordingly, for the whole of that year, the rate of resignation was slightly lower.
The reason why resignations are now snowballing in the Snowy Mountains Authority is that engineers and scientists naturally have to consider their own futures - not only from the point of view of their own incomes, but also from the point of view of how their skills and training can be best employed in their professions in this country and for mankind in general. As the Snowy Mountains Authority report shows, the authority has only ten years to go. One would therefore not expect a young man to commit himself to this authority when in a few years’ time it might be more difficult for him to find other employment. He prefers to seek that other employment now. If we had an Australian conservation authority, something like the Federal Bureau of Reclamation in America, that would be the type of authority which would command the allegiance of such persons and which would attract them from overseas as the Snowy Mountains Authority did in its formative years.
The water resources of the northern part of this continent are superior to those of the southern part of it. It is all the more necessary therefore, I believe, that we should harness those water resources in the northern part of the continent. Does anybody suggest that that can be done without some such scheme as I have suggested? There is nothing contrary to the federal principle in it, because the American federation has done it. I know there are certain differences, constitutionally, between the American federation and ours, but this authority obviously could operate at the Commonwealth’s own wish in the Northern Territory and it could, with the permission of the governments of Queensland and Western Australia, operate within their territories, because that is precisely what the Snowy Mountains Authority did. The constitutional basis of the authority Was most tenuous, but none of the State governments challenged it. It is time we acted in respect of such an authority for the development of the north. lt is regrettable that this Government is a prey to two false doctrines. One is that development should be left to private enterprise and the other is that development should be purely piecemeal and improvized instead of subject to an overall plan. It flowed from the remarks of the honorable member for Ryan (Mr. Drury) and the honorable member for Mitchell (Mr. Wheeler) that they think the undeveloped parts of Australia should be developed, in the midst of this twentieth century, by the methods that Europeans used to develop the settled parts of the United States of America, Canada and Australia in the middle of the last century. Those methods will not now suffice to develop the rest of Australia. No tropical country in the world has ever been developed by those methods and the most conspicuously undeveloped parts of Australia - the parts of Australia, moreover, where the potential is clearest - are the tropical parts. Private enterprise, in the traditional nineteenth century way which commends itself to honorable members on the Government side who have spoken this afternoon, has never developed a tropical country and is not doing so at the present time.
– What did you mean by the word “ potential “?
– I would have thought that the mineral, pastoral and agricultural products which can most readily find a new market and which can most readily be processed and marketed by Australia, will come from the undeveloped part - the tropical part - of our continent. The honorable member who interjected was a member of the Forster committee which made, within its limited terms of reference, some very useful suggestions on this subject. The committee, however, was limited by its terms of reference to the Northern Territory. It was further limited by the fact that it had to recommend projects which would show a profit in the traditional sense. The committee demurred to some extent at those limitations but nevertheless made some very useful proposals to the Parliament. I regret that during the debate on the estimates for this department and for the Department of Territories, no reference was made by Ministers to the proposals of that committee.
I now return to the spasmodic and improvised attitude of members of the Government on this subject. The Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) said in another place -
I personally am of the school of thought which believes that the best way in which to help the north is for us all to get behind individual projects as Uley arise.
In answer to Senator Dittmer, who has shown a consistent interest in this matter, he later said -
I myself have the view that the development of the north is more likely to proceed quickly if we can get good specific propositions operating.
And, again, he said -
I prefer to adopt the policy of trying to support and encourage specific proposals.
That is his dogma. A year ago the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) representing the Minister for National Development in this House, oracularly stated -
I do not think it is the function of the Commonwealth Government to develop an overall plan.
It is impossible to develop the northern part of Australia, and it is impossible, I believe, to retain the northern part of Australia, unless there is some overall plan and this overall plan should apply not only to Government enterprise but also to private enterprise. We, on this side of the chamber, welcome overseas investment if it goes into the industries and into the places where it will help our country. And since we are among the few countries which still welcome oversea investors, we are therefore in a better position to set out the industries and the areas in which we welcome overseas investment. Although this Parliament alone among the national parliaments of the world has no general jurisdiction OVer investment, it nevertheless has such jurisdiction over oversea investment since it can determine, in the first place, the. conditions upon which money can come from overseas to be invested.
It can determine the conditions under which dividends are repatriated and it can determine the import pattern for those things that are required by overseas investors in their Australian subsidiaries. The Department of Trade brings out annual publications giving details of British, American and Canadian investment in this country. It is significant that less than 1 per cent, of the projects in which overseas investors have invested in Australia is to be found in the tropical 40 per cent, of Australia- that portion of the continent where fewer than 4 pe* cent, of our population lives. It is not just a. question of leaving development to private enterprise. There will always be in the already developed parts of Australia more attractive fields for private investment. Moreover there will be, particularly with the development of the Common Market, still more attractive fields for private investment in Europe.
I propose now to refer to some of the projects that we could undertake ourselves. 1 have already referred to the proposal for an Australian conservation authority on the model of the Snowy Mountains Authority. But further than that, we should do something about our communications - our railways and our roads. It is significant that the reports made within the last nine or twelve months by the Division of Agricultural Economics and the Australian Meat Board on beef roads in Queensland and the Northern Territory have not been made public. Even at this stage there is no planning in respect of those roads. The only railway in which the Commonwealth has taken any interest, the Mount Isa railway, is being financed on much more onerous conditions than are the railways in every other State. No money is being made available for the development of any Queensland ports and money is being made available only for limited development of ports in Western Australia. The Government is doing nothing towards establishing new steel and aluminium industries in the northern part of the continent. The attitude of the Menzies Government and the Nicklin Government concerning the great iron ore deposits in Queensland is that those deposits must wait to be developed until 1978 when the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, which alone manufactures steel in Australia, has finished its Western Australian projects. The same applies to aluminium. The four international companies that control the production of aluminium in the. western world have complete control of deposits, marketing and processing of Australia’s aluminium. The future of Australia’s aluminium industry is in their hands.
Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I wish to speak about water conservation. As I know my electorate fairly well I propose tq refer to that area, which comprises chiefly- the Burnett and Mary catchments. The people of that area are completely dependent on water. Although that statement is obvious, it cannot be too often stressed. The development of civilizations bears a direct relationship to the availability of water. The more, water that we have at our disposal the better will our primary and secondary industries flourish. Our prosperity is enhanced in proportion to the quantity of water available.
I grew up in the Lockyer area, about 50 miles from Brisbane. In the early days the farmers of that area had no irrigation. As my colleague, the Minister for Health (Dr. Donald Cameron), will agree, the land in that area is very rich but the area could not be developed successfully because there was no sure supply of water. The only water available to the farmers was the water that fell from the sky. But with the coming of irrigation and the development of better equipment, the prosperity of the area grew. It is always interesting for me to go back to the place where I spent my youth and see how the aTea has developed due to the availability of water. On the very farm on which I was reared two very fine irrigation plants are being used almost continuously to-day whereas only 50 years ago there was no irrigation.
Not being able to rely on rain, the farmers of that area had to turn to irrigation. They were fortunate in being able to find water underground. When numbers of people in the area started to use the creeks for irrigation the creeks soon ran dry and the people were forced to seek water underground. At first they were able to find water 60 feet underground but they have since been forced to go 100 feet underground. At one place they found golden sand 103 feet underground. Since using bores, which are not particularly deep by to-day’s standards, the people of the area have had water at their disposal. However, my recent inquiries reveal that some of the farmers of the area are disturbed about the water position. They do not know how long the supplies at the 100 feet level will last. But while supplies last the farmers who are able to get water are doing very well. In the upper Burnett area some farmers have been able to get water underground. I have a well on my dairy farm. But not all primary producers are so fortunate. Some of them cannot obtain water underground. Others find that they can obtain only limited supplies of water underground. The position is that farmers in many parts of Queensland cannot rely on obtaining water from the sky and cannot get enough water underground.
One of the significant features about rainfall in many parts of Queensland, particularly the sub-coastal parts of the Wide Bay area, is that on the average 25 per cent, of the annual rainfall occurs during the six months from 1st April to 30th September. On the average 75 per cent, of the total annual rainfall occurs in the other six months of the year, which are mainly the summer months. It will be seen, therefore, that Queensland has a predominantly summer rainfall, and this is unsatisfactory. In addition, that State also suffers from periodical droughts. I took out figures over a number of years and discovered that, on an average, in Queensland one year in five is a drought year, one year in three is poor, one year in three is fair, and one year in three good. That certainly is most unsatisfactory for primary production in a State of 670,000 square miles in area. As we cannot rely on rainfall or underground water supplies, we must turn our attention to conserving water by artificial means. We cannot use sea water because the present cost of desalination is too great. In any case,, we are faced with a great problem in getting the water from the sea to the places where it is required. The best way of conserving water is to construct dams wherever possible to impound rainwater. By this means, water may be conserved at spots much closer to the places where it will be required. In addition to conserving water, dams can serve a very useful purpose in flood prevention. For instance, the Somerset Dam has been the means of preventing Brisbane from being flooded on occasions since it was constructed. It is also estimated that in the Mary Valley area, the Borumbah dam, which will cost about £2,500,000 at the most, will conserve about one-eighth of the floodwaters which at present flow down the Mary River and this too, will prevent much flooding in the Mary basin. Therefore, the construction of dams can be the means of relieving primary producers of two serious problems for, in addition to being water conservers, they can serve as flood-preventers. In the Burnett and Mary valley areas, the main purpose for which water is used, apart from town supplies, is the irrigation of lucerne and of citrus orchards. Recently, a most interesting development took place in the Burnett area. There, in order to ensure that fruit buds would form on the citrus trees around Gayndah and Mundubbera, a certain amount of water was let out of the small Mundubbera weir. In doing this, a calculated risk was taken, as it was done during a period of drought, for the letting out of water to ensure the formation of citrus buds, involved the risk of being short of water by the middle of November if rain did not fall to break the drought. Fortunately, the recent bounteous rains in the Wide Bay area have made the position safe. The citrus crop there should be worth about £1,000,000 a year before long.
One problem with which the citrus growers were faced when water supplies were getting short was that as the water level got lower the water became saltier. This meant that those who had been in the habit of irrigating with overhead sprays could no longer continue to use that method because the salt water affected the leaves on the trees. They were then obliged to resort to the use of running water, although some did minimize the effects of salt from the overhead sprays by irrigating at night. Again, in those parts of the Burnett area where they were not able to obtain water from the Mundubbera weir, the farmers had to resort to the use of bulldozers and even the sinking of wells in the beds of streams, and when the position is so bad that these means of obtaining water have to be adopted, it is indeed serious. It will be appreciated, therefore, that we can no longer afford to rely upon chance or upon water from the sky for our supplies. Water is already running short in the Burnett area. Quite often there, the authorities find it necessary to impose water restrictions. For example, on occasion, the farmers on the banks of one creek were restricted first to the use of water on three days of the week in daylight hours and then, as the drought got worse, to two days a week in daylight hours. Any one who knows anything at all about irrigation knows that production cannot be carried on satisfactorily on that basis. Good results cannot be obtained under those conditions during drought periods. It is true to say, therefore, that generally speaking, most parts of Queensland suffer from serious shortage of water during times of drought. Why, only recently the position was so bad that it became necessary to let water out of the Tinaroo dam to flow down the bed of the stream for the use of starving stock hundreds of miles away. As a result of this action, thousands of stock were saved. But for the construction of that weir, all that wealth would have been lost to the State.
It is admitted that it is costly to construct dams, but I remind honorable members that once they are constructed the return from them is great. For instance, it is estimated that when the small Borumbah dam is completed at a cost of less than £2,500,000 the extra return to producers in the area will be from £500,000 to £750,000 each year. Surely that dam is a very good investment, indeed.
The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN__
Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- To my mind, the major responsibility of the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) is to plan for development in the interests of the nation, keeping in mind at all times the welfare of the people in the thickly populated areas and the need to be ever-watchful to guard against the deterioration of industries in those areas. When cities and towns become established, the important citizens of Australia - those in the lower income bracket - invest their life savings in homes. The need for development, I believe, should be uppermost in the minds of the Minister for National Development and his advisers. When industries fail for economic reasons or because of mechanization, as has occurred in my electorate on the northern coalfields, I consider that the Minister failed in his duty to anticipate a crisis long before it arose.
Some alternative employment should have been provided. For instance, the development of waterways to relieve the ever-increasing flood danger in Maitland would have provided work for the unemployed and relieved them of the mental -strain which now makes them look older than their years. I and many of my constituents have come to the conclusion that the Minister and the Government have failed the people in my electorate and indeed in the whole of Australia. My electorate was suffering from the effects of mechanization and automation in 1952 - years before the economic restrictions of November last, which have caused chaos throughout the nation. Since 1952, approximately 9,000 coal-miners have been retrenched on the northern coal-fields. Had it not been for the action taken by the State Labour Government, it would have been very difficult for many of these unfortunates, who spent a lifetime in the coal industry, to obtain alternative employment on council works, such as roads and on the construction of a mental hospital and penitentiary, which I have previously mentioned in this chamber.
The situation in the northern coal-fields now is such that men over 40 years of age find it very difficult to obtain employment, particularly in Newcastle industries. They are told that they are a bit too old. The catchcry through the years has been that life begins at 40, but, for many of my constituents, life ends at 40, because of the economic situation created by the Government and the lack of foresight of the Minister for National Development. A similar situation currently obtains in other capitalistic countries.
– How old are you?
– I am old enough to have enough sense to make what I believe are intelligent submissions to this Government.
Apparently life ends at 40 in other capitalistic countries. I refer to an article in the magazine “ Awake! “ of June last, which mentioned a report in the “ Daily Express “, an English newspaper. The article is headed “ Life Ends at Forty “ and reads -
Whoever said that “ life begins at forty “ was not aware of the facts. For those over forty find that life ends about the time 40 rolls around. The over-40’s find themselves on the industrial shelf, says a British staff reporter for the “ Daily Express”. Investigations made in some 20 British factories disclosed that the over-40’s were left with the worst jobs, that the older men are doing the semi-skilled jobs in bad working conditions, that their employers generally believe that “ old dogs can’t learn new tricks “. The report states that “not one of 116 managers interviewed had thought of modifying jobs to help older men make better use of their capacities; none of the firms had considered special training or retraining for the over-40’s “. Management either did not know about their workers over forty or they just did not care.
I am willing to say that they did not care. They were seeking profits, as is the custom of private enterprise in conditions such as those created by this Government.
Many people come to my home at the week-end and complain that, because they are 40 years of age or a little older, they are unable to find employment in Newcastle industry. They are told courteously that they are a bit too old. They must join the great army of unemployed. They cannot receive the age pension until they are 65 years, and they may crack up in the meantime. They are compelled to drift away from their homes and wreck family life. It is bad enough to work for a low income under this Government, but it is infinitely worse to be unemployed. I think that the case to which I now propose to refer, and which came to my knowledge at the week-end, is one of the worst cases of savage and cruel treatment of an unfortunate person thrown out of work of which I have heard.
– Order! I hope that this matter can be related to the estimates now before the committee.
– With respect, this relates to national development on the northern coal-fields. People there are in a sorry plight and this is an instance of what is happening to them. This is a demand notice from a firm of debt collectors. This woman has four young children and her husband has been out of work for six months.
– This has nothing to do with national development.
– It has a lot to do with unemployment and national development. I am willing to show this demand notice to any honorable member who may care to see it.
– How does this arise under these estimates?
– The demand notice is headed “ Non Payment of Monies Owing “. It says -
The following steps are being taken against you: -
A summons is being prepared for service upon you.
At the hearing of such a summons we will ask for a judgment against you for the full amount due together with all the costs incurred.
Evidence will be given at the hearing that -
You undertook to fulfil your contract in accordance with its terms and conditions.
You acknowledged the terms and condi tions by signing the contract in three separate places.
You have failed to fulfil the contract . . .
Any judgment obtained will be handed to the Bailiff for execution.
The honorable member for Perth (Mr. Chaney) said that this does not arise under these estimates. But the lack of national development has created this situation. I repeat that this unfortunate woman has four young children and her husband has been out of work for six months. She is supposed to owe £13 10s.
– Where does she live?
– In Kurri Kurri, where I was raised. She has never been before a court.
– This is a State matter. Why does the State Government not take industry there?
– This Government can take industry there if it wishes. It can take a rocket base to Woomera and it can spend millions of the taxpayers’ money in preparing weapons of war. It could have done something for the northern coalfields. But the people there never expected anything from it; they know that this Government is ruthless to the working class.
I also wish to bring to the notice of the committee the rudeness of the Minister for National Development. I asked him to meet a delegation of certain trade union officials and public-spirited citizens who sought to interview him and put the plight of the Hunter Valley and the need for development there before him. When I contacted the Minister from Newcastle on 15th September, he said he would meet the delegation at 4 p.m. on 20th September, which was the following Wednesday. But when the Minister learned that the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) had refused to meet the delegation to hear its claims, he telephoned me the day before the delegation was to meet him. He asked me to get him out of a difficult position as he had reversed his decision.
We have lost a lot af Australian blood in the last two wars to preserve our freedom. In this democracy, are citizens to be denied access to the Ministers of the Crown who have an obligation to relieve the plight of decent citizens, such as, in this case, setting up some form of national development in the Hunter Valley? The Minister for National Development refused point-blank to meet these people after giving an assurance that he would meet them. The Minister for Labour and National Service, of course, had refused to meet them from the beginning and so he did not change his mind as the Minister for National Development did. Does this mean that the people cannot meet Ministers and put forward claims of the people they represent simply and courteously? If that is so, it is a shocking state of affairs. The Minister for National Development does not hesitate when he is invited to open a development for some private instrumentality.
– Or when representatives of big business want to see him.
– No. Then he rallies to the call; but when humble people from the low income groups want to see him, he refuses point-blank. The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) and the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) are well aware of the circumstances to which I have referred. They know of the rudeness of the Minister for National Development particularly and, to a lesser degree, of the Minister for Labour and National Service in refusing to meet these respectable public-spirited citizens from the Hunter Valley who wanted to put forward the claims of the people. The sad feature of the situation in Australia, particularly in the northern coal-fields, is the way the women are affected. They suffer the most in times of stress. They have the task of feeding the children and meeting the tradesmen at the door. They have to pay the bills for meat and bread on an inadequate budget.
Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- In the short time available to me, I shall not try to reach any dogmatic conclusions. I shall be content to ask some questions, define some issues and express some ideas about our approach to the problem of national development. National development, of course, has been taken by some honorable members to have a very wide definition. In one sense, it does include economic policy, matters which are germane to the Treasury, matters affecting the administration of the Minister for Labour and National Service and, as is the case to which the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) referred, to matters which I would think affect State administration and State departments. However, so far as I am concerned, national development is the kind of thing that the Department of National Development in Canberra now administers, such as attending to the Snowy Mountains scheme, encouraging and facilitating the production minerals such as uranium, oil and bauxite, facilitating the export of minerals such as coal and iron ore and - though it seems to have little to do with these matters - general policy regarding housing in the Commonwealth sphere and the administration of war service homes.
All these activities have been administered by the present Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) with business acumen, wisdom and commonsense. I do not see great merit in the grandiose schemes that have been put forward by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) and by other Labour leaders both here and outside the Parliament. No doubt we will hear more of them in the course of the election campaign. Mere talk about spending tens of millions of pounds or setting up some kind of giant organization does not necessarily achieve great results. With the limited resources that have been made available, I believe the cautious approach governed by business acumen of the present Minister for National Development has been highly successful. Nevertheless, I do believe that a rather different approach is necessary. I believe there has been too much of a burking of basic issues involved in national development, failure in the exposition of policy and a certain lack of imagination and political leadership in regard to this matter. I believe that man does not live by bread alone; and mere business acumen in conducting the affairs of a department like this is not enough. The people want some vision in regard to a matter like national development. There was considerable truth in what the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) said when he spoke about spasmodic and improvised methods, and referred to the Minister’s own statement about encouraging individual projects and not developing any overall plan.
I believe one of the great difficulties of the Department of National Development, although I will not be dogmatic about this, is that it does not appear to have any adequate planning section. I should like to see a planning section in that department in which would be collected people with expert knowledge in the various fields that are important in this task of national development, people who can keep liaison with the various other departments of the Commonwealth that are concerned in this common enterprise of national development, particularly in regard to northern Australia. So far as I can see, I do not think that this exists at present. What are the fundamental issues that have to be faced whether we like it or not? The trouble to begin with is that we cannot do much without resources, and it is no use pretending that resources can be conjured out of the air. They come mainly from the voluntary savings of Australians or people overseas or from the forced savings of the people such as taxes. These are the only sources from which you can get the resources necessary for any developmental project. We are already allocating considerable resources to New Guinea.
I am not asking the Minister, the Government or even the Parliament to solve this problem at this particular moment; but I say that the time is approaching when we must consider whether we will limit our allocation of resources to New Guinea as the Dutch are now doing, and therefore have greater resources for the development of this continent. I pursue this thought no further than by saying that this is a fundamental issue. If we try to spread our resources over this continent, New Guinea and Antarctica we might find that we will get development nowhere and dissipate our slender resources.
– I think we should spend more on New Guinea and less on Australia.
– The honorable member believes that we should spend more on New Guinea and less on Australia. He is entitled to his own opinion. I say this is a fundamental issue and we cannot pretend that it does not exist. There may be different views about it. The Dutch are simply limiting their expenditure in New Guinea, and it may be that we have to do the same. However, I do not want to pursue that matter. I merely mention that as the first broad issue.
The second broad issue is this: To what extent should resources be expended on development in northern Australia rather than in the settled areas in the south? As I said, this is a political problem rather than an economic one. It may well be that, for the expenditure of £1,000,000, one can achieve greater production in the better parts of Australia which are settled than in the north. Why, then, should we spend this money in the north? The reasons are political ones. We are faced with the task of developing northern Australia lest the populous peoples to the north of this continent feel that we are not doing our duty and developing our inheritance and that we ought not to hold it. This may be a view that our allies could take as well. I believe that there are good political reasons for developing northern Australia, but I merely pose this question now as an issue. We have to make up our minds whether we are to spend in the north money that could be spent perhaps more productively in other parts of Australia. We cannot burke the issue; there it is.
The third basic issue, I believe, is this: If we assume that we ought to try to develop the north of Australia, what kind of key ought we to forge to unlock it? Are we to try to make the Northern Territory Administration into an efficient organization that will function effectively for this purpose, or are we to establish, as has been suggested by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, an organization like the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority? We certainly have to make up our minds on this matter, because, at the present time, the existing Territory Administration is not an efficient organization for developing the north, and an organization like the Snowy Mountains Authority, for a variety of reasons, is not an instrument that could do the job.
Here we come up against another issue. I said that I would not be dogmatic. I am trying simply to define the issues. I believe that the Government and the Minister for National Development have failed, because these issues have not been faced. They have been overlooked in the thinking out of the Government’s policy, and there has been no exposition of the conclusions that have been reached on these matters. What is involved if we are to unlock the north? As my distinguished colleague, the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly), who was a member of the Forster committee, has pointed out in speeches in this chamber, and as some of us who have visited northern Australia have seen, there appear to be three phases of agricultural development. The first embraces surveys and experiments by experts of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization and other experts. The second phase embraces the establishment of experiment farms in order to try but proposals on an economic basis. The third phase, of course, would be the fullscale development, involving public works for irrigation or road purposes, or what you will. Here, you come up against the problems of finance, land tenure, the selection of settlers and so on. These are the kinds of things that have to be done, and the Forster committee, in its report, has expressed not merely the gravest doubt but the certainty that the present Northern Territory Administration cannot do the job.
The reason is that the Northern Territory has the advantages of neither a Crown colony nor a State. If it were a Crown colony, it would have a governor who had real authority, and the heads of the various departments under him would have real authority over the functions of their departments. But, in the Northern Territory, the Administrator has very limited authority, and the heads of the departments under (him have very little authority over the functions of bodies and organizations with head-quarters in, say, Melbourne or Canberra instead of in Darwin. As I have said, I am merely trying to lay bare the issues. I am not suggesting what the answer may be. But I say that the Northern Territory now has none of the advantages of either a Crown colony or a State. The States have all the various departments that are needed for the purposes of development. I need not enumerate them, and, indeed, I have not time to do so. Development has been the historic task of the States in Australia. The Northern Territory, as I have said, is not in the position of a State.
Listening to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, one would gather that the whole personnel of the Snowy Mountains authority might well be used for the development of the Northern Territory in accordance with the Opposition’s proposal that an authority of this kind be established for the purpose. If we are to adopt the principle of establishing an authority for development in the north, we shall have to establish one which has within itself all the departments that the State administrations have. Surely such an authority would not be concerned only with water conservation and the construction of dams and roads. If it is to develop northern Australia, it must be able to carry out all the functions that a State government discharges. I list these at random. The State governments carry out the functions of providing railways and main roads, promoting land settlement, administering lands and land tenure, and undertaking irrigation and conservation works and other public works. All these are functions discharged by the instruments of State governments. An authority established to develop the north must be, in itself, practically a replica of a State government, with all the departments that a State administration has. The very idea seems to me to be absurd.
In my view, the right way to develop the north would be to strengthen the Northern Territory Administration and give it powers more like those of an administration in a Crown colony. This poses constitutional difficulties. The Public Service Board would raise all kinds of objections. It is a matter for the Government’s legal experts, the Public Service Board and the other authorities concerned to sort out. Let us make no mistake. The issue is: Do we develop the Northern Territory Administration properly or do we constitute an authority of the same type as the Snowy Mountains Authority? lt is of no use to pretend that we do not have to decide this issue. If the present Government does nothing about the Northern Territory Administration, one of these days a Labour government will certainly establish for the development of the north an authority like the Snowy Mountains Authority. The Public Service Board, which will not at present play with respect to the Northern Territory Administration, will then find itself right out of the field, because it will have no control over the staff of the kind of authority envisaged. I have described the issue that we face. The Parliament may be able to help in deciding it by directing attention to these matters and insisting that a solution to the problem be found.
I have set down a number of matters thai I should like to mention, but my time is running out too rapidly for me to do so. I have a number of more particular criticisms to make. The first concerns housing. About 1956, perhaps, the Department of National Development published a very comprehensive report in which it forecast Australia’s housing needs for, I think, many years ahead of the present time. It seems quite clear that this report no longer accords with the existing situation. When are we to receive another report? Business administration is all very fine, but let us know where we are going in the housing field. Is the building industry to be built up to a point at which it can turn out-
Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Mr. Temporary Chairman, I interpret the remarks of the honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Turner) as a general indication that he is disappointed with the administration of the National Development portfolio.
– He did not say that.
– I did not say that he did. I said that that was my interpretation of what he had said. This view is indicative of the debate that has taken place this afternoon. I share the honorable member’s view of the Government’s administration. The Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) administers war service homes, and, in that field, many of us recognize the deficiencies that prevail. The honorable member for Bradfield dealt very briefly with housing. We do not need to talk at great length to convince anybody of the appalling housing crisis which still prevails in Australia, with something like 100,000 people lined up before the doors of the various State housing authorities. The list of applicants increases as the years go by. Only to-day, I received from the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) an answer to questions I had asked about the number of migrants who are accommodated in migrant hostels. The figures show that 22,695 immigrants must spend, on the average, 45 weeks in immigrant hostels. They are given a poor welcome to Australia.
Australian-born people are lining up for war service homes. More than 16,000 of them are now on the waiting list. Many more are lined up for State Housing Commission homes and for homes being made available by co-operative building societies. We cannot be satisfied about the administration of the housing policy, and we certainly cannot be satisfied about the complete absence of any integrated plan for the development of northern Australia, where, as my colleague, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) has said, we have about 4 per cent, of our population in about 40 per cent, of the area of our country.
The honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) referred to the coal-mining industry. I represent a substantial part of our coalmining area. There are many coal-mining towns in the southern part of my electorate, in the area extending towards Wollongong. Retrenchments in the southern coalfields have followed those in the north. Only a few weeks ago the Excelsior colliery closed down and several hundred men were thrown out of work at short notice. We have no plan for the development and encouragement of the coal-mining industry. Although we spend the best part of £4,000,000 a year in encouraging, the search for oil, we are spending only a few hundred thousand pounds on research into the use of coal in this country. Our indigenous fuel resources are being sadly neglected.
Let me mention also our atomic energy plans. The atomic reactor at Lucas Heights is situated in the electorate that I represent. We cannot be completely happy about what is happening there. Many of us, I venture to suggest, do not know what is happening there. I doubt whether the Minister knows. One thing that is obvious, however, is our failure to anticipate the personnel needs of that establishment. This, of course, can be said about many other Australian activities. We have had to bring from other countries numbers of physicists and other scientists, and many technicians, and the men working in that establishment are often required to accept rates of pay that are not adequate for the work they perform, particularly when compared with rates operating in other industries.
All in all, we cannot be happy about the administration of the portfolio of National Development. It is characterized, in my view, by vacillation, delay and uncertainty, and certainly by a lack of inspiration and fervour in the consideration of the developmental prospects of this country. This is a portfolio in which we need people with imagination and vision. We need a man prepared to reach a little further than appears to be his reach. Unfortunately, such willingness is not in evidence at the moment.
In the wide open spaces of the north there are very limited opportunities for the men and women of Australia. Answers to questions I have asked recently have shown that no fewer than 3,917 persons are registered for employment with the various district employment offices in areas north of the Tropic of Capricorn. What an incredible state of affairs. This is a vast area, with tremendously important untapped resources, and I speak only of the resources of which we know. I venture to suggest that our surveys have been so incomplete that we do not really know what is up there in the way of pastoral, mineral and other resources. In this area 3,917 persons are registered for employment. I have written to the responsible Ministers saying that 1 have in my constituency young, virile Australians with good qualifications who are anxious to take employment in the north of Australia. Invariably I have been told that there is nothing there for them. This is the situation we find after this Government has had eleven long years in office, and after it has had adequate opportunities to survey the resources available and develop an integrated plan for the improvement and exploitation of this great area, which so many honorable members have recently had the opportunity to inspect.
I rose particularly to make some reference to matters concerning the War Service Homes Division. Some 16,000 Australian ex-servicemen are currently waiting for war service homes, sixteen years after the end of World War II. Many of them are forced to wait as long as twenty months to purchase an existing property. Some wait for as long as eighteen months to obtain finance for the provision of extensions on the homes they are occupying. We on this side of the Parliament want to make sure that these people are not held to ransom. What is the reason for the delay in making finance available to them? Why cannot more money be released to cut down this waiting period so that the persons concerned will not have to seek temporary financial accommodation? A study of the annual report of the War Service Homes Division shows that 38 per cent, of those applying to the division for loans want to purchase existing homes, 23 per cent, want assistance to build new homes, 16 per cent, want to purchase new homes, 14 per cent want to discharge mortgages and 8 per cent, want miscellaneous forms of assistance. The largest group is the group of persons wishing to purchase existing homes. They comprise 38 per cent, of the total, and they have to wait as long as twenty months for their loans. We believe that some effort should be made to reduce this waiting time considerably.
On 1st September, 1960, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition asked a question about interest rates payable by these applicants, and we found that a large number of them are forced to pay high rates of interest for their temporary finance. The figures given apply to the month of March, 1960, when 503 ex-servicemen were forced to seek temporary finance. Some of them, 246 in number, were able to get finance at rates of interest between 5i per cent, and 7 per cent.; 96 had to pay between 7 per cent, and 8 per cent., 47 were charged between 8 per cent, and 9 per cent., and 109 had to pay interest rates between 9 per cent, and 10 per cent. Only a few, four in number, had to pay more than 10 per cent. All these rates are a good deal higher than the 3J per cent, charged by the War Service Homes Division. We ask the Government to give serious consideration to this problem and to try to reduce the waiting period, so that ex-servicemen will not be forced to pay such high rates of interest for temporary finance. We must remember that even after they finish paying back their temporary loans they must then commence repaying the advances they receive from the War Service Homes Division.
I wish also to make a few comments on the Minister’s stubborn refusal to consider any application for second assistance. There are many reasons why some exservicemen, after having borrowed from the War Service Homes Division to obtain a home, want to obtain a second loan from the division. Many persons are placed in this position because of health considerations. They may develop bronchial or asthmatic conditions which force them to move from one area to another, and because of the Minister’s refusal to consider applications for second assistance they are denied a fair go. I ask the Minister to give serious thought to this matter. He has given a blanket refusal in the past. He takes a lazy attitude towards this problem. These men are not asking for extra money from the War Service Homes Division. They merely ask for the loan of the money again, after selling the home that they obtained with the original loan. The division is not involved in the grant of any extra money. The deployment of the Commonwealth Public Service places many people in the position of wanting second assistance. Others have been forced to leave the coal-fields in the electorate of Hunter and to seek employment in the southern coal-fields. This has been a direct result of the Government’s policy. These people in many cases have had to dispose of war service homes in the north, and they want to set up other homes in the districts to which they have been forced to move. There are 1,000 reasons why the grant of special assistance should be favorably considered.
I feel, also, that urgent consideration should be given to widening the provisions of the War Service Homes Act so that advances may be made for the acquisition of home units or flats. There is no doubt that many ex-servicemen, particularly those totally and permanently incapacitated, and also war widows, find it very desirable to live in flats and home units, which, as honorable members are probably aware, are springing up around the pleasure resorts of Sydney. There is a great number of them in my own electorate, particularly in Cronulla. In the area represented by my colleague, the honorable member for Barton (Mr. Reynolds), thousands of new nome units and flats are being constructed. These are an economical form of construction. Yet the ex-serviceman who needs that sort of home most of all, and who does not want to be involved with the care of a garden and the maintenance of a house, has been unable to obtain the necessary financial assistance from the War Service Homes Division. This matter is well worth consideration, especially as it affects war widows and incapacitated ex-servicemen. There is a very good reason why the Minister should apply himself to this problem with some enthusiasm.
I want to conclude by saying that on almost every count the Ministry of National Development, as a result of inept leadership and lack of true helmsmanship has fallen down on its job. We want the Minister to look seriously at some of the matters which are, we hope only for a short time, his responsibility. We want the Minister to look fairly and squarely at the housing problem in this country. We want to make sure that more adequate funds are made available for housing. We want him to look at the problems of the coal industry, and to recognize that here we have an indigenous industry, a national industry, which can be encouraged and expanded with the result that we could cut. down our imports and make worthwhile improvements in our balance of payments position. We ask the Minister also to think of the need for a more integrated plan for national development so that we shall be able to encourage large numbers of people to take their place under the sun up in the north of Australia and have the opportunity to exploit our resources there. We think of Weipa, where we have discovered something like 600 years’ supply for the whole wide world, of bauxite. Australia should exploit its own natural resources of such materials as bauxite, but all the Government seems to do is to invite foreign interests to exploit these natural resources. We know that an American concern is coming here with plans to take out the raw material from the red cliffs at Weipa. The bauxite is easy to win from those red cliffs. That bauxite will be taken overseas for treatment. Foreign interests are going to have the opportunity to develop the aluminium industry, which should be an opportunity that belongs to the Australian community. There is no reason in the world why this Government should not have done as the Labour government did, and let Australia develop its own resources. The policy of the Labour government is characterized by such projects as the Snowy Mountains scheme. Here we have great resources belonging to the Australian people which we should develop for their benefit.
Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
Sitting suspended from 5.55 to 8 p.m.
Bill presented by Mr. Menzies, and read a first time.
– by leave - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This bill seeks the approval of the Parliament to an agreement between the Commonwealth and the Western Australian Governments relating to reconstruction of the Kalgoorlie-Fremantle-Kwinana line of the Western Australian railways. In the course of a statement I made last February about the Government’s economic measures, I indicated our interest in certain major projects in the States as projects which could make a significant contribution to national growth and development, particularly in the promotion of increased export earnings. I said then that the Government had several large undertakings under consideration; that we were prepared to assist in their detailed planning; and that we would, at an appropriate time, consider the provision of financial assistance to facilitate their execution. One of the undertakings I mentioned was a railway project in Western Australia which would aid the establishment of an iron and steel industry in that State and in respect of which the Government of Western Australia had sought Commonwealth financial assistance.
We subsequently embarked on a close examination of this railway project in consultation with both the Government of Western Australia and the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited. We satisfied ourselves that construction of the railway had a vital place in that company’s plans for a major expansion of the steel industry. Indeed, we ascertained that, if the railway were not built, the prospects of an expansion of steel production which would substantially assist in bringing about a major contribution to our export earnings would be adversely affected. It was against that background that we entered into discussions with the Government of Western Australia, the outcome of which is reflected in the agreement of which the approval of Parliament is now sought. Conditional upon the construction of a standard gauge railway for the carriage of iron ore, an agreement was concluded late last year between the Western Australian Government and the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited for the establishment of an integrated iron and steel industry allied with the development of the iron ore deposits at Koolyanobbing. In that agreement the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited undertook, by the end of 1968, to set up at Kwinana a blast furnace with a capacity of 450,000 tons per annum of pig iron-
Opposition Members. - Pig iron!
– Pig iron! As the old Latins used to say, clarum et venerabile nomen. “Pig iron”, I said, and I repeat that the undertaking by the B.H.P. is to establish a blast furnace with a capacity of 450,000 tons per annum of pig iron - I will not have to interpret “ per annum “ - and to establish within the following ten years a steel-making plant and additional rolling mill facilities to produce 330,000 tons per annum of finished steel products. Part of the scheme for establishing the steel industry was and is the development of the rich and extensive ore deposits at Koolyanobbing and Bungalbin, situated about 33 miles north-east of Southern Cross. The ore requirements for the steel works at Kwinana, and for shipment from Western Australia to other steel works, will be in the region of 2,000,000 tons per annum. The existing narrow gauge railway would be quite incapable of carrying economically tonnages of this magnitude, and, to be able to cope with the likely traffic, would need to be substantially reconstructed. Because of the capacity of a standard gauge line to carry the heavier loads and cope with the speeds of modern trains, and because of the fact that, for the tonnages which could be involved, the standard gauge line would make the enterprise economically sound and attractive, it became essential to reconstruct the track on standard gauge rather than on the existing 3-ft. 6-in. gauge. The Government of Western Australia therefore proposed reconstruction to standard gauge of the railway between Southern Cross, on the main east-west railway, and Kwinana, south of Fremantle, plus construction of a spur line from Southern Cross to Koolyanobbing, for the purpose of carriage of ore from the Koolyanobbing deposit to the site of the steel works. Such reconstruction, if done by itself, would have left the section of the main line between Kalgoorlie and Southern Cross on narrow gauge. In order to avoid yet another break of gauge on the east-west railway system, therefore, the State Government proposed that the section between Kalgoorlie and Southern Cross should also be reconstructed to standard gauge as a part of the overall project.
The proposals of the Western Australian Government were closely examined by the Commonwealth in all their aspects. Very substantial funds are involved, the cost of the railway works at current cost levels being estimated at £41,200,000. The analysis which has been made of the estimated expenditure and operating results of the line shows that, based on the carrying of 2,000,000 tons per annum of iron ore and on general traffic at existing levels, the new line should be a thoroughly sound economic proposition. Indeed, it is to be expected that the new line will attract additional general traffic, and to the extent that it does so the economics of the railway should be correspondingly still further improved.
The construction of the line is in itself a project of the first importance, but even more important is the part which the project as a whole will play in the development of Australia’s resources, the increasing of exports, and/ or the saving of imports. It will bring to Western Australia a major heavy industry, certainly the most important industrial undertaking in the history of that State, and indeed among the most significant projects of this kind undertaken in the Commonwealth in recent years. The Western Australian proposal is an essential part of a general expansion in steel-making capacity planned by the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited for the purpose of producing a substantial quantity of steel for export, and thus will make a most valuable contribution to the export potential and the overseas reserves of this country.
Moreover, the establishment of a basic steel industry in Western Australia will inevitably bring in its train a number of ancillary industries. These will contribute further to the general economic expansion of the State and will do a great deal to promote the industrial balance which is so important to this part of Australia. It is not an exaggeration to say that the undertaking will represent just about the most remarkable new advance in the development of Western Australia since the discovery of gold. Having all these important considerations in mind, the Government concluded that the proposed railway undertaking merited the assistance of the Commonwealth in financing it. It was obvious that, because of the very large cost of the project, the State Government would be unable to go ahead with it without financial assistance. We, therefore, commenced negotiations with the Western Australian Government and were quickly successful in reaching agreement with that government on the work to be done, the manner in which it would be performed, and terms under which it would be financed.
I come now to a brief description of the contents of the agreement itself. With regard first to the method of financing, the undertaking has, as I have indicated, elements related both to development and to rail standardization. In its industrial developmental aspects it has in it features very similar to the proposal for the reconstruction of the Queensland railway from Mount Isa to Collinsville. Insofar as it is a standardization project, it resembles the Victorian and South Australian rail standardization projects in which the Commonwealth has participated. It was difficult to differentiate precisely between the proportions of the costs which should be attributed to each of these elements. We discussed the matter at some length and reached agreement with the State Government that as a matter of broad judgment the cost might be divided into two equal parts, one half of which could be regarded as representing the developmental element and the other the rail standardization element in the project. This is not to say that particular components of the overall project are to be treated as developmental components and others as standardization components. The arrangement is rather that all expenditure on the project as a whole, irrespective of the particular nature of that expenditure, will be treated as comprising equal parts of developmental and standardization expenditure.
For the developmental portion the Commonwealth will provide 70 per cent, of the funds initially required and the State 30 per cent. The money provided by the Commonwealth will be repaid by the State from its Consolidated Revenue over a period of twenty years commencing from the completion of the project, with interest at the long-term bond rate ruling at the time the advances are made. Interest accruing during the construction period may be capitalized if the State desires. These provisions follow closely the now accepted arrangements in the case of the Mount Isa railway, as to which I expect a little later in the sitting to introduce legislation.
For the standardization portion the Commonwealth will provide the whole of the finance initially required, and the State will repay from its Consolidated Revenue, over a period of 50 years, 30 per cent, of the amount provided during each financial year, together with interest at the long-term bond rate ruling at the end of each such year on the outstanding amount from time to time. These terms follow those in the Victorian and South Australian rail standardization agreements except that some special sinking fund provisions in the South Australian agreement which are not in the Victorian agreement will not apply in this case. That is to say, the provision of sinking fund by the Commonwealth which applied under the 1949 agreement with South Australia but did not apply to the Victorian standardization agreement will not apply here either.
The overall effect of these arrangements is that the Commonwealth will provide 85 per cent, of the total initial finance - 70 per cent, of the developmental part and 100 per cent, of the standardization part - and that the State will provide 15 per cent, of the total initial finance, being 30 per cent, of the developmental part. On the basis of an estimated cost of £41,200,000, the estimated amounts to be found by the Commonwealth and by the State in the first instance are £35,000,000 and £6,200,000 respectively. The effect of the provisions relating to repayment by the State is that the State will eventually meet 65 per cent, of the total cost - that is, 100 per cent, of the developmental element - what I have called the Mount lsa element - and 30 per cent, of the standardization element. The proportion of the overall cost to be met finally by the Commonwealth will be 35 per cent. - 70 per cent, of the standardization element. On the basis of an estimated overall cost of £41,200,000, the respective figures are: State, £26,800,000; Commonwealth, £14,400,000. That is in the end result after all the initial money has been found and the provisions to which I have referred have operated.
Provision is made in the agreement for the furnishing of estimates of funds required each year and for annual statements showing the expenditure incurred on the project from time to time, together with a revised estimate of the amount required to complete the work. The usual provisions are made for the keeping of accounts and records and for the audit of accounts by the Auditor-General for the State. When I refer to these agreements honorable members will understand that these are all set out in the agreement that has been signed on behalf of the Commonwealth by me and on behalf of Western Australia by the Premier.
The work to be done under the agreement is set out in some detail in schedules annexed to the agreement. Briefly, what is proposed is a new standard gauge line parallel to the existing track from Kalgoorlie to East Northam, with a new line from Southern Cross to the site of the iron ore leases at Koolyanobbing. The existing 3-ft. 6-in. gauge track between Kalgoorlie and Coolgardie will be retained, as a third rail, in addition to the 4-ft. 8i-in. gauge to permit the working of the existing 3-ft. 6-in. line between Kalgoorlie and Esperance. From East Northam the line will take a new route via Toodyay and the Avon River valley to Midland. This deviation from the existing route is necessary to provide the required grades for the heavy trains which will be operating and which could not be operated over the present route.
The line will then follow the existing track to Perth and Fremantle and on to Kwinana. There are associated works necessary in and around the metropolitan area and some narrow gauge works, especially between East Northam and Midland, which are needed for the maintenance of services on the State’s narrow gauge system. There are also some ancillary works made necessary by the provision of the new standard gauge line, including new station buildings, work shop facilities, marshalling yards and the like. Standards for the construction are also set out in a schedule to the agreement. There is provision for variation of the schedules if the Commonwealth and the State agree that variations are necessary for the more effective fulfilment of the objectives of the agreement.
Rolling-stock to be provided is also set out in a schedule. It consists of the rollingstock necessary to lift 2,000,000 tons per annum of iron ore, together with rollingstock needed to carry general traffic at the present level. The estimates for rollingstock include a component representing the minimum requirements for general traffic which generally constitutes the extent of the intention of the agreement for that particular type of rolling-stock. The agreement provides, however, that the objectives in regard to the general traffic rolling-stock may be varied by agreement following a review to be carried out about the end of the year 1966. It is intended that this review shall take into account the quantity of rollingstock which the State may have available for conversion to standard gauge at that date and any other factors which may be relevant at that particular time.
The work entailed is to be carried out by the Western Australian Government, the intention being that it will be completed by 31st December, 1968. In the interest of the more efficient and expeditious completion of the project, it is provided that, except where special circumstances may dictate otherwise, the work will be carried out by the letting of contracts after public tenders have been called.
The agreement provides for close collaboration and agreement between the State and the Commonwealth for the programming, planning and carrying out of the work. Expenditure on work done under the agreement is subject to the authority of the Minister for Shipping and Transport. There are several miscellaneous provisions. In the unlikely event of any dispute arising, it is provided that the matter in dispute shall be determined, believe it or not, by the Commonwealth Treasurer.
Another clause provides that the parties affirm the principle that their respective railway authorities shall collaborate with each other in the matter of standards of design and construction of rolling-stock and also its operation to the end that an efficient co-ordinated service over the Commonwealth and Western Australian railways will be achieved and intersystem traffic be facilitated. This provision is an important one. The Commonwealth and Western Australian Governments are making a substantial investment in this railway and both Governments are anxious to ensure that the maximum possible benefits are obtained from the new line when it comes into operation. The Commonwealth and Western Australian railways will both benefit from the interstate general traffic operating over their respective systems, and it is obviously desirable that they should make such arrangements as will ensure that this traffic moves with the minimum of delay, and that the travelling public and shippers of goods will receive the best and most efficient service that can be provided.
I am sure that this great railway project will have the wholehearted support of honorable members on both sides of the House. It will have far-reaching effects of the most beneficial kind on the development of Australia and of Western Australia, which is an important part of Australia, in particular.
– You are making a very late discovery.
– You leave your moaning until afterwards. Indeed, it can truly be said to mark an important milestone in our advance as an industrial nation. I have great pleasure in commending the bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Beazley) adjourned.
In Committee of Supply: Consideration resumed (vide page 1846).
Department of National Development
Proposed Vote, £8,450,000
Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization
Proposed Vote, £8,600,000
.- I wish to direct my remarks to the subject of the development of north Australia. Two weeks ago, honorable members heard excellent addresses on this subject from the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Murray) and the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly). Just prior to the suspension of the sitting, the honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Turner) made another of his typically interesting contributions on this subject. If a gallup poll were conducted’ on the question whether we should develop the north of Australia or abandon it, I am sure that more than 90 per cent, of the people would vote for its development. The honorable member for Wakefield suggested that we should discover why we want to develop the north. That is a very fair suggestion, for many people talk of the need to develop the north without being sure why they advocate its development.
The honorable member for Wakefield has suggested that we should decide whether we want to develop it for defence, for purely political reasons or for the production of food and agricultural products. I believe that a sound reason for advocating the development of the north is that it must be developed for defence. But, if we seek to develop it for no other reason than to keep out the people of other countries, we are adopting the attitude of the dog that has a bone - it does not want the bone for itself, but it does not want another dog to have it. That is a wrong attitude to adopt. If we decide that we want to hold the north and develop it, then we should have a long-range plan. It is very easy to take up the catchcry, “ Develop the north “, but only those who have been there can have any idea of what that task involves.
I cannot speak with the authority of one who has tried to make a living in the north of Australia, but I do not speak entirely without knowledge. During the war years, I lived for about fifteen months in the vicinity of Marble Bar, and I had an opportunity to see a great deal of the northern part of Western Australia and parts of the Northern Territory. I know the conditions there, and I know the climate. Since then, I have availed myself of the opportunity to revisit these areas and northern Queensland a number of times in the past six years. So I do have some knowledge of what has already been done in the way of development, and I do have some appreciation of the problems which lie ahead. I know from my experiences during the war years, and from what I have been privileged to see as a member of this Parliament, that a great many agricultural products can be grown successfully. Whether they can be grown profitably is another matter. This has been the subject of many reports, the last of which was the very comprehensive Forster report with which my distinguished colleague from Wakefield was very actively associated.
I did not speak during the debate on the estimates for the Department of Territories because I believe the subject of the develop ment of the north of Australia embraces much more than the development of the Northern Territory. I believe it also concerns the development of large areas of both Queensland and Western Australia. The problems of the beef industry, the largest industry in the north, are not confined to the Northern Territory; they exist also in the two States I have mentioned, and they must be considered in that light. The problems of transport, communications, agriculture and industry, water conservation, and indeed of native welfare and education cannot effectively be considered in isolation as the problems of separate States.
In 1926, the Parliament, recognizing this truth, passed the Northern Australia Act. When moving the second reading of the bill, the then Prime Minister, Mr. S. M. Bruce, had this to say -
Honorable members, if they glance at the map and see the position of the Gulf of Carpentaria and the north-western coast of Western Australia in relation to the Northern Territory will understand why this scheme should ultimately include some portions of the territories of Western Australia and Queensland to obtain the best economic basis for development.
He is also reported in “ Hansard “ of 10th February, 1926, as having said -
Having regard to the present position of our country in relation to world politics, and the great issues that are at stake, there is probably no more urgent problem for which we have to find a solution than the development of the great and almost uninhabited territory to the north of the continent.
If that were true in 1926, does it not apply more forcibly to-day? The Prime Minister of that day pointed out that the white population of the Northern Territory in 1925 was only 3,406 persons, and said -
Those figures alone should be sufficient to rouse this Parliament to action.
In the 35 years which have passed since then, the white population of the Northern Territory has increased to 21,588. Those are the latest figures available, and they apply as at 31st March of this year. It is. not a very great increase, as I am sure every one will agree. It is an average annual increase of about 500. In 1926, Mr. Bruce also said -
Increasingly as the years go by, we are forced to recognize that the great nations of the world, with teeming populations and pressing needs of economic expansion, are looking more and more to Australia, and inquiring to what extent we who hold this great territory are using it. Only as we discharge our responsibility as trustees of a vast and rich continent shall we be justified in the opinion of the world in retaining it for our own people, and developing it in accordance with the political and economic ideals we have set up.
That statement applies even more forcibly to-day when we have nations to our north whose annual population increase is greater than our total population.
So far, the reasons 1 have advanced for the urgent development of the north have been political; but let us have a look at some of the economic aspects of the problem. It is a well-known fact that thousands of head of cattle are lost each year due to drought and to the fact that the existing roads are not adequate to the task of getting the cattle out of the drought areas to areas where they can be fattened instead of being allowed to die. Apparently, no accurate figures are available from any source of the actual number of cattle lost in this way; but various estimates have been made by experts of what the inadequacy of the roads in the north is costing our export market. A fairly conservative estimate appears to be about £12,000,000 per annum. At any time, this would be a tragic loss, but with the likelihood of our export market being greatly affected if Britain joins the Common Market, it is even more necessary for us to do something urgently to remedy our deficiencies in the north.
In 1926, the Prime Minister of the day, in speaking of the Northern Territory, said -
It is almost impossible to develop a great territory like this successfully with the Seat of Government as far removed from it as it now is.
Communications have improved quite a lot since that time, and the time of travel has been considerably reduced. But I believe the statement is still true in many respects. The purpose of the Northern Australia Act was to set up a development commission for northern Australia. It was envisaged that this commission should put forward a scheme which would not stop at State boundaries, but would plan for the overall development of the whole of the north, in Western Australia, Queensland and the Northern Territory. Roads and railways do not stop at State boun daries. Even an irrigation scheme such as that proposed on the Ord River will not be confined to Western Australia, but must, if developed as fully as possible, extend into the North Territory. Any worth-while scheme, if it is to have any hope of success, must be tackled on a national basis. For instance, it is only natural that each of the three States to which I have referred would prefer any new port development to take place in its own area. If there were such an organization as a Northern Australia Commission, expenditure of such a magnitude would be made where it would be of the greatest benefit to Australia as a whole.
Over the past 50 years, many reports have been compiled and a great deal of information has been gained. The question is whether the information we have gathered is being put to the best use. It is obvious that we have not enough money available to do everything we would wish to do immediately, and I believe that instead of some of the projects of the north being developed piecemeal in Western Australia, Queensland and the Northern Territory, as they are now, the available resources should be pooled and spent where they will be to the best possible advantage of Australia. The work begun under the 1926 legislation was abandoned by the Scullin Government in 1931, probably due to economic conditions - we were then virtually in the middle of the great depression.
In an article published in the first issue of a publication known as “National Development “, in October, 1952, Mr. J. H. Kelly, who was then and may still be an officer of the Division of Agricultural Economics and a recognized expert on the beef industry, suggested that a fresh start should be made on the basis of the Northern Australia Act of 1926. He envisaged the setting up of an authority whose functions would cover uniform land tenures, improvement of pastoral areas - that is, water supplies, fencing, buildings and so on - the conservation and utilization of water resources, stock routes, transport, whether by road, rail, air or water, the uniform control of pests and diseases, pasture improvement and agricultural development. In 1952, Mr. Kelly said-
There is no doubt that the present is an ideal time to launch into a full-scale development programme.
Nine years have passed since then and nothing has been done along those lines. However, I urge the Government to give urgent consideration to the setting up of a northern Australia development commission early in the new year, when it will begin a new term of office.
.- The statement of the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Fox), who has just resumed his seat, in which he quoted from a speech of the former Prime Minister, Stanley Melbourne Bruce, deserves a slight comment. I think that the former Prime Minister’s claim that teeming millions of Asian people are thinking of migrating to and settling in the north of Australia or that they are greatly concerned about this area, is a complete fallacy. A trait of the Asian people that is quite impressive is their tremendous conservatism on the subject of migration. Java has a population of 90,000,000 and is one of the most densely populated areas in the world. Neither the Dutch Government, when it ruled that area, nor the present Government of Indonesia has been able to persuade the people of Java to migrate to Sumatra, which is very sparsely populated. In the Mekong delta of the area that was called Indo-Ohina, we have one of the densest populations in the world, with more than 2,000 people to the square mile. A few miles away, very good agricultural country has an average population of ten to the square mile. But it has been impossible to get the people to migrate from the delta to the sparsely settled area.
The feature that has been striking about the whole area of Asia is this tremendous reluctance to migrate. Even if one considers the Japanese drive in the Second World War, one must realize it was determined more by a policy of seeking a sphere of investment and compulsory markets for Japan in densely populated areas than by any desire of the Japanese people to migrate. We seem always to be making statements about the ambition of the Asian people to settle in our northern areas. But I cannot imagine people from the lush territories of South-East Asia conceiving the Northern Territory, if they were properly informed about it, as an area in which they could continue the kind of agriculture that is traditional to them.
I think we should discuss the problems of our north on other terms than as a problem, in defence. If we intend to speak realistically about defence in an atomic age, we should understand that the best defence we can possibly have is an empty north in which rocket bases could be concealed. An atomic attack in such an area would not matter. To congregate a large population in an area does not constitute a defence in an atomic age. Let us forget about this angle at the moment and speak about the north from the point of view of development. There is a duty we have to Asia and that is to make Australia agriculturally as efficient as possible so that our agriculture can contribute to the feeding of Asia and to a sensible trade relationship with Asia. I am perfectly certain that all constructive statesmanship in Asia thinks in this way.
The problem we are discussing in connexion with the north is, after all, a constitutional problem. If we draw a line from Carnarvon in the west across to Gladstone in the east and consider everything north of that line as our north, what do we find? We find that the Commonwealth is responsible for the central part, for the Northern Territory. There is, therefore, a heavy Commonwealth investment in the Northern Territory. If the Commonwealth were responsible for the whole of the northern half, it is extremely doubtful whether the direction of Commonwealth investment would be in the Northern Territory to anything like the extent it is at present. If Western Australia, like South Australia, had surrendered its north to the Commonwealth so that the Northern Territory southern border continued at its present latitude right to the western coast, it is extremely probable that the bulk of the Commonwealth investment in what would then be the Northern Territory would be in what we know as the Kimberleys, because it is a more thankful area to put investment in than is a great area of the Northern Territory.
The fact that the Commonwealth is constitutionally responsible for the Northern Territory is not an adequate reason for making that particular territory the main concern of Commonwealth investment and development. One good feature of the legislation introduced by Stanley Melbourne Bruce was that there was an assumption of Commonwealth responsibility for the whole of the north. I believe the Commonwealth must consider soberly where is the best investment. If it is considered that for the time being it is the Ord River, then let it be there. If it is considered that it should be in northern Queensland, let it be there. But all propositions should be considered on the basis of their economic benefits and not on the basis that the Commonwealth happens to be constitutionally responsible for the Northern Territory but not for the north of Western Australia or the north of Queensland.
The Department of National Development should conduct a survey of the northern rivers and not merely consider them in terms of major irrigation projects. There are many minor irrigation projects which would be very important in the northern areas. When the committee to consider voting rights for aborigines was at Roper River, for instance, it appeared - and I am not an expert - that minor damming works on that river could make available an irrigation area there. We need to take a look at all the rivers of the north to see whether something could be done for the development of tropical agriculture by minor irrigation projects as well as major projects such as the Ord River scheme in Western Australia.
There is one other thing I would like to say about this: Right across the north now we have an aboriginal population which is increasing faster than the European population. Australians have to get out of their minds the fixed idea that the aborigines are dying out. They are not dying out, and by the end of this century we might well have 150,000 to 200,000 full-blood aborigines at the present rate of increase. The decisive change that has taken place has been in aboriginal marriage customs. The old men no longer dominate the tribes and’ have a multiplicity of wives. Marriage is taking place at normal ages and as a result the aborigines are having normal families and are no longer a dying race. In any land policy, for God’s sake let us get over the great Australian historical assumption that you must make a decision about the lands as though there was no one living on them. In anything we do in respect of the tropical agriculture up there, let us make certain there is a place for these people. If we do not, then, in 60 or 70 years time, we will have a problem on our hands similar to that of the United States of America in the past. The integration of these people into our life must include agriculture and a place for them in an economy. That is something that has to be thought out.
I turn now to the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. Everybody is in favour of it. It has become part of the mythology of Australia. With myxamotosis, it earned us £80,000,000 in one year. It got rid of the prickly pear and so on. But I do feel that Australia is losing many of her scientists. They are going abroad. I do not want to interfere with that freedom to move abroad nor do I think we can go consciously out-bidding every attraction abroad without making our services enormously expensive. Organizations such as the C.S.I.R.O. are now in competition with the universities. The universities want research men. The C.S.I.R.O. wants research men for applied research.
The only answer to that is to increase the pool of scientists. I believe that that has to be done at the secondary education level. To buttress the C.S.I.R.O., the Commonwealth might well consider scientific scholarships to enable young people to lay the basis of a scientific education. Gifts have been made by the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited to the greater public schools to enable them to construct scientific laboratories in the great public schools. The Commonwealth would be wise to do this for public and private education, and would be wise to develop the scientific libraries in all secondary schools, because the biology and the botany and similar subjects taught at these schools are the basis of animal husbandry, animal nutrition, soil science and plant breeding which are the work of the C.S.I.R.O.
I think that we are also faced with a decline in the sources of phosphates for Australian agriculture. I am not sure that any comparison can be drawn between phosphates and nitrates but I remind the committee that the late Walther Rathenau, during the 1914-18 war, enabled German agriculture to carry on by his process of extracting nitrates from the air when supplies of Chilian nitrates were cut off. At that time it was not believed there was an alternative supply to Chile. If there are things that can be done for the soil to replace phosphates, that must be considered now because it seems that our phosphate sources in the Pacific Islands might well be worked out in the next 30 years and some research in that subject is necessary.
The late Sir Ian Clunies Ross, who was the most distinguished leader of the C.S.I. R.O., also had a kind of scientific statesmanship in this matter which I would hope to see continued in the organization. As an example, he noted how much of our skimmed milk was wasted in Australia. He directed attention to the fact that it was the greatest possible source of protein. Although it is not so palatable as beef steaks, he showed that it is an even greater source of protein. He also showed that it was a form of protein urgently needed in the protein-deficient countries to the north and that it was one which did not conflict with the religious convictions of those people, particularly the Hindus who objected to eating meat. The result was that a dried skimmed milk industry of great importance has developed. In India there is a rising ‘perception that dried skim milk is a vital food commodity for the Indian people. I believe that in these ways, the C.S.I.R.O. can also give leads to Australia in trade and leads based on a real capacity to meet the needs of other peoples of the world.
The votes that are annually appropriated for the C.S.I.R.O. are repaid to Australia many times over in taxation because of the increase of incomes. Never have I heard this particular vote disputed in the Parliament; but I hope that the Government will give attention to creating a greater pool of scientists on which the universities and the C.S.I.R.O. can draw because it is in trained scientific intelligence now that economic advances are made and the capacity of Australia to compete economically in the world is based.
.- Mr. Chairman, I am very glad to follow the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley), who made a very interesting and thoughtful contribution to the committee’s discussions. I hope to follow his example, although perhaps I shall take a different direction. The honorable member mentioned the importance of training and retaining our scientists in Australia, and I endorse his remarks on that subject. It is very necessary to train scientists in metallurgy and other sciences which have application to exploration for minerals in Australia.
Australia’s history shows that discoveries of minerals played a very important part in opening up and developing this country. We owe the very rapid progress that was made in the later part of last century to the discovery of gold at Bendigo and Ballarat, first of all, and then at other places such as Gympie, Mount Morgan, Charters Towers and Croydon, and elsewhere right up to the north of Queensland. In many instances, and particularly at Bendigo and Ballarat, the discoveries occurred when they were of the greatest possible help to Australia economically. They came at a time of crisis in our development. The discoveries at Bendigo and Ballarat gave Victoria, which was in those days part of New South Wales, a great start in developing other aspects of its economy. The discovery of gold at Gympie in the late 1860”s was of great help to Queensland, for the new State was at that time in very serious financial difficulties. The Gympie discovery completely restored Queensland’s finances. Further discoveries at points extending right to the north of the State continued to benefit Queensland.
The point that I wish to make is that economic development in the early days of Australia followed a pattern largely based on mineral discoveries. The first deposits of minerals found in this country were easily discovered. All the great mining-fields of the early days were located on outcrops which were found on the surface by most intrepid men who penetrated what were then very wild and isolated areas. But that was only the beginning. All the readily discoverable deposits have now been found, and for new discoveries we have to explore the region between the surface and perhaps about 5,000 feet down. If we are to do this successfully, we shall need considerable numbers of scientists.
The progress of science in the fields of metallurgy and mineral exploration has been very rapid in other parts of the world, but not so rapid in Australia. We all know that recently we have imported many technicians from overseas to help us find oil in Australia. There is ample evidence that we have in this country people who represent good material and who could be trained here. If we trained them, we would not have to bring scientists from overseas at a cost of many thousands of pounds. The cost of training our own scientists would not be terribly great, because we are a highly intelligent race with a great mining tradition. I believe that we just lack a little effort on the part of governments to subsidize schools of mines which exist in most of the States and our universities in order to enable them to train scientists in the latest methods of detecting mineral deposits.
This sort of training has been undertaken with a great deal of success in other countries. I point to Russia as an example. In the 1930’s, Russia imported American scientists to develop her oil-fields. The Russians quickly learned from the Americans, and, after a few years, repatriated the Americans to their own country and carried on by themselves the task of exploring for oil. We know, also, what happened in Germany. The experts were of the opinion that that country would not be able to produce more than 1,000,000 tons of crude petroleum a year, but, after extensive exploration, Germany is now able to produce 5,000,000 tons a year. The important point is that, in the process of exploring for oil, other countries have found many very valuable deposits of other minerals.
We in Australia have a vast continent, and goodness knows how many more mineral deposits there are in Australia waiting to be found that would be the equivalent of the deposits at Bendigo, Ballarat. Mount Morgan, Charters Towers and other great mining fields if we only had some means of detecting their presence under the surface. As I said earlier, methods of detecting minerals have developed greatly in recent years.
I myself had some experience of the Gympie field, which, in geological terms and time, had outcropped only very recently. Between the 1870’s and 1910, when gold was worth only £4 an ounce, more than £70,000,000 worth of gold was taken from the Charters Towers field. The outcrop there was probably older than the Gympie one. The important thing about mining development is that, in Australia, it has brought in its train great agricultural and pastoral development. The agricultural and pastoral industries in the southern part of Australia extending north to the temperate area of Queensland are to-day producing far more wealth than the original gold-fields produced. We all have heard of the tremendous development and large populations attracted to the Gulf country of Queensland by the extensive gold-fields at Etheridge and Croydon, which were very remote parts of the State in the early days. Those of us who have had experience of that part of Australia appreciate the great engineering development which always follows mining. Great technological skills are promoted by mining development. It was very unfortunate that these mineral fields were eventually abandoned. The reefs did not die out, but, owing to some geological fault, particularly on the Croydon field, they just disappeared. All the diamond drilling since undertaken has been unable to find them again. We in Australia have literally only scratched the surface. Many great deposits of all sorts of minerals remain to be found.
We have recently witnessed discoveries of very large deposits of iron ore in Western Australia, and also deposits of untold value in Queensland, north of Mount Isa. These discoveries give us an opportunity to develop further industries in this country, as I have mentioned before. They afford great scope for development of the steel industry. In view of our drive for exports over the last eighteen months, it is interesting to consider that the steel industry offers us the greatest opportunity to develop a most extensive export industry. The Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited has demonstrated that it is able to compete on more than even terms with steel producers anywhere else in the world.
Here, I refer the committee to the annual report of the Tariff Board for the financial year 1960-61, which, at page 30, contains statistics of prices for various iron and steel products. The net price of foundry pig iron at State capital city ports in Australia is £21 2s. 6d. a long ton. The price in Japan at main consumption points is £33 18s. 3d. a long ton. Prices in the United Kingdom and the United States of America are a little cheaper than the Japanese price, but the Australian price is easily the lowest. The price of steel merchant bars is £42 8s. 3d. a long ton in Australia and £51 3s. 9d. a long ton in Japan. The Australian price for structural steel is £42 8s. 3d. a long ton and the Japanese price is £52 9s. 4d. a long ton. With hot rolled strip steel and other products we have a similar advantage. There are tremendous deposits of minerals in this country, and, bearing in mind the importance of increasing our population, which involves attracting large numbers of immigrants, we must try to establish heavy industries in Australia, and we will be failing in our duty to the people if we do not do our best to develop these northern areas. I realize that we are at present exporting coal and iron ore, but would it not be better to fabricate steel products in Australia and export them? We would then be exporting the fruits of our labour. We would provide thousands of jobs in this country.
We would also be helping to develop shipping services. One of the great problems involved in expanding our exports, particularly of primary products, lies in the fact that we must have large tonnages of cargoes to make it worth while to charter ships to take our products to countries remote from Australia and off the usual shipping lanes, such as the South American countries. If we could rely on large basic cargoes of iron and steel products and similar commodities, it would be economical to introduce shipping services between Australia and these remote countries. At the same time, we could export other products which it would not be economical to export if we had not adequate quantities of the basic cargoes. Let me emphasize the fact that for Australia’s sake we must make a special effort to develop our mineral industries, and particularly the steel industry. As
I have said, our history has been bound up with the discovery of minerals. This pattern will undoubtedly be continued, and we must grasp every opportunity to develop our mineral industries while we can.
.- Like other honorable members who have spoken on both sides of the committee, I appreciate the problems associated with the development of the Northern Territory. The honorable member for Henty (Mr. Fox) referred to developmental work not only in the Northern Territory but also in Western Australia and Queensland. I agree entirely with some of his remarks. I would also like to refer to statements made by the honorable member for McPherson (Mr. Barnes). I agree that we owe a debt of gratitude to the scientists who have provided for us much of the information which we use in our contributions to these debates. The honorable member spoke of the search for oil. I believe that the day is not far distant when the discovery of oil will make Australia an even greater nation than it is to-day, and will make us self-supporting.
The great potential of the vast open spaces of Australia makes national development one of our most pressing needs. I am sure we all welcomed the announcements that appeared in the newspapers during the week-end that a big water conservation scheme was to be undertaken on the river Murray if the various States agree to the Commonwealth’s proposition. This is one of the most significant moves in the field of national development since the Snowy Mountains scheme was initiated. I may also say that it was good to listen to the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) making his statement to-night on the Western Australian project. The returns to the nation from undertakings of this kind would be hard to estimate. However, I must remind honorable members that projects of this description have been advocated for so long that the people living in the areas concerned are beginning to doubt our sincerity. When I consider the time that must be spent in survey work, in drawing up plans and specifications and in carrying out all those preliminary tasks associated with projects of the kind I have mentioned, I am even more determined to stress the importance of setting up an authority similar to the Snowy
Mountains Hydro-electric Authority, for the purpose of devising a master plan for the development of our northern areas.
Undertakings of the magnitude necessary for the development of the north are certainly beyond the bounds of private enterprise, but it may be truly said that private enterprise will reap the greatest benefit from them. Where would private enterprise be without our great electric power projects? What would our standard of living be without our great water conservation schemes and our railway systems? What would our lives be like to-day without Trans-Australia Airlines and Qantas Empire Airways Limited? Where would we stand in regard to shipping if it were not for our Australian National Line?
– We would have more shipping.
– Maybe, but would it be of the kind we want? Where would the economy of this country be without the Commonwealth Bank?
It is strange to hear Government supporters these days referring to great enterprises of the kind I have mentioned as national undertakings. They try to conceal the fact that all these activities owe their existence to the socialist policy of the Australian Labour Party. Honorable members opposite advocate national development on the one hand whilst on the other hand they agree to the sale of The Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited, the Government whaling enterprise in Western Australia, Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited, and other national projects that were developed by the Australian Labour Party. National schemes of the magnitude required in this country are beyond the resources of State governments. We hear occasionally of projects that are to be undertaken in various States, with the Commonwealth contributing towards the cost of them. It is very necessary that the Commonwealth make such contributions. Such is the urgency of many of these undertakings that the Commonwealth Government must do all it can to expedite them. This applies not only to developmental projects in the southern parts of Australia; it applies also to many necessary developmental works in the north.
The impending entry of the United Kingdom into the European Common Market presents many problems for us. It has been frequently said that we live in an ever-changing world. I believe that the projected entry of the United Kingdom into the European Common Market offers us a challenge to develop our national resources. Further, I believe that the tremendous unrest and turmoil in the underdeveloped nations which, in the main, is engendered by their low standard of living, makes it imperative that a master plan for national development should be drawn up and adhered to in order to give continuity to our national progress. Throughout the world to-day an amount of £6,000,000 is spent every hour on defence - on the means to achieve destruction. One is entitled to think how insignificant are the amounts of money allocated for construction, how insignificant are the efforts to build a better world, and how mighty are the efforts made to destroy the world. It gives one further food for thought when one realizes that two-thirds of the world’s population go to bed hungry every night.
I want to touch briefly on the subject of housing. In my opinion, housing is a national necessity, and in spite of denials by the Treasurer it is a tragedy to know that a major section of the home-building industry has become financially unsound. I was rather shocked to-day by the answer that the Treasurer gave in answer to my question on this matter. Perhaps the most alarming example of our lack of national development planning can be seen in the tremendous development of our capital cities, particularly in the south of this continent, while our north lies comparatively undeveloped. It has been contended that under the Constitution the Commonwealth Government has limited powers. To a great degree the Commonwealth has hidden behind this. Yet we know that the Commonwealth controls the finances of the nation, and therefore can lay down terms and conditions to the States in regard to any project of a national character. So the Constitution cannot really be used as an excuse for our failure to carry out work of a national character.
I think that a proper approach to national undertakings could overcome one of the greatest problems confronting this country - decentralization. A mere handful of our citizens is wrestling with the task of developing our northern areas, while the population of the countries to the north of us is expanding at a tremendous rate, causing them to cast envious eyes at our vast open spaces. We have, I am informed, about 98 per cent, of our people living in onequarter of the nation’s total area. This state of affairs exists in spite of the fact that by means of research and experiments carried out by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization our northern areas can be made most productive. There is, of course, apathy about our northern areas. There is a necessity to conserve water for irrigation in order to be able to grow the products that the C.S.I.R.O. mentions. We also have to provide roads and railways as well as amenities if we want people to live in those areas. I believe that if we provide the necessary amenities and give people the encouragement to live there they will answer the challenge, and will go there and take up the task of development.
Contrary to what is laid down in the Forster report I am of the opinion that these areas can be irrigated. I know that evaporation presents a problem, but having had an opportunity of visiting all the Western Australian water projects I know that scientists can overcome this problem. When water can be piped some 400 miles from Perth to Kalgoorlie surely it is not beyond the bounds of possibility to carry out similar schemes in the far north.
The honorable member for McPherson (Mr. Barnes) mentioned some of the great mineral resources of this country. It is true that gold was the lure that brought about the Perth-Kalgoorlie life-line. I can say from my own. observation that there are treasures unlimited in our northern regions that would repay 1,000 times over any national outlay to develop those areas. The Forster report states -
Population pressure in regions to the near north of Australia and the need for food supplies for the projected world population increase in the next 25 years make it essential that Australia should define its developmental policy relating to the North.
The Northern Australia Development Committee set up by the Curtin Government stated -
No matter what technical developments take place in the methods of warfare there can be little doubt that the development of the north is essential for the future security of Australia, and a policy should be adopted which will make it clear to the outside world that Australia is really interested in this area.
I think it was the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) who made some mention of that. It is evident from those two reports that governments, irrespective of their political flavour-
– Order! The honorable gentleman’s time has expired.
.- This debate on the proposed votes for the Department of National Development and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization has been most interesting up to date. During the debate honorable members generally seem to have turned their eyes to the north and its potentialities. This trend has developed very significantly over the last year or so. There is no doubt that in this place we are all becoming very concerned with the development of northern Australia. Over the last few weeks I have listened to some very interesting propositions which have been put forward with very great enthusiasm. I remember the honorable member for Barton (Mr. Reynolds) and, to-night, the honorable member for Hughes (Mr. L. R. Johnson), as well as other honorable members on both sides, putting forward with great enthusiasm propositions for development of the north. That enthusiasm is an extremely good thing, and we have lacked it in the past. However, I ask honorable members whether they intend seriously to go into their electorates in the south - where nearly all of them come from - and suggest that some other activity in Australia should be deprived of £40,000,000 or £50,000,000 in order to make that amount available for development in the north. I say that, because I think that if we have to spend that amount in the north we shall have to do without the expenditure of a similar amount somewhere else. I should very much like to see that amount spent in the north, and I should think a test of the sincerity of the honorable members whom I have mentioned would be whether they are prepared to put the proposition to their electors.
– You can come and join me in the crusade in Barton.
– I am delighted to hear the honorable member say that, because I think that his enthusiasm is sincere. However, I say to honorable members that they ought to be pretty sure about what they are advocating. Please do not fall into the trap of thinking that because you have been up to the north its problems are solved. I do not say that honorable members could not come out with some pretty solid propositions after having been up there for five or ten days, because no doubt they have done a lot of reading and have summed up to the best of their ability what the best propositions are for the north. But there are a lot of things which are overlooked. The honorable member for Hughes (Mr. L. R. Johnson) complained that at the present time there are some 3,000 unemployed in Queensland, north of the Tropic of Capricorn. That is true, of course, but that is always the situation at the end of the meat season. When the meat works are in full operation there is very little unemployment, as we know from the employment figures of a few months ago. But when the meat works season finishes, as it has now, you get this seasonal unemployment from Rockhampton through the north.
There is also a serious addition to unemployment from the sugar industry. This is not something new. It has been going on ever since those industries were established there and the answer is not just to establish more industries in that area. That will not solve the problem. There are new industries opening up all the time. Take Townsville as an instance. Its population has increased by 26 per cent, or more in the last seven years and new industries have been mainly responsible for that increase. But that has not solved the employment problem in the meat industry or the sugar industry. It just does not help.
If you want to solve the problem of seasonal unemployment you have either to establish new seasonal industries which will employ people when the existing industries are slack or you have to examine the meat and sugar industries to see what the root cause of the unemployment is. The problem of the sugar industry is a difficult one to tackle. There is a suggestion that the Colonial Sugar Refining Company Limited might well set up subsidiary industries to use certain waste products from its mills, and so give employment at the end of the sugar season. There are various propositions put forward, and I say sincerely that the Queensland Government has been working on this matter for the last three or four years, particularly through the Secondary Industries Division. A great number of experts, both inside and outside government have been putting forward every conceivable proposition to solve this problem, but it is not simple. A solution is not easy. So please do not let us fall into the trap of saying that somebody is responsible for this great mass of seasonal unemployment. We have industries which do absorb some of it. The planting and harvesting of tobacco is a great help in providing employment for many people who work in the meat industry, but that is not the whole answer to the problem. I believe the problem in the meat industry is much easier to solve than that in the sugar industry. With pasture improvement and sensible development of fattening areas in the more favoured districts I think we could take up the lag and lengthen the killing season or lengthen the effects of the wet season. I am sure that can be done.
However, we have the problem of advanced techniques coming into the sugar industry and the meat industry. With the mechanization of the meat industry and advanced techniques in killing more cattle are killed and fewer men employed. We cannot stop this, but we must plan a way around it. It is idle for honorable members to get up in this chamber and start blaming somebody for what has been occurring for many years past. They should ask, “Why was something not done about this 30, 40 or 50 years ago? “ Because that is how long the problem has been with us. It is not something new. It is not fair and is only clouding the issue to try to make some form of political capital out of the present situation.
Whilst I welcome the enthusiasm of honorable members, I do ask that we look pretty closely at what can be done. The honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) suggested that it is our duty to develop the agricultural industries more economically in the north of Australia. I quite agree, and 1 think every honorable member who has looked at this problem in the north will agree; but might I ask, “ Where do we teach our young men anything about tropical agriculture? “ Nearly all our agricultural learning is done in a temperate climate and for centuries we have farmed in temperate climates. We, as a people, have done nothing - or very little - constructive about studying agriculture in a tropical environment. We are starting to do so, but it is all too slow.
Before we start saying “ Let us send our young men up to the north “, they must be given some training in the techniques of tropical agriculture, which is very different from agriculture in a temperate climate. There is a great difference, indeed, as our pioneers found out, because we populated Australia from the south to the north, without any regard for geography. We believed that things we could do in a temperate climate would be as simple to do in a tropical climate, and the failures and disappointments in the earlier days were largely a result of that fallacy. We have learned that we must know a great deal about tropical agriculture before we can rush into large-scale development in the north. There are some things that we can do well up there. We are very good at growing sugar. The sugar industry is, without doubt, the most highly organized agricultural industry in Australia, although it is almost entirely in a tropical environment. But do not let us fall into the trap of thinking that we can just go up there and do everything else equally well. There are other things that we can do and tobacco-growing is one of them, but do not suggest that we send thousands more young men up to the north to grow tobacco in the present state of the industry.
Certainly we cannot expand the sugar industry at the moment. Are we going to ask people to go up there to grow grain? The limits of the market with a small population make it irrational to suggest that we grow grain in the tropics. These are problems that people do not fully appreciate. It might be said that we could grow rice in the north; but people are already attempting to grow rice in the Northern Territory at present and we are not yet quite sure how successful the industry is going to be on a large scale or even on a small scale. It may be said that we should extend our secondary industries, but surely we should look at the disadvantages secondary industry would have to suffer. There is the internal disadvantage of the cost of raw materials, and even if raw materials were on the spot in the north we would still have a limited market in the north to absorb the products and a great distance to send them to the greater markets in the south.
The honorable member for McPherson (Mr. Barnes) suggested that we should develop our export industries, and I agree that we should, but we still have problems in that regard. I mentioned a short time ago, when we were discussing the estimates of the Department of Shipping and Transport, that it is not very satisfactory to ask firms to become established in northern Australia where they can enjoy none of the advantages in external freights which they should enjoy because of the proximity to the northern markets, because the same freight rates exist from Melbourne to Port Moresby as from Townsville to Port Moresby. Until we get rid of problems of that sort it is difficult to know how we can expand industry in the north. I come out on the side of those who say that we should look at this problem very carefully and see whether we have to do what is necessary for political or strategic reasons. If it is for political reasons, that is totally different. Then we can start a crash programme of settling people by breaking the vicious circle referred to by the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly) and others We can do it more easily at national expense, but from an economic point of view we must be careful.
There are areas of north Queensland that can be developed rapidly. Those areas are attracting people now. They are developing quite rapidly but they could go ahead faster than they are. When honorable members refer to northern Australia they are not referring to the north-eastern coast of Queensland, where a reasonable amount of development has taken place. They are referring to the vast empty spaces across to Western Australia. I ask the honorable member for Barton (Mr. Reynolds) and the honorable member for Hughes (Mr. L. R. Johnston) what they would say to a person who entered their offices in the morning and said that, having heard their speeches in this place, be was prepared to invest £50,000 in the Northern Territory. That is the test. A person with so much money to invest an the north could look for minerals; he could open a tourist resort or could buy into a cattle station. But if all that person’s experience has been in the south, he would have to overcome many problems before succeeding in the north.
The north is developing but it is developing too slowly. We should be doing more. The Government has announced programmes in respect of roads for north Queensland, some for the Northern Territory and some for northern Western Australia, but that is not enough. How far should we go with our roads programme? Should we concentrate on roads? Are they the most important element in the development of the north? I wonder whether we should do more in this regard.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- The honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Murray) has directed attention to the serious gaps in the Government’s attitude to the development of Australia, particularly the development of northern Australia. The honorable member for Henty (Mr. Fox) took us back into history and referred to plans laid years ago by Stanley Melbourne Bruce - Viscount Bruce - for the development of northern Australia. Perhaps that is a story that would have been better left untold. The honorable member for Herbert made a plea for the development of the north. One of the outstanding needs of northern Queensland and northern Australia in general is an independent iron and steel works. If such an industry could be established somewhere on the northern Queensland coal-fields adjacent to a port, perhaps near Bowen, it would play a most important role in the development of Australia and in keeping Australia secure. There has been a lot of buck-passing and evading of responsibilities so far as this matter is concerned.
An outstanding feature of this matter has been the failure of the Commonwealth to get together with the States to iron out problems associated with the development of the north. This committee should place on record its disapproval of the Government’s failure to implement the findings of the Constitutional Review Committee. I do not intend to deal at length to-night with the matters raised by that committee, because they are more appropriate for discussion at another time, but development and decentralization are undoubtedly vital matters. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) has promised local government authorities that if the States agree he is willing to confer with them on the responsibilities, powers and duties of the Commonwealth, the States and local government authorities. Decentralization is a vital matter so far as rural areas of Australia are concerned. In a speech earlier to-day I endeavoured to deal with the vast problems associated with northern Australia. Now I am more particularly concerned to say something about decentralization of industry and population.
A real meaning must be given to decentralization and development, particularly national development. The Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) should come down from his ivory tower, where he presides as the liquidator of Australian industry, and should become a developer and defender of Australia. One of the first things that the Department of National Development should do is set up a bureau to work in close co-operation with local government and State authorities in an effort to establish new industries in country centres and see what can be done on a national basis to maintain existing industries there. The credit squeeze, taxation proposals and the flood of imports all have had a very serious impact on country industries, burdened as they are with freight charges and other commitments. In times of adversity industries in country centres, due to the factors I have mentioned, have difficulty in keeping their heads above water. The Government, through the Minister for National Development, should give tax incentives to industries being established and already established in country districts. Also, industries in country districts should receive financial assistance from the Commonwealth Development Bank. That bank should give the lead to the trading banks, which should be compelled to play their part in helping to establish industries in rural centres. I am well aware of the great help that some of the banks have given to country areas in the past, but I am also painfully aware of the problems that beset country industries in trying to obtain finance essential for their development.
One case that comes to my mind concerns a farmer in my electorate who sought finance in order to extend his property. He was told to go to Esanda Limited, the offshoot of the English Scottish and Australian Bank Limited. Later, when he wanted additional finance he was sent to a firm of solicitors. On each occasion he had to pay black-market rates of interest for the money that he required to develop his property. That is not a satisfactory state of affairs. That is why I say that financial assistance should be forthcoming to help persons engaged in rural industries. Taxation incentives also should be given to them.
Freight concessions should be made to them. Nobody can say that the Commonwealth is not interested in freights. A classic example of the Commonwealth’s interest in freights has been revealed by the Auditor-General, who points out that the Commonwealth Government last year subsidized coal being hauled from Leigh Creek to Port Augusta to the tune of £1,100,000. The freight charge should have been 33s. a ton, but the Commonwealth charged only lis. 6d. a ton. The Commonwealth in effect granted a subsidy of £1,100,000 for twelve months operations. If the Commonwealth can do that kind of thing with respect to an industry in South Australia, I submit that it can do likewise throughout the country in order to help industries. That is a reasonable proposition. I do not criticize the Government’s action in South Australia. It was reasonable to encourage the freighting of coal from Leigh Creek in order to help the industries of the south. That was essential and proper, but the principle should be carried further. Another way in which the Commonwealth could help is through the Postmaster-General’s Department by way of special telephone facilities for those engaged in industry in rural centres. One of the greatest burdens borne by those setting up industries in country areas is telephone costs. I suggest that the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) might confer with his colleague the Postmaster-General (Mr. Davidson) with a view to devising some means of reducing telephone charges to those who are setting up industry in rural centres, because the present charges for calls between rural centres (and capital cities constitute a most damaging cost to industry.
I remind the committee that section 96 of the Constitution empowers the Commonwealth Government to make money available for special purposes. One of the very special purposes for which it should be made available is to assist in decentralizing industry throughout the country. The building up of our existing industries is a matter of paramount importance, and every consideration should be given to the establishment of industries suited to the environment and the climate of particular areas. Most of the States have had reports on matters such as this. For instance, the New South Wales Division of Industrial Development sent experts out to the various towns, including my home town of Lithgow. They submitted an excellent report in which they stated that most of the towns visited had all the facilities and resources necessary for the decentralization of industry. But instead of new industries, we have had only reports. That is not good enough.
It is high time the Commonwealth and State Governments did something practical to attract industries to country areas, many of which have gas, water, sewerage, electricity, transport, churches, recreation facilities, schools - indeed everything necessary for the development of industry. All they require is some assistance from Commonwealth authorities. In Victoria, also, reports have been furnished on industrial progress in country centres. These are all most interesting documents relating to the problems of decentralization and development, but one of their most unhappy features is their disclosure of population trends. Recent statistics indicate that while the populations of such capital cities as Sydney and Melbourne have increased dramatically the country centres have been striving valiantly to hold their populations. In fact, in many country areas, population figures do not reveal the excess of births over deaths.
To indicate the population trends in New South Wales, I mention that whereas the population of Broken Hill was 31,351 in 1954, it had dropped to 31,268 by 1961. In Maitland, there, was a slight increase from 21,331 to 22,908 over that period, and in Goulburn the population rose from 19,183 to only 20,550. In Tamworth, the increase was from 13,641 to 14,846, and in Orange the population increased from 18,247 to 18,952. The increase at Lismore was from 17,372 to 17,799, whilst that at Bathurst was from 16,089 to 16,934. At Grafton, the population increased from 14,201 to 14,489, and at Lithgow it dropped from 15,128 to 14,222.
The Minister for National Development argues that there has been no crisis in the coal mining industry, but I remind him that in the coal-mining area of Lithgow the population dropped from 15,128 to 14,222, and that in the Cessnock area it declined by approximately 4,000. And New South Wales is not the only State in which there has been a fall in rural population. Somewhat similar declines have occurred ;n all rural areas throughout Australia, and that this should be so is a severe indictment of all governments for their failure to plan for the expansion and development of our rural centres.
In its fourth progress report, the Distribution of Population Committee of Victoria points out that the population in metropolitan areas moved from 62.2 per cent, of the total population of the State in 1954 to 63.3 per cent, in 1960, whereas in the non-metropolitan areas it dropped from 37.85 per cent, in 1954 to 36.67 per cent, in 1960. Honorable members will surely appreciate that this decline in population in rural areas is not confined to one State in the Commonwealth.
Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- The honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Luchetti) is greatly concerned about the decline in the population in the country areas of New South Wales. Of course, the effect of such a decline will be that some of my present electors will be included in his electorate after the next redistribution. It is generally admitted that with the mechanization of primary production more can be produced with fewer employees, and as Australia is becoming more and more industrialized, so more and more people are moving from primary production into the factories, the great steel works, and so on. This movement is most noticeable in New South Wales, and one effect of it could be that in the next redistribution of federal electorates New South Wales will lose one seat while Victoria, which has a strong Liberal-Country Party Government, will gain one seat. The honorable member for Macquarie is concerned about this, but the reason for it is not hard to find. It is that the Labour Government of New South Wales renders only lip service to the cause of decentralization. As I have said, the honorable member for Macquarie might find that his electorate will have to be extended as far in as Parramatta, and I shall be loth to lose those loyal constituents of mine, but it is probable that he will have to move from Lithgow.
During this debate, we have heard many excellent contributions about the development of north Australia and, from what we have heard, we are forced to the conclusion that it is now the wish of the Australian people that the northern part of Australia be developed. There are many reasons for this. Here I remind honorable members that to-night the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) made a most gratifying step forward in the development of Australia when he introduced the bill relating to the construction of a standard gauge railway to Kwinana in Western Australia. This is the fourth development of a standard gauge in Australia. First, the standard gauge was taken to Melbourne. Then we had the South
Australia - Victoria agreement and the development of the Mount Isa railway. Now we have the railway from Kalgoorlie to Kwinana. This is a very fine effort and all honorable members must have been satisfied when they heard the Prime Minister give the details in a way that only he can give them. This is a sign of the drive forward to develop Australia. We have shown that we can develop Australia. The Government has shown that £20,000,000 a year or more can be saved to be put into the Snowy Mountains scheme. We have shown that we are capable of carrying on our ordinary development whilst bringing new schemes into being.
There are a number of reasons why northern Australia must be developed. There is the obvious political reason. We as representatives of the people must give effect to the will of the people, and the people desire the north to be developed. The reasons are, of course, logical, cohesive and coherent. First, there is an emotional content in the desire to develop northern Australia. We in this Parliament, people who tour the area and those who live there say that this is probably the only area in the world where there are tracts of this size and opportunities such as those offering here. It is possible that if the first settlement of Australia had not occurred in January, in mid-summer, the north may have been settled first. But these Europeans came to this country in the hottest part of the year and chose the lush corner in the south-east. Development could have started on the Ord River or the Gulf of Carpentaria. But because of an accident of time, with the first settlers arriving in the middle of summer, development started in the south-east.
The second reason for the development of northern Australia is security. The honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) spoke about the absence of a threat from Asia and said that the Asian people do not want to migrate. That is true, but that is not the threat. To speak about Asia is only to beg the question. The threat to northern Australia comes from the mischief makers in the United Nations. It comes from those who are egging on the Indonesians to try to take over West New Guinea and from the people who have pointed the finger at our administration of New Guinea. The people in the Communist bloc are the people who are to be feared. If Australia does not show that it can give a good account of its stewardship in the next ten or twenty years - that means starting now - it will be too late. The old slogan, “ Use or lose “, comes into force and then our security will really be threatened. For security reasons alone, we must start to develop northern Australia.
The third reason can be found in the famous Christian report of 1959. In this report, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization gave details of a plan to develop agriculture in the north. It said that in agricultural wealth alone, £50,000,000 per annum could be added to our export income. Our rice and beef were already selling well in Asian markets. Our rice is the type of rice that is needed in Hong Kong and other parts and we have the type of meat that is wanted in the Philippines. These products are available on what the British call the short haul to Asia. They are in an area contiguous to Asia. We know, of course, that parts of Asia are under-developed and these are probably some of the richest parts of the world. But with Australian energy and skill, the north of Australia can be made to produce the goods that are needed, and already the wealth is being uncovered.
The fourth reason lies in the reaction of people in the Asian markets when they begin to get our products. From every angle, we must get on with the job of developing the north of Australia. It is not enough to make speeches in this place; the job must be done and it must be done by the Parliament. It has been explained over and over again, and it must be clear to honorable members on both sides of the chamber that, whatever government has been in power over the last 61 years, no great, powerful, vigorous, forward-moving progress has been made in the development of the Northern Territory. I am not speaking of action that lies within the power of the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) or the Commonwealth Government.
The honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Turner) analysed what might be done and examined the administrative changes that could be made. We have the sovereign States of Queensland and Western Australia, which are now moving forward. They have come to the Commonwealth, and the jobs are being done on the Ord and Fitzroy Rivers in the west and on the beef roads and Mount Isa railway in Queensland. Progress is being made in these States, but as the honorable member for Bradfield explained, the Northern Territory is neither a State nor a Crown colony. There are perhaps 20 chains of command in the Northern Territory. The job of development rests with this Parliament. It does not rest with the Government, because the Government is hamstrung by constitutional barriers and by other difficulties.
As the honorable member for Bradfield said, the Commonwealth Public Service Board is itself one of the difficulties. The board has been called upon to so re-form the Public Service in the Northern Territory that it will give us the services of the firstclass men already continuously there anr! will increase their strength. The first thing to be done is for a Public Service Board inspector to be appointed to the Northern Territory and to stay there with the Public Service in the Northern Territory - not to run the Northern Territory by remote control from Canberra. There are al! sorts of barriers, but the Parliament by this time next year should be able to show that it can do the job, that it can break through the barriers, and that it will permit the Minister for Territories to give a lead in the Northern Territory which will show that we are accepting our responsibilities.
The honorable member for Bradfield examined the question as to whether we should have a northern development authority, as suggested by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam), or whether we should improve the present Northern Territory administration. Of course, in the long run the Northern Territory will be a separate State. It is unthinkable that it should remain as it is fo” many more years. The Northern Territory should, as soon as possible, be supplied with people and with equipment to develop its resources. It then will become a great State. But before that happens we must decide whether we will accept the rather lazy idea of appointing a commission or whether we will improve the present administration. 1 suggest that, either way, the same end will be reached. The present administration can be improved. We can help the first-class men there to continue and we can encourage more first-class men to go there. The Public Service in the Northern Territory should be re-formed, so that the Northern Territory will have the same drive as the States of Western Australia and Queensland have.
Let us hope that in the first year of the next Parliament all honorable members will give expression to the will of the people. The honorable member for Henty (Mr. Fox) said to-night that 90 per cent, of the people would vote for the development of northern Australia, if they were asked. I think we would agree with that estimate - 90 per cent, would want northern Australia to develop for various reasons. Let us apply ourselives to the task next year, because time is running out. The people who are looking at Australia, at the East Indies, at West New Guinea and at Papua and New Guinea will see that we have the resources and the scientific know-how, that we have uncovered the mineral wealth, and that already we are sending £5,000,000 worth of minerals and almost £5,000,000 worth of beef from northern Australia. The provision of beef roads will probably double beef production in the Northern Territory. It is evident that the mineral deposits in the Northern Territory that have already been examined can provide an enormous income so that we can expect that the output of minerals will also be doubled. That would mean that £10,000,000 worth of minerals and £10,000,000 worth of beef alone could be produced. As beef production increases, those who are obtaining their income from beef can test their crops as a means of feeding cattle in the dry season when there is so little nutrition in the feed that is then available. Scientists are beginning to develop a tropical legume. These legumes could double or treble the output of beef in the north. Everywhere you look, the possibilities are enormous; and so this Parliament must take on the task and make a success of it within twelve months.
.- One of the pleasing features of this debate has been the number of honorable members on both sides of the chamber who have spoken enthusiastically in support of a policy of development for northern Australia, lt is very pleasing to me because I have been a member of this Parliament for a long while now and have heard many speeches on the lines of those that have been made to-night. But unfortunately the eyes of members of this Parliament have not been turned to northern Australia. Apparently, the people in other parts of Australia are beginning to realize that something must be done for the development of northern Australia. It is true that the Chifley Government, realizing after the Second World War that something must be done for the development of northern Australia, decided on investigations which demonstrated to the world that rice and other crops could be grown in the Northern Territory. It is true that the natural resources are still there. It is true also, as the honorable member for McPherson (Mr. Barnes) has said, that northern Queensland was developed following the discovery of mineral resources. As a matter of fact, I was born in a mining town in north Queensland and so also was the honorable member for St. George (Mr. Clay). Mount Isa is one of the greatest producers of copper and silverlead in the world. Gold and silver-lead are also being produced in the Northern Territory. Minerals exported from those mining fields are going to other countries and earning funds which are sorely needed.
It is all very well to make airy-fairy speeches about the potentialities of northern Australia. The people of northern Australia are fed-up to the back teeth with people who talk about the potentialities of the north and then return south and forget about northern Australia. As has been said by members of the Opposition, what we want in the north is not £1,000,000 a year for a road or some telephone lines but an expenditure of £50,000,000 a year. That is what we need if we are in earnest about the development of the north. If the Government really wants to do something to develop northern Australia, the first capital expenditure must come from this Parliament. Private investment will follow government investment. Roads must be constructed to give the people ingress and egress so that they can get their products out and transport their stores and other necessaries. It is all very well to talk about agricultural production. Fortunately for us the standard of living of the people to the north of us, particularly the Japanese, is rising. We have the agricultural resources. What we sorely need in the north is water. There are plans to invest £14,000,000 of Commonwealth money, in association with investment by the New South Wales and South Australian Governments, in a dam in the river Murray. That is very desirable and we are glad to see it done. But is it not about time that this Parliament interested itself in the development of northern Australia? Is it not time that we had another look at the report furnished by Dr. Bradfield?
I had an opportunity of talking with some officials of the United States Department of the Interior who were on loan to the Snowy Mountains Authority. One of them who is one of America’s greatest hydro authorities, said to me, “ What would I give to be let loose in the 100-inch rainfall area in the north of Queensland “. I am not an engineer, but I believe that the Bradfield scheme for the diversion of water to western Queensland could do something for the development of the agricultural potentialities of that area. Why has not the Bradfield scheme ever been investigated if we are concerned with the development of northern Australia? Why has not some indication been given to the people of northern Queensland that the Bradfield scheme has been examined? Reference has been made to the Burdekin dam. It is said that the cost of that project has trebled. Of course it has, because money has depreciated to that extent. The honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Murray) has advocated the development of coastal fattening of cattle. That is very desirable and it is something that could be investigated. I can remember that long ago Mr. Bryce Henry tried coastal fattening, but he did not have available to him the results of scientific investigations that have taken place particularly in the last sixteen years. In that time we have seen probably the greatest application of science to agriculture in the history of Australia. The growth of legumes and grasses has been investigated but Mr. Bryce
Henry, when he initiated the original investigation, did not have the advantage of the knowledge we have now.
I support fully the honorable member for Herbert, but I go a step further and say: Let us have a look at the Bradfield scheme in the light of our experience, particularly with what has happened in the Snowy Mountains. Let us look again at the Burdekin dam project about which so much was said in the 1949 election campaign. Let us have another look at the attempt to produce hydro-electric power. The water that had passed through such a scheme could be used for coastal fattening. I am glad to see the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) in the chamber. I know that he has before him proposals for the transport of cattle by water from Burketown on the Gulf of Carpentaria to the meatworks on the east coast. I support the efforts being made to provide a service for the shipment of cattle. A ship was transporting beasts from Cape York Peninsula, but it was wrecked and another vessel was subsequently used. Shipping can be used for the transport not only of fat cattle to meatworks but also of forward store cattle in conjunction with the fattening scheme for the coastal areas that has been suggested by the honorable member for Herbert.
I could say much more in general terms about the development of northern Australia, Mr. Temporary Chairman, but I should like to deal with a particular matter. The honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Luchetti) suggested the establishment of a steel works at Bowen. Mineral resources in the Bowen area are at present being investigated, and a major company has already tied up some of the iron ore leases. To the north of Mount Isa, just on the Queensland side of the Northern Territory boundary, deposits of iron ore, which, according to preliminary announcements, are among the greatest in the world, have been found at Constance Range. The company that discovered the deposits has only prospecting rights in the area so far. According to my latest information, it has not yet obtained a lease. However, I know that it is investigating the possibility of establishing a port on the Gulf of Carpentaria for the shipment of ore. Such a port would be closer to Bowen than Whyalla is to Newcastle. If it is economic to ship iron ore from Whyalla to Newcastle, it will be even cheaper to transport high-grade ore from Constance Range to Bowen, which is only 50 miles from the Collinsville coal deposits. A major steel industry could then be developed in the north of Australia.
These are matters that ought to be investigated by some body. We may call it a commission, a committee or whatever we like. We have seen the result of the north Australian geological and geophysical survey that was made some years ago. It led to the discovery of the Mary Kathleen uranium deposits, because the results of the survey inspired the finders of those deposits to prospect in the Mary Kathleen area. The body that made the geological and geophysical survey of northern Australia was composed of representatives of the Commonwealth and of the governments of Western Australia and Queensland, and it made a very valuable contribution to our knowledge of the mineral resources of northern Australia. A similar body could be constituted for the purpose of investigating the development of the north. I am not an expert in these matters, but I suggest that any such inquiry ought to be conducted by experts. I do not care whether the investigating body is a commission or a committee under the control of this Parliament or under the joint control of the Commonwealth and the parliaments of the two States concerned.
The honorable member for Macarthur (Mr. Jeff Bate) has said that 90 per cent, of the people of Australia want northern Australia to be developed. That part of the continent is at present as open as a church. It should be obvious to everybody that if we do not do something with the north somebody else will. We have demonstrated what can be done there in agriculture and we know the mineral wealth that it can produce. Teeming millions of people live to the north of us. We are at present selling wheat to China to help feed the enormous population of that country. Do honorable members really think that northern Australia can remain undeveloped and unpopulated? Do they think that this Parliament can continue to do nothing about the north when it could be producing food, as has been demonstrated? If the United Nations received an application for the settlement in northern Australia of nationals of some other country to grow food, what would be the position of this Parliament and every member that sits in it? Of necessity, Mr. Temporary Chairman, we must develop the north.
I join wholeheartedly with the honorable member for Macarthur who said that the next Parliament, in the first year of its existence, ought to do something about the north. His remarks are the first indication I have had that anybody in the ranks of the Government is interested in the development of the north. The honorable member is chairman of the Government Members Food and Agriculture Committee, the members of which have toured the north and acquired at least a slight knowledge of its potential. In the light of the present state of the world, especially with the presence immediately to our north of populations of many millions, which grow steadily larger, and the consequent demand for food, we would be well advised to develop northern Australia if we wish to retain it for Australians. We have to do something about developing our north, and we must spend the necessary money. It is of no use to sit idly by and make airyfairy speeches about the potential of the north. As an illustration of the interest of the present Government in northern Australia-
Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– Mr. Temporary Chairman, I wish to make a few observations about the functions of the Department of National Development and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, the estimates for which are at present before the committee. 1 have been a member of this Parliament for almost eleven years now, and throughout that time I have heard much the same sort of speeches as we have heard this evening about the need for the development of northern Australia. I think that the tempo has gradually increased over those years. Indeed, the tempo generally seems to me to increase as we get near an election. Somebody always seems to think that some political advantage is to be gained by suggesting that we develop the northern part of Australia.
– It is just that we have had the same government all the time.
– The best answer to that interjection by a Labour member is to be found in Queensland, where, for 30 years, we had Labour governments. We never heard much from them about the need for the development of northern Queensland, even during the time when there was a Labour government in the Commonwealth sphere. There is a very good reason why secondary industries were not established in Queensland - a fact about which we have heard much from Opposition members. 1 am not opposed to the establishment of secondary industries in Queensland. The reason why they were not established there on a much larger scale is that, under State Labour governments, before uniform taxation was introduced early in the Second World War, Queensland had higher rates of company tax than any other State had, because the Labour governments were trying to implement their policies of socialization and nationalization. They did not encourage secondary industry. A good illustration of what has been done by a government of different persuasion is to be found in South Australia, which, some years ago, was considered to be one of the poorest and least developed States. The contrast between the development there under a non-Labour government and the development in Queensland under Labour governments is striking, although, as the honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan) has said, Queensland has great potential. The present Queensland Government is making a valiant attempt to develop the State, but it is now reaping the harvest of the policy that was followed for 30 years by Labour governments.
– It is no harvest.
– The present Queensland Government is reaping the awful harvest and getting the blame for the results of Labour’s policy. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) recently stated publicly in Maryborough in
Queensland, that if only more secondary industries were encouraged by the CountryPartyLiberal Government of that State, a good deal of the seasonal unemployment that occurs at present could be avoided. I have just told the committee why secondary industries were not attracted to Queensland for so long. I do not intend to belabour the point further, Mr. Temporary Chairman.
I turn now to transport and communications, which are an essential feature of development. We must reduce transport costs. Transport is at present the greatest single factor in the cost structure in Australia. We all know that. Freight charges and transport costs generally constitute one of our major problems. It is necessary at the outset, of course, to provide means of communication with these areas that so many people consider need to be developed. I am all for their development. The more we can develop them, and the sooner, the better. The country will certainly benefit from their development.
Let me say a few words about the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. This an organization which, I believe, has done a wonderful job in Australia. I agree with the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) that the value of its work could not be estimated in pounds, shillings and pence. The results of the organization’s research work, and the new production techniques that it has introduced, have been of incalculable value, lt can be seen from the organization’s report that most of its research work has been carried out in the field of rural production. It is true that its activities cover very wide fields of industry, but its work has been mainly confined to research into primary industries. In fact it was originally established for this purpose.
The C.S.I.R.O. was set up just before the depression of the 1930’s. A small amount of money was provided for it and it was one of the few Government instrumentalities that did not suffer a reduction in available finances during the depression years. Let me say now that it was a jolly good thing that the organization was not made to suffer any such financial reduction. It has carried out its work so successfully over the years that its contribution to our economy, I repeat, cannot be calculated.
I mentioned a few minutes ago the necessity for further development and settlement of our rural areas. Let me say now that we should consider particularly the necessity to maintain the fertility of our soils in areas already under production. Reports of agricultural authorities show that soil fertility in many parts of our country has declined. The C.S.I.R.O is valiantly tackling the problem. It is trying to impress on those concerned the absolute necessity to maintain the soil fertility if production is to be increased or even maintained, and if costs are to be reduced. The organization faces many difficulties in gathering and disseminating information. One of its greatest difficulties, I believe, is brought about by the fact that people engaged in agricultural research work are given only paltry remuneration. Scientists in the agricultural field are more poorly paid than scientists in practically any other field.
As has been pointed out time and time again, the prosperity of this country depends on the condition of our rural industries. Yet we find that the scientists, research and field officers, who are responsible for trying to improve the position of our primary industries are more poorly paid than any other scientists. It is time we reviewed the position. I believe these men should be more highly paid than any other scientists. After all, we must feed our people and produce our rural commodities in the most economical fashion, and these are the men who can show us how to achieve these objects.
If honorable members read this report to which I have referred they will find brief references here and there to the necessity for carrying out some of the tasks I have mentioned to-night. Emphasis is laid on the maintenance of soil fertility. The tobacco growers have recently experienced difficulty in marketing their product, and this booklet sets out briefly some of the reasons for this difficulty. One of them is soil deficiency. It is pointed out that the soil has lacked some of the elements that are necessary for growing good quality tobacco. Soil deficiency has led to a reduction in the protein content of our wheat. It has had many other damaging effects.
There is only one way in which this problem can be overcome. We must give the people engaged in research adequate remuneration. This is the only way in which we can induce people to enter this field of science and to give primary producers the necessary education. The younger generation of farmers consists of men who are keen to gain the necessary knowledge. They are only too eager to carry out the experiments recommended and to adopt new techniques that are being made available. It is no use worrying about educating old fellows like myself, because we are too old to be taught anything. You can teach the younger ones, however. Give these young fellows encouragement and they will do the necessary work. You will then find that the cost difficulty in rural production will be overcome, to a greater or lesser degree. I again appeal to the Government to consider seriously the importance of providing adequate remuneration for agricultural scientists. If this is done, we will achieve much better results. We are, of course, getting excellent results even now, but the results, I believe, will be greatly improved if we give a better deal to the men who are doing the job.
.- The tone of speeches of many Government supporters has been one of hostility to the suggestions put forward by members of the Opposition. It has been admitted that as long ago as 1926 the Bruce Government made certain recommendations with regard to our northern areas, but despite the fact that 35 years have elapsed since the Bruce Government went out of office, we have little to show in the way of rural development in the north. It is true to say that if you do not agitate you stagnate, and I believe that had it not been for the agitation of members of this Parliament we would not have achieved even the minor development in the northern areas that we can see to-day. The honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan) has referred to water conservation. I made some remarks on this subject in my earlier speech to-night. What is applicable to the Ord River scheme at Bandicoot Bar in the Kimberley district of Western Australia is applicable to areas adjacent to the Katherine, Adelaide and Victoria Rivers and other rivers in the
Northern Territory, and also to certain rivers in Queensland.
A question that seems to concern some honorable members is that of finding markets for the products of the northern areas. When the granaries of this country were overflowing with wheat we found a market in China. Lessons that we have learned in this and other directions should surely have convinced us of the export potential in South-East Asia. In fact, I go so far as to say that we will need to explore markets in South-East Asian countries to the fullest extent, and we will find it desirable to encourage trade with those countries. Let them see that the great resources of this country will be used to meet their requirements and that we do not want to deny them the things that they need for their sustenance.
It is true to say too that the agricultural, pastoral and mineral resources of this country are unlimited, and that many of them are untapped. I agree with other honorable members that the answer to giving impetus to the development of these great potentialities lies in the provision of roads, railways and water resources. In spite of statements that have been made to the effect that we on this side are not sincere in our advocacy in this regard, I point out that every member on this side believes that if the north is provided with the facilities I have mentioned people will accept the challenge and go there and develop the area. If this Government will show some courage and organization in its planning it will have every person in the country behind it.
The market potential of India, South-East Asia and Asia generally is not going to decrease. I think it will increase, and we have a duty to see that we share in the increase. As other speakers have emphasized, the cost of freight is an important element in the final price of our goods. This was mentioned by the honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. Brimblecombe). I remind honorable members that the ports in the north of Australia are our nearest ports to Asia, and it is through them that we must develop our trade with Asia. I see a very grave need for the development of a Commonwealth overseas shipping line to carry our produce to the Asia markets.
We need such a line to compete with the privately-owned shipping monopolies and force down the unjust freights charged by them. We need such a shipping line so that we can put our products on the world’s markets at prices that are not inflated by freights to heights that price us out of these markets. I am sure that if we can do that it will be a step in the right direction.
The problems to which I have referred must be tackled if we are to have true national development. They certainly must be tackled if we are to meet the threat now posed by the possibility of Britain’s entry to the European Common Market. This Government has had the time to bring down a national development plan with some continuity to it, but has not done so. I believe that had such a plan been in operation we would not have the unemployment position that we have at present.
– In this debate most honorable members have devoted their remarks to the Department of National Development, and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization has escaped attention. I want to rectify that to some small extent, if I can, and devote a few minutes of my time to that research organization. I should like to introduce my remarks by quoting from a section of last year’s report by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, which states, on page 2 -
Despite the fact that the Commonwealth Government has each year provided a significant increase in the amount of money available to C.S.I.R.O. from Consolidated Revenue, it has not been possible because of inflation to increase the Organization’s activities in the same proportion. Thus, although between 1950 and 1960 the total C.S.I.R.O. budget increased from £2.7 million to £9.6 million, it has been possible in this time to increase the research staff only from 750 to 880.
In addition, it should be borne in mind that the funds of this organization have also been increased by the various moneys made available to research committees, in particular the Wool Research Committee, and therefore the actual funds available are more than the figures in the Estimates indicate. The report goes on to say -
The Executive believes that this increase has not been nearly great enough in terms of the needs of a developing country like Australia. The proportion of its national income which a country can afford to invest in research is a matter for debate, but evidence is available that the amount spent in Australia - both by governments and private sources - is, in proportion, considerably below that spent by a number of other Western countries.
There are two additional reasons why the funds available to the C.S.I.R.O. at present are not sufficient. Over the last ten years this organization has come to cover a much wider field than before. Much greater attention is being devoted to research stations at Katherine and in the Kimberleys, and a new research station is being established near Townsville, largely under the stimulus of ‘the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Murray). All this means that the organization is trying to cover a wider variety of problems that before. The need for research in the southern temperate parts of Australia is just as great as it is elsewhere, if for no other reason than increasing productivity and our denser animal population, which bring with them additional problems of disease and pasture control, demand greater research. This means that the appropriation required for the payment of research officers and so forth has very greatly increased. In addition, over the last two years our primary industries have not had the benefit of the prices that they were enjoying in the middle years of the last decade. A primary producer whose profits are reduced because of falling world prices tries to find in research the answers to his problems - answers which, in a more profitable time, he did not worry about. Under the present circumstances farmers want an answer to any and every problem that faces them, because they know that if they do not get a satisfactory answer the economic position of their own enterprises will not be improved.
The need for greater effort in research, perhaps particularly in the extension field, can be supported by estimates of the losses that occur in the beef, dairying and sheep industries. I have made an attempt to evaluate these losses as conservatively as 1 can, so I think that the figures I will give will be the minimum figures of such losses. I have made my estimates on the best information available to me from various sources. It has been estimated that in the Kimberleys an additional turn-off of 30,000 head of cattle a year could be achieved as a result of improved animal husbandry, better nutrition, improved fertility and a reduction of the losses of calves in the first few months after calving. It would not involve extensive irrigation projects. This increase would be worth another £1,000,000 in returns. It is estimated also that in the Northern Territory improved animal husbandry would enable an additional 150,000 cattle to be turned off. In tropical Queensland an additional 350,000 head could be turned off each year as a result of improved animal husbandry methods. If these losses were avoided and the extra turn off took place at about £30 or £35 per head, it would mean that an extra £17,000,000 a year would be available to the cattle producers in these regions. Officers in Queensland have estimated that in non-tropical Queensland an additional 400,000 head could be turned off each year, at a value of probably £14,000,000 or £18,000,000 a year. Therefore, the loss to the beef industry because of poor animal husbandry, and in some instances because of lack of research knowledge, result in an annual loss, on a conservative estimate, of about £34,000,000 a year. These are largely avoidable losses, and the Government is doing much in some directions to overcome them. The beef roads announced in recent months will play a considerable part in this regard. At the same time a great deal remains to be done in research on internal and external parasites and on fertility.
An example of the improvement that could be gained can be found in the fact that a 1 per cent, increase in the branding rate in the tropical parts of Australia would result in an extra 25,000 calves a year, which would be worth probably £1,000,000 when they came to be slaughtered. In the sheep industry it is estimated that the blowfly costs £6,000,000 a year, that control of other external parasites costs £3,500,000, and that internal parasites cost about £6,000,000 a year. The C.S.I.R.O. Rural Research volume No. 35 contains a paragraph which reads -
Perhaps as many as 10,000,000 lambs die in Australia each year before they are a few days old. This represents an annual loss of roughly 20 per cent, in the lamb crop before it reaches marking age. To it must be added, possibly, a further 10 per cent, loss suffered before the lambs reach productivity.
If you valued those lambs at £2 per head, which again at present values is reasonably conservative, and if you take no account of wool production over a life of four or five years, the loss reaches the figure of £30,000,000 a year, which is a pretty hefty loss. It is also estimated that an additional £3,000,000 loss results from the death of 1,000,000 ewes each year as the result of inadequate nutrition. In another debate I pointed out that an increase of only 2 per cent, in the national average for lambing would produce an additional 1,000,000 lambs which, at £2 a head, would equal £2,000,000. An increased cut of wool of 1 lb. a head would increase the clip by 3.3 per cent., which would be worth £10,000,000 at present prices. There are good reasons to think that this is a conservative estimate if full use of the present scientific knowledge was made by primary producers. It has been shown quite clearly that even in the relatively prosperous and high productivity areas of Australia, wool production in the flush spring period of the year is about four or five times what it is in the worst periods of late summer or autumn. The total losses I have mentioned for the sheep industry amount to just under £60,000,000, which I believe is a pretty alarming total when a considerable proportion of the farmers in this industry are facing cost problems at the present time.
These losses in the beef industry, the dairy industry and the sheep industry demand powerful support for increased research and increased extension work. Increased research is certainly not the whole answer to the problem; increased and more efficient extension services throughout Australia are a part, and possibly the most important part, of it. In this instance it might be possible to draw a distinction between the north of Australia and the more temperate regions. I think there are still research problems in the north of Australia and increased extension work might not be able to achieve very great changes there until additional research knowledge is available. But, in the southern parts of Australia, there is a great fund of knowledge, much of which is unused because extension services, for various reasons, are perhaps not as good as they could be.
The C.S.I.R.O. is well aware of this extension problem and the need for adequate liaison between the research officers and the extension officers. For this reason, some years ago, it created an agricultural liaison section, the specific purpose of which was to assist the State departments in the spreading of the available knowledge and in the use of the research knowledge which the scientists in C.S.I.R.O. made available. Among other fields of activity, this section produces various booklets and other literature. Among them is one called “ Rural Research “, which is available to any interested person. Many of these publications are sent out each month. There are also liaison notes which are written specifically for the extension officers in the various States and are exclusively for their use. These liaison notes are given in bulk to the various State Departments of Agriculture, which distribute them to their own officers. These are publications designed to keep farmers and extension officers fully up to date with the latest results of research from C.S.I.R.O.
In addition, this section of C.S.I.R.O. from time to time organizes various technical conferences such as the rabbit symposium of October, 1960, which was held in Sydney. Further, an extension conference is being organized by this section at the present time, the purpose being to have a full discussion between all the various State Departments of Agriculture and C.S.I.R.O. on extension methods. It is not always realized that extension methods in one or two States differ considerably from those in the other States, and that still other methods are used in countries like the United States of America. A conference at which the experience and knowledge of each individual State can be spread and discussed among the other States will be of the greatest advantage. Among the reasons for this extension conference to be held next year are these: An increasing consciousness of the problem basic to extension - the varying time taken to adopt different research results; recognition of the need to exchange experience on interstate and interorganizational bases, and recognition of the need to develop further the profession of extension, to define qualities needed in extension workers and to train extension workers accordingly. It is worth noting that the request for this conference and many of the ideas for it have come from the States themselves. It is not something that
C.S.I.R.O. is trying to foist on to the States, but something that State officers are looking forward to eagerly.
The need for this kind of work is surely evident to any one who reads the annual reports of C.S.I.R.O., because the latest report states that there were 400 papers tabled by various research officers last year. It would be impossible for the average extension officer to keep up with this kind of performance without the greatest possible assistance. Despite the efforts being made by the organization in this field I doubt whether what is being done is adequate if the greatest possible use of Australia’s known resources and abilities is going to be made in the shortest possible time, and it is important in the national interest that this should be done.
Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- It is very interesting to hear Government supporters talk and beat their breasts about national development, particularly in relation to the Northern Territory. The hard fact is that the Government they represent and the nationalist aspirations which they purvey as their policy prevent the development of the country - our type of country, Australia itself - because they believe in letting free enterprise have a free rein. There is no. possible chance, outside of the cattle industry, of doing anything about the Northern Territory unless this Government itself comes in with many millions of pounds. So we have the dream-time story about the Northern Territory. The honorable member for Macarthur (Mr. Jeff Bate) brings in the United Nations and all the people who are frustrating his new dream. He has been here a good while but it is only in recent years that I have heard him bother to make any comments about the Northern Territory. That is probably because the dairying industry at present is in the discard.
Let us look at the Government’s record in national development. The problem of developing the Northern Territory is a big one. I leave it to the experts. I have the deepest sympathy for the aspirations of territorians. I join with them in expressing my disgust at the attitude of Government supporters, who have every opportunity to do something but who always do nothing. I want to bring the committee closer home to my own State - New South Wales. I propose to refer not to national development but to the destruction of a great national asset. This is a subject about which we on this side of the chamber have thundered year after year. I refer to the destruction of the gas-coal industry of this country. Never mind about making grass grow in the Northern Territory where only gibbers existed before. This Government has condoned the complete and utter destruction of our great coal resources. That is something for which the Government must answer. It has been guilty of arrogance and an utter incapacity to realize the things that we of the Labour Party have been attempting to drive home.
The Labour Party has a coal committee which is presided over by the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Luchetti), who has for his capital the city of Lithgow. He has on that committee members almost exclusively from coal-mining areas. Coalminers do not vote for Liberals. That would make a good title for a comic opera. As an Australian I am deeply interested in matters relating to national development. This is what prompts me to rise in my place to-night and direct attention to the nonsensical protestations of the Government with regard to national development. Before you attempt to develop anything, first look at what you have done to the coal industry and do something to save it. Why has such wastage taken place in our coal resources? Only a completely nationalistic and capitalistic government could have wreaked such havoc as has happened on the northern coal-fields and to a lesser extent on the western coal-fields. Over the years the coal mines have been the happy hunting grounds of exploiters. Wars have been waged between the coal-owners and the unions striving for the right to work. The coal-owners have torn great profits from the bowels of the earth. Australia has been the victim of this struggle. Methods of extraction of coal have been wrong. The exploitation that has taken place on the coal-fields has been wrong. The fires in the mines have been wrong. As a result one of our most imperishable assets - we have not yet found oil in this country - has fallen victim to marauding capitalism.
Government supporters talk about national development. They stand indicted before the Australian community for what has happened to our coal mines. Every miner, from Rowley James, whose son now sits in this place, to the honorable member for Macquarie and other honorable members representing coal-mining areas, has told us the sordid story of the destruction of our great asset. The honorable member for Flinders (Mr. Lindsay) is interjecting. The old gentleman with the English education may be a good cavalry man, but he is a low-grade coal-miner and should keep quiet. There has been a tremendous amount of old-fashioned exploitation of our coal mines. The Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) could not care less about the coal industry. The activities of the vigorous Labour Party coal committee are ignored. The honorable members for Hunter (Mr. James), Newcastle (Mr. Jones), Shortland (Mr. Griffiths) and Macquarie all have belted this subject.
What is the position on the coal-fields? Since 1952 no fewer than 9,000 men have lost their jobs on the coal-fields. Sixteen mines have been closed down on the northern coal-fields. Ghost towns have been created. Take the position of Cessnock, which depended on mines such as Bellbird. Bellbird is spasmodic. It opens and shuts. At present it is shut. The 4,000 residents of Cessnock must travel 70 miles each day in order to work. The Minister for National Development talks glibly about our national resources. We should not bother looking for new national resources. We should conserve and develop the ones that we have. The affairs of the old-time coal-owners - the John Browns and the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited - are part of the horrible history of the past. If the Government has any faith in the future of Australia it should do something to conserve this valuable asset. Our coal mines are still valuable, despite the fact that a lot of our coal is burning underground, many of our mines have collapsed, many have been flooded and a lot of our coal has otherwise been irretrievably lost.
I know of no greater act of national treachery than the way in which the coalowners have handled our national asset.
The coal does not belong to the coal barons; it belongs to the Australian people. The coal-owners merely had the right to exploit the coal. They renegued on thentrust. They exploited the mines to the extent that the entire pattern of living on the coal-fields of the north has changed. Twenty years ago those coal-fields were a prosperous community whose standards were equal to the best in the world; to-day they are studded with ghost towns. The people who live there must travel 50, 60 or 70 miles to work in Newcastle. Small independent towns have lost their character. Take the case of Paxton, a little town 10 miles west of Cessnock. When the Stanford Main No. 2 mine was operating Paxton was a thriving community. It was a microcosm of how miners lived. They were ordinary, staunch people. They were great industrialists. They supported independence. All that has gone with the wind. That little town will die because of the Government’s attitude to this industry.
The trouble with the industry is that it is, as it has been loosely called by writers in the daily newspapers, a turbulent industry. The industry is turbulent because the bosses are bad. That is invariably the case in matters of this kind. It was the fashion to deride and denigrate the coal-miner. That paved the way for the big boys to move in, grab our national asset and tear the wealth from the bowels of the earth. We have lost a national asset that is irreplaceable. That is a tremendous tragedy when we remember that as yet oil has not been discovered in this country. What has happened to the coal-mines? The deputations of the miners that come to this place are unable to see the Minister. The reports submitted by the Labour Party coal committee are not read by the Minister, who has some pernickety attitude towards the committee because its members belong to the Labour Party. The Minister will not table our committee’s reports so that they may be read by all honorable members. Our coal-mines, which we dare not lose if we are to remain self-sufficient so far as coal is concerned, are being destroyed.
When delegations representing the coal unions come to Parliament House their members are divided into groupers, Labourites, Commos and indeterminate political bellwethers. When a deputation from the Hunter River Valley community, of which Dr. Evatt was a member - that is not in any sense a Communist organization; it has many valiant people on it concerned with the preservation of the Hunter Valley and the coal industry - came to Sydney it asked to see the Minister for National Development. Its members wanted to put before the Minister issues of great national importance. But what did the Minister turn out to be? He was the Minister for national disaster. He cleared out; he would not see the deputation. He told his secretary to tell the members of the deputation that he was busy in Cabinet. There was no Cabinet meeting in Sydney at that time. That was an alibi and a pretty bad one. So, they came to see the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward); they came to see me; and they came to see another man who happened to be in town at the time, the honorable member for Hunter. Their story was a simple one. They were concerned with national development. They wanted to do something to conserve the assets of the Hunter Valley. They wanted to keep going this great coal seam which runs from up near Muswellbrook down to the south coast of New South Wales. This great gas-coal deposit is one of the finest in the world. They wanted to see that the valley of the Hunter River and ancillary areas were developed, that the ghost towns were resuscitated and that light industry was established in the towns during the period of turnover.
They were aware that one of the problems was that residual oil had replaced coal; but they wanted to know why, if the Russians, the West Germans and the Poles can have them, we have not technological schemes for extracting oil from coal and the preservation of our gas-coal deposits. However, nobody is prepared to listen to them. The Government is prepared to give them away. The Minister for National Development is not prepared to see them because he has some foolish, citified idea that they are a turbulent lot of people. They do not vote for him or his party, so he is not interested in them. This is indeed a national disaster and one of the points that brought me to my feet. AH of us on this side of the chamber have been to Cessnock, a city of 4,000 people, at one time or another. We have all been to various coalmines and down the mines. We have had a look at these villages. We have had a look at the Bellbird Mine. All of them are now in complete disrepair. They are closed down and finished with entirely.
I say to the committee: When it is discussing national development, should it not give more time than the 15 minutes at my disposal to the disaster that has come upon us in respect of our coal deposits? We talk about the bauxite that we may get at Weipa and the minerals that we will take out of the Northern Territory. In some cases they are an actuality; in others they are in prospect. Here we have the best coal in the southern hemisphere. We ought to be restoring our coal-mines. I remember seeing, as a boy, pictures of the sailing ships that went to South America with our coal. We have resuscitated our coal exports to a degree by shipments to Japan and elsewhere; but they are only things of the moment. If production is not increased and if men are lost from the industry because of automation, there must be another answer. The men have been replaced. They have gone elsewhere. They have found work in other industries. If we accept a proportion of that as part of the scientific advancement of this age, surely we are not going to lose our essential coal deposits because there is a better way of winning coal and so many men have been lost from the industry.
We believe, as the men in the industry believe, that there should be a duty on residual oil. The Government should give our own natural coal deposits a chance to play a part in our great national development. Otherwise, all this talk about the Northern Territory, the great boomerang, diverting water into the desert and the desert blossoming like the rose is so much poppycock. We have before us something real and vital which, in the past, has been allowed to be destroyed by predatory and marauding capitalism. Now, when a new technique called automation comes along, we have not the wit or imagination to conserve these great coal deposits for the future. Who knows that with the next invention, the next turn of a screw a new use will not be discovered for our coal deposits–
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– Mr. Chairman–
Motion (by Mr. Adermann) proposed -
That the question be now put.
– I raise a point of order, Mr. Chairman. My name was on the list as the last speaker. I will accept the decision of the Minister, but I should like to record my protest.
– Order! No point of order may be raised. The question is, “ That the question be now put “.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Proposed votes agreed to.
The following bills were returned from the Senate without amendment -
Cattle Slaughter Levy Collection Bill 1961.
Cattle Slaughter Levy (Suspension) Bill 1961.
Cattle and Beef Research Bill 1961.
House adjourned at 11.6 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
s asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Superannuation Board may cancel or suspend an invalidity pension.
s asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
son asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Following are the numbers of migrant residents in each hostel as at 16th September, 1961: -
Weekly rates for workers. - Adult male, £4 17s. 6d.; adult female, £4 6s.; juniors (under 21 years) - (i) where the weekly nominal wage does not exceed £2, 15s. less than the nominal wage; (if) where the weekly nominal wage exceeds £2, £1 5s. plus ls. per week for every 2s. by which the nominal wage exceeds £2 until the adult worker’s tariff is reached.
Weekly rates for Dependants. - Adult male or female, £3 3 s.; juniors, aged sixteen and under 21 years, £1 17s. 6d.; children, aged eleven and under sixteen years, £111s. 6d.; aged five and under eleven years, £1 5s.; aged one and under five years, £1; aged under one year, 10s.
Provision is made for the concessional tariff charges, to the extent that the total charge for dependants will not exceed the amount of £3 15s. per week plus 2s. for every 5s. by which the nominal wage of the breadwinner exceeds £9 per week, provided that the breadwinner will have left out of his nominal weekly wage, after paying for board and lodgings for himself and his dependants, a minimum amount calculated as follows: -
For this purpose “ nominal wage “ means the normal basic wage plus any authorized margin or loading and any amount in excess of the award rate regularly paid by the employer but excluding overtime, bonus or incentive payments, special allowances and penalty rates for working different shifts. Child endowment payments are excluded for tariff calculation purposes.
n asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development, upon notice -
– The Minister for National Development has supplied the following answer: -
In 1920 the Commonwealth offered a rewardof £10,000 for the discovery of petroleum in commercial quantities in Australia. The offer was increased to £50,000 later the same year and was withdrawn in 1925. However, no reward was ever made, and no other offer of a reward for the discovery of minerals other than uranium was made by the Commonwealth. However, at one stage in its operations the Australian Aluminium Production Commission did reward prospectors who brought deposits of bauxite to its notice. In view of the sale of the Bell Bay undertaking to Aluminium Production Corporation Limited full information about rewards made by the Commission is not now readily available to the Government.
n asked the Minister for Territories, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
s asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice -
Is he able to state what profits have been made by the whaling station which was previously operated by the Commonwealth during each year since its disposal by the Government?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
The Nor’ West Whaling Company Limited which purchased the assets of the Australian Whaling Commission in May, 1956, combined all its operations at Carnarvon and closed its station at Point Cloates. The company’s annual reports give the figures for the financial year ending 31st March and show the results obtained from whaling operations in the preceding calendar year. The net profit shown after provision for taxation had been made was- 1957 - £274,266 profit, 1958- £261,455 profit, 1959- £128,674 profit, and 1960- £9,722 loss. Annual meetings of the company are held in late September or October and the annual report for year ended March, 1961, has not yet been received.
s asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - 1 and 2. Statistics of the tax paid in Australia by overseas investors have not been compiled in relation to the income derived by residents of the countries mentioned by the honorable member. I may add that it is not to be assumed that all of the income on which Australian tax has been paid by non-residents would have been derived had double tax agreements not been entered into. The agreements have facilitated the investment of capital in Australia and tax has been paid on the income arising from those investments even though the income has been re-invested in Australia. In consequence, there may well have been an increase in the amount of tax collected on income derived in Australia by residents of those countries with which Australia has concluded taxation agreements.
d asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
Upon what data, and in accordance with what formula, does the Reserve Bank of Australia, in administering the Australian note issue, determine the volume of notes to be put into circulation to meet the nation’s requirements?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
As indicated in the reply given in the House on 11th October, 1960, to a similar question by the honorable member, the volume of Australian notes in circulation is determined solely in accordance with the fluctuating demand of the public for notes for its transactions and liquidity requirements. Should the public demand for notes exceed the amount that the banks can supply from their current holdings, it is necessary for the banks to obtain the additional notes required from the Reserve Bank of Australia by drawing on their accounts with that institution. If, in turn, the Reserve Bank is not holding sufficient notes to meet the banks’ needs, additional notes are obtained by it from its Note Issue Department which receives in exchange securities of equivalent value. It is at this stage that an appropriate increase in the note circulation occurs. A decrease in note circulation takes place in reverse circumstances.
Book on Australian Defence.
d asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
d asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
d asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable members questions are as follows: -
Production costs of advertising material, including artwork, typesetting, engravings, matrices, stereos, radio recordings, television material and film, cannot be readily dissected under the headings requested but for these years totalled -
d asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - 1, 2 and 3. I am advised by the Commonwealth Statistician that the annual value of rural production in Australia is estimated by the Statistician both in terms of current prices and in terms of the prices of a base year, that is, in constant prices. This is possible because practically all of these primary products are of homogeneous kinds and therefore reliable average prices are available for them each year. Research is continuing into means of estimating the value of other parts of total national production at constant prices. But direct estimates of these values cannot be made in constant prices and indirect estimates are of doubtful reliability. It is, however, hoped to publish in due course some qualified estimates that will give assistance along the lines envisaged in part three of the question.
d asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
d asked the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
d asked the Minister for Territories, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
d asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development, upon notice -
– The Minister for National Development has supplied the following answers: -
d asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - 1. (a) and (b) and (2). Rates of daily travelling and other allowances paid to all members of both Houses are summarized on pages 50 and 51 of the Report of the Committee of Inquiry into the Salaries and Allowances of Members of the Commonwealth Parliament. Additionally, members of certain Select and Joint Committees receive travelling allowance at the rate of £4 per day when attending meetings in Canberra and £4 4s. per day when attending meetings elsewhere. These allowances are, of course, paid to Government and Opposition members alike.
Total travelling allowances paid to members of statutory and joint committees were -
d asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
d asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable members questions are as follows: -
d asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - 1-7. Miss Dowd was at no time dismissed from her employment at the Weapons Research Establishment in South Australia. In fact, she resigned of her own free will on 29th April, 1952. During the first half of 1950, while Miss Dowd’s security status was being investigated prior to her receiving training in the handling of a secret type of equipment, she was placed in a position in the department that did not involve access to secret information. Shortly after his appointment as Director-General of Security on 17th July, 1950, Brigadier Spry decided that there was no reason for withholding a security clearance to Miss Dowd, and the department concerned was informed that there was no security objection to her employment in any capacity. So far as the Australian Security Intelligence Organization was concerned, the matter finished at that point. No action was thereafter taken by the Australian Security Intelligence Organization in relation to Miss Dowd, directly or indirectly.
d asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows: -
The discussions conducted by the Committee of the Commonwealth Literary Fund, of which the Leader of the Opposition and the Minister for Social Services are also members, and the nature of the advice given to it by its Advisory Board, have traditionally been regarded as confidential. I do not propose to break this tradition.
m asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
For how long and with what success has the Statistician been working on his proposed quarterly estimate of unemployment in the metropolitan area of each State?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
I am informed that the Statistician has been exploring methods of making intercensal estimates of the work force, including unemployed, for some years past and is currently testing sampling methods. Success in the endeavour to provide periodic estimates of unemployment at short intervals by these means will probably depend largely upon the feasibility of obtaining bench marks every few years by census or quasi-census of work force.
m asked the Attorney-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
m asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
s asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
What sums have been invested by the private trading banks in each of the last six CommonwealthState loans?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
As mentioned in answers to questions on 11th March and 8th April, 1959, it has not been the policy of this Government, or of preceding governments, to release details of subscriptions to Commonwealth loans unless publicity is specifically requested by the subscribers concerned. When subscriptions by trading banks or other major groups of subscribers have been of particular interest in relation to total subscriptions made to a loan, it has been the practice in recent years for some reference to be made to such subscriptions in the Treasurer’s usual announcement on the result of the loan.
t. - On 30th August, the honorable member for Banks (Mr. Costa) asked a question without notice relating to the granting of an authority to conduct banking business to a savings bank to be established by the English Scottish and Australian Bank Limited. The honorable member suggested that such authorities should be granted only on condition that the profits made by the banks concerned be retained in Australia. I now furnish the following reply: -
In pursuance of the Banking Act 1959, His Excellency the Governor-General, on 9th September, 1961, granted the E.S. & A. Savings Bank Limited an authority to carry on savings bank business in Australia. As in the case of the Commonwealth Savings Bank of Australia and of the three savings banks established by private trading banks in 1956, the new savings bank will be subject to the provisions of the Banking Act 1959 relevant to savings banks and to the provisions of the Banking (Savings Banks) Regulations. These regulations prescribe detailed investment conditions for savings banks and certain other conditions governing their activities. No conditions relating to the disposal of their profits have been imposed on any of the private savings banks authorised to conduct business in Australia.
To impose conditions that would prevent the remittance of earnings to overseas shareholders as suggested by the honorable member, would be highly inequitable and would be contrary to the Government’s consistent policy of permitting the unrestricted transfer of current income accruing to overseas residents.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 10 October 1961, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1961/19611010_reps_23_hor33/>.