24th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. Sir John McLeay) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– I ask the Minister for the Interior: Has the Lend Lease Corporation Limited, which is developing section 51 of Canberra City, found difficulty in securing tenants for its premises because of the high rentals and because of a demand for payment of a percentage of turn-over? As a result, has the Lend Lease Corporation approached the National Capital Development Commission and asked that body to defer or delay the construction of surburban shopping centres? Has the commission agreed to this request? Will the Minister secure whatever information he can on this subject and make it public?
– I have no knowledge, at the moment, of the matters to which the honorable member has referred. I shall make inquiries and let him know the result.
– I ask the Minister for Territories whether it is true that he has expounded a philosophy that the States are dying and are stubbornly surrendering their financial power. Does the Minister support our federal parliamentary system?
– I gather that the honorable member’s question relates to remarks reported to have been made by a member of the Victorian State Parliament concerning a speech which I made in this House. I do not want to comment on the remarks of the Victorian State member because he may have been misreported in the same way as my remarks have apparently been conveyed inaccurately to him. What I did in this House in the debate on the States Grants (Additional Assistance) Bill was to draw attention to the development in recent years of a measure of financial unification in Australia even though no constitutional unification is taking place. I drew attention to that development as an historical fact. I did not comment on it or approve of it. Honorable members who were in the chamber at the time will recall the speech. They will also recall that I made no comment either by way of approval or disapproval of this develop, ment. I simply drew attention to it as something of great significance that was happening in Australia. I am a federalist and I always have been. I prefer the federal system to a unitary system in Australia. I definitely would prefer that; but none of us can shut his eyes to the way in which certain tendencies are developing in Australia and we must give attention to them. For myself, I am a federalist and support the federal system, although I recognize as a fact some of the situations with which we have to deal.
– I preface a question to the Prime Minister by asking the right honorable gentleman whether he is aware that at the end of each financial year the Taxation Branch takes on extra casual staff for the busy period. In the past, preference for this casual employment has been extended first to war widows and secondly to ex-servicewomen. I now ask the Prime Minister: Is it a fact that instructions have gone out on a ministerial level directing that this year war widows are not to be engaged for this casual taxation employment, but that such casual requirements must be met by drawing from registered unemployed women? If this is a fact, is this one way the Government proposes to adopt to reduce the number of women registered for employment? On what ministerial level has this direction been given?
– Apart from the fact that additional temporary staff is taken on at the time described by the honorable member, all this is completely new to me. No direction has gone out from me. I shall find out promptly what the position is.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Acting Minister for Trade. I refer to discussions I have had in the past few weeks with the Acting Minister for Trade and the honorable gentleman himself concerning the importation into Australia of a large quantity of citrus juice from the United States of America. Have the applications made by growers’ organizations been considered by the Government, and has any tariff procedure been commenced?
– As the honorable member knows, a question was asked on this subject on Tuesday, and I then said that I did” not know whether procedures had been adopted to initiate a hearing of the case or whether an application had been made. Since then, I have made some inquiries and I find that the matter has been raised, not only by the honorable member who asked the question yesterday, but also by the honorable member for Robertson, the Minister for Social Services and the Minister for Immigration, who have referred1 to this matter by correspondence or verbally. The present situation is that the industry has submitted an application for an emergency hearing. The panel has been formed and officers of the Department of Trade are working closely in conjunction with the panel preparing a case for submission to the Acting Minister for Trade, who will consider whether it will be referred to the special advisory authority. I understand that it should not be too long before that information is available, and perhaps by next week we should know whether a prima facie case has been established1.
– I ask the Minister for Immigration: Is it a fact that approval has been given by the Department of Immigration for the entry into Australia of 30 Malays for work in the pearling industry as indentured labour? Is the contract for five years at the rate of £17 a month? How does the Minister justify the entry of these men at a time when deportation orders are pending against three Malays who are being sent back to Malaya because they were told that there was no further employment available in the pearling industry? If reports of the arrival or impending arrival of these men are correct, will the Minister state the name of the employer and the locality where they are to work?
– I shall inquire into the statement made by the honorable member, and shall treat his question as being on notice, and reply to him accordingly. As te the other part of the question, about the three Malayan deserters, as the honorable member knows, this matter is the subject of an appeal to the High Court at the moment, and therefore it would not be proper for me to make any comment.
– I ask the Minister for Labour and National Service whether it is true that the Waterside Workers Federation has called a 24-hour strike for next Tuesday. I should like the Minister to let me know whether this is contrary to the provisions of the award, and whether anything can be gained by the men themselves. Can he also let me know how it will affect the export industry and the movement of cargoes?
– As the House will well know, an authorized stop-work meeting was called by the Waterside Workers Federation to consider the approach that had been made to me by the federation about long service leave and penalties in the industrial law. That stop-work meeting was approved by the ship-owners and the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority.
I am now informed that, as well, a 24-hour strike will be called on Tuesday to consider exactly the same matter. From the men’s point of view, nothing at all can be gained by calling a 24-hour stoppage. The men will lose their entitlement to some part of their long service leave, and will also lose attendance money. The country also loses, and neither I nor the Government will be intimidated by the actions of the Waterside Workers Federation Its decision is increasingly difficult to understand because I have given assurances, in consultations with the Waterside Workers Federation and the Australian Council of Trade Unions, that I am looking at some of the anomalies and injustices that have been discussed with me by them. Only yesterday I instructed my department to contact the Australian Council of Trade Unions and find out when the discussions could be resumed, and that has been done. Consequently, I am all the more amazed that the
Waterside Workers Federation should take this unnecessary strike action.
So far as shipping is concerned, I think the proposed action is regrettable at a time like this when costs are enormously important. It is to be regretted that, at a time when we are fighting for overseas markets, the Waterside Workers Federation should, in an undisciplined way like this, stop the movement of our cargoes overseas.
– I address a question to the Minister for Immigration. The Portuguese authorities have stated that the warship “ Goncalves Zarco “ anchored offshore in Darwin recently because they wished to prevent further desertions. I ask the Minister whether it is a fact that the Government required the warship to anchor off-shore because the Government had become aware of plans by the ship’s commander to seize the fugitives by force as they reported to the police station, and that the Government was also aware that at least one of the sailors was faced wilh very severe penalties. Why did the Minister take so long to make the decision to protect the sailors from the vengeance of the Portuguese Government when it appeared to most Australians to be an action demanded by common humanity?
– This is a question concerning Portuguese sailors about whom there has been some publicity and some controversy. Again, the matter is still before the court, and the latest information I have received is that there is going to be an appeal to the High Court from the decision of Mr. Justice Bridge in connexion with the three Portuguese deserters, so it would be most improper for me, as I said in response to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition last week, to make any comment about this case, or about matters related to it, when it is still the subject of litigation.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister. Can he give the House the date on which the Minister for Trade will return to Canberra? I assume that on his arrival, the Minister will make a statement on his have maintained the closest mutual underundertake that this statement will be made to the House in session so that the subject of the Common Market, which is so vital, may be considered by the Parliament?
– I am not able at present to name the precise date for the return of my colleague. The last understanding we had about the matter was that he expected to be back just before Easter - that is to say, not next week but the week after that.
– He is not getting anywhere so he may as well come back.
– He is doing a magnificent job. I expect that he will wish to make a statement on his return and, if so, undoubtedly this will be the place in which to make it.
– I ask a question without notice concerning the use of Royal Australian Air Force crash boats by Ministers and other official guests. This is a matter of administration for which the Minister for Air is responsible, but with which the Treasurer may be more intimately acquainted. In accordance with your ruling yesterday, Sir, I leave it to you to determine who should answer the question. I ask: Has the Treasurer been among the guests invited by the R.A.A.F. - I use the words of the Minister for Air - to see its marine activities at Townsville? In particular, I ask whether these activities have included spear fishing by the Treasurer.
– I have already intimated in the course of a quite lengthy answer to a question on the notice-paper that the marine section at Townsville has from time to time conveyed many people on its exercises. Much of the time of this section is spent on a stand-by basis and, unless exercises were undertaken, crews would have insufficient training and the equipment could not be efficiently used. In the course of the last few years, the section has conveyed a number of people, including members from both sides of the House.
– Who? Give us a list.
– If you want a list, it could undoubtedly be supplied. It is quite a usual procedure. In the course of some of these voyages the boats have been stopped when some members of the party, including honorable members opposite, may have visited an island; some no doubt have gone swimming; some have just admired the glorious scenery of northern Queensland; some have fished; and some may even have speared a few fish. Incidentally, I should like to know of any honorable member opposite who would be game enough to leap into the waters of the Barrier Reef alongside the Treasurer among the sharks. It would be a very impressive engagement. But the question is extremely trivial and is another instance of the tendency of the Opposition to waste the time of the House on matters of no national importance.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister. Since both Australia and New Zealand, as exporters to Great Britain of a similar range of products, have common interests in the present European Common Market negotiations, what measures have been taken by the Australian Government to consult with the Government of New Zealand on these matters so as to co-ordinate our policy and, by a common approach, to further the interests of both countries?
– The fact that we have very great interests in common is, of course, well accepted on both sides of the Tasman, and in consequence we have maintained constant contact with New Zealand, at both the ministerial and the official levels, not only at each end of the line at Canberra and Wellington, but also in London, where a great deal of discussion has been going on, and in Brussels. In addition to this, there have been extensive communications, sometimes from Prime Minister to Prime Minister and sometimes between the Ministers concerned, and a great mass of communition on the official side. The honorable member may be assured that, not only having regard to the fact that we are close friends and neighbours and intimately associated with each other in the Commonwealth of Nations, but also because of the community of interest which we have on a number of these matters, we have maintained the closest mutual understanding with the Government of New Zealand.
– I ask the Prime Minister a question. Yesterday the right honorable gentleman referred to “ some comment made by somebody called Bishop Strong”. I ask whether the Prime Minister is so uninterested in the affairs of New Guinea that he has not heard of the right reverend gentleman who has been the Bishop of New Guinea for more than a quarter of a century. If, however, the derogatory reference was not due to the right honorable gentleman’s ignorance of New Guinea affairs, will he give an assurance that the reference was not due to studied disrespect for the bishop’s views but was due merely to the Prime Minister’s current irritability?
– If I may answer the serious part of that question: Of course I have heard of the bishop. I had not read the views that were attributed to him in the course of yesterday’s discussion. That, no doubt, is a grave fault on my part.
– I wish to direct a question to the Treasurer. Has he read a report that the Victorian Government intends to bring down legislation which will ease the probate duties on certain estates of primary producers and also introduce a measure of payment of probate in advance? I ask further: In view of the great hardship that is often inflicted on this section of the community in its endeavours to retain such properties intact, will the right honorable gentleman consider reviewing Commonwealth probate duties prior to the presentation of the next Budget?
– The Commonwealth Government pursues a taxation policy in relation to primary producers which encourages capital growth on their part. I am well aware that in some instances this can produce difficult problems of adjustment after the death of a landowner, as well as problems in the conduct of the property by his beneficiaries. The matter has been looked at from time to time and representations have reached me from various quarters. The provisions of the Victorian legislation are not yet familiar to me. My impression was that in some respects that legislation is likely to increase probate duties and that, perhaps, in other respects, probate duties may be eased. I shall try to study what is proposed. As to the Commonwealth attitude, I can only tell the honorable gentleman that this is a matter of budget policy which would normally be reviewed at budget time.
– My question is addressed to the Treasurer. Is it a fact that the Commonwealth Superannuation Fund had a credit balance of £81,000,000 in June, 1961? Also, is it a fact that the annual expenditure from the fund, £9,000,000, is only about one-half the amount of incoming contributions, which total £18,600,000 annually? If these are facts, will the Commonwealth consider adopting the policy of both the New South Wales Labour Government and the New South Wales Liberal Party Opposition, as stated during the recent State election campaign, of providing for an all-round increase of 2s. 6d. a unit in superannuation payments to retired public servants, whose position has considerably deteriorated in recent years?
– The Commonwealth Superannuation Fund is reviewed from time to time by the Commonwealth Actuary. While I am not in a position to confirm, out of hand, the precise figures given by the honorable member, my broad impression is that contributions to the fund are matching the fund’s obligations.
– The figures I gave related to contributions from the officers, and did not include the Commonwealth’s contributions.
– I am simply giving my own impression by way of a reply to a question without notice. As I say, the fund is reviewed from time to time to see whether further benefits can be provided from it. This Government has reviewed the operations of the fund from time to time to see whether it should change any of the legislative provisions covering the fund. However, I shall examine the question put to me more closely when I see it recorded, and I shall give a more comprehensive reply to the honorable member.
– I ask the PostmasterGeneral a question. Is it a fact that under a particular section of the Broadcasting and Television Act a commercial station may televise only election matter submitted by parties represented in the Parliament at its last meeting before the election campaign? Is it a fact that a sub-section of the same section gives power to the Australian Broadcasting Commission to determine to what extent and in what manner political matter or controversial matter shall be broadcast or televised by the commission? Does this mean that the Australian Broadcasting Commission may allow Communists to broadcast political matter ad lib, although the act makes it illegal for commercial stations to do so? Will the Minister see whether this obvious anomaly can be rectified?
– The legislative provisions governing the broadcasting of election matter during an election campaign are generally as stated1 by the honorable member for Macarthur. The specific provision of the act deals particularly with commercial stations, and does not give any definite direction to the Australian Broadcasting Commission on the subject. This is a matter that I have recently discussed with the chairman of the commission, and which I intend to discuss with him again during the next few days.
– I direct a question to the Minister for the Army. Is it true that the Citizen Military Forces coastal garrison from South Head, Sydney, now conducts its annual camps as well as its quarterly weekend camps at Fort Scratchley, Newcastle, which is adjacent to a high-density residential area? Is the purpose of these camps to gain practice in the firing of heavy calibre ammunition with the 6-in. Mark II. guns? Are these guns at Fort Scratchley similar to those at South Head, Sydney? Have annual and quarterly week-end camps at South
Head been discontinued because of complaints from nearby residents, and because of the gun blasts affecting the nearby naval buildings at H.M.A.S. Watson? Is the Minister aware that a meeting will be held next Monday of residents of the area near Fort Scratchley to protest against the excessive use of Fort Scratchley? Will the Minister arrange for the South Head garrison to conduct its camps at another site, and in this way extend the same consideration to Newcastle residents as was shown to Sydney people living near South Head?
– It is true that certain exercises have been held at Fort Scratchley.
– Since 1957.
– Yes, I know. The honorable member may be interested to know that as a result of the tests which have been carried out it is now proposed to abandon this area for the purpose for which it has been used. I do not think there will be any need, for a deputation. I have dealt with this matter in the last few days and I can assure the honorable member that no further trouble will arise.
– I address my question to the Minister representing the Acting Minister for Trade. Has he seen a recent report which is highly critical of Tariff Board delays and procedures? If so, has he examined the report? Will he comment on it? Is it true that much of the report is incorrect and unfair to the present members of the Tariff Board?
– I assume that the honorable member is referring to a report which appeared in the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ about a week ago. The best part of the report was the photograph which accompanied it. Some of the information contained in the report was misleading, some was half true and some was factual. However, in view of the importance of the subject and the fact that legislation relating to the Tariff Board is at present before the House, and that further legislation will be introduced at a later date, I shall treat the question as being on the notice-paper and obtain a considered reply for the honorable member.
– Has the attention of the Minister for the Interior been directed to an attack by the honorable member for Bruce on the industrial activities of the Communist Party? Is it a fact that the honorable member for Moreton, and the Government, were elected on the preference votes of Communist Party candidates? If so, will he inform the honorable member for Bruce that such ill-advised attacks are liable to result in the loss of Communist Party preferences at the next election and endanger the cordial relationship existing between the Government parties and the Communist Party?
– If the honorable member for Grayndler studies the election figures carefully he will learn that many members on his own side of the House received Communist Party preferences, including the honorable member for Stirling, who owes his presence in the House to those preferences. I think that this is a rather childish exercise by the honorable member for Grayndler because, quite frankly, no one can understand why the Communists vote as they do.
– My question to the Minister representing the Minister for Customs and Excise relates to the announcement yesterday that the Government will pay a bounty of £2 a ton on the production of locally manufactured sulphate of ammonia. Does this mean that the emergency duty placed on sulphate of ammonia and urea will be abolished automatically and that unlimited imports will be allowed into this country? If this is so, is it correct to say that prices of sulphate of ammonia and urea should be reduced considerably so that primary producers may benefit?
– I shall have to look into the details of this matter to be perfectly certain of what the effect of the proposal will be. I know that this is an enormously important matter to the primary producers. The Government is certainly doing its best to help them.
– I address my question to the Minister for Labour and National
Service. Is it possible to release the monthly figures of registered unemployed before the third Monday of the succeeding month? Will the Minister explain why the figures for the past two months have been widely known at least a week before the official release, whereas they were kept a tight secret up to the very hour of their release before the election?
– It is not practicable to publish the composite figures until the third Monday after the date when the final returns are collected from the various agencies. I am sure that the statement contained in the second part of the honorable gentleman’s question is wrong. I saw no statement or forecast relating to the March figures which was sufficiently close to accuracy to make me believe that there had been premature disclosure of the figures or that any one other then myself was in possession of the information.
– Five days before!
– One day before.
– I address a question to the Minister for Labour and National Service. Have the differences between the Waterside Workers Federation in Western Australia and the Foremen Stevedores Association been resolved, and has the position regarding hookies-on been cleared up? The Minister will remember that these matters caused some disruption of work last year.
– Early last year there was considerable trouble on the waterfront at Fremantle due to a dispute about foremen stevedores. I think it is well known to the honorable gentleman that the Government took the view - and certainly most industrial authorities took the view - that foremen stevedores in Fremantle should have the same kind of industrial organization as that which prevails everywhere else in Australia; and particularly was this so as the Foremen Stevedores Association was recognized by the Australian Council of Trade Unions. I am glad to say that lately foremen stevedores who were members of the Waterside Workers Federation have resigned, and have become members of the Foremen Stevedores Association. I do hope that this will lead to a reduction of trouble on the waterfront and will mean that there will be a greater degree of discipline and a more free movement of cargo. As to the second part of the honorable member’s question regarding the position of hookies-on at Fremantle, I point out that there is no similar position elsewhere in Australia. The job was a sinecure, with the hookies-on performing no useful purpose, and whilst it has nothing to do with my department I have been informed that the Fremantle Harbour Trust has abolished the position of hooky-on. That was a matter for the trust to decide.
– I ask the Minister for External Affairs: Is it a fact that a financial crisis threatens to engulf the United Nations Organization because the Soviet bloc and some other countries refuse to meet their obligations? Is Nationalist China one of the chief offenders in not meeting its financial commitments? Has the Australian Government taken any action to persuade its friends to toe the mark, or has the Government made any payment in addition to its ordinary commitment to ensure that the United Nations Organization does not crumble as the result of lack of funds? On the other hand, in view of the fact that this Government is trading with the Communist Government of China on a credit basis, does not the refusal of Nationalist China to meet its obligations provide an excellent opportunity for this Government to support the admission of continental China to the United Nations Organization?
– If I may say so, that question seems more like an argument than a question, and would perhaps look better on the notice-paper.
– My question is addressed to the Postmaster-General. I preface it by reminding the Minister that in September, 1960, I asked him whether he would give consideration to the inclusion in the Melbourne telephone directory of a map of the metropolitan area showing the appropriate postal district numbers, and also to the inclusion of postal district numbers with the addresses of telephone subscribers, as is done in the London telephone directory. I now ask him whether his department is nearer to providing Melbourne telephone subscribers with the fuller and more readily accessible information which at that time he hoped would eventually be provided.
– As I have stated previously, the department is constantly studying the preparation of directories for the purpose of making the information contained in them more readily available and of as wide a scope as possible. I remember the honorable member putting this proposal to me at that time. I am not aware what the latest position is regarding his suggestion, but I will find out as soon as possible and let him know.
– The question which I direct to the Prime Minister is in some measure supplementary to that put by the honorable member for Barton to the Treasurer. Is the .Prime Minister aware that there is considerable discontent among officers of the Commonwealth Public Service in respect of their wage levels in relation to those in State public services, and that there is most serious concern over superannuation benefits? Does this serious concern over superannuation benefits arise from the fact that private employers and insurance companies are now offering most generous retirement benefits and pension policies; that the accumulated superannuation fund of about £80,000,000 ls not being used for the benefit of the subscribers in the Public Service; and from the serious plight of retired Commonwealth public servants whose pensions cannot now match current costs of living? Will the Prime Minister advise the House whether the Government intends to review the provisions governing the Commonwealth Superannuation Fund so as to provide pensions compatible with those now available to employees in private enterprise? Also, will the Prime Minister give urgent consideration to a full review of pensions now paid to retired Commonwealth public servants?
– Those are clearly matters of policy; and matters of policy, when dealt with by the Government and when a conclusion has been arrived at, are announced at the appropriate time in the normal way.
– In directing a question to the Prime Minister I refer to the recently expressed intention of the Government to attempt to establish a water resources council in co-operation with the States and Territories for the purpose of investigating the water resources of Australia. Can the right honorable gentleman inform the House of the progress made towards the establishment of this council?
– I would prefer, Sir, to be able to answer by the book on this matter. I will have a look into the present state of the discussions, and I will advise the honorable member and the House of the position.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Repatriation as the Minister representing in this House the Acting Minister for Trade. Is it true that there is quite a deal of misunderstanding among Australian exporters in regard to the tariff duties recently brought down by the Japanese Government? Is it true that the recent Japanese budget favours Australian exports to Japan in regard to tariff duties? If this is so, what action does the Department of Trade propose to take in order that Australian manufacturers and producers may be fully informed of the opportunities for trade with Japan?
– This matter is of great importance to Australian industry and Australian commercial operators, particularly in the exporting field1. A statement appears in the press to-day which gives information relating to the Japanese Government’s budget for the next six months, which operates as from the first of this month. As the honorable member has said, the provisions of that budget are fairly favourable from our point of view, because a number of our major products will not be adversely affected or restricted in any way. For example, wool will have completely free access to the market, as will iron ore and a number of other commodities in which we are Interested. Despite some restrictions that have been placed on still other commodities such as foodstuffs, coal, sugar and wheat, on the figures, as far as we can assess them, our opportunities during the next six months will be about the same as those for the previous twelve months. So I think that the situation from our point of view is fairly satisfactory.
– I preface a question to the Postmaster-General by stating that I am reliably informed that up to the end of last year the Australian Broadcasting Commission published in Queensland details of its programmes a week in advance. This practice was stopped towards the end of last year. In South Australia the practice is not followed, and it is impossible to obtain from the commission details of its South Australian programmes a week in advance. Has the Minister any knowledge of this change in procedure? If not, will he look into the matter with a view to having the practice which operated in Queensland until last year applied in all States?
– Does the honorable member for Hindmarsh refer to the publication of both television and broadcasting programmes?
– No, to broadcasting.
– I think he is referring to the publication of the “ A.B.C. Weekly.”. That was published in both New South Wales and Queensland. It was not published in South Australia where a trial run showed that there was little demand for it because the South Australian newspapers publish fairly lengthy details of programmes.
– Only daily, though.
– That may be so. The publication of the “A.B.C. Weekly” ceased and, for a time, the programmes were printed in a new publication, the “T.V. Times”. That was discontinued recently for reasons of economy, but arrangements have been made - and I think they are now operating - for another journal to publish both broadcasting and television programmes. I have not the details of this latest publication in my mind. I know that it circulates mainly in New South Wales. I shall look at the whole question again and advise the honorable member of the result of my inquiries.
– Mr. Speaker, I claim to have been misrepresented. In the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ of to-day’s date, at page 7, is a report of proceedings in this House yesterday during a debate on a motion that your ruling be dissented from. In reporting the remarks of the honorable member for Moreton the newspaper reports me as saying to him, “ Go and get your instructions from the Kremlin “. I did not make that remark. Therefore, I did not deserve, on that count, the advice given by the honorable member that I should go and drown myself. I realize that it must have been almost impossible to make an accurate and comprehensive report of such a debate. I merely make the explanation in order to put the published record straight.
– I claim to have been misrepresented. I claim that, before the rising of the House last night, the Leader of the Opposition misrepresented me. I am quite sure that he would not have done so had he not had such a bad day nor would he have done so-
– Order! The honorable member must not make any comment. He may refer only to the manner in which he has been misrepresented.
– I rise to order, Mr. Speaker. Is the honorable member in order in making a personal explanation about misrepresentation in view of the fact that he voted to gag himself at a time when he could more appropriately have made such an explanation?
– There is no substance in the point of order. The honorable member for Bruce will continue and he will confine his remarks to the points on which he has been misrepresented.
– The statement made by the Leader of the Opposition that I was speaking to a brief obtained from some other source was quite wrong. I had no brief at all. The matters about which I spoke have been within my own knowledge over a period of time. I regarded them as being so vital to the welfare of Australia that they ought to be brought to the notice of this House.
– I did not hear the concluding words of the honorable member for Bruce.
– Order! The Leader of the Opposition will resume his seat. I ask honorable members to remain silent. It is impossible to carry on the business of the House with everybody interjecting. There is only one method of dealing with members who persist in such conduct.
– I was going to suggest that if the honorable member for Bruce felt aggrieved and that he was circumscribed by the Standing Orders-
– I raise a point of order. Is the Leader of the Opposition claiming to have been misrepresented, or is he seeking to make a statement without leave?
– I thought that the Leader of the Opposition might have risen to apologize. If he has any desire to make a statement about what the honorable member for Bruce said it will be necessary to have leave of the House.
– Exactly. I was about to suggest that perhaps the honorable member for Bruce could have leave to make a statement so as to expand his remarks. The Opposition will give him leave if he wants it. Does he want leave?
– I am waiting for an apology from the Leader of the Opposition.
– In view of the demand for an apology, I ask for leave to make a statement.
– Leave is granted.
– I thank the House for its indulgence and generosity. I have no intention of apologizing to the honorable member on this occasion or on any other occasion. What I said, I said in all honesty and on the basis of information which I have at my disposal. The honorable member for Hindmarsh, the honorable member for Banks, the honorable member for Bendigo, and other honorable members told me that they had seen the honorable member for Bruce conversing with Senator McManus and a notorious newspaper scavenger around this place within minutes of the House meeting. They saw themhandling documents and it was on the basis of that information that I made my remarks. I felt quite justified in making them.
In any case, what is wrong with saying that a barrister spoke to a brief? I have never known a barrister yet who did not speak to a brief. This particular barrister could not speak without a brief. The adjournment debate - was misused last night by the honorable member for Higinbotham and the honorable member for Bruce, both of whom used the same argument and much the same documents. The whole thing was a plant and I did not reply to the argument because neither honorable member was worth replying to. I dealt with them, effectively I thought, by saying that the honorable member for Bruce had come in here and used the argument that an outgoing senator, a lame duck senator from Victoria, had given to him, if I may mix my metaphors, after going to Western Australia in order to sing his swan song.
– I ask for leave to make a statement.
– There being no dissent, leave is granted.
– I find it quite incredible that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) could say in what he regards as a sense of responsibility, first, that he will not apologize on this occasion and, secondly, that he will never apologize. I do not regard this as any semblance of responsibility. As to the second point he raised that I was seen talking to Senator McManus, I find it incredible that the Leader of the Opposition could rest a statement, such as he made last night that I was speaking to a brief from Senator McManus, merely on the fact that he had been informed that I was speaking to Senator McManus. It is true that I was speaking to the senator. 1 was speaking to him in King’s Hall. It is not surprising, therefore, that I was seen talking to him. Had there been any desire on my part to obtain any information - and there was not - I would never have done it in King’s Hall. I did it in King’s Hall because that is a place where people ought to be able to mix, speak with others and put themselves before the gaze of anybody passing. Whenever anything is raised that hurts members of the Opposition, they respond with slanderous statements. I did not think the time would arrive when the Leader of the Opposition could be forced into such statements as he has made by relying on sources which are so notoriously unreliable as the honorable members he named as his informants.
Motion (by Mr. Davidson) agreed to -
That leave of absence be given to the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) on the ground of public business overseas.
– by leave- I wish to refer to the acoustics of this chamber and I am indebted to honorable members for giving me leave to be heard. I thought, Mr. Speaker, that you may be able to have devised some means by which every member of the Parliament can hear quite clearly every answer given by a Minister at question time. It is perfectly natural for a Minister when replying to a question from his own side of the House to turn his back to the Opposition and direct his answer to the honorable member who asked the question; but if the Minister does not speak clearly, it is almost impossible for many of his own colleague’s and for members of the Opposition to hear clearly what is being said.
I direct attention to the fact that the Postmaster-General (Mr. Davidson) walks from his seat, faces this side of the House and turns his back to honorable members on the Government side. Despite the clarity of the Postmaster-General’s diction, it must be difficult for many honorable members to hear what he is saying. Conversely, the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) stands at the table and speaks with great clarity, but he has a microphone right in front of him and everybody can hear what he is saying. Perhaps, Mr. Speaker, you might be able to make some arrangements so that Ministers will speak into a microphone, thus enabling every member of the House to hear what is said. My sole desire is to help honorable members on both sides of the House. That has always been my attitude in this place.
– Is leave granted?
Government Supporters. - No.
– Leave is not granted.
SUPPLY (GRIEVANCE DAY). Commonwealth Parliament Offices, Perth - Portuguese Sailors - Sydney General Post Office Clock- Trade with Israel - Decentralization - Electoral - Shipbuilding - Submarines - Unemployment. Question proposed - That Mr. Speaker do how leave the chair. Mr. LESLIE (Moore) [11.31].- This is Grievance Day when honorable members are permitted to grieve, and it is customary to refer to matters affecting our respective electorates. 1 wish to refer to the accommodation provided in Perth for Western Australian members of the Commonwealth Parliament. Honorable members occupy separate offices on the first floor of the Commonwealth Bank. 1 join with the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) in complaining about the acoustics in this chamber, but the position in the Commonwealth Parliament Offices in Perth is equally bad in another respect. Members are unable to conduct business in their own offices in privacy because of the audibility of conversations in other rooms.
Recently the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) visited Western Australia twice and occupied an office next to mine. On both occasions, I felt .in honour bound to vacate my own office so that I should not overhear conversation which the Leader of the Opposition was conducting by telephone and with visitors to his office. I do not say that there was anything I should not hear, but I did not think it desirable that I should overhear his business. The Leader of the Opposition is aware of the situation. I felt most uncomfortable about it. It is impossible to conduct a conversation privately in my office in Perth. I do not know how far conversation carries in the premises, but it can certainly be heard clearly on both sides of the office one is occupying.
– That is true also of offices here in Parliament House.
– That may be so. I have not had such an experience in this place because the only office I occupy in this building is the corner of the party room. I have no privacy whatever here, but at least I am entitled to privacy in my office in my own State. When electors visit me in Perth to talk over their private business, they can overhear another member of Parliament discussing private business with an elector in an adjoining room. Interviewees become reluctant to carry on a conversation as they fear it will be overheard in the next office. I have been obliged to take electors who wanted to speak to me in confidence on to the street where they can still be heard but nobody takes any notice.
I do not know what the Government is paying the Commonwealth Bank for the use of these offices in Perth. They look flash, and that is all one can say in their favour. The responsible Minister should see that something is done to enable members to conduct the business of their electorates in the offices in Perth in complete privacy. I am not referring now only to conversations by the Leader of the Opposition which might have been overheard, but also to conversations with electors on confidential and strictly private matters that should be kept within the four walls of one’s own office. It is time the Minister said to the Commonwealth Bank, “ Either you put these offices right or we find others “. I do not know whether there is decent alternative accommodation available in Perth, but, without being disparaging to the members of the Western Australian Parliament, I must say that I am astonished that they put up with such conditions. It is impossible for me to conduct important business in the office accommodation available to me. In fact, whenever my electors have something confidential to discuss with me I tell them not to come to my office. One of the big problems, of course, is the telephone. One must conduct conversations over the telephone.
– Some of the rooms have been sound-proofed as a result of complaints such as yours.
– I am glad to hear that, but obviously the section which I occupy has not been sound-proofed because one can hear everything that goes on. I prefer to make my complaint in this place because I am hoping that my electors will become aware of the circumstances-
– I rise to order. The honorable member for Moore is not in his proper place in the House. If you do not ask him to go back to his proper place, he might finish up in the corridor.
– Order! The honorable member is quite in order. He is not in anybody else’s place.
– If I remember aright, one honorable member of this House used to speak from right down at the table, and I think he was entitled to do so. I do urge the Minister to give attention to the matter about which I complain. I do not know whether the department was consulted when the bank building was being erected, or whether there was an undertaking given that the department would occupy these offices, as a result of which it was decided that any old thing would do, but I certainly think that the present office accommodation there is most undesirable for the purposes of interviewing electors.
I should like to come back now to what I was saying when the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns) interrupted me. I make the information available in this place because it is one way by which I hope my electors will learn of the circumstances so that they will undestand why I say to them, “ Do not come to my office because we cannot conduct a private conversation there “. Very often, when people ring me I am obliged to say: “The line is not as good as it might be. This is a private matter, so please wait until I phone you from another room or from my own home.” Such conditions constitute a tremendous handicap to any member of Parliament wishing to work efficiently. I am glad to hear from the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) that some of the offices have been sound-proofed, but it is not good enough to do only some of them. They should all be done, for it is not right that, when an important man like the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) visits that State and is discussing business, whether it be on the telephone or with somebody in the office, he can be overheard by others, with the possibility that something he says in confidence, and as he thought in private, may be used as evidence against him. I repeat that on two occasions I left my office because I did not want to be placed in an embarrassing position through overhearing what he had to say. I hope that as a result of what I am saying these defects will be remedied, not merely for the benefit of members of Parliament, but also for the benefit of the electors, who have every right to privacy when discussing problems with their representatives.
The honorable member who occupies the office next to mine is the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Chaney). I hear many of his conversations, but I take no notice of them. My point is that it is extremely embarrassing to be placed in this position because, if the honorable member for Perth happened to say something that he did not wish to be made public I could be the first to be blamed by him if it did become public because I would be one of those who could hear what he had said, as would be the person who occupies the office on the other side of his. It is an extremely unsatisfactory situation, and I am sure the honorable member for Perth will support my effort to have it rectified.
– I like your voice.
– I do not use this voice in the office, nor do I use it when speaking to my electors; I use it now in order to overcome the disorderly interjections of honorable members opposite. If one has a lady coming into the office - and I have ladies coming to my office-
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– To-day I wish to make an appeal in the name of humanity for the granting of political asylum to three Portuguese sailors who jumped their ship, the “ Goncalves Zarco “, on 9th December last at Darwin. These men surrendered themselves to the Administrator, Mr. Roger Nott, and formally requested asylum in Australia as political refugees immediately their ship had cleared the port. My plea to-day in no way canvasses the appeal of these three men to the High Court of Australia challenging the interpretation of certain sections of the Immigration Act. It is based solely on the humanitarian aspect of the denial by a nation of a plea for asylum by nationals of another country who seek a life of freedom from tyranny and persecution and who now fear, with every justification, that their lives would be endangered should they be returned to Portugal, the country of their origin.
The Government has rejected their appeal for asylum on the broad grounds that it considers that they are deserters from the armed services of their country and should be returned and that, in any case, the treatment the men fear should they be returned will not be nearly so drastic as they claim. Mr. Speaker, I would welcome a full-scale review of this case in all its aspects, but I fear that I am unable to wait because, if the men lose their appeal to the High Court they will be deported at a moment’s notice and no appeal in this House then would have any chance of success. I myself have asked the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Downer) for an assurance that there would be an opportunity to discuss this case in the House before any action was taken, but I have failed to obtain from the Minister such an assurance. Therefore, I must take this opportunity of presenting some of the reasons why discretion should be exercised by the Commonwealth in favour of these men, and why they should be allowed to stay in Australia or why, at the very least, some arrangement should be made by the Government to allow them to proceed to another country with an opportunity at some later date of being re-admitted to Australia as immigrants.
I have seen these men and I know them. I feel confident that they would make excellent citizens if allowed to remain or, alternatively, if allowed to return here. Without attempting to argue the legal merits of this or similar cases - I am not competent to deal with them - I feel it is proper that
I should quote from the submission put forward on behalf of the Crown in England in the case of Regina v. Governor of Brixton Prison by the Attorney-General, Sir Reginald Manningham-Buller, Q.C. That was a case of desertion by seven Polish sailors from a vessel in a British port in 1954. It was very similar to the case with which we are dealing in Australia at the moment. Let me say for the information of the House that at that time Sir Reginald Manningham-Buller was Attorney-General of a Conservative government, and therefore cannot be accused of holding dangerous or radical views on matters of this kind. His submission sets out the traditional British attitude on appeals for asylum, and is an example which this Government would do well to follow. I shall quote the words of Sir Reginald Manningham-Buller, Q.C, Attorney-General, which appear in the Law Reports, Queen’s Bench Division, 1955, at page 546. They are as follows: -
It is the proud tradition of this country that we ere willing to offer asylum where a person’s life is in danger because of his race, religion, nationality or political opinions. That proud tradition would be defeated if we were bound to surrender a refugee if, in order to obtain asylum, he had committed an extraditable offence. That could not have been the intention of the Act.
That was the attitude of the Crown in that case.
Men must be desperate indeed to risk the consequences of acts of this nature should their appeals for asylum fall on deaf ears. Opinions can be cited indefinitely of the tyrannical conditions existing in Portugal under the dictator Salazar. It is accepted that his regime is one of the most brutal and oppressive of dictatorships to-day. To support this contention, I should like to refer briefly to extracts from the Bulletin of the International Commission of Jurists, on which Sir Owen Dixon of the High Court of Australia was then our representative. Bulletin No. 7 of October, 1957, under the heading “ The Rule of Law in Portugal “, had this to say -
From a report which has been presented to the International Commission of Jurists by a lawyer who recently visited Portugal, it is possible to give a fairly detailed account not only of recent political trials but also of the legal aspects of civil rights in that country.
The bulletin goes on to say - Freedom of the Press.
The Constitution appears to guarantee freedom of expression of opinion, but under Article 2 of Decree - Law No. 26,589 no publication, whether periodical or not, may be established without the approval of the Government.
The Right of Association.
The Constitution appears to guarantee freedom of association, but in practice no society, association or organization is permitted to exist unless it is one of which the Government approves. . . .
All political parties, except Dr. Salazar’s party, were dissolved in 1926 and liberty to associate is not in fact usually permitted except to religious organizations and to a monarchist society which supports the Government.
It then deals with trade union rights as follows: -
Trade Union Rights.
In a country where there is so much unemployment industrial organization is of obvious importance . All strikes and lock-outs are illegal. The punishment for any worker who strikes is from two to eight years imprisonment. The formation of any Trade Union, apart from the official syndicates, is a criminal offence.
The bulletin goes on -
The Political Courts.
Special Courts for the trial of political cases, with special judges, have been set up . . .
The report goes right through the list of procedures and shows that suppression and oppression can be found everywhere. Bulletin No. 8 of December, 1958, under the heading, “ The Rule of Law in Portugal “, has this to say -
The rule of law is violated in any country which neither allows nor tolerates the right of the people to criticize and to form an opposition.
A comment on the law in Portugal is contained in two letters to the Editor of The Times by Norman S. Marsh, former Secretary-General of the International Commission of Jurists. Referring to the situation in that country, Mr. Marsh wrote - “ Recent information from Portugal suggests that imprisonment for long periods without trial, improper methods of interrogation by the political police, trial in secret, interference with the rights of the Bar and, by any standard, excessive sentences are not unknown in that country and have indeed led to protests by leading Portugese lawyers of all political views.”
I could go on indefinitely in this strain, but I believe that the fears of these three men, should they be returned to Portugal, are such that no nation could tolerate the consequences or bear to have the results on its conscience. I want to read a few extracts from statements made by these men. Joaquim Teixeira stated -
I lived most of my life in the slum area of Lisbon, being the youngest member of the family, I had to share my Mother and Father’s bedroom with them and my sister also sleeped in the .same room, we never had any money but my brothers used to grow a few vegetables in the back yard, and we would swap these for salt or other food that we needed, my brother only worked in seasonal work, and that was one or twice a year.
These are the conditions that these men want to leave. Josemanuel da Costa stated -
Started School at the age of seven years, six days per week, finished school at the age of II years. Spent two years idle, through lack of funds to pay for schooling. At the age of thirteen years, f started work, at a Black-smith, also did Welding, started work at one shilling and tupence per day, after seven years, at the age of Twenty I was earning II- per day.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I wish to bring before the House a matter in which I think the Government has been unfair to the citizens of Sydney and of New South Wales. I think something should be done about this matter. I refer to the failure to re-erect the clock on the Sydney General Post Office. This is in violation of pledges given by the Government and its predecessors, and in variance of the trust which the Government has assumed.
Let me go back: Ten years or so before federation, the citizens of New South Wales, then a sovereign State, went to great expense in erecting a worthy General Post Office. On top of it, there was a tower with a clock and very distinguished chimes. They were part of the life of the City of Sydney. I looked back in the old “Sydney Morning Herald “ and I saw the words of the then Governor’s wife in September, 1891, when she set the mechanism of the clock in motion. She hoped that it would always keep “ time and tune for the citizens of Sydney “.
This was so for 50 years, and during those 50 years the citizens of Sydney went to other expense. They cleared Martin Place, which was then a small, narrow street, and formed the present imposing square. Later on in that square they erected a cenotaph. Many people will remember the sound of the bells coming down at significant moments during ceremonies at the cenotaph. But ten years later, in 1901, the Commonwealth, as a matter of trust, took over from the people of New South Wales the postal service and the postal building.
In 1942, this occurred: It was found that in a room underneath the G.P.O. tower the telephone lines which were the basis of interstate communications were all terminated. This was vital to war communications and so, as a war precaution and in order to provide some safety against possible raids, the tower was demolished. This may have been a reasonable course to follow at the time; I do not know. But whether it was reasonable or not, a pledge was then given that the tower would be restored in due course. The stones were taken away, the bells were stored and all was put ready for eventual re-erection. This re-erection has never taken place, in spite of pledges that it would be undertaken. I have here letters written in 1948 by Senator Cameron, then Postmaster-General, in 1953 by Mr. Brown, on behalf of the present Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), in 1954 by Mr. H. L. Anthony, who was then Postmaster-General, in 1954 by Sir Philip McBride, who was then Acting Postmaster-General, and in 1957 by the present Postmaster-General (Mr. Davidson). All those letters state that the clock will be restored as soon as it is practicable to do so. With the concurrence of the House, I incorporate these letters in “Hansard”. They are as follows: -
Postmaster-General 23rd April, 1948.
Dear Mr. Ford,
Adverting to your letter dated the 12th April, 1948, it is the intention that the tower and clock be restored in its original position on the G.P.O. Sydney, and the original foundations which form part of the central section of the building has been left undisturbed in anticipation of this work.
Whilst all the materials which originally formed the tower are available, a considerable amount of skilled labour would be required and the labour could only be obtained at the expense of urgent and pressing building needs. In addition structural steel would be required to strengthen the existing foundations before the work on the restoration of the tower proper could be commenced.
It is felt that even if labour and the necessary reinforcing materials were readily available it would be doubtful whether there would be sufficient time to restore the tower and clock on the G.P.O. Sydney prior to the Royal visit Under the circumstances, therefore, I feel sure that your
Association will agree it would be unwise to embark upon such a project.
Town Planning Association of N.S.W., 153 Elizabeth Street, SYDNEY, N.S.W.
I am directed to refer to your letters of 30th January and 12th March, concerning the restoration of the tower and clock on the General Post Office Building, Sydney and to advise that your further representations have received careful consideration. However, as previously advised, such work as the restoration of the tower and clock must await the execution of those urgent Post Office works which are essential to the provision of adequate postal and telecommunications facilities for the public.
Regarding your remarks on the practicability from a financial viewpoint of having this work done, I am to advise that there is no direct relationship between the Postmaster-General’s Department’s surplus in any particular financial year and the amount which the Department of Works can spend on its behalf on capital work in that or the ensuing financial year.
The Prime Minister has also asked me to assure you that the Commonwealth Government is not deliberately deferring this project, as it will be carried out as soon as circumstances permit.
Town Planning Association of N.S.W., 153 Elizabeth Street, SYDNEY, N.S.W.
CANBERRA, A.C.T. 12th April, 1954.
In acknowledgment of your recent letter concerning the restoration of the Clock Tower in Sydney, as I have previously informed you, I would like to see the work carried out.
Unfortunately, however, I must give priority of the funds I have available for carrying out work of a more urgent utility character.
However, I hope that circumstances will be such in the not distant future to permit of this work being done.
Postmaster-General. Betram W. Ford, Esq., F.T.P.A., The Town Planning Association of N.S.W., 119 West Street, BALGOWLAH, N.S.W.
A/Postmaster-General, Parliament House, CANBERRA, A.C.T. ‘ 11th October, 1954.
I refer to the question you addressed to me without notice in the House of Representatives on 29th September relative to the restoration of the clock and tower on the G.P.O. building in Sydney.
I have looked into this matter and am advised that as the funds and resources available must be concentrated on the erection of buildings required urgently to provide essentia] service for the public, the works are being undertaken in order of priority and service requirements must take precedence over work which would have no effect on the satisfaction of public demands for service.
You may be assured, however, that this particular work will be carried out as soon as the circumstances permit.
Acting Postmaster-General. D. Minogue, Esq., M.P., Parliament House, CANBERRA, A.C.T.
27th August, 1957.
My Dear Minister,
I refer to your personal representations on behalf of Mr. M. M. Allen, 46 Chatham Road, West Ryde, concerning the restoration of the Sydney G.P.O. Clock Tower.
My Department is not unmindful of the loss suffered by the city, both from an architectural and historical point of view, when war-time precautions made it necessary to remove the tower from the G.P.O., and it intends, therefore, to effect restoration of the tower as soon as circumstances permit. However, the resources made available to the Post Office for capital works each year are limited, as you know, making it necessary for such works to be undertaken in the order of priority allotted :o them on the Department’s building works programme.
In these circumstances, resources must be concentrated on the erection of telephone exchanges and other telecommunication buildings necessary to meet the demand for new telephone services, while so many applications are outstanding, and on post office buildings in newly developed areas where facilities have not previously existed.
I think that you will agree that it would not be reasonable to spend some £200,000 on the restoration of the G.P.O. clock at this stage and thereby deprive thousands of people throughout the Commonwealth of normal postal and telephone services.
Nevertheless, Mr. Allen may be assured that the Department is anxious to proceed with the restoration of the clock tower and that the work will be carried out as soon as it is possible to do so. Yours sincerely,
The Hon. H. Beale, Q.C, M.P., Minister for Supply and for Defence Production, Commonwealth Parliament Offices, SYDNEY, N.S.W.
I thank the House for its courtesy.
What has been the excuse, Sir? The excuse has been put forward by the PostmasterGeneral - I say it is humbug - that this cannot be done if there are more urgent works to be done. He said, in effect, “ You cannot do this at the expense of telephone exchanges “, and so on. This is not so. The demolition of this tower, which the Commonwealth received in trust from the people of New South Wales, was undertaken for national purposes. The balancing of £130,000 required for its restoration against telephone exchanges is quite wrong. It must be balanced against the whole of Commonwealth expenditure. This tower was not demolished for Post Office purposes, but for national purposes. Its restoration is a national responsibility. 1 ask the House to consider the “ Tale of Two Cities “, and the two cities I mean are Sydney and Canberra. We can find £2,400,000 for an ornamental lake in Canberra. I do not say that this is wrong. I support the idea that our National Capital should have such dignity as is appropriate. I have not opposed the spending of £2,400,000 on ornamentation here in Canberra. But the expenditure of £130,000 in Sydney, the chief city of the Commonwealth-
– I repeat, in Sydney, the chief city of the Commonwealth, to restore a trust which the Commonwealth took over, and which the Commonwealth patently is violating, must be balanced against telephone exchanges! I say that that is humbug and hypocrisy. I say to the Postmaster-General that he has not put the case fairly in his various statements to this House.
The citizens of Sydney are entitled to this small expenditure. I direct the attention of the House to the lack of good faith which has been patent in these negotiations, which have now gone on over so many years. We have been told that we must not compete for scarce building resources. Have building resources been scarce over the last eighteen months? Why has not something been done about it? We were told that this would cost some hundreds of thousands of pounds. We were given the complete falsehood that the building required strengthening of the old foundations. After a great deal of trouble a committee of members on this side of the House, which the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Minogue) was invited to join - we are grateful to him for his co-operation - induced the making of an investigation of the foundations of the building. It was found that there was no need to strengthen them. We have now an estimate of the cost of £130,000. The details of that estimate are contained in a letter from the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Freeth), and, with the concurrence of honorable members, I incorporate it in “ Hansard “. It is in these terms -
Minister for Works,
Administrative Building, CANBERRA, A.C.T. 23 May, 1961.
Dear Mr. Wentworth,
I refer to your letter of the 29th March, 1961, addressed to our colleague the Postmaster-General regarding the cost of restoring the Sydney General Post Office Clock and Tower.
The details of the estimate forwarded in Mr. Davidson’s letter of the 28th March were passed from the Department of Works to the PostmasterGeneral’s Department by telephone, and apparently some confusion has arisen in regard to the distribution of the contingency amount.
The Department of Works received from F. Arnold & Sons an estimate of £82,000. This amount was nett, but Arnolds did suggest adding a contingency of £20,000.
In addition to the work covered by Arnold’s quotation there are, of course, the associated costs for general building operations and restoration of the clock mechanism.
The total estimate of cost as seen by tha Department of Works is therefore -
My Department is unable to provide any further information in respect to Arnolds estimate. I am sure you will appreciate the fact that until there is a clear indication that the project for restoring the Clock Tower will proceed, my Department cannot expect outside contractors to devote time and cost to the provision of detailed estimates.
Mr. W. C. Wentworth, M.P., House of Representatives, Parliament House, CANBERRA, A.C.T.
I thank the House again for its courtesy.
This is not a case in which any great expenditure is involved. It is a case in which the Commonwealth has a trust to discharge and has made promises through the mouths of various Postmasters-General and of the Prime Minister that this trust would be discharged as soon as practicable. That will be seen in the letters which the House has given me permission to incorporate in the record. I ask that those letters be read, and I ask the Government now to discharge its responsibility. It is regrettable, perhaps, that in this Government the weight of influence lies with Melbourne. One does not blame honorable members from Victoria for looking after the interests of their own city and State. But it is time honorable members from New South Wales, who, perhaps, have not the same influence as have the three leading members of the Cabinet who come from Victoria, got together and saw that the Government did what it has pledged itself to do and what obviously is right that it should do. I put before the House the “ Tale of Two Cities “. I simply ask that Sydney get the same kind of treatment as is given to Canberra - treatment which we on this side of the House have never objected to for Canberra.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Mr. Deputy Speaker, on 13th March, 1962, I asked the Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Swartz), who represents in this House the Acting Minister for Trade (Senator Henty), a question about a trade mission which had recently visited the Middle East. In substance, I asked him why the trade mission had visited ten countries in the Middle East and why the only country omitted from the itinerary was Israel. The Minister, in his reply, said a number of pertinent things which have disturbed me very greatly, and, in common with me, very many other
Australians, because of the special interest which Australians have in the Middle East, and particularly the interest which they have in Israel. The Minister said, among other things -
When the itinerary of the trade mission was prepared, cognizance had to be taken of the political situation in that part of the world . . .
Every one of us knows that there is a particular political situation in that part of the world. Every one knows, I think, that the only democracy in the Middle East is Israel and that the countries surrounding it, almost entirely composed of dictatorships, have imposed a boycott on Israel, in both political and trade matters - a boycott which has ensued for many years. It is not difficult to read into the statement by the Minister the inference that the Department of Trade, having examined that political situation, decided to come down on the side of the Arab boycotts and therefore to omit Israel from the itinerary of the trade mission. .
Australians have a great interest in the State of Israel. Not only have Australian soldiers fought in two world wars in the territory of. the State of Israel, but also Australia itself played a tremendous part in bringing about the declaration of the independence of the State of Israel. The Right Honorable H. V. Evatt, who was Minister for External Affairs in a Labour government, was chairman of the ad hoc committee which discussed the matter and brought into the United Nations General Assembly proposals for the formation of the State of Israel. Dr. Evatt did tremendous and great things with the complete approbation of the Australian people in bringing a favorable recommendation before the General Assembly. Dr. Evatt was at that time also President of the United Nations General Assembly.
Because of this special common relationship and because Australians are specially interested in that part of the world and have a similar economy and a similar kind of government, we are closely interested in Israel. I do not mean that the Government of Australia is slightly less inclined to the left than is the Government of Israel and that, therefore, Israel has a more favorable situation and a better economy. I mean that, because of the kind of government that Israel has and the fact that it is a democracy such as Australia is and it has the same kind of economy that Australia has, one would certainly expect that that country would evoke the great interest of the Department of Trade and that the department would see that Israel was not to be the only country omitted from the itinerary of the trade mission. Israel may be only a very tiny country but it is very important and is the only democracy that exists in the Middle East.
I think that the concluding words of the Minister’s answer to my question will suggest the whole motive behind the decision on the itinerary of the trade mission. Concluding his answer to my question, he said -
He may rest assured that the Department of Trade carefully examined the situation and, on the basis of the greatest advantage to be gained from our future trade relations, determined the countries to be visited.
Surely, when one is considering what countries should be visited for the purpose of promoting trade, we should give some attention to the credit record of the various countries. We should consider whether it is sound policy to extend credit to the different countries. I am sure it is not necessary for me to point out that most of the countries of the United Arab Republic and in the Middle East area are completely unsound. Besides wanting to buy goods on terms of extended credit, they have a bad credit record. This fact is internationally notorious throughout the trade world. On the other hand, Israel, which has been buying a great volume of goods from other countries - after all, Israel last year bought about 700,000,000 dollars worth of goods from other countries - is quite a satisfactory market for Australia. Israel’s soundness in the international credit field is recognized far and wide.
If the Department of Trade, in deciding to visit these ten countries in the Middle East and extend credit facilities to them, is satisfied that it is following a sound policy and that payment will be made in good time for goods sold, then I have no argument with it. We should be looking for trade wherever we can get it. What I am concerned about is discrimination. I do not charge the Minister with discrimination. I know that he is a fair-minded man. I am not suggesting that the relationship between Australia and Israel is in jeopardy, or that any attempt is being made by the Australian Govern ment to discriminate against Israel on the basis of political relationships. What concerns me is the clear implication in the Minister’s statement that his department, having examined the political situation and weighed up carefully the various factors involved, has come down on the side of the Arab boycott nations, and has decided to support them in the most difficult situation that has arisen because of the decision of the Arab countries not to trade with Israel or to recognize its political entity. I remind the House that this very political entity has been guaranteed by the United Nations and was established originally by the countries that make up the great assembly of the United Nations.
Israel is an importing country. Last year it imported goods worth up to 700,000,000 dollars. It is true that, like Australia, Israel is looking for export markets, but, as I said last night, if you want to buy you must be able to sell. If Israel is a country that wants to buy and also to sell, we should be prepared, and even eager, to sell to it and buy from it, thus following the policy that this Government has announced, and which the Department of Trade is trying to implement in all parts of the world.
Canada, a member of the Commonwealth of Nations, is in a position which is not different from that of Australia in the field of international trade. A number of trade missions have gone from Canada to Israel, and why should they not have gone? Why should we not also be prepared to uphold the principles of democracy that we believe in? The only country in the Middle East in which it is possible to live a life comparable to that in which we live is Israel. It is for that reason that I bring the matter up in this House. Australia needs friends everywhere, and it is a bad thing if Israel, which was brought into being by the United Nations and is the only democracy in the area in which it is situated, cannot look to Australia for friendship and for a recognition of its identity and its importance in the Middle East.
History has shown us what to expect from dictatorships. History is full of accounts of how dictatorships have brushed aside freedoms and liberties. In Israel we have the only democracy in the Middle East and the only government pledged to a democratic way of life. Is it proper for the Department of Trade, when examining the Middle East area, to have yielded to pressures from representatives of the Arab boycott republics? Should it not have drawn up an itinerary including all the Middle East countries? Should not a visit have been made to each one of the countries in the area? Is it proper for the Minister for Trade or his department, having examined the situation in the Middle East, to have yielded to pressures from the Arab boycott countries and said, “ We will drop Israel out of the itinerary “ ?
All international relationships are important. I have not suggested, nor do I suggest now, that we should send a trade mission to the Middle East to visit Israel only and leave out all the countries in the bordering areas which deny freedoms, in which dictatorships flourish, in which there is no free way of life and which are civilized in only a limited sense. I have not suggested this. I do believe that Australia, in fairness to itself, should not be extending an invitation to ask for credit to countries which have dictatorships, which have bad international records of repayments, and which, in order to avoid making repayments, may at any time remove themselves from the group of countries friendly to Australia. But I have not suggested that Australia should not seek to irade with these countries. All I ask for is a statement by the Minister showing that Australia is not declaring itself to be on the side of the Arab boycott countries. I want an assurance that all trade missions that go to the Midde East will visit all the countries in the area, and that decisions shall not be made by the Department of Trade as a result of pressure from countries which want to change the political ideologies of other countries in the area and deny them the right of free government. I want the Minister to say to me, “ We recognize Israel as a nation which is at last equal in importance to the others in the area “.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– Before I get on to the subject that I particularly desire to deal with, let me say a few words about the advocacy of the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) of the restoration of the Sydney General Post Office clock. The restoration of this clock has been advocated from time to time by the honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Minogue). It has been regarded in this House as his pet subject. Now he has been supported by the honorable member for Mackellar. Since the honorable member spoke I have had a conversation with the Postmaster-General (Mr. Davidson), who has told me that his department has had to defer eight major projects in New South Wales that would have cost £515,000. I think most people will agree with me that there are many things that need to be done which are more important than the restoration of the Sydney Post Office clock. We must provide adequate telephonic communication, for instance, for the people of the outback. Surely we should not be concentrating our efforts on the restoration of a clock in the General Post Office in Sydney. In concluding my remarks on this subject, let me say that the comments by the honorable member for Mackellar about humbug and hypocrisy are not appreciated by the Country Party.
Now I desire to deal with decentralization. I know that some honorable members will say that this is only a catch-cry, and to an extent I agree with them, because I have stated on many occasions in this House that you cannot decentralize unless you decentralize political representation. It is no use talking about getting people to go to a particular part of Australia unless you provide in that area amenities to enable them to live a congenial life. On many occasions in this House, right up to the end of the last sessional period, I have given my opinion on the best means of achieving decentralization. I believe that we must decentralize political representation. I have put forward this suggestion every year for about the last five years. I put it up just before the House rose prior to the election campaign last year. The honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Luchetti) at that time said that I was bringing it up just before the election, implying that I was doing so for political purposes. Of course the fact is that I have been advocating this method of decentralization for more than five years. Now that we are about to have
In making any proposed distribution of a State into Divisions the Distribution Commissioners shall give due consideration to -
Honorable members who have been in this place for some time know that during debates on the estimates for the Department of the Interior I have advocated consistently that now is the time to put into operation the system of allowing 20 per cent, more or 20 per cent, less than the set quota. I do not know what the quota will be and I do not want to mention a quota for any State. So I shall take a figure to give honorable members an idea of what I mean. Suppose the quota is 45,000; if my suggestion were adopted city electorates could have 54,000 voters and country electorates 36,000, as nearly as practicable.
Why do I claim that now is the time to adopt this system? I do so because of the congestion of population in metropolitan areas and for many other reasons which it would take me a day to detail. We are now living in the atomic age. All our communications and administrations in the cities could be disrupted by one atomic bomb. This country cannot reach great heights of progress, prosperity and living standards by having the majority of its population concentrated in city areas. To give an illustration of what is happening, let me refer to Victoria which I know better than most States. The area of some city electorates is as follows: - Yarra 5.71 square miles; Wills 7.62 square miles; Higgins 8.26 square miles; Fawkner 5 square miles; Chisholm 7.68 square miles; Balaclava 7.95 square miles and Isaacs
– What about the Wimmera electorate?
– It is much smaller than the electorate of Mallee. It has an area of only 10,506 square miles. In other States electorates cover very wide areas. Although the electorate of Kalgoorlie, for example, covers a wide area it includes only Kalgoorlie and a few other centres. The representative doe’s not have to travel very extensively because much of the area of the electorate covers the Nullarbor Plain. But in the electorate of Mallee the population is fairly evenly distributed over the whole area. I do not want to make this issue parochial or, above everything, political. Surely every one wants decentralization, but some people seem to think that they will get it by waving a magic wand. It can only be obtained by legislation. The honorable member for Scullin (Mr. Peters) is interjecting because if the system I have suggested comes into operation it would not suit him at all. It would suit me as the representative of >. country electorate. However, the electorate of Mallee is already situated so favorably that I am not raising this matter simply to gain more votes but less votes at the next election. I am speaking with the good of Australia as a whole in mind.
I believe that an honorable member can give better attention to his constituents if he has an electorate of reasonable size. Nothing counts in any parliament more than do votes. We know that so well to-day when the parties in this place are so evenly divided. Therefore, if the quota is set at 45,000 with a margin of 20 per cent., the people who represent the country areas will have a greater say in the administration of our affairs. I do not think that any honorable member who looks at this matter from a national point of view will disagree with me. I do not know who the commissioners will be-
– You know who they are.
– I do not.
– Of course you do.
– I do not know who they will be, but I say to them, whoever they are, that this is their opportunity to do a great national service. The act already contains a provision to apply the system whenever necessary. That is a point that I have been making for five years. The actual words are -
I do not need to remind honorable members of the reasons why this procedure should be adopted, but now is the time for it to be done so that this great country of ours may achieve a greater degree of nationhood and so that people who are prepared to leave the cities and go to the country will have better representation. When I have mentioned this matter on previous occasions the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) has said that his party believes in one vote having one value. Can any one tell me that 45,000 city votes within an area of 5 square miles have the same value as 45,000 country votes?
– I claim to have been misrepresented, Mr. Deputy Speaker, and I desire to make a personal explanation. My friend the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull) suggested that I had stated I would prefer the Sydney G.P.O. clock to be replaced to telephone exchanges being built. That is exactly the contrary of what I said. I said that this matter must be looked at not in the context of a Post Office programme but in the context of Commonwealth expenditure. What I stated is the opposite of what he stated. It has not escaped my mind that he is a Victorian and shares a Victorian’s jealousy of Sydney. I do not blame him for that.
– I have been grossly misrepresented, Mr. Deputy Speaker. What the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) states he said is probably correct, but what he states I said is not correct. I did not say he preferred the Sydney G.P.O. clock to be re-erected to the provision of new telephones. I said that we of the Country Party believe that we should have better telephonic communication in isolated areas before the Sydney G.P.O. clock is re-erected. I did not attribute to the honorable member the remark that he claims I did. I stake everything I have on what the “ Hansard “ report will show. The honorable member should apologize.
.- The Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Opperman) announced recently that a contract had been let to Cockatoo dockyard to build a sister ship of the vessel already operating between Melbourne and Hobart. This ship will operate from Sydney and will be engaged in carrying similar freight to that carried by the vessel from Melbourne. The announcement was made at a time when the shipbuilding industry, particularly in Sydney, was in a very parlous condition. It had deteriorated to such an extent that dismissals were occurring weekly. Therefore, the announcement was greeted with enthusiasm because every one believed that the construction of a new vessel would end the dismissals. The managing director of the shipbuilding firm even made a statement to that effect. However, I am sorry to report to the House that dismissals are still continuing at Cockatoo dockyard notwithstanding that it recently obtained the order to build the new vessel. This is a very serious state of affairs, because the dockyard authorities claimed that if they obtained such a contract no further dismissals would occur. Now that they have received the contract they are continuing the policy of retrenchments. I think the company should be brought into line on this matter and told that it has some responsibilities to quite a lot of sections of this community. It is doing a lot of naval work and consequently, when it cuts down its staff - particularly skilled staff - it is dispersing them; and that constitutes a problem from the defence point of view. I hope that in the future this policy of retrenchment at the Cockatoo dockyard will cease and that there will be tendency to build up the work staff there to the force which it should have in the light of the company’s recent contracts.
I refer now to a statement attributed to the Minister for the Navy (Senator Gorton) following the arrival of Rear-Admiral H. S.
Mackenzie, who is Flag Officer Submarines of the Royal Navy. Admiral Mackenzie arrived in Australia recently, and in the course of interviews stated that in his opinion Australia should have a submarine fleet of its own. For having expressed that opinion he was immediately rebuked by the Minister for the Navy, who, according to the “ Sydney Morning Herald” of 28th March, 1962, stated -
Rear-Admiral Mackenzie is here at his own request, on a routine visit to inspect Royal Navy submarine personnel. We have not sought and do not seek his advice. He does not represent the British Government. The British Government has not brought any pressure to bear on the Australian Government to buy its own submarine service.
If and when we can afford a submarine service of our own - and if we decide that it has higher priority than something else - we will make up our own minds as to when we shall buy and from whom we shall buy.
Honorable members on this side of the House have become quite accustomed to such terse replies from members of the Government. I think it was this arrogant kind of approach, particularly at the ministerial level, from the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) down, which brought this Government to the verge of defeat a few months ago. The Minister for the Navy said of Rear-Admiral Mackenzie, “ We do not seek his advice “. Here is a recognized authority in this particular field, but apparently, as far as the Minister is concerned, that authority’s advice is worthless. Rear-Admiral Mackenzie is not alone in his opinion as to whether the Australian Navy should have a submarine fleet of its own. It has been reported that such an idea was submitted to the Cabinet of this country and that as late as 1 959 the Naval Board made submissions to Cabinet that it should purchase eight submarines. However, the matter was held over and the usual procrastination followed. Finally, instead of buying eight submarines, as recommended by the ‘ Naval Board, Cabinet decided to purchase two Adams class destroyers from America. In the light of the submissions and advice tendered to Cabinet by the Naval Board it would be interesting to know why Cabinet decided to ignore them and proceed with the purchase of the two destroyers from America. On the other hand, it has been stated that the Naval Board is divided on this question and cannot make up its mind, and so Cabinet decided to embark on the purchase of these two American destroyers, which are to cost about £A.40,000,000. The reason why Cabinet proposed to purchase these new American destroyers has not yet been adequately made known to this country. It has been stated from time to time that it is because of the ability of these destroyers to provide air cover for the fleet, particularly under certain conditions.
Though we have had no statement at all from the Government on this issue it is interesting to note that the “ Sydney Morning Herald” of 28th March, 1962, reported-
Naval authorities said tonight that Australia’s three experiences with her own submarines had all been costly.
They were: Early in World War I., when the R.A.N. lost its two submarines by the end of 1915, one off Rabaul and the other in the Dardanelles.
If that is the reason why we are not going to purchase submarines at the present time, it seems an extraordinary reason. The article continued -
Early in the twenties, the R.A.N, acquired six submarines and a depot ship, but because of the Washington Treaty (which limited naval armaments) had to dispose of them soon after.
The Washington Treaty limited- the naval requirements and the number of capital ships of all nations who were signatories to it. So the question of disarmament is apparently one reason why the Government will not proceed with the purchase of submarines. I think it would be a good thing if we could get back to a stage where disarmament became the policy of governments throughout the world. But unfortunately to-day governments are committed to armament programmes, and we are hiding our heads in the sand if we do not take note of developments and try to expend to the best advantage any money we expend on defence equipment. It could be argued that twelve months or two years from now there could occur a situation similar to that which prevailed when the Washington Treaty came into being. But that could be a reason also why the Government should not proceed with the purchase of the two Adams class destroyers. The article to which I have referred also stated -
In 1927 the R.A.N. commissioned two submarines, the Otway and Oxley, but by 1931 both had been transferred to the R.N.
It is not hard to understand why they were transferred to the Royal Navy in 1931. In that year there was general disarmament of our forces because we were in the depths of a depression. I submit that the three reasons which have been given by the naval spokesman as to why this country is not purchasing submarines are completely innocuous and will convince nobody.
.- The honorable member for Dalley (Mr. O’Connor) referred to the check given by the electors to this Government on 9th December. The reason which he gave for that check was not the real one, as I propose to show. Before I do so, however, I wish to say that I agree with the honorable member for Phillip (Mr. Einfeld) that Israel ought to be included in the itinerary of any trade missions we send to the Middle East. I have a very high regard for the courage of the people of Israel and the work they have done in making the desert bloom, as well as for what they have done to prevent Russia’s aggression. In that respect I congratulate the people of Israel. We agree with the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth), who has worked so hard to have the Sydney General Post Office clock brought back.
– Rubbish! He only woke up lately.
– Well, there is a member from the Melbourne area who shows the greatness of his national attitude! He is completely parochial. The request is merely for the clock to be put back on the G.P.O. in Martin-place - a clock that we had there for many years, and which we would like to see back there. I say thank you to the honorable member for Mackellar.
I am sorry that the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull) said what he did to the honorable member for Mackellar. It was not worthy of him. His attitude is usually friendly, but on this occasion something he said was not very nice.
– What was it?
– But we do agree with the honorable member for Mallee that country electorates ought not to be too big. For two reasons he is right when he says that there ought not to be a high quota for all electorates. The first has to do with area. When an electorate is geographically too large it is physically impossible to go round it all except over a long time. Country electorates are large compared with the pocket handkerchief areas that some honorable members opposite represent. One could go around one of those pocket handkerchief city electorates in ten minutes, whereas it may require hours, days or weeks to go round a large country electorate. The quota for country electorates ought not to be too large, and I thoroughly agree with the honorable member for Mallee on that point.
Up to a few days ago, we heard a lot from the Opposition about unemployment, but for the last few days they have been completely silent on that. They started this horse running three days before the last election, but it has refused to run any longer. They found that they were backing a dead horse. So now the Opposition has gone back to its old touchiness on the subject of communism, and last night and this morning we heard honorable members opposite attacking Government members and supporters for daring to speak ill of Communists. It was interesting to see the faces of some members on the Opposition side when one Labour Party member rose last night and said that communism ought to be defended. It was also interesting to see their faces this morning when another of their colleagues said that we ought to support Continenal China - whose people are barbaric and want to create war in this part of the world.
The Opposition has ceased to run unemployment in the race to win public favour for itself. I should like to say to the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. O’Connor) through you, Sir, that the real reason for the check to the Government at the last general election was not anything wrong with the economy but the Opposition’s propaganda on unemployment, which threw a scare into the people. The real position is this: There has never been so much money in the savings banks- £1,600,000,000, with more going in every day. Never has so little been owed to hire-purchase companies as recently. In other words, the economy is sound. Our balance of payments is in a very buoyant and flourishing condition, so much so that the Government could pay back, years before the amount was due. £78,000,000 to the International Monetary Fund. Although the economy is sound the Opposition deliberately tried to start a scare.
On 1st December, eight days before the election was held, Mr. Seiffert, the member for Monaro in the New South Wales Parliament, asked whether there were 3,000 applicants for work on a big job that the Prime Minister had announced in connexion with the Snowy Mountains scheme. This question was taken and presented in such a light that it appeared that there were 3,000 unemployed in Cooma, and this threw a real fear into people. The allegation was so far from the truth that the Mayor of Cooma, Alderman Johnson, called a meeting at which he said -
A large, fully representative fact-finding committee found that these figures were a gross exaggeration of the true position.
I say that this is the real reason why at the last minute, before the last general election, a great number of Australians gave their support to the Labour Party instead of to the Government which they had supported.
– How did Mr. Seiffert go in the election?
– He went down a lot, because there was a good candidate against him and because people found him out. Instead of there being 3,000 unemployed in Cooma, as stated in the Seiffert scare which was spread by the Labour Party in all directions, almost exultingly, an accurate assessment of the number of those out of work in Cooma was 200. The Mayor of Cooma went on to say -
On all occasions in the past, as soon as large contracts have started up on the Snowy Mountains Scheme, numbers of men have turned up at Cooma seeking work.
At the time of which I am speaking the Cooma Council had an average of only ten men a night sleeping in the parish hall at Cooma. The mayor said -
A good, hot mid-day meal provided by the efforts of a local committee is available each day in the Parish Hall for any of the men who want a meal.
The total number of men receiving unemployment benefit in Cooma was 112 - which was about normal.
One of the officers at the unemployment office in my electorate has told me that he has never put on so many men in one month in the whole of his career as he put into work in March. The Minister told us that 10,000 or 12,000 were finding jobs every week. I think that that applied in February. We can say now that there are 15,000 people a week going into jobs. That does not mean that unemployment figures will be lowered by 60,000 a month, but it means that unemployment as such has ceased. It is apparent to everybody that confidence is returning, that morale will be raised, and that the unemployment of last year was only a temporary matter that was blown up by the Labour Party into large proportions for its political purposes.
– At the outset I want to thank the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. Collard), who offered to stand down and let me speak on something dear to my heart. For the past twelve years I have brought this matter before the House. I am referring to the Sydney General Post Office clock. On those occasions the Government told me it was impossible to put that clock back on account of the foundations, or something else. In reply to my representations the Government said it would cost £250,000 to put that clock back, whereas the late Senator Ashley told me that the price that the Labour Government had for restoring the clock was £80,000. Now we find that, without any rhyme or reason, the cost has dropped from £250,000 to £130,000.
Time and time again I have brought this matter of the Sydney G.P.O. clock before the House, and thanks to the honorable member for Mackellar it has again been brought forcibly to the notice of the Government. The honorable member for Mackellar has run true to form and true to the traditions of his ancestors, because he sticks up for principle before anything else. Wentworth House in Vaucluse, Sydney, is an historic place connected with the family of the honorable member for Wentworth who sits here. Wentworth Falls in New South Wales are named after his ancestor. He stands in contrast to Ministers and many honorable members opposite who are shoddily dealing with the matter of the G.P.O. clock, and who will pass away without leaving any memorial behind them. I hope and trust that if the honorable member for Mackellar continues much longer in this place, and if this Government continues in office, he will be a Minister, because I think that some of the present Ministers are doing a very shoddy job.
The Lord Mayor of Sydney, Alderman Jensen, was sitting in the gallery only five minutes ago. He told me that the value of building contracts in Sydney over the last five years was £50,000,000; but here in Canberra over the same five years £55,000,000 has been allotted for building, and Canberra is to have a lake costing £2,000,000. I hope that the Prime Minister and some of the members who have refused my request-
Debate interrupted under Standing Order No. 291.
Question resolved in the negative. Sitting suspended from 12.46 to 2.15 p.m.
Motion (by Mr. Menzies) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to increase to seven the maximum number of members of the Australian Universities Commission, and for purposes connected therewith.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
– by leave - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This, as honorable members will see, is a simple bill. Up to now, the Australian Universities Commission has consisted of five members. One of them, a very notable Australian scientist, Sir Leslie Martin, is the full-time chairman. The other four are part-time members. They are Professor N. S. Bayliss of the University of Western Australia, Professor A. D. Trendall of the Australian National University, Sir Kenneth Wills of Adelaide and Dr. J. Vernon, a well known businessman of Sydney.
The commission has undoubtedly devoted a great deal of time to its work and has, I think, served the country with very great distinction. But the university problem is developing very rapidly. New universities, such as Monash in Victoria, are coming into existence and there is increasing pressure to have medical schools established in these new universities. One can understand that very well. It occurred to us that, under these circumstances, it would be very desirable to add to the strength of the commission a member who would be familiar with the problems of medical schools and with their administration. No current member of the commission has special qualities of that kind. We believe that if we can get a first-class man, authoritative in medical schools and their work, this will be of tremendous assistance to the commission when examining and forming judgment upon claims that are made. This means, of course, that we will be adding to the strength of the commission one more member who might be regarded, classifying them broadly, as an academic member.
Under these circumstances, the Government feels that it is desirable, in order to preserve the general balance in this commission, to add one further member experienced in business and financial matters. The commission will then number seven, six of the members being part-time, and one of them, the chairman, being continually at work. I do not want to occupy the time of the House by reminding members that the Universities Commission, by its recommendations, following upon investigations and consultations, has already been able to do a great deal of good for the university system in Australia. As we all want to see that work continue, and as we want to see more opportunities for people to have the benefit of university training, I have no doubt that honorable members will agree with the proposed increase in the membership of the commission.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Beazley) adjourned.
Motion (by Mr. Adermann) - agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to amend the Wool Tax Assessment Act 1936- 1961.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
– by leave - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This bill and the two wool tax bills to follow it are complementary. Their purpose is to amend the existing wool tax legislation so as to extend the present rate of levy paid by wool-growers to finance wool promotion activities for a further period of twelve months, that is from 1st July, 1962, to 30th June, 1963. At a joint meeting on 4th April between the Australian Wool Bureau and the two federal organizations of wool-growers represented on the bureau, namely the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council and the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation, it was agreed by the three bodies to recommend that the current wool promotion levy of 10s. a bale on all shorn wool produced in Australia be continued for another year. The Government is, therefore, now acting in accordance with the wishes of the wool-growing industry.
Honorable members will recall that in August last year, at the request of woolgrowers, legislation was passed to increase the wool promotion levy from 5s. a bale to 10s. a bale. The industry then requested that the higher rate of levy operate only until 30th June, 1962. At that time it was expected by the industry organizations that the findings of the Wool Marketing Committee of Enquiry would be available for consideration by the industry somewhat earlier than has been the case.
The report of the Wool Marketing Committee of Enquiry which I tabled in this House on the 7th March, supported the case for the provision of increased woolgrower funds for wool promotion purposes. The Committee of Enquiry drew attention to the important influence of factors affecting demand on the level of wool prices and stated, inter aiia - . . promotion is the most promising means open to growers whereby world demand for wool can be stimulated.
I think it is fair to say that over the years most Australian wool-growers have been fully conscious of the need to provide funds for wool promotion. This industry appreciation of the value of promotion is reflected in the fact that the rates of levy for this purpose have increased progressively from the original 6d. a bale in 1936 to 2s. in 1945, 4s. in 1952, 5s. in 1960 and 10s. in 1961.
It has been necessary to maintain Australia’s share of the increased funds required by the International Wool Secretariat to pursue its intensified programme of wool promotion in many countries. In addition, increased funds are required to finance the higher level of wool promotional activities within Australia.
As I think honorable members generally are aware, the International Wool Secretariat comprises representatives of the Australian Wool Bureau and the Wool Boards of New Zealand and South Africa. Following a reconstitution in 1960, the secretariat is now governed by a board consisting of the seven members of the Australian Wool Bureau and three representatives each of the Wool Boards of New Zealand and South Africa, a total of thirteen members in all. Australia’s majority representation on the International Wool Secretariat is a recognition of the size of the contribution by the Australian woolgrowing industry to the cost of maintaining the secretariat. Australia actually contributes 62 per cent, of the total funds of the secretariat compared with 24 per cent, by New Zealand and 14 per cent, by South Africa.
Total expenditure by the International Wool Secretariat in 1961 from contributions by Australia, New Zealand and South Africa was in the region of £A.3, 100,000 whilst substantially increased expenditure is envisaged in 1962 and later years. In addition, about £A. 1,000,000 was contributed by sections of the wool textile industry in various countries for joint promotional activities with the secretariat.
The proceeds of the existing 10s. a bale levy in Australia, based on a wool clip of approximately 5,000,000 bales, amount to about £A.2,500,000 per annum. In recognition of the heavy commitments facing Australia for funds to finance increased wool promotion, both in Australia and overseas, the Australian Wool Bureau had previously conveyed to me its recommendation that the existing rate of levy for wool promotion of 10s. a bale, with proportionate charges for smaller parcels of wool, should operate for a further year following 30th June, 1962. As I have already stated the wool bureau’s recommendation has now been supported by the two major federal woolgrower organizations. It is essential that this legislation be passed in the current session of Parliament, since the industry wishes the present rate of. levy of 10s. per bale to continue uninterruptedly until 30th June, 1963; otherwise, the levy would revert automatically to 5s. a bale as from 1st July, 1962, which I am sure would be generally regarded as a retrograde step.
The Wool Tax Assessment Bill repeals such sections of the principal act as are now redundant because they applied only to the furnishing of special returns covering wool sold up to 28th August, 1961. I explained that position in my second-reading speech on the bills before the House last week. The bill also calls for a modification to the normal quarterly return which will be submitted by wool-selling brokers for the quarter ending 30th June, 1963, so that the 10s. per bale rate will apply only to wool sold on or before that date. This is a similar provision to that originally made in respect of the return for the quarter ending 30th June, 1962, under the existing legislation.
At a later stage, I propose to introduce a resolution on the rates of levy and subsequently to introduce Wool Tax Bill (No. 1) and Wool Tax Bill (No. 2). I think it may he appropriate at this point to say for the information of honorable members that these measures are complementary, and that the need for two separate bills arises from a constitutional requirement. This bill and the complementary wool tax bills accord with the wishes of the two major wool-grower industry organizations and the Australian Wool Bureau to assist in the task of stimulating the demand for Australian wool at home and abroad through intensified promotion work. I commend the bill to honorable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Pollard) adjourned.
WOOL TAX BILLS (Nos. 1 and 2) 1962.
In Committee of Ways and Means:
– I move -
That, notwithstanding section seven of the Wool Tax Act (No. 1) 1957-1961 and any regula tions made under that section, the rates set out in the Third Schedule to that Act be deemed to have been and be the rates prescribed for the purposes of paragraph (a) of sub-section (1.) of section six of that Act in relation to -
is not sold by the wool-broker before the first day of July, One thousand nine hundred and sixtythree; and
That, notwithstanding section seven of the Wool Tax Act (No. 2) 1957-1961 and any regulations made under that section, the rates set out in Third Schedule to that Act be deemed to have been and be the rates prescribed for the purposes of paragraph (a) of sub-section (1.) of section six of that Act in respect of wool to which that Act applies exported from Australia on or after the twenty-eighth day of August, One thousand nine hundred and sixty-one, and before the first day of July, One thousand nine hundred and sixty-three.
Question resolved in the affirmative. Resolution reported.
Standing Orders suspended; resolution adopted.
That Mr. Adermann and Mr. Davidson do prepare and bring in bills to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill presented by Mr. Adermann, and read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to extend from 30th June, 1962, to 30th June, 1963, the application of the current rates of wool promotion levy on wool received by a broker or dealer. The rates are 10s. per bale, with proportionate amounts for smaller parcels. As I said in my secondreading speech on the Wool Tax Assessment Bill, this measure is complementary to that bill and I commend it to honorable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Pollard) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr. Adermann, and read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to extend from 30th June, 1962, to 30th June, 1963, the application of the current rates of wool promotion levy on wool exported for sale overseas without passing through the hands of a broker or dealer. The rates are 10s. per bale, with proportionate amounts for smaller parcels. As I said in my secondreading speech on the Wool Tax Assessment Bill, this measure is also complementary to that bill and I commend it to honorable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Pollard) adjourned.
– by leave - I have for some time had in mind making a statement on disarmament and the testing of nuclear weapons. As the House knows, a conference of seventeen nations is discussing these subjects in Geneva at present. The last session of the United Nations General Assembly, the sixteenth, devoted much time to the subject and arranged for the present conference. The meetings began in Geneva on 14th March. Some days earlier, on 2nd March, President Kennedy announced that the United States would resume atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons in the latter part of April, unless an effective test ban treaty could be signed and put into operation before then. A sub-committee of the Geneva Conference, comprising the three major nuclear powers, has been discussing the possibility of such a treaty. It is therefore particularly appropriate that I should make a statement at this time when our attention is focused on, and our hopes are centred in, these two sets of negotiationsthose on disarmament, which represent the first major negotiations on general disarmament since the ten-nation Disarmament Committee broke up 21 months ago; and the parallel negotiations for a nuclear test ban treaty the outcome of which will decide whether or not the United States will resume weapons testing in the atmosphere.
The Leader of the Opposition recently asked if a statement could be made on the “ urgent necessity for an international agreement with adequate safeguards to end the testing of nuclear weapons by all nations and to provide for universal disarmament “. The present statement will respond to this request.
As honorable members know, the problems involved in negotiations on disarmament and nuclear testing are highly complex and the obstacles to progress are formidable. Sixteen years of patient negotiation and persistent effort by the Western powers have so far yielded agreement between the major powers only on a limited number of general principles, but with nothing to show, unfortunately, in the field of practical application. With the House’s agreement I will incorporate in Hansard as an annex to this statement a review of some important developments in disarmament and nuclear testing over the last year or so. This will place at the disposal of honorable members in convenient form a great deal of material which I am sure they will find most useful. In the present statement, I propose to deal mainly with the immediate issues before us and the events which have recently taken place. In doing so, I shall refer briefly to some of the basic difficulties which lie in the way of progress in negotiations on these subjects.
The ultimate objective of disarmament negotiations is general and complete disarmament. This means the abolition of armed land, sea and air forces, weapons, armaments, military aircraft, naval vessels, delivery vehicles of all nations throughout the world, with of course the exception of forces and weapons needed for police purposes. I call this the ultimate objective because clearly it must be a very complex operation, which will take a long time to implement even after the terms and conditions have been agreed on - and experience has shown that that takes long enough.
Because a completely disarmed world cannot, even in the most promising circumstances, be achieved in the immediate future, much thought has been given to partial measures of disarmament which could be rapidly agreed on and promptly carried out. These partial measures can be regarded as the first positive steps in the actual process of disarmament But they can also be seen as steps towards lowering tension and building up a climate of confidence which would make the next steps easier. They would also help in the process of disarmament by providing first-hand experience of what is involved in the operation.
Such partial measures can take many forms. Some of them merge into proposals which are not so much measures of disarmament as measures to prevent the further spread of armaments. An example is the Irish proposal adopted at the last session of the General Assembly to prevent the wider dissemination of nuclear weapons. Australia supported this proposal.
The negotiations for a nuclear test ban treaty bring us to yet another category. A test ban treaty is not, strictly speaking, a disarmament measure at all: it would not necessarily reduce armaments or even keep them at their present levels or with their present distribution. But it could make a most valuable contribution to the achievement of disarmament. In the first place it could slow down the arms race by seriously impairing the ability of the nuclear powers to develop new and more powerful categories of weapons. It could also help prevent the emergence of new nuclear powers. In this way a test ban treaty could help contain the disarmament problem. It is also a field in which it should be possible for both sides to give evidence of sincerity and good faith in their efforts to reach agreement on disarmament. In entering into such an agreement neither side would be required to reduce or even to stop in creasing its defensive capability; and the safeguards involved should not interfere with the legitimate interests of any party. The successful conclusion of a test ban treaty would, therefore, help to produce a climate of confidence, something basic to progress towards disarmament.
I think I should mention some major obstacles to disarmament for I am sure the House would not wish to shrink from realities. There is in the first place mutual distrust and the clash of interests. These are basic; they give rise to the great anxiety throughout the world about the level of armaments and the spiralling arms race. These factors have their origin, of course, in the cold war, in the unremitting pressure from the Soviet Union, its allies and satellites to extend the Communist system throughout the world. There are, of course, sharp and deeply significant disagreements between the Soviet leaders and the leaders of Communist China upon the means towards their objectives; but upon their objectives there is no disagreement.
The Soviet leaders are well aware what nuclear war would mean for their society, and we have reason to believe that they feel the need to reduce the burdens and risk of armaments. Nuclear war could wipe out overnight all the industrial gains, all the achievements of the Russian revolution, as well as tens of millions of their people. Soviet theorists, unlike the Chinese, now say that a general war between the Communist and capitalist systems is not inevitable, and surely the Soviet leadership must become sensitive to what I imagine is the deep human desire for peace among the Soviet people themselves. Again, resources diverted to armaments must be sorely missed in agriculture and other sectors of the Soviet economy.
On the other hand, there has been no real change in basic Communist ideology and objectives, and the Soviet leaders have clearly not given up hope of achieving these objectives though they may hope to achieve them by means short of general war. These means include infiltration, subversion and direct support to insurgency and limited wars which they are pleased to call “ antiimperialist wars of liberation “. They also include the use of trade itself as a weapon towards world domination. The continuance of the cold war in all its forms affects the approach of both parties to disarmament negotiations. It impels the Soviet leaders to seek maximum military or political advantage at every point in the course of the negotiations, rather than to look for common ground and seek solutions for their own sake. Soviet negotiators at disarmament conferences have often seemed more concerned with scoring propaganda points than with getting down to matters of substance. Western negotiators naturally are very cautious in considering what concessions can safely be made because of that suspicion of Soviet bad faith which arises from the cold war. On both sides, the cold war works continually against efforts to strengthen the area of mutual confidence on which any serious advance in disarmament negotiations must depend.
These are the basic conditions which make agreement so hard to achieve, but then there are concrete issues which arise as soon as negotiations begin. It is essential to know that every step in an agreement is being in fact effectively carried out. There is the obvious need to ensure that any agreement is being put into effect: to ensure, for instance, that while armaments are being visibly destroyed and their destruction inspected on the one hand, retained levels are not being built up surreptitiously on the other. The Russians say they will accept controls such as are suggested by the West once disarmament has been completed. But they will not agree to inspection and verification arrangements while disarmament is actually going on, that is, arrangements to ensure that new weapons are not being made and new forces raised behind the scenes. They caim that the Western aim in insisting on verification of this kind is to gain military advantage through espionage. The insulation of the Russian state from outside influences of course gives the Soviet Union a military advantage which the West, with its open society, cannot have to the same degree. It is this advantage which a refusal to permit inspection is, at least in part, designed to protect. There are no doubt other factors also behind the Soviet attitude - the habits of suspicion and duplicity which flourish in totalitarian States, the Marxist blinkers through which events are seen and interpreted, and indeed the whole character of their closed, controlled society.
Another problem is that of ensuring that at no stage during the process of disarmament will either side acquire a significant military advantage. This is one of the agreed principles included in both the United States-Soviet Joint Statement and the Statement of the Commonwealth Prime Ministers. However, the latest Soviet plan, like its predecessors, is in conflict with this principle.
Most proposals for establishing nuclearfree zones or banning nuclear weapons would give the Soviet an advantage since it is only the Western nuclear deterrent which holds in check the Soviet bloc’s undoubted superiority in conventional forces.
There have been a number of such proposals. The Polish Foreign Minister has advocated a plan for a nuclear-free zone in central Europe. At the last session of the United Nations General Assembly, the Swedish Foreign Minister presented proposals whereby countries would eventually undertake not to manufacture nuclear weapons, acquire them or station nuclear weapons for another country on their territory. A group of nations making such declarations, he suggested, could then form a nuclear-free zone. At the same session of the United Nations, there was a proposal that the continent of Africa be regarded as a nuclear-free zone and a further proposal which declared the use of nuclear weapons to be a crime against humanity and a direct violation of the United Nations Charter.
All these proposals would weaken or neutralize the nuclear deterrent without reducing Communist strength in conventional weapons. That is why the Australian delegation to the last General Assembly, along with a great many others, was not able to support the proposals. That is why the Soviet and the Communist fronts in this and other countries from time to time concentrate on attempts to ban nuclear weapons whilst leaving conventional weapons untouched. Too often wellmeaning unsuspecting people of goodwill take the same line.
I do not want to leave the House with the impression that Australia rejects out of hand all measures for partial disarmament; such an impression would be quite wrong. What I have tried to emphasize is that it is necessary, even when considering partial measures, to keep the overall picture in view and to ensure that the partial measures under consideration would not significantly disturb the overall balance and would not leave us and ours to the mercy of the Soviet bloc’s conventional strength. Provided this is done, there are a number of partial measures and first steps which can profitably be pursued. Some of these have been put forward at the Eighteen Nation Disarmament Committee by the American Secretary of State and the Canadian Minister for External Affairs and an outline of these is given in that portion which I was allowed to incorporate in “ Hansard “ by the kindness of the House.
Yet another problem is that of ensuring that all important military powers are covered by a disarmament agreement. The United States proposals would apply to all such states from the outset of disarmament. This is not the case under the Soviet plan.
If we go more deeply into the details of disarmament planning, we find still further problems. Both sides agree that even in a disarmed world nations would need to retain armed forces for internal security. In the free democracies these forces might not need to be large. But some countries with more repressive regimes could be expected to demand security forces of considerable size, equipped with weapons which we would regard as more appropriate to military rather than police operations. In a “ disarmed “ world such forces could be powerful and they would pose an obvious threat to small neighbouring states.
Clearly, then, there would be need for an international peace force strong enough to impose its will on even the largest nation and unhindered by any national veto. Quite apart from the problems of manning, training, operating and maintaining a standing force of adequate size, and leaving aside such problems as the possible need to equip the force with nuclear weapons, such a system would call for an appreciable sacrifice of national sovereignty. Some of the small states may be prepared for this, but many of them are particularly jealous of their new-won independence. The extent to which limitations on sovereignty in this respect would be accepted by the major powers, or by any Communist government, is at best very doubtful. Yet without some such sacrifice complete and general disarmament is scarcely possible.
Even if these matters were resolved, we cannot assume that general and complete disarmament would remove the basic problems and disputes between the East and the West, or other sources of international friction. In a disarmed world there would still be economic and ideological pressures, political rivalries and the pressures of population. These might be even more keenly felt than now. In a world without standing armies, in which all countries had accepted far-reaching limitations on their sovereignty, we could find ourselves increasingly exposed to pressures of this kind. These considerations point up the need to achieve great international rapprochements to underpin disarmament.
This, I realize, is only the barest outline of the problems raised by disarmament, but I hope 1 have given the House some impression of their scope and complexity. There are so many facets to the question - political, social, economic, military, scientific, technological, demographic - and the pace at which scientific and technological progress is being made is so rapid, that it is hard even for governments to keep abreast of developments and very much harder for individuals. It is certainly not a question which can be resolved by the adoption of slogans - a course too often unfortunately used only for propaganda. Perhaps one of the advantages which is already being derived from the broader-based committee now meeting in Geneva is a wider appreciation of the complexities of disarmament.
The education of public opinion in all countries as to the range and depth of the issues involved is a matter to which much further thought and effort needs to be given. At the Government level the United States, as the major Western nation concerned with the problem of security and disarmament, has recently established an Arms Control and Disarmament Agency which considers these problems on a full-time basis. It is concerned with basic research into the political, military, social and economic consequences of disarmament. In this field the United States, 1 am certain, is doing much more than any other country of the East or of the West. Smaller countries cannot, of course, hope to match this basic research but they will need increasingly to devote attention and resources to the details and the full implications of disarmament. Within the limits of our own resources, the Department of External Affairs has long been following and continues to follow developments in the disarmament field always in close consultation with the Department of Defence and other interested departments and organizations.
The negotiations for a nuclear test ban treaty deserve particular attention. Although, as I have said, this is not strictly a disarmament measure, the problems involved are in many ways closely related and illustrate some of the difficulties of reaching an agreement with the Soviet: Despite almost continuous efforts for the past three years agreement is not in sight.
I have set out in the annex to this statement which I have been given leave to incorporate in “ Hansard “ the history of these negotiations and I commend it to honorable members. I submit that two things emerge clearly from the record. The first is that the Western negotiators have made and are still making persistent and persevering attempts to reach agreement; they repeatedly put forward new proposals and modifications in attempts to meet Soviet objections. Time and time again they have sought means of satisfying Soviet demands. These efforts, Mr. Speaker, were not, and are not, reciprocated. The Soviet contribution towards meeting the requirements of Western interests was in no way comparable. Far too often the Soviet has sought opportunities to score propaganda points rather than to make constructive proposals. Nevertheless after some two and one-half years of painstaking effort the framework of a treaty was built up: A preamble, seventeen articles and two annexes were agreed on. Then, a year ago, the Soviet Union began to go back on previous agreements in this field and in August last without warning it broke the moratorium on testing into which it had voluntarily entered, abruptly announcing that it was no longer prepared to agree to a treaty along the lines on which it had been negotiating for nearly three years.
The second point which emerges is that the Western insistence on the need for effective safeguards, for verification and inspection, and for an impartial international system of verification and inspection, has been amply justified by the way in which the Soviet Union broke the moratorium. The preparations necessary for the conducting of a series of over 50 tests in the space of some two and one-half months must have taken a long time - possibly as long as a year. Almost certainly these preparations were already well in train when on 20th December, I960, the Soviet representative at the United Nations General Assembly voted for two resolutions urging the three powers negotiating at Geneva to continue their voluntary moratorium. The Soviet Union has made abundantly clear the worthlessness of declaratory undertakings. Mr. Khrushchev himself admitted this in a most interesting interview with the American journalist, Sulzberger, in September, 1961, when he said: -
It would be untimely at present to say that in the event of war atomic weapons would not be employed. Anyone who made such a statement could turn out to be untruthful even though when making such a pledge he was sincere and not meaning to tell a lie.
Let us assume both sides were to promise not to employ nuclear weapons, while retaining stockpiles of them. What would happen if the imperialists unleashed war? If either side, in such a war, should feel it was losing would it not use nuclear weapons to avoid defeat? It would undoubtedly use its nuclear bombs!
All this goes to show that if atomic weapons are preserved and if war is unleashed it will be a thermo-nuclear war.
Therefore, world peace must be assured, not by undertakings to refrain from the use of nuclear weapons, but by a radical solution of the cardinal issues. And the best guarantee of peace is the destruction of armaments and the elimination of armies - in other words, disarmament. That is the most reliable guarantee!
Yet, Mr. Speaker, it is just such a declaratory undertaking as Khrushchev himself places no faith in that the Soviet Union has now proposed in respect of the suspension of nuclear weapons tests. It is in the context of these considerations that we must view President Kennedy’s decision on the resumption of atmospheric testing by the United States - a matter to which I must now turn.
I have already spoken publicly of the Government’s view that the Western powers, and in this case the United States in particular, must be free to test, if the security of the free world so demands. Testing in the atmosphere cannot safely be excluded if this necessity requires it. The United States has recently been conducting a detailed analysis of the recent series of tests by the Soviet Union. President Kennedy has said that they reflected a highly sophisticated technology, with over half the tests emphasizing the development of new weapons and, in particular, improvements in explosive-power-to-weight ratio. Of the remainder, some were proof tests of existing weapons while the balance was directed to the development of missile defence. The Soviet Union itself has claimed in recent months that it has developed an effective anti-missile missile. Although the United States does not consider that the Soviet Union has a developed system of missile defence, and does not accept Soviet claims to superiority in nuclear power, nevertheless a further Soviet test series, in the absence of Western testing, might well give it these advantages.
President Kennedy showed great patience and restraint in not ordering the resumption of atmospheric testing until he was fully convinced that it was necessary. He refused to be rushed into ordering the resumption because there may be political or psychological reasons for so doing. But, by the same token, now that a considered assessment of all the relevant factors shows a resumption to be essential, he has made it plain that he cannot allow himself to be dissuaded by political or psychological reasons.
Let me recall, if 1 may, Mr. Speaker, the factors which President Kennedy weighed in reaching his decision to resume testing. Testing is necessary to progress in research and the development of new weapons: Without it, progress is limited. It follows that a country which refrains from testing cannot match the gains of a country which does test. Moreover, there is a considerable range of important information which underground testing cannot yield and which can be obtained only from atmospheric testing. The United States has conducted no atmospheric testing for nearly four years. The Soviet Union, on the other hand, has recently conducted the largest series of atmospheric tests since the development of nuclear weapons. The Soviet Union pre pared for these tests in secret for perhaps a year while ostensibly negotiating a treaty to ban nuclear tests. The Soviet Union, in the course of the past year, first of all went back on a number of agreed elements in the draft test-ban treaty and then rejected in toto the concept of an effective treaty. There is thus no guarantee that the Soviet Union is not, even now, preparing a further series of tests which, in the absence of any Western testing in the interim, could well give the Soviet Union an advantage which might tempt it into aggression.
In all these circumstances, Mr. Speaker, the United States has no alternative but to take steps to maintain the effectiveness of its deterrent. President Kennedy has therefore authorized a resumption of tests in the atmosphere. They will be directed towards -
President Kennedy’s action is in striking contrast to that of the Soviet Union at the end of August last year. First, President Kennedy has given at least six weeks advance warning of the resumption of atmospheric testing: he has delayed the initiation of these tests to see if the Eighteen Nation Disarmament Conference will take constructive steps towards disarmament. He has also specifically offered to call the tests off if, in the interim, the Soviet Union will sign and start to apply an effective treaty for the suspension of nuclear weapons tests. President Kennedy has offered to go to Geneva to sign such a treaty with Mr. Khrushchev. This decision therefore in no way indicates a slackening in United States efforts to achieve a test ban treaty and an agreement on general and complete disarmament. Indeed, even if the Soviet Union fails to sign an effective test ban treaty before the tests begin, the United States will still continue to negotiate for a treaty.
Secondly, the United States will conduct in the atmosphere only those tests which are essential to security and which cannot be conducted underground. Thirdly, every precaution will be taken to restrict radioactive fall-out to an absolute minimum.
Let me put the contrast. The Soviet Union last August gave less than 24 hours advance notice of its decision. In resuming testing it broke a moratorium which had been in effect for almost three years and into which it had entered voluntarily. I emphasize this because there can be no suggestion that the Western powers had been gaining military advantage through testing during that period. France did carry out some tests, but the Soviet did not even mention them as a pretext for breaking off negotiations and resuming tests until many months after they were over. The Soviet Union thus broke Mr. Khrushchev’s own solemn promise not to be the first of the negotiating powers to resume testing. The Soviet Union summarily rejected all urging to suspend its tests and return to the negotiating table. It conducted some tests of an unprecedented magnitude for which there appears to be no technical or scientific justification.
The British Government has announced that it is making its territory in the Central Pacific, Christmas Island, available to the United States for atmospheric tests. Christmas Island lies due south of Honolulu and just north of the equator. It is not to be confused with our own Christmas Island. The Australian Government was consulted regarding this British decision. The Government informed the British Government that if, in its assessment, circumstances required it, the Australian Government would not stand in the way of a British decision to permit United States use of this atoll. The Government was aided in reaching this decision by firm United States assurances that if it were decided to resume testing in the atmosphere, then only those tests would be carried out which were necessary for the significant development of weapons and that every precaution would be taken to minimize fall-out.
By paying careful attention to wind and weather conditions, and by holding the tests over the open sea, the United States intends to rule out any problem of fall-out in the immediate area of the tests. Nearly all fall-out from the Christmas Island tests will occur in the northern hemisphere, and the increase in radio-activity will be held to a very low level. President Kennedy has stated that in the United States the increase will amount to less than 1 per cent, of existing background radiation from natural sources to which Americans are already exposed daily.
At the request of the Australian Government, the National Radiation Advisory Committee recently examined the possible risks to the Australian population from fallout from the proposed tests at Christmas Island. The committee’s biological assessments of the levels of radio-activity resulting from all previous tests - I repeat, all previous tests - even on the most pessimistic assumptions, has shown the hazards to the population to be negligible. In view of President Kennedy’s assurances the Radiation Advisory Committee believes that the levels of fall-out over Australia from the proposed tests will be much lower than from earlier tests and, consequently, of even less significance.
We appreciate and sympathize with the concern of our neighbours in New Zealand that no ill-effects from these tests should be felt in the Pacific islands lying to the southwest of Christmas Island - including the Cook Islands - and for this reason also we welcome the assurances of President Kennedy that every precaution against harmful fall-out will be taken.
Anxious though the Australian Government is to see all nuclear testing brought to an end, and deeply as it regrets the need for the United States to resume atmospheric testing, it believes firmly that, in all the circumstances, President Kennedy’s decision was the right, indeed the only possible, one. We can yet take heart that this does not mark any turning away from the goal of disarmament and that Western efforts to attain this goal have not been relaxed.
Whilst we must not expect any dramatic break-through in the attainment of our ultimate objective - complete and general disarmament - in a matter of days or months we do know that there have been encouraging technical exchanges between the East and the West at the unofficial level and we can see promise in continuing our efforts to reach an agreement in limited fields as, for example, between our scientists on technical problems. We can also draw encouragement from the recent Soviet acceptance of President Kennedy’s proposals for co-operation in outer space. This is a sphere in which both sides have already renounced military ambitions. Practical co-operation in problems of mutual interest could strengthen understanding and confidence and so contribute towards progress in disarmament negotiations.
Mr. Speaker, in this statement I have not taken up the time of the House to recount the various proposals on disarmament which have been put forward for discussion by the great powers or in the United Nations or its committees. Honorable members will find the main features of these and of the development of international discussion in recent years outlined in the documents which the House has been good enough to allow me to have incorporated in “ Hansard “ as part of this statement. I have rather thought it useful to identify here some of the great problems upon the solution of which progress towards the goal of a peaceful and co-operative international society depends. I have been at pains to explain some of the difficulties which lie in the path to disarmament, not with the purpose of excusing our failure so far to achieve it, not with the will to discourage continued pursuit of the goal, but rather with the object of identifying the obstacles which we and our friends in that pursuit must resolutely endeavour to surmount. Realism is the mood for action; it is not a counsel of despair. Only by taking the measure of the problems and the complexities can we really hope for success in finding the way towards a world in which mutual respect, human dignity and freedom will prevail, and the paralysis of fear be lifted from all mankind.
Annex to Parliamentary Statement by Minister for External Affairs.
The most important recent developments In international negotiations for Disarmament have been: -
United States and the Soviet Union (June-September, 1961);
In the field of nuclear weapon tests the important developments have been: -
President Kennedy of the United States of America to authorize the resumption of nuclear testing in the atmosphere in the latter part of April should the Soviet Union not sign and begin applying before then, an effective treaty to ban nuclear weapon tests.
At the resumed session of the fifteenth United Nations General Assembly in April, 1961, the United States and the Soviet Union jointly submitted a draft resolution, (adopted unanimously on 21st April) noting that bilateral discussions concerning general disarmament were to take place between them.
These discussions began in Washington on 19th June, 1961, were transferred to Moscow, and continued in New York from 6th to 20th September.
During discussions the United States presented four proposals for a forum in which future disarmament negotiations might take place. These proposals were: -
Presiding Officials: The United States also proposed the addition to the TenNation Committee of three non-voting officials, one to act as a Chairman and the two others as Vice Chairman. These three would be from nations which were not members of either NATO or the Warsaw Pact. They would not act as representatives of their governments but would use their good offices to facilitate agreement.
States suggested as another possible forum the Ten-Nation Committee, expanded by the addition of ten more reembers drawn on a geographical basis from countries not members of NATO or the Warsaw Pact. It proposed that these countries should be India, Japan and Pakistan (from Asia), Argentina, Brazil and Mexico (from Latin America), Nigeria, Tunisia and the United Arab Republic (from Africa) and Sweden (from- Europe). (4) The United Nations Disarmament Commission: As a further alternative if the foregoing suggestions should be unacceptable to the Soviet Union, the United States proposed that negotiations be undertaken in the United Nations Disarmament Commission, which is composed of all members of the United Nations.
The Soviet Union accepted none of these proposals during the bilateral negotiations. It took the position that a forum for disarmament negotiations “would be effective only if all three groups of States - the socialist countries, the States members of the Western Military blocs, and the neutralist countries - were represented in it with equal rights “. The countries which the Soviet Union proposed should be added to the TenNation Committee were India, Indonesia, Ghana, Mexico and the United Arab Republic.
It was not until after the adoption by the General Assembly, on 28th November, 1961, of a resolution calling on the United States and the Soviet Union to agree on a forum for disarmament discussions that the United States and the Soviet Union finally agreed on the establishment of an Eighteen-Nation Disarmament Committee.
On 20th September, 1961, the United States and Soviet representatives submitted to the President of the United Nations General Assembly a “Joint Statement of Agreed Principles for Disarmament Negotiations “ which had been agreed upon during these discussions. This joint Statement laid stress on the need to implement disarmament in stages; on the need for balanced disarmament; and on the necessity to combine measures of control and verification with the process of disarmament.
Also on 20th September, in a separate communication to the President of the General Assembly, the United States Permanent Representative at the United Nations, Mr. Adlai Stevenson, forwarded a copy of a letter from the chief United States negotiator in the bilateral negotiations, Mr. McCloy, to the chief Soviet negotiator, Mr. Zorin. In this letter Mr. McCloy pointed out that at Soviet insistence a clause had been omitted from the Joint Statement of Agreed Principles. This clause, relating to the need for verification of disarmament measures, was an essential element in the United States position. It would have read: “ Such verification should ensure that only agreed limitations or reductions take place but also that retained armed forces and armaments do not exceed agreed levels at any stage.”
The United States had agreed to its omission from the Joint Statement, but only the understanding that the United States position should in no way be prejudiced in later discussions.
Discussion in General Assembly.
In the United Nations General Assembly’s sixteenth session, which began in September, 1961, the question of general disarmament was overshadowed by the discussion of nuclear testing. Nevertheless, several important developments in the field of general disarmament occurred.
In his address to the General Assembly on 25th September, President Kennedy presented a new United States Declaration on Disarmament.
This Declaration, which draws up the Plan presented by the United States to the Ten-Nation Conference on Disarmament in June, 1960, envisages three stages of disarmament. In the first stage an International Disarmament Organization would be established, with a General Conference and Commission to “ assure effective impartial implementation “. Force levels for the United States and the Soviet Union would be limited to 2.1 million men, with appropriate levels, not exceeding 2.1 million each, for all other militarily significant states. Also in the first stage is a provision that would prohibit the transfer of nuclear weapons or information about nuclear weapons from one state to another. Throughout tha Declaration stress is placed on containing tha threat of nuclear war. With the complete implementation of the Declaration, countries would have at their disposal arms sufficient only for the maintenance of internal security. During and after the process of disarmament, a United Nations peace force would be established which would ensure that all international disputes would be settled according to the agreed principles of international conduct.
During the Assembly’s opening general debate, the Soviet Foreign Minister criticized the United States position, as stated during the bilateral negotiations, that control and verification ought to apply to the level of armaments retained after the carrying out of agreed reductions, as well as to the reductions themselves He reiterated his Government’s support for the disarmament plan submitted to the General Assembly on 23rd September, 1960, by Mr. Khrushchev.
The Soviet ‘Union also circulated to United Nations members a document proposing various measures to “ ease international tension, strengthen confidence among states and contribute to general and complete disarmament “. None of the proposals put forward by the Soviet Union was new. They included proposals to freeze military budgets; to denounce the use of nuclear weapons; to prohibit the use of war propaganda; and to conclude a non-aggression pact between the N.A.T.O. countries and the Warsaw Pact countries. All of these had previously been rejected by the Western powers as unsatisfactory or impracticable in the present world situation.
The leader of the Australian Delegation, Mr. J. Plimsoll, speaking in the General Assembly on 13th October, 1961, re-affirmed Australia’s support for the principles of inspection and control in any agreement on disarmament. He also endorsed the United States position as set out in the Joint Statement of Agreed Principles, and subject to the qualification expressed in Mr. McCloy’s letter abovementioned.
The United Nations General Assembly adopted two resolutions on general disarmament. The first, sponsored by India, called on the United States and the Soviet Union to agree on a form for negotiation of disarmament. This was adopted unanimously on 28th November, 1961. Also during this Assembly session, Soviet and United States representatives held private talks, which resulted in the formation of a Soviet-American draft resolution endorsing the Agreement which they had by this time reached on the composition of an 18-Nation Disarmament Committee. This agreement was for the expansion of the Ten-Nation Disarmament Committee by the addition of Brazil, Burma, Ethiopia, India, Mexico, Nigeria, Sweden and the United Arab Republic. The draft resolution also called for this new committee to report progress to the United Nations Disarmament Commission by 1st June, 1962, and was adopted unanimously on 20th December. This 18-Nation Committee began its discussions in Geneva on 14th March, 1962.
Other Discussions in the General Assembly.
In addition to the resolutions abovementioned, four other draft resolutions were put forward at this Assembly session. The first, sponsored by a number of African nations, proposed that all nations should observe the continent of Africa as a nuclear free zone. This draft was adopted on 24th November by the General Assembly by SS votes, with none opposing and with 44 abstentions (including Australia). The Australian representative explained that Australia could not support the draft resolution because it was imprecise and was not the product of sufficient consultation.
Also on 24th November, the General Assembly adopted a draft resolution sponsored by African and Asian nations which declared the use of nuclear weapons to be a crime against humanity and a direct violation of the United Nations Charter. Speaking on this draft resolution, the Australian representative pointed out that it did not take account of the realities of international life. The passing of such a resolution would not prevent those nations which at present bad nuclear weapons from continuing to rely on them for their defence, and it did not condemn other equally horrifying and devastating weapons; what Australia sought, he said, was the elimination not of a particular weapon but of war itself. This draft resolution, however, was adopted by 55 votes to 20 (including Australia), with 26 abstentions.
A draft resolution put forward by Sweden and five other nations requested the United Nations Secretariat to survey the conditions under which states would be prepared to enter into an agreement not to manufacture, acquire or receive, on behalf of other countries, nuclear weapons. This draft was adopted by the General Assembly on 4th December by 58 votes to 10 with 23 abstentions (including Australia). On the same day the General Assembly unanimously adopted a draft resolution submitted by Ireland, aimed at restricting the wider dissemination of nuclear weapons.
On 30lh August, 1961, the Soviet Government announced its intention to resume nuclear weapons testing. At that time the Geneva Conference on the Discontinuance of Nuclear Weapon Tests was still in session. At this conference there were three major points of disagreement between the Soviet Union and the Western negotiating powers. The latter had on 28th and 30th August sought to resolve these disagreements by making three further concessions to the Soviet position.
These points of disagreement, and the Western concessions, were:
The Soviet Union had repudiated an earlier agreement to establish a single impartial administrator, and sought to substitute a “ troika “ administration which in the Western view would make effective operation of a treaty impossible. The United States and Britain tried to satisfy the Soviet doubts about the practicability of obtaining an impartial administrator, by making him removable from office by simple majority vote in the control commission, which would comprise four Soviet, four Western, and three “ neutral “ representatives.
The United States and Britain also tried to meet all the Soviet Union’s demands regarding small underground tests. The view of Western experts was that these could not as yet be reliably detected; accordingly, the Western negotiators had suggested a moratorium to allow research into improved detection methods, to follow the conclusion of a treaty banning testing in all other environments. This new Western proposal envisaged Soviet-Western consultation before the ending of such a moratorium, and that during its last six months a panel of experts would report on recommended improvements in the control system, on the capability of the system in the light of those improvements, and on whether it would be possible to reduce or eliminate altogether the possibility of unidentifiable underground explosions.
Despite these proposals, the Soviet Union resumed nuclear testing, and exploded a device on 1st September. In a statement explaining its resumption, the Soviet Government claimed, inter alia, that the decision had been forced upon it by the “ increasingly bellicose “ attitude of the Western powers over the Berlin question; that the Soviet Union had knowledge that the United States was preparing to carry out underground tests; and that the nuclear tests carried out by France had “swept the negotiations from the table at Geneva “.
Almost immediately after this Soviet announcement Britain and the United States’ issued strong statements condemning the Soviet decision. These were followed on 3rd September by a joint appeal by President Kennedy and Mr. Macmillan to Mr. Khrushchev, in which they called upon him to agree, by 9th September, to cease all nuclear explosions in the atmosphere (using national systems of detection). They proposed that representatives of the three countries should meet in Geneva on 9th September and record that agreement. Whilst the appeal did not envisage any extension of controls to cover the detection of .atmospheric tests, the Western leaders reaffirmed their desire “ to conclude a nuclear tests ban treaty, applicable to other forms of testing as well “. The virtue of such a partial agreement would have been that the problem of radioactive fallout would not have arisen. The joint appeal, however, was immediately followed by a second and third Soviet test explosion. Following the latter explosion on 5 th September, President Kennedy announced that the United States would resume nuclear testing, both underground and “ in the laboratory “. In making this announcement the President confirmed that the United States-British offer to suspend atmospheric tests still remained open until 9th September.
The Soviet Union, however, explicitly rejected the United States-British appeal on 9th September. In explanation, Mr. Khrushchev stated that the Soviet Union did not wish to conclude partial agreements on disarmament nor on the suspension of nuclear weapons testing, but wished to consider these problems in the context of general and complete disarmament. Following this reply the Geneva Conference adjourned indefinitely and discussion shifted to the United Nations General Assembly.
Two items on nuclear tests, inscribed on the agenda of the United Nations General Assembly, were considered in the Assembly’s First Committee during October, 1961. These were: -
Britain and the United States introduced a draft resolution which called for the early resumption of negotiations to achieve a tests ban treaty providing for effective international control and inspection. India, together with five other nations, introduced a draft resolution which sought the implementation of an immediate and uncontrolled moratorium.
Discussion of the two draft resolutions was temporarily suspended in order to debate a draft resolution, sponsored by Canada, Denmark, Iceland, Iran, Japan, Norway and Pakistan, protesting against the announced intention of the Soviet Union to explode a 50 megaton nuclear device. This draft resolution was adopted in the First Committee, and in the Plenary Session of the General Assembly on 27th October, by 87 votes to 11 (the Soviet countries and Cuba voting against), with one abstention (Mali). The Soviet Union ignored the General Assembly’s appeal and three days later detonated a device of about 50 megatons.
In discussions of the nuclear tests question, the Western powers restated their belief in the urgent need for the resumption of negotiations to achieve a tests ban treaty but stressed that such a treaty must allow for strict international control and inspection. Because of their belief in the need for control strengthened by the Soviet Union’s action in breaking the moratorium on testing nuclear weapons, the Western powers opposed the Indian draft resolution which called for the immediate implementation of a moratorium. The “ uncommitted “ nations, in general, supported the Indian draft resolution. The Soviet Union argued that its test series had been provoked by “ Western militarism “ and by the “ undoubted “ intention of the United States to resume testing. It stated that negotiations for a nuclear tests ban treaty should form part of the negotiations for general and complete disarmament It opposed both the Indian and the joint United States-British draft resolutions.
Speaking on the draft resolutions, the Leader of the Australian delegation, Mr. Plimsol], emphasised that the Australian Government hoped that there would be a permanent cessation of nuclear tests; the Soviet Union, however, had prevented this by its unilateral decision to resume testing; in the light of the Soviet Union’s actions the Australian delegation was unable to support moves for an uncontrolled moratorium on testing, and gave its full support to Britain and the United States in their efforts to achieve a speedy resumption of negotiations aimed at the conclusion of an effective and controlled agreement banning nuclear tests.
The Indian draft resolution was adopted by the General Assembly on 6th November by 72 votes to 20 (including Australia, Britain, the United States and the Communist countries), with eight abstentions. On 8th November the General Assembly adopted the United States-British draft resolution by 71 votes (Australia) to 11 (the Communist countries and Cuba), with 15 abstentions.
Following the Assembly’s adoption of the latter resolution, Britain and the United States in a joint note called on the Soviet Union to resume negotiations for a tests ban treaty at Geneva on 28th November. The Soviet Union agreed, but in its reply of 21st November said: “ It is evident that, if during the negotiations any power begins to hold nuclear weapons tests, then, through force of circumstances to which the Soviet Union has pointed more than once, the other side would be compelled to draw the relevant conclusions also with regard to nuclear tests “.
Britain and the United States issued statements emphasising that in resuming negotiations they did not regard themselves as bound by any moratorium on testing. Both Governments indicated that their decision whether or not to resume atmospheric testing would depend on an analysis of. the recent Soviet test series. They also stated that, if the United States or Britain carried out tests, these would be mounted in such a way asio reduce fallout to a minimum.
On 27th November, on the eve of resumption of negotiations in Geneva the Soviet Union published in Moscow the terms of a new draft agreement for a nuclear tests ban. The Soviet Foreign Ministry distributed copies of the draft agreement to the ambassadors of various “ uncommitted “ countries but not to the British and United States Ambassadors.
The terms of this Soviet draft agreement were: -
United States, the Soviet Union and France.
These Soviet proposals were criticised by Western representatives, both at Geneva and elsewhere. Western spokesmen pointed out that the new Soviet draft agreement renounced completely the previous Soviet acceptance of the necessity for international control and inspection. The new Soviet proposal also meant that the Soviet Union was abandoning the preamble, seventeen draft articles and two annexes of a treaty to ban nuclear weapons tests, to which it had earlier agreed.
In an attempt to determine the extent of this Soviet retreat, the Western delegates on the second day of the resumed negotiations put a number of questions to the Soviet delegate. His answers, some days later, made it clear that the Soviet Union was no longer prepared to accept impartial international control. Further discussion at the conference, between 28th November and 22nd December, brought no positive results, and it was adjourned until 1962.
When the conference resumed on 16th January the British and United States negotiators, in an attempt to make some progress on the tests ban question, proposed two alternatives to the Soviet delegates: either the conference should resume negotiations with a view to the establishment of a control system on lines agreed earlier at Geneva, or, if that were rejected, the nuclear tests ban question should be explored in the context of discussion on general and complete disarmament by the new 18-Nation Committee. The Western delegates made it clear that the proposal for a merger of discussions did not mean that agreement on a nuclear tests ban was a pre-condition to the talks on general disarmament. Nor did the Western delegates accept the Soviet argument that a tests ban treaty was not necessary. They also proposed that the powers negotiating at Geneva for a tests ban treaty should form a sub-committee of three in the 18-Nation Committee to examine the relationship of a tests ban to general disarmament.
The Soviet Union rejected the first alternative put forward by the Western representatives but undertook to study the second.
Breakdown of the Geneva Conference.
On 26th January the Soviet delegate at Geneva rejected the Western proposal for a merger of discussions. He said that this would result in the 18-Nation Committee being deflected from work on general and complete disarmament. He re-stated the Soviet view that the abolition of nuclear armaments under general and complete disarmament would render testing and a nuclear tests ban treaty unnecessary. In the meantime, he said, the Soviet four-point draft agreement would provide adequate safeguards, and he suggested that it should continue to be examined at Geneva.
On 29th January the Western delegates pro* posed that the conference should go into indefinite recess, since it was apparent that common ground for negotiation no longer existed. The Western delegations expressed the hope that a common basis might be re-established, either through discussion at the 18-Nation Committee, or through informal contacts at Geneva, or through other diplomatic channels. The Soviet delegate accused the Western powers of wrecking negotiations, of not wishing to achieve a tests ban treaty, and of wanting an armaments race.
Events Leading up to the 18-Nation Disarmament Committee.
With a view to giving the 18-Nation Committee an initial direction and impetus, Mr. Macmillan and President Kennedy on 8th February invited the Soviet Union to join in a tripartite meeting of their Foreign Ministers in Geneva before the 18-Nation Committee began its deliberations to consider the broad lines of discussion which the 18-Nation meeting might follow. Mr. Khrushchev’s response was to suggest instead to all eighteen nations on the Committee that they should be represented at the opening of the Conference by their Heads of Government. The Western leaders indicated that they were willing to participate personally at any stage when such participation could be beneficial but that until the issues had been clarified and some progress achieved, they considered a meeting of Heads of Government might actually be harmful.
After a further exchange Mr. Khrushchev agreed to the Western invitation. His own proposal had not in fact met with great success. Outside the Soviet bloc there were only two heads of government who accepted his invitation without reserve. Mr. Khrushchev agreed that the Soviet Foreign Minister should meet with Mr. Rusk and Lord Home in Geneva before the start of the Conference. Nothing of substance emerged from the talks held between the three Foreign Ministers.
The French Government has not sent a representative to the 18-Nation Disarmament Meeting in Geneva. The French view is that the meeting will not achieve any real progress. President de Gaulle in response to Mr. Khrushchev’s heads of government proposal had instead proposed that there should be a meeting of the heads of government of the nuclear powers and of those countries which will shortly have nuclear weapons at their disposal. Such a meeting, President de Gaulle suggested, should discuss disarmament - essentially nuclear disarmament - with particular reference to the elimination of the delivery vehicles for nuclear weapons.
At the conference itself the general debate continued throughout the first week. No progress has so far been recorded.
In his opening statement on 15th March, Mr. Rusk suggested that the conference should tackle its task by trying to draw up an outline programme of general and comprehensive disarmament, by confirming and building on existing areas of agreement and by trying to reduce and reconcile differences in the Soviet and American viewpoints. In addition he discussed at some length four specific measures which were among those to be applied in the first stage of the United States programme for general and complete disarmament but which could be put into effect without delay and without waiting for agreement on disarmament as a whole. These measures were -
America and the Soviet Union of 50,000 kilograms of weapons-grade U.235 to non-weapons purposes to be followed by additional transfers in later stages linked with complete cessation now of further production of fissionable material for nuclear weapons.
The Canadian Minister for External Affairs, Mr. Green, endeavoured to separate the areas in which there was a large measure of agreement between the United States and the Soviet Union from those in which there was only a partial or scant measure of agreement. He then suggested that those fields in which there was common ground should be put to study by sub-committees with a view to starting the drafting of treaties or treaty articles on them. Mr. Green listed seven areas of possible agreement on which further action might be taken now -
The fifth of these fields - the prohibition of the wider spread of nuclear weapons - has already been debated in the General Assembly and formed the subject of a resolution adopted at the Sixteenth Session with Australian support. Two other points on the list, procedures for the reduction of the risk of surprise attack and the cessation of production of fissile material and the transfer of stocks to peaceful uses, coincide with the proposals of Mr. Rusk.
There have been no reports of Soviet reactions to these proposals. The Soviet Union has, for its part, presented a draft treaty for general and complete disarmament containing 48 articles. This draft treaty is basically similar to Mr. Khrushchev’s Disarmament P’an which he presented to the United Nations in September, 1960.
Discussions on Nuclear Tests.
No progress has been achieved on the question of nuclear tests al the Geneva Meeting. The major nuclear powers have formed a subcommittee to discuss the possibility of implementing a Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. Meetings in this sub-committee, which ended on 30th March, brought no progress and the Soviet Union remained uncompromising in its rejection of international verification and control. The Soviet Union insisted that its draft agreement of November, 1961, forms the only basis for a test treaty. Reference of the Nuclear Tests Question to a Committee of the Seventeen Negotiating Nations.
The nuclear test ban question has now been referred to a committee of the seventeen nations negotiating at Geneva. The uncommitted nations represented at Geneva have made strong appeal:: in the Committee to both the United States and the Soviet Union not to renew nuclear testing and to be more flexible in their attitudes to inspection and control. There has been no sign of Soviet readiness to abandon ils position. The United States, according to press reports, has indicated that provided there are the minimum effective international controls to police a test ban it is prepared to negotiate a completely new treaty and not to insist on continuing negotiations on the basis of its earlier draft proposals if this will bring progress. (Leave to incorporate the following documents was granted later in the proceedings (vide page 1409) ) -
COMMONWEALTH PRIME MINISTERS’ CONFERENCE.
STATEMENT ON DISARMAMENT.
The aim must be to achieve total world-wide disarmament, subject to effective inspection and control.
In view of the slaughter and destruction experienced in so-called “ conventional “ wars and of the difficulty of preventing a conventional war, once started, from developing into a nuclear war, our aim must be nothing less than the complete abolition of the means of waging war of any kind.
An agreement for this purpose should be negotiated as soon as possible, on the basis of the following principles: -
All national armed forces and armaments must be reduced to the levels agreed to be necessary for internal security.
Once started, the process of disarmament should be continued without interruption until it is completed; subject to verification at each stage that all parties are duly carrying out their undertaking.
The elimination of nuclear and conven tional armaments must be so phased that at no stage will any country or group of countries obtain a significant military advantage.
In respect of each phase there should be established, by agreement, effective machinery of inspection, which should [ come into operation simultaneously > with the phase of disarmament to which it relates.
Disarmament should be carried out as rapidly as possible in progressive stages, within specified periods of time. (0 At the appropriate stage, a substantial and adequately armed military force should be established, to prevent aggression and enforce observance of the disarmament agreement; and an international authority should be created, in association with the United Nations, to control this force and to ensure that it is not used for any purpose inconsistent with the Charter.
On the basis of the above principles, it should be possible, given goodwill on both sides, to reconcile the present differences of approach between the different plans put forward.
The principal military powers should resume direct negotiations without delay in close contact wilh the United Nations, which is responsible for disarmament under the Charter. Since peace is the concern of the whole world, other nations should also be associated with the disarmament negotiations, either directly or through some special machinery to be set “p by the United Nations, or by both means.
Side by side with the political negotiations, experts should start working out the details of the inspection systems required for the measures of disarmament applicable to each stage, in accordance with the practice adopted at the Geneva Nuclear Tests Conference.
Every effort should be made to secure rapid agreement to the permanent banning of nuclear weapons tests by all nations and to arrangements for verifying the observance of the agreement. Such an agreement is urgent, since otherwise further countries may soon become nuclear powers, which would increase the danger of war and further complicate the problem of disarmament. Moreover, an agreement on nuclear tests, apart from its direct advantages, would provide a powerful psychological impetus to agreement over the wider field of disarmament.
Disarmament without inspection would be as unacceptable as inspection without disarmament. Disarmament and inspection are integral parts of the same question and must be negotiated together; and both must be made as complete and effective as is humanly possible. It must, however, be recognized that no safeguards can provide one hundred per cent, protection against error or treachery. Nevertheless, the risks involved in the process of disarmament must be balanced against the risks involved in the continuance of the arms race.
It is arguable whether the arms race is the cause or the result of distrust between nations. But it is clear that the problems of disarmament and international confidence are closely linked. Therefore, while striving for the abolition of armaments, all nations must actively endeavour to reduce tension by helping to remove other causes of friction and suspicion. [Letter from Acting Secretary-General of the United Nations concerning Resolution 1664 (XVI).] PO. 134
UNITED NATIONS NEW YORK.
2nd January, 1962
I have the honour to transmit herewith the text of resolution 1664 (XVI) adopted by the General Assembly at the 1070th meeting on 4 December 1961.
I also have the honour to draw your attention to the fourth preambular paragraph and the first operative paragraph, which request the SecretaryGeneral to make an inquiry: “. . . as to the conditions under which countries not possessing nuclear weapons might be willing to enter into specific undertakings to refrain from manufacturing or otherwise acquiring such weapons and to refuse to receive in the future nuclear weapons on their territories on behalf of any other country.” and to submit a report on its results to the Disarmament Commission not later than 1 April 1962.
I would accordingly appreciate receiving the views of your Government as to the conditions under which it might be willing to enter into the specific undertakings referred to. It would facilitate the preparation of my report to the Disarmament Commission if I could receive this statement of the views of your Government by 15 March 1962.
Accept, Sir, the assurance of my highest consideration. (Sgd.) U. Thant
The Minister of State for External Affairs, Department of External Affairs, CANBERRA Australia. [Letter sent by the Minister for External Affairs to the Acting Secretary-General of the United Nations concerning Resolution 1664 (XVI).] Canberra, A.C.T.
Excellency, 1 have the honour to acknowledge receipt of your letter of 2nd January, 1962, concerning Resolution 1664 (XVI) adopted by the General Assembly at its 1070th Meeting on 4th December, 1961. In this letter, you seek the views of the Australian Government as to “ the conditions under which countries not possessing nuclear weapons might be willing to enter into specific undertakings to refrain from manufacturing or otherwise acquiring such weapons and to refuse to receive in the future nuclear weapons on their territories on behalf of other countries”.
The Australian Government is most conscious of the dangers inherent in an expansion beyond the present number of nuclear powers. For its own part, Australia neither manufactures nuclear weapons nor at present has such weapons in its territory. .
Australia has long recognized the dangers which could rise from the emergence of additional nuclear powers. On 19th September, 1957, the Australian Prime Minister, the Right Honourable R. G. Menzies, in addressing the House of Representatives said inter alia: “. . . There is advantage for the world in having nuclear and thermo-nuclear weapons in the hands of the United States, the United Kingdom and the Soviet Union, and in no others.
The Great Powers, apart from their enormous resources, are sufficiently informed about the deadly character of these weapons to find themselves reluctant to cause a war in which they are used. The possession of these violent forces is, in the case of these great nations, a deterrent not only to prospective enemies but to themselves.
But should the manufacture of nuclear weapons be extended to a number of other powers, great or small, the chances of irre sponsible action with calamitous repercussions in the world would be materially increased.” The views expressed in the Australian Prime
Minister’s statement of 1957 which I have just quoted predate the initiative in the United Nations of the Government of the Republic of Ireland to prevent the wider dissemination of nuclear weapons. Australia’s policy and the reasons for it remain as stated by the Prime Minister in 1957. This position has been reaffirmed in the speeches and votes of the Australian Delegations to successive Sessions of the United Nations General Assembly and most recently at the Sixteenth Session of the General Assembly.
But Australia recognizes the right of the nuclear powers to conclude agreements for the stationing of their nuclear weapons wherever military necessity requires. Furthermore, as was also stated publicly by the Prime Minister in September, 1957, Australia cannot undertake that under no circumstances will Australian forces in the future be armed with nuclear weapons.
In formulating this national defence policy, the Australian Government, by reason of Australia’s geographical position and political beliefs, must take account of the emergence in the area of East Asia and the Western Pacific of a military power of great dimension and some ambition. This power is convinced of the inevitability of war and consciously working for the elimination of the type of society of which Australia is a part. It already has massive conventional forces, which it has used against the forces of the United Nations, and has nuclear weapons potentialities which may be close to fulfilment. It has indicated that the production of nuclear weapons is indeed its aim. Furthermore, with the prodigious developments of military science and technology during recent years, no power which is concerned with its security can ignore developments in any part of the world, however distant. In determining its defence policy Australia must at all times take into account all relevant factors.
The Australian Government therefore seriously doubts the effectiveness of regional agreements for the limitation of nuclear weapons in any area of the world. It may be that there are groups of countries whose past and present associations, geographical position and general security situation enable them to envisage associating in regional “ non-nuclear clubs “. For its part, Australia does not see that this can be the case in the region of which it forms a part.
In addition to these considerations, it is Australia’s conviction that specific undertakings of the kind envisaged in Resolution 1664 could neither be formulated nor ratified, by countries not possessing nuclear weapons, in isolation from the wider issues of controlled disarmament since, in the strategic calculation of military deterrence, nuclear weapons and conventional forces are inextricably bound together. In any case, such specific undertakings could not at present be contemplated by Australia without the participation of the nuclear powers themselves, without the certainty that all militarily significant states would be covered, and without some assurance that adequate verification procedures could be initiated. For all these reasons, Australia, although a country neither possessing nor at present seeking nuclear weapons and convinced as it is of the dangers inherent in the wider dissemination of nuclear weapons, sees many difficulties in attempting to take further at present as far as Australia is concerned the approach suggested in Resolution 1664 (XVI).
In stating these views, I should stress the Australian Government’s most earnest support for all genuine efforts to achieve both general and complete disarmament and more immediately a ban on nuclear test explosions, under effective international inspection and control. Fortunately, the problem with which the Resolution deals is raised in both the United States and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics disarmament plans shortly to be discussed by the Eighteen Nation Disarmament Committee, the members of which include both nuclear and non-nuclear powers.
Australia will follow the negotiations of this Committee closely. Meanwhile, however, the Australian Government does not see its way to giving any undertaking in the terms contemplated in Resolution 1664 (XVI). It is prevented from doing so by its belief that nations must be free to look to their own security in accordance with Article 51 of the Charter; and by its belief that declaratory undertakings of the sort envisaged are of little practical value without an agreement for general and complete disarmament under adequate controls and covering all militarily significant states.
Please accept Excellency, the assurances of my highest consideration.
His Excellency U Thant, Acting Secretary-General of the United Nations, NEW YORK.
I lay on the table the following paper: -
Disarmament and Nuclear Tests - Ministerial Statement- 5th April, 1962- and move -
That the paper be printed.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Calwell) adjourned.
Firing Ranges in Newcastle Area. Mr. CRAMER (Bennelong- Minister for the Army) - by leave - This morning the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Jones) asked me a question about artillery practice at Fort Scratchley, near Newcastle. I told him that it had been decided to discontinue practice at this site. I have since seen the honorable member for Newcastle and explained the matter. The position is that there are two firing ranges in the vicinity of Newcastle. One is at Fort Scratchley itself and the other is the proof firing range at Stockton. The use of both these ranges has been under consideration by my department. A decision was made during the week in relation to the Stockton range, and I had that decision in mind this morning when I answered the honorable member’s question incorrectly. The Fort Scratchley range is still receiving consideration, and I hope to have an answer in relation to that range within the next week. I thought I would clear the matter up for the House and for the record.
– Does the honorable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. The Sydney “Daily Telegraph” this morning contained a report of a question I asked the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) yesterday and of a reply I received. The report was correct in part, but another part of it was incorrect. It said -
He asked Mr. Holt to safeguard community health against possible lung cancer by . . increasing sales tax on cigarettes.
My question was actually in this form -
Is the right honorable gentleman aware of the recent report of the Royal College of Physicians of London on the relationship between smoking and cancer of the lung, and also of the warning by the Royal Australian College of Physicians of the increasing incidence of lung cancer due to smoking? As a safeguard for the future health of our youth, will the Treasurer prevent indiscriminate advertising of cigarettes by making the cost of advertising them a nondeductible item for taxation purposes? Will the Treasurer also place a sales tax on the advertising of cigarettes?
My question was not designed to penalize smokers. It was designed to safeguard our youth and adult non-smokers. I did not ask for a sales tax on cigarettes. I asked for a sales tax on the advertising of cigarettes.
Debate resumed from 4th April (vide page 1321), on motion by Mr. Swartz-
That the bill be now read a second time.
– Some measure of the kind now before us has shown itself to be necessary in the last few months to re-inspire manufacturing industry with the necessary confidence so that it can go ahead and plan for the future. I say that some measure of this kind is necessary even though I believe that it has become necessary largely because over recent months manufacturers have come to believe their own propaganda of the last two or three years. If they had faced their problems with a national outlook I do not think this measure would have been necessary.
Although I recognize that some measure is necessary for the reason that I have indicated, there are elements in the proposals before the House which give us some cause for disquiet. The first reason is the attitude of the manufacturers themselves. They have quite openly made their belief known that they look upon this bill as a first measure which will enable quantitative restrictions to be imposed on a permanent basis, then to have “ Q.R’s “, to use the jargon, spread throughout our whole protective framework.
There is also some cause for disquiet because there is a widespread belief, which I do not say that I endorse, that the Department of Trade has become in recent years, not much more than an extension of the Associated Chambers of Manufactures of Australia. Thirdly, there is cause for disquiet in the fact that the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) has indicated, and the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) confirmed last night, that we shall have quantitative restrictions on a permanent basis. Finally, there is the fear - I think it is a real fear - that quantitative restrictions if legitimized by this kind of procedure, will spread throughout the whole protective framework. There is a clear reason why they would. They immediately benefit a pressure group which can be adamant and ruthless in putting forward its claims. Arguments for tariffs as against quantitative restrictions cannot be brought home to the people with the same vehemence because they do not affect a narrow group of people; they affect the nation as a whole. It is difficult to show how an advantage to a narrow group of people can, in certain circumstances, be a definite disadvantage to the nation as a whole.
So that there may be no doubt that I am a protectionist and so that there may be no charge levelled at me, as manufacturers have tried to charge others with being freetraders because they have criticized one means of protection as against another, let me enumerate briefly the real advantages of efficient and economic protection that are recognized. First of all, it aids a developing nation. Then there is the infant industry argument which is well-known to all of us. Sometimes, but not always, it will make a net addition to employment. It can lead to diversification of our industries which is a good thing. Sometimes it can make possible the establishment of industries for defence purposes. Protection can be and is used as an anti-dumping measure. Tariffs can be and are used for bargaining purposes with other countries. These are all legitimate arguments for protection. I support and endorse them. But because we choose to argue about the means of protection, whether by tariffs or by quantitative restrictions, does not mean that we should be charged with being free-traders. My own assertion is that I would sooner have a very high tariff than a quantitative restriction. I shall try to support that argument later.
We should try to understand the nature of tariffs and the nature of quantitative restrictions because unless we do we cannot understand why quantitative restrictions will impose a higher cost than almost any tariff. Any tariff imposes a cost and any tariff is discriminatory as to the industry it protects and very often as to the overseas countries which it discriminates against. Because of these aspects of discrimination great care has developed in the use of tariffs, and for this reason we have the Tariff Board.
The effect of a tariff on any one item can be measured, but it depends on the character and nature of the demand in the tariff-imposing country and the nature of the supply in both the importing country and in other countries that export to the country which is imposing the tariff. For example, if demand in the. tariff-imposing country is rigid and insensitive to price changes, the price almost certainly will rise by the full amount of the tariff. If the demand is flexible and sensitive and changes easily, as the result of price variations and if supply in the exporting countries is insensitive to price changes, it is highly likely that the exporters from overseas will absorb the price changes. In these circumstances it is worth noting that the terms of trade move in favour of the country imposing a tariff.
There are various effects of quantitative restrictions and the degree of each effect depends upon the extent of the quantitative restrictions, their severity on industry, and the number of industries over which they are spread. But to some extent all quantitative restrictions do each of these things: They limit supply; they lead1 to price rises; they lead to monopoly profit which some one will obtain - I will call this the quantitative restriction margin; and they insulate local prices and lead to unbalanced growth, one of the problems of the last decade. In addition, they lead to loss of State revenue when compared with tariffs. They make importers lazy. They freeze sources of supply and they lead to the inefficient use of overseas funds because importers do not shop around for the most economic article. They do not have to compete amongst themselves and very often if they work on a percentage markup they find it is easier to buy the most expensive article overseas so long as they receive their percentage profit on their money. That is all they are concerned about. This again leads to an adverse move in our terms of trade. They provoke retaliation in a way that tariffs cannot.
I believe that the measures we envisage at this time are contrary to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. Gatt itself foresees retaliation as a result of a measure of this kind. I have said that there are possible adverse moves in our terms of trade. Even though we use quantitative restrictions for protection, we cannot ignore the effect on our balance of payments and on our terms of trade. They lead to price rises which, 1 think in every case, are greater than tariff-induced price rises. A tariff-induced price rise is limited to the tariff plus or minus price changes overseas. I have tried to indicate that it depends upon the nature of the demand in the importing country, the nature of the supply market overseas and the nature of the supply market at home, as to how much below the tariff the price in the importing country will rise. Even with a tariff importers must still compete amongst themselves and with local industry, but the very nature of quantitative restrictions is to destroy competition. The consequent price rise is unlimited by any arbitrary factor as it is by a tariff.
With quantitative restrictions the price rises are affected by the volume and nature of demand in the importing country, by the degree of restriction and by the nature of foreign and domestic supply. As an example, the more flexible is the demand in the importing country and the more sensitive is that demand to price changes, the smaller will be the price rise. On the other hand, the more inflexible, the more insensitive and the more inelastic - to use an eco nomist’s term - is the demand in the importing country, the greater will be the price rise. There is no firm limit on the amount of the price rise, as there is with the tariff. There is no limit, because there is an arbitrary restriction of quantity and then the only limit on price stems from the strength of the demand in the importing country. In all cases, except one - a theoretic one, which I do not think in fact could ever exist - a Q.R. margin, as I have called it, or monopoly profit, is created by the imposition of quantitative restrictions. The theoretic case under which there will not be a monopoly profit or quantitative restriction margin is the one in which there is a homogeneous product or where there is a perfect substitutability. This automatically rules out any consumer item. The sort of thing which will come into it is polyvinyl chloride, a chemical and raw material. It is either polyvinyl chloride or it is not. There are not two different sorts of it. The only difference between parcels of it is the price. This is one assumption; you must have a homogeneous product. The second assumption is that competition in the market remains as keen as before the quantitative restriction was imposed; and this is an assumption that I do not think will ever be realized in practice.
Because’ the quantitative restriction creates a profit for somebody it is right to ask, as the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) asked yesterday, who gets it. This depends upon the administration that the Government gives and the organization of the industry. For example, if exporters are competitive and stay so after the quantitative restriction is imposed, the importers will probably get the added rake-off. But if the exporter is monopolistic he will be likely to get the margin and the terms of trade will move against this country. The quantitative restriction margin- is more likely to go to the importing country if licences are given to importers of that country, as they have been in the past, and not to exporters; if importers are not restricted in their use as between different countries and if industry exporting to this country remains competitive - and that cannot be taken for granted. If the licences or quotas are auctioned, as mentioned previously in this debate, the margin must go to the importing country. I will explain this aspect a little later on.
There are alternatives in the administration of quantitative restrictions that the Government may use. If our objective is to protect our balance of payments then the value method must be used. But this does not make sense if you are trying to protect industry. You can import £10,000 worth of a commodity, but you do not know how many articles come in for that £10,000. When you are protecting industry in this sense you want to give it 70 per cent., 80 per cent., or 90 per cent, of the local market and to do that by the value method would be clumsy. If your purpose is to protect industry and not the balance of payments, it makes much more sense to say that we will issue licences on a quantitative or volume basis. Whether you use the value basis or the volume basis to grant your licences, the terms of trade are likely to move against the importing country. But with the value basis the net payments overseas must be smaller. However, with the volume basis, if you do it in that way, it can easily be shown mathematically that if the demand is rigid in the importing country and inelastic, in the economists’ term, then net payments overseas will increase even though in return for the payments overseas you are getting a smaller volume of imports. Even though we are protecting industry, we cannot ignore the effect of quantitative restrictions on the balance of payments and on the terms of trade.
These adverse movements cannot happen with tariffs. Indeed, it is ironical that in one of the cases which the department has quoted as being appropriate to quantitative restrictions the terms of trade have moved markedly in Australia’s favour, leading to better use of overseas funds. If quantitative restrictions do come to be used this will be reversed. If quantitative restrictions are auctioned some of the abuses inherent in these things do not occur. If there is a quota for the year and it is divided into parcels under the auction system the Government gets the monopoly profit or quantitative restriction margin instead of the windfall caused by the Government accruing to either an importer or an exporter. Newcomers are allowed into the business and the risk of monopoly is greatly reduced because you would clearly limit the number of parcels that any one bidder could purchase in any one year. The loss of Government revenue would be prevented when compared with quantitative restrictions as opposed to tariffs. If exporters and importers are both allowed to bid and there is no reason why exporters in an overseas country should not be allowed to bid, there could be some very useful gains in overseas funds. If they are auctioned neither the terms of trade nor the balance of payments could move against us as the result of quantitative restrictions. Finally, an auction will obviate the very unpleasant problem of having to allocate licences as between persons and as between countries.
Various Government statements have been made which seem to indicate that it is thought that there will be a lesser cost burden on Australian industry if quantitative restrictions are used in certain instances instead of tariffs. If quantitative restrictions were going to be temporary, and nothing but, I could agree with this. But we have been told quite clearly that they are going to be permanent, and I therefore argue on the basis that they will be permanent, because any other argument does not make sense. One of the arguments used by the Minister in his second-reading speech was this: Where imports reduce the local industry’s share of the market to the stage where a local industry, formerly profitable, becomes unprofitable, then quantitative restrictions may perhaps be more suitable than tariffs to restore the appropriate share of the market to local industry. I have indicated earlier that this would be true under two assumptions, but the two assumptions cannot be found in practice.
One assumption is that you have a homogeneous product; and the second is that the market remains as competitive after you have quantitative restrictions as before. If you look at this closely you will see that quite clearly a large industry is involved - one with a large degree of capital, a capital intensive industry. This is not an argument in relation to a small industry, because the arguments put forward by the Minister do not apply to small industries or where industry is composed of a large number of small firms. It applies to an industry composed of one or two large firms. The sort of thing which comes to mind is the chemical industry and polyvinyl chloride. Because of the nature of this industry it is likely that there will be only one or two importers, plus one or two manufacturers inside this country. Under these circumstances with quantitative restrictions imposed the tendency to monopoly and monopoly prices will, I believe, be irresistible. If the department thinks it is going to take it on itself to juggle the degree of quantitative restrictions to try to prevent the monopoly tendency, I think this is an assumption of power which no Government department should actually take to itself, unless it is an arm of government properly created to deal with restrictive practices in the fullest sense. There is no existing Government department that could appropriately do this sort of thing.
I believe the onus of proof in this matter is on the department and on industry to show that quantitative restrictions can perform the job better than a tariff. I do not think they have done this, and again I would quote polyvinyl chloride, a commodity which has been instanced. If tariffs are imposed and if exporters then reduce their price, which they might be able to do because of greater efficiency overseas, and if they then get in under our tariff without involving anti-dumping duties and if we need the industry, then let us create the circumstances under which, on this evidence, the tariff can quickly be raised and this will still maintain competition in the industry and will not involve any increased costs, as I will demonstrate. The figures I have taken for this example are hypothetical and are not meant to be the cost of polyvinyl chloride. If the Tariff Board establishes that a just price for poly vinyl chloride is 27d. per lb. and the’ imported price is 20d., you need a 35 per cent, duty to equalize costs.
If, as a result of such a tariff, imported polyvinyl chloride drops in price to 17d. per lb., with a 35 per cent, duty the local price would be 23d. Clearly, in those circumstances, no local article would be bought, because this is a homogeneous product, and people go for the cheapest. In those circumstances - and remember, I am referring to a case in which there has been a recent Tariff Board inquiry - on the new evidence of overseas price it would be possible to go back to the Tariff Board and quickly get a higher tariff. If the tariff were raised to the moderately high figure of 60 per cent, imported polyvinyl chloride would sell at 27£d. per lb. - a little above the price of the local article, but still competitive. Despite the high tariff, in these circumstances, there would be no increase in costs, and competition would be maintained. The terms of trade, in addition, would not move against us, and the price would be reasonably in conformity with the Tariff Board decisions. However, if there is a quantitative restriction, the price will be 27d. plus, and the degree of plus depends on the degree of monopoly which will be established as a result of the quantitative restriction. In addition, the terms of trade would move against Australia. Or, again, does the department think that it can juggle import licences so as to determine the quantity that can come in during any one period? I do not think that that is practicable.
The second circumstance in which the Minister seemed to think he could use quantitative restrictions is that if general economic conditions lead to a reduction in demand quantitative restrictions can be used to make sure that imports suffer their fair share of the reduction. This seems to bc a reversal of the argument that we heard two years ago, which was that imports should come in so as to mop up some of the inflationary funds which are about, and thus reduce inflation.
I should like to point out that if demand has been reduced in Australia, imports are likely to suffer last because of the time lag involved. This is normal, and it has always happened. Therefore, in the first instance, the time lag would appear to provide the very evidence necessary for obtaining a quantitative restriction. Again, we should not argue from the experience of the last two years because, after eight or ten years of quantitative restrictions and import licensing, the position was not normal.
Thirdly, the existence of this threat to apply quantitative restrictions will cause importers to hold larger stocks than they would otherwise hold. It will cause them to order against the possibility of quantitative restrictions being imposed, and they might thus themselves create the very conditions under which quantitative restrictions would be imposed. I believe that both of those circumstances are contrary to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. Article XIX. of the agreement provides that a country can be freed of its obligations under the agreement if increased quantities of imports are threatening local industries. I repeat, increased quantities of imports. Most people have said that our obligation under Gatt can be waived under Article XIX. on the ground that imports are threatening local industries, but the position is that under Gatt you have to show that increased quantities are threatening local industries. This would not apply in either of the sets of circumstances outlined by the Minister.
I indicated at the outset that this measure was necessary to instill confidence in secondary industry. I agree. If the measure does this it is of some use. But what else does it do? Does it impose quantitative restrictions? The Minister for Trade is on record in “ Hansard “ as having said last year that the present deputy chairmen had the authority to recommend quantitative restrictions if they wished to do so. Are there to be more import restrictions when imports of the most sensitive kind are running at very low levels, and Australian Paper Manufacturers Ltd. is having a one for four bonus share issue this year, that is, in the year following the one in which it has claimed to have been grievously hit by Government policies? Is this a measure for the future? We do not know.
Finally, has the Tariff Board fallen down on the work it has been meant to do over recent years? To this, I give an emphatic “ no “. I think it is a pity that the “ Sydney
Morning Herald “ article of last week has so far gone without an adequate answer. I have read the answer, which was read out by a Minister in another place to-day. That answer was vague, it was broad, and it did not, I believe, do justice to the present Tariff Board. It may be that the only way to do justice to the present Tariff Board would have been to show how much slower and how much more inefficient the previous chairman was, and the previous Tariff Board was, before the present chairman was appointed. Since the previous chairman is now head of a certain department it may well be that the department does not want to get into an argument over statistics on this matter.
I indicate one or two points. In 1958, the delay from the reference period to the opening of the inquiry was over nine months. Last year, with a different chairman and a different board, it was four months. The delay from inquiry to report stage in 1956 was ten months. Last year, it was three months. The total delay in 1958-59 and 1959-60 from reference to report was fifteen months under the previous chairman - those were the two years of the greatest delays during the past twelve years. The present board has got the delay down to nine and three-quarter months.
In terms of work performed the new board has done much more. There were 55 new references in 1960 and in 1961, and in the financial years 1960-61 and 1961-62 there were, respectively, 14 and 24 temporary references signed. If we take the periods January, 1958, to early July, 1960, and from July, 1960, to the present time we find that we are comparing a 30-month period and a 21-month period. If honorable members will look up the dates they will see that there is a specific reason for this comparison. The number of new references in the early, longer period, was 99 compared with 96 in the later, shorter period, and the number of new references on which inquiries were begun was 70 in the earlier period, with a delay of eight months, compared with 88 in the later, short period, with a delay of four and a half months. The total delay from the opening of the inquiry to the signing of the report in the earlier period was five and a half months, compared with four and a half months in the later period. This is in spite of the fact that the previous chairman left the pipeline empty by signing 21 reports in his last two months of office - three times the average rate. Because the pipeline was empty, there were no inquiries on which reports could be written, and no work which could be done in the first months of office of the present chairman.
In addition to this, the establishment of the Tariff Board agreed to by the Commonwealth Public Service, the Department of Trade and the Tariff Board has never been filled. The Department of Trade is responsible for filling the establishment, which provides for 29 project officers, but there are only nineteen at this date.
At the committee stage, I want to criticize to some extent one or two details of this bill, but in view of the cost burden imposed by quantitative restrictions, and in view of the effect on terms of trade and administrative problems, only partly offset by auctioning of licences, and in particular in view of the weakness of the arguments in favour of quantitative restrictions, I appeal to the Government to do nothing of a permanent nature without a full and open inquiry into tariff board principles, practices and procedures. If this is not done, I have a great fear that quantitative restrictions will spread like a cancer throughout the whole body of our protective arrangements, with consequent harm to the whole country.
.- That was a good lecture, but 1 am sorry that it had no relevance to the problems that face the Government. Is it not a simple fact, plainly demonstrable even to the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Malcolm Fraser), that his old-world economics and politics are not working, and that the way in which tariff policy has been administered has failed. He himself did not face up to the two problems confronting the Government, problems which it is trying to tackle in a rather bumbling fashion. One problem that Australia faces has reference to the way in which goods can be imported under a tight economy. Australia also has the problem of competing with countries overseas, particularly European countries and the United States of America, which have an aggregation of commerce and industry with which we cannot possibly compete. When they export to Australia a quantity of goods which they have over there Australian industry has little capacity to compete with them. The honorable member for Wannon avoided these problems. He spent his time giving what might be called the classical view on the use of fiscal policy to achieve the ends which the Government is trying to achieve. We, on the Opposition side, say it is quite obvious that this policy has failed and that it is necessary to take other steps. Apparently the Government realizes that, too.
I was rather amazed at the assertion of the honorable member that we should adopt the auction system for licences. Only last week we saw him battling manfully, but unprofitably so far as 1 know, to get the auction system in his own field of wool to work successfully. He has a classical example in his own field of an auction system which does not work. Therefore his whole argument was invalidated.
So far as I can see, the term “ quantitative restrictions “ is not used in the bill. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) used it, and the Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Swartz) used it, but neither demonstrated exactly what is meant by it. So the Opposition’s criticism - not opposition - of the bill, in the first instance, is based upon the view that it is vague both in intention and wording. Secondly, it is unlikely to be effective, viewed in the light of events of the last few years. The Government’s present approach to Australia’s trade policy and its financial policy is completely unscientific. It is based on the hopes and fears of the last decade and not on the facts of international life and international trade as they appear today. Looked at in any light, the tariff appears to me to have become a rather outmoded weapon to tackle the problems with which Australia is faced. It seems to me that this weapon which, 1 suppose, originally was evolved by governments more for the production of revenue than the prolection of local industry, has ceased to be contemporaniously relevant to our problems. Therefore, we need to approach these problems from a different angle. Slowly and painfully, the Government is moving to the Opposition’s view that it is necessary to adopt quantitative restrictions, and absolute restrictions in many fields, in order to develop Australian industry.
One of the oddities of the argument of the honorable member for Wannon - and I think this applies to some of the other arguments of members opposite and to some of the reports of the Tariff Board - is that they ignore the occasions on which Australian industry has had absolute protection and has expanded, therefore, to the benefit of the nation. This occurred in the First World War and in the Second World War. Because Australian industry was protected from outside competition, a base was laid on each occasion for the development of great industrial strength. The problems of the development of monopolies and attacks upon consumers have to be resolved by methods other than the control of imports, whether by tariff or quantitative restrictions. This is where the Government fails. It is quite unable to face up to the realities of the situation. Nothing demonstrated this better than the statement which the Prime Minister made to this House last night. The right honorable gentleman is on record as having said on one occasion that he did not need economic advisers because he worked from his own experience. Last night he said -
We are literally dealing with a very particular set of circumstances which may exist for a year or for two years but which we hope will not necessarily exist for ever.
Here is a man who has been in the public life of this country for almost half a lifetime. He has been Prime Minister longer than anybody else. He has faced great problems and has created greater problems by his own action and inaction. Yet he cannot realize the facts of life as demonstrated over the last three years have been a continuing factor since federation. This is an ample demonstration of the Prime Minister’s incapacity and the Government’s incapacity to govern and to handle the problems of the. nation.
What are the factors which lead him to state that our problems will exist only over the next two or three years? Does he not recall the battles of 1936? I think it was Sir Henry Gullett who then embarked on a trade diversion policy to try to achieve, in effect, what the Government is trying to achieve now. I remember that Minister being called in newspaper articles the “ Minister for Trade Wars “. We became very unfriendly with Japan over it all. The attempt to divert Australia’s trade failed because it was an indirect method. It was an attempt to use financial pressures rather than direct agreement.
Leading up to the immediate situation we had the disastrous removal of import controls and the dismantling of the licensing system a couple of years ago, and all the events that flowed from that. Surely the Prime Minister has only to turn back over his own personal experiences to realize that this is not a temporary problem that Australia faces; it will be a permanent feature of international trade until the nations of the world can trade with each other on a basis of co-existence rather than the survival of the biggest monopolies. There is a demonstration that the Prime Minister himself is not au fait with the problems of the nation.
The tariff in this country grew, in the first instance, from a desire for revenue. The simple history of it is that, at federation, Victoria was a relatively high-tariff State. New South Wales, I think, favoured free trade. South Australia was semi-free trade. So there were differences of opinion all over the country. Honorable members who interject might well turn to the debates of the first Parliament in which this was argued out.
When the first government took office it was pointed out in the Governor-General’s Speech that the purpose of the tariff policy was both the provision of protection and the raising of revenue. In fact, initially, revenue was the principal consideration. As time has gone on and the strength of Commonwealth revenues has increased, it has become more a question of protection and less a question of revenue. Now, the fundamental principle involved in the tariff and an overseas trading policy is surely to protect the development of Australian industry. We believe that, in this instance, the Government is not facing up to the problem in a realistic way. There is plenty of evidence that, in the past, the Government has adopted policies which damaged Australian industry. This is usually done on the basis of doctrinaire economics as outlined by honorable members opposite. This does great damage to Australian industry.
The Opposition believes that there is only one way in which to face up to this problem: It is to look at the facts fairly and squarely, to arrive at a conclusion, and to take direct action, not indirect action such as the use of the tariff. This does not mean that we have to depart completely from the idea of using the tariff. But it seems to me reasonable to admit to Australia only those goods which Australia needs and only in such quantities as Australia needs them. It is completely unrealistic to take any other viewpoint. In this way, some flexibility can be retained, but I think that a tariff based on the principle that you can force people to carry out your policy by hitting their pockets is not relevant to the problem that we face.
The first problem is the question of the absolute limit of Australia’s capacity to import. At the moment, we have an exportable capacity, perhaps, ot £1,000,000,000 a year. So it is obvious that our exports plus our invisibles have to be kept at about that level. Any more will lead to a run-down in the overseas balances. At the present moment, our importing capacity plus invisibles amount to about £250,000,000 more than our export capacity. That is a quantitative restriction on imports in its own right. So we have to arrive at a policy which meets that limit and protects Australian industry.
We have to arrive at some policy which will allow us to import no more than £1,000,000,000 worth of goods which will be relevant to Australia’s needs and at the same time protect Australian industries. Therefore, it seems to members of the Opposition that the idea of import controls, quantitative restrictions - -QR’s, or whatever the current jargon is - would be the logical way of approaching the problem. We say that it is unlikely that the machinery the Government is setting up under this bill will produce the results it expects.
It is now proposed to set up special authorities. We do not know whether there will be one or ten of these authorities. I understand that it is proposed to appoint one retired Commonwealth public servant who has had a rather distinguished career. But we are to have special advisory authorities to meet current situations. What are the current situations? First we have to face the fact that importers in Australia will import to the limit of their capacity to do so. In the time lag involved in the two or three months that elapse before a decision is arrived at these people will land on the Australian scene products from overseas factories which are highly competitive in price and quality. Indeed, they will flood the market with them, as did happen immediately after import restrictions were removed not so long ago. So, in this instance the machinery proposed in the bill will not answer the problem. Some honorable members on the Government side, the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Malcolm Fraser) in particular, realize that.
Apparently, the special authority is to report within 30 days and then perhaps three months’ protection will be granted in some form or another. Some people seem to presume that this protection will take the form of quantitative restrictions but, on my interpretation of the bill and on my reading of the Minister’s statement, it seems more likely that it will take the form of a tariff. But the fact is that it will take 30 days before protection for three months will be granted. According to the last report of the Tariff Board, the length of time that elapsed from the lodging of a request to the actual taking of action dropped from twelve and a half months in 1955-56 to ten and a half months in 1960-61. So there still will be a time Jag of five or six months in which there will be no apparent protection for Australian industries. Therefore, we on this side believe that the machinery which it is proposed to set up will be bungling, ineffective and unlikely to protect Australian industry. That is our first criticism of the proposed machinery.
One political fact that has been established in the last few years is that this Government always arrives at conclusions too late, and when it does take action it does so in a bungling and ineffective manner. The present proposal is a typical example of that. We have only to examine the damage done to some of the basic industries in Australia by the dismantling of the import licensing system a couple of years ago to see what this Government’s bungling policy can do. For instance, my friend the honorable member for Braddon (Mr. Davies), who represents a large electorate in north-western Tasmania, has pointed out in the House the destructive effects of this Government’s policy. He has told us that the Burnie paper mills found it necessary to dismiss 450 employees; and Burnie is only a small Australian town. The dismissal of those 450 employees meant the loss of £16,000 a fortnight in wages to that town. Again, where the timber industry of north-western Tasmania once employed 4,000 employees, 2,000 became unemployed and 600 have left the industry permanently. And this has happened three times within the short space of the last ten or twelve years. To the large industrial areas of Australia such as the one I represent, and to the rural areas of Australia such as those represented by the honorable member for Braddon and dozens of other honorable members, this Government’s policies have been destructive in the extreme. They have caused great hardship and imposed upon Australian industries burdens from which they may never recover. I represent one of Australia’s great industrial areas. I have often quoted in this House what happened to the hosiery industry. That is only one simple demonstration of how the action which the Government proposes to take will be quite inadequate to meet the needs of such industries due to the fact that within live or six months the retail stores of Australia could be flooded with stockings imported from overseas. In the four or five months’ interval between the breaking off of the temporary protection and the arrival at a conclusion by the Tariff Board, Australian industries could be completely destroyed.
We on this side say that the time has come for facing up to the facts. The old world system of arriving at basic policies by the old financial process is completely inadequate. We live in a world of statistics and facts. It is now possible to estimate what Australia’s needs will be in the future. I understand that countries such as Japan do just this. We believe that with the statistics available it is competent to predict what our future needs will be in any particular field. If Australia is producing 80 per cent, of its timber requirements and needs to import 20 per cent., then it is folly to import 21 per cent. If Australia can pro duce all her hosiery requirements, then it is folly to import any hosiery. If Australia requires 100,000 tons of newsprint to be imported, then it is folly to import 1 50,000 tons because to import more than it requires can only inflict hardship through the community down to those people who can least bear it, and it can only lead to the destruction of our overseas balances and damage to our capacity to export. Indeed, such a policy can only cause such damage as will take years to repair. Goodness knows what the removal of import controls a couple of years ago has cost this country, but it is obvious that tariff policy and import policy are so closely related to every other form of financial policy that we must deal with all these questions at the one time.
We must tackle the overall problem and we have ample evidence that the Government is unable to plan for the whole field or to deal with the problems of Australia as a whole. Therefore, while not opposing the measure officially, we look upon it in much the same way as the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly) and the honorable member for Wannon do, although it is interesting to note that both those honorable members who are prepared to criticize the Government in this way have not the courage to vote against any of the Government’s proposals. I look forward to the day when, as responsible representatives, they will support their words with their vote; and we hope to give them plenty of opportunities in the future to do that. It is quite all right to stand up in this House and make a good fellow of oneself at the expense of one’s colleagues, as both the honorable member for Wannon and the honorable member for Wakefield have done, but it is quite another matter to vote against the Government’s measures. I understand that the honorable member for Wannon has been jousting also with Mr. Bolte in Victoria but without very much success. We expect members of this Parliament to be fully alive to their responsibilities to the nation; and I hope that both those honorable members will do their very best in future to change the catastrophic policies of this Government.
.- I am very surprised to note that so many honorable members have referred to this bill as a temporary measure. I sincerely hope that it is not a temporary measure because the procedures set down in it to meet the challenge of a rapid change in circumstances fill a gap that has developed in our tariff requirements. I sincerely hope that it is but the first step to further changes which have been foreshadowed with a view to putting into operation the Government’s clearly expressed intention to support Australian manufacturers in their efforts to supply the Australian market and to go out after the export market. I welcome that intention. But I emphasize that this is a first step only. In fact, the bill is purely a machinery measure which, to all intents and purposes, does no more than enable the Government to appoint special authorities to do work that was previously done by the deputy chairmen of the Tariff Board under section 17a of the Tariff Board Act, which section is now to be repealed.
The machinery by which quick action can be taken to prevent damage from occurring to an industry should certainly not be temporary and for that reason I believe that the appointment of a special authority is only a stop-gap way of handling the problem. We have a Tariff Board charged with the responsibility of doing a specific job, and any recommendations for alterations in the method of applying protection or of the extent to which protection should be given should properly come from the board itself. It is true that this special authority is to be appointed under the Tariff Board Act and will operate within the framework of that Act. But if the present number of board members is insufficient to handle the volume of business caused by the great growth of our industries in recent years and the intensity of their battle with overseas interests to secure a major portion of the Australian market, then we could, and I believe that we should, with more justification extend the existing board, and more particularly its staff, because I understand that that is where the main trouble lies in putting applications through. The staff should be increased to whatever size is necessary to cope with the number of inquiries that it is called upon to handle.
Most of the recommendations made by the deputy chairmen have been followed by the full board, but the delay in reaching their conclusions brings out the somewhat cumbersome, time-wasting procedures that are needed in the present circumstances, and points to the streamlining that should be effected if the board is to function efficiently and economically. I repeat those words. The Tariff Board itself should operate efficiently and economically, in the same way as it requires our manufacturers to operate. There is, I believe, a prima facie case for a thorough investigation by a committee of inquiry into the whole working of our tariff and the best way to tailor it to suit to-day’s conditions. If Australian industry is to flourish we need a redefinition of policy on our trading principles and the utilization of our resources of materials and manpower. We may well need to be more selective in respect of the types of goods that we should encourage, and we should pay more regard to the effect of costs on our export industries, particularly the primary industries.
After all, the Australian tariff has grown up something like Topsy. Starting from a simple revenue-producing arrangement of taxes, it became convenient in the early days of our continent to impose some duties to encourage the struggling infant industries to get a start. In the early days there was a bitter conflict between the freetraders, who looked only at the price of the particular goods that they wanted to buy, and the protectionists, who thought more of building for the future of the nation, encouraging industry to provide employment for the growing population, establishing a domestic market and independence in our securing supplies of the things we needed. The early tariff was quite a moderate one, with a rather cautious leaning toward protection. Even to-day Australia is one of the lower tariff countries of the world, and the level of its tariff is no deterrent to its import appetite. Since those early days Australia has developed its manufacturing industries, until to-day it has some 57,000 factories turning out a great variety of goods. I should say that probably 90 per cent, of our consumer goods are to-day produced or capable of being produced in our factories, which employ a quarter of the total work force. The latest figure I have of employment in manufacturing industries is 1,150,000 people.
The tariff schedule has become a large and complicated book consisting of thousands of items, and alongside it there is another book of all the complicated exemptions under by-laws. This method has proved incapable of distinguishing adequately between shades of qualities and values as distinct from the criterion of prices that is now used. No sooner does an Australian manufacturer establish a product and a quality and price that are found to be quite acceptable to the people who require it, than some agent is out looking for an overseas factory to supply a substitute product at a price which will undercut the local product. He does not always find it, of course, but when he does the effect can be drastic on the local factory, especially if it is trying to establish a new line.
Time and time again we have seen a Tariff Board inquiry result in the granting of an increased rate of duty, and almost immediately the overseas supplier against whom protection was sought has found it convenient to alter his price to bring his product again just within the local exfactory price. Competition for this market is such that we must have some emergency method of handling situations that can arise almost overnight. The lengthy processes of the Tariff Board, under its existing charter, can mean that a factory is almost out of business and the productive capacity of its machinery and its employees can be wasted and its costs can sky-rocket before it has any chance of relief.
To this, Sir. we have to add some considerations of the attitude of the Tariff Board itself. Instead of conforming to the purpose for which it was established - to give adequate protection to efficient and worthwhile, that is, economic industries - it seems to have taken on a role of price controller. I have seen reflected in some of the speeches that I have listened to in this debate that this seems to be regarded with some favour. I find it completely wrong that the Tariff Board should have any role of controlling prices on the Australian market. Perusal of its reports shows that it more often than not fails completely to appreciate the part that volume production can play in keeping costs down. Instead of awarding a duty that will ensure for the applicant company that share of the Aus tralian market which it is quite capable of supplying - to the satisfaction of the ultimate users, in both quality and price - it seems to award only part of the demonstrated requirement, and thus fails in its objective. The Australian price level must rise unless factories producing our basic commodities, particularly the raw materials for other factories, are given a sufficient share of the market to ensure the fullest utilization of productive capacity, resulting in the lowest possible cost and at the same time the fullest possible employment of our people. The costs, for instance, to a textile mill of having to change looms after only short uneconomic runs, or the costs to an engineering firm of having constantly to change lathe settings, would make it impossible for even the most efficient management to operate profitably and satisfactorily.
At various times over the years government action to vary the impact of the tariff has taken varying forms to meet the circumstances of the times. There is no doubt that the Scullin tariffs, catastrophic as they were for importers of those days, resulted in the consolidation of hundreds of factories. The same sort of thing happened after the Second World War; the same pattern of a surge of demand which expanded our industries so much. This was, of course, accompanied by a rapid” demand for increasing imports, and then by 1952 import restrictions had to be imposed. I hope we have learned our lessons from the corruption and hardship that were inherent in that form of licensing by departmental control. I hope also that no one in this House thinks we will ever go back to that form of handing out favours, which accompanied the quota system. I mention it now only to bring out the point that over the years the many varied influences of tariff procedure and licensing have brought us to a stage where Australian manufacturing industries have the ball at their feet.
Tariff procedures have built up at great pains an industrial sector capable of playing its part in the development of the nation alongside the primary-producing sector, on which we have been entirely dependent for so long. The Australian manufacturing industries now stand at the cross-roads. They may go ahead to become a force in world trade, or they may go back to a subordinate position, picking up the crumbs of trade after imports have taken the cream of the market. We must have imports. They add to our wealth and, provided they do not spoil our domestic markets, they can hasten our growth. But they must not be allowed to stifle our own industries.
In May, 1960, 1 attended an export convention which was held in Canberra. It was agreed at that convention that if Australia was to continue its rate of progress and keep up with its import requirements, we needed an increase in export earnings of something of the order of £250,000,000 a year within five years. The chairman of the convention summed up by saying that an export explosion was necessary. It was agreed that we have the resources to achieve our objectives. It was agreed that we have the man-power, the materials and the knowhow. Our greatest task is to keep costs at a competitive level. Although our primary industries are expanding all the time, and still provide 80 per cent, of our export earnings, it is not reasonable to think that they can adjust their expansion to take up what would be a 25 per cent, increase in our export earnings. Various speakers at the convention pointed out the disadvantages suffered by secondary industries, but it all boils down to the fundamental problem that the local market is often too small to permit the use of volume production techniques.
That was two years ago. Certainly, something has been done since. We have a programme of export incentives. An increase in exports earns a remission of pay-roll tax; double expenses are allowed for promotional trips overseas; we have a special depreciation allowance on new plant; and there are certain other concessions. The vital problem we have not yet tackled is to assure Australian manufacturers by action - not merely by words - that they are required to supply an adequate portion of the Australian market, as long as they can do so on a quality and price basis that is satisfactory to the Australian consumers. That is why I was so pleased to see the inclusion of quantitative restrictions in the bill, as an alternative method of protection when duties have proved ineffective.
I have been amazed at the lack of comprehension among my colleagues as to what is involved in this method of protec tion. I was particularly amazed at the deliberate attempt by a few of them to try to imply that this is a return to the old form of import licensing. Of course, it has no relation to import licensing at all. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) made it quite clear in his 1961 policy speech that the Government would examine possible ways of overcoming the particular difficulties of certain Australian industries where production efficiency and a reasonable cost level required the maintenance of a continuing high volume of output. He dealt with this in the speech he delivered last night. I was very pleased to hear that he recognizes the dangers to our export industries particularly - and to all our industries - of increased costs.
Quantitative restrictions will apply more particularly to industries that have a great volume of output. These high volume conditions just do not apply over the whole range of goods. Although some honorable members have suggested that quantitative restrictions will be applied recklessly and indiscriminately, this is not so. They will apply to large-scale enterprises that lend themselves readily to the application of this system. Under these conditions, they will keep prices down in a way that could not possibly be done by the application of a duty. Some honorable members oppose quantitative restrictions on the basis that supply and demand is the principle that controls the price level. They can be assured that in almost every instance where the domestic market can be preserved for our own manufacturers, there is ample competition among them for the law of supply and demand to keep prices down to as low a level as they would be kept if the manufacturers had to face competition from overseas goods. The essential point is for the Australian manufacturer to be able to get his costs down by volume production.
To give an example of what I mean by this, let me refer to the paper industry. I shall speak about the raw materials side - the kraft paper that is used for wrapping paper and for making paper bags, and the paper board that is used for corrugated cartons and for such items as cigarette packets. Australia’s total requirement can be supplied at quite satisfactory prices by an industry whose assets are of the order of £95,000,000, whose output runs into some £60,000,000 worth of goods a year, and which employs 10,000 people who receive £12,000,000 in wages. These wages are spent in this country on food, clothing and housing and all the consumer goods and amenities that are available in Australia. This does not happen with the wages that are paid by overseas manufacturers to overseas workers who make the import replacements that importers would have us use instead of our own products.
Here is an industry that makes a valuable contribution to the economy in every State. The process of paper-making is a continuous one. The machines cannot just bc started at 8 o’clock in the morning and stopped at 4 o’clock in the afternoon. They must operate for 24 hours a day seven days a week, and they must have as long a run as can be reasonably expected, making due allowance for maintenance. The industry is extremely capital intensive, and the only way to achieve economic costs is for the mills to operate at their full capacity. This industry is admirably suited to quantitative restrictions.
There is no need for a cigarette factory to import board for its packets. In fact, although these factories may save, say, £10 a ton on the board they import, the difference in cost per packet is so infinitesimal that they would be more than compensated by the sale of their products to the employee in the paper industry, whose purchasing power would be increased if local paper board were used. The slight reduction in landed cost that may be effected by seeking favorable terms from overseas manufacturers who are anxious to keep their mills running at full volume and anxious to give full employment to their people can possibly be overcome by imposing a rate of duty that will evaluate overseas costs against Australian costs. But this invites an increase in the price level right throughout the whole industry. By imposing a quantitative restriction, based on a demonstration by public inquiry before the Tariff Board that the price and quality of locally produced materials are competitive with normal overseas offerings, costs can be kept at a minimum based on full productive capacity.
A similar position is seen if we look at the carpet industry. Eight or nine of the world’s leading carpet manufacturers were induced to come to Australia and to set up factories here. They were encouraged, admittedly, by the umbrella of a protective market, but they had faith in the good intentions of the Government. The imposition of a duty would only increase the cost of carpets to users. In fact, it has been refused by the Tariff Board because the local factories are offering carpets at about the same price as similar carpets can be landed in Australia from people overseas who are trying to break into this market on the cheap and who are traditional competitors of those who have come here. By offering exclusive patterns and some rebates or concessions they induce importers to push their products to the detriment of the local industry. If the locally produced carpet was not as good or cost more, I would not mind, but when we know that it is only the cupidity of the retailer and the desire to line his own pocket that causes him to refuse to place orders with local factories, I am convinced that quantitative restrictions are the only way to handle the problem.
Nobody has yet told us what the method of applying quantitative restrictions is likely to be. I suggest that in the two instances I have given, and probably in similar ones such as chemicals, raw materials for plastic manufacture and other trades, some automotive components for local assemblers and some textiles such as worsted cloth or knitted outer wear, the basis should be expressed as a percentage of purchases. The extent of the market reserved for local producers would decide the actual figure. Assuming that it was decided that, say, 60 per cent, should be Australian, then any one seeking to purchase from overseas should receive a permit for 40 units provided that he could show orders placed with Australian manufacturers for 60 units. If he could show that the particular product he wanted was not competitively available from Australian sources, his permit would allow full importation.
There is no indication in the bill of the form of these permits to import. 1 want to impress on those concerned with drawing up the regulations under the bill that, where a quantitative restriction is decided upon, the permit should be only for the specific goods designated by a sub-heading in the tariff schedule, that there should be no question of interchangeability, and, also, that permits should be made out in the name of the importer only and be as nonnegotiable as a cheque marked “ Account Payee Only “.
I find this bill a most important step forward in the evolution of tariff-making. We have been told that further changes are in train for the Budget session. I welcome this as progressive thinking that will assist Australia’s development as a strong nation, standing securely on the basis of primary and secondary industries working together for the common good. I conclude by again asking that a full inquiry into the actual procedures and objectives of tariff-making should be undertaken as a long-term project to fit it into the sophisticated techniques of the modern world.
.- I rise in this debate to address an appeal to the Government to give adequate protection to small farmers who are suffering from the Government’s’ import policy. In particular, I refer to people such as peagrowers and citrus-growers, who are finding it very hard to make ends meet in their particular industries because of the continuation of the import policy of this Government. But, first, before I get on to that matter, I should like to deal with a few general questions, and, in particular, with some of the aspects raised by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) last night.
The Prime Minister said that quantitative restrictions - or import licensing - was an unscientific device. If that is so, and if quantitative restrictions have so many bad aspects, I find it very hard to understand why this Government continued the system from 10th March, 1952, until February, 1960 - a matter of eight years. If import licensing and quantitative restrictions had all these unsavoury aspects, why did the Government continue the system over that long period?
The Prime Minister said also that our overseas funds to-day are healthy and that, accordingly, he could not justify customs import licensing or quantitative restrictions.
The facts are that only twelve months ago this country was suffering from one of its most serious crises in its balance of payments. Australia, like all developing countries, traditionally must be short of overseas reserves. That is the history of all developing countries. It is, in particular, the history of this country, with certain exceptions such as the years immediately following the Second World War, when a Labour government was in office. Therefore, it stands to reason that we cannot expect the indefinite continuation of the present position in which we have reserves in London, especially as our present reserves have been almost completely built up on funds borrowed from the International Monetary Fund or the International Bank, or on funds borrowed privately. Honorable members will see, as the figures come through, that approximately £300,000,000 a year is being borrowed privately overseas in order to balance our payments.
Also, it is therefore hard to understand why it is necessary for the Government to bring forward legislation to authorize further borrowings from the International Bank, when the Prime Minister says that our overseas reserves position is so very sound. It does not make sense, lt is common sense that Australia, being a developing country upon which great demands will be made for the purchase overseas of capital equipment, should take every possible action to conserve its reserves. It cannot afford, so to speak, to go to the bank to borrow money so that it can spend it at the races. That is what this country is doing to-day. It is borrowing overseas to meet its import bill, which includes very many completely unessential items, many of which were outlined yesterday by the honorable member for Phillip (Mr. Einfeld).
I agree with the Prime Minister that the integrity of Sir Frank Meere is above suspicion. I do not think anybody will contest that, but he is only one of the special advisory authorities that may be appointed. Not all the matters will be determined merely by Sir Frank Meere. Therefore, the Prime Minister cannot say that because the integrity of one of the authorities is above reproach, his whole measure is above reproach. I feel that, basically, we should have regard to the fact that the Government made a very serious mistake in changing its policy in February, 1960, when it wiped out import licensing. It should take action to rectify that mistake. Instead, it is going in for piece-meal legislation. When one looks at this bill one sees that there is very little to it. Basically it is no different from the legislation of 1960. The only difference is that it allows for quantitative restrictions as a second line - not a first line - of defence. With that exception, this legislation does not increase the power to impose quantitative restrictions which already exists under the import licensing regulations.
The Prime Minister raised a number of questions in his address to the House last evening. There is little doubt that he addressed himself not to this side of the House but to his own side, because he obviously was very concerned about the divisions which exist on his side of the chamber between the free-traders and the protectionists. Apparently, some crisis is arising in his own ranks, for he found it necessary to come into the House last evening and address himself almost solely to honorable members on the Government side and he almost completely ignored the Opposition. At any rate, he said that, basically, these measures would not alter the existing legislation very much. Once again, one wonders: Why is the Government bringing down the measures that are now before us?
I believe that I should bring forward this basically important question of the protection of the small farmer, because, in my electorate, I have what may be described as large pockets of small farmers. In the Windsor area, the areas surrounding Glenorie, Galston and Dural, and the area extending from Windsor through Richmond to Kurrajong, there are large numbers of farmers who supply Sydney for a great part of the year with its vegetables. That area is also one of the main citrus-growing areas in New South Wales. In the last year Mr. Deputy Speaker, those farmers have experienced one of the greatest depressions they have ever had. They are having a tough time. Last year, they were getting for citrus products prices something like only 50 per cent, of those received in the previous year. They have also experienced very serious floods, which have made the position even worse. Accordingly, those farmers are very much upset by the import policy of this Government, which is allowing into Australia completely unessential products such as citrus juice and peas, and also timber, which will be dealt with by the honorable member for Cowper (Mr. McGuren).
Let me deal with the question of citrus juice. I have received a number of telegrams on this matter. On Tuesday I received one from the secretary of the Hawkesbury Citrus Growers Association, in these terms -
Citrus-growers register emphatic protest on import of Californian citrus juices. Over-production of all citrus including juices and concentrates have placed growers in serious financial plight. Please place facts before Minister.
Another telegram which I received came from the secretary of the Arcadia-Galston branch of the Agricultural Bureau of New South Wales. It was as follows: -
Please give urgent support to our representation to Ministers for Primary Industries and Trade re implementation of Juice Import Advisory Panel request for restriction of imports of citrus juices. Citrus growers of this district are concerned and alarmed at promotion campaign of Sunkist organisation currently being conducted on Australian markets.
Californian fruit juices are being imported at a time when approximately 1,000,000 gallons of fruit juice lies in store in this country and cannot be sold. Surely this is not logical.
I was very pleased indeed to hear the honorable member for Robertson (Mr. Dean) wake from his reverie this morning and support me in this matter by backing up the question which I asked here last Tuesday, and I am very much indebted to him for his support. I was very pleased to find, from the answer given to him this morning by the Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Swartz), who represents in this place the Acting Minister for Trade (Senator Henty), that the Department of Trade has now looked further into the matter and that some action is being taken on the tariff aspect to overcome the problem. But, basically, Mr. Deputy Speaker, this will not overcome the problem, because it amounts merely to closing the stable door after the horse has got away, because this action is taken only when the industry has already been put in a very serious position by a flood of imports. Until the industry is placed in that very serious position, it is not realized that action has to be taken. The only way in which we can adequately overcome the problem of an industry such as this is by introducing quantitative restrictions or import licensing. At a time when this country, as I said earlier, should be conserving its overseas reserves in every way possible, it is completely illogical to allow into Australia imports of fruit juices, peas and other completely unessential items, or items which, I may say more correctly, are already over-produced in this country, especially when they are the products of industries which are essential to our economic development.
Imports of peas are a good example, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The honorable member for Phillip last evening cited some figures, and I think it is important to look at them. In the year ended 36th June, 1961, approximately 8,000,000 lb. weight of peas was imported, to the value of £A. 805, 506. From 1st July, 1961, to 28th February, 1962, 12,765,389 lb. weight of peas was imported, to a total value of £A.1,007,365. In other words, imports of peas increased from a rate of about £A.800,000 a year to a rate of more than £A1,000,000 in eight months. Imports of this item have steadily increased, and, despite repeated appeals by growers, the Government has refused to take any action to check these imports.
– What about the present tariff? What is it?
– I am making the point here that, basically, the tariff will not overcome the problem. That is the important point which we on this side of the House are making. This problem can be overcome only by quantitative restrictions and import licensing. So I appeal to the Government to look at this question, Mr. Deputy Speaker. It must look at the question and try to admit its mistake of February, 1960. I realize that the Government made a mistake then, and I think that most honorable members opposite know that a mistake was made. As a result of that mistake, this country has passed through one of the worst recessions in its history.
Our overseas reserves are now temporarily in a reasonable state because the Government has borrowed heavily overseas in order to build up those reserves. But
Australia is a country which cannot afford to go on in this way. We are a young, developing country with a great destiny. We are a young country which must at all times buy capital equipment overseas. We are a young country which must, traditionally, have a chronic overseas reserves crisis. Accordingly, we must take action to conserve those reserves. But the matter is not just one of conserving overseas reserves, ft is of vital importance to our economy that we help and protect all sections of Australian industry and that we help all our industries to grow. This is very vital when we come to consider the small primary producer - the nian whom members of the Australian Country Party opposite should be going out of their way to protect at all costs. He is the man who must be looked after to-day. He plays a very important part in our community and we must see that he is looked after. We can do that only by introducing quantitative restrictions in order to prevent the importation of these completely unessential primary products which are already over-produced in this country.
– This debate is very interesting. I shall not go into fine detail, because we have had so much of that and, as the Whip of my party, I have been asking members to cut speeches down as we desire to get the measure through. My contribution, therefore, will not be of any great length. If we trace, briefly, the history of this country, we might get some idea, which honorable members already have, of the position in which we find ourselves at the present time. There is not the slightest doubt that after the discovery of this country the pastoral pioneers were the men who did the most to open it up. They threw for all the portal wide. People were then able to come here. Although Opposition members speak in derogatory terms of the pastoral pioneers because of the great areas of land that they had, they were the men who came to this country from overseas and put up with the heat and burden of the day. As Adam Lindsay Gordon said -
The hardest day was never then too hard.
This country is proud of the men who came to Australia as pastoral pioneers, and we should give thanks to them.
After they had been here for some time, we experienced the gold rushes which brought population speedily, much faster than would have been the case if we had had only the pastoral pioneers. After the gold petered out or, generally speaking, became unprofitable to mine, people had to turn to something more stable; and they turned to primary production, to agricultural and pastoral pursuits. These became the very foundation of the progress of Australia and they have continued to be of the greatest importance. If we are to continue to make in the future the progress we have made in the past, this Parliament and the people of Australia must see that we foster the main factors in our national wealth, the clipping of the golden fleece, the harvesting of the golden grain, and the cultivating of countless other products of the soil. After the gold rush period, there was an era when nothing much happened. Then came the First World War, which gave us the first indication that with improved communications the world was really a community of nations.
We passed on, for the time being, into a trough, and then we came to the Second World War, with all the great inventions it brought and the further improvements in communications. There were many great developments of which we had never before thought. We became, in effect, so close to other nations that we had to adopt different policies. We became a real community of nations, close together. We annihilated distance. To-day we find ourselves neighbours not only of Asia but also of the rest of the world. We can go overseas to the United Kingdom or to America in a matter of hours, whereas in pioneering times these journeys took two or three months.
In the meantime, primary production was steadily advancing. Secondary industries made rather slow progress until during and after the Second World War. With the introduction of our immigration programme which, of course, we all support, we got a greater population. That population went to the cities, for the simple reason that the primary industries were becoming mechanized and therefore did not require the same number of people as were formerly needed for work on the farms. So it was necessary to expand our factories and give people work in the cities. I spoke earlier to-day about population being largely concentrated in the cities, and I suggested that we needed decentralization of political representation in order to provide equal aggregate voting rights in the country for smaller numbers and to give the country a chance of progressing.
A little over twelve months ago, we came to a stage at which the secondary industries had priced themselves out of world markets, and the primary producer could not continue satisfactorily to produce goods and market them overseas because of the level of the wages structure of Australia. The irony of the situation was that secondary industries, having priced themselves out of world markets and being able to provide only 20 per cent, of our exports, expected the primary producers to buy all the goods they needed to enable them to produce, and also to provide 80 per cent, of our exports, selling them cheaply in countries with a lower standard of living and a lower price structure. What did the Government do? It brought in what we called the credit squeeze and it abolished import licensing. What immediate effect did those measures have? Combined, they had the effect of putting Australia into a position where it was over £200,000,000 better off than it had been previously, by reducing the hirepurchase debt by £60,000,000 or £70,000,000 and increasing our overseas balances to the highest level in a very long time.
Unfortunately, in the process certain people - a large number, which is reducing now - became unemployed. If we can get those men back into productive employment, having gained this great advantage of increased overseas balances and reduced hire-purchase debt, we shall be better for the process. The honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie) instanced cases where 20 per cent, of the men employed in factories had been dismissed yet the factories produced more than they had produced when they had their full complement of workers. He complained that now those factories were not re-employing the men displaced. Naturally, as a business proposition, if you can produce with 80 per cent, of the men as much as you produce with 100 per cent, you will not put the other 20 per cent, back on the pay-roll. Therefore, we have to find new places for these men. One of the measures taken by the Government was to grant £10,000,000 as a gift to the States. The lifting of import licensing allowed into this country certain goods that were not desirable for the full and satisfactory operation of our economy, as was pointed out by the honorable member for Mitchell (Mr. Armitage). This legislation is emergency legislation to bring about speedily some redress in relation to the importation of those goods. I took a note of a remark made earlier by the honorable member for Gellibrand (Mr. Mclvor). I thought that it was an appropriate statement although he did not mean it in the sense in which I shall use it. He said that after all the tumult and the shouting die down we shall be back where we were before. How true that is. The tumult and the shouting are the emergency measures being taken to give redress to those industries that are being harassed by certain importations. When that has died down, and this emergency legislation has played its part, the Tariff Board will take over. The honorable member for Gellibrand said that we would be back to where we were. That is so. The Tariff Board will be handling the position.
The honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) said that the Tariff Board was an excellent organization. He gave it his full support. The man who is to handle this emergency job is Sir Frank Meere. As the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) say that he is an excellent man and, for good measure, the honorable member for Lalor says that he does not know where we could find a better man, without knowing the man I am satisfied that he is all right.
– He is not the whole committee.
– No, but such a man at the top will have an influence on the committee and will be of great help to the organization of which he is in control. These new arrangements are meant to be used only in an emergency, and in deciding whether to use this legislation in a particular case we should have regard to a number of considerations. First, we should not give protection to an industry that is pricing its products out of the market by insisting on unreasonable profits. I believe that many industries which make fair profits are operating quite satisfactorily, but I would not expect Sir Frank Meere to take action to grant protection to an industry in which excess profits are being made.
As I say, this legislation is designed to be used in an emergency, and if it is used in the correct way I believe it will be successful. After all, whatever we do must be done in the right way. If it is a matter, for instance, of riding a push bike, you will fall to the ground if you do not ride in the correct manner. For these reasons I am supporting this legislation as an emergency measure for use only in the case of industries that can show that they have kept their prices down to a reasonable level.
There is not the slightest doubt that if we have to consider the position of an industry that has pushed up the costs of primary production, then we must lean to the side of the primary industries and give them preference. Honorable members who represent factory workers must realize that primary producers are responsible for 80 per cent, of our export income. The primary producer is the man who makes possible the import of the raw materials without which secondary industries could not continue to function satisfactorily.
I do not want to introduce a discordant note into the debate, but I feel I should say something about the Japanese Trade Agreement, because the honorable member for Lalor made a statement with which I cannot agree. As a matter of fact, I very seldom agree with the honorable member for Lalor. Some one asked the honorable member whether he approved of the Japanese Trade Agreement, and he said -
I am uncommitted. At the time the relevant legislation was passed by this Parliament 1 was abroad.
– Read the rest of it.
– I cannot read the whole of your speech. You went on -
I disagree strongly with this lack of effective protection for Australian industry.
– Read the lot of it.
– I cannot read the whole speech. That is the part in which you referred to the Japanese Trade Agreement, when you were asked whether you supported it or not. You said, “ I am uncommitted “. We know that Dr. Evatt and the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) and others gave an assurance that when the Labour Party came to occupy the treasury bench it would, at the first opportunity, rescind the Japanese Trade Agreement. The honorable member for Lalor says he was overseas at the time, but is he not a member of the Labour Party? Does he not agree with Labour Party policy? If 99 per cent, of the members of the Labour Party pledge themselves to a certain policy, can he be the 1 per cent, of the party remaining uncommitted? Of course he is committed! He is committed right up to the neck, and everybody knows it. I can tell the House quick and lively that if the honorable member were not committed it would not be long before he would have to resign from the Labour Party. If Labour came to office in this Parliament and brought in legislation to repudiate the Japanese Trade Agreement, would the honorable member get up in this House and say, “ We must not abolish this agreement “? Of course he is committed, completely committed. 1 do not need to labour that point. Let me now refer to another matter. It appears to me that the members of the Labour Party are too prone to listen to and take notice of rumours. Towards the end of his speech, the honorable member for Lalor, who is my personal friend, although my political enemy, said -
It is rumoured that Parliament is to adjourn before Easter and not resume sitting until August. Why does not the Government attend to the nation’s work?
This Government pays great attention to the nation’s work. When we hear honorable members opposite suggesting that the Government is not acting in the best interests of the country, all I can say is that those suggestions are completely without foundation.
Finally, let me say that a very prominent man in the Labour Party, Mr. Speed, in a broadcast on the Labour hour in Victoria, said that the Prime Minister of Australia is much more fitted to keep inflation in hand than a Labour government would be, for the simple reason that Labour policy could not operate within the framework of the existing private enterprise system.
– I raise a point of order, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Is this in any way relevant to a bill dealing with the Tariff Board?
– Order! There is no substance in the point of order. The honorable member’s remarks are as relevant to the bill as have been speeches made by other honorable members.
– To conclude my remarks on that aspect, Mr. Deputy Speaker, 1 point out that this Labour spokesman, Mr. Speed, said that the present Prime Minister could keep inflation in hand much more successfully than any Labour Government could do.
– What did he get for that?
– He got something for it, all right. He lost his nomination for the seat of Isaacs in the State election. He said that the Labour Government, if one came to office, could not operate within the existing framework of the private enterprise economy. [Quorum formed.]
I was trying to say, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that Mr. Speed claimed that the private enterprise economy could not be conducted to advantage by a Labour government without severe inflation being caused. In the three years available to it a Labour government would not be able to bring about a situation in which socialism could work, and it would most certainly be defeated at the next election.
The position now is this: We must give the primary producer a chance of buying on cheaper markets, or we will eventually have to subsidize all primary production in the way that the wheat industry is subsidized to a certain extent by the stabilization plan. I view with great concern the veiled threat to the industry that is evident in the question placed on the notice-paper by the honorable member for East Sydney. It is question No. 74. I have not time to read it now, but if honorable members will read it they will agree, I am sure, that the honorable member was not acting in the best interests of Australia in placing the question on the notice-paper.
Thank you for the good hearing you have given me. I will be with you on another occasion.
.- I am rather puzzled as to whether I should talk about the bill before the House or about the probable results of returning a Labour Government to power in this country.
– You should be puzzled as to why you are here at all.
– That is possibly quite true, but nevertheless I think the purpose of this debate should be to discuss the bill before the House. However, I suppose the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull) saw the leaves of the trees pointing in a certain direction in the wind, and so took the opportunity to disseminate a bit of propaganda.
The bill before the House deals with an important matter affecting Australia’s economy. It is a matter that is of interest not only to the protectionists on the one hand and the free traders on the other but also to all other Australians, because it affects their way of life and their way of earning a living. It calls for much more serious thought than the brief resume of the history of the early settlers of Australia given by the honorable member for Mallee. 1 shall seek an opportunity at a later date to discuss those matters with my honorable friend.
The fact is that in February of 1960 a change took place in the method of allowing goods to be imported into Australia, and the effect of that change has been felt throughout the economy of this country. The Government has introduced this measure with the object of expediting the making of decisions on applications by people who have been affected in some way or another by the flood of imports. Subsequently I shall touch on several points related to that matter. I have found it rather difficult to understand the lack of unanimity among Government supporters. Having listened to their speeches, one finds it rather difficult to know what they think of the measure.
The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) has told us that it is an emergency measure, designed to deal immediately with an emer gency situation, but the fact is that probably something like four months will elapse before action is taken in respect of any industry under this scheme. I believe that the special advisory authority will be allowed 30 days in which to report, and that another three months could elapse before his recommendations were agreed to or rejected by the Minister, who will retain the right to accept or reject. If this represents an expediting of tariff procedures, I feel that we have been awfully slow in the past in handling these matters. Many things could happen to a manufacturer or, for that matter, to an employee in a period of four months while a verdict on an application for protection was being awaited.
From 1952 to 1960 a system of import restrictions operated in this country, lt is strange that, in 1960, those restrictions suddenly became of not much consequence to Australia and were abandoned. There must have been a very good reason for that, and obviously the reason had something to do with the economy. At any rate, with the lifting of import restrictions we saw our economy take a back-slide, with the result that about 130,000 people were thrown out of work. If the only purpose was to promote a greater flow of imports, I must congratulate the Government. It was very successful; it did a marvellous job in that respect. But if that was not the only purpose, then, although I have listened carefully to this debate, I have not learned what the other purposes were.
I support the bill because I believe that, even if there may be a delay of four months before protection can be given and even though it may erect another hurdle to be surmounted by a man in trouble, it represents a step in the right direction. I must congratulate the Prime Minister on the speech he made last night, because it was a marvellous effort. I congratulate him upon his diction and upon the way he presented his arguments to the House, but I cannot congratulate him upon the contents of the speech. There was a lack of meat in it. One of my friends on the opposite side suggests that I could not understand the speech, but that is a matter of opinion. If the members of the Government parties understood the Prime Minister, they would not be with him.
I want to refer now to the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony). Somebody mentioned yesterday the effect that the lifting of import restrictions had had on the timber industry, and the honorable member ducked very smartly. He said something to the effect that timber belonged to the honorable member for Cowper. I believe the honorable member for Richmond is old enough to know some of the facts of life. There is a timber industry in his electorate, but apparently he did not care to talk about it. The facts are that the Australian timber industry had been adversely affected by an unrestricted inflow of timber to Australia. I do not want to be misunderstood on this. Australia Jacks certain types of wood. We lack softwood, for instance, and we have to import it. But, unfortunately, the imports did not stop there. Incidentally, we export considerable quantities of hardwood to other countries. Imports of timber have caused devastation in our timber industry. During the last couple of years, two appeals - another one that is coming up will make it three - have been made by the people running the timber industry to the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen), who is now overseas. He has been asked to restrict the inflow of timber to this country, but he has denied the industry any sort of protection. The industry has now made an application to Sir Frank Meere, in an effort to see what can be done in the field of quantitative restrictions. Such restrictions might be the best way to deal with the problems facing the industry.
Imports of timber caused the closing down at one stage of 75 per cent, of our mills. If you took the trouble to find out how much timber there is at grass in local mills and how much imported timber there is at grass in the saleyards in the cities, you would find that there is so much timber at grass that it will be a couple of years before it is used up and people previously employed in the Australian industry can return to their jobs. The timber industry has been trying to get some protection for eighteen months or two years. Therefore, I suggest that this bill, which offers the hope that something will be done within four months, is not before its time. In 1955, imports of wood, raw and manufactured - that is, logs and sawn timber - were 34,098,000 super, feet in the case of hardwood. As I have said, this country is a hardwood producer. By 1960, the imports of hardwood had risen to 60,010,091 super, feet. This country can grow hardwood very well. It grows along the whole of the east coast of Australia, right up to Cape York. As I have said, between 1955 and 1960, the imports of hardwood jumped from about 34,000,000 super, feet to about 60,000,000 super, feet. We find, too, that plywood is imported from Japan, and at this point it is interesting to note that within the past few days Japan has imposed quantitative restrictions. There has been some conjecture about the effects of those restrictions on Australian exports to Japan, such as wool and wheat. But the point is that Japan, a country which has developed, industrially, about fifteen or twenty times more than we have, has found it necessary to protect its industries. This is something that this Government should have done some time ago.
In 1955, imports of plywood into Australia totalled 13,830,000 square feet, but these imports had increased to 31,618,050 square feet by 1961. When that factor is associated with the credit squeeze, is it any wonder that we have had unemployment? Is it any wonder that the Australian plywood industry has been brought to its knees? Is it any wonder that on two occasions already, the industry has appealed to the Government to do something urgently, and is now planning a further appeal? This is what we have to consider when we talk about the effects of this bill.
I heard an honorable member suggest that we should auction rights to import goods. That is an extraordinary suggestion because from what I know of auction sales, such a system would not stop malpractices. If a man has bought something at an auction sale, he can sell it again even if he does not go back to the sale. So that does not appear to be the answer. The Government should have the courage to face up to its responsibilities and give this important industry an opportunity to survive.
I do not know what influences may be brought to bear on these issues but apparently they are strong. I heard the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) speak about bribery, corruption and graft. I know nothing of those things and it is unfortunate that he has heard about them, but that is where good government should come in. That is where you expect the Government to act.
I believe also that the situation has to be faced in other ways. The honorable member for Phillip (Mr. Einfeld) referred to quite an extraordinary number of imports that have affected Australian industries. I know of one that perhaps has not been considered. It is allied with the timber industry - I speak of furniture made of wood or partly made of wood. The figures relating to imports of these goods between 1957 and 1961 present an extraordinary picture. Imports in 1957 were valued, in Australian currency, at £162,961, compared with £773,025 in 1961. So, in five years, the value of imports of furniture increased by 374 per cent. What effect did those imports have on the Australian furniture industry? This increase of imports meant simply that local manufacturers were put out of business.
In such a case, one would expect the Government to act in the interests of Australian industry through this bill. This measure is said to be the forerunner of a bill of a more permanent nature which will be introduced later. We are told that the aim of this legislation is to cover a transition period pending the preparation of more substantial legislation. If that is so, I hope the Government takes note of the really important thing, and that is the economic future of the people of Australia.
.- I have not time to answer the honorable member for Cowper (Mr. McGuren) on all that he said. Nevertheless, there are one or two matters on which I should like to make some comment. In the first place, he claimed that he was not able to follow the speech of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and he added that the right honorable gentleman had said nothing significant. 1 listened carefully to the Prime Minister and I thought that he expressed himself very clearly and that, as is his habit, he went right to the nub of the matters under debate.
The second point I want to make is a small one, but it is of some significance as it has been mentioned by three or four honorable members on the Opposition side. It has been alleged that protection afforded by this bill will last for only three months. This, of course, is absurd. The protection will last for three months after the final report has been submitted by the Tariff Board to the Minister. After the special authority has heard a case and has made a recommendation to the Minister, it may take anything up to twelve months before the matter is heard in full by the Tariff Board. Then when the board has made its report, another three months has to elapse before the emergency duty or the quota restriction lapses by effluxion of time. In the meantime, of course, during that three months, the Minister has an opportunity to impose a permanent duty should that be the recommendation of the Tariff Board. The protection, in effect, will last for fifteen months on the average, and will become permanent on the recommendation of the Tariff Board if, after a full hearing, the board is satisfied that the protection should be extended and the Minister implements the recommendation, as he normally would. This is so obvious that I hesitated to occupy the time of the House in mentioning it, but since it has been mentioned from the Opposition side, perhaps the position should be set straight.
I ask: Why was this bill brought forward? The Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Swartz) in his second-reading speech stated the reason as follows: - . . conditions in international trading could change so rapidly the Government must have machinery available to enable speedy action to be taken to safeguard industries, primary and secondary, which are vulnerable to some unforeseeable competition from overseas suppliers.
We all recall that in August, 1960, the Government introduced legislation to amend the Tariff Board Act to achieve precisely this for the same reasons. At that time, emergency procedures were provided for by way of a speedy inquiry by a deputy chairman of the Tariff Board - I believe there are two deputy chairmen - and the kind of recommendation required could be made to the Minister expeditiously as is now proposed in this measure. If the purpose could be served by this speedy machinery, why is it necessary to bring forward this bill?
What special features of this bill distinguish it from the earlier emergency legislation? As I see it there are two. The first - the task of recommending such temporary assistance - has been removed from the deputy chairmen of the Tariff Board and given to a special advisory authority, although, indeed, the special authority will proceed in much the same way as the deputy chairmen of the Tariff Board have proceeded in the past. Secondly - and this is perhaps the major innovation - the deputy chairmen may recommend only an increased duty, whereas the special authority may recommend a “ quantitative restriction “.
Why is a special authority necessary? Why is it that the deputy chairmen of the Tariff Board are not able to carry out their task effectively? The Minister has given three reasons. First, he says that this procedure will release the deputy chairmen from these special duties, so that they may devote the whole of their time to the normal business of the Tariff Board. It has been suggested that there has been great delay in obtaining decisions from the Tariff Board. That has been negatived, 1 think, by speeches that have already been made in this House, lt is quite clear that there has not been inordinate delay in regard to decisions of the Tariff Board.
Secondly, the Minister indicates that it may be embarrassing to the Tariff Board to have to review a decision of one of its members - a deputy chairman - and perhaps come to a different conclusion. That suggestion also, I think, has been exploded in the course of the debate. There is no need for me to go into details. Anybody who reads “ Hansard “ or who has listened to the debate will know that that argument has been answered. Thirdly, it is suggested - and this is perhaps more important - that a special authority, because of his cast of mind and the method that he may use, is likely to be more expeditious in reaching a conclusion. That is probably so, because the Tariff Board procedure is normally more leisurely and perhaps more thorough, and anybody schooled in that procedure and that thoroughness may indeed be included - and this is no reflection on him - to take rather longer than the special authority would.
It may be that a special authority would be more sympathetic to industry. This may be sinister, or it may not be. It could be that there is a need for a different attitude in regard to temporary protection. For my part, I would be very sympathetic towards temporary protection, because, after all, the matter is one that has to be reviewed later, after full inquiry. If there is a greater bias towards giving temporary protection by a special authority, 1 have no quarrel with that.
However, the really important innovation in this legislation is in regard to the quantitative restrictions that can now be imposed by the special authority. The reason for this was explained by the Minister, and I think his comment is worth repeating. At page 864 of “Hansard” of 15th March, 1962, the Minister is reported as having said - . . the Government has recognized the particular difficulties of certain Australian industries where production efficiency and a reasonable cost level require the maintenance of a continuing high volume of output. Where an inflow ot imports has reduced the Australian industry’s share of the market so as to make an otherwise stable industry unprofitable and even, perhaps, uneconomic, it may be more appropriate to apply a quantitative limitation of imports, rather than a temporary duty.
Another circumstance which may warrant temporary protection through import restrictions may be that substantial reduction of domestic demand resulting from general economic circumstances operating in Australia may reduce an Australian industry to a serious situation unless the volume of imports is temporarily diminished.
These sets of circumstances are given for purposes of illustration only.
So, Sir, that is the sole justification that the House has before it for the introduction of this new method of protection. It has, of course, been used for other purposes in the past, such as to conserve foreign exchange, but on this occasion it is to be used to provide protection, a new purpose for which quantitative restrictions are to be used.
I shall go on to discuss matters arising from that in a moment, but in the meantime I want to say, while dealing more specifically with the bill, that I should like the Minister, when he replies to the debate, to clarify one point in the bill. If the authority recommends a duty he must also recommend the rate of duty, and the Minister may then impose a duly not exceeding the rate specified by the authority.
On the other hand the situation is rather different in the case of a quantitative restriction. If the authority recommends a quantitative restriction he must, in the words of the bill, indicate the extent to which the protection should be so provided. This runs parallel, of course, to the recommendation of a duty where the authority must recommend the amount of the duty. Here the authority must recommend the extent to which the protection should be provided. However, there is no limitation on the Minister to impose a quantitative restriction within the extent so indicated.
There is nothing parallel to this position when it comes to quantitative restrictions. Proposed new section 18f states simply -
The reference is to goods that are the subject of the recommendation. The proposed section does not say “ only to the extent indicated by the authority “. 1 believe that this point should be clarified. As I read the provision at the moment, the authority will simply say: “ I recommend a quantitative restriction, and I recommend that this should be the extent of it. We should bring into this country only so many tons, pounds or units of a particular type of goods.” But the Minister may then limit himself to that amount or to any other amount that he chooses, so far the bill is concerned. I think the Minister should clarify the position in that respect.
My main concern is that the bill presages a further, more permanent measure. I have no deep quarrel with the present bill and with its intention to provide a temporary protection, but I notice that it does presage the introduction of a permanent measure. That appears, first, from the very bones of the bill, and secondly, from what has been specifically stated by the Minister. Under this bill, where a temporary duty is imposed the board has power to extend it after a full hearing, but where a quantitative restriction is imposed the board at present has no power to extend it. After a limited time, about which I spoke at the beginning of my observations, a quantitative restriction must lapse. At the moment, there is no power in the board to extend the period of quantitative restrictions, and therefore it has to be presumed either that the Minister will fall back on the power that he already possesses under earlier legislation to continue to impose quantitative restrictions after they have lapsed, or that the Government proposes to bring down a permanent measure giving this power to the board before these special protective measures have time to lapse - one or the other.
This means a radical departure from previous practice in regard to protection. Let me say right at the outset, because in some ways I intend to be critical of what is proposed, that I am one who believes that the employment of our growing Australian work force involves the expansion of secondary industry. The Prime Minister has quite properly stated that proposition and, indeed, it is in line with papers delivered by very authoritative people at the Summer School of the Australian Institute of Political Science which was held in Canberra about two months ago. lt is only secondary industry that can employ our growing work force, and therefore, the growth of secondary industry is vital to Australia. I make that clear in case what I have to say from now on may be misunderstood. May I say, Sir, that my father was an Australian manufacturer in the early days of Australian industry. When I was a boy, at a time when gentlemen thought it beneath their dignity to wear Australianmade cloth or Australian-made shoes, in our household we used Australian-made articles. I still do, and lots of other people do so to-day, too. As I have said, I make that comment lest what I have to say from now on should be misunderstood.
It appears, then, that the great issue is whether quantitative restrictions are to become a permanent feature of our protective system. If so, certain consequential questions arise. What criteria are to be applied when it is decided that quantitative restrictions are preferable to a tariff in particular cases? Is this form of protection likely to cover a small part of the field, as the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) and, I think, the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) suggested, or a substantial part of the field or the major part of the field? Opinions may differ on this matter. Indeed, they have differed already. But it does occur to me in a very wide range of industry it can be shown that in view of overhead in an industry employing a good deal of capital a great reduction in costs can be achieved by means of a larger output. Indeed, a very large number of industries, if this is to be the sole criterion, ms.y be able to seek protection by way of quantitative restrictions.
If quantitative restrictions become the rule rather than the exception - this is the second big question arising out of this new departure - what agency of the Government is best adapted to handle the administration of quantitative restrictions which must be varied frequently and expeditiously as new firms may come into the field, and for other reasons? It could well be that the Tariff Board, with its inevitably more thorough methods, is not able to handle quantitative restrictions if these are to become the rule rather than the exception. I point out that this is something which at present I would deeply regret.
Here let me express some fears. No one can be dogmatic about these things. The honorable member for Mackellar knows that quantitative restrictions will have to be applied very seldom. The Prime Minister has been sanguine about this, but I do not think that any one can be dogmatic. Quantitative restrictions may spread over a large part of the field and 1 express the fear that we then could slide back into that type - I shall not say system - of restrictions which we experienced during recent years. Then the object of quantitative restrictions was to conserve foreign exchange. The restrictions operated on vague principles and in the belief that they were only temporary. The effect was the encouragement of inefficient and uneconomic industries, putting a premium on the development of luxury industries and giving certain monopoly or quasi-monopoly advantages to traditional or fortunate importers. It meant all kinds of anomalies and injustices, as all honorable members know because we had to deal with these things. It meant resentment flowing from the fact that decisions were arrived at secretly; and, above all, it resulted in the inflation of costs and prices to the great detriment of export industries which were dependent upon overseas prices that we could not control. We do not want to slide back into that situation.
It may be said, of course, that we have no intention of doing anything like that. But suppose that for the purpose of conserving foreign exchange it should again become necessary to prescribe cures. Then we shall have another group of quantitative restrictions superimposed upon those which were designed for a different purpose to protect certain classes of Australian industries. I suggest that it would be very hard to distinguish the two types of quantitative control, and we should have slid back into the old system with all the disadvantages that I have enumerated already, unless, indeed, the Government has in mind meeting another exchange crisis in another way either by devaluation or by some other means.
Now let me express some hopes. I would assume that the object of the permanent legislation should be to spell out the circumstances which are deemed to justify the assuring of the whole or a defined part of the home market for local products. That is, what are the criteria in deciding between quantitative restrictions and tariffs as an appropriate form of protection? I should hope that there would be some safeguards because I accept, in regard to exploitation by manufacturers, the argument of the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly) and the honorable member for Wannon in regard to the effect that quantitative restrictions are likely to have upon costs and prices. Others may hold a different view, but I believe that once you give a monopoly, or something like a monopoly, to a number of producers you will find that there is a tendency for costs and prices to rise.
Section 15 (1.) of the Tariff Board Act provides some control of undue prices. It states - 15.- (1.) The Minister shall refer to the Board for inquiry and report the following matters: -
any question whether a manufacturer is taking undue advantage of the protection afforded him by the Tariff, and in particular in regard to his -
In those circumstances the Tariff Board can take action if required to do so by the Minister. But in fact this section of the act has never been used. Without going into the reasons, let us assume from the fact that it never has been used that for some reason or other it is not very effective.
– But it is effective.
– You may think so, but -that is an unusual view which had not occurred to me. The Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) is proposing to bring down legislation to deal with restrictive trade practices. This is to be welcomed because if manufacturers are to be given this form of protection and the dangers of exploitation arise the case for the introduction of legislation relating to restrictive trade practices which will ensure some competition within the Australian market becomes all the more necessary. I shall welcome it.
These safeguards become necessary because a tariff is an automatic form of price control. If prices get out of hand the local manufacturer is faced with competition. The other side of the coin is this: Not only will you have quantitative restrictions which will give protection for Australian manufacturers but you will also have to issue licences to importers. We remember all the difficulties which arose in this connexion in the past. I do not want to go into this matter in detail. I believe there is great merit in what the honorable member for Mackellar and, I think, the honorable member for Wannon, have put forward. That is, that there should be a very careful look at the possibility of publishing in the Government “ Gazette “ details of the licences that are granted, and that the Government should consider the question of auctioning licence’s. These two matters have been covered by the honorable members I have mentioned.
However, I believe that the most important thing 1 have to say is that permanent legislation should not be framed until after the inquiry into the future envisaged for Australian industry both primary and secondary. It is important for a high-level inquiry to map out the new frontiers for secondary industry. Where should we advance? Where should we hold the line? Where should we perhaps withdraw in some directions? We should be able to put up the green light to some industries so that they can go ahead, and the red light to others to indicate that they can go so far and no farther. It is true that the Tariff Board has power to conduct such an inquiry if the Minister so wishes, but it has never done so and owing to the pressure of normal business with which it is concerned it would never have time to do so.
The Tariff Board should be given a guide. It should be given some course to pursue in dealing with industries that it protects and industries that it does not protect. The inquiry should be conducted along the lines suggested by Sir John Crawford. I have raised this matter in the House on previous occasions, but I know that good things can be said many times before anybody listens to them. Sir John Crawford’s views are reported in “Canberra Comment” of 15th January, 1 962, in an article entitled “ Economic Inquiry - What Kind?”. In that article Sir John relates tariff policy to the whole gamut of economic problems that beset Australia. Long-run tariff problems, he says, are part of a wider inquiry. He states -
What policies in the next ten years will best serve the economic objectives of a full employment economy growing both in terms of population and income (totals and per head)?
Whether such a broad inquiry is possible before the permanent legislation forecast by the Minister is brought down I do not know, but I would1 think not. It seems to me that any such permanent legislation will have to be brought down next August, September or October. But if an inquiry of the kind that Sir John Crawford envisaged is set in motion now, it would surely be possible for it to submit an interim report on the whole question of the tariff before permanent legislation is introduced. In any event, the Minister still has power, under a previously existing act that has never been repealed and which was used when the old quota restrictions were in operation, to continue this temporary system of protection until we have a really full inquiry to see where we are going.
I do not think it is fair to the Tariff Board to let it go along from day to day without some guidance as to where Australian industry is going. The most important submission that I make is this: Although I support the temporary measures that are proposed, I would be very sorry to see the permanent measure brought down unless mature consideration was given to the entire question in its proper context by an inquiry of the kind to which I have referred. 1 have no real hope that the Government will hold such an inquiry, but if it does not I believe that it will be wrong and that I will be right.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Cairns) adjourned.
– by leave - The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) has asked the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) whether 1 would submit a resolution in the same terms as that recommended by the Commonwealth Prime Ministers’ Conference. 1 had thought that perhaps that was unnecessary in the light of the fact that the resolution had already been tabled in this House, and in view of the fact that we quite plainly still supported them. 1 thought that a statement to that effect in the course of the debate would be adequate. 1 had intended to include the resolution in the annex attached to the statement I made in the House this afternoon and which will appear in “ Hansard “. However, I find that no arrangements had been made for the inclusion of this so, with the concurrence of honorable members, 1 shall incorporate the document in “ Hansard “. lt will appear in the annex that, with the consent of the House, is to be incorporated at the conclusion of the statement made earlier this afternoon.
The House will recall that in my statement this afternoon I referred to some proposals for limitation of nuclear weapons and the creation of nuclear free zones. I said that Australia, along with some other nations, had not been- able to agree to some of those proposals. I referred to some of the proposals, which are to be incorporated in the annex that will appear in “ Hansard “. The Secretary-General of the United
Nations had written to me on an earlier occasion asking me, pursuant to and in the terms of one of the proposals, to furnish him with the views of the Government. This I had done. The Government’s answer had not been published as of to-day to my knowledge but apparently it has been released in New York. In the circumstances, I think it only proper that the Government’s answer should be released in this House and, with the concurrence of honorable members, the Secretary-General’s request and the Government’s reply will appear with the annex that is to be incorporated in “ Hansard “.
Sitting suspended from 5.52 to 8 p.m.
– Mr. Speaker, the Tariff Board Bill, which is the 1962 amendment in a series of amendments that have been made by the Government to the Tariff Board structure in recent years, is the result of a recognition that the state of affairs existing in the making of tariffs in Australia is indeed very far from satisfactory. Not only have we seen the accumulated evidence of delay in the time which the Tariff Board takes to consider applications for adjustments of tariffs, but we have also, during the course of this debate and earlier, listened to arguments, coming largely from the other side of the House, to the effect that tariff protection has gone too far in Australia; that there has been over-expansion in a number of secondary industries and that in many places in industry there is inefficiency and that altogether the state of affairs in the development of secondary industry in Australia is not a very happy one. In those circumstances the Government has from time to time in the last two or three years faced these problems and this is the second important amendment of the Tariff Board Act resulting from the facing of those problems.
The first question which I wish to answer in this debate is: What does this bill do? The bill repeals section 17a of the principal act and substitutes for it, by clause 15, a new section, section 18a. That is the substitution of one procedure for dealing with urgent cases for another procedure. I think that those two procedures should at first be compared. Section 17a of the act establishing the 1960 procedure adopted by the Government for dealing with urgent cases, states - (1.) Where it appears to the Minister that urgent action may be necessary to protect an Australian industry, in relation to the importation of any goods, pending receipt and consideration of a report of the Board in relation to those goods, he may request the Chairman to arrange for a Deputy Chairman of the Board to undertake an inquiry.
There were two deputy chairmen. If, after inquiry, the deputy chairman considered it necessary for the matter to be treated as urgent he could recommend a duty. A later section empowered the Minister to make arrangements to collect that duty. This temporary duty was to operate for three months after the receipt of the report of the Tariff Board dealing with the matter. This was a procedure designed to deal with urgent cases. That procedure was made the law of this country just a short time ago, in 1960. Now, after a very short time, the Government sees fit to substitute for it another method of dealing with such cases. Let us look at what clause IS has to say about this other method. This method runs along, in many ways, in similar manner to the old method. The clause provides that where it appears to the Minister that urgent action may be necessary to protect an Australian industry, pending the receipt of the report the Minister may require, not a deputy chairman of the Tariff Board, as before, but a special advisory authority, to inquire. Where that special advisory authority considers it proper to treat the matter as a matter for urgent action he may recommend either a temporary duty or a temporary restriction of imports or a combination of both. I emphasize those words, and will return to them a little later - “ a temporary duty or a temporary restriction of imports “. Here there is an additional procedure. The report of the special advisory authority has to be made as soon as possible, and not later than 30 days after receipt of the request for the inquiry. After receipt of the report the Minister may then act to collect the duty. This duty or temporary restriction of imports is not to operate after the expiration of a period of three months after the date when the Minister receives the final report from the Tariff Board.
Compare these two methods - the I960 method and the proposed method of dealing with urgent cases. There is, in effect, very little difference between them. I think it is a photo finish. Some speakers on the Government side have given the impression that the new machinery is very different machinery from the other. But if you compare the two methods as I have you will see that the difference consists, first, of the fact that a special advisory authority is to be used instead of a deputy chairman of the Tariff Board. How much difference does that make? It consists also of the fact that the authority may recommend a temporary restriction on imports in addition to a temporary duty. I think that as we go along and see what those words mean we will see that that makes very little difference either.
Before doing that I would like to ask a question and seek to answer it. Why the change? When the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) introduced in 1960 the bill to make law the old method of dealing with urgency cases he was very confident that that method was going to work wonders for the Australian economy. I refer the House to the last few words of the speech of the Minister for Trade when he introduced this method, which has lasted for just over eighteen months. He then said -
For this reason the Government has been careful to ensure that its proposals to meet to-day’s changing circumstances adhere entirely to the Tariff Board system.
These bills are in the nature of an evolution of that system of tariff making. The powers being sought in the bills now before the House will enable adequate protection to be accorded to economic and efficient industries in to-day’s conditions.
The Minister was quite confident that that method was going to do the trick. He said -
The powers being sought in the bills now before the House will enable adequate protection to be accorded to economic and efficient industries in to-day’s conditions.
But that method, which the Minister for Trade was so sure about in 1960, has lasted just over eighteen months. Can we have any more confidence that the second method of dealing with urgency cases is going to last any longer than for the next eighteen months? What are the reasons for the failure of the Government’s method of dealing with urgency cases? I am pleased that the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly) is here, because he dealt with some of those reasons, and I refer the House back to them, because no speaker for the Government since the honorable member for Wakefield spoke - including the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), who had half an hour of the time of the House last night in which to try to deal with this matter but evidently overlooked the questions raised by the honorable member for Wakefield - has dealt with them. The honorable member said that the procedure was to introduce a special authority. He asked -
Were the deputy chairmen not giving the Minister for Trade or the Department of Trade the answers they wanted? Were the deputy chairmen not sufficiently amenable to ministerial direction?
Has the honorable member for Wakefield - a Government supporter who apparently is in the know in relation to these matters - got on to something? He continued -
We all remember how the wrong answer came back after three inquiries - into polyethylene, artificial fibre piece goods and pile carpets - and how the Minister sent those matters back to the deputy chairmen for another trial, as it were. In two instances, the desired answer came back the second time.
So the Minister was able to change the opinions of the deputy chairmen in two instances, according to the honorable member for Wakefield. He went on to say -
But, in the case of pile carpets, the deputy chairmen stood firm. Are these new special advisers to be more amenable to ministerial direction and to come back quickly with the desired answer in their hot little hands?
The honorable member for Wakefield said that this bill was a terrible bill, but he intended to vote for it. He implied, Mr. Speaker, that he opposed it only because he feared that the act would be mishandled if it came into the hands of a Labour government. 1 do not think the honorable member for Wakefield was being completely frank in that respect, because he accused the Minister for Trade of having influenced deputy chairmen of the Tariff Board on at least two occasions and having persuaded them to change their minds. That was not something that will happen in the future. The
Minister for Trade is wandering over Europe at the moment. He was mentioned twice in the British newspapers up to 27th March. He was given four lines on the front page of the “ Daily Mail “ when he arrived in London. An Australian test bowler, who has become engaged, was given six lines on the same page on the same day. This Minister, whom members of the Australian Country Party are so keen to defend, was, in effect, accused by the honorable member for Wakefield of having used influence upon deputy chairmen of the Tariff Board on two occasions in order to get them to change their views.
The honorable member for Wakefield asks, in effect, “Is the new procedure adopted so that the Minister can do that more readily? “ What does he have to say about Sir Frank Meere? Does he think that Sir Frank is a person who is likely to be more amenable to the Minister’s influence than the deputy chairmen of the Tariff Board? Is that what he is saying? Of course he is saying that by implication; but, like most of the critics of the Government from his side of the House, he is not prepared to follow his criticism through to the common-sense or logical conclusion. I want to know whether the Government is adopting this new method so that it can use influence more readily on the special adviser. The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon), who is at the table, is always ready with information. Presumably he is to follow me in this debate. I am quite sure that he will be able to answer the honorable member for Wakefield. He will know what is in the mind of the Government in relation to this matter. In a few minutes I will sit down, confident that the Minister for Labour and National Service will tell us all about it.
In case he does not find it very easy to deal with the criticisms made by the honorable member for Wakefield - they have been ignored by the Prime Minister and every other speaker from the Government side of the House for well over 48 hours - and in case the Minister does not face up to those criticisms either, I want to mention another possible reason for the Government’s change of front on this matter. In the legislation introduced because of the total inability of the Tariff Board, plus the 1960 urgency machinery, to do the job that is before the board? Is it a fact that the Tariff Board at the present time is, and for a number of years has been, totally incapable of doing the job that it has to do? Is it not a fact that the Government, after having to adopt an urgency procedure in 1960 in order to get rid of the accumulated work and having found that procedure to be unsatisfactory for some reason, now in 1962, a little more than eighteen months later, has to introduce another procedure? Is that not evidence that the Tariff Board and the Tariff Board method are quite incapable of doing the job?
The next point to which I should like to direct attention is the existence of a number of obvious gaps in the 1962 machinery. Let us leave aside the probability that the Tariff Board method? cannot handle this problem and let us concentrate attention on the 1962 machinery - this urgency machinery that the Government has designed after eighteen months of failure to meet the situation. Let us look at what the Government has done after eighteen months of experience and attention to new legislation. First of all, honorable members on both sides of the House who have spoken in this debate have assumed that this legislation gives the special authority power to fix quantitative restrictions, which are so feared by members of the Country Party and members like the honorable member for Wakefield. I challenge that concept altogether. I doubt whether this new authority has any power, or is intended to have any power, to fix quantitative restrictions at all.
In order to show that that is not the position, I shall refer to the second-reading speech of the Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Swartz), who made the speech on behalf of the Minister for Trade. In the early part of his speech he referred to quantitative restrictions. He said -
That is, the provisions of the bill - however, provide more clearly for the use of quantitative restrictions as a temporary protection measure and lay down certain safeguards on their continuance.
He was quite specific about that. He used the term “ quantitative restrictions “. On the next page of his speech he said -
The Government has always recognized that, in special circumstances, quantitative restrictions could be necessary . . .
He used the term “ quantitative restrictions “ again. He continued his speech, and when he came to the gist of the matter he said -
Moreover, honorable members may recall that the Government has, in fact, used temporary protective restrictions …
Honorable members will see the slide away from “ quantitative restrictions “ in two earlier references to “ temporary protective restrictions “. I ask the Minister for Labour and National Service to tell us whether temporary protective restrictions are, in fact, quantitative restrictions. I ask that question because the Minister for Repatriation went on to say that the Government had already used temporary protective restrictions, and those are the words that appear in this bill. Never once in this bill do the words “ quantitative restrictions “ appear. What appears in this bill is the term that the Minister led up to and used - namely, “ temporary protective restrictions “. He said - the Government has, in fact, used temporary protective restrictions in isolated instances in the past, such as printed cotton textiles, footwear and small internal combustion engines.
This morning I went to the trouble of obtaining the Tariff Board reports on those three matters that were used by the Minister for Repatriation as illustrations of the use of temporary protective restrictions, which is what is provided in this amending bill. In every one of those cases, Mr. Speaker, an additional tariff was imposed.
– That was afterwards.
– Were quantitative restrictions applied to any of those three commodities at any stage?
– If that is the position, I would very much appreciate the Minister mentioning the details of them. The report on printed cotton textiles was made on 17th June, 1959; the report on internal combustion engines was made on 12th October, 1961; and the report on footwear was made on 9th November, 1959. Not in one place in any of those reports are quantitative restrictions mentioned, and I cannot find anywhere about this House or in the Library any evidence of their being mentioned.
– The authority set up to deal with the Japanese agreement recommended them.
– I would have appreciated that information if the Minister had given it in greater detail in his second-reading speech. Assuming that we accept the position that this new procedure, ending up in the Minister for Trade, allows the Government to impose quantitative restrictions, the question that I raise now is this: For how long can these restrictions apply? The Tariff Board itself has no power to impose quantitative restrictions. There is power to do so under the Customs Act. Presumably that would enable the Government to act. For how long does the Government expect these quantitative restrictions to apply?
The next question that I raise in regard to this legislation is this: If quantitative restrictions are to be imposed, how will they be imposed? If the authority says that there shall be certain quantitative restrictions in a certain field, that means that there will be less imports in that field. That, in turn, means that the people who have been importing in the past will have reduced quantities allocated to them. How will this be done? There has been no mention in the Minister’s speech or anywhere else of import licensing, ls it to be handled by the Department of Trade? In what way are the restrictions to be applied? Will some of the importers be cut out completely or will every importer be cut down by a certain percentage? In what way will this be done? The honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth), who has just come into the chamber, raised this question, too. He wanted some information about this. Government speakers who have supported the bill, as distinct from most of them who have criticized it, have not been able to give us this information so far.
The second thing that I want to know is how many special advisory authorities the Government expect to appoint. The Minister for Repatriation, as reported at page 864 of “ Hansard “, referred to the appointment of a “ number of authorities “. How many of these does the Government think it will need? How many inquiries does the Government think will have to take place? ls it a fact, as reported in one newspaper, that more than 60 applications are waiting for the first special advisory authority upon his appointment? How long will it take to get rid of these inquiries? All these are questions on which the Government has given us no information at all. Has the Government any real idea of the volume of work that will be involved? My experience has been that the Government has always thought that this is a temporary matter - that some day the problems of external trade will suddenly disappear and it will not have to worry about the difficulties facing the Tariff Board.
Last night the Prime Minister, after ten or eleven years of these difficulties, still gave us the feeling that he thought that before long the sky would clear and he would not have to bother about administering the economy at all; he would be able to settle back as a comfortable old laisser-faire Prime Minister in his declining years. Any one who saw him last night would recognize that he is very well qualified for that role. This is not good enough. I think that any one who knows the trade situation knows that Australia has increasing difficulties to face in this field. ls the 1961 machinery likely to be any better than the 1960 machinery? As the honorable member for Wakefield said yesterday, here we have a special advisory authority who will be working in quite a distinct field from the Tariff Board. The deputy chairmen were, of course, part of the Tariff Board, but what the special advisory authority does and what he considers will not necessarily be known to the Tariff Board. What the board does will not necessarily be known to the special advisory authority. This is no real advantage.
I raise also the question whether the tariff board method is much longer to be tolerated. I refer the Minister for Repatriation to an article in the “ Financial Review “ upon this subject. This comment is important, not because it comes from a financial newspaper, but because it is typical of hundreds of statements which may be heard throughout business and industry. The article states -
The effect of it is that the board members are no longer responsible for the guidance of the detailed studies and investigation that go hand in hand with each inquiry.
Staff members of the secretariat, all career officers of the Department of Trade, are now initially responsible for preparation of the analysis of evidence which is largely based on the answers to the questionnaire and the board virtually sits as a panel of judges on the document prepared by the officials.
And although the board pays high regard to public evidence, by the time the draft report gets back to the board for decision it is often stamped with the opinions of the officer preparing it.
Generally the draft analysis prepared by the Department of Trade career officials in the secretariat include conclusions and recommendations already framed. This procedure is implicit in terms of a recent notice by the department in the Commonwealth Government Gazette calling for project officers for the board whose duties include “ writing Tariff Board reports and recommendations “.
The Department of Trade advertises for people who are qualified to write Tariff Board reports and recommendations. The article continued -
Although to date there have been few cases where the staff recommendations have been accepted by the board of inquiry, the challenge is being continuously posed to board members to assert their independence.
I do not think that board members can assert their independence in this situation. I think that the Tariff Board is becoming increasingly a front. Can we any longer fail to recognize this situation? The officers of the Department of Trade are qualified to do the statistical work - to make examinations and obtain the facts. Increasingly, the board is the rubber stamp for decisions obtained in the compilation of these facts.
Despite this situation, and probably as a result of it, we have an amazing record of delay by the board in dealing with applications. I sometimes wonder whether this is not deliberate. Is the Government not somewhat of a free trade government under the influence of the Australian Country Party and the Country Party Minister for Trade who makes a pretence of being a great protectionist? Is there not something deliberate about this? Is this Tariff Board machinery not being deliberately kept outmoded and inefficient to achieve the same result as would be achieved by reducing tariffs? So that the point will not be overlooked, I quote no less distinguished a person than the former head of the Department of Trade, Sir John Crawford, a man whose ability earned him a knighthood and a man who would know better than any one else what was going on with regard to trade policy. He said -
Australian policies are firmly pointed towards freer and expanding multilateral trade.
I think that is the position. The trade policy of this country is in the hands of people who do not believe in intelligent and scientific development of Australian industry.
I hope to have time to refer to an analysis made by the honorable member for Mackellar yesterday in this respect because I think that, substantially, he was on right ground. I think that he was far more realistic and to the point than members such as the honorable member for Wakefield and the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Malcolm Fraser). The honorable member for Mackellar knows that we are not now living in a world of perfect competition. He knows that we are not living in a world of small producers, here and there. He knows it is fundamental that there are very large industries overseas whose costs of production decline as their output increases, and that the owners of those industries are prepared to export goods to Australia provided that they can cover their marginal costs and even if they cannot do this. The honorable member for Mackellar knows that certain goods can be imported into this country at far less than their cost of production. The cost of production in Japan, West Germany, or some other countries, has no bearing on the price charged in Australia. He knows that if there is nothing but a protective tariff to stop these goods from coming into Australia they will come in and that Australian industry will never be developed on a large scale while this continues.
On the other hand, the analysis made by the honorable member for Wakefield and the honorable member for Wannon assumed conditions of nearly perfect competition. They assumed conditions of uniform and not declining costs. They ignored the economics of large-scale production and the export policy of the owners of overseas industries who are prepared to sell at home, say, 90 per cent, of their output and export to a market such as Australia the remaining 10 per cent, at much below the cost of production. Australian secondary industries which have to compete with these commodities have no hope of achieving permanency. I think we have had enough of these temporary arrangements. At a recent conference of the Institute of Political Science the key emphasis of the conference was summed up by Professor Arndt in these words -
The events of the past year mark a water-shed in Australia’s post-war economic development. They have demonstrated the inadequacy of an excessively short-term approach to national economic policy.
Stop and go! The 1960 emergency measures have failed. The 1962 emergency measures, predominantly the same, are being introduced. What grounds have we to believe that they will be one scrap better?
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I understood that the Opposition was prepared to vote for this bill and not to push it to a division; in other words, I understood the Opposition thought that the Government’s proposal was sound and that there would be no opposition to it. After listening to the honorable member for yarra (Mr. Cairns), one would gather the impression that he at least is opposed to the provisions of the bill, that he is opposed to the principles behind it and to the details contained in it. I think that is significant because it brings right to the surface once again the bubbling discontent that exists within the ranks of the Labour Party itself. It brings to the surface the divisions and schisms which are there - glossed over, covered over, it is true - but deep and fundamental nevertheless; and, when the honorable member for Yarra gets the opportunity, rankled as he is because he has been recently defeated for election to executive office within the Labour Party, this bubbling discontent comes to the surface.
– I rise to order. I direct your attention, Mr. Speaker, to your own ruling on the relevancy of debate, as reported in “ Hansard “ of 14th March at page 808, in which you said -
Discussion of these matters should not be allowed to supersede debate of the subjectmatter of the bill.
I suggest that the Minister for Labour and National Service is wandering a long way from the contents of the bill.
– Order! There is no substance in the point raised by the honorable member.
– I leave it there. The honorable member for Yarra then posed certain questions. On some occasions, he attempted to give the answers himself and on other occasions he suggested that the answers should be given from this side of the House. Despite the fact that he showed violent opposition to the bill, he says there is little difference in substance between its provisions and the provisions of the 1960 measure. I remind him that the 1960 measure related exclusively to temporary tariffs. This bill deals not only with temporary tariffs but also with temporary quantitative restrictions on imports into this country. This is not a minor difference; it is a difference of great substance and is the very basis upon which the legislation has been framed. If the honorable member for Yarra does not yet understand the distinction, then it is amazing to me that he should have been permitted to speak on behalf of the Opposition.
Next, the honorable member for Yarra referred to my colleague and friend, the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly). He wanted to know why we had changed from a system of deputy chairmen to a system of special advisers and sought to create the impression that the change was being made because of dissatisfaction on the part of the Minister or the Government with what was being done by the deputy chairmen. Nothing could be farther from the truth. There are two good reasons why the system is being changed. The first is that the Tariff Board needs its deputy chairman because it has enough to do already without being loaded with special work. We felt that unless these deputy chairmen went back to their normal duties with the Tariff Board there would be long delays, and we were not prepared to permit further delays to continue. That was a very good reason for the change. The change will mean that the board will be enabled to act more quickly and, consequently, will be enabled more quickly to bring down permanent measures for the protection of Australian industry. So the change has nothing to do with anything other than the efficiency of the board itself.
Secondly, we wanted inquiries by special advisers so that once the decision went on to the Tariff Board by way of appeal to a full bench, as it were, all members of the board would deal with the appeal not as an appeal from a decision made by one of their colleagues but as a decision by somebody who was not part and parcel of the permanent Tariff Board system. In effect they would be sitting as a court of appeal against a decision made in another jurisdiction. Those were the two reasons, and to other than a disorganized and distressed mind they are perfectly understandable. Here let me emphasize that in my opinion the special adviser, Sir Frank Meere, is a person of great integrity and ability. I do not think for one moment that he would be guilty of doing anything that would not be in the best interests of this country.
The only other point made by the honorable member for Yarra with which I wish to deal is his reference to three cases in which quantitative restrictions have been imposed - printed cotton goods, footwear and light internal combustion engines. I am glad that the honorable member mentioned those matters because they give a perfect illustration of why we should have quantitative restrictions as well as temporary import duties. So far as the textiles, footwear and light internal combustion engines were concerned, we found that employment and production in those industries were being severely affected. So the Government took action at a ministerial level to intensify the quantitative restrictions which already existed - that is, to decrease the quantity of imports of those commodities coming into the country. That was done pending a full hearing by the Tariff Board. As soon as the Tariff Board gave its decision, the quantitative restrictions were brought back to the previous level. These are the answers to each of the questions raised by the honorable member for Yarra.
Now let me turn to the contribution I wish to make to this debate. I want to make this contribution because, as Minister, for Labour and National Service, I believe it is my job to look at every means which might assist us towards achieving our goal of full employment, greater production and expanding opportunities for our people to be placed in jobs. It is against that background, Mr. Speaker, that I would like you to consider the remarks I am about to make. First - I am sure every one here knows this, but it bears repeating - we, being a great trading country, are subject to the vagaries and changes of international trade. If the price of wool drops, so does our internal income drop, and this can have a great effect upon the purchasing power of our people. We are isolated from the rest of the world. We are far removed from the main channels of commerce and trade. We maintain a high standard of living and consume most of what we produce. Sometimes consumption exceeds our capacity to produce; and for this reason we do give a boost to inflationary forces. Under these conditions it is essential that we must always be ready to take action to ensure that internally we are not affected too much by what happens overseas. We must be ready to take action to keep the economy progressing if there is a substantial change in international trade. That is the background against which we should consider what is being done by the Government.
What, in these conditions, is our policy? I am not now considering the major aspects of fiscal policy or Budget policy, or banking or monetary policy, but our tariff policy. As we are subject to sudden and unpredictable changes of international trade, we want as many economic weapons at our disposal as we can provide in order to minimize in Australia the effects of those changes which take place overseas. We want every economic weapon that we can use effectively, subject of course to our international obligations and subject to the condition that we use only those means which a liberal community would use. We want a wide variety of means to control the influences and the effect that changes in international trade can have upon us. We also want to minimize as much as we can the changes that might occur domestically. We use customs and tariffs. Those are the main weapons we use to protect our trade and our industries from the effects of imports into this country. We want quantitative restrictions, but only as a temporary measure and in special circumstances. As my colleague, the Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Swartz), who is in charge of the bill well knows, on an odd occasion we have used quantitative restrictions. We have, also, the mechanism known as by-law entry, to permit the importation of goods that are not of comparable kinds or of comparable prices with those manufactured here. Our policy can be stated in clear terms. As the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) put it last night, we are committed to full employment and to the expansion and the progress of our industries. In order to achieve those objectives we use a wide variety of means at our disposal.
Before I proceed further I think that 1 should state the dilemma that faces this country. In a country that is always living up to the maximum of its resources, that always has a tendency to over-spend, we continually face the danger that inflationary forces will develop, and if they develop to any great extent they will affect our capacity to sell overseas and our capacity to compete in the international markets. So that when we are considering the Tariff Board mechanism or budgetary or monetary policy, we must have the idea at the back of our minds that inflation is an evil. We must not create inflationary forces that might have a bad effect on our international trade and cost us out of the international markets.
Now, in the context of our policy, 1 ask you, Sir, to think of what this bill proposes. We want to avoid inflation; that is true. We want to protect our industries. We are a protectionist country. What have we done on this occasion? The Minister in charge of the bill said during the course of his speech that we have appointed a special adviser and we have said to him, “If an Australian industry is threatened with serious damage, or has become seriously damaged, then we will ask you to hold an inquiry “. An industry or group of industries can come along to the Minister and say: “ Our industry has been damaged or it is threatened with damage. We want you to look at our problem and to put it before the special adviser for his consideration. When he has considered it we should like him to recommend to the Government what he thinks is in the nation’s interest and what he thinks is the best method that can be designed to protect our industry.”
So, the Minister has a look at the facts and if he thinks a prima facie case has been established, he refers the matter to the special adviser who can then consider the problem, the onus of proof being on the industry involved to show that it is likely to suffer serious damage. If the special adviser thinks it desirable he will say, “ Yes, I will recommend a tariff “, or - and this is important - if he thinks that a tariff is not sufficient and not good enough, he can say, “ I think you should have the temporary protection of a quantitative restriction”. That is the procedure, that is the policy, and that is the means by which our objectives are to be achieved. I do not think for one moment that in the life we lead, amongst people who live not according to logic, but as men living and working in an industrial society, any practical man can object to what is being done by the Government.
I shall come later to the safeguards and precautions that have been taken. I mention at this stage that once the report has been made by the special authority, the matter has been referred to the Tariff Board and the Board has given its decision, then the decisions that are made pursuant to recommendations of the special adviser cease at the end of 90 days from the receipt of the report of the Tariff Board by the Minister. In all these circumstances, speaking particularly as the Minister for Labour and National Service, I applaud what has been done and believe that it strengthens the means by which we can ensure growing employment opportunities and at the same time provide restraints on the forces of inflation. That is the substance of this bill.
There are some questions that I think should be answered now, particularly as one of them was raised by the honorable gentleman from Yarra. The first question is this: Is this idea of quantitative restrictions a fundamental change in policy? No, it is not. Already the Minister for Trade can by administrative measures take action to control the flow of imports to this country. In other words, Sir, he has the power to impose quantitative restrictions, and that power has been used on the three occasions that were mentioned by the honorable member for Yarra, for printed cotton goods, footwear, and light internal combustion engines. What we have done here is to write into the Tariff Board legislation the necessity for an independent inquiry; not an inquiry within the department, but an independent inquiry by a special authority who will himself make a recommendation to the Minister. Frankly, I believe that that is a change both in substance and in techniques, and’ for those who are afraid of so-called bureaucracy and so-called arbitrary methods this a protection to protect consumers from arbitrariness and from over-emphasis on bureaucratic methods.
The second question I want to answer is: Does it conflict in any way with our international obligations? The truth again is that it does not do so, Mr. Speaker. Article XIX. of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade gives power to take the protective measures that we are taking in this bill. So, Sir, we are not in any way breaching our international obligations under Gatt.
I have heard it said that we are doing something novel. I want to mention one or two cases which will indicate that every great trading nation in the world does employ quantitative restrictions. Recently, the United Kingdom imposed quantitative restrictions on butter. Not so long before, the United States of America imposed them on lead and zinc. I have here a list of countries, including Germany, France, the Netherlands, Italy, and Belgium, all of which impose quantitative restrictions and on a far greater and wider scale than we would ever contemplate. Germany imposes them on textiles and machinery, especially from the Low Countries, and the Netherlands imposes them on sheet glass, fishing nets and motor cars. I have said enough to show, first, that we are not breaching the terms of our international agreements and, secondly, that the more highly developed countries of the world impose quantitative restric tions, sometimes under Article XIX. of Gatt, and on other occasions when they feel that they have to take urgent action to protect their own domestic industries. It is well recognized in the world of international trade that both tariffs and quantitative restrictions can be imposed when the country concerned thinks its industries may be severely damaged.
Now may I refer briefly to two other matters? I think the first of them should be stressed in this debate, particularly to my friend from Wakefield who I know is sincere and has given an enormous amount of thought to the problem. I hope that what I have said previously may be some consolation to him and may be part of the proof of the Government’s case that, in special circumstances, quantitative restrictions may be desirable. I shall mention some of the occasions on which quantitative restrictions may be imposed. The Prime Minister mentioned what he called a fall in demand internally. Shortly after November, 1960, we found that in Australia the consumption and also the production of capital goods had fallen. The Prime Minister said in this very special circumstance he felt that, if the domestic producer had a fall in demand or orders that were placed, it was fair that overseas producers should also absorb part of the fall. I believe that that is a fair principle, a wise principle and one that should be applied.
The three cases that I want to mention as illustrations are these: We frequently find imports of what are called end-of-run production items. We might find that in Hong Kong, Liverpool or the west coast of the United States some industry has a large order for certain goods. At the end of the order it finds that it can produce these goods at a much lower price than it could at the beginning of the production run. In this instance, because its overheads have been written off, it is willing to sell at a non-commercial price. In cases like this, and when the goods are already here, it is practically impossible to prove that they are dumped or sold at less than commercial prices and certainly at less than what might be regarded as the norma] cost of production figure. Similarly, we have end-of-season imports. An example of this is the importation of swim suits at the end of the bathing season in the United States.
There is one other difficulty that I think I should mention because it is one that has been of great concern to us during the course of the last few months. I refer to the chemical industry. After the war it was found that the chemical industry throughout the world lacked the equipment for greater production. Many countries simultaneously set out to ensure that their productive capacity was increased. The result was that, towards the end of 1959, production reached the maximum and many countries found they had surplus production, that they could export to this country at low prices. As a result, we who had been building our own chemical industries found that they, built up by Australian capital and with Australian workmen, were severely damaged because of imports. On some occasions the imports were sold at what we would regard as non-commercial prices. However, if we imposed a tariff the price would be reduced still further and our own industries would find themselves in a worse dilemma than they were in previously. This is the classical case where quantitative restrictions were the right remedy and where the continued increase of tariffs would not help local industry and would do harm to our international trade relations.
Those are four illustrations of instances where we should consider quantitative restrictions. They can, in these circumstances, protect Australian industry and they can protect the job of the Australian working man.
Now I come to the safeguards. What are the safeguards imposed in this bill to protect the Australian consumer? The safeguards are these: I have previously mentioned that it is the responsibility of the industry itself to come to the Minister and to produce to him a prima facie case for reference to the special authority. The Minister must first be satisfied. He then sends the matter to the special authority and a full case must be presented to the special authority. Again, the onus is on the industry itself to establish that it has suffered serious damage or is likely to suffer serious damage unless it has protection. If the special authority decides to recommend either a tariff or an import quota he must make a recommendation to the Minister, who then must table the report in the House and must immediately refer the matter to the Tariff Board, which, in its turn, must make a final recommendation to the Minister. Then, Sir - and this is the final step - once the Tariff Board decision has been given, the quantitative restriction or the temporary tariff ends at the expiration of 90 days from the date on which the Tariff Board’s report was handed to the Minister.
These are precautions taken to ensure that the temporary measures do not last interminably. I believe that these precautions are satisfactory. If in the course of time we find that they are not satisfactory, I think I can give an assurance on behalf of the Government that action would be taken to strengthen the safeguards and to ensure that our international obligations are honoured and that the consumer is protected.
I have only two other matters to mention. The first is: What will happen when we decide on the powers of the Tariff Board to recommend quantitative restrictions? We believe that quantitative restrictions are special measures for special occasions. We intend during the course of the next few months to examine the problem in the light of the working of the special authority under this bill. If it is thought desirable, we will amend the Tariff Board Act to vest in the Tariff Board itself power in special circumstances to recommend quantitative restrictions for a temporary period. It is too early yet to forecast what the long-term legislation will involve. It is a matter surrounded by great difficulties and great complexities, but I can assure you, Sir, that it has already received the consideration of the Government and will receive the careful consideration of the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) when he returns from overseas.
So, Mr. Speaker, I finish on this note: I believe in full employment. We want to develop a mechanism or a means of ensuring that our industries remain economic and efficient, and of ensuring that we do not boost inflationary pressures. Subject to this, when I can find a means of protection that meets the criteria I have mentioned - that is, a measure that will be temporary, that will be used only in special cases, and, above all, will protect the employment of the Australian people, that will be used to ensure that our manufacturing industries expand and that will enable us to replace imports as rapidly as possible - I will support it. I come down strongly in favour of the proposals that have been announced by the Minister and the action that is to be taken by the Government.
.- The purpose of this legislation is to establish a special advisory authority within the framework of the Tariff Board Act. This authority will replace the existing arrangements for deputy chairmen of the Tariff Board to deal with applications for urgent protection. We on this side of the House, it is true, have not become unduly excited about this measure. Frankly, we feel it is a case of Tweedledum or Tweedledee. However, we are satisfied that this is not the answer to the very pressing problems that have been affecting Australian industry. The Government is bereft of adequate ideas to deal with the matters which in the long run affect the welfare of thousands of Australian employees and of those who employ them.
In his second-reading speech the Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Swartz) said that the special authorities - there will indeed be more than one - will be able to recommend protection. It will take the form of a temporary duty on the one hand, or quantitative restrictions on the other. My colleague, the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns), challenged the Minister to say precisely where the words “ quantitative restrictions “ appear in this legislation. Having waded through every single line of it, I am able to say that such a term is not mentioned in the bill. Of course, it is extremely doubtful whether this Government will ever take effective measures, by way of quantitative restrictions or anything else, that will enable us to deal with the dumping of goods into Australia from other countries - a practice that can cause such hardships to Australian employees.
I suppose that if more than one vote separated the Opposition and Government parties in this House, we could reasonably expect those Government members who have opposed the bill to exercise the courage of their convictions when the bill came to a vote. Even the Prime Minister has been concerned with the sharp division in the ranks of the Liberal Party and the Country Party. To him this is a fairly minor measure; yet last night he had to come to the rescue and retrieve some sense of unity. He came into the House, and his very appearance underlined the dissension that prevails among Government members. It is apparent to every one who has watched the course of this debate that Government members have no guiding star on this problem and that there is no common thread running through their attitudes to the measure. The Prime Minister, in inept, vague and useless speech, full of all sorts of platitudes, talked about the need to achieve and maintain full employment for the increasing population. He stood for full employment. We on this side of the House would hate to see him stand for unemployment, having regard to what has happened in recent months.
It was apparent that even the Prime Minister failed to arouse the flagging enthusiasm on the other side of the House. Apart from the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly) and the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Fraser), there have been others who have followed this line of dissension since the Prime Minister intervened. They, like him, are obviously confused as to the manner in which this problem should be dealt with. It is interesting to note how confused the Prime Minister himself is about these things, and I want to take the opportunity of quoting what was his attitude on import restrictions, or quantitative restrictions - whatever you like to call them - only a short time ago. 1 want to read from the joint policy speech that was delivered by the Prime Minister on the occasion of the last federal election. He was speaking not just for the Liberal Party or the Country Party. He was speaking for both of them in a joint policy speech that was delivered in the Kew City Hall, Melbourne, on 15th November, 1961. After a great deal of fairly irrelevant talk about the problems of the times, he said - and these words are interesting -
What does the Labour Party offer you in exchange for these principles and ideas?
It wants to solve balance of payment problems, not by increasing our export earnings but by licensing imports. That system, which is applicable only when balance of payments problems render it unavoidable, is in its nature arbitrary end bureaucratic. The Labour Party would also, it appears, use arbitrary import licensing to afford temporary protection to industries threatened by imports. We prefer the scientific fixing of tariffs by the system of which I have referred.
There we have the Prime Minister condemning the very system that is the subject of this legislation to-night - and doing so only a short time ago. In fact, he has obtained from the Australian people a mandate to do precisely the opposite to what this legislation proposes. Is it any wonder that there is confusion among honorable members opposite, or, indeed, among the members of any intelligent section of the community who might take an interest in these things?
There is no doubt where the Australian Labour Party stands on this matter. Its principal concern is to protect overseas reserves. Of course, we have something of a record in this regard and probably I have no need to remind honorable members opposite of it. Because this principle - this great concept - was given such attention in the lifetime of the last Labour Government, we were able to attain a record of overseas reserves, which amounted in that very difficult period of post-war reconstruction to no less than £800,000,000. We have always treated overseas reserves as something like a sacred cow - and it is an extremely good thing that that has been so. The Australian Labour Party has considered it desirable that our overseas reserves should always be buoyant and we have taken the necessary action towards that end.
Our first action was to place a ceiling limit on total imports, to preserve our balances. If that is done there is no chance of getting into the trouble that has characterized this Government’s activities in recent years. Then we set out to afford import priorities to categories of goods, because we have a scale of values, and we believe that first things should come first. Things that pertain to the development of the nation should be encouraged. Conversely, those which do not have a beneficial effect should be discouraged. We take the view that this policy needs implementation when our reserves are in a precarious state. This is Labour’s view, and who could contradict or condemn it? On the other hand, the
Government’s plan, according, not to the bill itself, because “ quantitative restrictions “ is a term that does not appear in the measure, but to the second reading speech of the Minister, is to use quantitative import restrictions to stimulate employment - not to preserve the balance of payments at all. The measure will never have the latter effect as the system is to be applied. We on this side of the House take the view that this is a case of chasing the horse after it has bolted. Imagine the hue and cry there would have been from the Prime Minister and honorable members opposite if the Labour Party had advocated such a course!
There are so many other devices that the Government could use at present to restore full employment. It could organize, for example, import replacement systems, which would have extremely beneficial effects. It could set production targets in respect of our various industries so that people would know where they were going. We think of the dilemma of the motor car industry. On the one hand, it is encouraged by the Prime Minister, at the opening of Ford factories and other motor car concerns, when he says, “ You are doing a great job by bringing your capital here and stimulating production in the motor industry “. On the other hand, after a short time this enthusiastic welcome is replaced by a sledgehammer-like knock-out blow. I put it to the Government that it would be extremely beneficial to undertake some production planning and to set production targets in Australian industry. These are some alternatives that we recommend to honorable members opposite. We think of the large scale retrenchments that took place in recent years in the steel industry, at a time when we were importing record quantities of steel. The same state of affairs obtains in the timber industry and in many other industries. We note the lack of interest in the prospect of developing a great secondary aluminium industry in Australia, and the fact that this Government is currently intent on selling out Australia’s birthright to countries overseas by allowing the export of bauxite from Weipa. The northern part of Queensland and other parts of Australia will be eternally denied the right to operate a decent secondary industry in aluminium.
I heard the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon), who preceded me, say that we have no conflict on this measure in relation to international agreements. I recall that in April, 1961, we sent to the International Monetary Fund a memorandum which stated -
The Government . . . reaffirms its intention not to re-impose restrictions on trade or current payments except in the event of a very serious balance of payments emergency necessitating a major shift in policy.
But, just a short time afterwards, without any emergency in regard to the balance of payments, we find that this undertaking is being denied. So, obviously, there is no clear pattern of thought or intention on the Government’s part. The Government’s policy is a matter of stop and go in regard to trade, precisely the same as it is in regard to economic questions.
Under the terms of the Tariff Board Bill, Mr. Deputy Speaker, we could reach a ridiculous situation in which quantitative import restrictions may be imposed on producer goods while luxury goods and other less important goods may be allowed to flow into this country unrestricted at a damaging rate. The whole starting point in this matter is the fact that industry has to apply for an inquiry by a special authority. In our view, this bill ignores the need to protect our overseas balances. It disregards the need for priority imports and it fails to provide the machinery to foster and encourage industries which will produce goods to replace imports. Already the Government’s failure to deal effectively with these aspects of the problem has proved calamitous to Australia and Australians.
Import licensing was removed in February, 1960. When that was done the Government disregarded, first of all, the advice of the Opposition and then the advice of its own technical advisers - those who are equipped with the special knowledge to understand these things. Furthermore, the Government ignored the advice of industry. The dreadful consequences that followed are only too well known. When the flood gates were opened to imports, we were inundated by luxury goods which were not necessary to our way of life. The balance of payments deteriorated to an unprecedented extent. In 1960-61, our overseas balances fell by £369,000,000. After this happened, of course, the Government had to move to curb purchasing power in the Australian economy. The credit squeeze followed. We all remember the sequel so well. Mass unemployment reached the unprecedented level of more than 130,000. Many industries were crippled and many establishments were closed. The immigration programme was disrupted. The housing programme was thrown out of gear, with the result that great difficulty was experienced by many new and old Australians.
The annual report of the Tariff Board for the year 1960-61 gives the official imprimatur to these developments. At paragraph 40, the report makes a very clear-cut reference to these circumstances and states -
The removal of import licensing has contributed to an increase in the number of applications for tariff protection.
Paragraphs 3 and 6 of that report state the number of references to the board. In 1955-56 - a few years ago now - there were 24 normal references to the board. These were applications for tariff or bounty assistance. Routine matters are dealt with in a very quiet and leisurely way. In 1960-61, as a result of the Government’s disruptive measures, there was a great number of applications for assistance. The number of normal references increased from 24 in 1955-56 to 59 in 1960-61, when an additional 18 special applications were made under the terms of section 17a of the Tariff Board Act. That is the emergency provision of the act which enables an industry to get quick attention if it is really in serious trouble. So great has been the devastation wrought on Australian industry by the Menzies Government that there was a total of 77 references in 1960-61 compared with 24 normal references in 1955-56. Those references were not flippant or irresponsible. Each was made by a fairly substantial Australian industry employing a large number of people. The rate of applications was unprecedentedly high.
At 30th June, 1961 - the end of the financial year - outstanding reports for another 48 industries were listed. That meant that 48 industries were still waiting for decisions. It is true that the average waiting time for a decision from the Tariff Beard is ten and one-half months. But that figure has been achieved only recently. Previously the waiting time was longer. Sometimes, decisions come through as I have said, in less than the average time of ten and one-half months, and sometimes industries wait for a long time for decisions and, as a consequence, often encounter great difficulty.
The folly of the removal of import restrictions in February, 1960, is best illustrated by the figures relating to trad 3 balances. In 1960-61, trade balances on current account were: Exports, £937,000,000; imports, £1,064,000,000. Taking one from the other, we are left with an unfavorable balance of £147,000,000. To this must be added payments for invisible items such as freight and insurance, which amounted to £257,000,000, and we must subtract an import valuation adjustment of £35,000,000. So the total unfavorable balance on current account for 1960-61 was £369,000,000. This is undoubtedly an important topic, since a failure to appreciate it can bring to Australia the consequences that I have outlined.
The Prime Minister, in his speech last evening, described the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) as a great defender of Australian industry. When we consider the traditional attitude of the Australian Country Party to trade matters, we can say only that if the Minister for Trade is a great defender of Australian industry he is disloyal to the free-trade policy to which the Country Party has held for so long. Those of us who take an interest in these things know full well that the Country Party stands for protection for the industries that produce sugar, tobacco, timber, dairy products, wheat, fat lambs and the like. Its attitude towards secondary industries and the employment in those industries of hundreds of thousands of Australians is the reverse. I am not alone in holding these views on this matter. I think that I noticed in the precincts of this House to-day Sir Arthur Warner, who is Minister for Transport in the Victorian Government. He has expressed certain views about the Deputy Prime Minister, who is charged with the job of rescuing Australia from its extremely precarious position. The Melbourne “Age” of 2nd September, 1961, reported Sir Arthur Warner’s views in these terms -
The Minister for Transport (Sir Arthur Warner) last night declared that the Tariff Board for 12 years had failed to provide adequate tariff to protect Australian manufacturers and workers.
Many of Australia’s economic problems had resulted from the “free-trade policy” of the Federal Country party leader and Minister tor Trade (Mr. McEwen).
Sir Arthur Warner was speaking in the Legislative Council during the Supply debate.
He said it had been a reasonably interpreted policy of the Country party for the past 12 years that there had been a free trade in respect to manufactures.
Not only had the Tariff Board failed to give tariffs to manufacturers and to recommend them, but in many cases the Minister for Trade had refused to ratify Tariff Board recommendations.
– Who said that?
– Sir Arthur Warner. He- was never a Labour supporter. He has been one of the leading Liberal Ministers in the Victorian Parliament. He is a man who knows something of the Country Party because he has been aligned with it and associated with it for so long. So I suggest that honorable members opposite have been completely and efficiently exposed in regard to this matter. Australia is in such a difficult position at present in regard to trade because of the liaison of the Liberals with the Country Party. I should have thought that honorable members of the Country Party would be interested in this. Last night the Prime Minister talked about the need to deal with prices. He said that it would be very damaging if prices were allowed to gather pace and our selling ability in other parts of the world were impaired.
Let me remind members of the Country Party that under the Liberal-Country Party coalition, although rural output has risen by 50 per cent, in twelve years, farm income has risen by only 40 per cent. Despite the fact that more work has been done, farm income has not increased in the same proportion. We never hear from the Country Party members who sit opposite any complaint against the Menzies Government, although in the same period wages, salaries and company incomes have risen by 240 per cent. That is a matter which should justifiably concern the Country Party. It is a good thing to stand for the protection of Australian industry. There is no need for Country Party members to be ashamed of that attitude. Protection is practised in many parts of the world.
What is our position in comparison with that of o’.her countries? A study has been made by the Congressional Joint Economic Committee in the United States of America of trade restraints in the Western community. For the benefit of Country Party members who, with their Liberal confreres, have been denying the welfare of Australian industries, let me inform the House of the findings of that committee. Average tariffs are -
The committee also found that the level of tariff protection in the European Common Market is expected to be as high as 14 per cent. Yet those who sit opposite would deny Australian industry decent protection.
Let us look at the matter of quota restrictions. What do these countries themselves do? That gives a good indication of their attitudes. Japan imposes quota restrictions on a great variety of manufactured goods. The same position applies in the United States of America. These countries do not fiddle about and fail to include the term in the bill, as is the case with this legislation. There is no doubt about what they do. The United States of America imposes quota restrictions both on farm products and on secondary products. This is done also by Germany, France and many other countries of western Europe. Strangely enough, imports from these countries.to Australia have been stimulated. Australian imports from Japan, for example, have risen from £29,000,000 in 1958-59 to £65,000,000 in 1960-61. The United States of America, which protects itself, has been encouraged to export to Australia. Our imports from the United States of America rose from £108,000,000 in 1958-59 to £217,000,000 in 1960-61. Imports from Germany, another country which imposes protection, rose from £43,000,000 in 1958-59 to £66,200,000 in 1960-61. So I put it to honorable members opposite that they are indulging in some kind of self-denial. The protection afforded by those countries to their own industries is the sort of protection in which we should engage. Instead, on the one hand we have been denied by those countries, and on the other hand we have rendered every assistance to them.
My time is running out. There are many other points that I should like to make. This is a subject on which honorable members opposite are extremely vulnerable. The Australian people must remember that this is a field in which Australia was brought almost to its knees in the last couple of years. Honorable members opposite have had the opportunity to form a considered and thoughtful opinion on the manner in which these dilemmas and difficulties should be resolved so that this problem will not recur. The best that they can do is to come up with this fiddling thing that is incapable of satisfactorily meeting the problem that besets us. It is said that tariff protection increases costs. We on this side take an entirely opposite view. We say that when tariff protection is imposed, no matter in what form, it enables the home market to develop a feeling of security. It enables industries to tool up for large-scale production, confident that a home market is available. In the long run, it leads to a reduction in retail and consumer prices. Can honorable members imagine a situation in which the home market provided no competition and we were completely dependent on the attitude of importers? It is not hard to appreciate that high prices would follow.
It is generally recognized throughout Australia that this Government has taken a negative view in relation to the preservation of Australian industries. The Associated Chambers of Manufactures have charged that Australian industry has been left unprotected. In a report published in the “ Canberra Times “ of 2nd February, 1962, they made no bones about it. The report is headed “ Industry Crippled by Cheap Imports “ and reads -
The Tariff Board had allowed imports from low cost countries which had “ virtually destroyed “ many small Australian industries, the Associated Chambers of Manufactures said yesterday.
That organization continued with an indictment of the Tariff Board, the creation of this Government. It mentioned a number of very important industries which had not been afforded proper protection. The Schedule of Australian Trade published by the Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics shows the manner in which many industries have been denied encouragement. The honorable member for Mitchell (Mr. Armitage) who represents a citrus-growing area, this afternoon described the plight of citrus farmers and their failure to receive the assistance that they so desperately need. This statistical journal shows that imports of citrus fruits rose from £111,000 to £2,810,000 in the year 1960-61. At present, the plight of citrus farmers is such that large-scale dumping is taking place in order to maintain some sort of price stability. This Government sits idly by while imports are sweeping into the country at an incredible pace. One can cite a variety of industries to illustrate this point. I have figures in relation to crockery, baths and sinks. Those of us who come from Sydney know what happened to the firms that produce those commodities. Largescale retrenchment took place in those industries while heavy imports were allowed to continue.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Mr. Deputy Speaker-
– Has the honorable member spoken in this debate?
– No. Far from having spoken earlier in this debate I have been completely silent and have been waiting a long time to get the call. I shall not detain the House for long. The reaction of honorable gentlemen opposite is almost automatic, just like the reaction from putting a penny into a slot. I shall not deal with the speech of the honorable member for Hughes (Mr. L. R. Johnson) except to remind the House that he repeated the old chestnut about the high overseas reserves when the Labour Party was in office and the incredibly difficult post-war period in which that position was achieved. How often do we have to remind him and other honorable gentlemen opposite that this incredibly difficult post-war period of which he speaks, however difficult it may have been in other ways, was one of the most satisfactory periods that we have gone through so far as overseas earnings are concerned. This was because of the pentup demand, which made itself manifest after the war for the things that we produced. In that period we met with greater success in selling our goods overseas than in any other period in Australian history, except perhaps the years immediately following the First World War.
The honorable member, like his colleagues, has mouthed statements about the decline in farm incomes, and in this regard he has made charges against the Australian Country Party. Then he went on to advocate unbridled tariff protection, which would certainly make the position of farm incomes a good deal worse. I hope the farmers of this country will appreciate the dichotomy in the honorable member’s arguments, and will realize that his reference to declining farm income was purely a political trick.
The honorable member talks about the United States of America and about the quotas and quantitative restrictions imposed in that country. I remind the honorable gentleman that the United States of America has a longer record of quantitative and quota restrictions than any other country. What is the honorable member’s view on the attitude of the United States to Australia selling its butter in that country? What is his view about the tax on our wool that is imposed in the United States? Would the honorable member go to the United States, having advocated, along with his colleagues, unbridled quantitative restrictions and import licensing, and say, “ We are doing these things, but we think it is unfair of you not to allow us to send our butter to your country. We think it is unfair of you to impose a tax on our wool.” It is a wonderful one-way proposition that the honorable member would put forward, and the United States of America would think it nonsense.
The honorable member for Hughes has repeated the cheap gibe that was brought forth also by the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns) and by almost every honorable member on the other side of the House as to the alleged difference of opinion between various members of the Government parties. In this connexion Opposition speakers have mentioned the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly), the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony), the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Malcolm Fraser) and others who have made a serious and sincere study of this question. I say it is a cheap gibe, because these honorable members I have just mentioned, unlike those opposite, have not taken as their starting point some plank in a political platform or some line in a book or in one of the publications issued by the chambers of manufactures. The speech of the honorable member for Hughes consisted almost solely of extracts from a series of pressure group leaflets put out by the chambers of manufactures. On the other hand, honorable members on this side have started from scratch and have done some serious research on their own account. They had no conclusion in their minds when they started off, as was the case with honorable members opposite. They started from scratch and looked at the facts on their merits. They did some serious research and some serious thinking and they came to their own conclusions.
That is something that honorable members on this side of the House can always do. We are very proud of the fact that we can make up our own minds, with the help of any intelligence and ability that we possess, and can come into this House and express our views. Honorable members opposite cannot do this.
As the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) said last night, there may have been a difference of emphasis in our thinking or a difference of degree in regard to the various suggestions and comments that individual members on this side of the House have put forward. But what has been obvious is that we have been united in our abhorrence of the extreme protectionist view, involving protection at any price, regardless of consequences, which the Labour Party has said it stands for. All members of the Government parties are united in opposing that viewpoint.
I support this legislation. I support it because I believe it is needed. I approve of the form in which it is drafted and I agree with the intention of it. I support it because it is limited in its scope, because it is intended to be temporary and to have limited and unique application. My honorable friend from Wakefield quite rightly expressed his view that it will not work out in the way intended. I believe this to be a matter for the future. If the honorable member for Wakefield proves to have been right there will be means at our disposal to correct any situation that arises. For the time being, however, I stand by the provisions of the legislation and the intentions expressed by the Minister in his secondreading speech and elaborated later by the Prime Minister.
I repeat that this legislation is designed to meet emergency situations. It is not meant to be a permanent arrangement. The Government does not expect that quantitative restrictions will be applied in the case of more than a very limited proportion of goods. If, as I say, the effects of the legislation are different from what they are expected to be I, for one, say here and now that we will have to take another look at the whole problem.
I completely disagree with the extreme protectionist view that has been advocated by the Labour Party, and I cannot join with honorable members opposite in their extravagant expectations concerning the results of the operation of the legislation. I do not agree with honorable members opposite when they say that the legislation should have gone a good deal further. I regret that in rushing in to advocate a hasty and ill-judged policy of additional protection the members of the Opposition have given hardly a thought to the consequences of that policy to our great exporting industries - the industries already rocked to their foundations by heavy cost burdens, much of which have been brought about by protective tariffs imposed in the past, and which the Labour Party now wants to increase. Not one jot of consideration has been given by the Opposition, or by the manufacturers, to the problems that would be created for our great primary industries by a headlong rush into the erection of unduly high protective barriers.
It seems to me that honorable members opposite, and manufacturers, cannot see beyond the ends of their noses, so obsessed are they by political considerations, in the first case, and by short-term profits in the second. They cannot realize the long-term disaster that the country would face if the great exporting industries were destroyed. I would like them to answer this question: Do they think we can get on without those great exporting industries? Do they think that somehow or other those industries will be able to go on producing at a loss so that manufacturers can enjoy their pampered and protected existence? My colleagues have already emphasized this aspect of the matter, and I want to make only one further point in relation to it. It has become the practice to try to justify indiscriminate protection for Australian secondary industry on the ground that some primary industries require protection. I regret that even some honorable members on this side of the House have used what I regard to be a spurious argument. Such arguments in my view display a complete lack of perspective. Such industries are minor ones in the internal economy. They are utterly unimportant factors in the export situation; they are peanuts, if I might coin a phrase. It is the great wool, meat and wheat industries which matter, to mention three important industries. To base a general case for tariff protection on the needs of minor industries shows, as I have said, a complete lack of perspective.
Why does the Opposition want the Government to go in for unbridled protection? Why does it want the Government to take these risks, because they are risks if the result may be to drive the principal source of our export income out of existence. It is all being done in the sacred name of employment. If import licensing right across the board and unbridled protection were of substantial assistance in helping us to maintain a full employment economy, it would be a powerful argument, but are they? Certainly no proof has been produced during this debate; assertions only have been made. How much does the Opposition know? How much does any one know of the overall, long-term employment effects of particular acts of protection? Let me say by way of an aside that every reason exists for an inquiry to be made into tariff protection in Australia. We do not know for certain what effect protection will have on the employment situation in the environment in which we live. All that the Opposition has done is to assert, although no intensive work has been carried out, that it will be of assistance.
Some work has been done on this aspect of the problem in other countries. I should like to refer quickly to a careful, comprehensive and pragmatic American study on this subject. I have here a book written by the initiators of such a study. It is entitled “ Import Liberalization and Employment “ by Salant and Vaccara. I repeat that this is a comprehensive and pragmatic American study carried out in the American environment which, I believe, is applicable to our environment. It evaluates the effect of increased imports on employment in the United States.
The conclusion that the authors came to is very interesting. After having examined more than 75 industries in the United States they decided that the net employment decrease occasioned by an increase in imports of one billion dollars in 1959 would have been 29,000. I repeat: In a work force of over 65,000,000 the net decrease would have been 29,000. In other words the decrease would have been less than one-twentieth of 1 per cent, of the 1959 civilian employment in the United States. This decrease in imports in the American environment represents one-ninth of the country’s imports.
Let us apply this finding to the Australian situation. The average bill for imports is £900,000,000. One-ninth of that amount is £100,000,000. If conditions applying in the United States are the same as those applying in Australia, then the net employment decrease as a result of the liberalization - that is, allowing another £100,000,000 worth of imports - would be precisely 2,000. I am not suggesting that 2,000 is not important, but when looked at in the context of the extravagant charges that have been made by honorable gentlemen opposite regarding the effect of lifting all import restrictions on the employment situation in this country, the figure is absolutely insignificant.
The figures I have quoted defeat most of the arguments put forward by honorable gentlemen opposite for the case of import licensing and unbridled protection. I repeat that if we were to allow another £100,000,000 worth of imports into this country the net employment decrease would be no more than 2,000 members of our work force. That is the overall effect. I wish to be quite fair in my approach to this matter. The authors of the book emphasize that they are dealing with the overall effect. They state that the effect on particular industries would be very much greater in the short term, but that the overall effect on the economy would be an employment decrease of the order that I have mentioned.
The measure we are debating to-night is a short-term measure. The effect on employment may well be greater in many industries. That is the purpose of this bill as a short-term or an emergency measure. That is why I support it, but 1 do not support the ideas or assertions made by honorable gentlemen opposite who say that this across-the-board import licensing and unbridled protection should be applied as a matter of course in the long term and for ever. Nothing worse could happen to the Australian economy and nothing could have a more detrimental effect on our long-term employment prospects.
Let me finish by sounding another note. One of the reasons why unbridled protection has this harmful effect is that it involves retaliation. Honorable gentlemen opposite never learn lessons from the past. As my friend, the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly), has said, they have not learned the lessons of the 1930’s, when the Scullin Government, in order to protect employment in this country, raised protectionist barriers to a stupidly high level. The net result was retaliation, and the trade barriers had no effect on employment. What is more, the policy of the government at that time played a substantial part in the worldwide process of exporting unemployment to other countries without doing any good to the country itself. Honorable members opposite are reneging on the efforts of their late leader, Dr. Evatt, who, in 1945, at the San Francisco conference, fought to have a full-employment clause put into the United Nations Charter so that a situation such as we are discussing would not occur again. He did not want the situation to arise again where countries, in an attempt to solve their unemployment problems, exported unemployment overseas. I support the bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative. Bill read a second time. In committee:
Clauses 1 to 7 - by leave - taken together, and agreed to.
Clause 8 (Members of the Board).
.- This clause relates to the members of the Tariff Board and makes provision for an acting member of the board. I take this opportunity to remind the committee that the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and the Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Swartz) have indicated that this is not the last bill dealing with the Tariff Board that we can expect during the life of this Parliament. It has been suggested that, after further study, we will have further amendments to the legislation. That might be necessary.
The question might well be posed whether the present eight members of the Tariff Board are carrying too heavy a burden. The situation in Australia to-day is such that the number of references that can be expected by the Tariff Board almost immediately and in the very near future will be so large that it will be hardly fair to expect eight men to deal with them. This calls to my mind the fact that of the eight members of the Tariff Board, only three can be reasonably expected to give their full time to the work of the board. Under the terms of the principal act, it is mandatory for two members of the board to be members of the Commonwealth Public Service. The third important member of the board is an employee of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia. Then there are five other members drawn from a variety of walks of life - pastoral, agricultural, mining and so on. As I read the Tariff Board Act, these other five members are completely at liberty to participate in any occupation they might consider desirable, except that it is provided - a member other than an acting member shall not engage in paid employment outside the duties of his office.
In other words, as I interpret that provision, a member shall not engage in an occupation and receive wages and salary, but is free to continue to follow his occupation as a proprietor-farmer, a self-employed accountant or a member of an academic profession, or perhaps even to run a school of his own. It appears that there is a wide range of liberty and that a member is not bound to give all his time to the work of the Tariff Board. If that is so - I do not know whether the members give all their time to the Tariff Board- - that liberality might be one of the major or minor reasons why the Tariff Board is not able to deal as expeditiously as one would like with the work that comes before it. Even if it is thought that the work has been dealt with expeditiously up to date, I think it is obvious from the urgent nature of this measure, and the promise of the Prime Minister and the Minister for Repatriation that other amendments will follow, that the Government believes that more and more work will be piled on to this authority. If that is the case, it poses the question whether this Parliament or this Government should not consider the payment of a salary to all members of the Tariff Board, which would enable-
– Order! I think the honorable member is getting a little wide of the clause. This clause does not deal with the number of members of the Tariff Board. What the honorable member is discussing now would perhaps be discussed more properly under a later clause.
– I think there is an element of truth in what you have said, Mr. Chairman, but the heading preceding clause 8 is “ Part II.- The Tariff Board “. I think I am entitled, under this clause, to deal with the board. I submit that I have reasonable liberty to refer to the members of the board, the terms of their appointment and their salaries, and to make suggestions for essential reforms.
– Order! It is not the whole of Part II. of the act that is under consideration. We are considering only the amendment proposed in clause 8, not the Tariff Board generally.
– I do not wish to canvass your ruling, Mr. Chairman, but I point out again that clause 8 is preceded by the heading “The Tariff Board”. Therefore, I submit that clause 8 deals with members of the Tariff Board. If an acting member is involved in the amendment proposed, surely I am justified in referring to other members?
– I disagree with the honorable member. The heading, “ Part II. - The Tariff Board “ is referred to in clause 7. Clause 8, with which we are dealing at the moment, proposes that the words “ or an acting member “ shall be inserted after the word “ member “ in subsection (7.) of section 6 of the principal act, and that the words “ as a member or an acting member “ shall be inserted in sub-section (7.) of section 6. That does not raise the question of membership of the board.
– I think you are right, Mr. Chairman. The fact is that I missed dealing with this matter under clause 7. In my desire to expedite the business of the committee, I missed the opportunity to deal with this matter then, so perhaps you will allow me to conclude my reference briefly. I was going to suggest that the Government might well investigate the possibility of the payment of a salary which would justify full-time employment of members of the Tariff Board, to the exclusion of outside interests. I admit that it is desirable to have men with wide experience on the Tariff Board and that it would be difficult to persuade men with such experience to become members of the board and drop their other interests.
– I rise to a point of order. The amendment proposed by the clause is only to safeguard the rights of Commonwealth public servants appointed as acting members of the board. The provision does not refer to the old membership of the board, a matter which has been covered by the honorable member for Lalor.
– The matter of salary comes under the next clause of the bill. I felt, however, that as the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) had made his remarks on that subject we might be able to expedite the discussion of clause 9 at a later stage.
– Are we in order, Mr. Chairman, in discussing the subject about which the honorable member for Lalor has spoken? He has made some very serious charges which ought to be refuted.
– I did not make any charges of any kind whatever.
.- This is a simple provision, as the Minister has said. Its purpose is merely to add the words “ or an acting member “ to sub-section (7.) of section 6 of the principal act. The object is to safeguard the rights of members of the Public Service who are appointed as acting members of the Tariff Board. I ask the Minister why, in 1962, after members of the Public Service have been appointed as acting members of the Tariff Board on a number of occasions and over a long period of time, it is only now proposed to make this change.
– This is a tidyingup provision. It was not included in the previous legislation and is being included now to meet a position that had not been covered.
– It is a relatively minor point and one that will probably never arise. It is a matter of machinery and procedure. The fact that it had not been covered was disclosed while the legislation was being drafted.
I think, Mr. Chairman, that the committee should accept the statement of the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) that he did not intend to make any reflection on members of the Tariff Board. His reference to that matter was, of course, outside the terms of this bill. I think every one in this chamber has a full appreciation of the splendid work of the chairman, the two deputy chairmen, and the other members of the Tariff Board. Those gentlemen are all doing a great job for Australia by assisting to maintain the economic well-being of the nation.
.- I quite readily accept the explanation given by the Minister that this provision is in some respects an oversight, and that it could quite well have been included in earlier legislation, but does it not suggest that the Government is much more likely in the future to appoint members of the Public Service to be acting members of the Tariff Board? I do not mean to cast any reflection whatever on any member of the board. The point that was being made by the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard), and to which the honorable member for
Wakefield (Mr. Kelly) objected, was a relevant one because it suggested that an increasing number of public servants would be appointed to temporary or acting positions on the Tariff Board. It seems to me that it is not a matter of questioning the integrity or application to duty of any member of the board. The question that is involved is whether service on the board is to be a part-time occupation for a good many people. Is there to be a kind of hunting, shooting and fishing attitude? If there is, I do not think that is appropriate in view of the time that it is necessary to devote in acquiring a detailed knowledge of the industrial structure and requirements of this country.
If this provision means that people who retire from the Public Service are to be appointed to the Tariff Board, or to do some job in association with it, and if that is likely to occur to an increasing degree in the future, I think it is a very retrograde step. It seems to me that by taking it the Government is adopting an attitude to the making of the tariffs which might have been appropriate in the nineteenth century and which might have resulted in a fairly good job being done in the early part of the twentieth century, but which is not appropriate to present day requirements.
– Order! The honorable member is getting a little wide of the clause.
– I will leave it at that, Mr. Chairman. I thought that that consideration was involved in this clause, and the Minister’s comment has certainly not demonstrated that it is not involved.
.- I rise at this stage to correct what I think is a very serious error. I must say I am disappointed that the Minister did not rise to correct the impression, which might have been given, that a member of the Tariff Board is in any way a part-time officer. I speak with some feeling on this matter because, as some people may know, for many years my father was a member of the Tariff Board. I can assure honorable members that I never saw a more full-time occupation. If the job is being done well - and there is no doubt that it is being done well - there is no spare time. The figures that were given earlier to-day by the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Malcolm Fraser) revealed the way in which the Tariff Board has been getting through its work. They showed, too, that the time taken to produce a report by the board is shorter now than ever before. To suggest that the work of members of the Tariff Board is anything less than full-time is to make a very serious error. I repeat, my regret - and I say this with a real sense of sorrow - that the Minister did not reply to a charge which I think should have been clearly answered.
– I wish to comment very briefly on the point made by the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns). Rather than criticize the Tariff Board in this respect, it would be more appropriate to criticize the department which has not filled the establishment of the board. The establishment is 29 officers. That was agreed to by the Tariff Board, the Department of Trade and the Public Service Board, but the Department of Trade, which is responsible for filling the establishment, has supplied only 19 of the 29 officers, so that if it is not possible to get as much work done as people would like, the Department of Trade should be blamed. The present board could do more work if the Department of Trade were to fill the establishment.
– I did not hear the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) refer to the members of the Tariff Board as part-time officers. I am sure that if he did so, it was a slip of the tongue, because he realizes the position quite well. In fact, he has assured me that he understands it and that he did not mean to imply that that was the position. Regarding the point raised by the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns), there is a limiting factor as far as the appointment of public servants to the Tariff Board is concerned. That factor is to be found in section 6 (2.) of the act, which permits two officers to be appointed. If the Governor-General thinks fit, three officers may be appointed. As I said earlier, this clause embodies a provision which perhaps could have been introduced into the previous legislation. That was not done and it is being introduced on this occasion.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 9 (Salary and outside employment). ;
.- The clause reads -
Section nine a of the Principal Act is amended by adding at the end of sub-section (2.) the words “ otherwise than as an authority”.
This means that section 9a (2.) of the principal act will read -
A member other than an acting member shall not engage in paid employment outside the duties of his office otherwise than as an authority.
I do not know the purpose of this amendment, but it is clear to me that any member of the board can run any kind of business as well as carry out his duties on the board. What is to stop him from doing that?
– Look at the definition of “ authority “.
– We are not dealing with “ authority “ at the moment; we are dealing with a member of the board. Let me read again, if they are not clear, the terms of the new section 9a (2.) -
A member other than an acting member shall not engage in paid employment outside the duties of his office otherwise than as an authority.
We are dealing with a member of the board. If he becomes an authority he shall not engage in outside paid employment, but if he remains a member of the board he can have other than paid employment outside. This means that he can have business interests or run a business establishment. If I am wrong, let honorable members on the Government side demonstrate it. I ask the honorable member for Bruce (Mr. Snedden), who is a lawyer, to state whether I am right or wrong.
– I think you are wrong.
– It is perfectly clear that this amendment provides that a member of the board shall not engage in outside employment other than as an authority. That indicates that at any time the Minister may appoint a member of the board as an authority. Is that correct?
– While he is an authority he can be in paid employment.
– Yes. If I were the Minister I could bring in the manager of l.C.I. and make him an authority. An existing member of the board can run a private business or a farm. There is nothing in the Tariff Board Act or in this amending bill to stop him doing so.
– He cannot take a job.
– Of course, he cannot take a job. I told you that ten minutes ago. That is my point. Does the honorable member for Bruce, who is a lawyer, contest my interpretation of the clause?
– You have no grounds for doing so. All this clause does is to lay down that a member other than an acting member shall not engage in. paid employment outside his duties on the board otherwise than as an authority. That is correct, is it not?
– That is what I suggested in my previous remarks relating to clause 8.
– When I agreed that you were correct I meant that you were correct in what you read.
– The time has arrived when it should be made clear, or at least considered, that members of the Tariff Board should be paid handsome salaries and denied outside private interests. This is necessary if they are to have a full-time appreciation of the needs of industry and all that that involves.
.- I take up the task of interpreting the amending clause. Section 9 a (2.) will read -
A member other than an acting member shall not engage in paid employment outside the duties of his office otherwise than as an authority.
This relates only to permanent and paid members of the board as compared with acting members. This means only that a member of the board who is prohibited by the principal act from engaging in any outside employment is now allowed to act as an authority and to receive remuneration for it. That is quite clear.
.- I am in a particularly unfortunate position. 1 have to agree with the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Stokes). As I see it, a member other than an acting member shall not engage in paid employment outside the duties of his office. This means that the member shall be permitted to engage in one specified kind of paid employment other than as a member of the Tariff Board, and that is as a special advisory authority.
.- This point which is quite important has been correctly stated by the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard). I think that the position is very clear. Clause 9 of the bill which we are now considering merely adds the words “ otherwise than as an authority “ to section 9a (2.) of the principal act which reads -
A member other than an acting member shall not engage in paid employment outside the duties of his office.
This means clearly that a member of the Tariff Board shall not engage in paid employment, but it does not say that he shall not be a farmer or the proprietor of a business. In fact, members of the Tariff Board have been and are such persons. The father of the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly) was a farmer, and a very substantial one at that, and he was a member of the Tariff Board.
The point made by the honorable member for Lalor, at which the rather clever honorable member for Wakefield has been laughing and which the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Stokes) thought he was disproving, still remains as it was put to the committee by the honorable member for Lalor. He put the proposition that section 9a (2.) of the principal act states that a member of the Tariff Board shall not engage in paid employment, and only that. It means that he cannot be an employee or a worker, but it does not exclude him from being a farmer or the proprietor of a business. The very point raised by the honorable member for Lalor and emphasized by myself was that this whole act envisages a part-time member of the Tariff Board, the proprietor of a business, a farmer or the rather wealthy person who perhaps will give some of his time to the duties of the Tariff Board and more important will bring to bear some of the bias associated with his position. This huntin’, shootin’ and fishin’ attitude to the Tariff Board must go forever, because it cannot solve the problems of the future. We need a properly equipped research and statistical authority which can correctly estimate the required demand for products in the future, the capacity of Australian industry to meet that demand and to work out a budget, as they do, for instance, in Japan-
– Order! I think the honorable member for Yarra is getting very wide of the clause.
– This clause makes it clear that the Tariff Board can have upon it people who are proprietors of a business’ or farmers. They are not denied a place on the board. The point made by the honorable member for Lalor stands.
.- Mr. Chairman, several matters should be made clear to the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns). People from different walks of life are appointed to the Tariff Board so that the board will have knowledge of many industries and callings. Obviously, you must have on the board men with knowledge of the manufacturing industries and of primary industries. I am sure that even the honorable member for Yarra will agree that that is a logical principle. Appointment to the board is of a temporary nature - I think the term is five years. The honorable member for Yarra claimed that I was the son of a rich farmer. I am sorry that he is wrong.
– I said that your father was a farmer in a substantial way. You cannot deny that.
– In 1929, when my father was appointed to the Tariff Board, I left home to run the farm. There was no alternative. The inference to be drawn from the honorable member’s remarks is that anybody may run a farm and hold down a job on the Tariff Board. I am surprised that the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) raised this matter.
– Do you dispute what has been said? You can own a farm and still be a member of the board.
– You could own a farm, but you could not run it while you were a member of the board. Is it suggested that anybody who accepts an appointment to the board for a five-year term should immediately sell his farm? Mr. Pollard. - I am not suggesting that.
– Well, I cannot see any other suggestion in your statement.
– Order! I suggest that from now the committee discuss the clauses before it and not personalities. If honorable members continue to discuss personalities the Chair will take action.
– Mr. Chairman-
– Order! The honorable member. for Grayndler will resume his seat. i
– It is like a farmyard.
– The honorable member for Hughes will be in trouble if he does not remain silent. The question before the Chair is that clause 9 be agreed to.
.- I am afraid that I cannot agree with the adjudication given by the honorable member for Scullin (Mr. Peters), much as I respect his opinion, because I believe there is great substance in the proposals put forward by the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) and the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns). It is clear that with the passage of this clause, section 9a of the principal act will read -
Quite clearly, as the honorable member for Lalor has said, that provision will enable a member of the board to own a farm or business. Where is the authority for that state of affairs? What is the farm to be? It may be of 10,000 acres. It may bring unlimited wealth to its owner. The point made by the honorable member for Yarra and the honorable member for Lalor is that the people engaged on the Tariff Board should be completely unfettered and should not be tied to any other interests whatever. In other words, they should be impartial adjudicators on problems affecting the industries concerned and the nation generally. If we allow them to own farms or to have other occupations, how can they be impartial in their judgment? As the honorable member for Yarra has said, the time has passed when matters coming before the Tariff Board should be dealt with by persons whose opinions are biased because of the occupations that they follow. I make no aspersions about the honesty of the people concerned, but it is very difficult to divorce your own interests from those on which you are adjudicating if they are similar. That is why judges in our courts are divorced from other interests. If they were not they could not be impartial. Judges must cut themselves off from personal interests. They must cease to be directors of firms. We know the consternation that was caused in this Parliament on one occasion when a present member of the International Court of Justice at The Hague was listed as a director of the Goodyear company.
– Order! The honorable member is now getting a little wide of the clause.
– The judge to whom I am referring rightly divorced himself from those interests because he had to be impartial. If I am a proprietor of a lucrative business, if I own a lucrative farm or if I have interests in grazing, how can I adjudicate impartially on matters directly affecting my interests? No reflection is cast on the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly) or his father, both of whom are reputable men. But the point has been rightly taken that there should be full scope for independent judgment on these matters.
The point taken by the honorable member for Lalor, supported by the honorable member for Yarra, is that the Government is going too far in providing these part-time occupations. People should not engage in them unless they are prepared to give their services full-time. I support the submissions that have been made and I hope that the Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Swartz) will reply to the matters that have been raised from this side of the chamber. It is no use for the Minister to sit at the table nodding his head and mumbling. It is important that this Parliament and the people know the situation that exists. I hope that the Minister will give an assurance that men with huge vested interests will not be permitted to adjudicate on matters which may affect their interests.
.- It is incredible that the debate on clause 9 should have developed as it has. I can understand the point raised by the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard), but I misunderstood him earlier. Section 9a of the principal act states that a member of the Tariff Board may not engage in paid employment outside the duties of his office. Clause 9 of the bill simply adds the words “ otherwise than as an authority “. The honorable member for Scullin (Mr. Peters) was quite correct in his interpretation of section 9a of the principal act and of the amendment provided by clause 9 of the bill. The honorable member for Lalor, the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) and the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns) seek to introduce into this debate a discussion about the appropriate property qualifications of a member of the board. The argument that they advance is that upon appointment to the board a person must divest himself of all his personal possessions. If he owns a farm he must sell it. If he owns a business he must sell it. If he holds shares in a public company, he must sell them. If we carry that argument to its logical conclusion we reach the stage where a member of the board must divest himself of his own home, because he will be prejudiced with relation to the things that go into the home. How far do honorable members opposite suggest that this principle be carried. Do they seriously suggest that a person will be biased because he owns a farm or a house?
– Or wears clothes.
– Yes, or wears clothes. Do honorable members opposite want a member of the board to go naked in the world because he might have a bias as regards clothing?
The honorable member for Lalor has misconceived the reality of this question. As he said, it is desirable that the very best men available be appointed to the board. You have no chance of obtaining the very best men to serve on the board if you require them to divest themselves of all those things which, through their industry and capacity, they have acquired over the years. After all, the qualities necessary for a man to succeed in business are the very qualities sought in a member of the board. To ask him to divest himself of those things in order to serve on the board has no reality at all as a contention. With great respect to the honorable member for Lalor, the point he put has no merit, nor have the contention and argument of the honorable member for Yarra or the honorable member for Grayndler.
– At this stage, before I call on the next speaker, I feel that it might be of assistance if I point out to the committee that the actual purpose of this clause is to permit a member of the board to be appointed as a special authority without his vacating his position on the board, and no more than that. I hope honorable members will give that consideration in speaking to the clause before the committee.
.- I take it that your ruling, Mr. Chairman, means that we are to discuss the qualifications of the members of the board as well as the particular circumstances that prevail at the moment. This is where we come into the argument. It is not often that we have opportunity to discuss this kind of principle in this chamber. The Opposition is, after all, at the mercy of the initiative of the Government. When the Government brings forward these things the principles must be discussed.
The honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly) defined the difference between the attitude of his party and that of the Opposition in relation to the kind of interests people should have or could have when they are making decisions affecting the nation’s welfare. The point we make is not that a person is disqualified because he is a farmer or an industrialist but because he is likely to be inhibited or lose interest in the operation of his public power when he is the actual owner of things of this kind-
– On a point of order, Mr. Chairman: The debate on this amending clause has gone, as you have indicated, far and wide past the actual intention. It merely provides an addition to section 9a to cover the position of a board member who may be appointed an authority. It goes no further than that. It is merely to extend the existing section. References to remuneration and so are dealt with under other sections.
– On the point of order, Mr. Chairman: Surely when an alteration to an act is under consideration you discuss the section which is being altered as well as the clause making the alteration. This is a point we make clear. We have no interest in the ancestry of the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly) but only in the Tariff Board and its relation to the nation. We say it is unlikely that a person can bring a disinterested attitude to decisions of this nature if allowed to have economic interests which are under consideration by the board. We say it is no more unreasonable to ask people in this position to divest themselves of this kind of interest than it is to ask judges in the courts or persons who become Ministers of the Crown to do so. The honorable member for Bruce (Mr. Snedden) knows full well that he was carrying his argument to an even more illogical extent than he usually does when he spoke about the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) getting around in the nude.
– I suggest that the honorable member for Wills is making a speech rather than raising a point of order. In reply to the point of order raised by the Minister for Repatriation, I remind honorable members that I previously pointed out to the committee the scope of the clause under discussion. The only part of the principal act which is connected with the clause before the committee is sub-section (2.) of section 9a. I rule now that discussion must be limited to this and the relationship of the sub-section to clause 9.
– I wish to make a personal explanation. As I have been misinterpreted I wish to clarify my position. Sub-section (2.) of section 9a of the principal act says -
A member other than an acting member shall not engage in paid employment outside the duties of his office.
We are not determining what paid employment is. If paid employment consists of being a farmer, a member is not allowed, under the act, to engage in that employment. If paid employment means that he is the owner of a business then, according to the principal act, he is not permitted to be the owner of a business. AH the amendment does is to say that a member is not entitled to receive anything in the form of paid employment, otherwise than as an advisory authority. That is all the amendment says. It does not say he can be a farmer, a shopkeeper, a lawyer or anything else. It says that a member shall not engage in paid employment, whatever paid employment may be.
.- The honorable member for Scullin (Mr. Peters) knows what it is. All I desire to say regarding the discussion on this amendment to sub-section (2.) of section 9a is that the honorable member for Bruce (Mr. Snedden) came into the House, having been outside and hardly knowing what the discussion was about, and tried to bluff, because he is a solicitor, and give a false interpretation of this amendment. It is true, as you stated in your ruling, Mr. Chairman, that this amendment does nothing more than to make quite clear, by changing sub-section (2.) of section 9a, exactly what the position of a special authority is. I still contend that a member of the Tariff Board now, as in the past, is quite as free as is a member of Parliament to engage in any business he likes. The only difference of opinion there can be about that is the query raised by the honorable member for Scullin (Mr. Peters), who says that the question revolves around what paid employment is. I would like to know who would challenge the interpretation of paid employment as engagement by an employer to be paid salary or wages. To say that the proprietor of a business, or a farmer, or a professional man is in paid employment is utter nonsense. I leave it at that. After all, the truth of my interpretation is shown by the fact that there was a man, well known to members of this place - there was no better member of the Tariff Board in this country - who exercised his right, while a member of the board, to take a very active interest in the management and direction of another form of business.
It is significant that in answer to a series of questions asked recently by the honorable member for Scullin the whole careers of the various members of the Tariff Board are set out. When each member is dealt with separately the detailed statement is “Prior to his appointment to the Tariff Board he was so and so”. In one case the man concerned was a farmer and the manager of a farm. In another case the man was engaged in farming. There is nothing in the Tariff Board Act to say that members of the board cannot carry on their ordinary businesses. But it is clear, here, that they cannot engage in paid employment. That fact has been demonstrated amply by the case of the previous member of the Tariff Board mentioned here to-night. I suggest that in the review which the Prime Minister has said will be made this question ought to be examined. For the honorable member for Bruce to get up and talk like a child and say it would mean divesting oneself of clothes and going around in the nude is nonsense. He practises in the Arbitration Court and in other courts of the country, where people adjudicate and, just the same as Cabinet Ministers, judges do not go around in the nude. Under the terms of their appointment, they do not divest themselves of their personal property, but they divest themselves of their business interests. In the main, Cabinet Ministers do the same thing.
– Order! I suggest that the honorable member is getting away from the clause under discussion.
.- I rise to speak on this clause because I have been waiting patiently for the Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Swartz), who is at the table, to rise in his place and give us his opinion of what this clause really means. I believe that the committee is indebted to the honorable member for Scullin (Mr. Peters) for his eloquent statement, but when I find the strange company that is supporting him, I begin to think twice about his reasoning. If nobody on the other side of this chamber, even the Minister for Repatriation - who probably knows more about repatriation than about this matter - is able to clarify this clause, this might be a good time for progress to be reported, to enable the Minister to bring into the chamber somebody who can tell us what the clause means.
.- I wish to support the submission made by the honorable member for Kingston (Mr. Galvin). Surely the Minister for Repatriation is prepared to answer the charges that have been made about members of the Tariff Beard accepting outside employment. It has been pointed out to me that the Minister’s advisers on this subject are sitting behind him. We have submitted that men engaged in occupations in which they have big and influential interests could be adjudicating on matters on which, as human beings, they might be biased.
As the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) mentioned, recently I asked a question about the members of the Tariff Board. The answer to my question shows that at the time one of them was appointed he was the manager and part owner of-
– Order! The honorable member for Grayndler is getting away from the clause under discussion. I ask him to return to it.
– I will get back to the point, Mr. Chairman. I ask the Minister at the table, although he is the Minister for Repatriation, whether he will give the Parliament an assurance that people with interests divorced from those of the Tariff Board will not adjudicate on these problems. Will he tell us what he considers is another occupation and what is “ paid employment “? What does that entail? Does it mean that a member of the Tariff Board can have an outside income of £10,000 a year or £20,000 a year?
– Order! The honorable member is again getting away from the clause before the committee. I ask him to relate his remarks to the clause under discussion.
– I will get back to the clause. I put a simple question to the Minister, who evidently is a man of simple intentions. I ask him whether he will answer the questions asked by members of the Opposition, or whether he intends to ignore our submission that this clause is not clear and gives to people with wide and vested interests the right to adjudicate on problems in respect of which they might be biased. Broadly, that is our submission. We ask the Minister to give us a reply to it if he is capable of doing so.
– I have already explained to the committee the full range of section 9a of the principal act. The only addition that I make to that explanation, in reply to the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard), is to direct his attention to a fact that has been indicated already to-night - namely, that the members of the Tariff Board are engaged in a full-time occupation. That fact should be borne in mind in relation to the points that he has raised.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 10 (Oath or affirmation by member).
– I want to raise a very simple point in regard to clause 10. It will not take very long. I assume that the Schedule itself is open to discussion at this point. Clause 10 reads -
Section nine D of the Principal Act is amended by inserting before the word “ ‘Schedule “ the word “First”.
– The Schedule may not be debated. Clause 10 proposes only a drafting alteration of section 9d of the principal act, which is to be amended by inserting before the word “ Schedule “ the word “ First “. That is all this clause does. It is a simple addition of a word.
– I could not hear you very well, Mr. Chairman.
– If the honorable members on both sides of the honorable member for Hughes were not speaking, he might be able to hear me. The only thing that clause 10 does is to amend section 9d of the principal act by inserting the word “ First “ before the word “Schedule”. That is the only matter before the committee.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 11 (Meetings of the Board).
.- Mr. Chairman, clause 1 1 reads as follows: -
Section eleven of the Principal Act is amended by omitting sub-section (6.) and inserting in its stead the following sub-section:-
Sub-section (6.) of section 11 of the principal act reads as follows: -
The Board shall, by advertisement published in two newspapers circulating in the State in which the inquiry is to be held, give reasonable notice of its intention to hold any inquiry under this section, the subject of the inquiry and the time and place at which the inquiry is to be held.
Proposed new sub-section (6.) reads as follows: -
Before the Board commences to hold an inquiry referred to in sub-section (4.) of this section, the. Board shall give reasonable notice in each State and in the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory, by advertisement published in the “Gazette” and in a newspaper circulating in the State or Territory, as the case may be, of its intention . . . and so on. It appears that, whereas previously under the Tariff Board Act it was mandatory for the board to publish the advertisement in two newspapers, now the board is required to insert the advertisement in only one newspaper in each State.
– Instead of in two newspapers in one State.
– That is under the principal act.
– Under the amending bill, the advertisement has to be inserted in only one newspaper.
– Now the advertisement will have to be inserted in one newspaper in each and every State.
– That is not good enough. Is this amendment being made because of the Government’s hatred of the “ Sydney Morning Herald “? Does it mean that the only newspaper in New South Wales that will get advertisements for insertion will be the “ Daily Telegraph “? This is a strange state of affairs. Is the Melbourne “Sun” to get the advertisements notifying the board’s intention to hold an inquiry, and is the Melbourne “Age” not to get them?
What is this all about? Who devised this amendment and why did he devise it? Surely the committee is entitled to know that. The requirement in the principal act is restrictive enough, but this proposal is more restrictive than ever. I should like to know what it is all about. Does the Minister suggest that, if it is necessary to give notice, an advertisement in one newspaper in each State is sufficient, when every capital city of every State has at least two newspapers and some capital cities have three daily newspapers and an additional one on Sundays, and we also have very important provincial newspapers? In this Parliament we hear a good deal of talk about a belief in decentralization; yet no advertisements will be published in the local newspapers. I should like to hear an explanation of this amendment.
.- I refer to the point raised by the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard). I believe that the Minister for Repatriation should give the committee an explanation of this clause. The honorable member for Lalor pointed out that previously the advertisement had to be published in two newspapers in one State. Admittedly, this amendment enlarges the circle and makes it mandatory that the advertisement be inserted in one newspaper in each State. Most of us will recall that in this chamber only two or three weeks ago a most violent and vicious attack was made on the “ Sydney Morning Herald “. A few months previous to that a violent and vicious attack had been made upon one of the correspondents of a Melbourne newspaper.
The advertisement has to be published in only one newspaper in each State. In New South Wales there is one newspaper that consistently supports whatever action this Government takes.
– Order! The honorable member for Lang is getting away from the clause before the committee.
– No, Mr. Chairman. I want to know what criterion will be applied to the newspapers to decide which newspaper shall receive the advertisement. I am pointing out that it is reasonable to assume that the Sydney “ Daily Telegraph “ is much more likely to receive the advertisement than the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ is. In the other States the newspapers of the capital cities wholeheartedly support the action of the Government. What a dilemma, therefore, will face the Government in deciding which papers it will favour in placing these advertisements!
Why is an advertisement to be inserted in only one newspaper in each State? A lot of people who may be interested in the inquiries may not see that one advertisement. They may not even look at the issue of the “ Gazette “ in which the advertisement is inserted. So, I feel that the Government will not accomplish much by inserting the advertisement in one newspaper in each State unless it is inserted on more than one occasion. I should like the Minister to improve this clause by providing that advertisements shall be inserted in several newspapers in each State. Perhaps he could also state the criterion upon which the newspapers in which the advertisement will be inserted are to be selected.
Up to this stage, the honorable member for Lalor and myself have mentioned only the newspapers in the capital cities. What about a daily newspaper such as that circulating in the electorate of the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull), the “ Sunraysia Daily “? Is that to be considered? Are the newspapers in such large places as Broken Hill, Albury and Wagga Wagga to be considered or only the newspapers in the capital cities? One very widely read and distributed newspaper is the “Coburg Daily”, ls that to be considered for advertisement? I want the Minister to say how the newspapers in which these advertisements are to be inserted will be selected. I want him to say why he considers that only one advertisement will be sufficient in each State.
.- The subject under discussion, as mentioned by previous speakers, has certain grave elements. Proposed new sub-section (6.) of section 11 of the principal act reads as follows: -
Before the Board commences to hold an inquiry referred to in sub-section (4.) of this section, the Board shall give reasonable notice in each State and in the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory, by advertisement published in the Gazette and in a newspaper circulating in the State or Territory, as the case may be, of its intention to hold the inquiry, the subject of the inquiry and the time and place at which the inquiry is to be commenced.
The first question that I raise is: What is reasonable notice? Is it one day, two days, an hour, a week, a month or three months? I might think that a week is reasonable. The Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Swartz) might think that a week is reasonable. Others might think that a month or two months’ notice should be given. There is no set standard. On consulting the Oxford dictionary I found that there are literally hundreds of definitions of “ reasonable “. I intended to read a number of them to the committee but it would take all my time.
The Minister could say that “reasonable notice “ means a week. But the bill does not say that it means a week. I think it would be far better if the words used were “ fourteen days’ notice “ or “ a month’s notice “ or some other definite period. This is an important matter and it is one of urgency. I think that the bill should clearly define “ reasonable notice “.
I return to the point raised by the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard). Why has the Government now provided that the board shall give reasonable notice in one newspaper circulating in each State or Territory instead of in two newspapers in each State or Territory as is required under the present act? Advertisements for Commonwealth loans at present appear in one newspaper in New South Wales which has a circulation of only 400. Does this clause mean that the newspaper will come within the scope of this legislation? If that is so, the Government could advertise in such a newspaper in order that notice of a proposed inquiry would not be widely published. In that way evidence against the Government’s point of view could be suppressed. That point should be cleared up.
I have yet to know that the Commonwealth “ Gazette “ is read any more than “ Hansard ‘ is read. An advertisement in the “ Gazette “ might be read by some people who were vitally interested in a particular matter but thousands of others might not know about the proposed inquiry. The clause is too vague. It should stipulate that advertisements shall appear in newspapers with a wide circulation.
A paper circulating in Broome, Western Australia, for instance, might not circulate in Perth or Kalgoorlie. Will the provisions of this clause be fulfilled by advertising an inquiry in the paper circulating in Broome? What about newspapers which circulate in Broken Hill and never reach Sydney? Will the insertion of an advertisement in them fulfil the provisions of this clause? Does the clause mean that the board could confine its advertisements to religious newspapers and so completely sidestep the national press? That could easily be done. This clause makes possible the use of subterfuge because the expression “ newspaper circulating in the State or Territory “ is vague.
This clause appears to represent an endeavour by the Government to sidestep legislation on which there is a tremendous difference of opinion between the Liberal Party and the Australian Country Party. In my district, in the heart of Sydney, there are newspapers with a circulation of a couple of thousand. Would an advertisement inserted in one of them fulfil the requirements of clause 11? It may be said that these are extravagant examples. I do not think so. We have constant examples of legislation, the interpretation of which has been different to the apparent meaning of the words of the legislation. Last night the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly) expressed certain views about what a Minister might think. But a Minister in this Government might have entirely different views on this legislation to those of a Minister in another government. Even Ministers in the same government might have different views on the provisions of this bill.
The question of “reasonable notice” has to be cleared up. The question concerning “a newspaper circulating in the State or Territory” has to be cleared up. I want to be assured that advertisements will not be given to second-rate newspapers with second-rate circulations as in the case with Commonwealth loan advertisements. This legislation is vital to industries in my electorate and in others in which Australian workers are engaged. Its intention could be completely sabotaged by a clause such as this. These are matters which we do not want to have flippantly discussed or glossed over by the Government.
I want to know why the members of the Country Party are silent on this clause. I do not think that they wanted to have it inserted in the bill. Consequently, it has to be expressed as vaguely as possible in order to sabotage the real purposes of the bill which is to give protection urgently to the industries of this country. It is not my wish to hold up the proceedings of the committee. The views that I have expressed have required elaboration. I sincerely trust that the Minister for Repatriation will give the clear definition of “ reasonable notice “ for which I ask. I also want to know what newspapers are intended by the reference to “ a newspaper circulating in the State of Territory “. In Sydney will this be the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ or the “ Daily Telegraph “? Or will it be a newspaper such as the “ Century “. In Victoria, will it be the Melbourne “ Herald “ or the “ Sun “ ? Will it be the “ Courier Mail “ in Brisbane, or some second-rate newspaper in that State? In South Australia, will the Adelaide “ Advertiser “ or the “ News “ get the advertisement? In Western Australia, will it be given to the Kalgoorlie “ Times “ or one of the Perth newspapers? What newspaper will get it in Tasmania? Perhaps it will be given to one printed on the mainland and circulated in part of Tasmania. Perhaps those members of the Liberal Party who are interjecting will rise and answer the questions I am putting to the Minister. They would do better to answer the questions instead of mumbling as they are and endeavouring to cover up for the Minister who does not seem to know the answers. We want to know whether this clause is inserted in a deliberate attempt to sabotage and break down the safeguards provided for Australian, industry in the act as it stands. Again, why reduce the number of newspapers in which the advertisement is to be published from two as at present to one in each State? That provision gives rise to suspicion, and I do ask the Minister to answer the questions raised by honorable members on this side of the chamber.
– One thing that is evident at the moment is that the windbags of the Opposition are trying to command the air. It should be made known to those people in Australia who are listening to the broadcast of our proceedings that honorable members opposite are trying to commandeer the time on the air. They should be stopped because they do nothing to improve the debate. They are merely filling in time while the bill is being discussed in committee. Immediately the broadcast of these proceedings ceases, these honorable members will lose all interest in the debate.
– I rise to order. All this has nothing whatsoever to do with the matter under discussion.
– Order! The honorable member for Mitchell has suggested that the honorable member for Richmond get back to the clause under discussion. There is as much relevancy in what he has said as there was in what the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) had to say at times. However, I suggest to the honorable member for Richmond that he get back to the matter under discussion.
– It is not my purpose merely to speak to the air. I want to say something constructive in connexion with clause 11. The Opposition argues that the public will not have as great an opportunity under this provision as they have under the existing act to know what matters will be coming before the board. The amendment proposes that an advertisement shall be published in one of the major newspapers circulating in each of the States. The Opposition argues that under this proposal the particular newspaper in which the advertisement is published might not be circulated in one small town such as Broome. But how can we expect to inform everybody? Are we to send each person a letter containing the notification? It would be absurd to expect such a thing. Under this amendment, it is proposed also to publish the advertisement in the “Gazette” which is a regular weekly publication. Those people who are interested in these matters can obtain copies of the “ Gazette “ and in this way learn when particular matters are to be heard by the board. The “ Gazette “ is a small, compact official publication, and people who are interested know exactly where in that publication they will find the information they seek, whereas with many newspapers one never knows in what section to look for such information. If people are interested in Tariff Board procedure, all they will need to do is look in the “ Gazette “ each week.
– Apparently those honorable members opposite who have spoken have not read very carefully the section of the principal act which refers to publication of the advertisement in two newspapers in the one State - the State in which the hearing is to be held. The bill seeks to extend the notification by publishing the advertisement in one newspaper in every State and in each of the mainland territories. In addition, as the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony), has said, it will be published in the “ Gazette “. The reasons for this are quite obvious. The proposal contained in the bill represents a big extension of the present system of publicity. Further, as the head-quarters of the Tariff board are to be established at Canberra, the advertisement will be published in the Australian Capital Territory, having in mind the thought that some hearing obviously will be held here in future. The other points raised relating to what is reasonable time and the selection of the newspapers in which the advertisement is to be published, are matters for the board itself.
.- The Minister’s answer to the questions raised is not satisfactory. Now, instead of publishing the advertisement in two newspapers circulating in the State in which the inquiry is to be held, it will be published in only one newspaper in that State and in one newspaper in each of the five other States in which the inquiry is not being held.
– People in those States may be interested.
– It is very desirable that they should know when the inquiry is to be held; but if it was desirable hitherto that notification of the inquiry be published in two newspapers in the State in which it was to be held it should be equally desirable now to publish it in two newspapers in the State in which it is to be held. I submit that the Minister’s argument is fallacious.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 12 to 14 agreed to.
Clauses 15 and 16 - by leave - taken together.
.- I refer to paragraph (b) of sub-clause (1.) of proposed new section 18e, which reads, in part -
The Minister may take action for the purpose of the collection of a duty of customs in respect of those goods (in addition to any existing duty of customs) at a rate not exceeding the rate specified in the report of the authority . . .
The authority will report that a duty is necessary, and this bill provides that the Minister may take action. It does not say that he shall take action. There is no obligation upon him to take any action after the authority submits its report. I think that is a satisfactory position because I do not think the board should be required to take the action. It is bad enough in all conscience that the Minister should have the right to impose a tax behind the back of the Parliament; but, having given him that power, it is only right that he should be the one to take the action.
My purpose is to direct attention to the fact that he may take action, that he need not take action unless he wishes to do so. For instance, if the special authority recommends that quantitative import restrictions be imposed, the Minister is under no obligation to implement the recommendation; but I remind the committee that the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) indicated in his speech last night that serious consideration is being given to introducing a further amendment of the Tariff Act during the Budget session to give the board power to impose import restrictions.
– I remind the Minister that last night the Prime Minister said -
In the general armament of the Tariff Board we will include the capacity to impose a quota restriction where the board is of opinion that no normal tariff procedure will be appropriate to the case.
I interjected -
There is no provision in this bill to do that.
The Prime Minister replied -
I am referring to the bill which, unless I am bitterly disappointed, will be presented to the House in the Budget session.
If it is necessary to arm a board with power to impose import restrictions at any time in our history, it is more likely to be necessary on receipt of the first recommendation of this special authority than in six months’ time, when it may be too late. The whole point is that the Government will set up a new bureaucracy with power to impose import restrictions, and apparently the Minister is to be relieved of his existing powers. I point out these things because I think there are obvious dangers. If that is the sort of thing that is to be done, you might as well abolish Ministers and run the country by a dictatorship. I have here the very words of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) himself, when he referred to a board to be given power to impose import restrictions, and I direct the attention of the committee and the Minister to those words. I rose mainly to point out the fact that this country need not have any delusions that the Minister will necessarily do what the special authority recommends under this legislation.
Just how serious the position of this country is at the moment can best be shown by figures which 1 took yesterday from an official publication showing the terms of trade. In 1953 our import trade and export trade were in balance. Taking 100 as the index at which goods were purchased and the index of the price for which we sold our goods, I obtain the result shown in the following table: -
In other words our terms of trade position gets worse and worse. In effect, if we are spending £100 to buy our imports we are getting only £65 for our exports. All the time the situation is deteriorating and there is still not adequate protection against the influx of quite unnecessary products from other countries. These things should be taken into serious consideration and no delays should be experienced in dealing with this problem.
– I interrupt at this stage to correct a statement by the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard). Although it had nothing to do with the bill, he did refer to the Tariff Board and proposed legislation which may be introduced in the future. I have not had the advantage of reading the issue of “ Hansard “ which contains the speech of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) to which the honorable member referred. According to his interpretation of what the Prime Minister said, if legislation were introduced in the future, the Tariff Board would be empowered to recommend in the normal way, that is, by submitting one of its reports to the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen). It would then be up to the Minister for Trade, perhaps on his own authority or in discussion with his Cabinet colleagues, to decide what action he would take. That has always been the case and it will be the case in the future.
– That is not what it means. It may be what was meant. Read it for yourself.
– I should say that it is a misinterpretation.
– No, it is not. It is a factual statement that it means what it says.
– It was obviously not intended, because the same situation would apply and any legislation would only empower the Tariff Board to recommend exactly as it does now in relation to tariffs.
The only other point to which the honorable member for Lalor referred - which again is outside the bill - was the terms of trade. Again, we are in complete agreement with him; it is the very thing that the Government has been saying not only here but in conferences on the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, and with the United States of America, the United Kingdom and other countries. We have been endeavouring to impress on the highly industrialized countries this great problem of the terms of trade turning against the primary producing countries. The whole effort not only of the Government of this country but also of the governments of other countries that export primary products, has been directed towards that end.
.- I wish to direct attention to proposed new section 18D(2.)(b), which states - if the authority reports that the protection can appropriattely be provided by means of, or by means of measures that include, the temporary restriction of the importation of those goods - the authority shall also indicate in the report the extent to which the protection should be so provided.
That is very clear, but what is not clear is the manner in which that provision is to be made to function. Is it to be made to function by means of import licensing, such as operated previously and was described in March last by the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) when addressing this chamber as absolutely open to racketeering and the most undesirable method of determining the restriction that should be imposed on imports, and which he then declared to have been abolished by the Government for ever? That, of course, is the most important thing. It is not sufficient to say that the authority shall report the extent to which the protection should be provided; then it is left to the Minister of the day to determine the method whereby that restriction shall be implemented. I have said before that in March the Treasurer stated that import licensing was open to racketeering, was a most undesirable method of restricting imports and that the Government had had experience over a number of years of that method of determining the kind of goods that should be admitted to this country. In these circumstances we are quite entitled to ask the Minister whether the method to be adopted to implement proposed new section 1 8d (2.) (b) is the method that was previously adopted or some other method. If it is some other method, he should clearly and explicitely state to the committee what that method is.
.- There are three matters in connexion with clause 15 that I wish to raise. The first is that under this measure there is no legislative limit which makes it necessary that any given time shall elapse between a full Tariff Board inquiry and the resultant special adviser’s inquiry. I suggest that there is a very real need for some such legislative limit, and I shall give the committee an illustration.
In December, 1960, there was an examination by the full board into vegetable fats and oils. This was a very complex subject. The various oils had to be very carefully interrelated, because they are all interchangeable - one can be substituted for another. I was very complimentary to the board when it made what I took to be a very careful examination of this difficult subject. Its report was printed in December, 1960. Early this year the Minister referred to a deputy chairman the question of peanut oil as a separate inquiry. A report was made by the deputy chairman and the duties recommended were very considerable.
The point I want to make is that this upset the careful relationship between the various oils. If, after a careful inquiry by the board, an industry that does not get exactly what it wants is allowed to go round to the back door, as it were, to get extra protection from the special authority, the morale of the board is weakened and the stability of the industry is upset. I hope, before this legislation again comes into the chamber, the Government will consider the advisability of imposing a legislative limit of, say, two years between a full board inquiry and a special inquiry, unless new facts are brought to light. That would overcome the objection that I have had to much of this legislation.
I believe that too much instability will be caused by continual inquiries. An inquiry into the peanut industry was held in 1960 and an emergency inquiry was held in 1962. This must be followed by a full board inquiry within a limited time. If this goes’ on, obviously instability will be brought into the operations of the tariff system. I urge the Minister to have a look at this to ascertain whether some legislative limit can be placed on the time that must elapse between a full board inquiry and an inquiry by the special authority.
I want to refer to proposed new section 18b (2.), which permits the authority to undertake an inquiry in any manner that he thinks fit. I spoke of this with some heat and perhaps with some force during the debate on the second reading of the bill. 1 do not intend to go over that ground again. However, the Minister has said that a special committee will be attached to the Department of Trade with the function of finding out the facts. I should like a definite assurance that this special arm of the Department of Trade will assist those who oppose the imposition of the duty in the same way as I imagine it will find out the facts in order to help the industry that is seeking protection.
The next matter I want to deal with is a serious matter. It was raised by the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) and I am in complete opposition to his point of view. If a special authority recommends protection in the form of a temporary duty, the Minister may take action. Of course, it is not obligatory on the Minister to follow any Tariff Board decisions, but in this instance he cannot impose a duty in excess of the recommended duty. When it comes to the quantitative restriction, I see a very great weakness. In proposed new section 18d (2.) (b), the authority is required to indicate in the report “ the extent to which the protection should be so provided “. I arn unable as yet to understand the significance of this provision. Does the special authority say what shall be the quota of imports? What is meant by the expression “ shall also indicate in the report the extent to which the protection should be so provided “?
Proposed new section 18f(1.) contains the following words - the Minister may take action for the purpose of the restriction of the importation of those goods
It does not say that the Minister shall take action in line with the decision of the authority. It says that he may take action. I differ completely from the view expressed by the honorable member for Lalor. One of the great dangers I see in this legislation is that it weakens the authority of the board. I believe very strongly that once we allow the powerful recommendations on tariffs or protection in any way to get into the hands of the department alone, away from the Tariff Board, we strike a very serious blow at our fiscal system.
I am surprised that the honorable member for Lalor mentioned this. When the Labour Government was in office it also followed the traditional procedures of listening to the advice of the Tariff Board. But sometimes the Labour Government departed from the advice of the board, and I am not growling at this. We have always recognized the independence of a Tariff Board inquiry as a prime factor in our fiscal system. When we come to quantitative restrictions, we depart from this. It is not the Tariff Board that shall recommend the protection; the Minister may take action to protect the industry almost in any way he thinks fit. That goes to the root of my objection to the whole bill.
In concluding, I should like to say that I have been twitted continually during this debate because I have disagreed with the Government. I am proud to serve in a party which permits this to be done. I should like to make it clear publicly that in no way have I had any pressure brought to bear on me to conform to the wishes of the Government in these matters. I think the Parliament would be much better if this principle applied also on the opposite side of the chamber.
.- 1 can hardly allow the point made by the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly) to escape notice. Consistently throughout the debate on this bill he has disagreed with the Government. He now excuses this by saying that he is proud to be able to serve in a party which permits this to be done. Disagreements on the Labour side are called confusion, splits and discord by the honorable member for Wakefield and others who have spoken with this degree of humbug. Of course, a difference of opinion on the Government side is the result of careful and objective thinking, and Government supporters are proud to be in a party which permits these statements to be made. What a lot of humbug that is 1 want to point out what’ also is obvious and that is that Government supporters are terribly apprehensive about the quantitative restrictions. The honorable member for Wakefield in his careful manner gave an example of this just a few moments ago. He correctly pointed out that the special advisory authority has power not only to recommend protective duties or the temporary restriction of imports, but also has power to state what the duty will be and the extent of the restriction. To that extent we are in agreement. But the honorable member for Wakefield, as an example of his touchiness on these quantitative restrictions, said: “ Here is a serious matter that 1 want to bring to the notice of the Minister. Proposed new section 18f(1.) says that the Minister may take action for the purpose of the restriction of the importation of goods”. He wants this to be specially circumscribed in accordance with a recommendation of the special authority. Exactly the same expression is used in proposed new section 18e (1.) in relation to a duty of customs. But the honorable member for Wakefield does not want anything specially stated there. The words in proposed new section 18e(1.) are -
This does not worry the honorable member for Wakefield; he does not want that specially circumscribed. He is worried about the possibility of a quantitative restriction. 1 think the drawing of a line of distinction between the quantitative restrictions and the protective duty is a most superficial way of looking at the matter. There is not that much difference between the two of them. I think that the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly) and some of his friends have what is called a real thing about these quantitative restrictions. Perhaps it is because they have started to call them “ Q.R.’s “, which apparently have some mysterious connotation and an effect totally different from the effect of a tariff.
At this stage I want to raise two points. I mentioned during my speech in the secondreading debate that in no place in the bill are the words “ quantitative restrictions “ used - nowhere at all. The Minister himself in his second-reading speech said that the Government was introducing quantitative restrictions. If we look at clauses 15 and 16, which are now under discussion, we find that in every instance the term used is “ temporary restriction of the importation “ - not “ temporary quantitative restriction of the importation “. If the Government is clear about what it wants to do, why is it leaving out the word “ quantitative “ from the bill? I should have thought that that was the key word. This is an illustration of how the Government is completely unwilling to face the task involved in applying quantitative restrictions. It wants to avoid that task completely, if it can. This underlines the submission made by the honorable member for Scullin (Mr. Peters). I hope that the Minister will not overlook it. I hope that he will tell us, if the Government is going to impose quantitative restrictions, how it will handle the importers. Will it use the method of import licensing, as before? We want an answer to this question.
I come to my final point. The honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) raised the question of the Tariff Board getting power to impose quantitative restrictions. If this were the intention of the Government, it should have made appropriate provision in clauses 15 and 16, but it is not there. It was quite appropriate for the honorable member for Lalor to quote what the Prime Minister said last night. He said -
In the general armament of the Tariff Board-
I think the board has pop guns in some places and nothing that can really be called armament - we will include the capacity to impose a quota restriction when the board is of the opinion that no normal tariff procedure will be appropriate to the case.
That was said yesterday. The Prime Minister is now telling us that at some distant time in the future the Government will consider giving the Tariff Board the power to do what the special authority has power to do under this legislation. Away back on 11th February, 1961, the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) said this -
In connection with the normal functioning of the Tariff Board, the Government proposes to amend the Tariff Board Act so that, in certain circumstances, the Tariff Board, after a full inquiry, may recommend that protection should include import restriction where the tariff alone would not give the necessary measure of protection.
That statement was made on 11th February, 1961. Yesterday- 4th April, 1962- the Prime Minister said that the Government is going to do it. When is the Government going to do it? I think that the experience We have had in the import field over the past twelve months, and the devastation caused unnecessarily to Australians by imports, together with the possibility of future problems to be met, makes the Opposition’s case extremely strong, especially when we are able to quote those two statements, made twelve months apart. The Government is still considering whether at some time in the future it should give the Tariff Board these powers. I think that the attitude of Government supporters to the provision of quantitative restrictions, the bill’s silence on that phrase, and the continuous postponement of any decision to give the Tariff Board these powers, as evidenced by the Prime Minister and the Minister for Trade, show that the Government is not sincere about the matter. This lack of sincerity underlines even more the demand by the Opposition that the Minister at the table should answer the specific question that the Opposition has put to him.
Mr. MALCOLM FRASER (Wannon) 11.36]. - I would like to mention briefly three points regarding this lengthy clause. Two of them were mentioned by the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly). I agree with him that it will not be good for the morale of the Tariff Board if there is no limitation to the references that can be made to the special authority after a full Tariff Board inquiry. If the special authority is a body hanging over the head of the full Tariff Board at all times, that could well jeopardize the morale and standing of the board. The honorable member suggested that there should be a time limit of two years, so that no referal to the special authority could be made within two years of a full hearing. I think this would be a sound amendment for the Government to consider at some future stage, but there would always have to be provision that, if circumstances changed dramatically or radically after the full Tariff Board hearing, new evidence could be brought forward to the special authority even within the two-year period.
The other point raised by the honorable member for Wakefield was rightly raised. The bill provides that, if there is a reference to the special authority, and if the authority decides that an imposition of duty is the appropriate method of protection, the authority shall report what should be the rate of duty. Proposed new section 18E of the principal act contains these words - the Minister may take action for the purpose of the collection of a duty of customs in respect of those goods (in addition to any existing duty of customs) at a rate not exceeding the rate specified1 in the report of the authority . . .
The important words are “at a rate not exceeding the rate specified in the report of the authority “. The honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns) tried to show there was no difference between the provisions relating to duties and to restrictions, but he was completely wrong. He quoted only two lines of that part of the proposed new section 18e and omitted to read the two succeeding lines, which state - at a rate not exceeding the rate specified in the report of the authority . . .
That refers to duty. When it comes to the restriction of the importation of the goods, proposed new section 18d provides that the authority shall also indicate in the report the extent to which protection should be provided. There is no restriction on the power given to the Minister. Proposed new section 18f, which the honorable member for Yarra quoted, reads, in part -
In that case there is no restriction on the Minister, as there is in regard to duty. Why does the bill discriminate in this fashion? Why has the Minister discretion to impose any degree of restriction, once a restriction has been recommended by the authority, and why, if a tariff is recommended, is the maximum tariff indicated by the authority the maximum that can be imposed? The departmental view may be that there has to be a degree of administrative flexibility in this matter. Even if the department argues in this way, it is a long-term argument, and quite inappropriate to a temporary measure, as this must be. This is a serious inconsistency in the bill, as the honorable member for Wakefield indicated, and I should like to see it examined in any future legislation that is brought down.
Sub-section (2.) of proposed new section 18g reads -
The use by an authority of the services of any officers or employees of the Board for the purposes of an inquiry is nol subject to the control of the Chairman.
I believe that proposed new section 18g is a serious provision, Mr. Chairman. I know that it was adopted from section 17a (8.) of the principal act. But the position was quite different when the person undertaking an emergency inquiry was a deputy chairman of the Tariff Board who was used to the board and used to working with its chairman. In the circumstances now envisaged, the special authority will be entirely independent of the board. He will not be part of the board and he will not be used to working with it. If, in the future, there were arguments about delays on the part of either the special authority or the board, both could take advantage of sub-section (2.) of proposed new section 18g, which provides that the officers used by the special authority who are officers in the normal employment of the board shall not be under the control of the chairman of the board but shall be completely separate and divorced from any authority that he may have. The board could blame the special authority and the special authority could blame the board for the delays. I think that in these circumstances it would be a very good idea to provide the special authority with his own trained staff and to leave the Tariff Board with its staff intact, untouched by and unavailable to the special authority.
.- Mr. Chairman, I should like to point out at this stage that we have witnessed another turnabout by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies). Last year, he stated that in no circumstances would import licensing be re-introduced in Australia. In this instance, as in many other instances, he has had to retract his words. The system of quantitative restrictions, as it has been explained to us, means that a system of import licensing such as we had before will have to be implemented. This raises a number of questions. If ten importers are importing, say, £5,000,000 worth of certain goods and, on application to the authority by local industries, the volume of imports is reduced’ to £2,500,000 worth a year, what will happen to the ten importers? Will each have a quota of only £250,000 worth instead of £500,000 worth of goods? Will some of them be eliminated from the field altogether? Will only one importer be allowed in the field? Will the Government allow the number of importers to increase beyond ten even with the reduced quota? These considerations mean that import licensing must be re-introduced.
I come now to one of the most important aspects of this bill, and I should like the Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Swartz) to give me an answer in relation to it. When a special authority is asked’ to restrict imports, what will happen? Will importers be allowed to import a considerable volume of the goods in question after application to the special authority has been made and while the matter is being considered? Let me illustrate the point by reference to citrus fruit juices.
– Oh, Jim!
– This is a matter which concerns the Australian Country Party, and my friend, the honorable member for Mitchell, too, is greatly interested in it. If the growers of citrus fruits apply for restrictions on the import of citrus fruit juices and the Tariff Board agrees to reduce the volume of imports to one-quarter of the current volume, what is there to prevent the importers of those juices from bringing in twelve months’ or two years’ supply before the barrier of protection is raised against them? Admittedly, we could impose a tariff on the goods while they were at sea on their way to this country. I am quite aware of that. But the point is: Will such action be taken against friends of the Government who are big importers? That is the point that we have to consider. We must ensure that these matters are treated expeditiously, and we must make sure that, once an application is made, nobody abuses the system by importing a large volume of goods before restrictions become effective. In the last twelve months, more than 5,000 tons of frozen peas have been brought into Australia at the expense of many of our primary producers. We must be sure that, if an application is made to prevent such imports from entering the country, the importers do not bring in another 5,000 tons while the application is being heard.
These are the questions that I want the Minister to answer: What are the Government’s intentions? Does it intend to impose duties on goods in transit to Australia if abuses of the system are threatened? These questions must be answered by the Minister in order to give us a full picture of the Government’s intentions.
.- Mr. Chairman, I believe that there is a specific weakness in the bill which is typified in proposed new section 18f of the principal act. I think that most honorable members who have spoken on this clause have mentioned’ a point that is patent: Here is an instance in which the Tariff Board will not have power to modify or recommend the modification or the continuance of, quantitative restrictions which have been approved by the Minister for Trade after recommendation by a special authority. The weakness is that, as the bill stands, once the board hears an application for quantitative restrictions it cannot do anything but recommend a tariff, lt can recommend only a duty of some kind and cannot recommend restriction of imports as recommended by the special authority approved by the Minister. The board cannot continue or modify those restrictions. Its only course is to recommend a tariff. This is the result of fallacious thinking, because, under the terms of reference laid down in this measure, a special authority must first have thoroughly exhausted the possibilities of adopting a tariff as the solution to a particular problem. Only after that has been done can the special authority recommend restriction of imports of the goods in question.
– What would happen in the meantime?
– I shall come to that. It is a good point. The board has not the power to do anything but refuse to recommend continuance of restrictions. Obviously, a duty will probably not be the answer, that possibility having already been tested. So, in most instances a tariff will be refused. As soon as the Minister receives from the board a report refusing continuance of restrictions, because it has not the power to continue them, the specified period of three months starts to run, and quantitative restrictions are removed immediately after the effluxion of that period.
I come now to the reason why honorable members have been complaining to the Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Swartz) about the wide scope of proposed new section 18f. Proposed new section 18e is quite definite, lt relates only to duties. It provides that the Minister may approve or reject a duty, but may not approve a duty at a rate in excess of that recommended by a special authority. The qualifying part of proposed new section 18f is paragraph (b) of sub-section (1.). That sub-section states -
the Minister has referred to the Board for inquiry and report the matter of the necessity for new or increased duties on those goods, . . .
That is after quantitative restrictions have been recommended and approved. The sub-section does not go on to make the provision that should be made. It should continue with the words “ or modification or continuance of the restriction of imports “, but, at present, the board has not power to recommend modification or continuance of restrictions. The honorable member for Lalor took this point. He asked what would happen in the interim, until the new measure of which the Prime Minister gave notice took effect. That is a very good point. I suggest that what would happen is that where a quantitative restriction has been approved by the Minister and the matter has been referred to the board, but the board’s report has not been presented to the Minister, action will be delayed until such time as the new legislation is introduced. If this is not so, there will be very real foundation for fears.
In order to dispel some of the disquiet ot honorable members, let me say that we do not propose to qualify the Minister’s action under proposed new section 18f. The Minister may take action for the purpose of the restriction of the importation of goods. That provision is left wide and is not qualified in any way. Proposed section 18f, subsection (1.) (b) of that proposed new section appears to me to be a drafting subterfuge merely to make the provision parallel with that contained in proposed new section 18e. It can have no real meaning until the new legislation empowering the board to recommend a continuance or modification of restriction of imports is introduced.
.- 1 rise to express concern on two issues. First, I support the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Cope), who is in the unique position of having a citrus orchard in Redfern; and secondly, I have a great deal of fear in relation to the time that this procedure will take when an industry is vitally in need of urgent assistance. The Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and other Government supporters have made the point that the question of imposition of a duty comes first and that the question of a quantitative restriction - or Q.R., as it is called on the Government side - rather a new expression - comes second. I should like to reiterate the point raised by the honorable member for Watson in relation to citrus juices. The basic problem of this industry is the greatly improved methods of marketing being used by importers of the American product. They are using television advertising and other methods of publicity which are far beyond the means of the distributors of the Australian product. Accordingly, it is extremely doubtful whether a duty would overcome the industry’s problems. I say that it certainly would not. Therefore, it would be necessary to impose a quantitative restriction upon imports.
The procedure through which the industry must go has been enunciated to-night. First, it must exhaust the possibilities of a duty. The tendency will be for the committee first to recommend a duty. This means that there will have to be a further application to the committee before a quantitative restriction is finally placed upon imports. In the meantime, the local industry will have gone bankrupt and be virtually defunct. I may be excused for expressing very great fears about the time that will elapse and the practicability of this measure for providing worthwhile emergency protection. That is the important point. We want emergency protection.
My second point relates to the mechanics to be used. It is the Minister’s duty to advise the committee of the mechanics that are to be utilized should it ‘be necessary to place quantitative restrictions on imports. For example, in March, 1961, the Treasurer said -
We believe that we should not have such an arbitrary control as import licensing - a bad control which was acknowledged by every one as working unfairly-
That was despite the fact that the Government retained it for eight years - which produced all sorts of anomalies, which led to racketeering, and which is contrary to fair practice. We do have the obligation under the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade not to maintain import restrictions except for balance of payment purposes.
I have had some experience in these matters, and I cannot see any way of imposing a quantitative restriction upon imports of a commodity other than by some method of import licensing or fixing a quota, unless a total ban is placed upon importation. That, in effect, would still be import licensing. It is the duty of the Minister to tell the committee the mechanics of implementation of the provision. It is all very well to refer to the matter in the very vague language of the bill, but what mechanics are to be utilized to restrict importation? Before we go any further, the Minister should advise the committee on this matter.
.- Proposed new section 18a sets out the matters upon which the special authority may be called upon by the Minister to report. The first is - whether it is necessary that urgent action be taken to protect that Australian industry in relation to the importation of those goods.
The section goes on to provide that if such urgent action is necessary, the first matter to be considered by the special authority is duty, and the next is a quota restriction. I direct the attention of the committee to something that worries me considerably. I can best do this by referring first to a report by the special authority on engine bearings and bushings. The Minister’s letter to the special authority requested advice as to whether -
The words of the bill are - whether it is necessary that urgent action be taken to protect that Australian industry.
The. charter given to the special authority was to advise whether there was a threat of serious injury. This is perhaps not too wide a departure and may be, perhaps, overlooked. But the next point in the letter from the Minister to the special authority on which advice was sought was whether -
In other words, after the determination of the existence of an emergency, the next thing upon which the authority was required to report was whether the position could best be tackled by the imposition of quantitative restrictions. Yet the bill quite clearly places upon the special authority the duty of deciding first whether the industry can be given the protection by means of tariff.
– What happens about the imports in the meantime?
– In an emergency this has to be done within 30 days. The point I have tried to make is that the reference by the Minister to the special authority in the matter of engine bearings and bushings included the question whether or not there was a threatened serious injury, so that when we combine the question of threatened serious injury with the requirement of a report within 30 days, we see that the case is not one in which the industry has been irreparably damaged before the report has been made. I wanted to direct attention to the inversion in the request by the Minister to the special authority on 20th February, 1962, in relation to engine bearings and bushings. The request in that case was for a consideration of quantitative restrictions first, whereas the bill requires the consideration of tariff protection first before taking quantitative restrictions into account. In this respect I would hope that after the bill becomes law requests made by the Minister to the special authority will follow the correct order as laid down in the legislation, asking for a consideration of tariff protection in the first place.
Proposed new section 18d, sub-section (l.) of the bill says: -
An authority undertaking an inquiry under section eighteen b of this Act in relation to any goods shall, as soon as practicable but not later than thirty days after the date of receipt by him of the request for the inquiry, report to the Minister on the matters that are the subject of the inquiry.
Proposed new section 18b is, of course, the provision that requires the authority to undertake an inquiry upon receipt of a request. It says in sub-section (1.) -
Upon receipt of a request under the last preceding section, the authority shall forthwith undertake the inquiry.
It appears, therefore, that in all cases the report must be made within 30 days of the receipt of the request. This limitation of the available time to 30 days is, of course, in accordance with the emergency intention of the bill. The inquiry must be undertaken quickly. But when one looks at the other provisions in Part V. one wonders whether or not the special authority will have any chance whatsoever of fulfilling within 30 days the statutory duty cast upon him. Proposed new section 18d(2.) says -
Where the authority reports that it is necessary that urgent action be taken to protect an Australian industry in relation to the importation of any goods -
if the authority reports that the protection can appropriately be provided by means of, or by means of measures that include, the temporary restriction of the importation of those goods - the authority shall also indicate in the report the extent to which the protection should be so provided.
There was never any d’oubt in my mind that the intention of the bill was that the special authority should decide the degree of the restriction to be imposed. Similarly, there was no doubt in my mind that the special authority would be the person empowered to decide who would be the importers, or in what manner the restricted quantity of imports was to be whacked up, to use an aphorism. My friend the honorable member for McMillan (Mr.
Buchanan) says, “ No, that is not right “. Well, somebody has been under a misapprehension. It may have been he or it may have been I. But I have no desire whatsoever to see the matter stand so that the decision as to who shall import what will be left in the hands of the Department of Trade. I have always believed that this would be something for the special authority to do, and that we would not have a return to the old import licensing system. I believed that the special authority was going to assume these responsibilities. If my friend from McMillan had a different view his understanding of the matter was different from mine.
The special authority certainly has some responsibility. We will put aside for the moment the question whether he will decide who shall import what. However, it is clear that the special authority must decide, and must state in his report, the extent of the protection to be provided - and he hai to do this within 30 days. There is one report by the special authority that is available to us. It is the report on engine bearings and bushings. Let us have a look at that report by Sir Frank Meere so that we can consider whether there is any possibility of the special authority giving his report within the statutory limit of 30 days. On page 3 of the report Sir Frank Meere says -
The quality of the Australian bearings and bushings for original equipment is satisfactory and I see no reason why the Australian manufacturers of these goods should not be assisted to achieve a greater share of the original equipment market.
Then he says - and this is the important part -
This could be done by the imposition ot quantitative restrictions on an administrative basis, i.e., each application would need to be dealt with individually because of the varying circumstances of each motor vehicle manufacturer.
Here is a special authority who is required by this legislation to write a report on engine bearings and bushings, and1 who says that he cannot perform the statutory duty that he is required to perform without going to every individual manufacturer and inquiring about the special circumstances of each motor-vehicle manufacturer.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
Friday, 6 April 1962
.There are one or two questions concerning this part of the legislation to which I would like the Minister to give answers. First, I would like him to tell the Committee how many applications for reference to the special advisory authority are at present on hand in the Department of Trade. I want that question answered because I want to know, further, what number of applications will have to be on hand before the Government decides to appoint further special authorities. I refer the House to the report presented by Sir Frank Meere on temporary protection for engine bearings and bushings for motor vehicles. It was referred to him on about 20th February, and he replied to the Minister on 19th March. Almost exactly one month was required for the special authority to prepare that report. I do not know how many other inquiries he was conducting at that time, but unless industrial representatives are given some indication of the number of applications that have been made to the department they will have no idea whether this legislation will work as well as the Government thinks it will work.
I am one of those who believe that the applause that has been heard from the chambers of manufactures on the Government’s production of this legislation is perhaps a little early. While the indications are that the legislation may work I doubt very much that it will work to the entire satisfaction of the people who are applauding it at this time, because I feel that there will be a far greater number of applications, particularly in the initial stages, than the Government or the various representatives of industry thought there would be.
I also want to know from the Minister why there is no limitation on the time that the department can hold these applications before referring them to the Minister, and on the time the Minister can hold them before referring them to the special advisory authority. The only stipulation as to time that is contained in the bill is that the special authority must present his report within 30 days of receiving the request. The Minister, when outlining the provisions of the bill, said that the industry panel could submit a case to the department, and he suggested that the case should be as fully documented as possible. The industry having submitted a case to the department it is natural to assume that the departmental officers will consider that case and will forward it to the Minister with a recommendation as to whether or not the matter should be referred to the special advisory authority. The Minister will then consider it himself, and may take two, three or four weeks to decide whether it should be referred to the special authority. As the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) stressed, it is not mandatory for the Minister to take the advice of his departmental officers at any time. It is provided that the Minister may request the special advisory authority, that he may do this and that he may do something else. The only stipulation as to time is in relation to the special advisory authority. He must do something within 30 days, but the departmental officers have no time limit placed upon them.
I, as well as many other honorable members, have had letters from the Department of Trade and other departments saying that certain matters will be dealt with as soon as possible. After four or five followup letters have been written over a period of six weeks, we may receive a final reply. Unless a guarantee is given to industry that delays will not occur when a matter is submitted, it will be found that the lapse of time between the department receiving a request and passing it on to the advisory authority will be greater than the 30 days within which the advisory authority has to bring down his report.
The Minister did indicate that these reports will be made available to the House, but I wish to direct attention to proposed new section 18e(2.) which reads -
Where the Minister takes action for the purpose of the collection of a temporary duty, a copy of the relevant report under the last preceding section shall be laid before the House of .Representatives -
if that House is sitting on the day on which the temporary duty commences to be collected - on or before that day; or
in any other case - within seven sitting days of that House after that day.
That means only that the Minister has to present the report to the Parliament if he takes action. If he rejects the advice of the special advisory authority, Parliament need not see the report at all. I feel that not only members of this Parliament, but also the industry concerned, would like to know whether the Minister is taking action in line with the recommendations of the special advisory authority, or whether he is rejecting as many recommendations as he is taking notice of. The same thing applies where the Minister takes action on quantitative restrictions - temporary restrictions on the importation of goods. Again, he must take action before the report is required to be brought before the House. I feel that unless this Parliament is entitled to see all the reports of the special advisory authority, it will have no indication whether the Minister is administering this act in the way in which we hope it will be administered and in which the manufacturers hope it will be administered, or in the way in which the Country Party, the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly), the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Malcolm Fraser) and one or two other honorable members hope it will be administered - in the interests of the free traders of Australia rather than in the interests of those who believe in the protection of Australian industry. 1 should like the Minister, in replying to the various questions that have been raised, to inform the House particularly how many applications for inquiries have already been received. I should like him also to state whether it is intended in the immediate future to appoint a further special authority, and whether the Government intends in every instance - whether the Minister takes action or otherwise - to bring the report of the special authority before the Parliament. Further, I should like him to say whether there is to be some stipulation about the time that can elapse between the lodging of an application with the department and the Minister either passing it on to the special authority or rejecting it. Unless all these questions are answered at this stage, the manufacturers who have been applauding this legislation, and the people in the citrus fruits, textile, carpel manufacturing and various other industries which are looking to the Government for a quick solution of their problems, will be led up the garden path, because this bill will not be administered in the way in which they hope it will be administered.
.- I wish to direct attention to proposed new section 18a and one or two other proposed new sections during the few minutes at my disposal. A portion of proposed section 18a has been challenged, not only by honorable members on this side of the chamber, but also by honorable members on the other side. The section reads -
Where it appears to the Minister that urgent action may be necessary to protect an Australian industry, in relation to the importation of any goods, pending receipt and consideration of a report of the Board in relation to those goods, he may request a special advisory authority . . .
The section says that he “ may “ make that request. That is the point 1 wish to stress, lt is not mandatory for the Minister to refer any request to the advisory authority. As the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Cope) and other honorable members on this side have stated, the Minister may discriminate or his judgment may be bad, or he may not like an industry. Because of factors of that kind he could easily decide that certain cases should be referred and that others should not.
The honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly) is an outstanding rebel against the Government on this issue. To-night his position has been challenged by a number of outspoken critics who, like him, are not prepared to vote against the measure. The honorable member for Wakefield questioned whether the Minister is the right person to decide whether these matters should be referred or not, or whether anything should be done in respect of them. I wish to put up a case that has been submitted to me, and 1 ask the Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Swartz) whether this is the type of case that would be referred to the advisory authority for consideration. I refer to footwear. 1 should like an opinion from the Minister as to whether this case would come within that provision which says that the Minister may request a special advisory authority, and so on. lt is said that it is difficult for manufacturers of shoes to obtain protection against imports because basically, under the present system, the manufacturers must be severely affected before action can be taken on dumping. Emergency tariff hearings are extremely difficult to obtain, and a full hearing takes some time to negotiate and prepare.
The point I make is that at this particular time there are shoes coming into this country which are selling on the Sydney market at about 49s. 6d. a pair. They are coming from cheap labour countries. I am told that Australian manufacturers can match this price, but that they cannot nearly match the quality of the shoes at the price. The footwear industry is highly developed in Australia, and proved itself able and ready to assist the nation during World War II. Modern methods are used but, frankly, the industry cannot compete against low-wage countries. Reverting to an earlier statement I made, it is my clear understanding from a reliable source that there will be on sale during the next spring-summer season colossal quantities of casual shoes from Italy at prices the local manufacturers cannot meet, again taking into account the standard of quality.
I quote the following figures for the information of the Minister. In a particular category of imports from Italy, the following was the position during 1961: In July, 4,147 pairs of shoes were imported; in August, 4,645 pairs; in September, 10,172 pairs, and in October, 6,328 pairs - a total of 25,290 pairs of shoes during that period. Having had a taste of the possibilities, the trade is worried about what is likely to happen next spring and summer. Would it not be possible, if some one was using available licences to bring in excessive quantities of anything - in this case footwear - for some recognition to be made of this fact? A similar position applies in certain other sections of the shoe trade, where 165,000 pairs of shoes were received into Australia during a similar period. In another case 13,000 pairs of footwear were received into this country.
It could be argued in relation to the overall production of footwear in this country, these are not high figures, but the footwear industry soon realizes what is likely to happen when it goes to retailers with new season’s footwear and does not receive orders. This has a dampening effect on the manufacturer, because he has reservations and certain fears about the future.
Some years ago certain tariffs were increased, but in most cases the increase was not adequate. It is all right to say that recourse can be had to the Tariff Board, but the action taken by the board would come too late to assist the industry to overcome its difficulty. Certain footwear manufacturers have had to close their factories during the past couple of years.
Importations of footwear from cheap labour countries between July and October, 1961, were -
That means that from July to October, 1961, despite the establishment of the Australian footwear industry, 218,316 pairs of shoes were imported from cheap labour countries. They could compete with Australian prices but probably not with the quality. Is that a case that would be referred on application to the special advisory authority for consideration and urgent tariff protection? That is one of the many cases that would not come under the provision the committee is discussing which states quite clearly that the Minister may request the special advisory authority to inspect a case. That is a classic example of an industry that might be affected and I would like an assurance whether it will be given protection or referred to the advisory authority.
It has been said somewhat significantly by Sir Arthur Warner, a Liberal Minister in the upper House in Victoria that the present Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) is a free trade Minister. It is also said that the Australian Country Party is a free trade party and judging by the observations of the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly), I think that members of the Country Party are not short of relatives in the Liberal Party. So what is to be done in respect of industries like the footwear industry? Will they be referred or not? That is the question I ask the Minister to answer.
– Order! The honorable member is wandering away from the clause.
– I thank you, Mr. Chairman, for your tolerance, and I appreciate the wisdom of your judgment because it gives scope to a debate which is important to those engaged in the industry. That brings me back to a provision which was brought to the attention of the House by the honorable member for Wakefield. I refer to proposed new section 18b, which states - (1.) Upon receipt of a request under the last preceding section, the authority shall forthwith undertake the inquiry. (2.) An authority undertaking an inquiry under this section in relation to any goods shall conduct the inquiry in such manner as he thinks fit.
I invite honorable members to listen to what the honorable member for Wakefield said about that proposed new section. He is one of the rebels on the Government side who says what he likes inside and outside the House so long as he votes with the Government. He is a man of good intentions but he lacks the courage to do what he wants to do. The honorable member said -
We must remember that the special advisers are to be allowed to hold inquiries in any way they see fit. Tariff Board hearings are held in public. There is great merit in this. It enables arguments to bring out the facts and to ventilate the case. But the hearings of a special adviser may be held in any way he sees fit. What an engaging picture emerges.
– Did the honorable member for Wakefield say that?
– Yes, and he continued -
The Minister may choose a special adviser to fit a particular case, and then the hearings may be held in private.
What a damning indictment of the Minister and the Government. In other words, the honorable member for Wakefield has said that under this provision, the Minister can choose any adviser he wants and the adviser will bring in any decision the Minister wants. That charge has been made by a Liberal member who added -
These methods seem to me to be a complete negation of the principle of independent inquiry on tariff questions. But this may not be the reason for the changed procedure.
In other words, the honorable member for Wakefield challenged the integrity of the Minister for Trade and said he would, in effect, if the circumstances suited him, set up his own advisory authority who would bring in decisions that were wanted, or not have an inquiry at all, or have an inquiry in camera. This is a serious charge to come from a supporter of the Government. I would like to hear the observations of the Minister on this point because I expected honorable members on the
Government side to support the Minister for Trade, the integrity of his selection and the general basis of the bill.
We cannot idly pass proposed new section 18b, nor can we ignore what has been said by the honorable member for Wakefield. The honorable member for Bruce (Mr. Snedden) expressed some opinions to-night on the charges that have been made by the honorable member for McMillan (Mr. Buchanan).
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– The honorable member for Lang (Mr. Stewart) asked how many applications ‘had been submitted to the special advisory authority. My first point is that the honorable member knows that this bill authorizes the setting up of this authority. Previously, .the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) indicated that if matters of great urgency arose and if he thought the special advisory authority should ‘handle them, he would refer the matters to the authority. The Minister referred two matters to the special advisory authority, one of which has been returned. It was referred to in the committee this evening. The other has yet to be returned. There are no other applications before the deputy chairman. They have cleared up all the applications. In addition, there are a number of applications which are being considered such as the one referring to citrus fruits to which reference was made to-night.
That brings me to another matter referred to by the honorable member for Bruce (Mr. Snedden). He spoke of the first case that had been returned from Sir Frank Meere, the special advisory authority, and asked why the submission had’ been made to the special authority in the form in which it was made.
– I did not ask why. I directed attention to the fact.
– The reason, obviously, is that the special advisory authority has no authority to recommend tariffs until this bill is passed. The authority can recommend quantitative restrictions because the Minister has the authority to implement them immediately. That is why it was put in that form. Once the authority has the power after this bill becomes an act, matters will be referred to him in accordance with the terms of the bill.
– The bill is a sham. We could have got on without it.
– It is a very good bill, really. The honorable member says that it is a sham but, strange to say, if that is true he is supporting a sham. Apparently it is not a sham if he will support the legislation which introduces an innovation.
At present, the Tariff Board and the deputy chairmen have power and authority only to recommend tariffs. The bill provides for a special advisory authority to recommend to the Minister either tariffs or quantitative restrictions or both, and the Minister has power to implement those recommendations.
The honorable member for Bruce said that he did not think the special advisory authority would be able to handle cases within the 30 days’ limit in view of the number of matters that had’ to be considered and the procedure that had to be adopted. That is quite a fair approach. My only answer is that the deputy chairmen who have been handling the emergency legislation for the past eighteen months have been able to get their recommendations through quite comfortably in that period.
– But I directed attention to Sir Frank Meere’s own statement.
– I understand the approach. It does pose difficulties; but to extend the limit beyond 30 days would vary the conditions in relation to an emergency and so the 30 days’ term will apply under this legislation as it did under the previous emergency legislation. Other honorable members raised the question of the operation of quantitative restrictions. When a recommendation is made by the special advisory authority to the Minister, he recommends the extent of the protection. A definition, or an interpretation of that provision, has been asked for. There is a particular reason for stating the matter in this way. To protect a local industry the special advisory authority will make a recommendation about the proportion of the market that that industry should hold.
In other words, if there was a primary industry which was producing at a certain rate during this year and some emergency legislation was required to give it protection, the authority would advise in relation to the total production of that particular industry. The same would apply to manufacturing industries.
It is difficult to fix a figure for the shortfall between the amount that the local industry can produce and the market requirement, because in the case of primary industries there are seasonal variations, and in the case of manufacturing industries there can be other variations which affect factory production. So, the recommendation is based on the extent of the protection that that industry requires. The Minister, on the advice of his officers, has then to decide the quantity in respect of which import restrictions will apply.
This matter was shown up quite clearly when certain recommendations were made by a deputy chairman of the Tariff Board in relation to urea. He recommended that a specific quantity be allowed in under bylaw admission. After that quantity had been admitted, and after seasonal conditions had changed, it was found that there was a demand in the community for a greater quantity of urea and that it was necessary to import beyond the quantity which had been recommended; but in accordance with the recommendation which had been approved, by-law admission could be allowed only for a fixed quantity. To avoid such a situation occurring in the future, the action that we are considering is now being taken.
The other principal point that was raised concerned the method to be adopted in handling quantitative restrictions. As has been mentioned by several honorable members on either side of the chamber, the legislation does not specifically lay down what is to be done. The Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) is given power to administer the provision, and it will be administered in accordance with the requirements of individual industries at the time. There is no set procedure that can be laid down at this stage, because of the different circumstances of individual industries, the different types of products that they produce, and the different requirements.
Other important points have been raised during the discussion and should perhaps be clarified at this stage, but the only other matter that I shall refer to relates to a subject which seems to be worrying a lot of people - the power to be given to the special advisory authority to carry out an inquiry as he thinks fit. That point has been raised on both sides of the committee. The procedure has been introduced particularly in the interests of speed, because if a normal inquiry were to be held it would take far longer than the 30-day period. In the circumstances which have existed during the last eighteen months, the procedure for emergency assistance has been found quite satisfactory, and I have no doubt that it will work satisfactorily in this case, too.
– It is clear that the legislation contains many loopholes. For example, the Minister has just admitted, in effect, that there is nothing to stop any one from importing quantities of goods during the currency of an application for the restriction of importation of those goods. Some years ago, the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) brought to light circumstances concerning a firm in Sydney which got wind of the intention to impose restrictions on imports of a certain kind. It had a letter of credit overseas, and it brought in huge quantities of those goods, thus beating the ban. I ask the Government to restrict the rackets that will surely eventuate. I should like the Minister to give a guarantee to the Parliament that a special duty will be imposed on goods in transit if this is considered necessary to defeat racketeering.
.The question of tariffs is an important matter in my electorate. The welfare of many thousands of people depends on the administration of the tariff provisions, and that is why I am taking a particular interest in this bill. Many industries have already closed and others are threatened. I wish to refer to proposed sections 18a and 18f. Proposed section 18a provides that certain matters may be referred to special advisory authorities by the Minister. The Minister may restrict the importation of goods. That is not a satisfactory position, if an industry seeks protection. As has been mentioned earlier in the discussion, the word “ may “ is used in almost every clause. There is nothing definite about the measure. Nowhere is it stated that the Minister shall take action, or that certain things shall be done. It is not mandatory for a recommendation of the special authority to be endorsed. The special authority may recommend that certain things be done, but the Minister may or may not do them. 1 think it would be better if the legislation provided that the Minister shall take action if that is recommended by the special authority. Restrictions should be imposed if they are recommended.
That brings me to proposed section 18f (2.), which provides -
Where the Minister so takes action for the purpose of the restriction of the importation of any goods, a copy of the relevant report under section eighteen d of this Act shall be laid before the House of Representatives -
if that House is sitting on the day on which the Minister so takes action - on or before that day; or
in any other case - within seven sitting days of that House after that day.
If some restriction is not recommended, I take it that the members of this Parliament will never know the result of the inquiry. In other words, unless a decision is given in favour of quantitative restrictions, we in this Parliament may never know of what has taken place at an inquiry held behind closed doors, and conducted in a manner thought fit by the advisory authority. An industry which was entitled to some form of protection might be brushed aside because the free trade Country Party did not agree that something should be done. We should all be able to see by the light of day what is being done at these inquiries. Even if protection is not recommended, a full report of proceedings under this legislation should be laid on the table of the House in order that we might consider it.
The Minister should consider this aspect, because we are entitled to know the result of the deliberations and whether or not the Minister has been just in a particular case. We should be able to see whether a particular industry has had a fair go, whether it has received justice, whether all the evidence has been submitted, and so on. If the inquiry is to be held in any way that the authority thinks fit, how are we to know that evidence has not been withheld from the Parliament? That could happen-. The honorable member for Wakefield (Mr.
Kelly) said so. He said he did not trust the Minister-
– Order! The honorable member will not use again the terms that he used previously. He is reflecting on a Minister. He has been a member of this Parliament for long enough to know that he is contravening the Standing Orders.
– With due respect, Mr. Chairman, in my previous remarks I quoted word for word a statement made by a member of one of the Government parties. They were not my words. I think that the Minister is a man of integrity. Evidently some supporters of the Government do not, particularly the honorable member for Wakefield. He mentioned that matter last night and was criticized by the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) for doing so. He was the first to challenge that statement which had passed unnoticed by the Chair.
I do not wish to delay the proceedings of the committee, but I make these statements because I am interested in this matter. 1. would like to see debated in this Parliament a’rl Tariff Board reports whether the findings are for or against the applicant. I do not think that we should give the Government the right to do as it is doing with certain Tariff Board reports, that is, endorsing those reports which suit it and not caring what happens to the others.
In relating his remarks to this clause last night the honorable member for Wakefield instanced several cases which he said the Minister had referred to the board on three occasions until he obtained from the board the answers that he wanted. I do not want that to happen in relation to industries in my electorate. That is why I ask the Minister to give an assurance that whenever evidence is heard behind closed doors and whenever the special authorities conduct inquiries, full reports will be placed on the table of the House and that we shall have the benefit of the findings in relation to favoured applications and at least be told of others which are rejected. I make that appeal to the Minister in the hope that he will give the assurance for which I have asked, despite the lateness of the hour, because the people are entitled to complete information from the Government in relation to all aspects of this legislation, particularly in view of the differences of opinion which have been apparent among honorable members on the Government side and the open criticism levelled at the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) by the honorable member for Wakefield.
Clauses agreed to.
Remainder of bill - by leave - taken as a whole, and agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
Motion (by Mr. Swartz) agreed to -
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent orders of the day Nos. 4 and S, Government business, being called on.
Consideration resumed from 15th March (vide page 866), on motion by Mr. Swartz -
That the bill be now read a second time. Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and reported from committee without amendment or debate; report adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
Consideration resumed from 27th March (vide page 954), on motion by Mr. Swartz -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and reported from committee without amendment or debate; report adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
Disarmament and Nuclear Tests - SouthEast Asia - Army Uniforms - Conciliation and Arbitration.
Motion (by Mr. Swartz) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
. - I would not have risen at this hour to address the House if the matter to which
I want to refer were not regarded by myself and by other honorable members as being of the utmost importance. We know that this Government is completely contemptuous of the Parliament. Although it talks about believing in democracy, it really believes in dictatorship. So I and many other people were not surprised when we had to wait to read in the Sydney “ Sun “ the contents of a communication sent by the Minister for External Affairs (Sir Garfield Barwick) to the United Nations. That communication is of the utmost importance to the people of Australia.
Let me tell the House what has happened in respect of this matter. In December last the United Nations General Assembly decided by resolution to invite the nonnuclear powers to join what was termed a non-nuclear club. I should have imagined that Australia would have been very anxious to become associated with such a move, but instead of the Parliament being advised of the attitude to be adopted by the Government the Minister for External Affairs sent his reply to the United Nations on 15th March. We would not have known anything of what he had stated on our behalf, because as Minister for External Affairs he obviously was speaking on behalf of this country, unless his statement had been released in New York and published in the Sydney press last evening. So it is apparent that the Parliament is being treated with the utmost contempt.
Now let us have a look at the matter under discussion. The newspaper has a rather sensational front page headline, “ Australia in Peril “. Then it states, “ Red China’s troops on the march “. The article points out that the Minister for External Affairs had not particularly mentioned red China as the power to be feared, but his references were unmistakeable clear. What game is the Government playing? It is sabotaging the United Nations. When the Leader of the Opposition, speaking in an earlier debate in the House, accused the Government of allying itself with power blocs in the United Nations his claim was denied by the Government. But apparently the Leader of the Opposition was right, because we know now the Government’s attitude towards the United Nations. The Government believes that the United Nations is an organization that can no longer be helpful to Australia and other nations associated with it. The Government wants to see the United Nations destroyed. lt must be obvious to all thinking persons who are anxious to preserve world peace that the more nations in possession of nuclear weapons the greater is the danger to world peace. It should be equally obvious to everybody that the more possession of nuclear weapons is restricted the more likely we are to reach a settlement satisfactory to the nations of the world and to preserve world peace.
Let us examine the Government’s intentions. The Government was asked to lay down conditions under which it was prepared to join the non-nuclear club. Why was not the Parliament consulted? Why were not we, the elected representatives of the people, given an opportunity to determine the nature of the reply to the United Nations? The Parliament was never advised on this matter. The Government, which represents less than 41 per cent, of the electors, has no right to be speaking on behalf of Australia while the Australian Labour Party, which represents 300,000 more electors than do the Government parties, has no voice in the decisions that Australia communicates to the United Nations. There can be no doubt that this Government has decided to have nuclear weapons in this country. The Government will obtain those weapons and will hold them in Australia on the pretext that we are now threatened from some external source un-named by the Minister for External Affairs. Any reasonable person will agree that if we build up a store of nuclear weapons we will make this country a target for nuclear attack in the event of hostilities. Countries possessing nuclear weapons would be selected for special treatment in the event of a nuclear war breaking out.
Let me turn now to one or two other matters. The real danger of Australia becoming involved in a war is not, as many people believe, in West New Guinea with the Indonesians, but in South Viet Nam. There American and British troops have already participated. Certainly they have been classified as instructors and are said to be giving advice on the training of South Vietnamese troops. But I read in an American journal recently that it was intended1 to increase the strength of the South
Vietnamese army to 200,000, although the forces against which that army is opposed are admitted to be about 20,000 strong. In America itself disquiet is felt over what has happened in South Viet Nam. The foreign troops in South Viet Nam are said already to have incurred casualties. This is a serious matter. I agree with the Leader of the Opposition that our forces in Malaya should be brought back to this country. We have only a small force there and it could not materially affect the result of any local conflict that may arise; but if the Government has a small force in Malaya, and if hostilities did break out in that part of the world, the Government could claim that it bad to reinforce those troops. We would be committed without this Parliament or the people being able to discuss the matter.
A meeting of Anzus powers is to take place in Australia on 7th and 8th May next. That meeting has been called in preference to calling a meeting of Seato. A meeting of Seato has not been called because Seato, comprising, as it does, Asiatic nations, the Government undoubtedly feels that there might be some difficulty in discussing South-East Asian countries at such a meeting. The Government wants an assurance from the Anzus countries that they will intervene in any conflict that may arise in South-East Asia.
Neither I nor many other people in the community are satisfied that many of the movements against which action has been taken in the past have been other than nationalist in character. We feel that those movements have comprised people fighting to correct an internal situation in their country. It would be a mistake for Australia to be dragged into a conflict without the Parliament being consulted. The party in the Parliament controlling the greatest electoral support has not been given a voice in the matter. The Minister for External Affairs should explain why this Parliament is being ignored.
Recently I heard that the Army was calling in all field uniforms in the possession of members of the Australian Regular Army and that those uniforms were to be dyed jungle green. When I asked the Minister for the Army (Mr. Cramer) about the matter he said that it was routine. It is extraordinary that such an inopportune time should have been chosen to make that announcement - a time when everybody is worried about the world situation and when the Australian people are particularly worried about their commitments. The Minister for the Army has stated that he made a routine decision to call in those uniforms and have them dyed jungle green.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I rise to correct many misrepresentations and untruths uttered in this House last evening concerning a dispute between the Preston Municipal Council and the Municipal Employees Union in Victoria, which has involved the Victorian central executive of the Australian Labour Party. In discussing this matter the honorable member for Higinbotham (Mr. Chipp) said - this was the first untruth uttered -
Several months ago the Municipal Employees Union filed a log of claims which contained, among other things, a claim for a 35-hour week and an increase in salaries and wages by up to 50 per cent. The court has not yet granted this claim.
Despite this, about seven municipal councils in Melbourne, all of them dominated by members of the Labour Party, and no doubt at the prodding of the central executive of the Australian Labour Party imposed the conditions of the log of claims on their respective municipalities. However, the municipality of Preston held out.
I was one of the delegates in the discussions that took place on this matter and I can tell the people who think they are so well informed that they have been led up the garden path. Let me refer to the agreement reached by the Municipal Employees Union and the Labour councils in the metropolis of Melbourne prior to about October, 1958. The union asked the councils whether they were prepared to look at a new log of claims, which would be a revision of the 1955 agreement. That log was presented to the councils early in 1959. The log was investigated and finally agreement was reached on it in, I think, November, 1960 - almost two years after it was first presented. At the time when the agreement was concluded, so wide was the latitude that was given on the log that the Preston City Council was allowed dispensa tion until October, 1961, practically three years afterwards. Yet the honorable member for Higinbotham said that this log was served on the council several months ago. Since he wants to drag in Labour-controlled councils, I say an investigation will show that many non-Labour councils are paying above the Victorian general award at the moment. Such was the relationship which existed between the Municipal Employees Association and the councils on this occasion that in order to achieve some degree of standardization and introduce a flat rate many Labour-controlled councils were asked to suspend the extra payments so that councils paying lower wages could come up to them. So much for the dissension between the union and the Preston Council! All the dissension is over one clause.
Let me take the matter a little further. The Footscray Council signed this agreement on 12th December, 1960. For the information’ of the honorable member who made the attack on the central executive of the Victorian branch of the Australian Labour Party and on the Municipal Employees Association I point out that Preston has been over-paying the rates prescribed in the agreement and has done so for a considerable time voluntarily. It is interesting to note that not only members of the Municipal Employees Association but also the salaried staff are being paid these above-award rates. Nothing is said about that! It is quite all right for members of the salaried staff to get those rates, but if the men outside get them, that is an altogether different matter.
The honorable member for Higinbotham referred to the 35-hour working week. The only time that a union delegate appeared at the conferences which were held was when the question of the 35-hour week was raised. Mr. Winter, the federal secretary of the Municipal Employees Association, told us that he would not include the 35-hour week in the log of claims until it was a generally accepted award all over Victoria. The Preston City Council has never been asked to bring in the 35-hour week. Yet some honorable members have the audacity to get up in this House, because somebody has given them bad information, and tell the world in general that a 35-hour week claim is being made against the
Preston Council. Nothing is further from the truth. I point out, incidentally, that the 35-hour week is the policy of the Australian Council of Trade Unions.
Last night the honorable member for Higinbotham asked -
Am I wrong in assuming that if a set of working conditions, particularly a shorter working week, exists in one municipality it must automatically spread to other councils?
I tell him that he is wrong. The Footscray Council brought in a 40-hour week on 11th October, 1937, but it did not become general throughout Victoria or Australia until 1948. That is how wrong the honorable member was.
The honorable member for Bruce (Mr. Snedden) was very active in springing to the assistance of the member for Higinbotham. He told us some parody about Mr. Divers, who was at one time the secretary of the Municipal Employees Association. He said that Mr. Divers conceived the idea that by the use of political pressure municipal councils could be made to agree with the log. Nothing is further from the truth. Mr. Divers would be only too happy to confer with the honorable member for Bruce and make him prove his statements about Mr. Cain and Mr. Lovegrove. 1 sat in on this agreement which was brought down in 1955. I was a delegate and at no time were we coerced or forced by any member or secretary of the Municipal Employees Association. They did not appear at those conferences. Anything which passed between us was in respect of writing an agreement to take force until the log was traced out. As far as I can remember, right back to 1939 the rates payable to employees of the councils have been the subject of agreement between the Labour councils and have not been prescribed in logs, as indicated by the member for Bruce, lt would be wise if he ascertained the truth before he rose up in this chamber and tried to lead everybody on a wild goose chase. Last night he concluded his speech with a great splurge on communism.
It is interesting to note that in an endeavour to place some odium on the central executive of the Victorian branch of the Australian Labour Party, honorable members opposite have said that these councils are subject to outside pressure. People who live in glass houses should not throw stones. Not long ago I read in a newspaper that Sir Philip McBride, president of the federal executive of the Liberal Party, told the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and every other member of that party that they had to do what the executive said and not bring down legislation which the federal executive did not think should be brought down. They were stood over, absolutely. I deny all that has been said about this dispute. The executive of the Australian Labour Party has been brought into it because when the agreement was concluded in 1959 a resolution was passed by the delegates from all those councils to the effect that this agreement be submitted to the central executive of the Victorian branch of the Australian Labour Party in order that it might know what had taken place at those conferences. Each Labour-controlled council agreed to that log. There was no dissentient. It is a surprise to me that members of the Preston Council are having any differences over it. It is because of the resolution, which bound all the Labour-controlled councils, that the central executive has come into the matter.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
Motion (by Mr. McMahon) put -
That the question be now put. The House d’ivided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Sir John McLeay.) Ayes . . . . 59
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 1.12 a.m. (Friday).
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
As a telephone rental of £14 7s. 6d. a year is a heavy financial burden on a pensioner who requires this facility, will he consider supplying telephones to pensioners on a rent-free basis?
As I explained to the honorable member on 7th March, 1962, in reply to his question on the notice-paper, the matter of concession telephone rates for age and invalid pensioners is one to which the Government has given close attention. The Government has also been made aware of similar requests from and on behalf of blind and other afflicted persons. As you know, the Budget for 1961-62 provided for an increase in the various social service pensions and, in reviewing the general rate of increases, it was decided that no further allowance such as concessional telephone rates could be made. It was also determined that future requests from individuals or organizations who considered they were entitled to special concessions should be handled by the Minister for Social Services or the Minister for Repatriation whichever was appropriate. If the honorable member desires to pursue this matter he should address his question to my colleague the Minister for Social Services.
Overseas Investments in Australia.
What percentage of the investments of life assurance companies was placed in Government loans during each of the years 1959-60 and 1960-61?
Until recently the Commonwealth Statistician has published figures relating to the assets of life companies only on a calendar year basis, and the latest published figures in the series relate to 1958. However, the Statistician’s monthly bulletin of Australian Life Assurance Statistics shows assets held in Australia by life companies at the end of each quarter from the December quarter, 1959. On the basis of these figures, the increase in holdings of Commonwealth securities expressed as a percentage of the total increase in assets was 2.7 per cent, both in the half year ended 30th June, 1960, and the full year 1960-61.
Papua and New Guinea
For the purposes of the Crimes Act, a member of the security service is a “ Commonwealth officer “ and section 75 of the Crimes Act reads as follows: - “ Any person who - (2) personates any Commonwealth officer on an occasion when the latter is required to do any act or attend in any place by virtue of his office or employment; or
Restrictive Trade Practices
Commonwealth Serum Laboratories
In what cases has the Minister determined that the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories should -
The questions of determining the research to be undertaken by the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories towards the production of other than prescribed biological products and the installation and maintenance of plant and equipment and holding stocks of products for other than immediate sale are currently under consideration.
It is a matter for the States themselves to determine the extent to which they apply their own financial resources to the provision of accommodation for the mentally ill.
From this Table it will be seen that in recent years there has been a marked falling off in the resort to the use of Parts XI. and XII. of the Act and a marked relative increase in the resort to the use of sequestration orders. The true picture can therefore only be obtained by comparing the total figures of new bankruptcies, which are
It will be seen that the total number of cases in 1960-61 was far from a record. Moreover, if allowance is made for the difference in population, it appears that the number was just over 70 cases per 100,000 persons in 1930-31 and the number for 1960-61 was just under 24 cases per 100,000 persons.
(d) (e). Since as far back as 1956, the committee has received a number of suggestions seeking greater protection for employees. I have at no stage recommended to the committee the adoption of the specific provisions contained in the model companies bill though those provisions were specifically brought to the committee’s notice on my behalf. I thought and still think, in fact, that the Government is entitled to the advice of the committee on the nature and extent of the protection which should be provided. 2. (a) and (b. On 18th April, 1961, T circulated copies of the report to all the then members of both Houses of the Parliament and copies of the report were made available for purchase by the public. On the same day, I made a statement in this House commending the report to honorable members and inviting comments and submissions regarding the recommendations contained in the report. I received a considerable number of representations in reply to that invitation and have the report and these representations under consideration. I would hope to introduce legislation in regard to copyright by the autumn session of 1963.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 5 April 1962, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1962/19620405_reps_24_hor35/>.