23rd Parliament · 3rd Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. John McLeay) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– Will the Prime Minister submit a motion to this House before it goes into recess on Thursday next expressing on behalf of all honorable members - and I hope, too, of the Australian people - our great concern at the action of the Russian Government in exploding megaton bombs, whether of 30 or 50 megaton strength, because such explosions can, as they certainly are expected to, damage human health and create fear and suspicion among nations, as well as being a possible cause of war? If the Prime Minister will submit such a motion - which I hope the House will carry - will he strongly urge the Soviet leaders to heed world opinion and desist from these explosions?
– The resumption by the Soviet Union of testing of nuclear weapons is a matter on which I spoke very plainly in this House immediately after the tests were resumed. I had thought at that time that what I had to say represented the views of members of this Parliament. I confess to a little surprise that I should have to read in the newspapers this morning that the Leader of the Opposition thinks that a formal motion should be put down in this House. Really, I should have expected that if he felt that the views which I had expressed quite clearly should be reinforced by the vote of the House he would have spoken to me about it instead of allowing me to understand that this was some kind of demonstration outside the House.
No one in this Parliament, I hope, has the slightest doubt that this last explosion, coming on top of the twenty or more which have preceded it, is designed by the Soviet Union to terrorize the people of the nonCommunist world. That is the Soviet Union’s clear design, and whether the testing is done in a fashion which injures or may injure the health of many thousands of people is apparently of no consideration to it. But if there is any doubt about the attitude of honorable members of this
House - I had thought there was none - in regard to the plain statements which I made on this matter, I shall consider the question of whether I may perhaps set down a motion upon which all honorable members can vote.
– I address a question to the Postmaster-General. As it is stated that church organization work for missions in New Guinea and northern Australia is being hampered by what is described as the exorbitant rate of postage, will he make investigations with a view to granting some concession in postal rates to church organizations desiring to send parcels of clothing, medical supplies, books, &c, to missions in those areas?
– For a start, I am afraid I cannot accept the statement in the honorable member’s question that the rates being charged are exorbitant.
– That is not my suggestion.
– I am not suggesting that the honorable member has said that the rates are exorbitant, but his question referred to a statement by others that the rates are exorbitant. I wish to point out that postal rates in Australia are determined not only on local conditions, but also with some attention to rates charged generally throughout the world under the Universal Postal Union conditions. The point that the honorable member for Mallee has raised is one to which I have given quite a lot of consideration over a period. The position is that some charitable organizations - church organizations and the like - which are doing very good work, have applied from time to time for some reduction in postal rates. I regret to say that such organizations cannot be given treatment which differs from that given to other equally important bodies that are doing a service to the community. It is extremely difficult indeed to determine the point at which a concession should end and to discriminate between one type of social service and another. Therefore, due to those considerations, I regret that I have not been able to agree to the proposal which the honorable member for Mallee has mentioned.
– 1 address a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation. J preface my question by saying that 1 have received information that the Premier of New South Wales is now ready to consent to the waiving of royalties on sand drawn from Botany Bay and used in the construction of the proposed extension to the short runway at Kingsford-Smith airport. The Premiers consent, I understand, is conditional on the Commonwealth agreeing to share the cost of a hydrographic survey in order to pre-determine wave behaviour in Botany Bay when 4.000.000 tons of sand have been removed and the runway is finished. Has the Minister agreed to the proposal, and can he inform me when work on the extension is likely to commence?
– I will convey the honorable member’s question to my colleague in another place, and see that he gets an adequate reply.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Customs and Excise. Is he aware of the real concern of avicultural societies in this country over the complete ban on the export of birds? Whilst I am a keen supporter of the preservation of Australia’s native fauna. 1 ask whether it would be possible 10 differentiate between native birds and aviary-bred birds and to permit the latter to be exported? I also ask the honorable gentleman whether any State government has protested against the complete ban?
– I will discuss this matter with my colleague the Minister for Customs and Excise and obtain an authoritative answer to the honorable member’s question, f have not heard of any objection to this ban on the export of birds, and 1 was under the impression that it had mct with widespread approval throughout Australia. In particular, the ban has helped the Slates to deal with the problem of birds being trapped in one State, from which their export is prohibited, taken across the border and exported from another State. As I said, I believe that the ban has met with the general approval of people interested in the preservation of birds throughout Australia.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Shipping and Transport been directed to the crises that have arisen at Andamooka and Coober Pedy as a result of acute water shortages? Will the Minister confer with the Commonwealth Railways Commissioner in an endeavour to increase the supplies of water made available to residents of these two places? ] am appreciative of the services being rendered by the Commonwealth Railways and the Slate authorities in this matter, but in view of the gravity of the situation 1 ask the Minister to treat my request as one of extreme urgency.
– f have no personal knowledge of arrangements for the Commonwealth Railways to carry water to Coober Pedy or Andamooka, although I understand that water is conveyed by the Commonwealth Railways to Kingoonya for the use of residents there. L appreciate the urgency of this matter. We all know from newspaper reports of the extreme drought conditions that are being suffered in those areas. The honorable member might bc well advised to make an urgent request to the Commonwealth Railways Commissioner with a view to increasing the quantities of water carried for these centres. T shall also get in touch with the Commonwealth Railways authorities, so that no time will bc lost.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Primary Industry. The Minister is well aware of the importance to Australia’s primary industries of a continuity of supply of superphosphate, ls the present supply of rock inexhaustible? If not, what action is being taken to uncover new fields, so that a continuity of supply of this product, which is vital to primary production, may be assured?
– I can tell the honorable member that the Commonwealth Government, the United Kingdom Government and the New Zealand Government have engaged in a joint venture to exploit rock phosphate deposits through the agency of the British Phosphate Commission. The deposits on Nauru Island, Ocean Island and Christmas Island are being worked under this arrangement. Actually, the United Kingdom Government is not using the proportion of phosphate rock to which it is entitled, so that Australia is benefiting thereby. We are really getting about two-thirds of the rock available. It has been estimated that the deposits on Nauru will last for 40 years, and that those on the other two islands will possibly last for longer than that. Perhaps I will not have to worry about it when those deposits run out, but I can assure the honorable member that the Government is looking farther afield at the present time to see whether other sources of supply are available.
– My question is directed to the Minister .for Defence. Have plans been made and funds set aside to provide houses for married servicemen who have been stationed at Darwin in the course of a build-up of the services at that centre? I ask this question because in the past married servicemen have had to pay inflated rents for houses outside their bases in order to accommodate their families, and it is felt that with a further build-up of the services severe financial hardship will result from increased competition for houses. This could result in the forcing up of rents for all sections of the community.
– It would be impossible for me to keep in my mind the details of capital works programmes for the three service departments. Some provision has been made in this direction in the programmes for the current financial year. I will get the information and let the honorable member have it.
– Has the Prime Minister been informed of serious charges made by Mr. D. M. Shand, chairman of East-West Airlines Limited, involving the Minister for Civil Aviation? Is it a fact tha’. Mr. Shand has claimed that the Minister has brought pressure to bear on his company to sell out to Ansett-A.N.A.? Has the Minister indicated, in a recent statement, that the Commonwealth will consider withdi awing its subsidy to East- West Airlines Limited? Has Mr. Shand said that he will make certain disclosures if the Minister fails to admit the truth of the charges? In view of grave public concern about this matter, and as the Parliament is about to go into recess for more than three months, will the right honorable gentleman arrange for a royal commission to be appointed as the only possible way of having these charges thoroughly investigated?
– The answer to the last bit of that question is, “ I will not “. I have read about this matter in the newspapers, as no doubt the honorable gentleman has.
– The right honorable gentleman seems to be an avid reader.
– No, not avid - selective. I have the great advantage of knowing my colleague, the Minister for Civil Aviation, very well and of having an unqualified belief in his integrity. We may hear more about this matter, because there is before the House a bill which will give honorable members an opportunity to mention it. The one thing that has struck me about all this is that my colleague, I notice, is supposed to have put pressure on this airline in June, 1960, to accept an offer that had been made - an offer which the airline then rejected and the repetition of which it proceeded, no doubt for good reasons, to make quite impossible by altering the articles of association of the company to provide that no transfer of shares could be made without the approval of the directors. That was in June, 1960. It is very interesting to discover that this matter is brought up towards the end of October, 1961, with an election coming on. I draw some inferences from that - and I hope I am not unduly suspicious.
– My question is addressed to the Treasurer. Does the right honorable gentleman agree that the recently disclosed record turn-over of a large retail emporium exceeding, I understand, £86,000,000, the increase last month in hire-purchase transactions, and similar indications, definitely provide evidence of a marked improvement in activity in the Australian business community?
– I think that there have been several indications that the improvement which followed the Government’s adoption of certain economic measures not only has continued, but is now showing itself in greater strength. I would say that, although there is at the present time some unemployment, which we are actively seeking means to reduce, the economic barometer, generally speaking, has set fair and is likely to continue that way.
– I wish to ask the Prime Minister a question. In view of the fact that the Department of Civil Aviation cancelled the subsidies to East-West Airlines Limited in June of this year-
– This year?
– Yes, June of this year. That, of course, was twelve months after June of last year, the time mentioned by the Prime Minister in his effort to bring this matter up as an election issue. In view of the fact which 1 have just mentioned, and in view of the conflict between the Minister for Civil Aviation and the managing director and another director of East-West Airlines Limited concerning conversations which took place between them at Canberra and other places during the past year, and because of the relevance of such conversations to the issues of monopoly or competition in interstate and intra-state transport, will the right honorable gentleman table any correspondence that has passed between himself or the Department of Civil Aviation and the company or the New South Wales Government on the issues of subsidies, approved routes or take-overs?
– If the honorable member wants to have this matter debated, I will put myself in possession of all these details and will be very happy to discuss the matter in the debate on the bill that is to come before the House later. In the meantime, 1 advise him not to tell only part of the facts. He refers to the fact - undoubtedly a fact - that this year, in June, it having been announced by the New South Wales Government, which is here dealing with intra-state airlines, that it proposed to re-examine the routes, a letter went from the Department of Civil Aviation to East-West Airlines Limited saying that the subsidy was to be regarded as not operative after 30th June until these new arrangements had been made clear. That is quite true, and that was a proper and prudent remark. The interesting thing is that exactly the same letter went to Ansett-A.N.A., which also has a subsidiary in New South Wales.
– But it was not cancelled.
– It was exactly the same letter.
– My question to the Prime Minister relates to the Commonwealth Public Service. Has the right honorable gentleman received representations from the 660 members of the Meat Inspectors Association respecting the question of their seniority within the Commonwealth Public Service in relation to that of certain inspectors at the Metropolitan Meat Export Board abattoir at Gepps Cross in Adelaide? Is he able to make a statement with respect to the preservation of seniority of the members of the Meat Inspectors Association in the Commonwealth Public Service?
– This matter has not come before me, and I know nothing of it. I will find out.
– I ask the Treasurer: Is it correct that Australia’s overseas balances at the end of September last were £492,000,000 compared to £368.000,000 a year earlier? Is it correct that our overseas borrowing from September, 1960, to September. 1961, including that from the International Monetary Fund, was about £150,000.000 and that capital inflow from overseas for investment in Australia for the same period was at least £350,000,000?
– Order! I think that the honorable member is giving the information that he is asking for.
– Is it correct that, without these moneys, Australia would be internationally bankrupt, and that our solvency has been temporarily saved by foreign paw brokers and speculators? If these figures, taken from official documents, are not correct, what are the correct figures?
– I am sorry to learn that the honorable gentleman takes that kind of view of the economy of his own country. Fortunately for Australia, it is not the view taken by businessmen inside Australia and, to judge from the figures that the honorable gentleman himself has produced, it is clearly not the view taken of Australia by people overseas.
– I wish to take a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I did not mention any opinion.
– Order! There is no substance in the point of order. The honorable gentleman has asked his question.
– He has misrepresented me.
– I think it emerges clearly enough, not only from what he has said to-day but also from what he has said on many other occasions, that the honorable gentleman regards the Australian economy as being in a weak condition, and propped up only by such assistance as it can receive from outside our shores. Of course, thanks to the policies pursued by this Government and the favorable environment created inside Australia for the investment of capital, plus the faith of Australians themselves and of those who witness these things from outside in the future of this country, we have enjoyed a very strong inflow of capital from overseas. Sir, far from indicating a bankrupt state internally, that suggests a recognition of the great resources in Australia awaiting development. The funds which have come into this country have assisted us in developing those resources, and have contributed very significantly to the high level of employment that has obtained throughout our term of office, and to the successful absorption of more than 1,000,000 immigrants during that term.
– My question is directed to the Postmaster-General. As there will be no opportunity to debate the Minister’s statement on television before the end of -the Parliament will the honorable gentleman assure me that he will thoroughly explore the possibility of providing Kalgoorlie and Geraldton in Western Australia with television services and that, when this possibility is being explored, consideration will be given to transmitting Australian Broadcasting Commission programmes to those centres by micro-wave, Adler translators or some other method now in use in other countries?
– The honorable member for Kalgoorlie has asked me for an assurance that attention will be given to the requirements of Kalgoorlie and Geraldton in the further stages of development of television. I direct attention to the fact that in the statement on television services which I made to the House and which was issued to all honorable members 1 said, first of all, that the Australian Broadcasting Control Board had given close attention over a period to the development of the fourth phase of television. I said that such major factors as population density, in addition to other factors, had been taken into consideration. As a result, it was decided that there would be twenty areas throughout Australia which would receive a national service. I said that the board would be prepared to hear applications from commercial interests in those twenty areas for the establishment of a commercial television station.
However, 1 also added that there were still a number of other areas - some of comparable population density with those included in this phase, and others that were not of comparable population density - which had not been included. I remind honorable members that I stated -
Representations will be received by the board -
In this case, I was referring to the possibility of commercial applications - from interests which may desire to provide services in such areas-
That is, in the twenty areas. Then I deliberately added - or for that matter in other areas.
That is the position. The Australian Broadcasting Control Board will make its recommendations to the Minister on any representations made to it. Therefore, it is open to interests in the areas in which the honorable member for Kalgoorlie is interested - and concerning which he has made previous representations to mc personally - to approach the board if they feel that they can present a case, and so ascertain what consideration they will receive. The result will depend largely on the case which any interested persons in his area may put forward, but the case will be given attention.
– My question is directed to the Postmaster-General. Goulburn has been omitted from the current proposals for the extension of television services although an applicant company seeking a licence exists in Goulburn. Is it the case that it is necessary to discover first from actual transmissions whether Goulburn can be served effectively from Canberra, Orange or Wollongong? If this is so, could immediate arrangements be made for the granting of a licence to Goulburn in the event that experience shows that Goulburn cannot be effectively serviced from stations in any of those three places? The purpose of my question is to ensure that such arrangements as are possible can be made immediately to avoid further delay if it can be shown that Goulburn cannot be serviced from Canberra, Wollongong or Orange.
– Goulburn is one of the areas to which I referred when I said -
Indeed, there are a number of other areas of relatively substantial population concerning which it has not been possible lo make final decisions al this stage.
It is correct, as the honorable member has said, that we are not completely certain of the degree of coverage that will be received at Goulburn from the stations at Canberra and Orange. We know there will be a service through those stations; so instead of cluttering up the whole atmosphere wilh too many stations, we want to ascertain for a start whether the degree of reception in Goulburn from the stations which will come into operation in the third phase is sufficient to give adequate coverage, or whether attention will have to be given to the establishment of another station there. I point out that I said -
All these will, however, receive continuing attention and I have asked the Australian Broadcasting Control Board to make a further report lo me as soon as it is possible to reach some firm conclusion . . .
That is the position.
– 1 address a question to the Minister for Primary Industry. Have arrangements yet been finalized for the World Poultry Congress which will ba held in Australia next year? Can the Minister say how many countries have accepted invitations to attend the conference?
– Arrangements are well in hand for the holding of the World Poultry Congress next year. My department, working in conjunction with the New South Wales Government, which isgiving great assistance, has completed all the arrangements possible up to the present time. The response from other countries has been excellent. I speak from memory and am subject to correction when I say that 32 countries have accepted the invitation to attend.
– I desire lo direct a question to you, Mr. Speaker. You will have noticed the unsatisfactory nature of the replies that the Minister for Labour and National Service gave to mc last week and his desire to be rid of the responsibility of supervising the Hotel Kurrajong. I now ask you, Sir, whether you will consult with members of the Joint House Committee with a view to taking this hotel from the administration of Commonwealth Hostels Limited and placing it under the control of the Joint House Committee of this Parliament.
– I will certainly consider the suggestion made by the honorable member, but I warn him that I have no desire to add any further worry or responsibility to the already onerous duties ot Speaker.
– I address my question to the Prime Minister. Did the Premier of New South Wales request a Premiers’ Conference to discuss finance for local government authorities? Was such a conference held or was this topic discussed during a regular meeting of the Australian Loan Council? Must all
Premiers request a Premiers’ Conference on a particular subject before one is held?
– As the honorable member knows, the matter was discussed at the last Premiers’ Conference and so soon after that conference as the date on which I was written to by Mr. Heffron, there seemed to be no good purpose to be served by having a conference which would be chiefly in the general, and would repeat fairly closely what had been discussed only a few weeks earlier. We do not call a conference just because one Premier asks for it. If we receive a general demand for a conference from the Premiers, we consider it, although we are not, of course, technically bound to hold a conference. This is not the same as the Australian Loan Council, where a majority of Premiers can secure a council meeting.
– I direct my question to the Treasurer. Is it a fact that if unrestricted overseas investment in Australia is allowed to continue at the present rate, we may in a few years be placed in a position similar to that of Canada, where 70 per cent, of the industries are controlled by other countries?
– The question is entirely suppositious. It assumes that what has been a very heavy rate of capital inflow up to the present will continue indefinitely. It assumes that factors which were present in Canada - such as its geographical situation adjacent to the United States of America - also apply here. It assumes other parallel factors which by no means necessarily exist. The Government maintains a close watch on the movement of capital into Australia. The inflow of capital in recent year? has, almost without exception, been highly favorable towards development in this country and has contributed materially to the remarkable advance we have made in that time. It was only last week that the Treasurer of the Labour Governnent of New South Wales was saying to his Parliament that overseas investment represented only a minor proportion of the total in- vestment in this country. This confirms what I told the House earlier - that he and his colleagues appear to be at complete variance with the spokesmen for the Labour Party in this House in that the Labour Government of New South Wales has been actively encouraging the flow of overseas capital to that State.
– As the Minister for Shipping and Transport has been heard to advantage recently in broadcasts on the progress of important cycle road races, I ask the honorable gentleman whether times for these wheel road races have improved during the last decade. If they have, are improved road conditions the chief contributing factor?
– I do not intend to go into a technical discussion of variations in tires and materials used, but I would say in answer to the honorable member that the standard of wheelers to-day is undoubtedly just as great as it ever was. There has been some improvement in machines, but one of the contributing factors to the faster times undoubtedly is better road services, the straightening out of roads, and better road construction generally.
– I direct to the Prime Minister a question supplementary to those asked by the Leader of the Opposition and the honorable member for Hughes. In view of the serious charges made by Mr. D. Shand, chairman of directors of East-West Airlines Limited, that the Minister for Civil Aviation has brought improper influence to bear on him to accept a take-over offer by Ansett-A.N.A., I ask the Prime Minister whether he will relieve the Minister for Civil Aviation of his duties until such time as a judicial inquiry has been held, or the electors have determined the issue.
– I sympathize with the honorable member in his casting around for something, but my answer is, “ No “. I will want a lot better reason than this stunt to relieve my colleague of his duties.
– 1 ask the Minister for Trade whether he is in a position to give the timber interests of Australia either a full or an interim answer to the problems they raised at the big deputation which was held here three weeks ago, and which was attended by members of all parties in this Parliament. I point out that the deputation was suggested originally by my colleague, the honorable member for Bass. Is the Minister aware that in Tasmania, for instance, there is now a stockpile of 74,000,000 superficial feet of timber, and that the overall position in that State has worsened since the date of the deputation to which I refer, with the possibility of another 50 men being dismissed?
– No, I am not in a position to give a definite answer with respect to this matter. As I told the honorable member’s colleague, the honorable member for Bass, last week, the matter is under study by me and the officers of my department, and I shall let him have a reply at the earliest possible moment.
– In addressing a question to the PostmasterGeneral I point out that, on inquiring why a television and radio mast was being erected on the boundary of my constituency, in a residential area, I received the reply that, on account of the high buildings being erected in the city, it was necessary to have the high mast for the transmission of both radio and television programmes to country centres by, I understand, micro-wave. Although the other city television stations cannot use the cheaper method of taking television to country centres by micro-wave because this would mean, in effect, a second station, does the Australian Broadcasting Commission propose to use this micro-wave repeater station method of taking television to country centres? If so, why cannot Kalgoorlie and similar places be afforded television reception by that means?
– Let me make it quite plain to the honorable member for Chisholm, and to other honorable members, that there is no prohibition of any kind on the use of the micro-wave system for the transmission of television programmes, or any other kind of programme. There are other forms of transmission which in some cases are cheaper and, in most cases, just as effective as transmission by micro-wave. The commercial stations in Victoria have had the opportunity to use the micro-wave system if they so desire, but they prefer to take such programmes as they want to acquire from the metropolitan stations either by film or by some other form of transmission. If any station desires to use the micro-wave system, and if this is indicated as a reasonable proposition, there is no prohibition against its being done.
– I desire to ask the PostmasterGeneral a question. Has a memorandum been posted on all notice-boards in the Postmaster-General’s Department directing the attention of employees to sections of the Crimes Act, particularly section 70, which provides for a two-year prison sentence for an officer found guilty of revealing any information of which he becomes possessed in the course of his duties to any person other than the one to whom it is his duty to disclose it? If so, is the purpose of this to intimidate any officer who may feel disposed to emulate Mr. Ray Roberts and reveal a scandal of which he has become aware? Finally, will the Minister state without any qualification whether an officer who discloses to any person who is not a public servant the details of an incident involving the misuse or misappropriation of Commonwealth property does, in fact, commit an offence under the Crimes Act for which, upon conviction, he could be imprisoned for two years?
– The honorable member has tied up his question about the publication of certain conditions of employment in the Post Office with recent events in Brisbane. Let me say right now that this matter is still under some investigation and I do not propose, therefore, to make any lengthy comment on it at present. When it is determined finally, consideration will be given to the question of issuing a statement to cover the position completely. But I say here and now that when the statement is issued it will be found that the particular matter to which the honorable member has referred has no association whatever with the recent events in Brisbane which he has mentioned. The procedure in question has been normal practice for many years, including the period of the present Opposition’s tenure of office, as will be well known by the honorable member for East Sydney.
– Has the Minister for Primary Industry received from the Wool Committee of lnquiry any intimation as to when it is likely to present its report?
– No. 1 have had no advice front the Wool Committee of Inquiry as to when its report will be ready for presentation. I know that it has completed the taking of evidence and is working on the compilation of the report.
– I ask the Minister for the Interior: Does he know that copies of the Canberra building regulations are not available at the building section or any other section of his department? Docs he know that builders and other interested persons may see copies of the regulations but cannot purchase them for their own use? Will he take whatever action he can to hasten the priming of additional copies of the building regulations?
– The answer to the first part of the question is, “ No “; and the answer to the second part of the question is, “ Yes “.
– by leave - For some time past 1 have been concerned with the need for a comprehensive review of the working of the courts and of the administration of justice generally in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. It had become increasingly apparent that a system which worked well when the Territory was being brought under the control of the Administration no longer met all the needs of the more advanced and more complex community which had developed in recent years.
In December, 1959, after discussions with the Chief Justice, Mr. Justice Mann, and at his suggestion, 1 invited Professor
The Government had been aware of the existence of many of the problems pointed out by Professor Derham and his report served the very valuable purpose of setting these problems in a complete perspective of the system of administration of justice and of pointing the way, in a comprehensive manner, to solutions to these problems.
Before informing the House of his conclusions, I should like to mention briefly the considerations that are uppermost in the mind of the Government. Among the essential prerequisites of self-government for Papua and New Guinea is a system of justice. Such a system needs high standards in the bench, the accessibility of the courts to the people, the confidence of the people in the courts and the habit of relying on the courts to protect the personal rights and properly of the individual and to redress any wrong or injury suffered by the individual. Frankly, I - and, I am sure, other honorable members - would not like to be one of the ordinary citizens in any newly independent country if the system of justice were not soundly established and universally respected and if the authority and independence of the courts were not beyond challenge and beyond influence from the government. In this, as in other fields, in advancing towards self-government, we have to prepare the indigenous people for full participation in the work of their own institutions. We have made progress towards building the public service of the future and the legislature of the future, and preparing the electorate of the future, but hitherto we have not made quite the same headway in the development of the Territory system of justice. To-day it is still wholly an Australian institution, and there are understandable reasons why that should be so. The measures I am outlining in this statement are intended to lead towards the development of a Papuan and New Guinea institution with steadily increasing participation by the indigenous people.
Professor Derham considered that the basic weakness in the system of administration of justice to-day lay in the relations between the executive and the judicial arms of government at all levels. He considered that the Territory is experiencing a transition from pure executive government of a paternal kind to a form of government more in accord with Western notions of parliamentary and constitutional government, and that if this transition is to be negotiated successfully it is important to provide that the judicial system serves the law quite independently of the executive. The course of development in the Territory has produced a situation in which the sharp division between the executive government and the judiciary, while observed in form, can become blurred in practice. It is not only inevitable, but advantageous, that in areas of first contact with primitive people, the Native Affairs officer should undertake all functions of government. He conducts the census, keeps the peace, settles disputes, investigates crime, and in his capacity as a magistrate of the Court of Native Affairs dispenses justice. Professor Derham did not recommend substantial changes in the administration of justice in remote areas of first contact. In the mors advanced areas, some changes had already been made. In the major centres, the district courts had been, increasingly, staffed by full-time qualified stipendiary magistrates in place of Native Affairs staff performing judicial functions part-time. The office of the Public Solicitor had been set up to provide defending counsel for natives charged with serious offences and to ensure that professionally counsel was independent of administrative direction. The administration of prisons had been removed from the control of the police and placed under a separate Corrective Institutions Branch charged with a responsibility for placing emphasis on training and rehabilitation. Professor Derham pointed to the need for taking additional positive steps to give reality to the separation, in all but remote areas of first contact, of the processes of justice from the activities of administration. He proposed a process of systematic re-organization so that in the more developed areas all of the courts would be staffed by full-time magistrates who had been specially trained for the requirements of the work, and all police functions would be performed by police officers. The Native Affairs officers would perform in these areas neither judicial nor police functions. He recommended that the police should be separated from the public service and constituted as a separate statutory force under the independent control of a commissioner. He pointed out the need for an expansion of the training facilities for police, for tha establishment of training courses for magistrates, and for the training and employment of clerks of courts and interpreters.
The courts of summary jurisdiction are still constituted separately for Papua and for New Guinea. Professor Derham recommended that in the process of combining the courts into a single system serving both Territories, the courts specially concerned with native matters, having simplified procedures, should be so constituted that, as the need for them’ disappears, they can easily be amalgamated with the district courts. He directed attention to the need for definition of the circumstances in which native custom should be applied in the courts, and for the adoption of clear procedures for ascertaining what the relevant custom is. A particular problem is the one of finding some means of associating the people of the Territory with the administration of justice. A firm policy decision was made in 1955 against any development in the Territory of a system of customary native courts outside the regular judicial system.
Professor Derham, after reviewing the discussion leading to that decision, commended it as sound. He recommended that participation by the native people in the processes of justice should be as part of the regular judicial system of the Territory. As well as training and employment of suitable persons as clerks of courts and interpreters, he proposed that as soon as possible native candidates should be trained for appointment as magistrates, and that in the interim native persons who have facility in English and who have standing in their communities, should be appointed as justices to sit with stipendiary magistrates or other magistrates.
An associated problem is the relationship of native local government councils to the judicial system. The Territory ordinance under which councils are constituted imposes a duty on a council to maintain law and order in its area, and to intervene to prevent offences against Territory laws. This has led to a tendency for councils to conduct inquiries into disputes and to the practice of councils appointing their own constables. Professor Derham drew attention to the dangers of this and recommended that the role of local government councils should be clearly established as that of bodies having functions limited to executive and rule-making functions in matters of a local character and that this limit should be consistently observed. Discussing the problem of oversight of the decisions of inferior courts, Professor Derham stressed the need for appeal procedures responsive to the needs of litigants and for some review of decisions of the inferior courts so that appeals are brought when proper occasion anises. He recommended that a system of law reporting should be established and that »n increase in the provision of library facilities should be made so that decisions of the superior courts would be readily available to magistrates.
At present appeals from single judges of the Supreme Court of the Territory lie directly to the High Court of Australia. Drawing attention to the problems of expense and trouble in this, Professor Derham recommended that an appellate division of the Supreme Court, to sit at Port Moresby, be established. He recommended that the conditions of appointment and status of the
Supreme Court judges should be improved, that proper court buildings should be provided at all centres where the courts sit regularly, and that rules of procedure uniform throughout the Territory should be provided without delay. Recognizing the importance of the Department of Law of the Territory in a situation where the majority of the people arc not able to employ their own legal assistance, Professor Derham recommended re-organization and decentralization of that department. He proposed (hat consideration be given to the creation of a statutory office outside the public service, to act as senior member of the legal profession in the Territory, supervisor of officers conducting litigation on behalf of the Administration, and supervisor of the work of the inferior courts of the Territory.
Professor Derham referred briefly to the problem of land disputes and land ownership, although he was not able in the time available to him to make the detailed study of these complex questions needed in order to propose specific recommendations for their resolution. It may be mentioned in passing that the land problem is receiving close attention by other experts. Professor Derham also stressed the need for continuous attention to law reform and law revision. Decisions have not been made on all of the recommendations made by Professor Derham. In particular, his recommendations about the structure of the Supreme Court arc still under study by the Commonwealth’s legal advisers. A number of decisions have, however, been taken by me and policy directions given on the subjects dealt with by Professor Derham in his report.
It has seemed to me to be possible to move immediately to the abolition of any jurisdiction based on race. Accordingly, 1 have given a policy decision that the courts for native affairs arc to be abolished and that a system of local courts is to be established throughout the Territory. These courts will have a relatively low limit of jurisdiction in both criminal and civil matters. They will operate under simplified rules of procedure and will be empowered to apply native custom in appropriate cases. The other courts of summary jurisdiction are to be replaced throughout the Territory wilh a unified system of district courts, which will have a jurisdiction concurrent with the local courts and extending to a higher limit. These courts will operate according to ordinary rules of procedure, and will have power to order a matter to be removed from a local court, or to refer a matter to a local court. Proper provision for appeals from local courts and district courts to the Supreme Court will be made. The precise details of jurisdiction of these courts are being worked out, but they will be established in such a way that it will be possible later to amalgamate them with the district courts as recommended by Professor Derham. These proposals will also make possible the repeal of legislation relating to native administration, apart from such few provisions as may be found necessary to protect the well-being of the people in less advanced areas. This will make a major step forward in the work of integrating the entire population in one system of law and legal administration.
Proposals for extending the work of the regular police and providing the requisite training are also being prepared. The police force has already been set up as a separate department of the Public Service, and legislation to separate it completely is being drafted. I have directed that when these programmes have been settled a plan for the progressive re-organization of the staffing of the courts, court services and machinery for law enforcement, along the lines proposed by Professor Derham, shall be drawn up. The Administrator has been asked to institute the research needed to enable rules relating to the ascertaining and application of native custom to be drafted.
Training programmes to prepare native candidates for active participation in the work of the courts as magistrates, clerks of courts and interpreters, are being prepared in the Territory. A policy decision has been given that provision be made for selected natives to be appointed as justices to sit with a magistrate in local courts. The justices will not, however, have a power of decision at this stage of the transition.
The comments of Professor Derham on native local government councils have been taken into account in a general review of the councils which was undertaken at my direction. As a result of this review, the role of the councils has been defined in the way suggested by Professor Derham and a complete revision of the ordinance is being put in hand.
Action is being taken to establish a pensions scheme for the judges along the lines of the Commonwealth scheme, to replace the present arrangement under which the judges participate in the Public Service superannuation fund of the Territory.
The Administrator has been asked to draw up a programme for the construction of court buildings throughout the Territory, and provision has been made in the Territory budget for this financial year for a commencement. In the light of a report of a classification committee appointed under the Public Service Ordinance, as well as Professor Derham’s recommendations, I have approved a re-organization of the Department of Law which will provide increased high-level assistance in its work and a measure of decentralization.
A short while ago I approved detailed proposals for legislation dealing with the problems of native land tenure, and this is now being drafted. Work is being done in both the Territory and in Canberra on law revision, and attention is being given to Professor Derham’s proposals for the establishment of committees in this field.
A significant start has been made in effecting the improvements shown by Professor Derham to be necessary in the important field of the administration of justice and the work will be carried on purposefully. The Government is grateful to Professor Derham for the valuable guidance which has resulted from his survey.
In conclusion, may I say that in our own country, Australia, we have become so familiar with the operations of the courts that we take it for granted that justice will be done, that the wrongdoer will have a fair trial, that the wronged person will find redress and that matters in dispute will be judged according to the law. We assume it to be customary for the courts to be open to all people and for judges to be above corruption. Our present task, in following this tradition, is to build an implicit acceptance of the rule of law in Papua and New Guinea on foundations that will outlast political change. To do that we not only have to create institutions; we have to educate a whole community.
The following bills were returned from the Senate without amendment: -
Gold-Mining Industry Assistance Bill 1961. Railway Agreement (Western Australia) Bill 1961.
Northern Territory (Administration) Bill 1961. International Finance Corporation Bill 1961.
Motion (by Mr. Menzies) - by leave - agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act relating to an agreement between the Commonwealth and the State of South Australia with respect to certain Railway Equipment.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
– by leave - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to seek approval of the Parliament to an agreement between the Commonwealth and the State of South Australia for Commonwealth financial assistance to the State for the acquisition of a number of diesel-electric locomotives and ore wagons for use on the railway between Port Pirie and Broken Hill. These locomotives and wagons will be constructed to 3-ft. 6-in. gauge, but they will bc designed and constructed in such a way as to be readily convertible later to the standard gauge of 4-ft. 8£-in., when the conversion to standard gauge of the permanent way on the Port-Pirie-Broken Hill line is carried out.
Towards the end of last year, the Premier of South Australia suggested that, as an interim measure, pending standardization of the Port Pirie-Broken Hill railway, the cost of certain new 3-ft. 6-in. gauge rolling stock which the State desired to provide for the carriage of concentrates from Broken Hill to Port Pirie might be financed under the provisions of the 1949 Railway Standardization Agreement between the Commonwealth and South Australia. The rolling-stock comprised twelve diesel-electric locomotives, each of approximately 900 horse- power, and 100 ore wagons, each of about 55 tons capacity as standard gauge vehicles, but of somewhat lower capacity while operated on the narrow gauge line, and was estimated to cost £1,325,000. The Premier’s proposal was made on the basis that the new locomotives and wagons would be constructed in such a way as to be readily convertible to standard gauge later, and that the State would itself meet the full cost of such later conversion.
The provision of this rolling-stock would enable the State to obtain immediately substantial savings in operating costs through the introduction of diesel traction on the railway. The railway is at present carrying approximately 800,000 tons of concentrates per annum, in addition to general traffic, and an estimate supplied by the Premier indicated that operational savings of about £483,000 a year could be achieved with the use of the new modern rolling-stock.
The Commonwealth’s position, having regard to the requirements of broad economic policy, was that it was unwilling at that time to undertake the major expenditures involved in standardizing the Port PirieBroken Hill fine. The Commonwealth regarded the interim proposal as part of the larger project, and did not think it should then look at the diesel equipment programme in detachment from the major standardization proposal. Nevertheless, the Commonwealth was impressed by the economies which could be achieved by the provision of more modern rolling stock. It was also evident that the provision of new locomotives and wagons would reduce the cost of standard gauge rolling-stock that would have to be provided on conversion of the line to standard gauge. We therefore decided, after discussion with the Slate, to offer to provide financial assistance as a special matter, outside the provisions of the standardization agreement and without prejudice to the eventual outcome of the action before the High Court on the standardization agreement, argument in which has now been completed and in which judgment has been reserved. This offer has been accepted by the South Australian Government.
Under the agreement to be approved by this bill, the assistance to be provided to the State by the Commonwealth is for the express purpose of acquisition by the State of the twelve diesel-electric locomotives and the 100 ore wagons. The amount of the assistance is limited to the cost of the locomotives and wagons or the amount of £1,325,000, whichever is the less. As originally proposed by South Australia, the State undertakes in the agreement now before the House to bear the cost of subsequently converting the locomotives and wagons to standard gauge.
The Commonwealth will provide, initally, all of the finance, up to the limit of £1,325,000, for the acquisition of the locomotives and wagons. Of the amount provided by the Commonwealth in a financial year, the State will repay threetenths by equal annual instalments over a perod of 50 years, together with interest on the outstanding balances of the State’s threetenths share. Such interest will be calculated from the end of the financial year in which the money is provided by the Commonwealth at the long-term bond rate ruling at that time. Under these arrangements the Commonwealth will meet 70 per cent. of the cost of the locomotives and wagons, and the State 30 per cent.
The agreement includes the usual provisions for the submission of estimates, reports and financial statements to the Commonwealth, and for the audit of the accounts and records of the State by the State Auditor-General. I commend the bill to the House, Sir.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Whitlam) adjourned.
Statement taken as a whole.
. Mr. Temporary Chairman, little needs to be said at this stage about this statement, which is part of the financial machinery. As all honorable members know, in the Estimates presented each year provision is made for the item, Advance to the Treasurer, which appears in the Estimates for 1961-62, under Division No. 209. The appropriation under this item for several years has been set at the round sum of £16,000,000. That is approximately 1 per cent. of the total expenditure budgeted for. The explanatory wording incorporated in this item largely explains its purpose. The wording is as follows: -
To enable the Treasurer to make advances which will be recovered within the financial year; and to make moneys available to meet expenditure, particulars of which will afterwards be submitted to Parliament, or, pending the issue of a warrant of the Governor-General specifically applicable to the expenditure.
This covers both the contingencies in modern government, with expenditure of the order that we now budget for, that not everything that is expected to happen will in fact happen and that some things that are not allowed for at the beginning of the financial year will occur. For this reason, this flexible machinery is provided. But, in addition, in order that the Parliament may finally sanction expenditure which has become necessary, our financial machinery provides for a statement of expenditure made from the Advance to the Treasurer to come before the Parliament.
On a number of occasions over the years, the Public Accounts Committee has directed attention to the rather cavalier fashion in which expenditure from this advance has been handled, and has suggested certain changes in the method of dealing with it. I think that this occasion is either the second or the third on which the suggestions of the committee have been adopted. I am sure that honorable members will be gratified at one thing that has been evident over the last couple of years. The sums listed in the statement are expressed only to the nearest £1. It has become the practice to delete the shillings and pence. When we talk in terms of a total Budget expenditure of about £1.600,000,000, the inclusion of exact amounts of shillings and pence is perhaps straining a little too far in terms of ultimate accuracy.
The Public Accounts Committee, at page 8 of its fifty-sixth report, stated -
There is little real significance in the total expenditure recorded from the Advance - the significance lies more in the particular details of the expenditures involved.
Wc are to-day considering expenditure of £4,778.955. The report which I have just mentioned outlines in great detail the committee’s examination of a number of the more important items of expenditure under the individual heads that go to make up the total. The committee does not point to anything alarming. Tn fact, it seems to imply that although there have been some errors in estimating and some underestimating of a fairly substantial order by departments, nevertheless, in recent years, the departments as a whole seem to be making a more accurate job of their estimating.
I think that this is a tribute to the Public Accounts Committee for its work over the years. I know that accurate estimating was something which the first chairman of the revived committee set as his goal when the committee was revived in 1.952. We paid a tribute to him in this chamber the other evening, and I do not need to do so again. Very many fine reports have come from the committee. Over almost ten years, the number has now reached nearly 60. The ordinary private member who does not sit on the committee has a formidable task in trying even to keep track of the reports as they are submitted. The very number of them, to say nothing of their quality, gives us some idea of the amount of work over and above ordinary parliamentary duties which is undertaken by those members of the Parliament who serve on the committee. It is one thing to get a neatly presented report, lt is another thing to have to write such a report after wading through evidence, on top of having to undertake the task of getting witnesses to give evidence in an orderly fashion.
The committee’s reports show that the methods that have been evolved by it over the years arc beginning to bear fruit in this Parliament’s consideration of financial matters. It has pointed to a number of changes which it felt desirable in the financial paraphernalia, and many of those changes have been made, though perhaps they are not very noticeable on the surface. Occasionally when one looks through the documents one sees something included this year which was not shown last year or one finds an entry shifted from one document to another, or that an entry which served no purpose has been deleted. We offer no objection to this measure at this stage of the Parliament.
– I should like to supplement the remarks of the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean). This measure appears to bc the result, as the honorable member has said, of the activities and recommendations of the Public Accounts Committee. The honorable member mentioned that the Advance to the Treasurer included a sum of £1.6,000,000 which is to be appropriated for the purposes set out in Division 209 at page 35 of the Estimates - as follows: -
To enable the Treasurer to make advances which will be recovered within the financial year; and to make moneys available to meet expenditure, particulars of which will afterwards be submitted to Parliament, or, pending the issue of a warrant of the Governor-General specifically applicable to the expenditure.
The Public Accounts Committee was interested in this matter, which was brought to its notice by the Treasury, lt obtained advice from Crown Law officers that the action of (he Treasury in obtaining an appropriation for each of the items as they were distributed to the appropriate headings of expenditure was unnecessary since the individual items were already covered by the appropriation of £16,000,000, and it was therefore not necessary to have another appropriation for them. That simplified the work of the Parliament in that it did not have to pass these additional measures. When the Public Accounts Committee was dealing with this matter, however, it felt that although it was desirable to eliminate unnecessary work it was also important for the Parliament to know the purposes for which the money in the Advance to the Treasurer had been used, so it was decided that instead of having separate bills a statement of expenditure would bc prepared by the AuditorGeneral, under the provisions of the Audit Act, which would be submitted to the Parliament. That is why this statement appears in this form, lt has been curtailed a good deal, but it contains the material essential to enable the Parliament to know what has been done. All I want to do is to recommend that this committee of the House adopt the statement. This may bc regarded as one of the measures suggested by the Public Accounts Committee for simplifying the presentation of government accounts.
Motion (by Mr. Adermann) agreed to -
That the committee agrees wilh the statement for the year 1960-61 of Heads of Expenditure and the Amounts charged thereto pursuant to section 36a of the Audit Act 1901-1960.
Resolution reported; report adopted.
Debate resumed from 18th October (vide page 2187), on motion by Mr. Menzies -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- There is a proposal that this bill and the following bill on the notice-paper, the Western Australia Grant (Beef Cattle Roads) Bill 1961, be debated together.
– ls that agreeable to the Minister?
– As there is no dissent to the proposal, that procedure will be followed.
– It is appropriate that the two bills be debated together. They seek to carry further the purposes of the States Grants (Encouragement of Meat Production) Act, which the Parliament passed on the initiative of the Chifley Labour Government, in 1949. It is also appropriate that the debate on those bills should be linked, because it is desirable that the roads with which the bills deal should alio be linked. There is no question but that the production of beef in Australia, both for local consumption and for export income, can be more economically achieved if those roads are constructed.
The two points I wish to make on the bills are, first, that I regret that the reports which have been made to the Commonwealth Government, and at least to the Queensland Government, on this subject have not been published or even made available to honorable members; secondly, I regret that there is no concerted or continuous planning in such matters of communications and development throughout the northern part of Australia - northern Queensland, the Northern Territory and northern Western Australia. There is only one specific proposal under the Queensland Grant (Beef
Cattle Roads) Bill 1961. It concerns the construction of a road between Normanton and Julia Creek. It is fitting that the grant should be made in this, the centenary year of Robert O’Hara Burke’s farewell to Julia Matthews, after whom Julia Creek is named. The other bill refers specifically to two roads and two bridges. Both roads are mentioned in the States Grants (Encouragement of Meat Production) Act 1949, at section 5. The bridges will permit the extension of the Wyndham-Nicholson road to cross the Ord and Dunham Rivers. The specific proposals are admirable, and they will achieve the general purposes of cattle production for internal and external advantage to Australia.
The Queensland bill, however, makes no further information available to us. The Division of Agricultural Economics two years ago published a study called “The economics of road transport of beef cattle in the Northern Territory and the Queensland Channel country “.
In January this year the division made a longer report to the Cabinet on this subject. This report estimates the amount and the value of the increased turnoff which could be achieved in ten years by new and improved roads in the north. The annual turnoff of cattle in the Northern Territory could be increased from 166,000 head to 378,000 head; in the Gulf country of Queensland from 184,000 head to 438,000 head; and in the Channel country from 65,000 head to 290,000 head. The annual value of the turnoff would increase from £3,300,000 to £8,300,000 in the Northern Territory; from £5,900,000 to £11,400,000 in the Gulf country; and from £2,600,000 to £10,800,000 in the Channel country. The roads are estimated to cost for construction and annual interest and maintenance charges respectively the following amounts: -
The road from Mount Isa to Dajarra is intended to move cattle into the Channel country. It will be seen, therefore, that production can be quadrupled in the Channel country, to which the Queensland bill makes no specific reference at all, and it can be doubled in the other two areas in ten years. The increase in the Channel country could be achieved for half the capital cost and half the annual charges required in either of the other two areas. In the north, as the whole, the expenditure over ten years would be recovered by the additional income in one year. None of these reports has been made available to us.
The division also reported to Cabinet last January -
It is now accepted that the full potential of the fattening areas cannot be achieved until facilities are available to permit of their integration with breeding areas through the development of transport facilities.
The report added -
However, it is stressed that for the efficient utilization of resources in the Channel Country it is essential that facilities are also available for linking the Barkly Highway with the proposed Channel Country roads in order that an uninterrupted throughflow of stores cattle to Channel Country fattening properties can be achieved. No concrete proposals have been advanced as to the best location of a road from the Barkly Highway for the movement of cattle into the Channel Country.
It proceeds -
As various roads are developed, there will be an increased turn-off of cattle in the different regions. However, it should be emphasized that the full potential . . . depends on the provision of roads to permit a proper integration of breeding and fattening areas.
The advantage to Australia as a whole is highlighted by this passage -
The overall annual increase in cattle production which could be achieved in ten years in these three areas is estimated to be in the vicinity of 450,000 cattle.
I have already given the separate areas from which that calculation is made. The report continues -
If we assume that 100 per cent, of the increased beef production and by-products is available, directly or indirectly, for export, the equivalent value of additional export income is estimated at £22,000,000 annually.
Up to this stage, I have referred to the report of the Division of Agricultural Economics to Cabinet last January, but since then the Australian Meat Board has made a report on this very matter to the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann). The board refers discreetly to its recommendations in its report to the Parliament which was tabled on 3rd October. The relevant passage is -
In view of the possibility of early decisions by Governments on this question, the Board recommended to the Minister for Primary Industry that, in the event of the construction of additional roads being undertaken in Northern Australia, these be so planned as to provide producers as far as possible wilh access to all available markets for their cattle.
In the opinion of the Board, existing roads should be maintained in trafficable condition before money is spent on new roads. Where new roads are proposed, the general location should be decided after appropriate economic and physical surveys, the precise route to be determined by appropriate authorities.
I believe that last March the Australian Meat Board recommended to the Minister that there should be outlets from the Channel country to the south as well as to Queensland destinations; that is, into South Australia and New South Wales as well as into other points in Queensland. The board specifically recommended the construction of a road linking Dajarra, Boulia, Bedourie, Windorah, Eromanga, Thargomindah and Hunterford on the New South Wales border and the repairing of the earlier beef roads constructed under the 1949 act from Barringun via Cunnamulla to Thargomindah. It stated that these new and improved roads would have a much higher priority than the Queensland Government’s proposals.
I would not presume as a layman and as a member of this Commonwealth Parliament to assert which are the most valuable proposals for beef roads in various parts of the northern States and the Northern Territory, but I will assert that it is necessary for us to study - or if the study has been made, for us to be informed - how the money that the Parliament provides can be most effectively invested. It is clear that there ought to be more co-ordination than there has been for many years past in the consideration of these road projects. There are different interests involved. The New South Wales Government wishes that there should be a road up to the Queensland border to tap Queensland cattle for the Sydney market. I believe the Victorian Government also hopes roads will be improved through New South Wales from Queensland to Victoria to aid the Melbourne market. The South Australian Government has proposed and has sent a team to investigate the construction of a road from the Commonwealth standard-gauge railhead at Marree along the Birdsville Track into the Channel country. The Queensland Government has been most insistent that roads should be built through the Gulf country to the Gulf of Carpentaria and through the Channel country to the existing Queensland railheads. These conflicting interests can only be resolved by the Commonwealth Parliament, lt controls the different marketing and scientific bodies such as the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, the Division of Agricultural Economics and the various export marketing boards, lt also provides either the whole of the money for the States to spend or it provides incentives, through subsidies, for the States themselves to spend money for these purposes.
There seems little doubt that any money being spent on cattle roads will bring about a greater production of beef. There also seems little doubt that to get the best results in amount of production and in cost of production there is a need to coordinate and integrate the various proposals. 1 have referred to the governments concerned and the proposals made by New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia and, to a lesser extent, Victoria; but there is also a considerable number of producers, such as graziers, who have expressed views on this subject through their traditional bodies and also through new bodies such as the Federal Inland Development Organization.
I am not unmindful of the fact that many of these organizations are naturally concerned with their own incomes as well as the income of the country as a whole. Nevertheless, as far as we can tell, all the reports emphasize that production in general in Australia will be increased and the income of the cattle men concerned will be increased if all existing destinations are better served. There will be a better income for Australia as a whole, for the people who earn their living in killing cattle, and for the people who earn their living in raising cattle if these facilities are improved. There will be a still better income for all concerned if the facilities are co-ordinated.
This is merely an aspect of the general failure to plan the development of the north. It is unfortunate that the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) has said again and again that he belongs to the school which believes that the best way to help the north is for us all to get behind individual projects as they arise. A year ago, when the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) was representing the Minister for National Development in this place, he stated - 1 do not think it is the function of the Com monwealth Government 10 develop an overall plan.
Sir, I could not disagree more. One cannot take Queensland, the Northern Territory or western Australia in isolation from the others. It is plain that economically and climatically they are very similar to each other. We must accept the position that, as regards the ordinary facilities which we all agree governments must provide - ports, railways and roads - these places cannot be taken in isolation; they must be taken as part of the same region or area. Furthermore, since the Commonwealth usually must provide and hitherto always has provided the spark to get new projects going there, and since the two States concerned are the ones which arc most extended in their finances and most extensive in their areas, the Commonwealth should take some steps lo co-ordinate the development of the whole area. Even on the question of the construction of these roads, for which we are providing half the money in Western Australia and about 93 per cent, of the money in Queensland, the economic investment of the money requires some continuing plan. Efficient road contractors will not undertake road works in northern Australia unless they can be sure of a reasonable programme of work. The Snowy Mountains Authority has been able to attract outstanding Australian and overseas companies in its operations because the programme of development up to now has been clearly set out over a ten-year period and is also set out for a further ten-year period. Criticism has been made from time to time of the fact that there is no continuing constructional, developmental or conservation authority in Australia as there is in the American federation. The Snowy Mountains Authority has succeeded so well during the twelve years of its operations hitherto and is likely to succeed, we hope, for the remaining ten years of its operations, because it has not been tied to an annual programme.
In the north of Australia, it is still more foolish and inappropriate to have an annual programme. The climate makes it very difficult, as we know as the persons responsible for the Northern Territory, to carry out public works on annual appropriations. I realize that the Queensland bill, which is the more important of the two bills we are debating together, permits the spending of the money over five years. To that extent, the budgetary difficulty is not present in Queensland. The Queensland Government can spend the money in the first year or the last year, or it can spend it evenly over the whole period. But there is still the difficulty that there has been no proposal hitherto from the Queensland Government, and there has been no approval hitherto from the Commonwealth Government, as to which roads are to be built after the one between Normanton and Julia Creek. The next roads may be 100 or almost 1,000 miles away. A contractor with valuable equipment must know not only what his opportunities will be in a few months but what they will be in a few years. The cost of transport of his equipment over 100 miles or 1,000 miles of virgin territory may be a very great factor in the economic use of his equipment, in the cost to governments of the projects, and above all in the economic use of the money we are appropriating in these bills.
I therefore greatly regret that there has been no disclosure of the investigations which have been made by the Division of Agricultural Economics, by the Australian Meat Board and by the Queensland Government in the present calendar year on the subject of these bills. I also regret that once again there is no plan for co-ordinating proposals in the two States and the intervening Northern Territory for roads to assist an industry which, proportionately, can make a greater contribution in the next decade to our export earnings than any other industry considered by the Parliament this year or for some years past.
that it is a pity we do not have proper co-ordination in the development of the northern part of Australia. However, I remind the honorable gentleman that when some time ago I advocated in this place that we should set up a northern Australia development commission with representatives from the centre and north of Queensland, from the Northern Territory and from the two northern areas of Western Australia, I received no support from the Australian Labour Party. All I can think is that this sudden, newly awakened desire to assist the north comes, not by coincidence, a few weeks before the general election.
This bill is of great advantage to Queensland. One of the hopes for Queensland’s development is the meat industry. As that industry develops, it will not only assist the development of the State and the progress of closer settlement, but it will also contribute greatly to our overseas trade balances, which we are seeking to improve at present. Of all Australian industries, no industry offers greater scope for advancement and for the sale of its product overseas than the beef industry. I think it should be stressed that this is a new concept. lt is not, as the Deputy Leader of the Opposition suggested, a furtherance of the 1949 agreement under the Meat Industry Encouragement Act. It grieves me to say that the money devoted under the 1949 act was, in the main, wasted by the ineptitude and, I think, the lack of interest of the Labour Government of that time. As one moves about in the Channel country one finds ample evidence of the way the money was misspent and mishandled. The way the greater part of the £2,300,000 was spent on the Channel country particularly at that time was an absolute waste. It stands to the great discredit of the Queensland Labour Government of that time that this wilful and wanton waste was allowed. I also noted with interest the remarks of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition in connexion with priorities and plans. I take it, from reading the Prime Minister’s speech, and from perusing the bill, that the order of priority in which the roads shall be built is a matter entirely for the State governments, and that once the order is settled, all that is then needed is approval by the Treasurer of the plans. I take it also that so far the Commonwealth has not received in official form the order of priority in which Queensland wishes the roads to be built.
– The State has the initiative, and the Commonwealth the veto.
– It would be better to say that the State has the initiative and the Commonwealth finds the money. As one who believes in State rights, I think it only fitting and .proper that the responsibility of allocating priorities in this matter should rest entirely with the State government. Provided the plan is not wild nor hare-brained - and, with the responsible government they now have in Queensland, I do not think it will be - the Treasurer gives his approval, and we move on to the fulfilment of the plan.
Great thought should be given to the preparation of this plan, because Queensland’s meat industry has many divisions, and many factors must be taken into consideration. We should not persist in the belief that the whole of the meat trade must drift down the western part of the State to the markets in Brisbane and further south. The coastal towns of Gladstone, Rockhampton, Townsville and Cairns depend upon the export of beef. The economies of those towns are based largely upon the number of cattle coming to the meatworks for slaughter for overseas markets. We are looking for overseas trade now and, when this plan is drawn up. I should like to see it provide not for a drift down towards the market in the south of Australia which, in good times, must become saturated, but for movement towards the coast, so that cattle may be killed as quickly as possible at the meatworks on the coast and the meat put on to the Smithfield market in the shortest possible time to attract good prices from overseas buyers.
In carrying out this plan, some consideration must bc given to the Channel country. Surely, as well as giving graziers in the Channel country access to the markets in the south of Australia, it is reasonable to give them quick access to the killing centres on the Queensland coast. The present road, which is only partially formed, and which gives only partial access to the coast, is not suitable for use by heavy road trains between Windorah and Yaraka. A good road there linking up with, the central western railway in Queensland would give the export buyers access to the Channel country and the cattle there. It would also give the graziers in the Channel country access to another market. The expenditure of £200,000 on improving that road would be but small when compared with the total for the Queensland roads scheme. So far as I can discover this proposal has not been put very high on the list of priorities by the Queensland Government. I should like to see it lifted, for I believe that the graziers in the Channel country have a right to sell on any market that they wish. This road would give them the opportunity to sell on the export market as well as on the markets in the southern parts of Australia, and that is very important to them.
The road would also provide easy access to the Channel country at the time when such access would bc most useful - when the channels are flowing and grass is plentiful. At such times, stores or drought-starved cattle could be moved in quickly from other parts of the State over the Windorah-Yaraka road, and as soon as they were fattened they could be brought out quickly by road train. They could not be taken out by drovers because the ground is too stony, but they could be brought by road train over this road to the railway, and then delivered quickly to the meatworks at Rockhampton, Gladstone or other towns on the coast with the minimum of bruising. From there, the beef could bc delivered in excellent condition to the Smithfield market. Such a road would also bring our beef closer to the Asian market which, I believe, can be developed considerably.
I do not wish to interfere with State rights in these matters. I believe that the responsibility of arranging priorities should rest with the Stales, but, when the Queensland Government is making out its priorities 1 hope it will give due recognition lo our export industries; that the needs of Gladstone, Rockhampton, Townsville and Cairns will be appreciated and that a high priority will be given to the construction of access roads from the Gulf country and the Channel country so that full use may be made, not only of the spear grass country, but also of the wet, tropical country about which 1 think the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Murray) will have something to say in a moment. These great cattle areas have been a source of much wealth to Australia, and 1 would deplore any attempt to by-pass them and take the beef to the southern parts of Australia.
In addition to the £1,000,000 which is being allocated for expenditure on the Julia Creek-Normanton road and of which the Commonwealth is currently providing £650,000 and the State finding £350,000, the sum of £5,000,000 is being allocated for expenditure over the next five years. This means that in all, the State will have at its disposal the sum of £5,350,000 for the construction of beef cattle roads. If we had any doubts about the value of this bill to Queensland, those doubts would be dispelled by what took place at the meeting of Transport Ministers in the south yesterday. At that meeting, the Transport Ministers from the other States violently criticized the Commonwealth Government for making this money available to Queensland. All the time, we in the north are fighting the jealousy and envy of the people in the southern parts of Australia, who take everything as it comes along to them, but who, when something is given to us - and it is only a small part of what is needed to do the job up there - squeal and moan about the treatment we are given. They complain that their slice of the cake is not big enough, and they want to take away the crumbs that are given to us. I know that the honorable member for Leichhardt (Mr. Fulton) will support me when I say that. The whole of Australia should have a great interest in developing the north for, if we do not progress up there the rest of the Commonwealth must go back.
The £5,350,000 which is to be allocated under this bill is in addition to the extraordinarily large amount of money that will go to Queensland to carry out the five-year plan envisaged by the Commonwealth Aid Roads Bill. In the five-year period from 1954-55, to 1958-59, Queensland received £29,200,000 in all from Commonwealth sources for roads. If we take it that Queensland will receive in 1964-65 an amount at least equal to that allocated in 1963-64, she will receive £49,000,000 under the new agreement between the Commonwealth and the States for expenditure on roads. This means that, in the five years starting from this year, Queensland will receive for roads alone almost twice as much as she received in the previous five years. That is all to the good, for it is a sign of the awakening of interest by the southern parts of Australia in the north.
The emphasis that is being placed on beef roads will pay great dividends over the next five years. If this money is carefully and wisely spent - and the bill contains ample safeguards to ensure that it will be - we shall see develop up there a great and prosperous cattle industry that will not only contribute to the employment and well-being of the people of Queensland, but will also materially assist our overseas balance of payments position. I strongly commend the bill.
.- I rise to support this bill and to endorse the remarks which were made by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam). The honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Pearce) referred to the suggestion of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition that some co-ordinating authority should be set up to deal with problems associated with the whole of the northern area of Australia. The honorable member stated that he had advocated a north Australian commission but that he did not get much support from honorable members on this side of the chamber. He knows only too well that we of the Opposition have been advocating for a long time the formation of such a body. We were inspired in our advocacy by the results which were obtained by the north Australian geological and geophysical survey. But here we are on the eve of the dissolution of this Parliament with a general election only days away and still we have heard nothing concrete about the formation of a north Australian commission. The honorable member knows as well as I do that the people of Queensland have been disgusted with this Government for a long time because they believe that the Government has a Macpherson Range complex - it cannot see beyond the Macpherson Range.
The honorable member mentioned the total sum to be expended on roads in Queensland in the by and by. He cannot point to any work of a real developmental nature that this Government has undertaken in Queensland apart from the establishment of radio stations. The point I am making is that here we are on the eve of an election with the dissolution of the Parliament a matter of only days away and the Government introduces this bill. Why was it not introduced twelve months ago? Why has there been so much procrastination when the question of doing something for Queensland has arisen? The next bill which will come before us for discussion relates to the Mount lsa railway. The proposal in relation to tl;at work is, I think, the only definite evidence of this Government’s concern about Queensland. We are disgusted when we hear honorable members on the Government side tell us what Queensland will get in the near future. Apart from this £5,000,000 which is to be spent over five years - £1,000,000 a year, at a time when a mile of sealed road costs £10.000 - the Government has done nothing for Queensland. As the Premier of Queensland has said, that Slate is glad to accept the Government’s assistance on the Mount Isa railway project. A statement which was made yesterday at the meeting of. the Australian Transport Advisory Council indicates that southern interests are not concerned about the development of north Australia. They look at every problem from the point of view of their own interests. They are State-righters. They do not have a national outlook.
For the year ended 30th June, 1961, Queensland’s exports were valued at £181,321.000 and her imports at £50,858,000,. so she had a favorable trade balance in the year of £130,463,000. Although Queensland has only 14 per cent, of Australia’s population, she contributed 20 per cent, to this country’s exports. Queensland has the highest rate of unemployment in Australia. Our meatworks have closed. Shortly there will be seasonal unemployment, as the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) will call it, because the sugar season is about to end and about 20,000 men will be thrown on the labour market. The position will be worse next year. The employment opportunities available in the sugar industry will be reduced because cane-cutting machines have been introduced into the ii,dustry
This Government talks about what it will do, but the provision of beef roads is the only project of a real developmental nature in which it has interested itself directly. The honorable member for Capricornia has told us what Queensland will get in the near future for the provision of roads. In 1955, this Government poured £11,600,000 into the Bell Bay aluminium project. The Tasmanian Government contributed £1,500,000 towards that undertaking. Now, on the eve of an election, the Government has advanced £41,200,000 to Western Australia and has told us how that sum will be repaid by the State. We all know that there is a Commonwealth Grants Commission and that Western Australia’s contribution will be pretty small because of the case that it will be able lo make to the Commonwealth Grants Commission. In other words, this Government will pay a lot more than it has stated it will pay. I am not squealing, but 1 do say that it is silly for honorable members on the Government side lo talk about what has been done for Queensland.
A bill has been introduced in this place to-day providing for financial assistance to South Australia to enable that State to buy locomotives and rolling-stock for use on the Port Pirie-Broken Hill line. One of the persons who objected to Queensland receiving this £1,000,000 a year for roads was the South Australian Minister for Transport. One could repeat ad nauseam instances of assistance which has been given to other States while Queensland .has been left out in the cold. There is the proposal to construct the Chowilla dam costing £14,000,000 or £15,000,000 in addition to the Snowy Mountains scheme. But. the Government gives Queensland £1,000,000 a year for five years. We arc glad to support the bill because we need the money and a lot more as well.
In other debates in this place we have heard talk about the potentialities of the north. Such talk is sickening to Queenslanders particularly now that .the Government has allocated only £1,000,000 a year for roads. The Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann), who is at the table, knows the way the people in Queensland feel. I have met his field officers and I. have some idea of what is contained in the reports which they have furnished to him. I know that he would like to see this grant of £1,000,000 a year raised to £50,000,000 a year.
Mr. Nicklin, the Premier of Queensland, is reported in the Brisbane “ Courier Mail “ of 17th August, as saying -
Even though Mr. Holt indicated beef roads other than the Normanton-Julia Creek road will be taken into consideration later, i feel it would have been advantageous if the whole plan of Gulf and Channel country roads had been taken into more definite scope in the Budget.
Why was not this whole project taken into more definite consideration in the Budget? The inference to be drawn is that this piecemeal approach by the Government to the beef roads project is prompted by election considerations rather than by a desire to see real development. It is concerned only with the vote or two that it may pick up by investing money in Queensland.
Mr. Nicklin has informed the Government in the last eight weeks to my knowledge - perhaps prior to that because of the press publicity which has been given to this matter - that something should be done to establish satisfactory road communications in Queensland. That State is pushing on with the provision of roads in the Channel country from Monkira to Quilpie, and also with a road from Boulia to Dajarra. I have been over these roads in recent times and know what is going on. This work will be assisted financially by the allocation which the bill now before us will make. The Government is making a contribution of f 660,000 towards the cost of constructing the road from Normanton to Julia Creek, but the road will cost £2,000,000, not £1,000,000 as might be inferred from the bill. Sub-clause (2.) of clause 4 reads -
The Treasurer shall not approve a work under this section unless he is satisfied that the carrying out of the work is likely to result in a substantial increase in the production of beef and has taken into consideration, in addition to such other matters as he thinks fit, the estimated cost of the work in relation to the estimated increase in the production of beef.
In other words, the field officers of the Department of Primary Industry supply the necessary detailed information gathered in the field. This means that although Queensland may have the right to determine the priority of the project, that State has also to show that the work will make a contribution towards an increase in the production of beef. That will not be very hard to do. Clause 6 states -
The Treasurer may, for the purposes of this Act, approve standards of design or construction. . . .
I would like the Minister to tell us what depth of gravel will be used in the construction of the Normanton-Julia Creek road, how many bridges and culverts will be built, and how much of the road will be bitumenized. An hotel proprietor from Julia Creek said in Brisbane the other day that the scheme was a laugh in the back country. I do not think it is a laugh, but I am concerned about the fact that sections of this road can go under floodwater to the depth of 10 feet or 11 feet, according to the information given to me. I want to know how much of the road is to be bitumenized, because if you proceed only to gravel the road and then put heavy road trains over it, carrying cattle at 30 miles an hour or more, how will the road stand up in the wet season? The cost of maintenance would be terrific. Again, I ask the Minister to give us some information about the construction of the road. I have been informed unofficially that, apart from a section running across country which is subject to flooding in the wet season, the road will have only a gravel surface. To pay for the Normanton-Julia Creek road the Commonwealth is to make a grant of £300,000 to Queensland, plus a further £350,000 to be matched £1 for £1 by the State. There is plenty of room for expansion in Queensland’s beef production and these roads are the key to it.
On 30th June, 1960, Queensland had 5,500,000 cattle compared with 6,500,000 in 1896. I have read the views of Mr. J. Kelly, a prominent field officer of the Department of Primary Industry. I know him very well, as does the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson). He is one of the leading authorities on cattle in Australia. He carried out a personal survey in the northern part of Australia during 1960 and expressed the view that north Australia could run 13,000,000 head of beef cattle, while southern Australia could run 7,000,000 head. The Queensland Year Book “ for 1961 shows that Queensland’s total beef cattle population in 1960 was 5,750,000. To achieve an objective of 13,000,000 head of cattle in northern Australia and 7,000,000 in southern Australia as outlined by Mr. Kelly would require a capital outlay for north Australia of about £82,000,000, or over £6 per head of cattle.
Mr. Kelly also expressed the view, which I endorse wholeheartedly, that the key to northern development is in the provision of adequate facilities to move cattle by road, rail or water. Mr. Kelly suggested that the complete answer to the cattle transport problem would be the provision of £40,000,000 to seal 4,000-odd miles of roads, and a further £48,000,000 to provide and equip 1,070 miles of narrow-gauge railway extension. About £30,000,000 of that sum would be for the Mr IsaTownsville line. So, the total cost would amount to £88,000,000, or over £6 per head of cattle. The combined public and private investment required would be £170,000,000, or £13 a head of stock. Mr. Kelly also pointed out that over the last ten years the average annual beef production was 736,000 tons, a 40 per cent, increase over the annual average of 532,000 tons for the previous ten years.
Our future domestic needs, quite apart from exports, will require that this tonnage be stepped up. Clearly, therefore, this proposal to spend £1,000,000 in Queensland each year for the next five years is only playing with the problem. It is all very well for the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Pearce) to talk about how much is being spent on roads. There has been a 40 per cent, increase in beef production in the last ten years without any Commonwealth help. Given real financial help, and not just £1,000,000 a year, the potentialities - that is a word that supporters of the Government like to use - are such that we could easily meet the domestic demand for an increasing population and still have a surplus for export. The labour force is available and its numbers will grow with the mechanization of the sugar industry, a shorter season, and so forth. The demand is there and the facilities are there. All we need is the will on the part of this Government, which controls the purse strings, lo make more money available, not just to increase beef production but also to provide employment for the unemployed and to develop northern Australia. The Government wants more beef to be produced but it is providing only £1,000,000 a year for the necessary work.
I urge the State Government and the Commonwealth Government to have a closer look at road development in northern
Australia and the proposals advanced by Mr. Kelly, who knows the industry well. The surveys have been made and the Minister has the reports. The man-power is there. In other words, all the potentialities are there. 1 hope that when the new Labour Government takes over in the next Parliament we will see something really worthwhile being done with the northern part of Australia and particularly with the cattle industry.
With the entry of the United Kingdom into the European Common Market our market for meat in the United Kingdom may disappear and we will have to look for markets elsewhere. The provision of beef roads is necessary and urgent because the demand for beef is growing. The frozen meat that we export to Great Britain brings the lowest price on the market there. At the Smithfield market frozen meat brings a lower price than chilled meat. The demand at Smithfield is for chilled beef from beasts eighteen to 30 months old. It is true that with the United Kingdom going into the European Common Market the market for Australian beef in Great Britain may be closed to us and then we will have to survey the position to discover what other markets want chilled beef of the. same type as the United Kingdom market prefers. From 1st October - the present month - Australia is free to export the better types of cuts and better grades of meat to markets outside the United Kingdom. Our exporters have developed a big market for boneless beef in the United States of America, but only token shipments of the better grades of meat have been sent there. The United Kingdom agreement has until 1967 to run.
The people of northern Australia are putting pressure not only on the Commonwealth Government but also on the Governments of Western Australia and Queensland to do something about this vital necessity to expand beef production. The key to the situation is the_ provision of adequate transport facilities. With the exception of the Barkly and Stuart Highways the roads in the north are only glorified bush tracks. They have been formed, but they are unsealed.” In some cases cattle are being taken up to 1,500 miles to market by road trains. I have seen some of these road trains in Camooweal and in other places in the Gulf country and in the Channel country. But we must remember that these vehicles have to travel at about 30 miles an hour at least, and cattle taken by this method for long distances over dusty, rutted roads will arrive at their destination bruised and torn by the horns of other beasts. These roads must be well maintained. Mr. Kelly suggests sealed roads. Mr. Shute, the chairman of the Australian Meat Board, has suggested roads 12 feet wide, with 8 to 10 inches of metal, which could cost initially about 40 per cent, less than the ordinary bitumen sealed road of 16 feet width.
The graziers do not want speedways. They simply want sealed roads so that their stock will not be damaged when being transported by road trains. If a road is well graded and well maintained it will satisfy the grazier, at least for the time being. Drovers to-day take too long to get stock to their destinations. Too much of a beast’s condition is lost when it is taken to market by drovers. This consideration, together with the high cost of droving at the present time, has caused graziers to prefer road trains. In the year 1959-60, 40 per cent, of Northern Territory cattle were shifted to market by road trains, compared with 26 per cent, the year before and 18 per cent, three years ago. This graphically demonstrates the development of the use of road trains. The cost of transporting cattle by road trains could be greatly reduced if the roads were brought up to a decent standard and kept in decent condition. If this were done the animals would not be knocked about as they are to-day. 1 listened to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr, Whitlam) speaking of the turn-off of cattle, lt has been suggested that the turn-off from the Channel country could be increased from 70.000 to 300,000 head, and from the Gulf country from 150,000 to 450,000 head, if reasonable roads were provided. This would represent real money at a time when we are looking for overseas funds. As I said previously, the Government is working on the road between Boulia and Dajarra. I came over a new road, which > is not yet finished, between Burketown and Cloncurry, in July. I could not go over the road via Lorraine to Kamilaroi station because the bulldust, which is as fine as face powder, was 3 feet deep on the road.
The road itself was rutted under the bulldust, and we decided we would damage our vehicle if we used that road. We had to go around by the new road that was being built. There is also a road from Quilpie to Monkira in the Channel country, which is being constructed by the State Government. 1 think the Minister knows something about it, because a request was made to the Commonwealth Government for assistance in the building of that road. With regard to the linking of Boulia and Monkira there might be a little difficulty, because when the Diamantina River floods it really does flood, and there would be
Seat difficulty in maintaining a road in at country. The State Government has been working on the road from Boulia through Lucknow to the railhead at Winton for a long time. I travelled over that road some months ago. lt is in reasonable condition but it has only been formed, and there is no bitumen scaling.
The State Government has made use of the money that has been granted to it by this Government under various forms of legislation, but the money has not been sufficient for the work to be carried out as it should be. I believe that much remains to be done before cattle can be efficiently shifted by road in Queensland. The roads must be such that a vehicle can travel on them at a speed of at least 30 miles an hour. The cattle cannot be left standing in the vehicles for any length of time, because they fret and get knocked about. In conclusion, let mc say that I support the bill, but I suggest that the Labour Government that will bc here next year will substantially increase grants of this kind so that a real road development programme can be undertaken in our cattle areas.
Mr. MURRAY (Herbert) [4.561.- The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) spoke a while ago of the roads in the Channel country, and he, of course, expressed strong support for the Pioneers Highway proposal.
– I have never committed myself on that.
– Oh, yes. The honorable member said that the investment of about £3,500.000 in that area, for the purpose of making it easier to move fat cattle, would quadruple the turn-off of cattle within ten years. He endeavoured to substantiate that statement to-day.
– I was citing a report of the Division of Agricultural Economics.
– Yes, but I am speaking of what you said some months ago, when the Bourke meeting was being held.
– I cited that report then.
– The honorable member was very pleased about the proposal, and he stressed his contention that it would quadruple the turn-off of fat cattle in ten years. I say, with respect to the honorable member, that this is not so, and that he is really on very dangerous ground when he puts forward such a contention. It is not correct, because over the last four or five years, for instance, extreme drought conditions have been suffered in the Channel country, and it would not have been possible during that time to do what the honorable member suggests could be done. He should remember that although the Channel country is a wonderful fattening area in good times, it is not a stable fattening area. It is not good every year. You cannot plan movements of cattle year by year in an area which may be in bad condition for two or three years and then, perhaps, in good condition for three or four years. This is something that should be remembered, but is continually overlooked in this place. The Channel country is only a catch fattening area, probably one of the best in the world when good, but an area on which we cannot base a stable fattening programme year by year.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition also spoke of increasing production in the northern cattle areas, from which he suggests cattle will be drawn in increasing numbers in the future, the Gulf country and the far outback areas of the north. He says that an increase in production depends on roads. I agree that adequate roads are a most valuable aid in increasing production, but they are only part of the answer. For heaven’s sake d’o not let us get the idea that if we build roads in this country we can wash our hands of the problem, saying that we have adequately assisted the beef cattle industry. Roads are a necessary part of the answer, but they are certainly only a part of it.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition cited a report of the Division of Agricultural Economics. What he does not go on to say, as has been said by the division many times, is that increased turn-off will be promoted by the development of roads but does not necessarily depend on roads. There are other very important factors, which are mentioned by the division in many publications and documents. It has mentioned property improvement, which is vital to the increase of cattle production. The division has mentioned the control of tick in the tick areas. And much of our cattle population is in the tick areas. It has mentioned pasture improvement and suitable kinds of cattle. These things, when they are just mentioned lightly like that, may not sound so very important, but they are factors which are just as important as are roads in increasing the production of beef cattle in the north and the west of Queensland. Those factors are an integral part of development of the beef cattle industry and they should be borne in mind all the time.
Cattle production will not necessarily be increased by the construction of a road. Roads are necessary, but they are not the whole answer. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition will remember that the Barkly Highway, for instance, has not appreciably increased the turn-off of cattle. There has been a good turn-off this year, but if the turn-off is averaged over the years, it will be seen that there has not been any increase of turn-off in which the road has been the principal factor.
– The reason is that the railway and the roads from Mount Isa to the coast are inadequate.
– There has been quite a good flow of cattle traffic along the Mount Isa railway line. What I want to point out to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition is that the Barkly Highway, as such, has not increased the turn-off of cattle from the Barkly Tableland. Other factors are involved, and we hope that they will be attended to, for they are very important. We cannot just build roads and say, “ That is it “. That is a most dangerous trend of thought, but many people are developing it. Many people think that the grant for roads in
Queensland is a grant to the Queensland beef cattle industry which will, as a consequence, greatly boost our export earnings. That is not correct. The roads constructed by means of this grant will be just an aid to increased production. To forget the other important problems is to run away from the facts entirely. 1 agree that the beef cattle industry can make a tremendous impact on our export earnings, as the Deputy Leader of the Opposition has said, but only with the proviso that we tackle these 0:her problems that are allied to the need for roads. I think that most honorable members were amazed when the honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan) finally said that he supported the bill. He said that he deplored (he fact that nothing had been done for the beef cattle industry over the years. He should not forget that for about 40 years Labour governments in Queensland did absolutely nothing for the beef cattle industry in that State, but were quite content to neglect the seasonal problem at the northern meatworks. They entirely refused to face up to the problem. But we now have in Queensland a government which is very definitely facing up to the problem. The honorable member must agree that it is now facing up to the problem of opening up land on the coast. I am sure that the honorable member, knows why land being opened up on the coast now is being opened up. lt is being opened up in order to create a more stable fattening situation for cattle from areas like his electorate. Surely this should have been done 40 years ago. but Labour governments would not do anything about it.
– That is not true. Mr. Bryce Henry experimented at Tully.
– I have Mr. Bryce Henry’s reports with me. In 1936, he recommended to the Queensland Government that these things be done, but nothing was done. I remind the honorable member that two blocks of land in the Tully area were the subject of development proposals which, for 26 years, were, as it were, turned on and off like a tap. Those two blocks of land have now been opened up and are beginning to produce. But Labour governments in Queensland never had any intention of opening up land in that area. They completely ignored Mr. Bryce Henry’s recommendations. However, the work is now being undertaken very successfully. Unfortunately, Bryce Henry, in his day, had no legumes with which to work. That was the principal reason why he was unable to get far. This kind of development cannot bc undertaken with grasses only. Legumes are necessary in that country. Bryce Henry, in his time, did not have the advantage of the research which has since been undertaken.
I think that we should bear in mind where the bulk of the cattle in Queensland are, Sir. Some honorable members seem to think that in Queensland cattle are spread throughout the back country and that the whole of the cattle production comes from the north, the Gulf country and the far west. The point is that more than half the beef cattle population of Queensland is cast of the Great Dividing Range and south of Townsville. The numbers in the Gulf country, the far west and the other arid areas of the State have not increased appreciably for very many years. Nor is there any great likelihood of them increasing substantially. They will increase to some extent with the development of roads and a certain amount of properly improvement and herd improvement, although to nothing like the degree that many people consider is likely. I should just like to remind the House where the bulk of Queensland’s beef cattle population is. These arc the latest figures compiled by the Bureau of Census and Statistics. The Cape York Peninsula has 97,000 head. The higher rainfall area in the Gulf country, extending across to the Northern Territory border, has about 1,200,000 head. The far west has about 270,000 head of cattle. The Channel country has about 235,000 head. East of the Great Dividing Range, the numbers increase considerably. In the proximity of Rockhampton, there are 1,200,000 head of cattle. In the central west, within easy reach of Rockhampton, there are 750,000 head.
The point is that, broadly speaking, in Queensland the cattle population will remain static in the lower rainfall areas and will increase in the higher rainfall areas. The opportunity for increasing the number of cattle is confined almost entirely to the higher rainfall areas. Generally speaking, they are a fairly narrow strip across the base of the Gulf of Carpentaria to Cape York Peninsula and a narrow strip running down the coast. The beef cattle population in those areas is increasing rapidly now, because those are the areas where development will take place on account of climatic conditions. It is very difficult indeed to imagine that any great development will take place in the areas below the 20-inch isohyet. There will be no great increase in cattle numbers in those areas. But we fail to appreciate this and somehow or other many of us keep thinking that all development should take place in the far west. As I have pointed out, Sir, many people think that the bulk of the cattle population is there, but that is not so.
As I have mentioned, the amount of rainfall sets the limit on agricultural and pastoral development, without any doubt. We know that in the southern States the 15-inch isohyet represents the borderline between agriculture and pure grazing. Some farmers in those States have pushed agriculture in the form of wheat-growing out into lower rainfall areas, but not to any great extent. In Queensland, south of the Tropic of Capricorn, the 20-inch isohyet is about the borderline for agricul cural development. The limit of agriculture allied to grazing, north of the tropic, is about the 30-inch isohyet, because of the different pattern of wet and dry seasons and the severity of the dry season. So the 30-inch isohyet represents the limit of the areas in which, north of the tropic, we can expect any increase in cattle numbers.
As I have said, it is very unlikely that we shall see any increase in cattle numbers in the semi-arid and far distant regions of the State. The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization clearly recognizes this. It states quite definitely that it ought to be, and would like to be, concentrating on the higher rainfall areas of Queensland where it could make some impact on the cattle population. I think it is worth directing attention to the fact that the organization lists the desirable areas, according to its opinion, in the following order of priority - the west coast area of north Queensland which, although limited in size, has a rainfall of between 70 inches and 170 inches, but where spectacular development could take place, and the Wallum area, along the coast from Bundaberg south, an area that was once thought to be completely useless but which has now been proved to be able to carry one beast to the acre. There are 2,000,000 acres of that country which, by the application of superphosphate and trace elements such as are used in other parts of Australia, could be made to carry one beast to seven-eighths of an acre. Like the Ninety-mile Desert country in South Australia, that country was once regarded as absolutely useless, but note what its potential is to-day.
There are 40,000,000 acres of spear grass country in Queensland, again in the high rainfall area, where great development is possible. We know that the carrying capacity can be increased by about three times by the use of Townsville lucerne and fertilizers. That is where development is starting to take place, and will continue to take place, and where our cattle population will increase rapidly. Then we have about 23,000,000 acres of brigalow country, which will give us great results from any investment in it. All this is above the 20-inch isohyet, mainly in the 25-inch and above bracket.
I think we have to be realistic and look to those areas for the large cattle population which Queensland will carry in the future; but there is a tendency for us to believe that because we are building roads and calling them beef-cattle roads, that is the answer to the beef-cattle industry’s export problems. I am sure that we should not call them beef-cattle roads. We should call them developmental roads, and not lay stress on the beef-cattle aspect, because those roads will be of tremendous benefit to other industries in those areas, including the minerals industry. To call them beef-cattle roads is dangerous, because it will engender in the minds of people the idea that the grant for those roads is a grant purely for the benefit of the beef-cattle industry, and will in itself be sufficient to raise the industry to the desirable level. But that goal will not be reached, Sir, purely as the result of building roads and calling them beef-cattle roads.
It is good that the sum of £5,000,000 is lo be spent on roads of this nature. It certainly should have been done many years ago, because those roads have long been urgently needed to enable the opening up and development of various industries, and not just the beef-cattle industry. Meanwhile, we should not lose sight of the fact that a great number of other things are required for the development of the beef-cattle industry.
As I have said, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization knows full well the possibilities that lie ahead, and 1 believe that it is urgently necessary for that organization to have a base in Townsville, which is a highly suitable area for it on a number of counts, one of which is its proximity to the wet coast, another being that there is a university college in Townsville. 1 believe that the establishment of a C.S.I.R.O. base in Townsville would enable the organization to look more closely into many of the problems in the area, and I believe also that it could make a very great impact on our beef cattle industry. Unfortunately, the Minister in charge of the C.S.I.R.O. delays a decision in this matter. I know that the C.S.I.R.O. wants to move there, and I think that every step should be taken to get it there as quickly as possible. 1 note with great interest that the cattlemen’s committee of the United Graziers Association of Queensland has decided to advocate the establishment of the C.S.I.R.O. in the Townsville area as a matter of urgency. I also note with great satisfaction that it has also decided to advocate the fullest development of coastal land by all possible means.
I believe that the realization has now come that stable fattening areas, which can exist only in the high-rainfall area, are urgently necessary, because unless we get them, no matter what else we get, we shall never get stability. I fully agree with the statement by the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Pearce) regarding the danger of taking cattle on unnecessary trips to the southern States. It is often said that cattlemen should be given the opportunity to get to every market, and that is pretty correct; but can we sit back and see our northern meat-works continue to be run mainly on a seasonal basis year after year, while we allow cattle to be dragged away to the southern States? Can we cifford to continue to see our meat export works bearing this added cost of production. I do not believe that it is right. The movement of cattle long distances to the south reacts in the long run against the cattleman.
As soon as we face and solve the problem of stabilizing the industry in the north we shall be ever so much better off. A great deal of thought has been given to the movement of cattle to the southern States, on the line that we might take advantage of the southern spring when the northern areas are bad because of the dry season. It sounds a very good idea, and would no doubt be all right if we were never going to do anything about our own seasonal problems in the north, but to base our industry on that policy would be highly dangerous.
I support the contention of the honorable member for Capricornia that the Yaraka to Windorah road should be developed to allow graziers to move their stock more easily. I regret that more is not being done in this roads programme to push cattle into the Townsville meatworks and the Merinda meatworks. Roads which are very welcome are being built in the Cape York Peninsula which will enable cattle to be moved to the railhead and taken to Mungana and Mount Surprise. However, there is still a wide gap which will not be completely bridged by the Normanton-Julia Creek road, which will not make a very great difference.
The honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan) spoke about cattle travelling 1,500 miles by road. I do not know whether he is aware of the cost of transporting cattle in this way, but generally the cost for fat cattle is £2 a head for each 100 miles. To carry beasts 1,500 miles would therefore add £30 to the production cost of each beast. I do not know who, in his opinion, should bear this extra cost, but in the long run it is the producer who bears it. The beefcattle industry should be geared to short hauls and stabilized as far as possible in regions. We should discontinue drawing cattle off from one area to take it to another area 1,000 or 1,500 miles away. By doing so we could eliminate these extra costs which arc eventually borne by the producer.
I commend the bill, and I wish that these roads had been built many years ago. I understand that the Queensland Government is at the moment making genuine efforts to develop the beef cattle industry, and I hope it will now put more emphasis on the high rainfall areas where we can obtain the best results. I also sincerely hope that all possible steps will be taken to keep our cattle flowing across to the coastal meatworks, and not towards the southern States, because Queensland receives no benefit from the latter movement, and the industry has to bear the extra cost in the long run.
– I regret that the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Murray) misrepresented me, and I wish to make a personal explanation. The honorable member referred to statements I made in my speech concerning the projected routes of roads under this bill, the cost of constructing them and paying them off and the anticipated increase in income once the roads were constructed. I did not form opinions of my own on these subjects because, I again hasten to assure honorable members, I am no expert on them. Therefore, 1 was not expressing my own views but quoting those of the Division of Agricultural Economics and the Australian Meat Board. Further, I limited my quotations from the division’s and the board’s reports to the impact of roads on beef production since I thought that was all 1 could refer to under the title of this bill.
.- I do not rise to oppose the bill, and therefore 1 shall not take up much time. However, there are a few observations I wish to make. First, why was the bill introduced? After twelve years in office, the Government has decided to give something to Queensland. The honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Murray) said that for 40 years the Queensland Government had not advanced any proposition for cattle roads. In the course of 40 years, the Queensland Government has tried everything else without getting anywhere, so I do not see why it should be expected to put forward a roads scheme with anything concrete about it. 1 have never known a constitutional government to provide money out of the air without knowing where the money was to be spent and how, and what return would be obtained from it. The figure of £5,000,000 to be provided under this bill has been plucked out of the air. There is no indication of the details of the project and in that connexion I support the honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan). The Government does not even know how much the roads will cost or how they will finish up. Unless they have proper foundations, these roads will disappear overnight with the rainfall that occurs in that area. A vote of £5,000,000 seems to be a lot of money but it is virtually nothing for the scheme that the Government envisages. If these roads are to be formed without any consideration for the crossing of streams, which run swiftly and deeply in that area, the roads will be worth nothing at all before the period of five years provided for in the bill elapses.
I have been speaking to people who live in the Normanton area. As the honorable member for Kennedy has said, the proposal is laughable as far as they are concerned. It will be a shame if this money is wasted. Unless the Queensland Government is . repared to match £10 for £1, the roads will not be worth the money spent on them. They must be consolidated and properly surfaced with proper drainage to take away the excess water. Otherwise in that area of heavy rainfall the roads will disappear overnight. I have seen roads that were not properly constructed disappear in that area. The foundations must be thoroughly consolidated. Not only does the rain fall very heavily in that area; it also lifts the water table from the ground and it oozes up. That can be seen anywhere in the territory in wet weather.
The honorable member for Herbert has said that half the cattle population of Queensland is east of the Dividing Range and south of Townsville. I am not disputing those figures, but I point out that the cattle population could be trebled or increased even five times in the peninsula area if proper roads were built, and with adequate conservation of water. During its twelve years in office, this Government has done nothing to assist developmental projects in Queensland. It did not assist Queensland when the State asked it cap in hand for assistance to build the hydro-electric scheme near Tully Falls which will supply an area north from Townsville with electricity. That is a big national project and its benefits would be felt beyond Queensland. The State of Queensland is assisting Australia’s export earnings with its production of dairy products, beef and sugar and that should have been taken into consideration. Queensland spent £21,000,000 on the Tinaroo Falls scheme and conserved water in the peninsula area. Recently water was released from that scheme and saved thousands of head of cattle at Wrotham Park station, along the Walsh River and in the Chillagoe area. Honorable members need not accept only my word for that statement; it is supported by the graziers themselves.
The Commonwealth Government is providing this grant of £5,000.000 for beef roads in Queensland just before a general election, lt has offered £650,000 this year and a total of £5,000.000 in five years. I cannot understand why a constitutional government should suddenly pluck the figure of £5,000,000 out of the air. There is no definite scheme before us. The Government docs not even know where the roads are going. When the Opposition offered to spend some millions of pounds on social services before the last election, it was asked, “ Where will you get the money? “ Where will the Government get this money? The States that arc being assisted are not backward States; they are undeveloped States. I have heard members of the Australian Country Party talk about decentralization. If they have any policy of decentralization at all they should talk to their colleagues in Queensland because they arc not doing anything for decentralization. Everything they have done has been towards centralization such as ripping up railway lines and forcing people into the city areas. The same thing will continue unless this Parliament is prepared to assist the undeveloped areas.
I will not oppose the bill because it provides for a gift of £5,000,000 to Queensland and one cannot look a gift horse in the mouth. But I cannot understand why a constitutional government should pluck a figure out of the air, offer a grant to Queensland and say, “ Aren’t we good fellows? “ The Government has done this and yet it has no idea how the money will be spent. 1 notice that the expenditure has to bc approved by the Treasurer. I hope the Treasurer will make sure that if the roads arc built, they will last and will benefit the cattle industry, and that they will not bc a burden to the Queensland Government. They will be useless unless they arc con structed properly and have adequate drainage for the overflow. With heavy transports running over the roads and water oozing up from below and rain falling from above, the roads must have solid foundations and a surface that will stand that sort of treatment.
I do not dispute the figures that have been cited by the honorable member for Herbert, but I say that the number of cattle could bc increased to better advantage in the peninsula area if roads were built and water conserved. 1 would like to sec a proper plan for these roads instead of the haphazard project that is before us. The Queensland Government should act quickly and determine where the roads are to be provided. The roads that are envisaged will take the cattle from the areas where they are bred instead of promoting killing works in the production areas. Portion of the money allocated to these roads should have been made available for a meatworks at Cooktown. Cattle herds are there and they can be improved. Efforts have been made over the years to establish some means of water transport to get the cattle to meatworks, but the shipowners have not had the finance to develop (he right type of shipping. We need ships capable of carrying not 100 or 200 head of cattle, but 500 head. This would then develop into a payable proposition.
T would rather have seen this money expended on projects such as I have mentioned than made available for a project that has simply been plucked out of the air. No definite plan has been placed before the Queensland Government. It must rush in, survey the roads and provide plans and specifications to the Commonwealth Government so that it will be able to obtain the £650,000 in this year. That is the effect of this scheme. The Queensland Government has not surveyed the roads and has no concrete plan for roads. However, on the eve of the election, £5,000,000 is being devoted by this Government to the development of roads without any definite plan being ready. We do not know where the roads will go or how they will benefit the growers, and we do not know whether the roads will stand up to the treatment they will receive from heavy transport vehicles.
Mr. BARNES (McPherson) [5.321.- I should first like to answer some of the criticism of this Government voiced in this House and in the Queensland press. It has been said that the Government has not given sufficient assistance to Queensland. I would say that this Government has given more assistance to Queensland than has any other government. It would be very interesting to examine the reasons why more has not been done for Queensland in the past and why Queensland is in its present difficult position.
It is surprising that honorable members opposite should offer this criticism, because Queensland had a socialist government until recently for almost 40 years. One of the slogans of the Queensland Labour Government was, “ Soak the rich “. In the period before uniform taxation, Queensland had the highest incidence of income tax in Australia. Obviously in this situation industry was not attracted to Queensland. The honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan) said that Queensland had an excellent export position and gave figures to show that it had a very favorable export balance. The simple reason for this is that it has no population to consume the products we grow there. If we had had reasonable and fair government for all sections of the community, capital would have been attracted, industry would have developed and we would have had a much larger population than we now have. Primary producers in the southern States have a larger market for their products than we have.
Queensland also had the highest death and succession duties of any State until recent years. That again did not attract capital to Queensland. It suffers another great disadvantage and I hope that the present Liberal-Australian Country Party Government will rectify it. It has no upper house. Queensland is virtually at the mercy of Cabinet decisions. Just before the last Labour Government went out of office, we had some instances in which it passed very controversial legislation, which became law within a few days. While those circumstances existed, we could not hope to attract capital to Queensland or to establish industry with any hope that its efforts would be rewarded.
Queensland also lost millions of pounds because it would not join the Commonwealth scheme for the settlement of ex-ser vicemen. Western Australia subscribed to the scheme and received £34,000,000 from the Commonwealth. Queensland stood out in perfect isolation and would have nothing to do with it. It was denied the benefit of these millions of pounds. In addition, in the early part of the ‘fifties when money was more plentiful, Queensland did not approach the Commonwealth Government for funds to be spent in that State. I recall it made application for £80,000,000 to be spent on the Burdekin dam, and quite rightly its request was refused by the Commonwealth. When the economics of the Burdekin scheme are examined, we can ask what will be grown there that can be sold. After all, we can grow plenty of produce in Australia but our problem is whether we can sell it.
I have very much pleasure in supporting the bill. I join the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Pearce) in endorsing it. It must be very heartening to him, because we Queenslanders all know what a vigorous supporter he is of any development likely to improve the centre and north of the State. As far as our great export industry is concerned, these roads are the first step in our development. I support the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Murray), who said that this is the first step; other steps will come later. We must have roads to take our cattle away in any event, whether we have pasture improvement or not, but pasture improvement will follow the establishment of the roads. In recent years, we have had two serious droughts in Queensland, particularly in the north and northwest. These droughts have also affected the Northern Territory. Thousands of head of cattle have been saved, where reasonable roads have been available. Traffic over the Barkly Highway, for instance, has increased in the last two years. In the year before last, about 70,000 head of cattle went over the highway and we were told recently that this traffic is now in the vicinity of 90,000 head. At the same time, some 70,000 head went south to Adelaide last year.
When the roads are extended through the Channel country and the northern part of the State, the turn-off of cattle from these areas will be increased. The capacity of the breeding areas in the north is very high in good seasons, but every few years we suffer a tremendous set-back through serious droughts. The cows, the breeders on which we rely to increase our cattle population, suffer most in these droughts. When the roads are available to take out store cattle, room will be made for the cows and our breeding herds, therefore, will be saved. In this way, we will have a greater turn-off of cattle in these areas.
The roads will revolutionize the economy of these areas. 1 estimate that in the northern part of Queensland on an average every year about 750,000 old cows die because of the tick and unfavorable pasture conditions towards the end of the year. That has been happening ever since there have been cattle in north Queensland. When making the bullock muster in that area from about April to the end of June, many old cows that we know will not survive the bad season are yarded. If there were an adequate road system up there, those old cows could be sold, and that heavy loss avoided. Those areas that are reasonably serviced with roads do dispose of these old beasts. In the days when the Clausen shipping line operated in the Gulf many graziers -took advantage of the opportunity to ship out the old cows which, but for that means of transport, would have been lost to the economy. Honorable members will appreciate the loss that can be saved if I mention that these old boners or tinners have been bringing from £40 to £50 a head in the south. If the cattle mcn of the north got only £20 a head for the 750,000 old beasts which normally dic in a bad season, the saving to them would be enormous.
Last week, in Brisbane “ Truth “ I read a ridiculous article headed “ Conspiracy against Queensland “. lt stated that the cattle population of Queensland had not increased to any marked extent since 1896, and to me it was strange that 1896 should be selected as the year of comparison. I remind honorable members that 1896 was the first year in which the cattle tick spread through the heavily stocked areas of north Queensland and decimated the herds there. The tick has been the reason why the cattle population has not increased in north Queensland. Either the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, or another body of experts, conducted an investigation into the cattle industry of Queensland and found that the tick was responsible for a loss of £10,000,000 to the cattle industry. Because of the tick, the life expectancy of a beast in the north has been decreased, and this is one of the main reasons why the cattle population has not grown to any great extent.
Another point to be remembered is that in north Queensland the rainy season ends about the beginning of April and, as a general rule, there is no more rain until about October, except for isolated, sporadic storms. Between April and October, pastures mature and dry up, with the result that they contain very little nutrient by about September or October. Although the cattle are now immune to one disease which formerly killed them off - redwater - the blood-sucking habits of the tick have reduced their resistance to poor conditions and many of them die.
A third factor to bear in mind is that the cattle occupy the worst country in Queensland. Sheep occupy the best country, and the cattle men have had to be content with the heavy rainfall areas to the east and to the north. That is another reason why there has not been any great expansion of the cattle population. But, with the development of pasture improvement, the cattle population can be increased. Together with pasture improvement, we must have suitable roads for taking out the stock, not only when they are fat, but also when they are young. Most honorable members will know that it is not possible to drove cattle for any long distance until they are about two and a half or three years old, and it must be obvious that if cattle must be kept until they are that old before they are shifted, there must be considerable waste. If they can be turned off as weaners, they will not only fatten quicker, but they will also settle down better and become a much more marketable asset.
Honorable members have spoken about the need for constructing good roads. The honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Pearce) suggested that a good road should be constructed between Windorah and Yaraka to provide speedy access to the meatworks at Rockhampton. I agree with him. The important thing is to give the cattle men of the west and the north a choice of markets. Whether they send their cattle to Adelaide, Sydney, Brisbane or Townsville, they should bc given the opportunity to choose what is the best market for them. They have not had that choice hitherto. Up to date, they have been at the mercy of several interests in the north, and have been required to accept whatever price was offered to them.
It has been stated that the cost of transporting cattle by road train is £2 per beast per 100 miles, f emphasize that the important consideration is how much dressed weight is saved by transporting cattle in this way. To illustrate my point 1 mention the Adelaide market as an example. If the price on that market was £14 per 100 lb. dressed weight, and a grazier could save, say, 200 lb. dressed weight by sending his cattle to that market- by motor transport, it would be well worth the extra cost. One friend of mine, who is in the border territory well south of the Barkly Tableland, was offered £55 a head for his cattle on the Adelaide market as against £35 at Townsville. He is faced with cither disposing of them al Townsville for £35 a head or paying from £8 lo £10 a beast for transportation to the Adelaide market, where he can get £50 a bead. The choree there is a very happy one for him. Road transport gives him the opportunity to avail himself of the best market.
The quality of the roads constructed has been mentioned. The condition of a road is an important factor for, if the roads are good, the maintenance of road trains is reduced considerably. In passing, I remind honorable members of the great assistance given by the Commonwealth to the cattle mcn in the north by the removal of sales tax from the trucks used for the transportation of cattle. With good roads, not only is the cost of maintenance kept down, but there is less bruising of the cattle en route to the market. But it cannot bc denied that there is no hope in the world of having scaled roads immediately, because the cost would bc prohibitive. J understand that 1.000 miles of good gravel road can be constructed for what it would cost to build only 200 miles of sealed road, and if we wait until wc are able to construct all scaled roads, the economy will lose far too much. After all, a good gravel road is far better than an old bush track with the bulldust that has been spoken of to-day, with ruts, holes and all the other things that lead to the knocking about of the cattle while in the road trains. It has also been said that the gravel roads are not wide enough, that the gravel surface should be more than 16 feet wide. I have been informed very definitely that the width is 18 feet. Let us hope that in the future it will be 18 feet of scaled road. Our funds could not cope with the scheme if il were to be commenced immediately. 1 have pleasure in supporting the bill.
.- I direct my remarks to the Western Australian Grant (Beef Cattle Roads) Bill 1961. The title of the bill speaks for itself. This afternoon we have enjoyed a debate on the cognate bill relating lo Queensland, and I have gained the impression that Queensland’s greatest problem has been 40 years of Labour government. One Opposition member stressed the fact that there were no plans for roads in Queensland. This alone is a great indictment of past governments of that State for their failure at least to prepare plans. I am proud to say that such a position does not exist in Western Australia. Wc have had plans prepared for many years and as money has become available it has been spent immediately and well. Every practical member of this place, except those Opposition members who never will admit that they arc satisfied with anything that the Government docs, should support this legislation.
A number of significant highlights should be mentioned. First, there is the great work that the Brand Government in Western Australia has done under the drive of Mr. Court, the Minister for Industrial Development. He has been responsible for deciding on methods of developing the north-west area of lbc State. The fact that this drive is based on practical production results on a commercial basis, without the modern tendency to promote grandiose schemes, should be borne in mind. This outlook has created in the Commonwealth Government a very high regard for and confidence in Western Australia. We are prepared to help ourselves and the Commonwealth Government believes that self-help is worth supporting, lt is worthy of note that in the last few years, and without any financial assistance, an average of £1,000,000 a year has been spent on developmental work and on the provision of roads in the Kimberleys, Pilbara and Gascoyne areas.
– Then why do you need any financial assistance now?
– Because a little additional assistance will be in the interests of Australia as a whole, and not Western Australia alone. I have emphasized the practical grounds on which assistance should be based, because I believe there has never been in our great surge of progress a more important time than the present to keep our feet on the ground. This applies particularly to northern development. We read almost daily in the newspapers statements from people in all walks of life recommending and, in fact, demanding that millions of pounds be spent on all kinds of projects in the north. In fact, the Labour Party would spend thousands of millions of pounds without that money having any relationship to the needs that exist. The Opposition makes such vague statements as, “ The north cannot be left empty “, “ We must populate or perish “ and “ Defence alone will justify the expense “. These loose statements are very dangerous and can influence public opinion to a degree out of all proportion to the facts. If responsible government” -took this kind of advice or thought in the way suggested, we certainly would perish.
Do not think for one moment that I do nott, believe in northern development. 1 believe most sincerely that it is of great importance, but I must emphasize again that the north must be developed in a balanced way. Many parts of the south still need developing, particularly in Western Australia where immediate economic results would be seen. It must be remembered also that continued southern development is the only practical way of financing and supporting our somewhat less productive north, especially in the early stages. However, I have no doubt that the time will come, although we might not be here to enjoy it, when the north will be developed to such an extent that it will support the south, just as Western Australia for many years has supported the eastern States with a tremendous per capita export income.
Thinking along these lines of development for a moment one can realize how ridiculous it is for persons in public life to claim that the north should have been developed years ago. They are what I would call prophets of the past. They never stop to remind themselves that if the money had been spent years ago in the north it could not have been spent anywhere else in Australia, particularly in the south, which has provided and will continue to provide the financial backing for the north. It is always so easy, when projects are commenced, for people to say that they should have been started years ago. I believe that we have maintained a constant rate of progress. If any honorable member has taken the opportunity to read the recent report by the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) relating to the tremendous increase in expenditure in the Northern Territory and Queensland, he will bc aware of what has been done to date. I know that the enthusiast is never satisfied, but there has been continual research and improvements.
This brings me to the important point of government policy - the consideration of first things first. I agree with the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Murray) who stated that the titles of these bills should include the words “development roads “ instead of “ beef roads “, because he is afraid that other forms of development may be put aside. The firstthingsfirst policy should apply particularly to access roads. A great deal has been done in the fields of experiment and research. The Forster report on the agricultural potential of the Northern Territory provides some very valuable information for the over-enthusiastic on the tremendous problems and difficulties associated with closer settlement, particularly in the Northern Territory. I believe we have a much greater potential in the high rainfall areas of Queensland and in the Kimberleys district of Western Australia. These areas should receive consideration at this stage.
While supporting the work that has been done by the Western Australian Government on the Ord River project and on many other forms of development, the policy of dealing with first things first forces us to a consideration of providing cattle roads, transport facilities, improved port facilities and so on so that we can develop the one industry which we know can be worked profitably and which has a great export potential. Obviously, this is the purpose of the Commonwealth’s assistance to Queensland, the Northern Territory and Western Australia for the provision of roads. In Western Australia the money will be spent on up-grading roads and on major bridge construction to provide the greatest benefit from the funds which have been made available. All-weather access to the Wyndham meat works will be provided.
Silting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
– I have emphasized the importance of northern development, but I have also stressed the desirability of keeping our feet on the ground, as it were, and balancing the development of the north with that of Australia as a whole. From some of the speeches made in this chamber this afternoon it would appear that Queensland members in particular believe that the development of their State has suffered badly through lack of planning. That lack of planning was due, I. believe, mainly to the apathy of the Queensland Government during 40 years of Labour rule. I can sympathize with those honorable members, because from time to time Western Australia has suffered briefly from the same complaint. However, both Western Australia and the Northern Territory are much more fortunately placed, inasmuch as there is a definite drive towards development. There is confidence in the federal Government, and I am sure wc will see a great deal more movement in the future. 1 emphasize that the future depends upon our being realistic and practical and treating first things first. I recall that the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Murray) was particularly concerned because these measures were called “beef road “ bills and he thought that that might imply that all that was necessary in the north was the development of beef roads. I feel that he can be assured, from the activities of the governments of Western Australia, Queensland and the Commonwealth, as well as of the Northern Territory Administration, that all aspects of development will bc dealt with in their duc priorities. As I said earlier,
Western Australia has already determined the priorities of the various works, and the State Government is making available a good deal of money from its own resources to open up the Kimberley area for the development of the beef cattle industry. It will provide all-weather access to the Wyndham meat works from the Kimberley beef area. Road transport which, as honorable members who know the situation will realize, has only started to become effective this year, will make it possible to double the output of beef in that part of the State. Not only will adequate transport increase the quantity of beef produced, but also it will improve the quality and therefore the value of the beef from these areas. The new road system will also join up with and assist the areas on the western border of the Northern Territory.
There has been far too much loose talk on the need in the Northern Territory for high-grade sealed roads 20 feet wide an. costing probably from £12,000 to £15,000 or £18,000 per mile. I was pleased to hear the honorable member for McPherson (Mr. Barnes) point out this afternoon that the great demand in the north is for all-weather access roads. Wc are losing sight of reality if we plan wide heavily bitumened roads when the real necessity is only for roads with excellent foundations and all the bridges and culverts necessary to avoid flooding, so that in the first instance wc may have complete access to and opening up of the Northern Territory. I do not think there is any real economic loss in constructing this sort of road because, as engineers will confirm, a road can bc constructed perhaps a little more economically in two stages. About six-tenths of the cost of a road that is eventually to be scaled goes into its foundations. A road requires from 6 to 8 inches of solid foundation material, which has to bc compacted. If the traffic is allowed to use the road for a reasonable length of time the compacting of the foundation material is almost automatic and there is no additional cost in proceeding, at a later period, with the 4 inches of top surfacing and the sealing. However, as the first cost is roughly half the final cost, it will be seen that the amount of money expended will go twice as far in the early stages if the construction is carried out as I have suggested. There is no economic loss in that type of construction. The emphasis must be on the length of road constructed and on the provision of adequate bridges and culverts so that miles and miles of good road will not be wasted simply because, due to flood conditions, a few miles of it is put out of action, as I am afraid has happened on many occasions in the Northern Territory and in Queensland and Western Australia. The upgrading can always be left until the traffic density and the relative maintenance costs of the road warrant sealing.
Another point that I want to make - and here I have no doubt I will be in conflict with some of my colleagues and certainly with the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam), judging from the tenor of his speech this afternoon - is that I do not believe there is any necessity for what has been referred to as a northern development commission, or even the loosely termed co-ordination committee. The general plan of roads in the north has already been developed. Because of the topographical and geographical considerations, the roads almost plan themselves. I believe each State has a far better knowledge of its own particular priorities and requirements than has any other authority, and the Commonwealth Government has sufficient judgment to consider the various submissions of the States.
I point out that the co-ordination of roads is not a very complicated matter. It is not like planning a tunnel for the Snowy Mountains scheme. It is not highly technical. When you consider on a broad basis the differences between the wet areas in Queensland and the Kimberleys in Western Australia you will see that their problems are entirely unrelated. I believe that a development commission would just be another pressure group, which could and no doubt would tend to pressurize the Government into spending completely beyond the needs of the balanced development of Australia. There is a tendency for special authorities of this nature to take power out of the hands of the Government. There could be a tendency for the Government to become simply a drafting authority for special committees and other bodies. The effect of appointing the suggested commission might be merely to create another pressure group. After all, a body of this kind looks at merely one aspect of the national situation.
It is interesting to note that at the time when many people are recommending the appointment of a national development commission, there is considerable agitation, as we have heard in this Parliament recently, for the formation of new States. On the one hand we hear recommendations for the formation of new States so that development will be more closely controlled by State governments, while on the other hand we hear the same people recommending the appointment of this special authority which would take control away from the State governments. It is important to remember that the States can to a large extent solve their own developmental problems. It is necessary to have a number of States to cover the vast area of Australia, and there is no real relationship between the problems of Queensland and those of Western Australia.
I finally remind honorable members that when grants of money of the kind envisaged in this legislation are made by the Commonwealth they are not made to finance State projects as such. It so happens that certain areas of Australia at certain times are ripe for development in the national interest. The Snowy Mountains happen to be situated in New South Wales or in Victoria or in both States; the Koolyanobbing iron ore deposits happen to be in Western Australia; deposits of copper by chance are found at Mount Isa in Queensland; uranium happens to be found in the Northern Territory; the Ord River flows, by chance, in the Kimberleys area of Western Australia; and each of these circumstances results in the carrying out of a national project. The fact that a particular project is undertaken in a particular State at a particular time should be totally disregarded in the national interest. I believe this to be very important. The Commonwealth Government is charged with the responsibility of seeing that the taxpayers’ money is spent to the greatest advantage. In this instance I can assure honorable members that it will be well spent by our progressive Western Australian Brand Government.
– I want to express my support of both the measures we are now discussing. They are, I believe, an earnest of this Government’s desire to help the States with small populations and large areas, which have particular problems arising from the very fact that their areas are large and their populations small, and that their few taxpayers cannot hope to finance such development projects themselves. I support the legislation also for the reason that it may have the effect of increasing our export earnings. I think most people in Australia who care for the future of the country realize only too well that unless we increase our export earnings very greatly in the next few years wc are likely to find ourselves in serious difficulty.
I support the legislation also for another reason. Some thirteen years ago I was a very strong advocate of the air beef scheme. That scheme was introduced in an area rather south of that which is covered by the legislation now before us, but it too was introduced for the purpose of encouraging beef production. Under that scheme the pastoralists were asked to support centrally situated abattoirs, where the cattle would be slaughtered, the beef then being flown to the ports. This saved the producers a considerable amount of money because they were not faced with the expense of droving cattle hundreds of miles lo Wyndham, with consequent loss of weight by the beasts on their long journeys. It was pointed out by my friend, the honorable member for Macpherson (Mr. Barnes) this afternoon that if you want to drove cattle for large distances, whether in Western Australia or in Queensland, you must select cattle that arc old and strong enough to stand the journey. You then lose in two directions. If people raising beef can turn off young stock in good condition they must enjoy so much more prosperity, and the country as a whole will consequently be more prosperous.
The legislation dealing with Western Australia will help that State tremendously. Western Australia is rather fortunate in having ample supplies of bitumen, which has been mentioned at length during this debate because of its use in sealing roads. Wc have an ample supply of bitumen and, fortunately for the State, although unfortunately for the company producing the bitumen, the cost of shipping the product to the eastern States is so great that the bulk of the output of the refinery is used on Western Australian roads. 1 disagree with some honorable members who have said that we must put down solid foundations for our road’s. I take it that they meant foundations of rock or stone. The day when it was necessary to build roads in that way is gone. With the system of water bonding of gravel it is much easier to build the roads proposed in these two pieces of legislation in such a way that sealing at a later stage will be relatively easy, while all-weather gravel roads will be available in the first instance, built to a standard. The standards of roads will have to be approved by the Commonwealth Government representative, who will be the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt); but I. do not think he will depart very greatly from the standards that have been built up over the years and have been laid down since 1926 in connexion with the Commonwealth Aid Roads Act.
The Western Australian Government will be able to use the amount of £340,000, which will evidently be available to it of the total of £500,000, the remaining £160,000 being spent on the building of the two bridges, to do a considerable amount of work on the two roads mentioned, the one between Wyndham and Nicholson station, and the other between Wyndham and Halls Creek via Turkey Creek. I know that a good job will be done on those roads, f have had many years’ association wilh local government, and 1. know that the Main Roads Department in Western Australia would not give any assistance for roads coming under its jurisdiction unless the various local authorities conformed to the standards laid down.
I was somewhat surprised to hear honorable members this afternoon, particularly one Opposition member, say that the Commonwealth was preparing to loss £5,000,000 to the Queensland Government, saying, “ There you are, go to it and do what you like with it “. I defy honorable members to demonstrate that this is the idea behind the legislation. Far be it from the Commonwealth Government lo say lo any State, “ This is where the roads shall go “. lt is the prerogative of the State concerned to make that decision. Before the Stales can get any assistance under this legislation their proposals must be approved by the Commonwealth, and I cannot conceive of this Government or any future Commonwealth government wilh any concern for the development of Australia telling the States that they do nol know their own country, or that the roads they may propose to build will not be in the right places. If anybody should know the various areas and their potentials it is the members of the State governments, of whatever party political colour they may be.
– There was no proposition from the State Government.
– I am very surprised to hear the honorable member say that. I have been in this Parliament for fifteen years. Some honorable members may say that this is my swan song, but the fact is that I have had long experience in this Parliament. I can recall an occasion when the Queensland Government put forward a suggestion to the Commonwealth Government for the building of roads here, there and everywhere. I can recall when the Commonwealth Government was on the verge of making advances^ to the Queensland Government, and the latter government accepted a report from one of its com,mittees which was completely opposed to the idea of building a road in a certain place. * One finds a similar situation in regard to the siting of water conservation works. It has been only within the last eight or ten years - I do not want to take credit from any particular government - that Queensland has got down to some real planning in respect of both roads and water supplies. But let us not argue the point about that.
I think it is very wrong for any individual in this Parliament, knowing what this legislation really means, to say that the Government is tossing £5,000,000 at the States and the States are not ready to use all that money or any part of it because they have made no plans, and so forth. The legislation clearly lays down that the State is responsible for the initiation of a project, which must then be agreed to by the Commonwealth. The States must measure up to the standards required before they can get the money. I am glad that that is the case, too. As I said a few moments ago, while the constitutional situation continues as it is at present, no Commonwealth government ought to step in and tell a State that it shall build a road here, there or anywhere else. Of course, a strategic road is a different thing altogether under the Commonwealth’s defence powers.
The establishment of a commission to develop northern Australia has been mentioned. I agree with the idea, Mr. Speaker, on condition that such a commission could be of a continuing nature. I do not think that any Commonwealth government, regardless of its political colour, would appoint a number of men from, say, Victoria to such a commission for the purpose of looking after the north of this country. Obviously, the members of such a commission would be drawn from Western Australia, the Northern Territory and northern Queensland. If the members, being drawn from those parts of the continent, were too fearful to put up a case for their own areas, the sooner they left the commission, the better it would be for the commission and the whole of the Commonwealth, because men who would not do what they could for the areas that they represented in the north would be no good to anybody.
The trouble is that that sort of thing could happen in this very Parliament. I cannot see a change of government occurring for a few years yet, but there will be a change at some time, naturally. With a change of government, there could be a change of policy, and if we start chopping and changing the policy concerning the development of our northern areas, we shall be in the doldrums. However, bearing in mind these points, I think that the proposal for the apppointment of a commission to develop the north is worth considering very seriously. Such a commission ought not to be a body with juridical powers. It ought to be a factfinding body which could give advice and provide data for the government of the day, so that, when the time becomes propitious, the government of the clay can determine what it is to do.
I shall not detain the House longer, Mr. Speaker, except to say that I support the two measures which we are now discussing. They are an earnest of this Government’s willingness to help. There are no constitutional barriers in the way of these proposals, and this Government is prepared to help the two States concerned in projects which are probably too big for the States to handle alone. At the same time, the Commonwealth has an eye to our natural goal - the increasing of our exports during the next few years over as wide a range as possible as quickly as we can. I do not think that, so long as that object is kept in mind, arrangements like these between this Government and the government of any State for financial assistance to that State will do Australia any harm.
.- Mr. Speaker, I support both the bills which the House is now discussing. I commend my colleague, the honorable member for Canning (Mr. Hamilton), for his remarks concerning the roads that these bills will enable the two State governments concerned to build. He has pointed out, rightly, that there is no need for us in this Parliament to worry about the standards to which those roads will be constructed. Surely wc can rely on the States to see that they are constructed to proper standards. In fact, the bills themselves provide that proper standards shall be observed. 1 was rather surprised to hear one Opposition member suggest that, in places, the roads would disappear. The suggestion was, 1 suppose, that they would disintegrate because, at times during floods, parts of them arc under water. Parts of the roads out in the Channel country and in the adjacent areas are covered by water .’n time of flood, and I could ta .e the honorable member to other places in Queensland where roads are under water in time of flood, but those roads arc still fit to be used at other times.
– That is possible provided the road is laid on solid foundations.
– Surely the roads which will be constructed with the fundi provided under the terms of these measures will bc built on proper foundations. The honorable member will be aware, if he has driven over the road across the channels near Windorah, that, because proper foundations have been laid, the roads out there stand up well to any wet weather. I think that it is only beating about the bush to suggest that the proposed roads will not be properly constructed. These bills are designed to enable the States concerned to build the roads properly, and 1 think that we can rely on the State authorities to do so.
There appears to be some contusion about the suggestion that a commission be appointed to develop northern Australia. My colleague, the honorable member for Canning, took one view of the idea. His attitude was that any such commission ought to be more an investigating bod, than anything else. But other proposals that have been made in this House would go much further than that. I take it, from what has been said by some honorable members, that a commission ought not only lo investigate but also superintend construction and development proposals for the whole of the north. With all duc respect to my colleague, the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Pearce). 1 do not believe that such a commission would work.
– The main trouble is that such a commission would deal with two sovereign States as well as with a Territory of the Commonwealth. In order for us to get anywhere, the two States concerned would have to bc asked io surrender some of their sovereignty. I think that would bc loo much to ask of any State. However, I think it would bc perfectly valid to appoint a commission to investigate in order to find out what was wanted. The Commonwealth Government would then have to decide what ought to be done and how it ought lo be done.
There is one other point that I think has been overlooked. Why have a commission to develop only the north of Australia? There arc other parts of Australia that need development, too. If any honorable members think that there are not, I should like to take them to my division of Wide Bay. That division is one of the finest areas of Australia, but quite a number of developmental measures are needed there. We would have no trouble in spending £20,000,000 or £40,000,000 in the watersheds of the Burnett and Mary rivers in order to conserve water supplies and enable the primary producers to use to the best advantage the good land which is there. So I merely ask, briefly, because I do not wish to delay the House: Why have a commission to investigate development only of the north of Australia? Why not develop the whole of Australia in proper order? If some works are urgently needed in my electorate, why should they not be undertaken? Why should a commission make a lot of inquiries about the development of only one part of Australia and neglect other parts of the continent, which are already fairly well populated and where the residents could do better still for the country if they had, for example, plenty of water? I leave that aspect of the matter there, because this is not perhaps the time or the place to develop that theme in detail.
To my regret and, I am sure, to the regret of many other honorable members, the making of grants to the States for various purposes has become a political football. Surely the only question is whether a thing is necessary in the national interest. We should never get to the stage of bartering promises for votes. As 1 see it. what we have come to is that somebody says: “ You are not being given enough money. If you vo:e for me. I will give you more.” 1 suppose that that sort of thing may have happened before.
– The honorable member for Hume said that.
– That is said by some people in Tasmania who tell the Tasmanians that they are not getting a fair go and that Queensland is being given - that is the term that those people use - £20,000,000 for the Mount Isa railway line.
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. John McLeay).Order! I suggest that the honorable member ought to come back to the bill.
– The important question about this Queensland bill, Mr. Speaker, is that it grants Queensland £5.000,000 to be used for roads, and it is in quite a different category from other payments that are made to the States, being a straight-out gift the only string attached to which is the provision that the money must be correctly spent. Yet many people overlook the fact that this is a gift, and they regard the grant as of little consequence. They regard the expenditure of perhaps £200,000,000 on the Snowy Mountains scheme as being a gift. May I remind honorable members that all the money advanced on the Snowy Mountains scheme will have to be repaid. I am told by the responsible authorities that it will take about 70 years to pay off each unit as it comes in, and the payments will be made out of proceeds of the sale of electricity. I am also told that about nine-tenths of the money received for electricity sold under the scheme will go to the repayment of interest on the loan for that scheme. Surely a gift of £5.000,000 to Queensland is in an entirely different category from that.
It is obvious that better communications are good for any country, or any part of any country. Those of us who have travelled over country roads know the worth of improved roads. I am told by one of my constituents that he will be able to supply large road trains consisting of prime movers and following vehicles which will enable him to transport cattle over roads of reasonable standard for 30s. a beast for each 100 miles. The cost to-day in most areas is higher than that. The honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Murray) put it at £2 a beast per 100 miles. I. am told that in some areas £2 10s. is charged. When we spoke to some people at Victoria River Downs a little while ago, we were told that at one stage they were spending £24 a head to get their cattle to market. Obviously, better roads will enable transport operators to charge less. I was told by the manager of a certain firm in Longreach only recently that they could have their beasts carried on bitumen at about one-quarter less cost than they could have them carried on the average gravel road. However, though we realize that sealed roads mean cheaper transport, in the meantime it must be conceded that the available money can be made to spin out further by making roads not quite to the standard of sealed roads.
As has been pointed out, the provision of these roads will enable property owners in the Northern Territory, the north and west of Queensland and the north of Western Australia to choose their market. If the class of beast they are selling is bringing £6 per 100 lb. at Townsville, £8 further south, or £10 or £1 1 in Adelaide, they have a choice of where to send their beasts. That is a very good thing, and means a good deal to the people in the Centre. With good roads these people will bc able to get their cattle out when they want to without losing weight. Reasonable roads enable the use of semi-trailers or road trains. I know a man who was able to transport flock rams from New South Wales 996 miles into Queensland in under 24 hours. If those rams had been sent by train, the trip would have taken three weeks, and, of course, they would not have been in such good shape when they got to their destination. That is what good transport means, and that is what these roads will mean to Queensland and Western Australia.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed : through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
Consideration resumed from 18th October (vide page 2188), on motion by Mr. Menzies -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate. %
Debate resumed from 17th October (vide page 2106), on motion by Mr. Townley -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– As I hear no objection to the Minister’s suggestion that procedure will be followed.
.- The two bills now before us contain a number of outrageous proposals that the Opposition will resist with all the vigour at its command. This Government is treating with a great deal of contempt both this parliamentary institution and the Australian public. While some honorable members on the Government side who are laughing now may regard this as somewhat of a joke T think that they are laughing only to keep their courage up, because there are very few people in Australia who will not agree that the Government is acting in a manner which could not be condoned by any reasonable person. In the last week of the Parliament - and it may be the last week in which this Government will have control of the Parliament - the Government proposes to renew an agreement that still has six years to run. It proposes to extend it for another ten years. So what does the Government ask this Parliament to do? It proposes to tie the hands of at least five successive Parliaments by the agreement it hopes to enact through this legislation. There is no doubt that this is another step in the Government’s plan to destroy a great public enterprise - Trans-Australia Airlines.
If there is one man in the country who has demonstrated that he has great influence with this Government it is Mr. Reg Ansett, head of the Ansett-A.N.A. group. At a function recently, one of my colleagues mentioned to Mr. Ansett that he understood he had been approached to run as a Liberal candidate for the Senate. Mr. Ansett’s reply was, “ Why do I have to worry about the Senate when I have Senator Paltridge there? “ So we are beginning to ask ourselves: Who framed this legislation? Let me produce some evidence to show who framed it and who exercises the influence with this Government. I am not arguing for one moment that the Government represents every small businessman in the community, but it does represent the big financial interests and the great monopolies of Australia. Evidently, Mr. Ansett can write his own ticket.
Let me refer honorable members to what appeared in the “ Financial Review “ as far back as 20th July last to show them that evidently Mr. Ansett then had an idea of what he wanted and also knew that he was going to get it. The article was headed -
ANSETT-A.N.A. - The Inside Story
Another heading related to the same article reads -
Prospects For 1961-2 Hinge on Government.
Then the “ Financial Review “ set out a number of proposals that Mr. Ansett expected the Government to concede him. The first was a decision on the application to operate to Darwin. Mr. Ansett got it. The second was a possible increase of air navigation charges in the Budget. Mr. Ansett did not want any increase and there were no increases in air navigation charges in the Budget. The next point was the renegotiation of the financial provisions of the 1952 Civil Aviation Agreement which was not due to expire until 1967. This legislation extends it to 1977. 1 think it is outrageous that the Government should expect the Parliament to accept such a proposition. If you want to take it a little further as to what Mr. Ansett wanted, this article stated - referring to Mr. Ansett -
Me wants the Government to oblige T.A.A. to change ils methods of accounting so that it will be obliged to treat ils present payments of interest on money borrowed from the Government not as a dividend from its operations each year but as a cost which must be reckoned before a profit is (truck.
That is exactly what is contained in this legislation. It is exactly what T.A.A. is to be asked to do. There is no doubt in the world that the Government has obliged Mr. Ansett by doing everything he asked it to do. The “ Financial Review “ was selling on the streets of Sydney with an announcement of what this legislation would contain before the Minister had actually made his speech in the Senate. That proves conclusively that Mr. Ansett, the “Financial Review” and other people knew the contents of this legislation before it was actually produced in the Parliament.
Let me turn now to some other previous acts of favoritism lo the Ansett-A.N.A organization by this Government, because they are worth mentioning. In 1952, the Government decided that it would give Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited, as it was then known, half the mails to carry. I am told that this is now worth £450,000 a year to the company. What a stupid position for any government to put itself in! While operating its own government airline, it gave half the business available to it for the carriage of its mails to its private competitor. In addition, A.N.A. was to get half of the other business of the Government. Departmental officers were left free to travel by A.N.A. in preference to T.A.A. 1 turn now to the purchase of Viscount aircraft. At one stage, both these airlines intended to purchase Viscount aircraft, but suddenly, with the Government’s approval and evidently thinking it was doing something rather shrewd, Ansett-A.N.A. switched and decided to buy DC6 aircraft. I repeat that it did so with the Government’s approval. But the DC6!s proved to have less popular public appeal than had the Viscounts; so T.A.A., with its prudent managership, again had the advantage. Then in came the Government to assist the private airline, and it decided that T.A.A. should not bc allowed to continue to have the advantage of the wise decision it had made. The Government decided to put a fax on aviation kerosene with an immediate cost to T.A.A. of an additional £300,000 a year. Honorable members will agree that this was a substantial advantage to the competitors of T.A.A. who were not using Viscount aircraft and therefore were not using aviation kerosene.
Then wc had the decision of T.A.A. to seek Caravelle aircraft. The airline was compelled by this Government to switch to Electras. That immediately gave AnsellA.N.A. a great advantage because that airline had already ordered its Electras and secured prior delivery. - Ansett-A.N.A. had Electras operating on the Australian run before T.A.A. could secure Electra aircraft; but when recently the Electras had to be modified and had to be taken to the United Slates of America for the modifications, the aircraft were not taken away in the order in which they had been delivered to Australia. If the Government had dealt with the situation fairly, Ansett-A.N.A. Electras should have been taken first for modification but they were not; they were kept on the run. T.A.A. and Qantas had their Electras back in Australia with the modifications completed, but because Ansett-A.N.A. aircraft had not yet been returned to Australia, T.A.A. and Qantas were not permitted to step up the speed of their aircraft as that would have given them an advantage over the private airline. Although the aircraft had been modified and it was quite safe for the T.A.A. Electras to fly at the maximum speed, they were not permitted to do so until the Ansett-A.N.A Electras were returned to Australia.
Every one knows the story of the crosscharter agreement and how T.A.A. was compelled to exchange three of its Viscounts on charter for two DC6’s that Ansett.A.N.A. had secured and were found not to bc popular with the travelling public. We k,now what has happened with the Darwin route. The Ansett-A.N.A. organization is now permitted to continue its flights from Alice Springs to Darwin and from Mount Isa to Darwin. This means an additional profit of £200,000 a year to the company because this is a profitable service. That does not mean that it does not affect T.A.A. The fact is that T.A.A. services to Darwin have been reduced by approximately 50 per cent, and so also has its patronage. So T.A.A. has been vitally affected by this decision of the Government.
I could mention a number of other decisions which might be regarded as unimportant, but they all affect the service given to the travelling public. The quality of the meals has been reduced. Even the handing out of sweets to passengers has been discontinued. Passengers have to pay for transport between the airport and the city offices of the airlines. All these decisions were forced on T.A.A. It was unwilling to accept them; it wanted to continue the excellent service it had given to the public. But because Ansett-A.N.A. exerted pressure on the Government, T.A.A. was forced to yield. In 1957, by special legislation AnsettA.N.A. was given guaranteed loans by this Government.
Sir Giles Chippindall, who is chairman of the Australian National Airlines Commission, following the receipt by every member of the Parliament of a letter from Mr. Reg Ansett, said it was time Mr. Ansett stopped bleating about his hard luck and counted his blessings. But Mr. Ansett now has shown that his bleatings have paid off; everything he has asked for has now been conceded to him.
If we turn to the question of management, we find that T.A.A. has been excellently managed. If this had not been so, it must have been in serious difficulties by now, with an unsympathetic government repeatedly coming to the aid of its private airline competitor. lt was said in the other chamber when this bill was being debated that T.A.A. had not started to show a profit until 1950; that it did not show a profit under a Labour government. I will give some specific figures in a moment to show the progress being made by T.A.A. when Labour was in office. In 1957, when Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited was acquired by the Ansett group, it had been losing money for quite a number of years. It was because of this that the Ansett group secured its opportunity to take it over. Since then, with the approval and assistance of this Government, the Ansett group has been reaching out to create a monopoly in internal air services. It forced Butler Air Transport Limited, which had been functioning successfully for a number of years, to yield to a take-over. But the Butler airline was not a very good buy. It was equipped with Elizabethan aeroplanes, which did not prove to be very successful when operating on the Australian air routes. The Ansett group took over the Mandated airline. That was not a very good buy, either, because from my information it bought obsolescent aircraft and Ansett bought the service at a figure much above the. figure for which it could eventually have secured the airline.
Let us look at the interest charge to see which airline has had the best management. To-day T.A.A. pays an annual interest bill of £600,000; Ansett-A.N.A. pays £1,300,000. So every year Ansett-A.N.A. is obliged to pay an additional £700,000 in interest. It is borrowing money to-day at interest ranging between 8 per cent, and 9 per cent. It evades taxation by a very ingenious method and would eventually be caught if it were not for the assistance of this Government. For taxation purposes it is permitted to write off the value of its aircraft over a period of four to five years. But for internal accounting purposes, the writing-off is extended over a period of ten years. That is done deliberately to avoid the payment of taxation.
Ansett-A.N.A. has no worries. Why should it worry if it borrows money at 8 per cent, or 9 per cent, or if it buys other air services at a bad price? A benevolent government gives it a guaranteed profit no matter how its affairs are managed. Let me deal with the profits proposal in this legislation. The Minister is to declare what the profit target of T.A.A. will be for the year - not its present profit of 5 per cent., which it has paid regularly to the Treasury now for a number of years, but a profit target fixed by the Minister so that T.A.A. will achieve what he considers to be a reasonable return. The legislation does not disclose what the reasonable return is; this is left in the vaguest terms. The Minister must fix the reasonable return in relation to the capital of T.A.A… after taking into account all relevant factors. What are the relevant factors? They are not sst out in the legislation, but I will nominate them for honorable members.
The Minister said that the two airlines must have a comparable cost structure. First, T.A.A. must be prevented from getting the advantage of lower interest rates on its Treasury advances as against the interest paid by Ansett-A.N.A. on the open market. What docs the Government mean when it says that the advantage now obtained by T.A.A. in regard to these advances from the Treasury must end and the Minister, in determining the profit target, must take account of T.A.A.’s borrowings as they would be at the current commercial rate? What is the current commercial rate? It is anything from 7 per cent, to 15 per cent. Why docs the Government not declare what it considers the current commercial rate to be? Secondly, T.A.A. is to bc prevented from using its superannuation funds which now amount to f 3, 10 1,000. It has been using the superannuation funds in running the business, and there is nothing wrong with that.
– T.A.A. has been paying interest on the money.
– Yes. it has been paying 7>i per cent, interest. But the Government has decided that that is an unfair advantage and it now proposes to compel T.A.A. to put its superannuation funds in Commonwealth securities where it will not be able to use the additional £3,000,000. The present limit of T.A.A.’s borrowing or Treasury advances is £3,000,000. Where is it to get the additional money that it requires to make up for the withdrawal of the £3,000,000- odd of superannuation money that it has been using?
Let me turn now to insurance. T.A.A. to-day self-insures and has been doing so for several years. lt found that the premiums on the London market were rising rapidly as a result of the high accident rate on overseas airlines and it considered that it could do better by carrying its own insurance. It has done so very successfully. Now the Government has decided to give T.A.A. under this legislation the choice of continuing self-insurance or insuring in the commercial market. If it decides to continue self-insurance, it must each year put aside out of its earnings an amount equivalent to the commercial premiums it would have paid had it insured on the London market. This money will not be available to it because it also must be placed in Commonwealth securities. What does the Government mean by commercial premiums? Surely it must mean premiums based on the world rate, and this decision means that T.A.A. will receive no benefit from its excellent safety record.
If this is a good principle, why is it not extended to all government properly? Recently, we had a disastrous fire at the Canberra telephone exchange and the damage amounted to £500,000. The Post Office was not compelled to insure in the commercial field. In Great Britain, because of the large volume of public property, the Government decided not lo insure commercially but to carry insurance at its own risk, lt has found that this is a profitable way of handling insurance. Even if T.A.A. decides to continue self-insurance under the conditions laid down by the Government, this does not mean that it will be allowed to do so indefinitely. The Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge) said that this is only a temporary arrangement and will continue until private Australian insurance companies arc able, without substantial overseas rc-insurance coverage, to handle the business that is offering. So that, as soon as the private insurance companies can handle the business, T.A.A. is lo bc compelled to give away self-insurance completely.
I referred to the profit target for T.A.A. Ansett-A.N.A. has also a profit target. The Minister for Civil Aviation declared it in another place, when he said -
Ansett Transport Industries-
I ask honorable members to note that he refers to Ansett Transport Industries and not Ansett-A.N.A. - must have a target of the order of 10 per cent, after a deduction for taxation and a reasonable allocation for reserves.
There is no mention of what is regarded as a reasonable allocation for reserves.
Further, it is evident that what the Minister intends is not merely that this organization shall have a guaranteed return of 10 per cent, from its airline activities after deduction of taxes and after a reasonable allocation for reserves, but that it shall have that return from every activity in which Ansett Transport Industries Limited is engaged, and I remind honorable members that Ansett Transport Industries Limited conducts the great tourist hotel at Hayman Island, that it operates the Pioneer coaches, and it is engaged in manufacturing as well. These activities are not accounted for separately. The Government has taken no steps to trace the use by this organization of its money through all the organization’s activities. Ansett Transport Industries Limited declares its profit in bulk, lt does not treat each of its activities separately; it deals with them as a group.
What is a reasonable allocation for reserves? Can the Minister tell us whether it means that this organization is to have an’ allocation which will enable it to build up such reserves as will pay for the replacement of aircraft and equipment, the expansion of business, capital growth and bonus shares? Are all these things to be taken into account when determining what is a reasonable allocation for reserves? The Minister said that the profit from the airline was not very high, that it was between 2 per cent, and 3 per cent, of revenue. But the revenue is very high. Trans-Australia Airlines seems to be able to do very well on a profit of between 2 per cent, and 3 per cent, of revenue. Up to this point, nobody could have objected to the amount of money that has been paid into the Commonwealth Treasury by T.A.A. The Minister said that a steady 5 per cent, has been paid into the Treasury since 1957. When this profit target is fixed each year, is T.A.A. to be required to match Ansett-A.N.A.? If so, it will mean higher fares, reduced safety and impaired service on the national airline.
– What rubbish!
– The honorable member says, “What rubbish!” If he can suggest any way by which T.A.A. can be forced to earn greater profits without taking something from the service it now gives to the community, we shall be very interested to hear his contribution to the debate.
Now let us turn to the re-equipment proposals. They are very interesting. I have told the House that in certain circumstances, such as when the Electras came into the Australian service, the Government did not mind Ar.sett-A.N.A. getting a start on the national airline. It did not insist that they should not be put into service until all the Electras had arrived in Australia. Now we find that the legislation provides that no orders for equipment are to be placed before 18th November, 1962. lt is provided that neither airline is to commence operations with the new turbo-jet aircraft until 1st July, 1 964. These new aircraft are to cost between £1,200,000 and £2,000,000 depending on the type, and Ansett-A.N.A. is to enjoy government guaranteed loans of up to £6.000,000. For what purpose is the guarantee given? If this organization buys the turbo-jet aircraft at the highest figure - £2,000,000- it will still have ample funds made available by the Government to purchase an additional aircraft. The Minister has said -
If the company is unable to obtain a loan on reasonable terms … the Commonwealth undertakes to advance the amount.
At what rate of interest will the Government make the money available to Ansett-A.N.A. if required to do so? But T.A.A., this great national enterprise, has to find the cost of its new aircraft from its own reserves. That organization has no need to seek special loans from the Government because, by prudent management, it has been able to build ‘up reserves out of which it can purchase its own aircraft.
Now let me turn to the question of air route charges, which are also covered by this legislation. Air route charges were first imposed in 1948, but Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited, which was the forerunner of the present organization, refused to pay them. This meant that a debt accumulated year by year and then, in 1952, this benevolent Government not only remitted two-thirds of A.N.A.’s indebtedness but also reduced the charges by 50 per cent.
If honorable members wish to gain some idea of the great volume of Commonwealth expenditure on the provision of airline facilities in this country, I suggest that they read the report of the Department of Civil Aviation issued this year, at page 53. There they will find that in the past few years the average expenditure on capital works and services was £2,600,000. while the expenditure on maintenance of aerodromes and buildings averaged £1,900,000. On page 93 of the same report honorable members will find a disclosure that the total expenditure on these facilities in Australia in «he year 1960- 61 reached the astronomical figure of £14,900,000, while air navigation charges for that year amounted to only £1,031,000. )n 1959-60, the revenue from air navigation charges amounted to only £700.000. In that year, these charges were increased by 60 per cent., but this did not mean so very much because the revenue derived from navigation charges in 1960-61 amounted to only £1,000,000. it is expected that for the year 1961- 62 they will amount to £1,400,000. Yet, by this legislation, the Government proposes that for the next sixteen years succeeding governments shall bc prevented from increasing air navigation charges by more than 10 per cent, in any one year. This means that, although the Government is spending millions upon millions of pounds each year on airport facilities, the only additional revenue it will derive from an increase of 10 per cent, in air navigation charges next year will be a paltry £140,000. Of course, we all know the Government’s declared policy in connexion with air navigation charges, for the Minister has said -
On any reasonable basis, there is no doubt that the costs significantly exceed the amount being recovered, even if the industry’s contribution of approximately £1,700.000 per annum in fuel tax is taken into account. It has therefore been decided to review the scale of charges annually with (he object of ultimately achieving full recovery of attributable costs.
How many years have we to wait for full recovery if succeeding governments are lo bc tied down to an increase of only 10 per cent, each year, an increase which, next year, will mean the addition of a mere £140,000 to the charges levied?
I turn now to (he tax on aviation fuel. For the next sixteen years, the Government’s taxing powers are to bc sacrificed.
– That is unconstitutional.
– The honorable member for Hindmarsh says that it is unconstitutional. I do not know whether it will stand up to such a test, but that is the Government’s proposal.
Now let me tell the Government what one of its legal luminaries in the Senate had to say about this proposition. I refer to Senator Wright’s contribution to the debate. This is what he said regarding the Government’s decision to take away the taxing power for ten years -
I should think that-
– Order! The honorable member is not in order in alluding to any debate or proceedings of the current session in the Senate, or to any measure pending therein.
– I am only quoting what 1 heard.
– Order! We have to protect the other place. I do not want to interrupt the honorable member unfairly, but the relevant standing order must be observed.
– I was about to repeat something which 1 heard stated by a legal luminary who supports the Government.
– Order! The honorable member will not be in order in doing so. He has already mentioned the honorable senator’s name.
– 1 do not mind, because if 1 cannot make my points here I will make them elsewhere.
Let me deal now with the matter of rationalization which is covered in this agreement. In 1952, the Government established the machinery to bring about rationalization, b w later it decided that its proposals were inadequate. Evidently the machinery was not meeting the requirements of the private airline, so in 1957 it appointed a committee, the chairman of which was to be regarded as a co-ordinator. Ansett-A.N.A. and T.A.A. each had a representative on the committee, and, if they could1 not agree on any matter the coordinator then had to decide the issue. This committee had the duty of determining air routes, time-tables, fares and freights, aircraft capacity and the quality of aircraft. Under the present proposals we are to have the same committee, but there will be a right of appeal from any decision of the co-ordinator to a federal judge, excluding a judge of the High Court of Australia. There is no doubt that the whole plan behind this so-called rationalization scheme was to cripple and destroy T.A.A. but, despite the Government’s efforts, the airline continues to flourish.
I want to deal now with the matter of profits, because the Government has taken to itself the credit for making T.A.A. a profitable undertaking. The Government has claimed that T.A.A.’s first profit was made in 1950. Let me give the House a few figures. In 1947, the first year that the airline operated, it lost £506,000. In 1948, the loss was reduced to £297.000, and in 1949 it was reduced still further to £95,000, representing an improvement of £411,000 in the financial position from 1947 to 1949. In 1950, it made a profit of £215,000, but that was for the year ended 30th June, 1950. For one half of that year a Labour Government was in control of T.A.A. So ever since the inception of the airline - every one knows that it was expected to lose in its early years-
– The loss representing it’s establishment costs.
– That is perfectly true, the losses would represent the airline’s establishment costs. As each year passed T.A.A. continued to show an improvement, but now we find that although it made a profit of £215,000 in 1950, and despite a 6 per cent, increase each year in the business of all airlines in Australia, by 1960 it was able to increase its profit to only £353,000. So whereas under three years or less of a Labour Government managing T.A.A. the financial position had improved by £411,000, the improvement in ten years of anti-Labour government control was only £138,000. If Labour had remained in office, T.A.A. to-day would be making far greater profits than it can possibly make while this Government is in control because the Government has been hampering the airline’s development and its activities. But in any case, a great government enterprise does not set out to make huge profits. It is established to give service to the community, but if, in the process of doing so, it does earn profits, those profits go to the Commonwealth Treasury and benefit every Australian citizen.
Now let me turn to a reported statement by Mr. Warren McDonald, a former chairman of the Australian National Airlines Commission, and now Chairman of the Commonwealth Banking Corporation Board. He is reported in the “ West Australian “ of 22nd June, 1961, as saying, when referring to the rationalization provisions -
They were a negation of competition.
There is the opinion of Mr. Warren McDonald on that aspect. I have referred already to the advantages that this Government gave the private airline commencing in 1952. But despite all of the handicaps and hurdles which it has placed in the way of the great national airline, T.A.A. still succeeds because the figures, which I shall cite to the House now and which cannot be refuted, indicate that in relation to passenger traffic, which has increased substantially since 1957, T.A.A. has obtained 35 per cent, of the increase and Ansett-A.N.A. 21 per cent.
I turn now to another section of the rationalization proposal to prove that I was not exaggerating when I said that the scheme was designed to cripple T.A.A. I shall deal with the matter of freights. Although big business executives prefer to travel by T.A.A., the safe way, they prefer to support the private airline when they have freight to despatch, so they send their goods by Ansett-A.N.A. T.A.A. has only 37 per cent, of this freight business as against 63 per cent, carried by the private airline. In April, 1960, T.A.A. applied to the rationalization committee for some eveningup of the freight business. Let me read to honorable members the extraordinary decision and reasoning of this rationalization committee. It stated -
The Co-ordinator rejected the Commission’s proposal that freighter capacity should be equally allocated and that excess freight obtained by AnsettA.N.A. should be physically transferred to T.A.A. in circumstances, in which,’ in most cases, the freight consignors and consignees would not know that T.A.A. had been involved in that carriage.
Acceptance of this principle would be the complete antithesis of competition and bore no analogy with the rationalization of passenger traffic.
So apparently Ansett-A.N.A. with the assistance of the rationalization committee and of this Government works on the principle that what is yours is mine, and what is mine is my own. The private airline wants to halve the passenger traffic because without the rationalization scheme it could not hold one-half of the passenger traffic, but it wants no interference with the freight traffic. The report goes on -
In the last analysis it would involve pooling of freight and would tend to destroy the incentive for each airline to develop the freight market.
Has there ever been such an extraordinary decision as that?
In the time that remains to me let me now deal with non-competitive routes. AnsettA.N.A. has almost a monopoly of intrastate traffic. This gives the airline a great advantage. In its annual report for 1958-59 T.A.A. had this to say -
An operator barred from access to intra-state routes is at a very serious economic disadvantage . , Apart from the intra-state revenues, such routes generate on-carriage traffic beyond the originating State.
The Government wants a two-airline policy on trunk-line services and a one-airline policy on intra-state services, the one airline being Ansett-A.N.A. So to-day we find that Ansett-A.N.A. controls Airlines of South Australia, Airlines of New South Wales, Queensland Airlines, Mandated Airlines, and now it wants East-West Airlines Limited. Let us consider for a moment the position in relation to East-West Airlines. There has been a great deal of comment and speculation in the press as to who is telling the truth in this matter. 1 want to put a few facts before the House. Mr. Shand is the chairman of East-West Airlines and both he and Mr. Pringle, who was acting chairman in Mr. Shand’s absence, have declared that the Minister for Civil Aviation wanted them to sell out to or amalgamate with AnsettA.N.A. Mr. Pringle said that the Minister had been guilty of outrageous misrepresentation. Wc have to ask ourselves, “Whom can we believe? “ In seeking an answer to that simple question we have to take into account motives. Does any one imagine for one moment that Mr. Shand and Mr. Pringle would lie and antagonize a man who can do their air service either great harm or great good? After all, the Minister for Civil Aviation is the man who determines what subsidy they will receive. He can, if he wishes, cut down the present subsidy. The fact that those two men are prepared to take that risk is sufficient to indicate to me that they are telling the truth in regard to what transpired.
Why was Mr. Pringle summoned by telephone to come to Canberra? The Minister does not deny the statements that have been made about the special SUm_mons to Mr. Pringle. What did the Minister discuss with him if it was not the sell-out of East-West Airlines to, or its amalgamation with, AnsettA.N.A.? What was discussed, and what would be the motive of these two people in lying about this? You have only to take the Minister’s attitude to the company’s problems. He knew it would be facing difficulties, because he is reported as having said -
No amount of representation, no matter how persistent, can resolve the problems that face this company. The Federal Government has paid a total of £67,655 in subsidies to East-West Airlines since 1958. But despite this it has been apparent for some time that the airline has had difficulty in achieving satisfactory commercial results.
He therefore wanted East-West Airlines to accept what he described as a most attractive offer from Ansett-A.N.A., but the company refused and is standing out and, with the assistance of the Government of New South Wales, it will succeed.
Time will not permit me to develop all the arguments that I could advance against this legislation, but I think I have said sufficient. In the past we have been told that Governments could not run any enterprise successfully. It was said that a government airline would lose money and that to establish such an undertaking was to pour money down the drain. But here is a great public enterprise which has caught the imagination of the Australian public. It has succeeded in spite of all the obstacles, and this Government now hopes, in its dying days, to bind this Parliament for sixteen years by a measure which it hopes will prevent T.A.A. at least from expanding its services. The Government wants to put shackles on its own airline! Let me tell the Government that in 1952 Dr. Evatt, then leader of the Australian Labour Party, said -
When the Labour Party regains power it will take steps to have the agreement set aside.
I say that if it was good enough for the leader of the Labour Party to say in 1952 that if returned as a government Labour would set the 1952 agreement aside, it is imperative for me to say now that with the return of Labour as the government after the forthcoming elections we will review the whole situation in the civil aviation industry.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- The speech of the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) contained so many inaccuracies that it is difficult for me to deal with them all. The honorable member said that the Government has a plan to destroy this great government enterprise. Trans-Australia Airlines. What magnificent destruction we have done! We have been in charge of Trans-Australia Airlines for twelve out of the fifteen years of its existence and look at it to-day! ft is better than it ever was. Fifteen years ago T.A.A. commenced operations with two aircraft, making one flight a day each way between Melbourne and Sydney. To-day, it has 60 aircraft and makes 160 flights each day over routes extending from Perth to Rabaul and from Darwin to Hobart. According to the honorable member for East Sydney, that is how we have crippled this great government enterprise. Of course we have not destroyed it. It is stronger to-day than it ever was. Look at its record in the last financial year as compared with that in ils last year of operations under a Labour government.
In 1949, T.A.A. aircraft flew 66,000 hours. Last year, in spile of the fact that the speed of aircraft now is probably three times what it was then. T.A.A. planes flew 86.000 hours. In 1949, T.A.A. flew 188,000,000 passenger miles; that figure has now risen to 513.000.000 passenger miles. Vet the honorable member for East Sydney says we arc in the process of destroying this airline! Originally its fleet was composed of something like 35 aircraft, mostly small aircraft such as DC3’s, Convairs, and de Havilland 84’s. To-day, it has 54 major front-line aircraft and a few smaller aircraft, and is making 160 flights a day. Last year it earned £14,622.000 in revenue and made a profit of £353,000; yet the honorable member for East Sydney says we arc destroying this airline. It is quite obvious that honorable members opposite have a pathological dislike of Mr. Ansett’s success. They say that he can write his own ticket with the Government. What they are afraid of is seeing a great Australian, a person who started off with very few assets and has built up a first-class organization, succeed.
Not only has he built up a first-class airline, but no person has given greater service than he has to the development of tourism throughout Australia. It is a pity there are not more like him.
Opposition Members. - He doesn’t like competition.
- Mr. Ansell has faced competition all his life and has still done pretty well. 1 want to ask honorable members opposite how they are going to get on during the coming election wilh their candidate for Henty. Sir George Jones, fs he not on the board of Ansett-A.N.A.? Members opposite claim that the Government is trying to destroy Trans-Australia Airlines. Do they expect Sir George Jones to say, “ Put mc into Parliament and I will immediately vote for the abolition of Ansett-A.N.A.”?
– He signed the agreement.
– He signed the agreement, but apparently the Opposition^ attitude is. “ He has a chance of winning Henty, so let us put him in, even though wc disagree entirely with the agreement he has signed “. Not only is Ansett-A.N.A. a great airline, but it also employs a great number of Australian people. It employs 8,000 workmen and no one can tell me that, they all vote for the Liberal Party. Surely the speech of the honorable member for East Sydney to-night will make them think before casting a vole for Labour, knowing that if Labour gets back into government their jobs will be endangered.
– And there are also the 53,000 shareholders.
– Yes, and they are mostly good Australians. There may be an odd shareholder abroad, but most shareholders are Australians, holding small parcels of shares. This is the organization that honorable members opposite want to see completely destroyed!
The honorable member for East Sydney asked why wc had introduced this legislation in the dying hours of the Twenty-third Parliament. What the honorable member does not know about airline management and aviation would fill many books, but the first thing any one must realize is that you cannot order aircraft and put them into operation in a few weeks’ time. Nowadays you have to order them off the drawing board, in most cases. Therefore the Government has said, “ We will give both airlines a period of twelve months, during which they must go abroad, look at all suitable aircraft, come to a decision, and place their orders at the same time, in November, 1962”. Following this procedure we are hoping that the new aircraft will come on to the airline routes in June, 1964. Quite frankly. I am a little doubtful whether an order’ placed in November, 1962. will be capable of fulfilment by June, 1964. I read only yesterday that one large American airline has just ordered the B.A.C. 1 1 1 aircraft, which arc to be delivered in October, 1964. If that airline is ordering now for delivery on that date, then 1 can only hope it will be possible for our airlines to order these aircraft and have them in operation on the due date.
It is not only the aircraft that have to be obtained and made ready. Jets travelling at high speeds require longer and stronger runways. Even at the present time we cannot land a Boeing at the Melbourne airport. We will- not be able to land these modern aircraft on many runways of the interstate terminals. All our aerodromes will have to be improved, and airport facilities will have to bc improved. We have to put these works in hand now. If we left this legislation for the next Parliament, it could not be brought down before about next April. We would then have lost about five or six months and we would be well down on the list of those waiting for delivery of these jets.
The honorable member for East Sydney complained about the early introduction of Electras by Ansett-A.N.A. Of course, we all know that because that company had its order in first it was able to introduce the aircraft first. The honorable member will be glad to learn that provision is made in this bill to ensure that neither company will be able to introduce its jets earlier than the other. The bill stipulates very carefully that the first jet of the commission and the first jet of the company must be introduced on the same day and that the second jet of the commission and the second jet of the company also must be introduced on the same day. The opportunity is being taken to ensure that what happened previously will not happen again. After all, we all appreciate the fact that if there is a swing of only 1 per cent, of passengers from one airline .to the other, the airline losing the passengers will lose also about £200,000.
The honorable member for East Sydney also mentioned the cross-charter agreement, saying that it was a shocking thing that these DC6 aircraft were forced on TransAustralia Airlines. The interesting point is that if T.A.A. did not have these DC6’s at the present time it would be quite unable to operate its service to New Guinea. These aircraft are the only ones available with adequate range. It is all very well to say, “ What a shocking thing to force T.A.A. to take these aircraft “. The fact is that it just could not operate its service, which is a very good service, I agree - and a profitable one, as I am reminded - if it were not for the fact that it can take advantage of this cross-charter agreement.
I hate to spend time going through all the inaccuracies in the speech of the honorable member for East Sydney. If I wanted to do so in full detail I could thus use the entire time available to me. 1 will refer, however, to one other statement of the honorable member. He said that the superannuation fund was being withdrawn from T.A.A. There is £3,000,000 worth of superannuation money involved, all of which T.A.A. has used, and the honorable member said that we intend in this legislation to withdraw that fund. Nothing of the kind is going to happen. T.A.A. will continue to use this superannuation money, which, of course, gives it a tremendous advantage over AnsettA.N.A. T.A.A. pays a notional interest on this superannuation money. All that happens, really, is that it pays this interest into its own fund, and, therefore, it pays virtually nothing for the use of £3,000,000. Would not any private enterprise organization like an opportunity of getting £3,000,000 and paying nothing for it?
Without following the honorable member any further, I would like to get back to a little serious discussion of the bill. There are two groups of people opposing this measure. One is composed of thoughtful persons who ask whether there is really any need for jet services in our internal airlines. The other group of persons say that simply because of some party dogma they must oppose this bill. Obviously the honorable member for East Sydney falls into this second category. 1 want to return, however, to the thoughtful person who asks whether it is really necessary to introduce jets. It might be said that you can travel from Sydney to Melbourne, say, in an Electra at about 400 miles an hour and that you could not want a more comfortable service. Why, therefore, it is asked, should we go in for pure jets? The fact is that, first, the Australian population is increasing at the rate of about 250,000 a year, and the proportion of the population using air transport is increasing at an even faster rate. The number of people using air transport is increasing at the rate of 6 per cent, per annum. This means literally that the present fleets of both Ansett-A.N.A. and T.A.A. will be quite inadequate to carry intending aircraft passengers in the future. With the number of passengers increasing at the rate of 6 per cent, per annum, wc will need about one extra front-line aircraft every year. So, this bill makes provision for the purchase of four of these aircraft in four years.
Obviously this increase in the number of passengers means that we will have to buy more aircraft. If we have to buy more, why on earth should wc buy obsolescent or obsolete aircraft which, in a very few years, will have practically no trade-in value at all? It would be silly to buy such aircraft, of course. If you have to get new aircraft, you should buy the latest. You do not buy those that will have no trade-in value later. In addition to this consideration, jet aircraft are more economical. I think honorable members realize that with the developments that have occurred in the aircraft field, the latest jets that are being built will run very much more economically than the turboprops of the present time, the Viscounts and the Electras. The Trident has an operating cost of about one penny per seat-mile, and there is a possibility that some other aircraft may cost even less. We will be buying, therefore, aircraft which will be the fastest and the cheapest to run. and which will have a trade-in value, in order to cope with a demand which we know will exist.
In addition, of course, there is the advantage of the enormous speed of these aircraft. In the change-over from DC3’s to Viscounts there was a step-up in speed from about 150 miles an hour to about 330 miles an hour. Now we will step up from the 410 miles an hour of the Electras to the top speed of about 610 miles an hour of the Tridents. Although this extra speed may result in a relatively small time saving on the Sydney-Melbourne route, for example, on the longer routes such as between Perth and Melbourne there will be a saving of about an hour and a half. I think every one, even my colleagues from Western Australia, would agree that this is a wo.th-while saving.
Then I come to the next question: Should we have one airline or two? This is where I come up against the dogma of the Labour Party. The members of that party say, “ Nationalize the airlines “. Of course, they did their utmost to nationalize them when their government was in power. Honorable members will remember that they passed a bill saying that there was to be only one airline, and if it had not been for the High Court telling them they could not do it, that they had no authority to pass such legislation and prevent proper competition, we would have had only one airline to-day. Overseas experience shows that there is a tendency towards the two-airline system. Australia was probably the first country in the world to go in for this two-airline system. New Zealand has not such a system at the present lime but is considering introducing it. I. understand that a two-airline system will tend to improve the service in that country greatly. The national airline in New Zealand at the present time is well run, but the aircraft arrive at any old time. They do not take off according to schedule. You do not get the advantages that are evident from competition between two airlines. Wc have only to consider the service, or the lack of it, that wc get on routes where only one airline is operating to realize the kind of deal that wc would get if there was only one airline in the whole of Australia.
Honorable members may occasionally have travelled on country routes. What do we find on those routes? We do noi find the latest aircraft. We find the oldest, most clapped-out DC3 machines. Although the journey to a passenger’s destination may take two hours, he will be told: “ We are very sorry. We have not time to serve you a meal.” On the other hand, on a 40-minute journey from Canberra a meal will be served, because there is competition on the routes out of Canberra and if one airline does not serve a meal the competitor will do so and custom will be lost. This is the sort of thing that I have in mind when I say that once we get away from free competition we come down to the sort of standards that one expects on the railways. We know that the railways occasionally give reasonable service, but nobody would ever compare the standards on the railways with those found on the airlines where there is competition. There is room for competition in civil aviation. Where there is competition, one airline can try to lure a few of the travelling public away from its competitor in order to increase its own returns. As I have already said, a transfer of 1 per cent, of air travellers from one airline to another makes a difference of £200,000 annually.
We believe in the two-airline policy. Sir. Other countries are coming round to it. Wc have now seen the establishment in Britain of a second airline, known as British United Airlines, which has recently ordered ten B.A.C. Ill aircraft. We have seen a tendency towards two-airline competition in the United States of America, because the Americans realize that more than two air- lines on one’ route are uneconomic. So, although there is a large number of airlines in that country, there is a rationalization of routes in order to avoid uneconomic competition and chopping of fares.
The Australian Labour Party, as 1 said, attempted to nationalize the airlines. It was unable to do this openly, and it would now attempt to do it by stealth. The honorable member for East Sydney has been kind enough this evening to tell us how a Labour government would cripple the private airline so as to force it out of competition and eventually have only one airline. Even if this were not done by legislation, it would be done by other means.
The honorable member mentioned the charges for ground facilities. We know that the Labour Government, after its legislation was declared invalid by the High Court of Australia, imposed on the airlines very heavy charges for facilities. This did not matter to Trans-Australia Airlines.
Whether it made a loss or a profit, it kept going and the Government found it any money that it needed. . This did matter very much, of course, to Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited, as the airline now known as Ansett-A.N.A. was then known. It was charged exorbitant rates for ground facilities in the hope that these charges would cripple it and drive it out of business. The honorable member for East Sydney said that Ansett-A.N.A. is not paying very much to-day in these charges. In charges for ground facilities and tax on aviation fuel, the airlines are paying some £3,000,000 annually, and the amount increases yearly. As the airlines use more fuel, so they will pay more. We know that the present Government is setting out to provide at airports facilities for which it charges. Quite possibly, in the foreseeable future, the entire cost of maintaining aerodromes and all sorts of radio facilities and the like will be paid by the travelling public or by the airlines.
So the first measure taken by the Labour Government in its efforts to nationalize the airlines was to impose heavy charges for ground facilities. On the other hand, we are now providing against nationalization by stipulating that the tax on aviation fuel shall not be increased any more than the tax on motor fuel is increased and that the charges for civil aviation facilities shall not be increased by more than 10 per cent, in any one year.
The second measure taken by the Labour Government in its efforts to cripple A.N.A. was to stipulate that no government business was to be given to that airline. This Government, on the other hand, has declared that every person travelling on official business is entitled to use that airline or not, just as he wishes. The third measure taken by the Labour Government to promote a government monopoly in the airline business was to give a lump sum to TransAustralia Airlines for the carriage of airmail, without any relation to the actual cost of carrying the mail. It did not call for tenders for the carriage of airmail, but merely gave T.A.A. a lump sum in order to disguise its deficit. The Labour Government refused to give A.N.A. any payment for the carriage of airmail. This Government, however, has laid down that the carriage of airmail must be shared between the two airlines.
The honorable member for East Sydney mentioned self-insurance, also. Obviously, T.A.A. would derive a big advantage if it could self-insure and in fact pay nothing unless it had to pay claims arising out of an accident, lt wanted to do that in order to get its insurance at rates cheaper than the ordinary rates which Ansett-A.N.A. had to accept. There is no doubt that aircraft insurance is very expensive indeed, as I found when I owned an aeroplane. 1 realized, after paying only one year’s insurance, that after paying for nine years at the same rate 1 would have paid out the equivalent of the entire cost of the aeroplane. 1 thereupon decided to rely on my own flying skill and not to insure any longer. Insurance rates in the aviation field are very high because, unfortunately, the insurance companies average insurance on civil aviation throughout the world. We in Australia have a much better record than have European countries and the United Slates, where flying conditions arc bad. We suffer for this because we are called on to pay high insurance rates. The Australian Government is anxious to see a company take on insurance at cheaper rates, but up to now it has not been able to find one that will do so. The only alternative is to require T.A.A. to make a fair contribution towards its own insurance, which it obtains at cheaper rales than if it insured privately.
The honorable member for East Sydney also spoke of unfair competition. When it comes to unfair competition, AnsettA.N.A. is on the receiving end all the time. Trans-Australia Airlines, the government airline, receives loans, as 1 have mentioned. Furthermore, it has f 3,000,000 of superannuation funds on which, although it pays notional interest, it actually pays nothing. At any time that it needs additional funds, it can get them from the Treasury. It knows that it will never be refused a request for funds from this source. But what is the position of Ansett-A.N.A., which is a private enterprise? It has to borrow money at the best rates at which it can get funds. On top of that it has to make a profit. If it docs not do so, it will not remain in business. In the light of these considerations, the Government has assisted AnsettA.N.A. by providing that airline with guarantees which have enabled it to obtain loans in certain markets in which it would not be able to borrow otherwise. This has reduced the interest burden of AnsettA.N.A. In some instances, the Government’s guarantees have enabled that airline to borrow on the London market i»t 7 per cent, and in Australia at 52 per cent. This has been of advantage not only to the private airline but also to the travelling public, because it has permitted lower fares than would otherwise have been charged.
The honorable member for East Sydney said that we will soon sec fares go up as a result of these measures. Docs he not realize that we in Australia have the lowest air fares in the world? He complained because wc have lost certain advantages that we had in earlier years. He said that we now have to pay a fare of about 5s. for the journey by bus between a city terminal and an airport. I should like lo know when the honorable member last made such a journey by bus. He said, also, that the meals now served by the airlines are not of quite as high a standard as before. Whether or not that is so, the meals now served seem good enough to me. Let mc give the House a comparison of Australian air fares and those in other countries. The firstclass air traveller pays about 6.33d. per passenger mile in Australia, compared with 7.62d. in the United States and 13.3 Id. in Europe. The tourist class fares are: Australia, 5.02d. per passenger mile; America, 5.90d.; Europe, 10.55d. And the honorable member complains that fares arc going to rise! The interesting thing is that the one person in Australia who has really fought to get those fares down is Mr. Ansett himself, because he realizes that if fares are reduced so that more people can afford to pay them the turnover is increased and more profiit is made.
As I have said, it is impossible in the short lime available to traverse every argument advanced by the honorable member for East Sydney. I have never heard in my life such an astounding speech as his. I have done my best to correct some of his inaccuracies, and I hope that my colleagues who speak later will correct the remainder.
.- The honorable member for Farrer (Mr. Fairbairn) has tried to give the impression that the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) did other than proclaim to the public of’ Australia some very essential truths regarding this legislation. First, I want to say that the honorable member for East Sydney, to my way of thinking, gave us one of the most masterly arguments we have heard on the grievous way in which a government-owned institution has been deliberately subordinated to private interests. In the 35 years during which I have been a member of this Parliament I have never known legislation like that before us, legislation which sets out to destroy a government-owned institution. The simple fact is that for years the government-owned airline has been required to make repealed concessions to its privately-owned competitor. In not one single instance has the privately-owned organization - Ansett-A.N.A. - been required to make any concession to TransAustralia Airlines, the government line. That being so, it is futile for the honorable member for Farrer to try to make it appear that we on this side have n©. justification for our argument that this legislation is a further effort on the part of the Government to destroy a government-owned utility that has served this country with distinction and efficiency.
The honorable member for Farrer tried to make an electioneering point when he said that when the Labour Government assumes office - after the coming general election - it will try to displace 4,000 to 4,500 people now employed by AnsettA.N.A. It is quite obvious that if there is any diminution of employment in AnsettA.N.A. because of the free competition that will take place as a result of T.A.A.’s being given an opportunity to give the service it can to the Australian public, there will be a corresponding extension in the number of employees required to operate T.A.A. That means that T.A.A. will require the expert services of more people. What is more logical than that experts who have been employed at Ansett-A.N.A. will be available to undertake similar duties in the expanding government airline? So the point that the honorable gentleman sought to make in regard to that is ill-founded and illogical in all respects. Under Labour there will be true competition and all personnel will be usefully employed.
It was not only in that aspect that the honorable member for Farrer sought to misrepresent the argument of the honorable member for East Sydney. He also tried to make it appear that in regard to the use of superannuation funds it was not the purpose of <the. Government to inconvenience T.A.A. If the Government’s action in requiring that money to be invested in government securities is not a denying of the money to T.A.A. then I should like to know what it is. The argument of the honorable member for Farrer is quite fallacious, and cannot be sustained by the facts revealed in the legislation.
I regard this legislation as really outrageous in its effect on the public interest. The passing of the legislation will mean that the general public will be required to pay tribute to the privately-owned airline, Ansett-A»N.A. Mr. Ansett finds the Government accommodating in every possible way. He has only to ask for a concession and it is readily granted by the Government. The remarkable thing is that this Government claims to be the great and valiant supporter of free enterprise - yet it seeks by this means of rationalization to arrest the progress of the governmentowned body, and to advance the interests of the privately-owned organization. There is no other private business in the whole of Australia that is given the same consideration as Ansett-A.N.A. is given by this Government. It is outrageous to propose that the Australian public is to be required to pay the tribute to a private individual and his company which is entailed by the legislation.
Let mc repeat some of the salient facts that were brought to notice to-night by the honorable member for East Sydney. I should like first to say that I warmly commend and congratulate him on the splendid case he presented on behalf of this side of the House. In every fact that he revealed there was an unanswerable case against the Government. He was able to prove conclusively, by the logic of his argument, the fallacy and wrongful character of the legislation. I never thought that any government would be so audacious as (his one has been in bringing forward in the dying hours of a Parliament such legislation as this which will shackle the country with an agreement for an additional ten years on top of the six years that the current agreement still has to run. The Government has so designed this legislation that no succeeding Parliament will be able to alter the agreement without possibly forfeiting compensation to a private concern. I repeat that the present agreement still has six years to run, but the Government proposes to extend it for a further ten years. The Australian people will be incensed and outraged by this sacrifice of their interests and will show the Government that they consider it is no longer competent to retain office. The Government has deliberately sacrificed the people’s vital interest.
I wish to reiterate some of the important facts that the honorable member for East Sydney has placed before the House. This legislation is based on a bill that was passed in 1952 and subsequent measures. In 1952, the Government cut route charges owing by Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited by two-thirds and reduced charges by 50 per cent. It froze the debts of the organization for fifteen years. It lent A.N.A. £3, 000,000 and guaranteed its loans up to £4,000,000. It gave A.N.A. half the mail business with other benefits in government traffic. Under the latest legislation the Government proposes to guarantee reequipment loans to Ansett-A.N.A. to the extent of £6,000,000, making a total in loans or guarantees to this airline of £15,000,000 since 1952. In the circumstances, we have a right to ask: What is to be found on the contra side? In what way has T.A.A. been afforded some advantage by rationalization? Not one member on the Government side, including the Minister in charge of the bill in this House, can state one single concession or consideration that T.A.A. has received at the expense of Ansett-A.N.A. Of course, everything that belongs to Ansett-A.N.A. is not subjected to conditions or negotiations in the rationalization scheme. Only T.A.A. suffers. The conditions are too one-sided for the Australian people. Australians are fair-minded and will certainly resent this treatment of an organization that is part of them because ultimately the people are responsible for T.A.A. and its commitments.
Already T.A.A. has repaid the people handsomely with services and earnings. It is not only an asset in peacetime but it is also essential to Australia’s defence. T.A.A. could give vital service to Australia if we wanted to move troops over great distances and make the best use of the limited resources at our disposal. While we had service from the organization that was known then as Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited, it alone was not adequate for the needs of Australia. I speak as a member of the War Cabinet at that time. Our experience then showed how necessary it is to maintain a government aviation organization at the peak of efficiency so that it can be swung into action in an emergency. Such an organization adds to our security and gives us an efficient civil aviation service. We owe to the former Prime Minister, Mr. Chifley, and to the late Mr. Arthur Drakeford an everlasting debt of gratitude for the work they did in establishing T.A.A. Nor should wc forget Mr. Arthur Coles, who helped in the initial organization of T.A.A. and helped to build it into a major airline. No matter how much Government supporters might try to deny credit to T.A.A., it has always been Australia’s premier airline. Its record of service and safety is one of the best in the world. Government supporters travel by T.A.A. as often as they can. They show by their personal patronage that they acknowledge T.A.A. to be the foremost airline and one that renders a remarkable service to Australia.
While Ansett-A.N.A. has free access to all the profitable routes, T.A.A. has been compelled to operate also on routes (hat have been less profitable or unprofitable.
As a government organization. T.A.A. must serve areas that sometimes do not yield high revenue. No other private enterprise has ever been treated so well by a benevolent government as has Ansett-A.N.A. No successful government undertaking has had to put up with such a cold-blooded, sustained effort to kill it by slow strangulation as has T.A.A. The fact that it has been able to rise above this challenge and to give a competent service with a remarkable record of safety and efficiency is a great compliment to all those concerned with its working. Even the most fervid believer in free enterprise would deplore the deliberate creation by AnsettA.N.A. of a monopoly of air services.
I submit that this legislation should bc rejected. If it is not rejected, it should be put aside until after the election. The House could then give it the calm and deliberate consideration that it deserves; it should not be asked to consider the legislation in the dying hours of the Parliament. The bill is too important to bc passed without proper consideration being given to it. I hope that honorable gentlemen opposite will have the good conscience to recognize that public duly demands that the legislation be deferred. The claim of the community for justice and for protection requires that the consideration of the legislation should not be hurried.
Many facets of the bill can bc and will be emphasized during the debate. I doubt very much whether there is constitutional authority for some of the steps now being taken in the name of rationalization. Even under section 92 of the Constitution, this measure could be seriously challenged in the High Court, because it does not permit free trade between the States. The government-owned organization is prevented from providing many of the services that it could provide, particularly in the country:areas. People in these areas are being’ denied the opportunity to share in the advantage provided by T.A.A.
The government-owned airline is allowed to operate on what are known as the trunk routes but except in Queensland other routes are the sacred preserve of the private airline. This is taking the principle of free enterprise a little too far and the private airline is being given special privileges and special advantages at the expense of the general community. No one has a right to expect this. Unless a full service worthy of the nation is given, we have no obligation to protect or to bolster up an organization that is incapable of standing on its own feet. It is time that the Ansett-A.N.A. organization realized that it no longer has the right to enjoy a privileged position, although such a position is being given to it by this Government, and that it must fulfil its obligations. The honorable member for Farrar said that we would create a Government monopoly. He failed to appreciate that the Constitution would not permit of the creation of such a monopoly.
There is no reason why Ansett-A.N.A. should not bc an efficient organization. As it is, Ansett-A.N.A. would not exist for very long if it had to meet the open competition of the government-owned airline, T.A.A. Ansett-A.N.A. should give a more efficient service, ft has not to worry about paying part of its earnings to the Government except by taxation, as T.A.A. has, although, of course, it must consider its shareholders. But the Government should ensure that the people of Australia are protected against the situation that would be created if the private airline were placed in a privileged position. In such a situation, the people would not receive the full benefit that they should receive. Air services should be extended so that the people of Australia will bc better served. This will never be done if private interests try to deny to the public the full advantage of the operation of the Government-owned airline.
Sir, 1 seek to have this legislation deferred so that at a later time full consideration can bc given to it in the interests of the public. I believe that when the people of Australia consider the merit of the claim that we make for the Government owned airline, they will have a feeling of revulsion against the Government and will support the party I have the privilege to represent so that wc will be able to form a government. When this happens, we will ensure that the public is for all time protected against any selfish interest that seeks to destroy the property of the people.
– My purpose in rising to-night is not so much to condemn the measure as to praise it, and I have been extremely interested in certain press reports of remarks by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge) concerning the increasing cost of jet aircraft and jet air travel. The Opposition has pointed out that a considerable sum of money has been and will be spent on extending and preparing runways to accommodate the new aircraft which will come into service largely under the terms of the agreement under discussion. I am interested in this matter because of the fact that throughout the world there is a great deal of concern at the continually rising costs of jet aircraft and of’ air travel. Although we may bewail these increasing costs, I am morally certain that Australia must keep abreast of altering conditions in the world if for no other reason than to ensure that we have a reserve of people capable of operating the higher powered aircraft that may be necessary to defend this country. Certainly there can” be no cavilling at the Government’s policy of providing a service to the north and northwestern areas of Australia for, after all, the amount spent in this direction is only small, and it is the least we can do to encourage settlement, to relieve the deadly loneliness of the outback and to provide a speedy means of transport in cases of sickness? By the same token, I am rather concerned to know what really is the Government’s policy in connexion with competition between the major airlines in Australia. We have heard eloquent speeches from the Opposition, and we have heard honorable members on the Government side expressing their views, but, so far as one can ascertain, the Government’s policy seems to be to attempt to maintain TransAustralia Airlines, a public utility with a magnificent record, and also to assist a .private airline to run in competition with it. Its policy clearly seems to be to maintain a balance of competition between the national airline and a private airline which has recently been re-organizing. But what is the Government’s policy with regard to intra-state services? So far as my knowledge carries me - and I think it is correct - Trans-Australia Airlines has no power to acquire subsidiary airlines, while; Ansett-A.N.A. has been swallowing up smaller airlines at very considerable speed. Without naming them all, I mention the Mandated airlines and Butler Air Transport Limited, now known as Airlines of New South Wales Proprietary Limited. They are both subsidiaries of Ansett-A.N.A. When I returned from Europe in May, 1960, I was informed by a Sydney businessman that Ansett-A.N.A. had no less than five canvassers out in the territory of EastWest Airlines Limited wim a view to swallowing that delectable prize, too. In the last week that was available to me on my return, I took the opportunity to say -
If all the subsidiary lines are cut out, then the lifestream that flows into T.A.A. and enables its growth is also cut. That is a most dangerous situation, and it is a bad situation when it threatens to destroy an independent private company which, so far as I know, is the only decentralized airline in Australia. It is an airline that has its head-quarters and workshops, and its main employees, all in a town far removed from the danger of attack on our coast during war.
I went on to say - ‘
It is as plain as a pikestaff to me, with some knowledge of business, that if the present trend continues unchecked, T.A.A., in which the nation has a very big stake, will be at the mercy, very largely, of a private combination against which, at present, it is not operating on just terms to itself.
I have not altered my opinion in the slightest since then. Frankly, while I am fully in accord with the Government’s policy of supporting a private airline in competition with the national airline, I feel that any one who claims in this day and age of takeovers, amalgamations and so on, that there can be full and complete competition if things are left to private enterprise, may be likened to Rip Van Winkle and is due for a rude awakening. Therefore, I think the Government is quite right in the policy it has adopted, but there seems to be some confusion of policy which gives private airlines an open slather - to use a homely phrase - at all the private intra-state lines while the national airline which, after all, enjoys a certain amount of patronage from this field, is not allowed to compete on open terms. This has been brought out into the open by a recent controversy between the Minister for Civil Aviation and East-West
Airlines. Here let me say without equivocation that during my twelve years in this Parliament I have received the greatest help from first Mr. Thomas White, then Mr. H. L. Anthony, then the present Sinister for Defence (Mr. Townley) and finally Senator Paltridge. I found Senator Paltridge most receptive and his officers very helpful. The position which has developed appeals to me because I know the circumstances under which East-West Airlines Limited was established. I know that when it started operations that company’s financial circumstances were so poor that I refrained from becoming a shareholder, and 1 emphasize here that I never have been a shareholder or a director of that company. I am a member of this Parliament and I have contacted various Ministers when I have introduced deputations. 1 know a good deal about this company. Ten years ago it flew some 1.600 miles with an old converted Anson aircraft and by last year it had improved to such an extent that it reeled off 1.600.000 miles. To-day the company has six DC.3 aircraft and a Fokker Friendship, lt runs, and has run, a service remarkable for safety and efficiency. In twelve years it has had only one minor accident, and that was in the old Anson days when the plane did not leave the ground. On the whole, it has been extraordinarily efficient in adhering to its timetable, allowing for weather and normal breakdowns to which even more powerful airlines are subject.
This company has been financed almost entirely by local capital raised in the north and north-western part of the State, particularly in Tamworth which is its headquarters. There it has its equipment for servicing the aircraft, ft employs about 100 persons and an additional 300 are dependent on its activities. A mosquito fleet of smaller planes used for crop-dusting and so on is serviced. This sturdy attempt at decentralization should not be jeopardized in any way either by a mistaken interpretation of policy or for any other reason.
As to (he controversy between Mr. Shand and the Minister for Civil Aviation, I want to make it clear that I have no part in that. What one party said to the other is a matter only for the parties. That is something which is not within my knowledge. The
Minister said that a fine citizen of Tamworth, who is acting chairman of the airline company while Mr. Shand, who had a very bad accident abroad, is away, had not reported truthfully what had happened when the Minister met certain deputations which I had been asked to introduce. I want to make it clear that in substance what Mr. Pringle said is the truth. The general manager and the acting chairman of the company were summoned to Canberra some time in July, 1960. As the Federal member, 1 was asked to come with them. We waited upon the Minister. He met us and then left us for a while. When he returned’ he was apparently very worried for some reason and I think that he spoke more hastily than he intended to do. Mr. Pringle recently was reported in the press as stating that the Minister had said to him lo put before his board for serious consideration the matter of working out some agreement with the Ansett group. That agreement was to be either in the form of a sell-out or an amalgamation. f want to make it clear that 1 have a perfect recollection of what was said in the early part of the meeting. I can say definitely that the Minister said to the representatives of the company that they would have to get together with Ansett. That statement is open to a certain construction. 1 did not hear the Minister say that this agreement was to be either in the form of a sell-out or an amalgamation. It could have been said, but it was not said to my knowledge or within my hearing. When the conference concluded wc returned to the Hotel Kurrajong where we had hastily put up for the night. Mr. Smith and Mr. Pringle, the acting chairman, said to mc, “ What do you think of it? “ It was quite clear from what they said to mc that they felt they had been given an ultimatum. My impression was the same. I said to them, “ If you want to amalgamate or bc squeezed out, then you will go in with Ansett. But if you do not want lo do cither, then you will stick to the company which has stuck to you through the years in which you have been battling. However, I am neither a director nor a shareholder of the company and the decision is your responsibility, not mine “.
Some time later - I cannot recall the period but the weather was still fairly cold - the directors were again asked to come to Canberra to see the Minister. On that occasion the discussion was on a more amicable plane than before but it reached a stalemate. At that meeting - although it could have been at the previous meeting - among other things the question of cutting £5,000 off the subsidy was raised. When this suggestion was queried an apparently perfectly plausible or reasonable explanation was given for it, but the statement was unfortunate in its context. When the stalemate become apparent I said to the Minister, “Would it meet the ideas of rationalization tha-t you have if New South Wales were split in two and East-West Airlines took the north and Ansett-A.N.A. took the south where the services would be adjacent to its bases in Victoria? “ In a quite amicable manner the Minister said, “Well, that is a matter for East-West Airlines and Ansett to discuss “.
There has been so much charge and counter-charge, during which I have kept silent, about the discussions which took place, but now that it has become a question of the good faith of a man whom I know to be a fine citizen - I refer to Mr. Pringle - and whose veracity is being challenged, I believe that, in the interests both of the Government and of all concerned, and in fairness to the company, the Minister’s memory should be refreshed. I do not associate myself for one moment with the suggestion that the Minister had an improper motive. I am not concerned with motives. I am concerned that East-West Airlines and the’ members of its board who have put up a gallant battle against odds to build up and strengthen something which is worthwhile keeping in the country, should not be placed at a disadvantage perhaps because the Minister may have misinterpreted the Government’s policy which he is required to administer. I believe that confusion has arisen between the policy of two airlines receiving government support, as indicated by this measure, on the one hand, and the set-up which enables one intra-State company after another to be squeezed out of existence to the detriment incidentally of the national airline, on the other hand. It does not seem sensible to me that while you play fair by private enterprise and provide it with funds on a pretty big scale - that is what you do when you guarantee it - you should at the same time permit something to go on which is eating into the vital principal of fair play as it affects the national airline. My feeling is that when money is provided by the Commonwealth to the extent of a maximum of £6,000,000, there should be a check by the Auditor-General on what happens to that money. There is such a check on money expended for soldier settlement and in many other directions but in this case, with the expenditure of millions of pounds, it is apparently not deemed necessary.
The Government of New South Wales announced to-day that it has decided upon a certain rationalization - blessed word, used to achieve all sorts of strange objectives at times - which will give the Ansett-A.N.A. subsidiary 51 per cent, of the country air routes in New South Wales and East-West Airlines the rest. I hope the Government will state in unequivocal terms, for the purpose of clearing up what has been a most unfortunate and tangled position that, having provided millions of pounds for an airline which is taking over small airlines, it will provide a reasonable amount both in subsidies and in practical assistance for the small airlines which have not been taken over. I trust that the splendid help which has been given to enterprises such as East-West Airlines will continue and that the Government will not adopt a policy like a regulation strike under which, while refusing nothing, it will give no assistance to the company. I think it is up to the Government to resolve this situation in no uncertain way. I cannot and will not believe that the policy of the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge) is one that really commends itself to the Government. I cannot believe that the Government, which believes in private enterprise to the extent of providing a subsidy of considerable magnitude, at the same time knows not what its left hand is doing and is willing to kill private enterprise when it tries to exist in competition with a monopoly which is building up to take control of the entire intra-state air services of Australia.
It is no pleasure to me to enter a discussion of the critical aspect of the situation. I have kept off personalities, except insofar as was necessary, in fairness to my constituents and to a gallant company which has fought a good battle for its existence and can continue to succeed if the Government gives it even the shadow of a fair deal, to make clear what really transpired.
.- It is a pleasure to follow the honorable member for New England (Mr. Drummond) in this debate, because he has removed whatever slight doubt may have hung over this argument between East-West Airlines and the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge) for the last few weeks. I want to say how much we. on this side of the House, appreciate the fairness with which the honorable member dealt with this very tricky subject, and his courage in declaring himself so clearly on the issue tonight. I also congratulate the honorable member on having been in the position to giVe us the facts of the interview which triggered off this great controversy towards the end of last year.
The honorable member for New England was in a difficult situation to-night and 1 fully appreciate what he did. He has known East-West Airlines from its babyhood and has seen it grow. Its operations cover his electorate in New South Wales and he knows the personnel of the airline. To-night he vouched for the accuracy of Mr. Pringle’s statement and gave the burden of the interview that he had with the Minister for Civil Aviation. I want to recall to honorable members what the honorable member for New England has just said about this controversy in which the Minister has denied four times that he ever urged or suggested to Mr. Don Shand, the chairman of East- West Airlines, that the company should sell out to Ansett-A.N.A. The honorable member said he did not hear that portion of the conversation, but he did hear the other section of it, to the effect that East-West Airlines must come lo terms with Ansett-A.N.A. 1 feel that, reading between the lines - even without glasses - one can see that the Minister for Civil Aviation was talking about something pretty serious when he put it like that.
– No Government smear will cover that up.
– I feel that from now on the Minister for Civil Aviation has to deal with the honorable member for New England himself and has a case to answer.
There is no doubt about that, as the honorable member for Gellibrand (Mr. Mclvor) has just reminded me and I will watch this development with great interest. His was a devastating revelation.
I have before me a copy of the Sydney “Sun” for Monday, 23rd October, 1961. In it is a big headline, “ Threat to Reveal Proof “, and the paragraph under it reads -
Chairman of East-West Airlines, Mr. Don Shand lo-day threatened to disclose proof that Minister for Civil Aviation, Senator Paltridge asked his company to sell out to a monopoly.
Mr. Shand said that if Senator Paltridge ; who has already given four public denials - failed lo admit his action, he would be “ reluctantly forced “ to this course.
Mr. Shand commented on Senator Pali ridge’s statement, which hinted that subsidies might be cut on New South Wales country air services.
The honorable member for New England has confirmed that point to-night from his own personal interview. The article continues - “ East-West Airlines are fighting for the healthy development of decentralized aviation “, Mr. Shand said.
The Labour Party agrees with that- “ The people of the outback of New South Wales are amazed and disgusted at the rapid rale industry has been taken from the country and placed in the cities of Australia. “ We want country people to have the right to own and control their aviation transport system.”
To that we say “ hear, hear!”- “ Country areas have been bled white through the weak and stupid policy of crowded cities and vacant outback “.
We certainly agree with every word Mr. Shand said in that respect.
The Premier of New South Wales has pledged that the State Government will stand behind East-West Airlines in its fight against the take-over. Ansett-A.N.A. has just about got the intra-state air services of Australia in its hands to-day, owing to the assistance it has received from this Government which is so weak-kneed when big interests come begging for this, asking for that or demanding something else. Ansett-A.N.A. forced Southern Airlines out of business in Victoria a year of two ago. It forced the Butters airline out of business in New South Wales as well as Mandated Airlines in New Guinea. lt just about controls our services in South Australia and does control inland Victorian services. Now the company has asked for and been given a slice of the Darwin trade, although 1 have it on good authority that there is not enough business there for two airlines. This means that both airlines will be running a non-paying service to Darwin. It is nonsense to talk about rationalization in those circumstances. It seems, Mr. Speaker, that rationalization is quite all right as long as it benefits Ansett-A.N.A. - and that is about all it has done since this wretched rationalization committee came into being. The committee is really only Mr. Ansett’s mouthpiece.
In Tasmania Mr. Ansett controls intrastate services entirely. What State is left with an independent intra-state airline? There is Queensland, and there is also New South Wales, but if Ansett-A.N.A. grabs East-West Airlines another State will come over almost entirely to Ansett-A.N.A. on intra-state services. Why docs Mr. Ansett need these intra-state services? The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) pointed out in his magnificent oration this evening that all these intra-state services are feeder services which feed into the Ansett inter-capital major “network. By controlling intra-state services Mr. Ansett can pour in passengers from the inland districts to his main airline.- It is a very good thing for Ansett-A.N.A. to have intrastate services tied up because this will boost revenue on the main inter-capital runs.
There are aspects of this agreement that beggar the imagination. If this agreement had not been introduced bit by bit over six or seven years we would bc completely staggered by the kind of legislation that we are considering to-night. But, as I say, it has been brought in .bit by bit and we have become conditioned and indoctrinated by close contact with this Government’s assistance to private enterprise. And I remind honorable members that the assistance is being given with the taxpayers’ money. 1 do not think there is a situation in any other country comparable with the airlines set-up in Australia. Here we have a private-enterprise Government running a government airline and assisting a private airline to put the government airline on the spot and keep it there. The honorable member for East Sydney made another point about Mr. Ansett. In this he was strongly supported by my friend the honorable member for Bonython (Mr. Makin) in his magnificent speech to-night. Since he took over Ansett-A.N.A. Mr. Ansett has become more and more Americanized. He came back from America after conclu.ding the deal which resulted in his being the first in the field with Electras in Australia. He landed in Sydney after flying from San Francisco and said, “This will kill the opposition “. Only the Americans talk like that.
Mr. Ansett once ran a five passenger car from Hamilton to Ballarat in Victoria. He started in business in very humble circumstances, and wc are proud of his rise. But he is a different man from what he used to be. He has reached the stage at which he says - and I have this on impeccable authority - that he does not trust anybody in business any more. Here is a man who rose from driving a small passenger car in the western district of Victoria, and who now talks in such terms as “This will kill the opposition “. He has reached a position in which he can get Government assistance whenever he asks for it. He has become completely Americanized. What has he brought to our airlines that is Americanized? He has introduced tourist-class services. He has reduced meal standards. He has introduced this vicious practice of charging fares between airports and cities. Every one of these innovations he brought from America. I was in America and saw how the airlines there had adopted these procedures a year or two before Mr. Ansett introduced them into Australia, to the detriment of our airlines’ system. This vicious legislation has been thoroughly dealt with in another place and by my two colleagues to-night. I do not intend to go into the details of the legislation. It is class legislation.” It is not amending legislation, but rather eroding legislation. It will erode the standards of Trans-Australia Airlines, and it will weaken the capacity of that organization to conduct an efficient, paying airline.
Honorable members opposite have spoken about the Government’s twoairlines policy. In his second-reading speech the Minister said -
The Governments two-airline policy requires a situation in which the airlines operate fleets which are comparable in quality and capacity. Secondly, the fleets must be operated under regulated competition-
Note the phrase “ regulated competition “ - which avoids overlapping o£ services and wasteful competition with due regard to the interests of the public and a proper relation between earnings and overall costs. Third!)’, the two airlines should, as far as practicable, enjoy comparable cost structures.
What sort of competition is this? This is a completely new kind of competition, lt is what I would call inner-spring mattress competition, lt is armchair competition, lt gives Mr. Ansett an armchair ride. This is the famous competition that this Government is supposed to sponsor in Australia. This is the great free-enterprise Government, and its sheer hypocrisy is evident when it talks about this kind of competition on the one hand, and about socialism and socialized industries on the other.
This legislation is deliberately designed to limit T.A.A. ft is loaded against T.A.A. One could give several illustrations of the way in which this Government has denied the kind of free competition that it professes to sponsor. In 1952, it divided its airmail business, giving half to T.A.A. and half to Ansett-A.N.A. If the Government had wanted free competition, why did it not call for tenders from the two airlines for the carriage of mail? The Government utterly eliminated competition in respect of the carriage of mail, lt negated its own policy. It adopted a similar attitude with regard to passengers and freights. For a government that sponsors an airline to deprive that airline of government business is completely unreasonable. Further, the rationalization scheme about which wc have heard so much has completely eliminated competition. I would suggest that it contravenes section 92 of the Constitution, as was pointed out by the honorable member for Bonython. Surely the Government contravenes section 92 when it tells those engaged in interstate trade that they shall not buy any new aircraft, that they shall run to certain time-tables and that they shall operate on stipulated dates. This is getting very close to prohibition and restriction, and goes beyond regulation of interstate trade. After all, is it not a restrictive trade practice to compel the only two operators in a certain field to arrange their time-tables and other activities and their fares and freight rates in a certain way? This is not real competition; it is what 1 have already called innerSpring mattress competition.
Mention has been made to-night of Mr. Warren McDonald. He was chairman of the Australian National Airlines Commission for many years. The “ West Australian “ of 22nd June published this report, emanating from Adelaide -
The rationalization provisions governing domestic airline operations in Australia were criticized to-day by Mr. Warren McDonald, former chairman of Australian National Airlines Commission, operators of T.A.A. They were a negation of competition, said Mr. McDonald.
This is a new kind of competition that is being introduced into airline operations. In fact. I would put the word “ competition “ in inverted commas, lt is the kind of com petition thai gives Ansett-A.N.A. every possible chance of beating T.A.A. to the punch.
This Government boasts that it is a free-enterprise Government. It wants lo give free reign to free enterprise. But what does it do in relation to its overseas airline? The Government is the outright owner of Qantas Empire Airways Limited, lt will not permit any private operator to enter the overseas field. Why is it socialized in its overseas activities and anti-socialist in its interstate activities? The Government really has two separate policies in this respect. It is quite hypocritical. We know how it changes its policies to suit the winds of economic change. We cannot keep up with its changes of policy, and neither can the business people, the farmers and the people who wa-nt houses in Australia to-day. Under the Government’s present policy, wc have this crazy kind of competition between two airlines, which will bc required by one of these measures that wc are now discussing to get together on these vita) matters of equipment, new aircraft, time-tables and the like, and even on profits.
With respect to profits, Mr. Speaker, wc have this outrageous proposal that is before us this evening. The Government argues in favour of placing Trans-Australia Airlines on a profit-earning basis comparable with that of the private operator, ft says that Mr. Ansett, the pprivate operator, is entitled to reasonable reserves and that, after paying tax and putting away reserves, he is entitled to a profit of 10 per cent. That is the rate of profit that the Government will allow him as being necessary to run his business profitably for his shareholders. That profit rate has been fixed arbitrarily, ostensibly by the Government, but in reality largely by Mr. Ansett.
Trans-Australia Airlines is to be kept up to the collar. The Government lays down the percentage of profit that it must make on its capital, and the airline is to submit a statement at least once every six months to show whether it is achieving the target set by the Government. On the face of things, it is completely clear what T.A.A. has to do. For years past, it has been operating at a profit of only 5 per cent., which is very good, considering the restrictions that have been imposed on it. But it will now have to step the rate up to 10 per cent. The people who use that airline are to be asked to find the other 5 per cent. This will lead inevitably to increased air fares for the people of Australia. The agreement with which one of these measures is concerned - that measure will be passed, probably to-morrow, because we on this side have not the numbers to prevent its passage - specifies that there will not be any change in passenger fares more than once in twelve months.
In every way, T.A.A. is being shackled and held in leg irons by this Government; which leans over backwards to assist private enterprise. T.A.A. has the legal right to conduct intra-state services in Tasmania, but this Government has prevented it from doing that and has left the field entirely in the hands of Mr. Ansett. As I said earlier, he is a very capable man. I do not wish in any way to detract from his reputation in that respect. But, in recent years, he has been assisted by American business interests. I think that if we could ascertain the facts we would find that to-day his company is not 100 per cent. Australian. Wc do not think that it is, because we have reason to believe that the Ansett organization has drawn heavily on American interests.
Wc all travel by Ansett-A.N.A. from time to time. Those of us who come from Tasmania have on occasions travelled across Bass Strait by that airline. I say nothing against the standard of the service that it provides, or against the standards of its pilots, both captains and first officers, and air hostesses. I would be the last in the world to do that. The air hostesses are very capable and very charming, so charming in fact that one would not mind flying with them anywhere in Australia. In these respects, Mr. Speaker, we have nothing but admiration for Ansett-A.N.A. We are fighting over far bigger issues concerning the Government’s policy and its effect on the airlines of this country.
We are opposed, lock, stock and barrel to the measures that are now before the House. They represent the third attempt made by the Government in the last eight years to limit the activities of TransAustralia Airlines and to make it harder for that airline to operate at a profit. The Government is very cunning in what it does, Mr. Speaker. It works on the principle that if T.A.A. can be forced into a position in which it can operate only at a loss there will be a good reason for selling the airline to the highest bidder, just as the Government has done with so many other government enterprises. This is a very cunning, long-term plan.
Only the sheer ability and magnificent administrative qualities of the 4,848 men and women who work for T.A.A. have enabled it to maintain in the face of so many difficulties the high standards achieved in so short a 4;ma We pay a sincere tribute to this magnificent airline, which is one of the finest in the world. Many honorable members have travelled on airlines in other countries. Can any of us truthfully say that there is in any country a better airline than T.A.A. is? There may be some as good, but there is none better. I have travelled in fifteen other countries by many airlines, and that is my firm opinion. It istragic that an airline which has really won its way into the hearts of Australia’s air travellers by its efficiency, its goodwill, its friendly service and the sheer ability of its staff is being constantly eroded by the policy of this Government which has been formed of a shotgun marriage between the Liberal Party of Australia and the Australian Country Party.
I pay tribute to the men who established Trans-Australia Airlines in 1945. When it was established, it had only one aircraft, which was named “ Hawdon “. It was one of the famous DC3 machines. The first flight was made by this aircraft from Melbourne to Sydney in September, 1945 - just over a year before I entered this Parliament. Many people in Australia thought that the new airline would be a failure. Their view was: Fancy the Government running an airline! Although the Labour Government had built aircraft during the Second World War and had done many other things in the war effort, many people did not think that that Government could operate an airline successfully. But the late Arthur Drakeford, Mr. Arthur Coles and the late Mr. Chifley were the trio of brains behind the establishment of T.A.A., and they ensured its success. Mr. Drakeford wisely appointed Arthur Coles, a top-ranking businessman, to run this great new enterprise which began in such a small way with one small DC3 aircraft. The present Government has adopted Mr. Drakeford’s policy by appointing Captain Williams, a top businessman, to run the present government shipping line - a tremendous enterprise in which great ability has been shown. That line makes a profit of £1,250,000 a year. T.A.A. has grown up from its small beginnings into a mighty airline with a tremendous range of passenger services. It has about 53 per cent. of the passenger traffic in Australia at the present time. Mr. Ansett’s airline has about 60 per cent. of the freight traffic, but it has special advantages with respect to freight that T.A.A. has not.
In conclusion, on behalf of those of my colleagues who, because of the limitation of time and for other reasons, will not be able to speak in this debate, I pay a tribute to Trans-Australia Airlines, the great airline established by the Labour Government in 1945. That airline has grown to manhood, as it were, and the whole country is proud to acclaim it as an outstanding airline which is accorded the highest possible standing and the greatest respect of all other airlines throughout the world. Its story of achievement is a magnificent one. I hope that some day a book will be written to tell that story, just as the stories of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia and other great Australian enterprises have been told in books specially written for the purpose. T.A.A. is an enterprise that will go down in history as one of the finest ever born in Australia. What a tragedy it is that this Parliament is about to conclude the passage of legislationwhich will hamper the wonderful work of thistruly magnificent airline!
Debate (on motion by Mr. Fox] adjourned.
The following bills were returned from the Senate: -
Without requests -
Sales Tax Bills (Nos. 1a to 9a) 1961.
Income Tax and Social Services Contribution Bill 1961.
Without amendment -
Commonwealth Banks Bill 1961.
Sales Tax (Exemptions and Classifications) Bill (No. 2) 1961.
Income Tax and Social Services Contribution Assessment Bill (No. 3) 1961.
Superannuation (Pension Increases) Bill 1961.
Defence Forces Retirement Benefits (Pension Increases) Bill 1961.
– I move -
That the House do now adjourn.
I regret that I find it necessary on a Tuesday night to speak to the motion for the adjournment; but the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) over the weekend has made statements concerning me of such a slanderous and damaging character that I feel it important to take the first opportunity to put matters into their proper perspective. In the debate on the adjournment last Thursday night, following speeches made by my colleagues the honorable members for La Trobe (Mr. Jess) and Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth), I pressed the Leader of the Opposition and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) to answer the charges they made. I pointed to the fact that it was vitally important for the people of this country to know the backgrounds of four of the newly selected Senate candidates standing for election on behalf of the Labour Party. I do not propose to go over the ground in detail, because that is recorded in full in “ Hansard “. Any comments by the Leader of the Opposition or anybody else which have appeared since in the press have not been based on the “ Hansard “ record, because it is not yet in print and available to us. I have in my hand a copy of the “ Hansard “ manuscript of my speech on Thursday night. I have not sought to alter a word which appears in it. The only two references to Communism by me which will be found in it are in these terms -
I do not know whether they are Communists; all I am going on is what is put to us as being the view of the Labour Party itself about those men.
Later I said-
Is the balance of power in this country to be held after the next election by men who, if not directly members of the Communist Party, have ben flirting with Communists and with the most rabidly left wing elements in the Labour Party? Are they to hold the balance of power in the Parliament which will be elected after the next general election?
Now, Sir, in all my years in this Parliament I have never attacked a man on personal or private grounds, and I invite any member opposite to produce any passage in “ Hansard “ of the last 25 years to disprove that claim. But, Sir, when I believe that there are political aspects and facts which in duty bound 1 should bring out so that the people of Australia can make their own judgment, I am not going to be intimidated into not taking that course of action by any invective, any smear or any vicious attack which comes to me from the Leader of the Opposition or any of those who sit behind him in this Parliament. I have with, me here to-night - but, of course, time will not permit me to use it, except with the indulgence of the House-
– We will give you unlimited time.
– Thank you. I welcome the opportunity. I have full documentation of anything 1 have said in this place concerning those Senate candidates, and before I go into detail, I put the query as to w’hy, at this stage in our history, the Australian Labour Party should have turned to men who are notorious for their left-wing associations inside the Labour Party to fill up the gaps in the Labour Senate team. Let me proceed to deal with this matter in some detail. In doing so I will demonstrate that the honorable gentleman, speaking over the week-end, made two statements which either were wilfully designed to mislead the public or were made recklessly without any regard to their substance.
– Now you are squealing.
– Let me tell the story in my own way. The honorable member for Parkes may have his turn. I shall read out the statement reported in the Brisbane “ Courier-Mail “, and the honorable gentleman can correct it if it does not accurately report him. The report reads -
Mr. Calwell said Mr. Cavanagh was refused admission to the Woomera rocket range, not because he was a Communist, but because Mr. Chifleys Labor Government at the time decided that no persons were to be admitted to Woomera.
Is that a correct report of what the honorable gentleman said? There it is in print, and I shall proceed to disprove that statement completely.
The report of the honorable gentleman’s remarks from which I have been quoting continued -
There had been an industrial dispute and although a number of trade union officials sought permission to go to the range, all had been refused.
The next paragraph reads -
Mr. Calwell said neither Senator McKenna, who was acting Attorney-General at the lime, nor any other Minister had suggested that trade union officials had been refused permission to go to Woomera because of alleged Communist or other sympathies.
These two statements are completely false. I have available to me, first, the relevant extract from the “ Sydney Morning Herald” of 26th August, 1948. Honorable gentlemen opposite will remember the background to this matter very well. I have here the publication that they put out when they were in office. It is titled “ Hands Off the Nation’s Defences “. By way of introduction to this pamphlet, issued by Dr. Evatt on behalf of the government of which he was a senior member, is the text of a resolution passed by the federal executive of the Labour Party on 14th May, 1947, reading -
The federal executive of the Australian Labour Parly congratulates the Minister, Dr. Evatt, on the firm stand taken by the Government against the proposed black ban on the rocket range project. lt is apparent that the propaganda recently issued by the Communist Party in connection with this undertaking is for the sole purpose of defeating the Australian defence policy in the interests of a foreign power.
Now we turn to the events of August, 1948. At that time an application was made by Mr. Cavanagh, the present Labour Party Senate candidate from South Australia, in his capacity as an official of the Plasterers Union in South Australia. That application was for twelve or thirteen officials to visit the range. The then government, having examined the credentials of the persons seeking admission to the range, decided to admit six or seven of them and reject the applications of the others. Among those who were rejected was Mr. Cavanagh himself. When the rejection was challenged by Mr. Cavanagh he threatened that unless all the officials were allowed to go his federation would have no alternative but to withdraw labour from the rocket range - although at that time this was an offence under the legislation passed by the Labour Government, to which the pamphlet issued by it referred. This threat brought a statement from the Acting Minister for Supply and Development, the present honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan). I quote from the report appearing in the “ Sydney Morning Herald” of 26th August, 1948 - a front-page report - which reads -
The Acting Minister for Supply and Development, Mr. W. J. F. Riordan, in Melbourne yesterday condemned the threatened withdrawal by a union official of workmen from the rocket range in South Australia.
He said, “ lt would be regrettable that the Defence measures of the British Commonwealth should be imperilled at a time when the need for solidarity was evident by withdrawal of good Australian workmen from the range just because five persons living 300 miles away had been found unsatisfactory as range visitors”.
That position would have to be faced if the unions concerned were demonstrating they had no other officials they could nominate to satisfy security requirements, he said. “The Government is firm in its determination on the action it will take against persons having affiliations with associations advocating Communistic ideas and theories, and subversive generally to society “, said Mr. Riordan.
I have the full text, but I shall quote a little farther down to save time. Seven union officials had been accepted for the tour, but the other five had been rejected on the ground of association-
– Order! The right honorable gentleman’s time has expired.
Motion (by Mr. Calwell) agreed to with the concurrence of an absolute majority of the members of the House -
That so much of Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) continuing his speech without limitation of time.
– I thank the Leader of the Opposition and I will not abuse the opportunity offered to me. I believe it is important to place these facts on the record. They can be dealt with properly by honorable gentlemen, and the public can form its own judgment on them. This other passage from Mr. Riordan was in these terms -
Seven union officials had been accepted for the tour, but the other five had been rejected on the ground of association with elements believed to be subversive to the community.
I shall make available to the honorable gentleman the whole of the text if he wishes to study it. That was the statement of one Minister. First of all, it contradicts the Leader of the Opposition’s first statement that there was an industrial dispute on and that no one was allowed to go. The Government had clearly indicated that seven union officials who were regarded as acceptable from a security point of view would be allowed to go, but Cavanagh was among those who were refused permission. There were two other Ministers who became involved in this argument and I quote from the Adelaide “ Advertiser “ of 27th August, 1948, page 1-
ROCKET WORK GOES ON- Unions Warned.
The Federal Government will apply the penal clauses of the Approved Defence Projects Act should any attempt be made by building trades unions to withdraw members working on the guided weapons range at Woomera.
The Minister for Defence (Mr. Dedman) and the Acting Federal Attorney-General (Senator McKenna) implied this in statements made to-day on the refusal of the Supply and Development Department to grant permits to seven of a party of union officials selected to go on the range.
Mr. Dedman said that he approved of what had been done.
It showed that the security arrangements applying to the range were satisfactory. “ I thoroughly approve of the security screening of all visiters to the range “, Mr. Dedman added.
ACT WITH SPEED.
If there is any breach of the Approved Defence Projects Act governing operations at the range I don’t think it would be necessary for me to ask the Attorney-General to take action. “ I am quite certain that he would act with great speed and the provision of the Act would automatically apply.”
Senator McKenna said that Government policy on this matter was quite clear. It would brook no interference with the rocket range project.
The interference was the interference threat by Cavanagh who was threatening to pull out his union men from the rocket range. The extract from the Adelaide “ Advertiser “ continued -
When the Act was introduced the AttorneyGeneral (Dr. Evatt) had stated the Government’s viewpoint and this had not changed.
Asked whether the reason would be given for barring the union officials from visiting the range, Senator McKenna said - “ Not so far as I am concerned “.
I ask the House to listen to this. It is interesting having regard to the statements that have come from honorable gentlemen opposite in recent times. The report continued -
The security service, he added, was not required to disclose the reasons for its action.
That closes that particular aspect. First, I have demonstrated that a number of officials were refused permission and Cavanagh was a prominent member. Secondly, I have shown that three Ministers of the government of that time condemned the action that had been threatened. The honorable gentleman said that mine had been a cowardly attack. He challenged me to make my statements publicly. I assure him that I will take every opportunity as I find it necessary to state outside in public what I am now putting forward in documented form before this House, and not only in respect of Cavanagh. Before I leave the subject of Cavanagh, if honorable members opposite want to know something of the industrial record and performance of the gentleman they have selected to represent them in the Senate for South Australia, I direct their attention to the South Australian Law Reports 1949 - Murphy against the Plasterers Society and others. They will find there some very instructive reading. I will not take up the time of the House with it now.
– You have plenty of time.
– Yes, and I have plenty to do and honorable gentlemen opposite will not like it when I have finished. Let me turn to what is alleged to be a cowardly attack on Mr. Cohen. I do not know Mr. Cohen. I have never met him. I have never had anything to do with him. But I do know that there is in my mind some significance in the fact that a well known and respected member of the Australian Labour Party in the person of Mr. Ashkanasy, who has stood as a member for the Labour Party not only for the House of Representatives, as I believe, but on the Senate ticket also, is passed over on this occasion by the Victorian Executive for Mr. Cohen. As I understand it, Mr. Cohen is president of the Jewish Council to Combat Fascism and Antisemitism. The Council has been disavowed by the Victorian Jewish Board of Deputies as being, in its view, a Communist front. I shall quote from an interview which was given by Mr. I. J. Leibler who, I understand, holds the position-
– Are you quoting from that well-known Labour publication the “ Bulletin “?
– I have the “ Bulletin “, yes; but if the honorable member for Yarra wants a little more detail I shall refer him to the issue of 20th October of the “ Australian Jewish News “ and quote him this passage from an interview given in the name of Mr. Leibler who is chairman of the Public Relations Committee of the Victorian Jewish Board of Deputies. It is stated as being a statement made by him to the “ Australian Jewish News “-
The Jewish Council’s . . . referring to this anti-fascist council -
. slavish subservience to Communist policy reached its climax in 19S2 about the time when it was expelled from the Victorian Jewish Board of Deputies. At that stage the Jewish Council made public apologia for Communist anti-semitic policy in respect to the Prague Trials, the Moscow Doctor’s Plot and the general persecution of Jews behind the Iron Curtain.
I do not need to go into a mass of detail about this council. If the honorable gentlemen want a little more detail, let me give them this. It is from an interview with Mr. Leibler published in the “ Bulletin “ on 14th October, 1961. In his capacity as chairman of the Public Relations Committee, he is reported as having said -
The Jewish Council to Combat Fascism and Anti-Semitism was affiliated with the Victorian Jewish Board of Deputies until March, 1952. Following a considerable and protracted amount of tension, embarrassment and ill-will created by that body both inside and outside the Jewish community and only after repeated warnings had been given, it was unanimously decided by the full meeting of the Victorian Jewish Board of Deputies to expel that organization. Since then the Jewish Council has made numerous approaches to the Board of Deputies in respect of reaffiliation, yet the Board has not been prepared to take them back. The political reason why the Jewish Council has proved unacceptable to the organized Jewish community is due to the fact that it has never significantly deviated from official Soviet and Communist policy. In the early fifties responsible officers of the Jewish Council went so far as to go On record defending and excusing publicly the persecution and massacre of Jews behind the Iron Curtain.
Mr. Leibler was then asked, “ Is it the considered view of the organized Jewish community in Victoria as represented by the Victorian Jewish Board of Deputies in Melbourne that the Jewish Council is a Communist front? “ He answered, “ Yes “. In the “ Bulletin “ of 21st October, there was a further report in which Mr. Leibler was asked, “ Did you not say to me previously that the Jewish Council, of which Mr. Sam Cohen is president, has been expelled from the Victorian Jewish Board of Deputies and that it is regarded by the board as a Communist-dominated body? “ Mr. Leibler answered, “ I did “.
Let me put this bluntly to the Leader of the Opposition: Does he believe that the Jewish Council is a Communist front? I say I believe it is a Communist front and 1 give the Leader of the Opposition the opportunity to say whether he believes it is a Communist front. If he says it is, does he not think it a little odd that the president of this organization is standing as* the second member on the Senate ticket in Victoria, If he is not prepared to acknowledge that it is a Communist front, does he accept the judgment of the Victorian Jewish Board of Deputies that it regards this organization as such? I leave that aspect of the matter there. Now let me turn to Dr. Poulter for a brief moment.
– This is a shabby political speech from a so-called national leader.
– I know that honorable gentlemen opposite do not like this, but I said that I would be prepared to document anything that I had said previously in this House. The calibre, political background and associations of people who stand for election to what is the house of review of this Parliament are matters of vital concern to the people. The Senate can have, even over a government with an overwhelming majority in this place, a control or a capacity to frustrate, if there is a deadlocked Senate or a government minority in the Senate.
Again, I do not personally know anything about Dr. Poulter and again I said that I would pass on to the House only what Labour men are saying publicly about him. I now quote from the 5th December, 1960, issue o? the “ Worker “, the official journal of the Australian Workers Union, which is I suppose the largest union in Australia. On page 1 of this issue, under the heading “ Branch Secretary Williams Comments on Smear ‘ Charge “, the following report appears -
In a statement last week the Secretary of the Queensland Branch of the Australian Workers* Union (Mr. Edgar Williams) commented on remarks made in the Brisbane “ Courier-Mail “ by Messrs. F. J. Waters, Secretary of the Postal Workers’ Union and Dr. Max Poulter, a University lecturer, who had replied to criticism by Mr. Williams about their speaking from the same platform as Communists.
In last week’s “ Worker “ Mr. Williams said that any A.L.P. politician or aspiring politician “ who speaks from the same platform or is associated with a Communist on the same platform should be expelled. If the Queensland Central Executive of the A.L.P. does not expel him, they hold the Party to ridicule and contempt”.
In his statement Mr. Waters criticized the A.W.U. and said that Mr. Williams’ criticism was a “ smear campaign “ against Dr. Poulter who was in the A.L.P. Senate plebiscite. Dr. Poulter said he would go on the same platform with anybody as a scholar and defender of civil liberties.
Mr. Williams’ Comment. i
In his reply, Mr. Williams, said: “ I sincerely trust that both Mr. Waters and Dr. Poulter, even if they declare themselves so emphatically as Australian Labor Party spokesmen, are not accredited spokesmen for and on behalf of the A.L.P., despite the fact that they are members. “ For it appears to me both Mr. Waters and Dr. Poulter protest too loudly! “ If, as Mr. Waters claims, my statement is a smear against Dr. Poulter, then Dr. Poulter is entirely responsible for his own smearing, by association on a public platform with Communists “.
– What was the platform?
– It was, as I understand it, a platform protesting against the Crimes Act. The only other point of detail I add at this stage is that I have the text of a notice issued presumably with Dr. Poulter’s authority, and perhaps unexceptional in the eyes of honorable gentlemen opposite. It is headed -
Address by Dr. Max Poulter, B.Com., M.A., D.Ed.
” PEOPLE AND PREPARATIONS FOR WAR “
In particular as applied to the American scene.
General meeting of the QUEENSLAND PEACE COMMITTEE on Tuesday, 2nd May, 1961.
I said the other night that Dr. Poulter had been reported in the “ Worker “, the official journal of the Australian Workers Union, as being a fellow traveller. I have to-night produced the evidence and I am prepared to produce that evidence publicly at any time that the Leader of the Opposition would like me to do so.
I made the statement regarding the fourth member who was referred to the other night, that he has come to be known as “ Unity Ticket “ Arnell. Does any honorable member opposite deny that he has been associated on unity tickets for elections with Communists? If Opposition members choose to do so, let them. That is my understanding of the facts.
I leave it to the judgment, not only of the House but of anybody who cares to study the record of what was said here on Thursday night, what 1 have said here tonight, and what the Leader of the Opposition has been saying publicly outside, to decide whether I have gone beyond the responsibility which lies on any one who feels he has a duty to the security of the country and to the well-being and security of the Parliament. These are facts which the people who vote at Senate elections are entitled to have in their minds. To me, there is a deep significance in the fact that the Australian Labour Party at this stage of Australia’s history, with some of the great and terrible international issues developing before us, should turn in its search for new candidates to come into the Senate of this nation to men who on this record must be regarded as being to the extreme left of the Labour movement.
Motion (by Mr. Ward) agreed to with the concurrence of an absolute majority of the members of the House -
That so much of Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) making his speech without limitation of time.
– In the twenty-one years that I have been in this Parliament I do not think I have ever heard such a weak defence put up by any Minister in an effort to extricate himself from a dilemma which he created for himself by his wild, erroneous charges against four decent citizens. And they are charges which he is not prepared to make outside this Parliament.
– Yes I am.
– I again challenge the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) to repeat the statements which he is reported in the daily press to have made. In the Melbourne “ Age “ - and the reports in all the papers are much the same - the right honorable gentleman is reported as having described four Australian Labour Party candidates as Communists or fellow-travellers, and as having said -
Some seem certain of election to the Senate.
Either that statement is true or it is untrue. The Treasurer has not said that it is not true.
– It is not true.
– This is the first time we have been told by the Treasurer that he has been misreported.
– I stand on the written transcript.
– The transcript- which the Treasurer read from “ Hansard “ - does not disagree substantially with the newspaper report. All the newspaper reports seem to be identical. So the Treasurer now claims that the whole of the press of Australia has ganged up on him, that every newspaper has misreported him, that only “ Hansard “ has reported him faithfully. We have not had the opportunity to study “ Hansard “ because we will not see the printed document until to-morrow, but I am sure that when we do see it we will find that there is not so very much difference between the “ Hansard “ report and the newspaper report; but whether the language used is identical or not, the insinuation in the Minister’s statement is there. He has attempted to brand these four men as unworthy citizens, and he has done them great injury. So wrong is his action that at least two newspapers have written editorials upon the matter. The Sydney “ Sunday Mirror “ said this -
The Federal Treasurer, Mr. Harold Holt, has opened the Government’s election campaign in a shameful and sickening way. This week, under cover of parliamentary privilege, he named four Labour candidates for the Senate as “ Communists or fellow-travellers “.
It goes on in much the same strain, and I come to the third last and second last paragraphs which read -
In 1961, Mr. Menzies has lent the smear brush to his protege, Mr. Holt, who is wielding it with more enthusiasm than common sense.
Australian electors to-day are a good deal more suspicious of the Menzies’ Government’s promises and performances, and Mr. Holt’s stupid statements could easily rebound on the whole Liberal Party.
In to-day’s Melbourne “ Age “ I find this statement in a sub-leader, under the heading “McCarthy Tactics in Federal Parliament “ -
Personal attacks upon citizens who have no power to defend themselves are fortunately rare in the Federal Parliament. It was both surprising and disappointing that the Treasurer, Mr. Holt, so far forgot himself last week as to join in the discredited sport of character assassination.
The allegations bandied about the House against four A.L.P. Senate candidates were particularly offensive since they were deliberately vague and open to misunderstanding. Mr. Holt described the candidates (whom he named) as Communists or fellow-travellers . . . The label “fellowtraveller “ has never been defined, but the late Senator McCarthy proved how useful it could be in the hands of an unscrupulous demagogue.
And that is a very conservative newspaper. Honorable members might not think so highly of the Sydney “ Sunday Mirror “, but they have no reason to be over-critical of the attitude of the Melbourne “ Age “ towards there
I diS criticize the Treasurer for the statement he made in this House. I came into the House after he had spoken the other night, not knowing that he was going to speak and not having heard all that he had said. But I learned subsequently that he came in to support the remarks of the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) and the honorable member for La Trobe (Mr. Jess). Why he should need to demean himself to support the remarks of the honorable member for Mackellar puzzles me; but I do not think it was an accident -that the Treasurer came into the debate at all. He makes it appear that it was purely accidental that he spoke the other night. I believe that it was a pre-arranged plan on the part of the Liberal Party that, in the dying hours of this Parliament, the Labour Party should be besmirched and smeared by a government that has nothing positive to put to the people and which thinks that the Communist argument can be made to run again in 1961 as successfully as it ran in other days.
I should like to know why the issue has been raised to-night, Tuesday being a night when, ordinarily, we do not have an adjournment debate at all. I can only conclude that the Treasurer has decided to make his speech to-night because he wishes to raise a smokescreen to cover the remarks of the honorable member for New England (Mr. Drummond) about the scandal associated with the East-West Airlines situation. Be that as it may, I did make very critical remarks about the Treasurer over the weekend and I stand by every one of them. At least I made them outside the House, and I will continue to make statements like that while any member on the Government side does what the Treasurer did the other night.
I said that the allegations made by the Treasurer were so fantastic that only an evil-minded person would make them and only a simple-minded person would believe them. I hope that nobody amongst the Australian electors will be so foolish as to believe them. I said that the attack which the Treasurer made upon these four men was a cowardly attack because he did not repeat it outside the Parliament, and he will not repeat, in the language of “ Hansard “, outside this Parliament, what he said the other night. If he does, he will be certain to get a writ from some or all of the candidates.
The first person he took to task to-night in his renewed attack in this latest display of splenetic invective was the Labour candidate for the Senate in South Australia, Mr. J. Cavanagh. He proved quite easily that some of the things I said the other night were not factual. I had no idea the honorable gentleman was going to speak on this matter and I had to rely on my memory of events of fourteen years ago, but I spoke honestly and gave what 1 believed to be the true version of those events. I now find that some of the things 1 said were not exactly accurate. In fact, I was reminded by a correspondent in the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ named Ross Gollan of the inaccuracy. I remember Mr. Gollan. He was here when I first came twenty years ago. There was a strike among new.paper men in 1944. I have not seen Mr. Gollan since. He did not take part in that strike. He took his leave and he has never looked back. He attacked me and reminded me of the past.
I find that Mr. Cavanagh was refused admission to Woomera, but it has never been suggested at any stage that Mr. Cavanagh was a Communist or was ever a member of the Communist Party.
– There was a security check.
– That is so. He was one of the five people who were refused admission in 1948. In the “Advertiser” of the 21st of this month - that was Saturday last - he indignantly denied the charge that he was ever a Communist, that he was ever a fellow traveller, or that he ever sympathized with the Communist Party. But he did make the interesting observation that he visited the Woomera Rocket Range in 1958.
– In 1958, ten years later. There was no security objection to him in 1958. We were not exploding atomic bombs at Woomera in 1948, but we were getting mighty close to it in 1958. There was a list of people to be invited. Some had to be excluded; only a few chosen ones could be taken on the trip to Woomera. The then Minister for Supply-
– Who was that?
– He is now the Minister for Defence (Mr. Townley). He chose Mr. Cavanagh to go to Woomera in 1958 because he was not a security risk.
Now let us have a look at Dr. Max Poulter. He has been besmirched and smeared again to-night. Dr. Max Poulter is a man who attained a lot of distinction in Tasmania quite early in his life. He was probably the youngest principal of the teachers’ college in Launceston. He has done a lot of work as an educationist in various parts of Australia. He has written to me and said that at no stage has he ever been associated with the Communist Party; nor has he ever supported the Communist cause. He has told me a few other things about him:elf. He has said -
T have been a member of the Australian Labour Party for the pa:t 22 years. I make no apology for protesting against the explosion of nuclear weapons by Russia, the U.S.A., or any other nation. I have never attended a Peace Council meeting or addressed the Peace Council. I am prepared to sign a statutory declaration to this effect. I make no apology for opposing the Crimes Act and fighting for civil liberties and traditional British freedoms. I addressed a meeting convened by the A.C.T.U. on November 6, 1960, as part of an Australia-wide protest against the Crimes Act.
That was the only occasion on which he has been accused of appearing on the same platform as Communists. He also said -
Many prominent citizens were present, including A.L.P., Liberal, Q.L.P., and Communist Party members. As an academic and scholar I felt honoured to substitute for the late Professor Ross Anderson who was ill.
He said that he addressed a public meeting from the same platform as the honorable member for Bowman (Mr. McColm), and on that platform was Mr. Max Julius, many times a Communist Party candidate for the Senate in Queensland. He said that he once adjudicated at a Liberal Party meeting in the University of Queensland at a debate between the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen) and Mr. Julius, a member of the Communist Party. He said that he has appeared on the same platform as the honorable members for Bowman, Ryan (Mr. Drury) and Moreton and a member of the Communist Party, and these meetings were all convened by the Liberal Club. He also said that quite recently the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) received an. honorary degree from the University of Queensland and he was the proctor. I think I have said enough to show that no matter what might be said by the Treasurer against Dr. Max Poulter, on occasions he did move in very respectable company and no evidence has been adduced by anybody to substantiate any of the charges that have been laid against him.
In respect of the attack that was made upon him by Mr. Edgar Williams in the columns of the Queensland “ Worker “ some time last year, I just want to say that some internecine strife in the Labour Party in Queensland was proceeding at that time and the Australian Workers Union was not affiliated with the Australian Labour Party. I am happy to say that the Australian Workers Union has reaffiliated and that the Labour Party in Queensland - that includes Poulter, Williams and everybody else - is united and determined to get rid of most of the members from Queensland who are in this Parliament at the present time.
– What about Egerton and Duggan? You cannot say that they are united.
– No, but they are a little happier together than are the honorable member for Bradfield and some of the people who did not select him for reelection to this Parliament.
– But they did.
– I mean the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Bland). I should imagine that Senator McCallum feels that there is something wrong in the Liberal Party in New South Wales when he has been passed over in the fashion that we have heard about in recent days.
The smear of “ Unity Ticket “ Arnell is a creation of “ The Standard “, which is the organ of the Q.L.P., or so-called labour party. Members of the Liberal Party are so bankrupt of ideas that they have nothing better to do than resort to the organ of that miserable little organization for inspiration, ideas, slogans and slander. There is no other way by which they can find anything with which to regale this House and try to mislead the people of Queensland and Australia. I think we can safely leave all this business of Arnell, Poulter and Cavanagh to the electors of the two States in which they are standing for election. No matter what happens,
Cavanagh will be a senator and Poulter will be a senator under our system, and I hope that Arnell will be a senator, too.
The only other one about whom 1 wish to speak is Samuel Cohen, of Melbourne. I said the other night that Cohen is a Queen’s Counsel. He was appointed a Queen’s Counsel by the Chief Justice of Victoria because in that State the Chief Justice must appoint Queen’s Counsel.
– Are they not recommended by the Chief Justice?
– No, the Chief Justice makes the appointment. The State Attorney-General, who in this case happens to belong to the Liberal Party, makes the recommendation. I again ask: Does any honorable member think that the Chief Justice of Victoria, Sir Edmund Herring, would recommend for elevation to the position of Queen’s Counsel a man who was undesirable in any way? Does any one suggest that a Liberal Party AttorneyGeneral would recommend any one who could be even remotely described as sympathizing with or being friendly towards communism? Cohen has never been a Communist. He has never been sympathetic to the Communist Party. He has never been tried or even asked by the Labour Party at any time during his membership of the party to explain his attitude, not even in the days when that element headed by McManus and other representatives of Santamaria were in control of the organization. If there were any evidence they would be the first to produce it because they have the books. But they have not produced any evidence because no such evidence exists.
The only dispute in relation to Cohen exists inside the Jewish community itself. I happen to know the Jewish community pretty well. I suppose I know it as well as does any one else. I know its problems and its difficulties. What the Treasurer read from the “ Jewish News “ is probably correct, but I understand that Mr. Leibler’s statement was repudiated later by the board of deputies. I have reason to believe that the movement against the council originally was instigated by Mr. Ashkanasy, who had hoped to be selected as a Victorian candidate for the Senate. He was not selected. The Labour Party decided to select a younger man in the person of Mr. Cohen.
That is the party’s business. Both men, who are highly respected lawyers and very good citizens, would be acceptable to me as members of the Federal Parliamentary Labour Party. I reiterate my statement in relation to these men. Let the Treasurer repeat his charges outside the Parliament or let him apologize for aspersing the characters of four good men. If he will not do so, let him be silent or else earn the contumely and contempt of all decent men for his cowardly attitude.
.I desire to raise a matter which has some relationship to the one which has been discussed by the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) and by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell), namely, the qualifications of candidates at the forthcoming election. I raise this matter because this appears to be the appropriate time to do so. Some information has been placed in my hands and I want to give the honorable member for Swan Mr. Cleaver) the opportunity to correct it if it is untrue.
I take it that the honorable member will be submitting himself again as the Liberal Party candidate for the Swan electorate. Therefore, I want to ask him whether it is a fact that he is the same gentleman as the principal in the firm of Cleaver, Saggers and Associates, accountants, of Bentley, Western Australia, who formed a company known as Perth Television and Appliances Limited which was incorporated on 17th July, 1958. According to my information, the memorandum showed five subscribers. There were three nominal subscribers who had one 10s. share each, and two principals. One was Mr. Cleaver, who took 500 shares - that was an investment of £250 - and I presume that the other principal did likewise. Eight months later the public had taken up shares in this company to the value of £44,528, and the firm functioned for sixteen months from 17th July, 1958, until 26th November, 1959. In that period it lost £46,647 of shareholders’ money and, in addition, had undischarged creditors to whom was owed £19,742, making in all a total of £66,389 representing a loss of over £4,000 a month. What makes this matter so important is that the company could get so far into the red in such a short time when it had the assistance of the honorable member for Swan, if he is the gentleman referred to, as an accountant. He must have known that the company was going bad, to use a term.
On 26th November, 1960, a resolution was carried for the voluntary winding up of the company, and a liquidator was appointed. It appears that Cleaver, Saggers and Associates, who were the accountants, collected their accounting fees during the life of the company and, I understand, also collected something like 6s. 8d. in the £1 of their directors’ fees. This matter becomes increasingly important because I understand that the liquidation of the company has not yet been completed. Evidently there are some strange happenings associated with the liquidation of this firm, because I read in the press recently where a Mr. Justice Jackson had presided over a meeting of creditors in, of all places, Cobram, in Victoria, despite the fact that this was a Western Australian firm. I read where the judge made some very caustic comments about calling a meeting of creditors in Victoria of this Western Australian company, which made it almost impossible, if not impossible, for any of the creditors to attend.
I pass now to another matter because, as I have said, if this is the same gentleman I find that he is now associated with Swan Cottage Homes. Swan Cottage Homes have been established, so it is said, for the purpose of housing elderly people, I understand at a price. The people have to make a substantial donation. From what I can gather, the organization has received some assistance from the Western Australian Government in the form of a grant of Crown land, and also from the Commonwealth Government under the Aged Persons Homes Act, so it becomes rather important that we know something about the first company to which I have referred, because the honorable member for Swan, if he is the Mr. Cleaver mentioned in these reports, is also the chairman of Swan Cottage Homes. If he was associated, in his capacity as an accountant, with a company which lost £66,389 in sixteen months, I begin to question whether he would be a suitable person to have charge of this organization which also would handle considerable sums of money. Unless he can give some satisfactory explanation, and seeing that we are discussing the question of the qualifications of candidates for election, I should imagine that on that record he would be disqualified.
– Mr. Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation. I understand that by the indulgence of the House an honorable member may explain matters of a personal nature. In the course of his speech the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) stated that I had been refused selection by the Liberal Party for the Bradfield electorate. I regret, from his point of view, to have to inform him that I have been selected and have achieved the distinction in New South Wales of being selected unopposed.
.- It is quite apparent that we are about to go into recess prior to the holding of a general election. It is quite apparent also that the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) is again up to his tricks of giving to the House the lowest that he can present. I am prepared to say not only to the House but also to the people of my electorate of Swan that, notwithstanding the smear tactics of the honorable member for East Sydney, I will face the election on a genuine and honest record of service.
– Are you the Cleaver?
– I shall deal with the smear in a moment. If the honorable member for Yarra wants to have a go, he can have a go shortly.
– Either here or anywhere else, so far as you are concerned.
– Order! If the honorable member for Yarra interjects again, I shall name him.
– I am talking about the tactics of the honorable member for East Sydney. Let me say that the record upon which I shall . stand for the election is a record for which I make no apology whatever. Now to deal wilh the points raised by the honorable member for East Sydney. I recall this honorable member making a reference in the House and looking in my direction some months ago. I wondered what was in his mind - his evil mind. Now, within a few hours of the rising of the Parliament, he says, “ Ah, I have the honorable member for Swan just where I want him. I shall link him with the current debate on the adjournment.” So, first of all, he wheels out a reference to a company which was formed. I have no need to apologize. My name is Cleaver, I have a partner who runs an accountancy business. He is the Saggers. So the firm referred to is described quite accurately. A television company was established, not to operate a television station but to take part in the business, which was growing in Perth, of retailing television sets. My partner, Saggers, was the appointed accountant, and 1 was associated with the firm as one of the initial directors. There is no apology necessary for that. Unfortunately, through bad management, not bad accountancy, there were difficulties which brought about a liquidation which is still incomplete. So far, the honorable member for East Sydney is quite correct. But the aspersions which he casts are without foundation. We can leave it at that and let the people judge. The honorable member cannot interfere in the liquidation. We shall leave that in the hands of the liquidators.
The honorable member’s other references do not concern me one little bit, but not content with his endeavour to besmirch my character, he moved on into the field of social services. Convinced of the need of elderly people in this country, I have been happy indeed to take the initiative in the establishment of a home-building body to which I was appointed as chairman. When the honorable member for East Sydney comes over to Perth - if he is man enough - l, the chairman, will entertain him and show him the homes being built for aged people. Because of what is being accomplished, not just by a group of people but by the community of Western Australia, we shall see some £500,000 worth of flats established and some 300 to 400 people provided with accommodation similar to that which we are seeing all over Australia, because of the initiative of this Government in devising the Aged Persons Homes Act. Western Australia will make its contribution in this field because of the organization to which I have referred and many others.
Again, I have no apology to make to the House or to the community for this activity. simply say to the honorable member for East Sydney that I have heard him make vile and insinuating speeches in this House on a number of occasions, but I do not think I have ever heard him come to such a low ebb as he has come to to-night. I give it to him forthnightly: He can continue his attack on the member for Swan to the limit of his ability. I hope that he will come into the electorate of Swan and make his insinuations and I hope that he will come and see the work that has been done. If these are the tactics that he and his party are going to use to endeavour to unseat the present member for Swan, I wish him success, but I do not think he will succeed.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 12.15 a.m. (Wednesday).
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
y asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Overseas Control of Industries in Australia.
n asked the Prime Minister, upon notice - .
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
son asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
What are the particulars of action to be taken to improve post office facilities in the following Sydney suburbs and New South Wales townships: Kurnell, Bundeena, Caringbah, Sylvania, Gymea, Grays Point, Como, Oyster Bay, Menai, Woronora River, Sutherland, Kirrawee, Engadine, Heathcote, Loftus, Stanwell Park, Coledale, Scarborough and Auslinmer?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
The proposed improvements in post office services at the various centres mentioned are as follows: -
Kurnell - A public telephone is to be installed at Marsh-avenue near Kurnell-road, and minor telephone works are scheduled to provide services for waiting applicants.
Bundeena - Cable relief works for the Cronulla telephone exchange area, which includes Bundeena, are programmed for completion by June, 1962.
Caringbah - A new post office building is to be erected and it is expected that lenders will be invited before the end of this year. Cable relief work for the Miranda telephone exchange area, which includes Caringbah, is programmed for 1962-63.
Sylvania - The existing telephone exchange is to be extended by 200 lines, and a new telephone exchange building is programmed for early 1964 to enable a permanent exchange to be installed. An additional public telephone is to be installed at the Sylvania Heights Post Office.
Gymea - Cable relief works for the Miranda telephone exchange area, which includes Gymea, are programmed for 1962-63.
Grays Point - A public telephone is to be installed at the corner of North-West Arm and Grays Point roads. This centre is included in the Miranda telephone exchange area, and cable relief works are programmed for 1962-63.
Como - A letter receiver is to be installed at the corner of Keele and Carunda streets. The existing telephone exchange is to be extended by 200 lines, and a new telephone exchange building is programmed for completion in 1964 to enable a permanent exchange to be installed.
Oyster Bay - A public telephone is to be installed at the corner of Short-street and Oyster Bay-road. Oyster Bay is included in the Como exchange area, in which some minor telephone works are to be undertaken.
Menai - Minor cable works are in hand to provide telephone services for waiting applicants.
Woronora River - This centre is included in the Sutherland telephone exchange area and some minor works are to be undertaken.
Sutherland - Additional public telephones are to be installed at - (i) Cloi-street, near Toronto-parade; (ii) corner of Presidentavenue and Eton-street; (iii) corner of Presidentavenue and Belmont-street. A new po:t office building is contemplated but, because of the vast programme of other urgent and essential works awaiting attention, it will not be possible to proceed with this project in the immediate future. The existing telephone exchange is to be extended by 200 lines and it is expected that a new exchange building will be erected on a new site by 1964-65. Minor telephone works to provide service for waiting applicants are programmed for 1961-62 and 1962-63.
Kirrawee - A public telephone is to be installed at the corner of Flora-street and Bath-road. This centre is included in the Sutherland telephone exchange area, in which minor telephone works are to be undertaken.
Engadine - Two additional street letter receivers are to be installed. A review of the post office activities is being made to see whether the introduction of official conditions is warranted and whether it would be practicable to make such a change. The existing telephone exchange is to be extended by 200 lines and a new exchange building is programmed for 196S. An additional public telephone is to be installed at the post office and also at the corner of Anzac and Cambria avenues.
Heathcote - A letter receiver is to be installed in Parkland-avenue near Mimosa-street. New public telephones are to be installed at the following points: - (i) the post office; (ii) Mimosa-street near Parkland-avenue; and (iii) in Boronia Grove near Wilson-parade. This centre is included in the Engadine telephone exchange area and relief for waiting applicants is expected by June, 1962.
Loftus - This centre is included in the Sutherland telephone exchange area in which minor telephone works are to be undertaken.
Coledale, Scarborough and Austinmer - These centres are included in the Thirroul North telephone exchange area and relief works to satisfy all waiting applicants are in progress.
At the present time, no changes are planned in the facilities provided at Stanwell Park.
l asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
z asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
z asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
d asked the Minister for Immigration, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - 1 and 2. ft is claimed by the sponsors of the scheme that British migrants have returned to the United Kingdom under a “ time payment “ plan, but there is reason to believe that the number is comparatively small.
d asked the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
g asked the Minister for Repatriation, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
s. - On 14th September, the honorable member for Hughes (Mr. L. R. Johnson) aksed me whether iron ore deposits had been discovered near Mount Wells in the Northern Territory which show signs of being the biggest and best in Australia. He also asked whether the Government would endeavour to ensure that Australians retain control of the deposits and whether consideration would be given to establishing a commission, similar to the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority, to examine the possibility of developing these deposits.
I am informed by my colleague, the Minister for National Development, that a considerable deposit of iron-bearing material has been discovered recently near Mount Wells. The extent of the deposit and the quality of the ore will not be known, however, until tests have been carried out. This discovery is a direct outcome of the Government’s decision announced in December last, to permit a carefully controlled export of iron ore. This policy, which is designed to encourage private enterprise to undertake exploration aimed at the discovery of additional deposits of iron ore as well as the commercial use of known deposits, is administered to ensure that iron ore reserves considered essential for Australia’s industrial future are conserved. It is not considered that further action along the lines suggested by the honorable member would be warranted.
k. - On 18th October, the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson) asked a question without notice about the construction of the Mount Wells tin battery in the Northern Territory. In my reply to the honorable member I said that I would obtain for him the exact date on which the Director of Mines planned to have the battery completed. I have been informed by the Administrator of the Northern Territory that the Mount Wells battery is scheduled to open late in March, 1962, provided certain materials arrive from Germany on time. I understand most of these materials left Germany at the end of September for delivery at an unspecified Australian port by mid-November.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 24 October 1961, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1961/19611024_reps_23_hor33/>.