24th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. Sir John McLeay) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– My question is directed to the Postmaster-General. I ask: When will the coaxial cable linking Sydney and Melbourne via Canberra be able to take transmissions from the television stations already operating in those cities? Will the cable be able to take transmissions also from all stations projected in those cities? If so, when, and, if not, why not?
– Discussions have been taking place for some time now between the Postmaster-General’s Department and some of the commercial licensees, particularly in Sydney. I have not the latest information about the result of those discussions. Therefore, I am not in a position to advise the honorable member when television transmissions over the coaxial cable are likely to commence. 1 shall get more detailed information and let the honorable member have it as soon as I can.
– I wish to ask the Minister for Trade a question. Can he inform the House how much of the Australian wheat sold to red China has been sent to Albania, apparently to obtain credit, instead of being used to feed starving Chinese in China? Has he read the report by the West German journalist, Hamm, in the “ Saturday Evening Post “ of J 7th March to the effect that wharfs in Albania have been stacked with Australian wheat?
– I have not read the article to which the honorable member refers. I regret that I am not in a position to inform him on the matter, because I have no knowledge of what quantity of Australian wheat, if any, has been sent to Albania.
– I wish to ask the Postmaster-General a question without notice. In view of the large number of persons unemployed in Sydney, 1 ask whether the Minister can say when work on the restoration of the Sydney General Post Office clock tower will commence, thereby giving employment to 300 men for at least six months, as most of the money to be expended on the work will be spent on the employment of manual labour.
– Since the announcement made by the Prime Minister concerning the clock tower at the General Post Office in Sydney, preliminary work has been undertaken by the PostmasterGeneral’s Department, and also by the Department of Works, whose task the job of restoration will be. The preliminary work involves the checking of every part of the installation to make sure that the work will proceed as quickly as possible, and this preliminary work has not yet been finished. There are certain details still to be completed in connexion with such matters as the design list, but no undue delay will be allowed to occur.
– I wish to ask the Prime Minister a question relating to Commonwealth scholarships. By way of preface, let me mention the fact that for a variety of reasons the standard required to qualify for a Commonwealth scholarship is substantially higher to-day than it was a few years ago. Further, it is the opinion of some responsible headmasters that the present standard excludes a certain number of able students who are capable of worthwhile achievements in the national interest. In these circumstances, will the Prime Minister consider instituting an inquiry by his advisers into the alleged disparity between, on the one hand, what could properly be regarded as an acceptable standard and, on the other hand, the standard that is actually prevailing to-day?
– We have a board which administers the grant of Commonwealth scholarships, and I will be very happy to discuss this matter with it.
– I ask the PostmasterGeneral a question. What was the subject which the Australian Broadcasting Commission chose for its first production for Intertel, and about which such difficulties arose with the Government that the Commission gave notice of its intention to withdraw from Intertel? Now that the commission is continuing its membership of Intertel, will it undertake a production on this subject? If so, why is the commission deferring such a production until after it has made documentaries on such momentous and sensitive subjects as Tahiti and Antarctica?
– There were, as a matter of fact, several subjects under discussion at the commencement of the Intertel arrangement. I have forgotten what they all were, but I will look the matter up.
– What was the difficult one?
– There were several. As I have said, I will look the matter up and give the Deputy Leader of the Opposition a detailed reply.
– My question is directed to the Minister representing the Minister for Health. By way of short preface, I refer to figures supplied by the General Dental Council of the United Kingdom, which disclose that in December, 1954, there were 164 Australian dentists practising in England, and that this number had increased to 61 1 at the end of 1961. To what does the Department of Health attribute this emigration of dentists? As this very large movement of Australian dentists is, right now, causing considerable inconvenience to country people, particularly those in and around smaller country towns, can the Government see its way clear to assisting in any way by making returns from Australian practice more attractive than those from practice in England?
– This is obviously a matter over which the Commonwealth Department of Health has no effective control. It is a fact that some Australian dentists, in many cases soon after graduation, go overseas. I assume that such dentists do so for the purpose of gaining further experience, both personal and pro fessional, and 1 iri some cases for postgraduate work. However, I cannot say whether the actual figures given by the honorable member are correct. I have no information as to whether there is an overall shortage of dentists in Australia, but there is no doubt that the country areas suffer from a shortage of dentists. In view of the concern that has been expressed by the honorable member, I will refer the matter to my colleague in another place and discuss it with him.
– I direct a question to the Treasurer. I ask: When the Canberra mint is established is it intended to produce all coins at that mint? Is the Treasurer aware that if the Royal Mint at Perth ceases to produce copper coins it will become more costly to refine gold there? Will the Treasurer say whether it is intended to subsidize the Royal Mint to make up the added cost of refining gold? Will he make a statement on this matter in the House?
– I know the particular interest which the honorable members from Western Australia have in this matter and, indeed, my colleagues from Western Australia have made their interest known to me. A series of questions along much the same lines as that asked by the honorable member was put to me by my colleague from Swan yesterday. I am trying to get the information for him, but have not yet got it entirely. I can say to honorable members this much: It is proposed to continue the gold refining operations in Perth, and I should think that for some considerable time there would be a need for some coin production of a marginal order there to supplement, in the early stages, what can be produced at the Canberra mint. I shall look at the detail of the question and see whether I can supplement the reply I have just given.
– I ask the Minister for Repatriation: What is the Repatriation Department doing to ensure that there is always a sufficient number of trained nursing sisters at its hospitals and other institutions?
– This question is further evidence of the keen interest which the honorable member always displays in the affairs of ex-servicemen. I am pleased to inform him that the situation in regard to nursing in repatriation hospitals and other institutions is reasonably satisfactory at the moment, although staff shortages do occur from time to time. However, this is a problem which is not confined solely to the Repatriation Department. There is, throughout Australia, a continuing overall shortage of nursing staff. We are endeavouring to attract staff for all purposes at the hospitals and institutions by continually reviewing salary ranges and improving amenities and facilities, and so on. I should also like to point out to the honorable member that in. the three major repatriation general hospitals - those in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane - there are training facilities for nurses, and that each year about 250 nurses do their training in those hospitals. We also endeavour to encourage them to remain and continue their service in those hospitals after they have completed their training. In addition to that, we offer some post-graduate courses for the sisters. At the moment we are fortunate in being able to say that staff is sufficient for requirements.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Trade. The right honorable gentleman was frequent.lv reported in the last few weeks as having warned the governments of the ‘ United States and the Common Market countries that if Australia lost markets f.,r her products in Britain she would have to sell those products to China and other Communist countries. I ask him whether the Government has ever rejected or vetoed an offer from a Communist source to buy Australian products, or whether the Government has so far merely refrained from seeking or facilitating sales to Communist markets.
- Mr. Speaker, it is a distortion of what I said to represent me as saying that I have warned countries that in the absence of sales we would be obliged to sell to Communist countries. I have made it quite clear, as I now do again, that if for certain .Australian commodities produced for export there is no market in North America or Europe there remain only certain countries that would need, or have the purchasing power to buy, those commodities. I have named Japan first as one obviously wealthy industrial country that has the capacity. I have referred to the fact that many of the underdeveloped countries may wish to buy but all of them, without exception, have balanceofpayments problems. That leaves the Communist countries which have, in many cases, a capacity to buy. That is a factual statement which no one can dispute.
Reference has been made to the attitude of the Government to sales to Communist countries. The Government , has no property to sell. The transactions in respect of Australian goods sold outside Australia are governed by two considerations in the context in which the honorable member raises the question. In the first place, there is a list of strategic items which the Australian Government does not permit to be sold directly or indirectly to Communist countries. That policy is well known. The second consideration is in respect of items of trade which are not on that list. The Government, which does not possess any goods for sale, does not obstruct private citizens from selling where they can sell to the best advantage.
M«- LAUMMOND. - I address a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation. I ask the Minister whether it is a fact that some while ago a Viscount aircraft owned by Ansett-A.N.A. plunged into the waters of Botany Bay one evening with considerable loss of life. Can the Minister inform the House of the results of the investigation into that accident? Was the accident due to any fault in the equipment at the airport? Was it due to any fault of main’ tenance by the company? Was it due to some meteorological disturbance which could not be foreseen? In any case, can the Minister give the House any information about the cause of this serious accident at our main airport?
– I -will see that a detailed reply is given to the honorable member by my colleague, the Minister for Civil Aviation. We all remember this particular tragedy. As I understand the position at present, the inquiry has not yet started. Great difficulty was experienced in recovering parts of the aircraft from Botany Bay. They have been recovered now and are being assembled. Experts are working on the various components in preparation for the inquiry, which I think is due to start some time this month. I will get the details for which the honorable member has asked and let him have them.
– I preface my question to the Prime Minister by saying that it is reported that the Premier of New South Wales, Mr. Heffron, will seek a Commonwealth-State conference on the European Common Market prior to the Commonwealth Prime Ministers’ conference in September. I ask: Will the Prime Minister arrange a conference as a matter of urgency, to ensure that all State Premiers are adequately briefed on this vital issue? If such a conference is held will the Prime Minister, in cooperation with the Minister for Trade, I suggest, prepare a detailed analysis of the likely effects on individual industries and the concomitant employment position in each of the States?
– I have read in a newspaper that the Premier of New South Wales has some such idea. I think it would be wise for me to defer an indication of our own attitude until I know whether there is a widespread desire on the part of the Premiers to have a talk before the conference begins.
– I address a question to the Minister for External Affairs. In view of the goodwill value of ministerial visits to countries to our near north, and particularly the countries of South-East Asia, has he examined the possibility of continuing this practice in the near future?
– I agree with the honorable member’s proposition that there is value, particularly goodwill value, in visits by Ministers to South-East Asian countries. I am very happy to be able to inform him that it is proposed that I should visit South-east Asia during the coming recess, probably for three or four weeks.
– I ask the PostmasterGeneral to forget, for a moment, about Intertel, channel 0 and starting price betting investigations, because those subjects are too far advanced for the neglected people of north Queensland. 1 ask him whether he has any further information to give them on an alternative broadcasting programme for north Queensland. If there are financial or technical difficulties in this matter, is he prepared to table in this House particulars of those difficulties so that the Parliament may decide for itself whether money or technical know-how could be provided to enable these people to enjoy a benefit which their counterparts in the capital cities have enjoyed for many years?
– This matter has been mentioned in the House previously, and the honorable member for Leichhardt and other representatives of Queensland have written to me and talked to me about it. I think I have stated the position pretty clearly, and there is nothing further that I can say now. However, as the honorable member has raised the matter once more, I shall again have prepared a statement setting out the technical problems involved in the provision of these alternative programmes and explaining what the department has done to try to solve those problems.
– I ask the PostmasterGeneral: Has a decision been made on the holding of an inquiry into allegations of improper practices in the PostmasterGeneral’s Department in Victoria in relation to the suppression of starting price betting? If so, what is the decision?
– I issued a statement this morning dealing with the matter referred to by the honorable member for Indi - but only just before I came into the House. The matter was discussed by the Cabinet last Tuesday and a decision was
– I direct a question to the Minister for External Affairs. Was the decision of the Portuguese Government with reference to the discharge of the seamen who had deserted the Portuguese warship in Darwin taken on its own initiative or at the request of the Australian Government? When did the confidential negotiations commence between the Australian and Portuguese Governments on this subject, and when did they conclude?
Leader of the Opposition asked me an almost identical question yesterday and 1 answered it. I am sure the honorable member will not mind receiving an almost identical answer to his question today. Those negotiations between the two governments were confidential negotiations, and I do not propose to disclose what took place. I would like to repeat what I said yesterday - I should think that the honorable member would be delighted with the result.
– I desire to ask the Minister for External Affairs a question supplementary to that asked by the honorable member for Corangamite. In doing so I mention that on 28th March I asked the Prime Minister a simi-
– I remember the honorable member’s question. I settled an answer to it, I think, some days ago, and I am sorry it has not been supplied to the House before this. There has been no intent on my part to delay answering.
– I preface a question addressed to the Minister for Labour and National Service by saying that during bis second-reading speech on the Stevedoring Industry Bill, which granted long service leave to waterside workers, .the Minister impressed upon this Parliament that the object of the bill was to curtail political stoppages such as protest meetings over Cuba, peace conferences and so on. If this is correct, how does the Minister account for the fine of £8 19s. 66. representing six days’ appearance money, imposed on 167 waterside workers who stopped work last Tuesday on the Japanese freighter Buenos Aires Maru? Did the Darling Harbour Stevedoring Company agree to the men’s request, and were they overruled by the shipping company? If so, will the Ministerorder an inquiry into the conduct of the shipowners with a view to some penalty being imposed on them, or are penalties imposed only on the unions? Was this a political or industrial stoppage? Will the Minister issue a directive to the various port authorities that penalties under this legislation are not to be imposed when industrial stoppages are held?
– As the honorable member and other honorable members will know, the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority is an independent authority, and is not subject to any direction by me in connexion with industrial discipline. As I have often said, if there is a genuine industrial dispute, the Stevedoring Industry Act [3 May, 1962-.1:’. provides opportunities for settlement. I shall look at the particular problem the honorable member raises, but the rolling strikes that have occurred during the last few weeks without the approval of the Australian Council of Trade Unions have been political strikes of the worst kind, and the honorable member knows that as well as anybody else does.
– You do not know the meaning of the English language.
– You are defending these people because you know they were political strikes. As to the fines of £8 19s. 6d. to which the honorable member refers, I shall obtain more details, and I shall communicate those details to him.
– The question which I direct to the Prime Minister is supplementary to that asked by the honorable member for Evans, and relates to a statement made by the Premier of New South Wales, Mr. Heffron, in the New South Wales Parliament, in which he made rather disparaging remarks about the Commonwealth attitude towards the European Common Market. Mr. Heffron also stated that we were two years behind with regard to the effects that the European Common Market would have. I ask the Prime Minister: Did not the making of those remarks reflect a sour grapes attitude on Mr. Heffron’s part because of the sterling job done by the Minister for Trade during his recent trip overseas? Has not the Commonwealth Government given the lead to all Commonwealth countries with regard to what the effects of Britain’s entry into the European Common Market might be?
– In my opinion, the Minister for Trade has done greater and more useful work in relation to the European Common Market than anybody in any other Commonwealth country.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Labour and National Service. Is it a fact that his department, which is constantly analysing the employment situation, recently listed labour requirements for 1962 additional to present resources in Western Australia? Also, is it a fact that something like 1,700 tradesmen are required for the metal trades and building industries? Bearing in mind the commendable industrial expansion in Western Australia, does the Minister consider that the demand for tradesmen will be met without undue embarrassment?
– I did say yesterday that in the next monthly survey we would publish, both for those registered for employment and for job vacancies, the numbers of people who were required or who wanted jobs in particular classifications. I think it is true to say that there are in Western Australia some 1,700 vacancies for skilled and semi-skilled workers. As to the last part of the honorable gentleman’s question, forecasts are always difficult to make, but I think the present forecast for Western Australia is that at least by October of this year it is expected that there will be a considerably increased demand for skilled and semi-skilled workers, and there will be considerable difficulty in filling the vacancies. The State is approaching a condition of over-full employment.
– I ask the PostmasterGeneral a question. In view of the Governmen’s decision to allow the Australian Broadcasting Commission to proceed with its membership of Intertel, will the PostmasterGeneral assure the House that the commission from now on will have complete discretion in its choice of programmes? I£ any restrictions are to be placed on the commission, will the honorable gentleman let us know what they are?
– It is well known- I have stated it in this House on a number of occasions - that the Australian Broadcasting Commission has its own statutory authority under the act that governs its operations. The honorable member has referred to the choice of programmes. It is perfectly obvious that the commission from time to time would want to discuss the matter of programmes with those who it considers would be able to advise it. I know that the commission will do that, but this does not constitute any very grave curtailment of its proper activities.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Social Services and refers to the booklet entitled “ Commonwealth Social Services”. At page 18 of the booklet, there is this statement -
Other 1 types of property disregarded are - the capital value of any life interest, annuity or contingent interest;
As pensioners in many cases have difficulty in understanding the meaning of that statement, will the Minister for Social Services distribute a supplementary sheet explaining the statement in full?
– I shall be pleased to consider what the honorable member has suggested. Up to this point I have no evidence of any confusion in the public mind as to the meaning of that particular provision of the social services legislation.
– I ask the AttorneyGeneral a question. Does the Minister recall that three weeks ago I asked a question in relation to the giving of what was alleged to be security or intelligence information to the Returned Servicemen’s League, and also about a statement on oath that had been made at the Healesville hospital inquiry in Victoria to the effect that a top official had given such information? Is the Minister aware that this week, again in evidence on oath, a statement was made that a security officer had ticked off names on a list of apparently suspected persons? When I asked my question previously, the Minister undertook to make inquiries. Has he done so? Will he inform the House whether these statements are true? If they are, who was responsible for these actions?
– I do indeed remember the question the honorable member asked me previously. Before I answer questions he has put to me now, I think I should say that on the previous occasion I did not hear clearly what he said. The House will remember that there was some reference to cloak and dagger men in the question, and I took it that the honorable member was referring to mem bers of the Australian Security Intelligence Organization. When I looked at the record of the question in “ Hansard “, I found that was not so. I am sorry that I misunderstood the honorable gentleman. He was referring to amateurs who pose as having security status or as having contact with somebody in security.
I should like to say, in answer to that statement, that it is a common human failing to try to make oneself important. Some people, I am sure, do this in relation to security. I think it ought to be said publicly that if any person is told by another person that he has security status, there is a very simple course of action open. It is to ask the person to produce his identification card, because every officer of the Australian Security Intelligence Organization carries such a card when on duty.
I looked into the question of the Healesville hospital inquiry and I found that no information had been given by officers of the Commonwealth service at all. I found further, when I read a newspaper report, that apparently the witness was referring to some person connected with the Victorian special squad. The House will remember that when I answered the honorable member for Yarra previously, I said that each State police service had a special squad that was concerned with security within the State. Sometimes, the officers of these squads are referred to as security officers or security police. They have no connexion at all with the Commonwealth, or with the Australian Security Intelligence Organization. I think I should take this opportunity of saying that the officers of that organization can never properly be referred to as police. They have no police function or authority whatever. They simply gather information. They have no executive powers.
Finally, let me say in reply to the honorable member that neither in relation to the returned soldiers’ organization nor the Healesville hospital have the officers of the Commonwealth given any information, nor have they departed from their duty. That is not to say that there might not be exceptional occasions when these things might be done, but they were not done on this occasion.
– I wish to ask the Minister for Trade a question. Is he aware that some of the beef-breed societies believe that a useful market for bulls exists in New Zealand, provided that we can get permission to introduce these animals into that country? In view of the fact that the New Zealand ban on the importation of cattle from Australia is due to a fear of the spread of pleuropneumonia, a disease which has now been completely controlled in southern Australia, will the Minister approach the New Zealand department of agriculture in an endeavour to have this ban lifted so that Australia may become a large bull shipper?
– I sl. all be very glad to take up on behalf of the interests that the honorable member has h mind the proposal that he has advanced. It seem to me that 1 should consult my colleague, the Minister for Health, who administers quarantine in this country. I shall do that, and shall see what steps can be taken to represent to New Zealand the opportunities to buy in Australia good bulls which are free of any danger of communicating to that country the disease of pleuropneumonia.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Labour and National Service. I ask: Has he expressed concern at the small number of youths being apprenticed to trades, particularly in the building industry? Is he aware that a system of constructing houses by contract and sub-contract labour, as is practised widely in Queensland, with subcontractors working ten, twelve and even sixteen hours a day, precludes the employment of apprentices? Does the Minister therefore view with alarm the possible future shortage of tradesmen in the building industry as a result of this practice? Will he introduce legislation to control practices such as this and to ensure that employment opportunities for apprentices in the building industry are re-opened to the extent to which such opportunities should exist?
– I have expressed very grave concern at the lack of opportunities for the training of apprentices in this country. I think that one of the real problems that we face in the future is that of providing enough technicians and technical experts for a rapidly developing country.
As to the second part of the honorable gentleman’s question, relating to the building trades, I think he knows that I do not keep in my mind details of the problems relating to each industry or section of industry in this country. This problem of apprentices was very widely reviewed by representatives of the various industries concerned and by representatives of some of the departments of labour. 1 shall let the honorable gentleman have a copy of the report that was made, and, if he considers that it ought to be supplemented in any way, I shall obtain the required details for him.
As to the last part of the question, which related to the introduction of legislation in this Parliament, I think that the honorable gentleman should know that we, as a federal government, have no direct power with respect to the training of apprentices. Apprenticeship is a matter for the State authorities. I shall pass his suggestion on to them.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Primary Industry. I ask: Did the Australian Meat Board recently conduct an advertising campaign in the United Kingdom to promote the sale of Australian meat? If so, was the campaign a success? Will the Minister consider suggesting to the Chairman of the Australian Meat Board that a newspaper, radio and television campaign be conducted in Australia with a view to increasing the sale of one of our choicest products - Australian fat lamb?
– The Australian Meat Board has been conducting a promotion campaign in the United Kingdom with some success. It also participates ia the general trade publicity and promotion campaign overseas. The honorable member has asked about a promotion campaign in Australia for fat lamb. I gave approval for the board to make a contribution, out of the reserve fund that was accumulated during the Second World War, to a campaign to promote the sale of fat Iamb in New South Wales in order to see how such a campaign would work out. Action was taken rather late in the season last year and it has not been pursued further. I think that the honorable member’s suggestion is worthy of further consideration, and I shall refer the matter to the Australian Meat Board.
– I have received a letter from the honorable the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) proposing that a definite matter of urgent public importance be submitted to the House for discussion, namely -
The refusal of the Government to continue to grant Senator Amour the use of a car between his home in Sydney and Parliament House in Canberra each week the Senate sits.
I call upon those members who approve of the proposed discussion to rise in their places. (More than the number of members required by the Standing Orders having risen in their places) -
.- Mr. Speaker, I bring this matter before the House with some reluctance.
– Yes, my reluctance is understandable, when one considers the physical condition of the senator concerned and the necessity which obliges me to discuss bis affairs publicly. I raise the matter reluctantly, too, because I do not like taking up the time of the House with individual cases.
I was amazed to hear the jeers from some honorable members, and particularly from some new honorable members, when the name of Senator Amour was mentioned. Let me tell the House about Senator Stanley Kerin Amour. He enlisted at the age of fifteen during World War I. The unit to which he was attached was training in Egypt about the time when the evacuation of Gallipoli took place. He was badly wounded in France and he was back in Australia in 1917 at the age of seventeen. Senator Amour has suffered very badly all his life since. He is now in his 60’s and his health is deteriorating very seriously as a result of his war wounds. His eye-sight, too, is failing.
Senator Amour has been a member of the Senate since 1937, and it cannot be said that he has been in any way delinquent in the discharge of his parliamentary duties. He rarely, if ever, misses a sitting of the Senate, and, though he is crippled to a very great extent, he misses no divisions in that place. About five years ago, Senator Amour requested Dr. Evatt, who was then leader of the Parliamentary Labour Party, Senator McKenna, the leader of the party in the Senate, and me to wait on the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) to put his story to the right honorable gentleman, and to ask that special facilities be provided to enable the senator to attend to his duties in Canberra. We representatives of the Australian Labour Party waited on the Prime Minister, Sir Arthur Fadden, who was then Treasurer, and the present Australian Ambassador in “Washington, Sir Howard Beale, who was then Minister for Supply.
Senator Amour said that if there were a train leaving Sydney on Monday nights, provided with sleepers, which would get him to Canberra on Tuesday mornings, he would willingly travel by train. If a train left Canberra on Thursday nights when the Senate rose, he would readily travel back to Sydney by train. He cannot board a plane because he cannot climb the gangways. He cannot go by car to Goulburn or Yass and board a train because he cannot climb the steps of the overhead bridges that passengers have to use at those stations. It is war wounds entirely that have crippled him. Because of the way in which the railway time-tables are arranged, his only way of travelling is to leave Sydney on Sunday night to be in Canberra for the meeting of the Senate on Tuesday, and to leave Canberra on Friday night, arriving home on Saturday morning. So that while the Senate sits, if he has to use railway transport, he will arrive home on Saturday morning and leave again on Sunday night.
The Prime Minister listened to our representations and provided a car. I thought it was a generous act on the part of the Government. Senator Amour had the use of the car for five years. Last year the present Minister said that he thought the arrangement should be terminated. I made several representations to the Prime Minister, and the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) also raised the matter with the Prime Minister. As a result of our representations, Senior Amour had the use of a car until the et J of the 23 rd Parliament. But he has m ! been able to use a car during the life of >he present Parliament. For the last eight weeks or so he has had to stay here each week until Friday night, arrive home on day morning, leave home on Sunday night and arrive here on Monday morning. He has now reached the stage at which !,is health is badly affected by train travel. I have medical certificates before ‘ .e which were issued by a repatriation lector. Senator Amour attended this repanation doctor, as he is a war pensioner and entitled to receive medical treatment through the Repatriation Department. This doctor, Dr. W. A. Moylan, issued a certificate on 8th March last, in which he said -
Senator S. K. Amour is suffering from advanced spondylitis particularly in the cervical and dorsal regions of his spine and r ari-ed osteoarthritis of both knees, right hip and right sacro iliac joints; and the results of gun shot wounds in the back.
Besides suffering constant pain from his war caused disability there is r arked limitation of movement in the alec .d joints causing difficulty in walking and even u siti ng. Whilst sitting at home he uses an aid to support his left leg.
In addition his disability and manoeuvrability is aggravated by his defective eyesight and I sincerely believe he is unsuitable fc;, travelling by train.
The Government did offer to provide Senator Amour with two seats in the trains in which he travelled, so that he could rest his kg. He carries a cushion with him wherever he goes for the purpose of resting his leg. He carries it into the Senate. He takes it into his room in Parliament House. He takes it into the dining room with him when he goes there. He has become so sensitive about his disability that he hates to travel with other members of the public in trains. To some extent his position is affecting him psychologically. The Government offered to provide him with two seats in planes. If he could get up the ramps and into the planes that would be a happy solution, but he just cannot do so.
Dr. Moylan wrote personally to the Prime Minister on 25th March, and in his letter he said -
I have been called to see Senator Amour on his return from Canberra on the last two weekends. His disabilities have been markedly aggravated temporarily by the journey home on each occasion, causing him a great deal of pain, loss of sleep and mental anguish.
I have been treating Senator Amour for his war-caused disabilities for the past, seven years and I feel I should put in writing my support for his application as he has had the advantage of travelling to and from Canberra by motor car for the past five years and now needs such transport more than ever. He is physically quite unable to drive himself and handed back his driver’s licence some three or four years ago.
A copy of the certificate that I have read was attached to the letter.
It is true - and I admit it quite freely - that Senator Amour did take a car from Sydney to Melbourne and back. He said that he had the authority of Sir Arthur Fadden to do so. He said that he rang the Treasurer and that he discussed the matter in Canberra with the Treasurer, who said, “ I understand your position, Stan, and I will authorize a car for you any time you want one “. Senator Amour says that before he went to Melbourne he rang the private secretary to the Treasurer and asked him to authorize the use of the car. The car came to his residence, he says, as a result of his telephone call to the Treasurer’s office. I am not suggesting that the present Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) knew anything about it, but the transport officers acted entirely on some instruction they received, and so Senator Amour went to Melbourne and back by car. I told him he had no authority to do so, because that was not part of the arrangement that Dr. Evatt, Senator McKenna and I had made with the Prime Minister. Senator Amour said his daughter in Melbourne was sick and he went to see her, and that he thought the authority which he got orally from Sir Arthur Fadden covered the journey.
Even if Senator Amour were to be punished for making that journey to Melbourne and back, the cost of the trip would be covered by the saving made on three train journeys from Sydney to Canberra and back, whereas he has already been penalized to the extent of being forced to travel by train at least seven times during the present sittings of.this Parliament.
If Senator Amour cannot be provided with the facilities that we think he should be provided with, it may happen that he will be unable to come to Canberra at all. He is an elected senator from New South Wales. He will not be submitting himself as a candidate at the next election, but I pose this question: Is he to be deprived of this facility when every other member of the Parliament, enjoying good health, is provided with some other facility? We are all provided with warrants to cover travel here by air or rail, and some of us, such as I and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) can come here by car if we want to. I have never used a car, during the ten years in which I have been Deputy Leader or Leader of the Opposition, to travel from Melbourne to Canberra or from Canberra to Sydney, but I could do so if I chose, because the Government has made a regulation to that effect.
I think Senator Amour is entitled to this special facility, because w- of the Labour Party need his vote in the Senate, and because it is desirable that New South Wales should be properly represented in the Senate. It might be said that Senator Amour should retire. Well, that would put a heavy penalty on a man who has served his country well in peace and in war. But if he did retire, in the present situation in New South Wales we have no guarantee that a joint meeting of both Houses of the New South Wales Parliament would elect a Labour man to succeed him. It might elect a member of some other party and so the will of the electorate would be frustrated.
I hate to have to discuss all these matters publicly in this way and I bring them to the notice of the Parliament only because this is almost the court of last resort. I put the position as dispassionately and as honestly as I can. I make no reflections on the present Minister nor upon his predecessors. I think his judgment has been harsh. I hope that he will view the situation a little more sympathetically now, in the light of medical reports, and I am sure that if he does, the revenue of the Commonwealth will not suffer to any great extent. I think that however wrong Senator Amour might have been in a misuse of a car - if it could be said that going to Melbourne on one occasion to see a sick daughter was a misuse - such misuse should be overlooked. I believe that what he enjoyed for five years should be restored to him for the remaining two and a half years in which he will be a member of this Parliament.
J Mr. FREETH (Forrest- Minister for the Interior and Minister for Works) [11.30]. - Mr. Speaker, there are two matters which arise directly from the action taken by the Opposition. First, the Opposition has raised once again, by using the forms of the House and on its own judgment, a matter which is occupying the time of the House during the time traditionally set aside for private members to speak on matters which they consider important. Now, that is a matter for the judgment of the Opposition; but members of the Opposition should not rise in future in this House and accuse the Government of depriving private members of an opportunity to speak on matters of their own choosing.
In their own judgment members of the Opposition have selected this particular topic as a matter of urgent public importance. And here is the crux of the whole situation: That the comfort and convenience - and I put it at no greater height than that - of one member of Parliament who is delayed in his travelling arrangements because of a time-table becomes a matter for public debate in this Parliament. I regard this with distaste equal to that of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell). It is not often that we have to discuss in this House the personal affairs of members of the Parliament, but the Leader of the Opposition has made certain statements in this matter to which I must reply.
It is a very easy thing for a Minister in my position to make a good fellow of himself by saying, “ All right, if you want a car you can have it “. That is by far the easiest way out; but there is a duty to the public and to the Parliament involved in this matter. Honorable members are not very happy on occasions when the press takes up the question of the possible misuse of Commonwealth cars. Somebody has to protect not only public funds, but also the authority and prestige of this House.
I want to deal with two points which the Leader of the Opposition raised. He said first that I had changed a decision last August because I thought that the use of this car had gone on long enough. That is not so, as I shall show the House in a minute. Secondly, he implied that the’ reason I had done this was to punish the”’ senator for the alleged misuse of a Com’monwealth car. Again, that is not so. The position is simply this: In August my attention was drawn to the fact that a car had been taken by Senator Amour ‘ to’ go from Sydney to Melbourne, for which no authority existed.
– That is not true.
– For which no authority existed, and I repeat it. The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) knows less about this than I do. If he wishes to say that I am telling lies let him do so. Whether or not the senator thought he had the authority I do not know, and I have not questioned too closely what took place because I think it might be in the interests of the senator if I did not question too closely what took place.
– Why do you not say what you mean?
– The Treasury officers denied that at any time any authority was given to Senator Amour to take a car from Sydney to Melbourne. That would be quite correct, because they had no authority to grant the senator permission to take a car from Sydney to Melbourne on charge to the Department of Supply, and ultimately on charge to the Department of the Interior. When this came to my notice my attention was also drawn to a fact of which I had no previous knowledge - that for five years Senator Amour had been using a car to go from Sydney to Canberra and from Canberra to Sydney, something for which he also had no authority.
It is quite true that on 6th September, 1956, the then Acting Prime Minister gave approval for a car to be provided for Senator Amour because of his state of health at that time, which precluded him from travelling by air to Canberra from Sydney on those nights when there is no train with sleeping accommodation available. This approval was varied by the then Minister for the Interior on 19th September, 1956, and the following arrangements were put down in writing as the arrangements to be provided for Senator Amour: - ‘
As sleeping accommodation is available on Friday night’s tra:’n: from Canberra to Sydney a car is not to be provided at the end of the week. Henceforth special circumstances will be dealt with on a ministerial level as they arise, but normally if no sleeper is available Senator Amour must travel by plane or by train. He is to be provided wilh car transport to and from his home and the airport or railway station when l ravelling to and from sittings of Parliament. In the event of a Commonwealth car travelling to Sydney empty on Thursday night or Friday morning, and provided the Department is not greatly inconvenienced, transport is to be offered to Senator Amour, and this should be done by contacting the Senate Transport Officer.
Those were the instructions recorded in 1956. So I think it is categorically proved at any rate that the assertion of the Leader of the Opposition that I changed the decision is quite wrong. Somehow or other along the line that instruction was not enforced. That was due to a misunderstanding on somebody’s part, and Senator Amour used the car in excess of the authority which he obtained temporarily from Sir Arthur Fadden for a matter of some two weeks. Sir Arthur Fadden authorized the use of the car only from Canberra to Sydney. There was never any authorization given for the use of a car from Sydney to Canberra. I found, on inquiring into the medical certificates which Senator Amour produces on these occasions, that it had never been explained to me or to anybody else who has looked into this matter - and we have looked into it very carefully - how he could travel in greater comfort in a car from Sydney to Canberra than he could travel in an airconditioned d’iesel train.
– His doctor thinks he could.
– That may be a matter of opinion, but here is the situation: There is an air-conditioned diesel train, the timetable of which could suit the senator. We have examined the seating arrangements in the train, and in the opinion of most people who have looked at them they offer greater comfort and greater opportunity for Senator Amour’ to look after his physical disabilities than the seating in a car would normally do. In an air-conditioned diesel train there are reclining seats of the aircraft seat type which can be laid back in a 45 degrees position, and greater leg. room is provided than in a car. We offered to give Senator Amour a double seat to provide more room for his legs, but the senator says that if he does not have a car he prefers to travel by sleeper train, which delays him for one day in Canberra at the end of the weekly sittings, and costs him an extra day when he is returning to Canberra.
So, to put it at its highest level, this hardship is really a question of convenience in the Senator’s time-table for coming to sittings of the Parliament. There are members from other States many of whom have the greatest difficulty in arranging transport to get them to sittings on time. Many members from other States spend many weekends in Canberra because it is inconvenient for them to go home. Some drive their own cars to Canberra because of time-table difficulties. Admittedly, it is impossible for Senator Amour to do that. But here is a member of Parliament who has received the full consideration to which any member with his disabilities is entitled. We do take some
Care of members who are in ill-health. We give them transport in certain circumstances under limited conditions. The Leader of the Opposition raised the question whether Senator Amour should retire from the Parliament, and said that this would be a great hardship to a man who has served his country, and who has been elected a senator. I agree that that may be so but I remind the House that the people elect senators and members of this House to carry out duties in this Parliament, and that it has been the constant claim of members of Parliament that their duties are of an arduous and very exacting nature, and that they have to spend a large amount of time travelling round their electorates. I wonder how Senator Amour makes arrangements for that. Does he consider that the Commonwealth or the taxpayer should provide him with facilities for travelling around his electorate? Has he made any offer to provide any of the large allowance which senators are given - large by comparison with most members of the House of Representatives - for travelling purposes? Has he made any suggestion that this might be applied in some way to the carrying out of his duties as a senator?
I do not want to attack the honorable senator. Let us face it. Here is a member elected to Parliament. He is accorded all the privileges available to any member of Parliament, and more, to enable him to carry out his duties as a member of Parliament. And the question now arises whether this is to be made a special and unique case. I say that when it is a matter of the time-table and the convenience of the honorable senator for making his own arrangements to come to Canberra, there is no justification for treating this as a special or unique case or as a case of urgent public importance which should take up the time of this House. We can all feel sorry for the senator, that his health is not good, just as we feel sorry for any one whose health is not good. But here is the Parliament, as a national institution, and here is a question of members coming to Parliament and making their own arrangements to travel here. The question has been raised whether this senator, above all others, should be accorded some unique and special privilege. I do not agree that a case has been made out for it.
.- Mr. Speaker, it is quite evident that the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Freeth) is endeavouring to place the position of Senator Amour in a false light. He suggests that Senator Amour has been neglectful of his duties in the Senate. The reverse is the cass. Anybody who cares to examine the records of the Senate will find that there has been no senator more constant in his attention to his parliamentary duties and his participation in divisions than the senator whom the Minister for the Interior criticizes. What we want the House to recognize is that the Minister bases his action solely on what he describes as his concern to protect the privileges of Parliament and prevent the misuse of Commonwealth cars. Everybody in this Parliament must be aware that I have had on the notice-paper since 27th March last a series of questions regarding the misuse of government cars, which neither the Minister nor the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) has yet seen fit to answer. By the time they do answer them, we will be able to present any amount of instances of abuse of government cars. Yet they hesitate to give the information sought by me. Let us examine the position in regard to Senator Amour.
The Minister for the Interior is an exserviceman himself, but he did not enlist at the age of fifteen years as did Senator Amour. He was 28 years of age and the war had been in progress three years before he heard the call to arms. So he was actually much more dilatory in responding to the nation’s call than Senator Amour was. Where is this ex-servicemen’s committee on the Government side that is supposed to protect the rights of ex-servicemen? Senator Amour is in receipt of a 100 per cent, war pension. He has been passed as qualified for a totally and permanently incapacitated ex-servicemen’s pension, but he does not collect it while he remains a member of the Parliament. But if he were to leave this Parliament to-morrow the Government, under its repatriation laws, would have to furnish him with a special travelling allowance as a totally and permanently incapacitated ex-serviceman. That fact shows that the decision I am criticizing is only an act of prejudice.
Let me give the Minister some information briefly, because I do not propose in my limited period to take up too much time in stating what is quite obvious. The Minister said that members who suffer disabilities are provided with limited transport facilities. There are, however, all sorts of people who are given the use of Commonwealth cars with less justification than Senator Amour has for the right to use a Commonwealth car to-day.
On one occasion while the Prime Minister was overseas - he was not even in the country - his daughter was using a Commonwealth car in Canberra that was involved in an accident. Her driver’s licence had expired. In this case the government car involved had two number plates, one for the Australian Capital Territory and one of State registration, one kept as a spare in the boot of the car, the Commonwealth registration plate being attached to the car when it required servicing or to be filled up with petrol at the Government’s expense. Is this not an abuse of the use of Commonwealth cars? The accident resulted in court proceedings. The case was heard in camera. The driver of a Commonwealth bus, who was the other party involved in the accident, was penalized in the proceedings, which, as I have said, were heard in camera, where the facts were not revealed.
In Sydney, when there is a Commonwealth function at the Hotel Australia - everybody knows how far it is from the Commonwealth Offices - you will see a fleet of Commonwealth cars lined up outside the Commonwealth Offices in Martin-place waiting to transport Ministers. That happens any time there is a Commonwealth function at the Hotel Australia. The cars wait for hours, at the convenience of Ministers, to take them around the corner about 100 yards to the function in the Hotel Australia. They could, without any inconvenience, walk such a short distance. We could give case after case of the abuse of Commonwealth cars. All sorts of minor government officials have the authority to order cars and to run them all over the country.
Senator Amour has been elected to carry out parliamentary duties. Why is he handicapped in carrying them out to-day? It is because he suffered war wounds in the service of this country, putting his age on and enlisting at the age of fifteen years. He was actually discharged as the result of war wounds at the age of seventeen years. It is only in recent years that his war disabilities have told against him and have made it difficult for him to travel.
The Minister talks about the convenience of a member and about the suitability of the transport facilities available to him to-day. Who is the better judge of whether the facilities are adequate or not? Is it the doctor who is treating him? A repatriation doctor, Dr. Moylan, has been treating Senator Amour for the past six or seven years, and and he says the senator is endangering his health and life by travelling under the means that the Government is forcing him to use to-day. Or is the Minister the better judge?
I say the Government has no case in respect of the refusal to restore this concession to Senator Amour. The Minister said the senator has been using a car without authority for about five years. What had he previously done to correct this situation, if his statement is a statement of fact? Why does he not adopt a Christian attitude in dealing with the problems of men who have served their country faithfully and well not only on the field of battle but also in this Parliament? You would expect something more from the man who is the son of the Coadjutor Bishop of Perth.
Let me tell the Minister this: We realize that this decision is only an act of hate, of spite and of spleen -on his part against a very stalwart member of the Labour Party, and he can rest assured of one thing. He talked about us raising this subject as a matter of urgency and thereby, according to him, preventing honorable members from raising matters of importance. Let me tell him that there is a very good slogan in the Labour Party that he ought to learn and take to heart. We have always worked on the principle, in the trade unions and the political Labour Party, that an injury to one is an injury to all. And if one of our colleagues is denied his right to serve the people who elected him to this Parliament we will use whatever means are at our disposal to try to force the hand of the Government to correct the position. The Minister suggests that Senator Amour resign his office as if it were a matter of no consequence. Senator Amour is performing his duties in the Senate faithfully and well. He has not neglected his work. He is one of the most attentive senators in the Parliament, but he has great difficulty in travelling to and from the Parliament.
Let us examine the stupid attitude of this Minister in respect of the use of cars. The honorable member for Grayndler, who was obliged to spend a week-end in this Territory recently, wanted the use of a government car to enable him to look at the developmental works that are being undertaken in this area. The Minister rejected his request. If the honorable member for Grayndler wanted to investigate development in Darwin, he would merely have to write out a docket to get air travel to Darwin at the Government’s expense. Yet this stupid Minister would not even provide him with a car to go round this Territory and examine development!
– Order! I ask the honorable member to withdraw that reference to the Minister.
– I shall withdraw it, because the fact is obvious to every body.
-Order! The honorable member will withdraw unreservedly.
– I withdraw. Let us examine the two incidents in which the Minister claimed there had been a misuse of a car. In a period of five years, Senator Amour used a car twice to make visits to Melbourne. One journey was made with the approval of the then Treasurer, Sir Arthur Fadden, in order to visit a sick daughter. The other journey was made with the authority and1 approval of the secretary to the Treasurer, who authorized the use of the car to enable Senator Amour to go on official business to Melbourne. Senator Amour did not delay in Melbourne. He performed his business and returned to his home. Merely on the statement of the Minister concerning the alleged misuse of cars, of which he produced no proof, the Government now proposes if it can to debar this senator from performing his duties.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Mr. Speaker, this debate commenced with a statement by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) that he opened up this question with a great deal of reluctance. He was followed by the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Freeth), who said that it was not usual, and not to the great advantage of anybody, to air the personal affairs of members in this House in this fashion. I believe that the great majority of members on both sides of the House thoroughly agree with that statement. The honorable member for East Sydney failed to disprove the case made out by the Minister. He also failed in his personal attack on the Minister, who is beyond reproach in relation to his attitude to the use of Commonwealth vehicles.
This matter could have been raised by the Leader of the Opposition if he had asked the House for leave to make a statement. That leave would have been granted by the Government. As this day is one of the rare days when time is allotted to private members to raise matters which they wish to discuss, 1 move -
That the business of the day be called on.
Question put. (Mr. Speaker-
The House divided. -Hon. Sir John McLeay.)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Mr. Townley) agreed to -
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the Minister for Trade from making a statement with reference to Australia and the Common Market.
Carriage of Immigrants by Air - Taxation - Television - Education - Australia and New Zealand - Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices.
Question proposed -
That Mr. Speaker do now leave the chair.
– The matter that I want to raise to-day concerns the fact that Australia’s international airline, Qantas Empire Airways Limited, is not receiving a fair share of the charter work done by airlines in bringing immigrants to Australia. This is so despite the fact that Australia is footing the bill for the charter of aircraft for migrants to a great extent. This is a matter of great concern to members of the Flight Engineers’ Association of Australia, a large number of whom live in my electorate, which is in close proximity to Mascot airport. They find that, as a result of this situation, their employment prospects are seriously impaired. They hope to see Qantas obtain a greater share of migrant charter work in the future than it has obtained hitherto.
It is disturbing to know that in this era when flying is on the up and up, Qantas Empire Airways Limited is retrenching skilled personnel, and that expensive aircraft, in a serviceable condition, are becoming redundant. Six weeks ago, I raised this matter with the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge) by way of a lengthy written submission, and so far I have received only the briefest of acknowledgements. In that submission, I told the Minister that a number of flight engineers had been retrenched already, that ten engineers lost their jobs some six months ago - in 1961 - that ten others were retrenched about the beginning of March this year, and that there was a prospect that more flight engineers would be retrenched. I am told by the engineers concerned that their training cost Qantas Empire Airways Limited about £2,000 a head. It is therefore most unsatisfactory for Australia that these retrenchments should be taking place. We want to know why Qantas Empire Airways Limited is not able to keep these people in employment. Why is it not able to keep these aircraft flying? At the present time, there are no fewer than six out of a total of eight Super Constellations tied up on the ground at Mascot. In other words, 75 per cent, of the Super Constellations are in the mothball fleet at Mascot. Initially, Qantas had sixteen of these aircraft, but now it has only eight, and six of those eight are almost permanently redundant at Mascot airport. The progressive laying-up of these aircraft coincides not only with the retrenchment of flight engineers, but also with the retrenchment of a large number of other employees. I am told that something like 150 ground personnel were retrenched from Qantas Empire Airways Limited, Australia’s only international airline, during 1961.
The engineers say that, from a defence po;nt of view, the impairment of the Australian aircraft industry is a very bad thing. We all know that when aircraft become redundant, when they are put into a mothball fleet, they deteriorate at a much faster rate than they would if they were kept in service all the time. In addition to that, the aircrews are losing experience, and not gaining any knowledge of the new techniques. Therefore, from a defence viewpoint, they are considerably disadvantaged.
I have been told by the flight engineers that of the seventeen charter flights bringing migrants to this country since last Christmas only two have been operated by Qantas Empire Airways Limited. Only two out of seventeen! Considering that Australia has to foot the bill for these flights, that is a very serious matter. It is astonishing to know that aircraft operated by other airlines are bringing migrants to Australia, and that to a large extent the Australian Government is meeting the cost of transporting those migrants. And these companies operate the same sort of aircraft that Qantas Empire Airways Limited could operate with their own personnel! I want the Minister to say why this business is being denied Qantas Empire Airways Limited, and who is paying the fares of the migrants. Is there in existence some rationalization scheme which operates to the disadvantage of Qantas Empire Airways Limited as compared with other airlines? Why is it not possible for Australia to insist that migrants coming to this country from other parts of the world at the expense of the Australian Government should travel with Qantas Empire Airways Limited?
A perusal of the figures discloses that the number of assisted migrants transported by Qantas Empire Airways Limited fell from 3,523 in 1960 to 2,544 in 1961. The rate of drop in 1962 is said to be even worse. The great bone of contention is why Qantas Empire Airways Limited should be given only two out of the seventeen migrant charter flights that have taken place so far in 1962. Is this restriction- of business associated in any way with the new tripartite pooling agreement entered into between British Overseas Airways Corporation, Air India International and Qantas Empire Airways Limited, which came into operation on 1st April, 1960? The net profit earned by Qantas Empire Airways Limited has been dropping steadily from 4.4 per cent, on paid-up capital in 1958 and 7.16 per cent, in 1959 to 3.7 per cent, in 1960. This problem could be solved in many ways, and 1 put it to the Minister concerned that he should give serious consideration to the details which 1 submitted to him about six weeks ago.
There are other ways in which the retrenchment of Qantas personnel can be prevented. One is by the continuation of the Qantas freighter service to the Far East, the Middle East and Europe. This service was in operation for some considerable time, and only recently, for some unknown reason, it was terminated. It would be interesting to know why it was decided to terminate this freighter service such a short time after the completion of the new cargo handling building at the Sydney airport. Why was this freighter service packed up after all the expense had been incurred?
Again, I suggest that the Government, and the Minister for Civil Aviation in particular, should have a very close look at the question of the transportation of personnel and equipment to and from Woomera. I understand that at the moment Qantas Empire Airways Limited is receiving a very small proportion of this work indeed, that this business seems to be looked upon as the prerogative of other airlines, of British United Airways, in particular. I suggest that here again a good case could be made for giving the majority of the work to Qantas. 1 ask the Minister for Civil Aviation to have a close look at this matter. Tha
Minister for Immigration (Mr. Downer), who is in the chamber, might also concern himself with the important fact that out of seventeen migrant charter flights to Australia since Christmas only two have been operated by Qantas Empire Airways Limited. That is an extremely bad thing, and something should be done about it urgently. I regret that more detailed figures are not available to substantiate the case I am putting, but I suggest that six weeks’ notice should be ample when we are dealing with such an important topic which involves the continued successful operation of Australia’s only international airline, an airline which, in view of all the things I have mentioned, appears to be getting a raw deal and suffering great neglect at the hands of this Government.
.- The question to which I wish to direct the attention of the Government, and of the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) in particular, relates to income tax levied on teachers. There is no provision in the Income Tax Act under which teachers are able to enjoy a benefit similar to that which is enjoyed by other professional people - the right to deduct for taxation purposes the cost of books and equipment purchased by them in carrying out their work. It may be because the department limits the number of books which teachers are required to buy each year to meet changes in the curriculum, but I suggest that if teachers limited their purchases to only those books and equipment stipulated by the department, our standard of education generally would be very poor. I say this in all sincerity and kindness to the various education departments, because they are concerned that teachers should not be greatly out of pocket in following their occupation.
To my knowledge, most teachers are concerned to provide the best education they possibly can for the children. They keep up to date with current changes in teaching methods and provide themselves with the best equipment that is available. This involves them in considerable expenditure each year on the purchase of books and equipment, but the expenditure is not a permissible deduction for income tax purposes. Members of other trades and professions are allowed to claim such ex penditure as a taxation deduction, and I see no reason why this privilege should not be accorded to teachers. Indeed, I see every reason why it should apply to teachers. Certainly we rely for our physical well-being on members of the medical profession. They can claim expenditure on equipment and possibly on books as a taxation deduction.
I think you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, because of your ordinary vocation, appreciate that our material and perhaps our spiritual well-being depends on the type of work done by teachers in our schools. I remind you, Sir, that parents have the opportunity to mould the character of their children for the first six years. For the next ten or twelve years, during the most impressionable age, the children are in the hands of the teachers. The teachers have the tremendous responsibility of building the character of our children, and they should be encouraged to carry out their task with a full sense of this responsibility. They should be encouraged to provide themselves with the best possible equipment so that they will meet the high standards that must be set for those who have the responsibility of educating and moulding the character of our children.
Quite frankly, I do not think that the Government has deliberately overlooked the need to grant this taxation concession to teachers. Possibly it has not realized that teachers in their enthusiasm and in their sincerity incur considerable expense in the purchase of books and equipment. Some teachers spend £30 or £40 a year in the purchase of books. Some books cost £4 or £5 each and may be of use for only one or two years. This is also the situation with equipment used by teachers. I have in mind particularly the teachers who have charge of very young children in the primary schools. The equipment they purchase may be called teaching aids.
I appeal to the Treasurer - I am delighted to see him here - to consider this proposal that teachers be permitted to claim as taxation deductions the costs they incur in providing themselves with books and equipment to discharge their obligations as teachers. Teachers should not be restricted to books” and equipment required by the education authorities, because the authorities require the teachers to provide themselves with very little. If teachers can show to the taxation authorities that the books and equipment they have purchased are necessary aids in teaching, they should be allowed to claim the expenditure as a deduction for taxation purposes.
The other matter I wish to mention concerns the Postmaster-General (Mr. Davidson). Recently I raised this matter by way of a question when I asked the PostmasterGeneral whether he would consider reducing the licence-fee payable by the owners of television sets in remote areas. The honorable gentleman’s reply was in its way quite sympathetic, but he nevertheless was definite that he was not prepared to grant a concession at this stage. He said that after all, if a person could afford to buy a television set, which would cost about £200, the expenditure of an additional £5 on a licence could not be considered as heavy. I point out to the PostmasterGeneral that in most of the remote areas the cost of a television set is the smallest cost. In many instances, it costs two or three times as much as the cost of a set to erect an antenna, which, even then, will give only a poor reception in comparison with the reception that is obtained by people Jiving in the metropolitan area or closer to television stations.
I raise this matter now because, although we are now speaking about the provision of new television stations in country districts in all States, it is quite obvious that it will be a long time - perhaps a very long time - before we have a suitable coverage of country districts, particularly in a State like Western Australia. I know that tests are now being carried out in what may be called the central wheat belt area to ascertain the best site for television stations that will serve the central and eastern wheat belt of Western Australia. No site has yet been selected. The tests will continue for some time before a definite site can be chosen to provide the best coverage. Every effort must be made to ensure that no section is omitted and that no vacant space remains between existing television stations and the new stations. But people who live beyond the areas now being considered will not have adequate reception from the new stations when they are established.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I am sure the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) will not be surprised to know that I very strongly support the request of the honorable member for Moore (Mr. Leslie) that teachers be allowed taxation concessions for their expenditure on equipment. I hope that the Treasurer and the honorable member for Moore will also be sympathetic to the request that I now make in the cause of education. Until now, unfortunately, the great mass of people who have asked the Government for special financial aid for education have been dismayed. I do not want to go through the whole history of this matter, but I will summarize the position.
Even before 1960, there was evidence of a widespread demand for federal assistance for education. The people realized that every State government was incapable of doing more than it was already doing. Many honorable members in this House, and indeed the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) himself, have paid tribute to the work done by the States in providing education facilities out of their scarce resources. In May, 1960, 3,000 representatives - not just 3,000 individuals, but 3,000 representatives - met in Sydney at the Leichhardt stadium to fight, if I may use the association, for proper recognition of the needs of education in Australia. That conference agreed unanimously that there was a state of crisis in the Australian education system. An appeal was made to the Commonwealth Government for specific and additional financial aid. The Government was also asked to conduct a national inquiry into the needs of primary, secondary and technical education. But these voices. went unheeded. Despite an invitation, no representative of the Commonwealth Government attended the conference. Subsequently, two massive petitions were presented to this Parliament.
– Who made the petitions?
– They came from people with all sorts of political allegiance. They came from the mass of the people throughout Australia. In the first instance, 13 J, 000 petitioners signed the petition to this Parliament. In the second instance, last year, over a quarter of a million people saw fit to sign a petition begging this Parliament to recognize the state of crisis in education in Australia. But again, the Prime Minister disowned his responsibilities and so also did the Government. This time, the Prime Minister said simply, “ I do not believe there is a crisis “.
Even the six Premiers were able to agree unanimously to present a case to the Commonwealth Government asking for urgently needed extra financial assistance for primary, secondary and technical education. On that occasion, the Prime Minister was not able to escape. He had never expected that the six Premiers, representing diverse political allegiances, would ever be able to get together and make a plea for the Commonwealth to come to the aid of the States in education. But the six Premiers did come together, and the Prime Minister and the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) heard them out. Again, despite a precisely documented and authoritative case compiled by the Directors and Directors-General of Education in the various States, the result was the same. They produced overwhelming evidence that there was a tremendous shortage of trained teachers and that we were employing in classrooms persons who should not be there. They showed also that there was a dearth of adequate classroom facilities and equipment. Nevertheless, the Prime Minister said ultimately, “ I think the States are doing a good job and there is no reason for the Commonwealth to intervene further “.
The latest episode in this series of public demonstrations of faith in support of the destiny of Australia was the “ New Deal for School Science “ conference, held in Sydney on 25 th November last. Those concerned felt strongly that something definite must be done in a dramatic way. That conference was attended by some of the most distinguished scientists and citizens of Australia, representing many organizations with wide influence in the community. It had the support of civic leaders and was opened by the Lord Mayor of Sydney. Like the petitioners, like the conference at Leichhardt and like the six Australian Premiers, the delegates to this Conference agreed unanimously that any dramatic assistance and relief in the urgent crisis afflicting Australian education must come from this Commonwealth Parliament. The conference passed resolutions in similar terms to those adopted by other meetings. It directed attention to the state of crisis in science education. Those associated with it documented their evidence and presented it. Possibly they were naive, but they believed that, in the face of this evidence, the Commonwealth Government could not possibly continue to deny their demands.
In this Parliament, over the years and in recent weeks, we have heard how costs are affecting Australian production. To-night, the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) will almost certainly give a warning that if we are to hold our place in international trade, we must get costs down. Surely something fundamental to the reduction of costs is better training for our technologists, technicians and tradesmen generally. Only this morning the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) directed attention to the urgent problem of apprenticeship in Australia, and well might he do so. In 1956 there were 19,415 apprentices enrolled in our technical colleges. By 1960, having regard to the great growth in population, one would have imagined that there would be many more enrolments of apprentices to cope with the demand that would obviously be made for skilled tradesmen. But the fact is that the apprentices enrolled in 1960 totalled only 19,485. In other words, over that period of five years the number of apprentices in the whole of Australia increased by only 70. In the interim period, the number of apprenticeship enrolments actually declined, but by 1960 we had got back to practically the same level as 1956.
In the meantime, there has been a growing demand, not only for scientists, but also for persons who can apply the findings of science in all fields of work. Obviously there will be an increased call for trained men, yet we are not able to increase our intake of apprentices. Of course, this is not something that affects us in 1960. The new apprentices will be the tradesmen of 1964 or 1965. In other words, we are sowing the seeds of future disaster already. The position is bad enough now, but it will be worse.
We read in the press that the ViceChancellor of the University of Sydney predicts catastrophe for that university by next year unless there is a great increase in financial aid. We have prided ourselves in this Parliament that we have done much for the universities, yet the universities have had to impose quotas. That is another story, and 1 have not time to enter into it now, but the simple fact is that quotas have been imposed by the universities. If they have to knock back many thousands of young Australians who have matriculated and gained the qualifications to attend a university, where will these students go? Of course, they must go in:o other fields of technical education - into the technical schools and teachers’ colleges. Yet the Commonwealth Government disowns any responsibility. These people who cannot go to universities - for which the Commonwealth has accepted some responsibility - will be diverted to technical colleges and other such institutions, in respect of which the Commonwealth Government disclaims any responsibility. It is idle to say that this is solely a State responsibility. As I have said before, the States cannot manage this problem.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– Three circumstances lead me to rise again to direct attention to the need for a closer union between Australia and New Zealand. Those three circumstances are, first, the visit of the New Zealand Prime Minister to Australia next week; secondly, the change in the circumstances of our trade in view of the European Common Market negotiations; and thirdly, not so dramatic but even more important, the change in our circumstances of defence due to the changes in the strategic situation taking place in SouthEast Asia. These things emphasize surely that the real interests of Australia and New Zealand are parallel in a way they have never been before.
First, let me say a few words with regard to trade. It is said that because Australia and New Zealand export in general the same type of products - meat, wool and dairy products in the main - there is rivalry between them and, therefore, less chance of union. This is surely the opposite of the truth. We are sellers in the same market of the same kinds of goods. We will get better prices and better returns for our producers if we act in close concert rather than try to undercut one another. Surely it is in the interests of the producers on both sides of the Tasman Sea to act in concert as quickly as possible in the circumstances presented by the European Common Market’s threat to the exports of both countries which is now emerging as an issue in the two national capitals.
New Zealand, probably - unless it can make with the Common Market special terms which are not available to Australia - will be in an even less enviable position than is Australia in relation to the Common Market. Ours is the larger and the more diversified of the two economies. The proportion of trade to national income in Australia is lower than is that in New Zealand. We in Australia have within our boundaries a higher proportion of mineral and other real resources than the smaller economy has. As we have a population of 10,000,000 rather than 2,000,000, obviously we are more viable. So it may well be that New Zealand has more to gain than has Australia from the union of the two countries.
But even Australia has a great deal to gain. Ours would be a better economy if it were a bigger one. I look now not to the special interests of New Zealand but to the real interests of Australia. To our side of the Tasman, New Zealand would bring the fruits of an additional population representing some twenty years of immigration at our present rate. This would give economic advantages, not to one side, but to both sides.
The second field that I want to mention is that of defence. The advantages in this field would be even more vital and even more far-reaching, lt is not a case just of co-operation between the forces of the two countries in time of war. Our forces have to be built as a unit. For example, neither Australia nor New Zealand has up to date been able to afford a submarine fleet. We both need one. If we could get together, it would be easier for us to afford one. Honorable members have recently been directing attention in this House to the need for us to spend more on defence. If Australia could get together with New Zealand, we would get more for our money. After all, the name “ Anzac “ is not unknown, and it typifies defence cooperation between Australia and New Zealand. In the circumstances of the old kind of war, this co-operation could be achieved by the union of our forces in the field at the time of crisis. In the circumstances of the new kind of war, defence co-operation will not be effective unless it is practised in the years before the crisis occurs.
I think that at present, Sir, there is in both countries an overwhelming sentiment against union, I think that there would be a strong majority on both sides of the Tasman against such a proposal. Yet it is a proposal which is in the real interests of both peoples and which should be fostered by the leaders on both sides. Just before the recent short recess, I was a little put out by a reply which the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) gave to a question that I asked about this matter. I think that it indicated that he had not a full grasp of the facts of the situation. The House will remember that he said that this was a matter between sovereign states and that the leaders of those sovereign states might well feel some delicacy about treading on this ground. Let me remind the right honorable gentleman that in the days before federation the States of Australia were just as sovereign, one against the other, as is New Zealand against the Commonwealth of Australia to-day. In the days before federation, the responsible leaders did not feel the kind of delicacy that the Prime Minister has mentioned. They realized that, although there were sentiments against federation, it was, nevertheless, in the interests of the people of the Australian States. So the responsible leaders took it on themselves to give leadership. Dealing with States which were just as separate and sovereign in those days as are New Zealand and the Australian Commonwealth to-day, they brought the States of Australia together in the union which this Parliament embodies.
I consider that it is the duty of our responsible leaders to give leadership in this matter .now, and to give it publicly. The kind of union envisaged cannot be achieved by behind-the-scenes negotiations. We are dealing with the sentiments of the Australian people and the New Zealand people. We have to create the real consent to - indeed, the real popular clamour for - a union which would be in the interests of both. That is a union, however, which people on both sides would probably now reject.
There is another thing, Sir. It may well be that interests of various kinds will be adversely affected and hurt. I believe that there are such interests. We have to see that those interests, whether dairying or other interests, are given proper consideration and protection and that they are cushioned against any possible adverse effects. These are small sectional interests, and we cannot allow them to stand in the way of the public interest as a whole. We can, and should, ensure that the public resources are used to avoid adverse effects on these sectional interests. In my question to the Prime Minister, I suggested that we begin considering ways and means of doing just that. We have to get rid of this conflict of sectional interests.
Finally, there are some things which may seem small but which could be symbolic and which could be done. For example, it would be a good thing if the visit of the New Zealand Prime Minister to Australia in the coming week were made the occasion of the issue of the Anzac medal, about which we have talked for a long time. This would be a good time to issue that medal on the authority of the two governments concerned. Honorable members may say that this is a small thing, but is it entirely a small thing? Is not the symbolic thing sometimes a big thing when we are concerned, as we should be now, about directing public opinion? In this instance, we should be directing public opinion on both sides of the Tasman Sea in the direction in which the real interests of both the Australian and the New Zealand people lie.
.- Mr. Deputy Speaker, the subject that I raise this morning relates to a question which 1 directed to the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) yesterday, when I asked whether the Government proposed to introduce legislation to curtail and control the activities of the monopoly groups which are enjoying so much freedom to plunder the nation’s economy to-day. I was rather surprised at the offhand manner in which my question was answered. The Minister suggested that if I could expose any instances of trade malpractices I should do so and that he would be interested to have any particulars that I could give him.
The inference that I draw from the offhanded reply to my question is that the Minister either believes that commerce exists in Australia to-day in a condition of pristine purity unsullied by trade immorality or else is endeavouring to avoid answering the question and making a pronouncement on the important issue of whether the Government in fact proposes to introduce legislation to control the activities of monopolies. We know from past statements made by the Minister that he is in fact well aware of the trade malpractices and restrictive policies of monopoly groups and of the way in which monopolies stultify and strangle local enterprise by their activities. I thought that this matter had been brought to the Government’s notice frequently in this House and that the Government had announced that it proposed to introduce legislation to deal with the problem. I thought that this was a proposal of fairly old vintage, but, as it mellows and its vintage ages, the likelihood of legislation being introduced seems to become even more remote.
Further instances of trade malpractices by the monopoly groups appear daily. This Government is well aware of the position, because all governments, Commonwealth and State, and all local authorities in this country, have suffered from the activities of these monopolies. I challenge any honorable member on the Government side to deny that monopoly groups have tendered for government contracts, particularly in the electrical field, and that the various tenders submitted by the different members of the groups have been for identical prices. There have been many instances of such happenings. They .have been exposed in the press, and this Government is aware of them. A few years ago the report of the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority told how the oil companies had endeavoured to hold the Government to ransom by submitting uniform tenders.
But if the Government wants examples of the activities of monopoly groups in Australia, let us start with the biggest monopoly of all, a monopoly which appears to enjoy favoured treatment from this Liberal-Country Party Government. I refer to the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, which has sole control of the manufacture of steel in Australia. The fact is that this company, by controlling supplies of steel, is endeavouring to destroy our shipbuilding industry, so that it can gain a monopoly of shipbuilding in Australia at its own yards at Whyalla. This is a fact, and honorable members opposite who are trying to interject would be hypocritical if they denied it. We know from our own experiences how shipbuilding firms in Queensland and other States have found it impossible at important times to obtain supplies of steel for the fabrication of ships. Inexplicable holdups occur at various times in the supplies of steel. Engineering firms as well as the shipbuilding firms have suffered. The person who suffers most from the activities of these monopolies which engage in trade malpractices is the worker, who frequently finds himself laid off because of holdups in the industry in which he is engaged. Is this the kind of thing that the Government stands for and that the Attorney-General upholds? These practices are stifling the economic development of Australia.
I could give many other examples of trade malpractices in this country. A few years ago the rubber companies throughout Australia held a gun at the heads of small retread firms in the cities and provincial towns. No longer do you see signs like “ Joe Jones’ Retread Works “. These works are now controlled by the large companies, such as the Dunlop, Hardie and Beaurepaire organizations. I have spoken to the people who have suffered as a result of these moves, people who built up their little businesses over the years slowly and painstakingly, and I can tell the House that these people were told that if they did not sell out to the rubber companies they would be forced out of business. Make no mistake about it - these monopoly groups are in a position to force people out of business if they do not come to heel when instructed to do so. It is a very simple matter for the monopoly groups to sell their products at low cost, and even below cost of production, in order to destroy the small local enterprises. This Government professes to be a free enterprise government, but .where is the free enterprise in activities such as this? The control of this country is moving into the hands of fewer and fewer people, and if the trend continues we will find that while a government, formed by any party at all, may be in office, it will not be in power, because the economic power will be held by a few vested interests which will be able to hold the country to ransom.
There is no valid argument for failing to introduce legislation to control restrictive trade practices. The United States of America has such legislation, and it has resulted in considerable publicity in recent times. In contrast to the inactivity of our own lethargic Government, President Kennedy has stood up and opposed the steel monopolies in the United States of America. Not only has he forced them to retreat from the stand that they took; he has also indicted them. This Government should follow his lead.
Debate interrupted under Standing Order No. 291.
Question resolved in the negative.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
Message recommending appropriation reported.
In committee (Consideration of GovernorGeneral’s message):
Motion (by Mr. Menzies) agreed to -
That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue be made for the purposes of a bill for an act to amend the States Grants (Universities) Act 1960.
Standing Orders suspended; resolution adopted.
That Mr. Menzies and Mr. Downer do prepare and bring in a bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill presented by Mr. Menzies, and read a first time.
.- I moveThat the bill be now read a second time.
This is a bill to make grants to the States for universities purposes. This is not the first bill of its kind, of course, nor do 1 suppose that it will be the last. It falls into two parts. In one part it deals with the recurrent grants to the universities under what I will call the normal pattern; in the second part it directs itself to the problem of teaching hospitals attached to universities. Those are two different matters. One is old, but is being adjusted. The other is new. So far as the old is concerned, many honorable members will recall that, under the States Grants (Universities) Act of 1960, which is the principal act for this purpose, provision was made in section 6(1.) that the rate of basic professorial remuneration - that is, the approved rate, for the purposes of financial assistance under this part - is £4,000 per annum, being the rate that was on 25th October, 1960, the rate applicable in a majority of the universities in Australia.
That was not a provision which fixed professorial salaries at £4,000 per annum. It was a provision which treated £4,000 as the average figure on which the Commonwealth grant should be based. I want to make that quite clear. We are not presuming to determine what State universities shall pay to their own academic staffs; but, obviously, for the purposes of calculating what ought to be granted to the States under our broad scheme we must have some figure as a point of reference in relation to professorial salaries, the others being presumed to be in a certain relationship to them. Therefore, in the 1960 act, we named £4,000 and then, because at that time the whole of the salary structure was in a state of flux and there were different rules applied in different States, we added a provision in section 6 sub-section (2.) which enabled the Minister by an instrument under his hand, to alter that figure and therefore vary the grant.
On the whole, we think that sub-section (2.) is not a good thing. I think that honorable members generally would agree that if there is to be a change in one of the basic items in the calculation of a State grant the House ought to have an opportunity to look at it first, and therefore I have decided that this sub-section ought to go and that in future, if there is any change in the point of reference, as I have described it, it ought to be done by a measure brought into this
House, one which can be discussed in this House.
So what we are proposing here is to alter the provision contained in section 6 (1.) and to repeal section 6 (2.), so there will not be any administrative decision on this matter, but a statutory one. The alteration in section 6 (1.), having regard to what a special committee recommended to the Australian Universities Commission after wide consultation, is to increase the point of reference for the calculation of the recurrent grants from £4,000 to £4,250. That does not mean - and I repeat this - that that is the salary for a university professor; but it does mean that that is the figure upon which we calculate what we are going to pay to the States in relation to their universities for the current period.
– You do not look at either a maximum or a minimum.
– No. I am glad to be reminded of this. The committee that reported on this matter thought that perhaps he universities should adopt a range of professorial salaries and suggested, in fact, that it ought to run, according to their judgment and according to the faculty concerned, between £4,000 and £4,500. But that was merely a recommendation of the committee.
– Without having low-grade or high-grade professors?
– Quite so. We are not putting ourselves in the position of determining what the pay ought to be in the case of the various universities. They are not within our jurisdiction. However, we do feel, having regard to the general movement, that it would be wise to make an adjustment at this stage and date it back to the beginning of the triennium - because these things are done on a three-years basis - altering the point of reference for salaries for this purpose from £4,000 to £4,250. I think that that is all I need to say about that. The schedule to the bill shows what the provisions will be, having regard to this adjustment in regard to salaries.
The second thing that this bill does is to take up and deal with, for the first time, the problem of the teaching hospitals. This is a matter which has been put to me - and to many of us, no doubt - on a number of occasions. There are universities which have hospitals in. which they provide clinical instruction for their medical students in their senior year, and those hospitals are staffed very frequently by men of great distinction, very many of them in honorary positions, who are giving instruction which is vital for the complete education of medical students. It has been said for many years, I think with a good deal of truth, that if we are dealing with the universities problem we ought to provide for instruction in the teaching hospitals, because this is properly part of the work of the universities. And in order to get a pretty clear mind on this thing, if we could, I had discussions with the Chairman of the Universities Commission and we established a very powerful sub-committee to advise on the problem of teaching hospitals. The sub-committee contained outside people, medical men of great distinction and academic people of note. It made an examination and finally made to the Universities Commission a report which I have seen and which - I may say this to the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean) - I hope I will be able to have printed in adequate time before he has to resume the second-reading debate. The report is not actually ready at the moment. There are one or two difficulties about it, which I will mention.
The sub-committee, when it got to work on this problem, found, of course, that it had to divide the matter into two parts. One was the capital expenditure that would be required if the Commonwealth, making its £1 for £1 grant to the States, was going to take on that proportion of the responsibility for capital equipment needed for this extended university function in a teaching hospital.
Honorable members will see particularized in the schedule to bill the items that are involved under that heading. We propose in this to adopt that portion of the subcommittee’s recommendations and to provide on a £1 for £1 basis the money required to carry out the capital programme that the members have in mind - a very substantial one, but a very important one. Honorable members may ask themselves, as indeed I did when I read this report, how it comes about that so much capital expenditure needs to be made at this stage to equip teaching hospitals for their work. The answer to that query is that medical science changes year by year. New methods are devised and new forms of equipment are needed.
Incidentally, when a new university is set up you can get most acute problems. To give an example, I take my own State, which I know best. In Victoria in the past the University of Melbourne conducted its medical school operations in at least two hospitals, the Royal Melbourne Hospital and the Alfred Hospital. In each of them clinical classes were conducted and in each of them the instructors did their work. A new university - the Monash University - has been established and it is to have a medical school. If it is to have a medical school which is to be effective it must have a hospital in which its senior medical students can do their clinical work and receive their clinical instruction.
The result will be that, whereas in the past the University of Melbourne has had access to the teaching hospitals within its own area, in the future, when Monash is completely established, these will have to be divided. The Royal Melbourne Hospital, for example, will remain with the University of Melbourne and the Alfred Hospital will go to the Monash University.
I do not need to tell honorable members that when that kind of thing happens you cannot throw up new hospitals overnight. The fact is that to accommodate in one of these hospitals more students than it has ever had to deal with before, because of the demands of other universities, you will need to establish new buildings, new equipment and new matters that are required for the teaching of perhaps twice as many students in the hospital as were taught before. If honorable members will be good enough to run their eyes over the schedule to the bill they will see the nature of the things which are involved.
– I do not know whether your schedule is the same as mine, but mine has not pages 9 and 10. It goes straight from page 8 to page 11.
– Oh dear! Do not blame me for that. I will look at the one I have been working on. It is marked “ Confidential “, so perhaps I have been given something different. What pages are you lacking?
– Pages 9 and 10.
– They are in my con.fidential draft. There has been some discrimination here in favour of fellows on the Government side, I am sorry about that. We will see that you get a proper copy. J
– Thank you. I have now been given an adjusted copy.
– That is a comfort. I would have hated to think there was some discrimination against you.
Coming to the capital side, all I want to say is that honorable members will agree that the great movement in assistance to university training would not have been complete unless we had decided to take a move forward into this extra provision for teaching hospitals run in association with the universities. On the other point, recurrent expenditure, a report was made. It is frightfully difficult to determine, as members will understand, how to divide up the recurrent expenditure in hospitals between teaching and ordinary hospitalization. What percentage of the time of the nurses is to be regarded as attributable to teaching and clinical instruction? How much would be attributable to the normal conduct of the business of the hospital and so on? I want to say quite frankly that we are at the moment not entirely satisfied with that branch of the report.
I have had a conference - of a very friendly kind, I hasten to say - with the chairman of the Universities Commission and with the very distinguished Professor Sutherland, from Melbourne, who was a member of this committee, and the Treasury. At this moment work is being done by the officials of the Treasury, my officials and representatives of the Universities Commission to see whether such points of difference as arise in relation to recurrent items can be worked out and accommodated. That is not a matter of urgency, although we do not propose to delay it. The urgent matter is the provision of the capital equipment, and therefore I thought it would be wise to get on with the thing that was urgent and not to hold it up until the next sittings of Parliament, when we would have the recurrent problem worked out.
I will, in the spring session, if I survive so long, present a second measure dealing with recurrent expenditure attributable to the medical schools. I was going to say that I am full of hope on that matter, but perhaps that is an entirely unnecessary remark to make.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Crean) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 1st May (vide page 1755), on motion by Mr. Harold Holt -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- Mr. Speaker, any proposal for the development of Australia and the employment of our people has the approval of the Opposition. The Labour Party therefore welcomes this bill and will facilitate its speedy passage. The Opposition, on this occasion, welcomes a measure of this kind which has for its purpose the development of Queensland. This bill, which provides for Commonwealth assistance to Queensland, towards the cost of improved coal-loading facilities at the port of Gladstone, follows closely the pattern of legislation introduced into the last Parliament in October last year, with respect to the improvement of port facilities in New South Wales. Some honorable members from Queensland might well ask about the reason for the delay in introducing the bill before us when legislation was introduced into the Parliament on 19th October last year with respect to port facilities in New South Wales. They might well ask, “Why was not legislation introduced at the same time which would have conferred advantages on Queensland and helped to stimulate trade and1 open the way to industry in that State. The subsequent election, of course, emphasized the dissatisfaction of the Queensland people on a” number of subjects. Perhaps this is one of the subjects upon which the people of Queensland expressed their disapproval of the conduct of this Government.
The legislation, as I say, is welcomed by the Opposition. We think it will help Queensland to take a step forward. The proposal is to deepen the harbour at Gladstone to 32 feet, which would enable ships of greater capacity than those using the harbour at present to be loaded with coal from Kianga and other coal-fields. The actions of the Queensland Administration in building a railway to carry coal to the port of Gladstone and in making provision for a stock-pile of coal of about 50,000 tons, instead of, as at present 20,000 tons, are to be commended. This legislation follows very closely the pattern of previous legislation, dealing with New South Wales port facilities. About £2,650,000 was provided for that purpose in New South Wales, made up of a grant of £1,000,000 by the Joint Coal Board and £1,650,000 as a loan over an extended period. It is to be regretted that action of this kind in Queensland was not taken earlier. The Joint Coal Board in New South Wales was clothed with power, from its inception, to take the action which was subsequently taken in New South Wales. Section 14 (2.) (e) of the legislation governing the Joint Coal Board describes the purpose of the board as follows: -
The effective and economical distribution of coal, including its purchase, sale, marketing, acquisition, disposal, supply, storage, reservation, pooling, transport, carriage, conveyance, delivery, handling, loading, discharge and reception;
That seems to cover all phases of the handling of coal. Action could have been taken in New South Wales, at least, to attend to those important matters, so stimulating trade and providing employment for those in the coal-fields.
It is a melancholy fact that, whilst the production of coal has continued to increase, the number of those engaged in the industry has continued to fall. I have here the most recent annual report of the Joint Coal Board of New South Wales. It shows that in 1952 there were 18,805 men employed in the industry, 13,081 of whom were working underground, and that by 1961 the number employed in the industry had fallen to 12,589, of whom 7,806 were working underground. The capacity of the industry to produce more coal is shown in the report. During 1959-60 the average production per mine working day during the thirteen four-week periods of the year was 71,700 tons. In 1960-61, it was 83,200 tons. That emphasizes the great development of the production of coal and the tragic fact that fewer people are engaged in that production. As a consequence, many of the mining communities have suffered; they have become depressed areas. Men have been obliged to leave their homes in the coal-mining villages and search for work elsewhere. This is causing great hardship and discomfort.
At the same time, the industry has enjoyed widespread prosperity in certain respects. Production has increased and there is prosperity for those who have the advantages of ownership in the industry. It is good to note, on the credit side, that development is taking place, that production has improved and that sales have increased. The legislation now before the Parliament deals with the expansion of coal exports from Australia, with consequent benefit to those engaged in the industry. They will have continuity of employment and Australia’s overseas balances will be increased. The provision of a better harbour at Gladstone will make it possible to export greater quantities of coal from that port and also will improve shipping facilities for north Queensland and Queensland generally. The development of that State, which has been neglected over the years, can be stimulated by action of this kind. Because of that, the Opposition welcomes the legislation.
One of the chief buyers of coal from Australia has been Japan. The Joint Coal Board’s latest report - it deals only with New South Wales - states -
During 1960/61 exports of N.S.W. coal to the iron and steel industry of Japan grew rapidly. Total overseas exports rose to 1,849,000 tons, equal to about 10 per cent, of total production. In the previous year coal exports were 1,071,000 tons of which 813,000 tons went to Japan.
This shows clearly that a very substantial trade has been developed with Japan. I welcome that trade, which is important to the development of this great industry. But one must remember that, as was explained in the second-reading speech of the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt), valuable hard coking coal will be exported. This coal is important to Australia’s iron and steel industry. There is a shortage of hard coking coal throughout the world. Whilst we must apply ourselves, in the short term, to the task of gaining overseas credits to help our balance of payments, it would be very desir able if our hard coking coal could be used in Australia in the building up of a sound steel industry.
I can think of nothing better than the establishment of an iron and steel industry in Queensland, for which good hard coking coal would be required. Then the north would not be dependent on the steel industry down south for the iron and steel required for its development. Queensland should have a steel industry of its own. If a steel industry is to be established in Queensland, this hard coke should be readily available. The need to produce metallurgical coke is well known. Despite the advances which have been made possible by coal research bodies, by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization and by other bodies in the blending of various types of coal for the purpose of producing metallurgical coke, I believe it is good to husband every available ton of hard coking coal for the purpose of providing the coke necessary for the steel furnaces of this land. If a great steel undertaking were established in Queensland, all the ancillary industries would grow up side by side with it. For instance, there would be gasification of coal, and by-products of many kinds would be produced. The pleas of the Queensland people who have long hoped, dreamed and prayed for the development of their rich and bountiful State would have been heard, and Queensland would enter into a new era of prosperity and development.
Although one might offer some little criticism of the delay, the proposed action is better late than never, and it is good to know that the Parliament is to take some action. But I would make an urgent plea for stability in the industry. The coalmining industry has been one of the sick industries, one of the industries in which the workers have suffered over the years because of lack of stability. Whilst it is good to know that great quantities of coal are to be exported from this area, a new and growing area, an area which we all wish well, I should like to think that this new industry will be firmly established, and will be able to progress. I should like to think that the people there will be able to enjoy the best possible standard of living and the most modern amenities, and that they will be able to look to the future with confidence. Many other mining centres have not been able to look ahead very confidently. Many people remember how their communities have been blighted over recent times.
We know that in the area under consideration the coal is to be taken out by the open-cut method for the time being, lt is a quite substantial coal-field. In his second-reading speech, the Minister said -
Open cuts have been established at Kianga, where soft coking coal is obtained, and at Moura, thirteen miles to the north, for hard coking coal. Reserves available for open-cutting are expected to be substantial, possibly °f ‘he order ot 60,000,000 to 120,000,000 tons. For the field as a whole, inferred reserves could be of the order of 1,000,000,000 tons, and initial development by open-cut methods might eventually be followed by large-scale underground mining.
I can only hope that this industry will be wisely developed, for we have in New South Wales fields which have been despoiled by faulty development, fields in which the seams have been plundered because the owners took out only the coal that wa3 easily won, with the result that pillars which cannot now be removed were left behind. If the right practices are followed in Queensland, then undoubtedly this field could have a very good life, indeed.
Let me now sound another note of warning. I can only hope that in the development of this industry we shall not be guilty of the charge made by the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) that we are treating Australia as a quarry, just taking from it that which is easily available. I can only hope that we shall not be guilty of plundering our resources instead of developing them. By spending a small sum of money in improving coal-loading facilities at the port of Gladstone, we have a splendid opportunity to open the gateway to the rich hinterland, and I trust that full advantage will be taken of the opportunity to develop that area. The Commonwealth’s contribution is not over-generous; it is but a reasonable contribution to the development of the area.
Under clause 3 of the agreement, the Commonwealth undertakes to make available to the State up to £200,000. The remaining £205,000 is to be found by the Gladstone Harbour Board. Up to the maximum, of £200,000 Commonwealth assistance, in accordance with clause 4, is to be on a £1 for £1 basis, and of this amount £100,000 is to be a grant and £100,000 is to be a loan repayable over fifteen years. I have no doubt of the integrity of the people of that area, or of their ability to meet their commitments, and I can only hope that this token gesture to Queensland will be matched by further contributions from the Commonwealth in the future for the development of this and other coal-fields, as well as other valuable industries in our northern State.
.- We are all very pleased that the Opposition is supporting this bill, and we have listened to the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Luchetti) with interest because he occupies the position of chairman of the Opposition’s Coal Committee. He has said that the industry is declining. What he might have said is that it has moved from his electorate to my electorate, for by far the greater quantity of black coal is now coming from the electorate of Macarthur. When speaking about comfort in the industry, let me tell the honorable member for Macquarie that in the twenty years while I have represented that area the working conditions of coal-miners have changed completely. Twenty years ago, the coalminers had to bend their backs, and with a wide, square-mouth shovel load great quantities of coal into the skips. Now the coal-miner never touches a tool unless it is a mechanized tool. To-day, the coalminer sits on a continuous coal-loading machine, wearing white gloves, and three mechanics wearing white overalls stand over near the wall waiting to repair that machine whenever it stops. In other words, there has been a complete transformation, and the coal-miner suffers no discomfort to-day. The word “ discomfort “ might not have been used by the honorable member for Macquarie, because the coal-miner lives in a sound, rural community and travels out to the black coal pit where he works a machine inside the pit in a temperature of 70 degrees fahrenheit, where there is no dust and where conditions are extremely good. He is not exposed to the heat and to the cold as is the man who works outside. He does not have to bend his back, nor does he have to pick up any tools. In this era of the Menzies Government, we have mechanization on the coal-fields, and the honorable member for Macquarie was right when he said that the coal-mining industry was prosperous and buoyant. The coal-mining industry is not a sick industry. It is now one of the richest industries in Australia. The intelligent and enthusiastic approach by those engaged in this industry have been responsible for bringing about that condition.
So we come to the point in the history of this Parliament when the Menzies Commonwealth Government supplies funds to the Queensland Government in order that the rich products of the Kianga field may be shipped from Gladstone Harbour to Japan. It is most interesting to see what is happening at Gladstone. The Gladstone Harbour Board is keen and enthusiastic. I had the honour to lead a committee asked for by the Queensland Government which investigated the Fitzroy Basin and its potentialities. The honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Gray) was with us on one occasion when we saw what they had at Rockhampton and in the hinterland. The Gladstone Harbour Board has done a magnificent job in developing its harbour, and will continue to do so. I am delighted that this measure is being put through the Parliament to enable the Gladstone Harbour Board to instal modern coal-loading facilities.
Let us leave the Gladstone Harbour for a moment and talk about coal-loading generally. It is essential that Australia be able to meet competition from the United States of America in Japan, and I emphasize that the United States has very modern coal-handling facilities which have enabled the price of American coal to be cut to the bone. A few years ago, coal produced by highly mechanized means on the seaboard of New South Wales was costing in the vicinity of 14s. a ton to transfer from the coal train to the ship. To take the coal from the train, and put in the ships’ holds, and trim it so that the ship would not list in a storm, was costing 14s. a ton. To-day, with modern coal-loading facilities, coal will be taken off the train and put into the hold of the ship for a few shillings, or perhaps some day for a few pence. This can be done so cheaply that the coal can face the toughest competition from American coal in Japan.
Let me go back to the Fitzroy Basin and refer to the Moura and Kianga fields again. Those who have seen the hard, valuable coking coal at Bulli are accustomed to seams of 5 feet to 15 feet in depth. At Moura a few feet under the surface we see what is almost a wall of coal. It can be won by what is called open-cut mining. The coal is placed in such a position that even if parts of the seam begin at a greater depth, it can easiy be won by moving the overburden, the soil and rock above it. The Thiess Peabody organization is constructing a drag-line scoop capable of lifting 165 tons of coal at a time. In the Moura open cut the seam of coal is 10, 20 or perhaps 50 feet wide. At the moment I do not know of anything in Australia capable of carrying 165 tons in one load. The coal will be put on the railway, taken to Gladstone Harbour and loaded on to the ships. The rate of loading will be 500 tons an hour or 12,000 tons a day. We are really stepping up coalhandling when we reach these figures. If we have a rich and buoyant industry, we will be able to obtain orders from Japan.
The honorable member for Macquarie, who perhaps was indulging in a pipe dream, asked why we could not use the coal in our own steel industry. Of course, Rome was not built in a day, and all the steelworks we want in Australia cannot be built in a day. If we did develop a steel industry to make use of the enormous deposits of coal we have in Australia, where would we sell the steel? The world demand for steel has been met, and the demand for coal is not as great as the supply. We have to go quietly on building new steelworks. Let us build them, but let us be sure that we can sell the steel. For the present, we need an export income, and the export of coal will help us to obtain this income. The facilities being installed at Gladstone, which will be paid for in part by this Government, will make a contribution to the earning of this income.
I am delighted to be able to say to the House that our private members’ committees have made their contribution to this development. I should think that the people of Queensland will very quickly see what is happening in the development of Australia. It cannot happen in a day or a week; it takes time. Sometimes it takes years to design these undertakings, but work on them is proceeding. I am delighted to see the expression on the face of the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Gray), who is secretary of the Central Queensland Development Organization. He has taken part in negotiations which have led to development in central Queensland.
All of us know that it is suicide to neglect our north. We are delighted to know about the Fitzroy Basin, with its coal seam which goes for nearly 100 miles and is supposed to hold 1,000,000,000 tons of coal. Perhaps when we get a chance really to look at it, we will find that it holds much more than this. I believe that there are iron ore deposits alongside the coal deposits in the Fitzroy Basin, and some day the steel industry sought by the honorable member for Macquarie will be established there. Let me mention that in the Fitzroy Basin there are other riches besides coal. These will have an important bearing on the development of facilities at Gladstone Harbour. We have millions of acres of brigalow scrub on top of the coal. It is rich soil, and soil that has never been really used. We have not only the iron ore to be used with coal but also all sorts of precious metals, and not far away we have oil. We see an Eldorado, a bonanza, being opened up by the Government.
The Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) and the honorable member for Macquarie spoke about the development of the north. May I just mention that in Queensland we are building beef roads. We also have the development of copper at Mount Isa, with the railway and the refinery at Townsville, aluminium at Weipa, uranium at Mary Kathleen and Rum Jungle and also phosphate at Rum Jungle. We have the development of the Ord River and iron ore at Yampi Sound. We have iron ore at Mount Goldsworthy and the Pilbara. I could quote a long list of the riches that we have. We are beginning to go ahead with developments, and the construction of coalhandling facilities is part of the overall picture. The coal-handling facilities will enable the coal to be taken from the Fitzroy Basin, through the port and away to Japan.
.- I rise, as the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Luchetti) did, to support the bill. I have some little knowledge of what the development permitted by the bill will mean not only to Gladstone itself but to the whole of central Queensland. I listened with a great deal of interest to the honorable member for Macarthur (Mr. Jeff Bate). When referring to his electorate, he said that he had more coal mines than the honorable member for Macquarie had, or words to that effect. I formed the opinion, listening to him, that if any more new coal mines are opened in the electorate of the honorable member for Macarthur, he will no longer be a member of this House.
The honorable member referred to Bulli and, I think, to some other place on the south coast of New South Wales. I do not propose to deal with coal-fields in New South Wales.. I want to make some reference to Kianga and Moura and to the Gladstone development that will follow the passage of this bill. The honorable member for Macarthur was critical of the suggestion of the honorable member for Macquarie that steel works be established. It is true that the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited has undertaken the construction of a steel works in Western Australia. Perhaps these works will be close to the iron ore deposits, but they will be far removed from adequate coal resources or from resources of coal of the quality of the coal at Kianga and Moura. All I want to say is that, with all his knowledge as chairman of the Government Members Mining Committee, in running down the suggestion that a steel works be established in Queensland the honorable member shows that he is not informed as to the resources of iron ore in Queensland. He apparently has no knowledge of what is happening in the Constance Range area, which is just east of the Northern Territory boundary and just south of the Gulf of Carpentaria. For some time now, the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited has had field parties operating in this area. They have unearthed a field, the extent of which even now is not fully known.
In his second-reading speech, the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) said -
In November of last year, the Prime Minister announced that the Commonwealth bad decided to provide financial assistance . . .
On 19th October last, a bill was introduced in this House to provide financial assistance for the development of port facilities in New South Wales. The purpose of this was to stimulate the export of coal from that State. A perusal of the report of the debate that took place on that occasion shows that reference was made to the fact that 9th December was the date of the election and that the date has already been announced. Even so, on that occasion Queensland did not receive any consideration. The Government could perhaps justify its action by saying that Queensland was not associated with the Joint Coal Board. But this Government is responsible for stimulating trade. It is interested in the position of our overseas balances and I understand it is interested in the development of the country generally. Therefore, it is passing strange that we now have before us a measure under which a grant of £100,000 and a loan of £100,000 are to be made to the Gladstone Harbour Board - which has local autonomy - leaving the board to find £205,000 itself. The Treasurer in his second-reading speech said - the improvements to coal loading facilities at Gladstone . . . have an important part to play in developing Australia’s coal export trade.
Apparently the Government is interested in developing the coal export trade - through one of the best ports on the east coast of Australia - but all it proposes to do is to contribute £100,000. The other £100,000 will have to be repaid over fifteen years at the usual rate of interest. In other words, the Gladstone Harbour Board will have to put a charge on every ton of coal to cover interest and redemption payments on the £100,000 and probably on the £205,000 it will have to borrow elsewhere. If this Government were interested in defence as well as in the development of the harbour, it would make a grant of all the money necessary for the development of the port. All this talk by the Government about the important part to be played by Gladstone in developing our coal export trade is so much hooey. Why not do the decent thing and make a grant of all the money required? Already Thiess Peabody Coal Proprietary Limited has a contract for the supply of 3,400,000 tons of coal to Japan over seven years. It is estimated that these orders will provide more than £14.000,000 in overseas income. If the Gladstone Harbour Board were relieved of the responsibility for interest charges and repayment of the proposed loan, it could maintain the development of the port in keeping with the growth that we expect in this trade with Japan. This expansion will take place, not in the next 20 years, but in the course of seven or eight years. The Treasurer said -
This work is estimated to cost £50,000 and is being carried out by the Gladstone Harbour Board outside of the arrangements for the provision of Commonwealth assistance.
That means that the installation of necessary equipment to permit additional quantities of coal to be taken to the ships will be done outside Commonwealth assistance. Why does not the Government go the whole hog and really assist the board? The Treasurer also said -
The maintenance and development of ports is, of course, a matter that comes within the province of the States, and the Commonwealth has no intention of intruding into State rights and responsibilities in respect of port facilities.
I ask honorable members to note the word “ intruding “. Under the Constitution, the Commonwealth has certain powers governing trade. Port facilities are essential to trade, whether it is import or export trade. In consequence, there can be no question in this case of intrusion into something that is exclusively the province of the States. The Commonwealth has power in relation to trade, and it ought to be exercised to a greater extent in association with the State governments. There is also the question of defence. It is shocking that the Treasurer, discussing this matter, should talk about not intruding into State rights. It would be laughable if it were not so serious. The Treasurer also stated in his secondreading speech -
Nevertheless, in view of the prospect of substantial additional export earnings, the Commonwealth decided that the provision of special financial assistance was warranted to ensure early completion of the works.
As I have said, substantial export earnings are in sight. Over the next seven years, contracts that have already been obtained will bring in about £14,000,000. That is for one order alone, for coal to be sent through one port. It will make an important contribution to our overseas balances, and in addition the Commonwealth Government will collect income tax on the incomes of the companies involved as well as excise on petrol; diesel oil and other . commodities which will, be used at the port of Gladstone and on the coal-fields. The grant of £100,000 is a miserable contribution to something that will lead to really worthwhile overseas trade.
The Treasurer referred to the expenditure of an additional £205,000 by the Gladstone Harbour Board to dredge the harbour to a depth of 32 feet. I have in my hand the annual report of the Gladstone Harbour Board for the year ended 30th June, 1961, and it shows that alongside the Auckland pier - the principal pier, which is 1,255 feet long - the berth has already been dredged to 32 feet. Apparently the channel has to be deepened. I know that over the years when the dredge “ Trinity Bay “, belonging to the Cairns Harbour Board, has gone south for its annual overhaul each year, it has done all the dredging necessary in the Gladstone harbour. It is a natural harbour, and once it is developed and deepened to 32 feet, it will not require much maintenance to retain that depth.
The greater the depth of water, the larger the ships that can berth. That will mean lower freight charges. It is true that coal from the Callide open cut was shipped - not by Thiess Brothers - from Gladstone in ships of much smaller tonnage than 15,000 tons, which is apparently the maximum size for ships entering the port. The annual report of the Gladstone Harbour Board states -
After lengthy negotiations and several trial shipments, Messrs. Thiess Bros. (Qld.) Pty. Ltd. received orders for the supply of 203,000 tons of Kianga (soft coking) coal and 102,000 tons of Moura (hard coking) coal for the Japanese Steel Industry, shipment of same to be completed by February, 1962.
Shipping of the above orders has already been commenced, and from the excellent reports received on the shipments that have reached Japan, it is confidently anticipated that further large orders of a long-term basis will be secured.
That long-term order is for 3,400,000 tons for seven years. The report adds -
At the request of Japanese interests, the Board agreed to dredge the berth at the bulk loading plant to 32 ft. L.W.O.S.T. to permit of the use of large bulk carriers in the coal trade between Gladstone and Japan. This work has how been carried out at a cost of £50,000.
Apparently the board proposes to continue that work by the expenditure of £205,000.
I want to make one or two other observations about this bill. The Treasurer, in his second-reading speech, said that this measure should prove of great value from, the standpoint of the development of central Queensland. The people can work out for themselves how great will be the value of a contribution of only £100,000 to the development of such an area. We have heard what the honorable member for Macarthur has had to say about it. The port of Gladstone has a very rich hinterland. To-day, it is true, that hinterland is devoted mainly to the cattle-raising, timber and dairying industries. There is also a meat works at Gladstone. This is an area which could be developed greatly. If, as the honorable member for Macarthur would have us believe, the Government is really interested in developing central Queensland generally, it ought to have another look at the matter.
It is true, as the honorable member for Macquarie has said, that there is a world shortage of coking coal and that here in Australia we have good coking coal, although perhaps our coking coal is in relatively short supply compared with the resources of steaming coal that we have in this country. We have coking coal not only at Kianga. We have good coking coal in the Collinsville area, and the operators of the mine there are endeavouring to obtain orders for the export of their coal to Japan. I hope that when those orders are obtained, this Government will do something to help the Bowen Harbour Board develop the port of Bowen.
As I said a while ago, this Government and the Queensland Government have been stimulated to take action by the contract entered into by Thiess Brothers Proprietary Limited and the Peabody coal company of the United States of America, which have combined to form the joint company known as Thiess Peabody Coal Proprietary Limited, with a capital of £15,000,000. Already, the Commonwealth has derived benefit from the formation of this company, because the American Peabody company has deposited in Australia £1,000,000 as its first contribution to the capital of the new joint company. The Peabody company of America, Mr. Deputy Speaker, is one of the large coal-mining companies in the United States. It operates 25 coalmines there, and this is the first occasion on which it has invested in coal-mining interests outside that country.
The joint company formed in Australia proposes to spend £15,000,000 over the next six years on the construction of a railway, to which the honorable member for Macquarie referred. This railway will follow a more direct route between the coalfield and Gladstone, being about 100 miles in length and 98 miles shorter than the existing railway. The new railway is to be completed by the end of 1967. In addition, the company proposes to purchase railway rolling-stock and plant, and also coalwashing machinery. I understand that the railway is estimated to cost about £8,000,000. This is a lot of money. Yet the Commonwealth’s contribution to the entire project is only £100,000.
The operating company has an agreement to export 600,000 tons of coal annually to Japan, to be sold in that country through the Mitsui company, which is the agent there for the Australian company. Despite what the honorable member for Macarthur has said, we can truly say that the coal industry, not only in Australia, but throughout the world, faces a hard fight. A critical factor affecting the sale of coal is production costs. These involve not only wages paid to employees, and interest and redemption on money invested in mechanization, but also - particularly in the United States and Australia - freight on coal. As the honorable member for Macquarie pointed out, Australia exported 1,900,000 tons of coal in 1960-61, the total value being £7,000,000. This was 10 per cent, of our output.
In the Japanese market, Australia is a very serious competitor of the United States of America. Sir Edward Warren, chairman of the Australian Coal Association, was reported in the Sydney “ Daily Telegraph “ of 21st September of last year as having said that Americans were hostile at Australia’s having taken some of their coal trade with Japan. He added that the strongest point in favour of the United States was its ability to handle bigger ships. I referred to the use of bigger ships earlier. They would reduce the cost of freight on each ton of coal. Sir Edward Warren went on to point out that Australia has an advantage to offset against the American ability to handle bigger ships. This Australian advantage is lower freights on coal because we have a shorter sea haul to the Japanese market. According to the information that I have received, Australia’s net freight advantage over the United States in the sale of coal in Japan is 5s. 6d. a ton.
Japan is expected to import 14,600,000 tons of coal in 1965. It is expected to import 22,000,000 tons, worth about £18,000,000, in 1970. Not only the operators of the mines on the Kianga field but also the operators of other coal-mines in Australia are looking to Japan for sales, and they are keenly aware of the estimated requirements of Japan in the years ahead up to 1970.
On 6th October, 1961, almost two weeks before the Coal Loading Works Agreement (New South Wales) Bill 1961, which provided for financial assistance for the provision of coal-loading facilities at New South Wales harbours such as Port Kembla and Newcastle, was introduced in this House, the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) was reported in the Sydney “ Daily Telegraph “ as having said -
I would like to see Newcastle swing into stride as quickly as Port Kembla because the inroads we are making into the Japanese coal market have attracted a good deal of notice in America.
The U.S.A. is coming back on competitive terms.
It is not only a matter of prices but also of providing loading facilities so that trade can be handled quickly.
The bill which we are considering now provides for financial assistance for the provision of coal-loading facilities at Gladstone, but the Gladstone Harbour Board will have to find most of the money for these facilities which, according to the Minister for National Development, are essential if we are to compete successfully with the United States on the coal market in Japan.
In conclusion, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I say that I would like to have seen a considerably greater contribution by the Commonwealth. As the proposal stands, the Gladstone Harbour Board will have to meet interest and redemption charges on £205,000 of the cost of the works proposed. The money absorbed by those interest and redemption charges could have been far better used by the board for further improvements at the port. I am sure that the interest being taken in the coal industry in this country by the Peabody company of the United States, with its up-to-date techniques and highly developed mechanized methods of producing and handling coal on a large scale, will increase the output of coal from the Kianga field. Increased production will, in turn, require further development of Gladstone harbour. This increase in coal production will mean an increase in the revenues of this Government.
I support the bill.
.- It is with great satisfaction that I take the opportunity to speak on this bill because, as a Queenslander, I realize how important it will be for the development not only of my own State but also of Australia generally.
The first great forward movement in the development of Australia took place when mining activities were undertaken on a large scale in the southern States, later extending through to north Queensland. The southern States at that time were able to take advantage of the increase of population brought about by these great mineral enterprises. Unfortunately, however, mainly because of lack of knowledge of agriculture in tropical and sub-tropical areas, the northern parts of the country were not able to benefit from the population increase to nearly the same extent. I believe that now, with the development of mining activities at Mount Isa and the prospective development of our vast coal deposits in central Queensland, we will be able to take another bite at the cherry. On this occasion I believe that when people are attracted to Queensland because of these developments, we will be able to maintain the increased population, and we will further develop our northern parts so that they may play their proper part in assisting the economy and the security of Australia.
A rather unfortunate set of circumstances has for a long time delayed the development of Queensland’s natural resources. For many years Queensland was hindered by the socialist ideas of Labour governments. For example, as I am reminded by the honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. Brimblecombe), the Commonwealth Government endeavoured to establish a Joint Coal Board in Queensland, but it could not obtain the co-operation of the Hanlon Labour Government. We all know of the great success of the Joint Coal Board in New South Wales. Had the Labour Government in Queensland in those days accepted its obligations, and if it could for one moment have set aside its socialist doctrines, that great enterprise would be working now in Queensland. We now see the Commonwealth Government coming in to assist the development of the coal industry in another way.
I would like to correct a statement made by the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Luchetti). He suggested that these grants were being made because of the way in which the people voted at the last general elections. I remind the honorable member that these grants were announced before the election was held. Every one knows that these grants were promised before the election. Those promises are now being fulfilled.
The honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan) has suggested that financing the grants will constitute a heavy burden. I cannot follow his line of reasoning, because with the tremendous quantities of coal that will come from the coal-fields, the amounts needed to amortize these grants will be negligible. The important thing is that funds are to be made available to start these enterprises, and I have no doubt that as time goes on, and as more funds become available, the Commonwealth Government will again assist. I remind the House that on every occasion when a proposition has been put by the Queensland Government to the Commonwealth Government for economic aid, such aid has been granted. That cannot be denied.
– Prove it.
– We have the example of Mount Isa, and now we have the example of this coal industry development. I remember when a Labour government put forward an £80,000,000 scheme for a dam on the Burdekin River, to enable the growing of more tobacco and peanuts and other things that were already being overproduced
– Sir Arthur Fadden turned it down.
– Yes, and we are very grateful to him for his understanding and for his perception of the weak spots in the scheme. What disasters would have overtaken us if we had undertaken this scheme, and had grown more tobacco and more peanuts! I do not think we would have grown more sugar cane, because our sugar-cane growers would have seen to it that production was not dangerously increased. A scheme of that kind could never be supported, Mr. Speaker.
A couple of years ago in this House 1 remember advocating the establishment of a steelworks in central Queensland. I am very glad to hear to-day so much support for this proposition from members of the Opposition. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition in Queensland was advocating the establishment of such a steelworks some months ago, and I am pleased now to hear the honorable member for Macquarie doing likewise. I understand that the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Gray) also expressed support for the proposition.
We are very pleased that we are now getting opportunities to export our coal, but this must be regarded as only a temporary phase in our development. With our increasing population of intelligent, able and energetic citizens we deserve something better than being mere exporters of raw material. We are not destined to be hewers of wood and drawers of water. We have the ability to establish and maintain a great heavy industry in the southern hemisphere. We have the raw materials. It has been suggested that there is an oversupply of steel in the world. That is utter nonsense. The Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited could sell all the steel and steel products it could produce to-day, simply because we have a cost advantage over the rest of the world. We must make use of that cost advantage. If we export coal and iron ore to Japan we must realize that Japan will build up markets for steel and steel products and will compete with us when we have further developed our coal industry and are able to enter actively into those markets.
I am very pleased and proud, as I think every Australian must be pleased and proud, of the success of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited. I am gratified, as I am sure every one in Western Australia is gratified, that the company is to start a steelworks in that State. I believe, however, that we should now encourage another company to establish a steelworks at Gladstone.
– A government company!
– Mr. Deputy Speaker, I know that honorable members opposite are so keen on their nationalization programme that they cannot take warning from what happened in Great Britain. In that country the steelworks were nationalized, but when the Labour Government was swept from office, as it so rightly deserved to be, the steel industry was restored to private enterprise, with great benefit to the whole of the nation. After all, we in Queensland particularly know the tremendous failures of nationalized industries, especially in relation to coal. In Queensland, we had State coal-mining enterprises at The Bluff, Collinsville and elsewhere losing hundreds of thousands of pounds, while, side by side with them, free enterprise mines were making profits. We can progress only through free enterprise, which has brought the greatest advantage to communities all over the world. No socialist country anywhere has ever achieved a high standard of living for its people. This is easy for Australian people to realize, particularly people in Queensland, as a result of their experience of socialization.
We are satisfied that the project with which this bill deals will be a very great success. The deposits of coal which will be affected by this agreement are enormous. They are estimated to total 1,000,000,000 tons, but that is only a rough estimate because nobody knows the limits of these coal-fields. We think that probably the whole of the eastern area of Queensland has tremendous coal deposits. As the honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan) so rightly said, we have also tremendous iron ore deposits, particularly in the Constance Range deposits, which could be developed, and I hope that this is only the beginning of an export trade with Japan.
Under this bill the Commonwealth is to grant funds to enable modern handling facilities to be installed at the Gladstone wharf, and for deepening the Gladstone harbour so that ships of the best economic size may be berthed and loaded. The honorable member for Kennedy suggests that bulk carriers of up to only 15,000 tons will be able to berth at this wharf. I must defer to him to a great extent because he, as a former Minister for the Navy, would know more about ships than 1 do, but I was very surprised to hear him state that figure, because I was of the opinion that ships of a considerably greater tonnage would be able to berth there.
This agreement is very important, not only to Queensland, but to the whole of Australia, and we are glad that the coal industry in Queensland is developing into a large export industry. I may add that this has been brought about as a result of the trade agreement with Japan, which was so strongly opposed by honorable members opposite. It looks as though this agreement will result in our receiving an export income from Japan of £160,000,000 for the last twelve months. We must not forget that the Labour Opposition opposed that agreement, although honorable members opposite have now jumped on the band-wagon and are citicizing us for not making available more funds for this present project. I believe the funds to be provided will be adequate as a beginning.
The important thing, however, is that we start steel works in that area. I believe that members on both sides of the House, whether they believe in governmentcontrolled or free-enterprise steel works, want to see the establishment of steel works there. We may have trouble at first in obtaining iron ore for the steel works. There are small deposits of iron ore near this coal-field, but there are tremendous deposits in the Constance Range. It will be some time before these extensive deposits are developed because of their isolation, but there is another source of iron ore available to us in Western Australia. I understand that Western Australia is not so well supplied with coal as Queensland is, so we shall be able to send our bulk ships, with coal loaded at Gladstone, to Western Australia and they can bring back iron ore for Queensland. This would be » very satisfactory arrangement not only for Queensland, but also for Western Australia.
I support the bill, and I congratulate the Government on its efforts to develop Queensland. I state again that on every occasion on which an economic proposition has been put to this Government by Queensland it has met with success and support.
.- In the first instance, I think we could state without reservation that all members of this House, irrespective of party, are very pleased to see some degree of assistance being given to Queensland for the development of its coal industry. The only thing that we quibble about, as my colleagues have pointed out, is the amount of money being given and the circumstances under which it is being given. The Gladstone Harbour Board is involved in an expenditure of £405,000, of which £205,000 must be raised by its own efforts, whilst £100,000 is to be a Commonwealth grant and £100,000 is to be lent by the Commonwealth for fifteen years. We must not lose sight of the fact that the repayment of this money, plus interest, is dependent entirely upon Queensland’s receiving the volume of trade through Gladstone that is expected. If the expected volume of trade is not forthcoming Queensland will have to find some £30,000 a year to meet its obligation in capital repayment and interest. Again, the finding of this money is entirely dependent on the continuation of the coal trade with Japan, and although we take it for granted that this trade will continue that is not yet certain.
The site of this particular work is in my electorate, and I recently visited it. I also visited the coal mines from which will come the coal that will be handled at Gladstone. One part of the developmental scheme is the construction of a railway from the port of Gladstone to the coal-fields, and this was to cost the operating company some £9,000,000. At first, it was the Japanese who would build a railway line there, but the Japanese have faded out of that part of the picture. Now it is supposed to be the Thiess Peabody Coal Proprietary Limited that is to build the railway, but I was told by an official of that company that it is not going to start until it has in its hands a signed contract from the Japanese, and this it has not yet received. It has a contract for the supply of coal, but it is not of sufficient magnitude to warrant the expenditure of £9,000,000 on a railway line.
The Queensland railways will carry the coal from the coal-fields via Mount Morgan to Gladstone, but in the initial stages the coal has to be moved a fairly considerable distance by road before it reaches the railway line. This coal is very good. We are told that it is among the best coking coal in the world. One seam there is from 12 to 15 or 20 feet thick, under 70 to 80 feet of over-burden. On the Moura field, only 12 or 13 miles from Kianga, there is an overburden of 75 feet of solid sandstone on 15 feet of coal. At the moment it is economic to work that deposit, although there is five times as much over-burden as coal - a ratio of about five to one. It pays, at that. And when we consider that the Peabody company is familiar in America with circumstances under which it moves over-burden of a ratio of 30 to 1, to get 29 inches of coal, we can understand that when their experts saw Kianga and Moura they thought it was a Christmas tree. They have nothing of that nature in .their sphere of activity in their native state. The company is importing into this country machinery - some of it has already arrived in Queensland - which will enable it to move over-burden of a ratio not of 5 to 1, but of 30 to 1.
The company proposes to move the overburden at the rate of 1,000,000 cubic yards a month and will uncover the coal. But remember this: If the coal goes to Japan and the profit goes to the United States of America, what do we get? We are entitled to something. After all, we do own the coal. If we import the machinery and the operators all that we get is the operational result that brings to us harbour dues, rail freights and wages. The honorable member for Macarthur (Mr. Jeff Bate), who appears to have made a strategic retreat-
– I am here.
– I am sorry; the honorable member has merely taken cover. The honorable member said that twenty years ago the coal-miner went into the mine, worked in the dirt and dust and so forth and won coal by manual labour, and that to-day he can go into a mine wearing white gloves and operate a machine. Let me tell the honorable member for Macarthur that the latest information I have is that the coalminer will soon be able to hang his white gloves on a nail and stay at home. The Peabody company has in its possession, in the United States, coalmining machinery the operation of which requires no labour whatever. It is operated by photo-electric cells and closed circuit television sets. The owners can send their machinery underneath the drives of coal and operate it by remote control.
I point out to the House that we are interested primarily in people and not in industry. The people must come first. If some one, somewhere, is not going to make a living out of this industry, then we operate it for no purpose at all. There are miners to get a living, and there are waterside workers, employees of the harbour boards, the people who provide the transport, the engineers who will work in these coal-mines and on this automatic loading device.
The ratio of labour is dropping, not only in the coal-mines but also on the loading devices. With a loading device two men can load a ship. It is an automatic loading and trimming device. It takes the coal from the dumps and puts it into the ship. It works very efficiently. But if nobody is there earning wages, there will be nobody there afterwards spending money. We need to keep that well in mind.
The coal goes to Japan. The honorable member for Mcpherson (Mr. Barnes) pointed out that honorable members on this side of the House are not very enthusiastic about the arrangement for exporting the coal to Japan. We have good reasons for that. We were not very enthusiastic prewar about exporting pig iron to Japan. I had the doubtful honour of being present when the Japanese brought it back again. Do not lose sight of the fact that these exports could be instrumental in returning things which we do not want to import. We had a good reason for our attitude regarding the export of pig iron, and we have one now. We want to see our industry built up in this country.
– What about the primary producers?
– We have a few primary producers on this side of the House. Do not forget that. I was one myself before I came here. They are not all on the Government side of the House. I point out that the produce that the primary producer puts on the market is bought, very largely, by the men working in the mines, on the wharfs and in other places. They provide the primary producers’ biggest market and they are his best market. If that market were fully developed we could not care less what happened about the Common Market in Europe. The market we want is here; a market we can control and which can pay a price for primary produce which will pay men to grow it. That is what we want.
My friend, the honorable member for Mcpherson, also took a bit of a dim view about socialism. Socialism is many things to many people. Very often it is what you put up as an Aunt Sally to knock down. From our point of view socialism is merely the operation and control of industry by society for society. One of the beneficiaries under that scheme undoubtedly would be my friend from Mcpherson. Explain that one away! It is easy to put up an Aunt Sally and knock it down for the purpose of making political capital. But we have been told that socialism has accomplished nothing.
– Private enterprise built Australia.
– Do you think so? I will tell you this: The other side of the picture is that, in your opinion, private enterprise succeeds everywhere. The honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull) says that private enterprise built Australia. Not necessarily.
– Not necessarily, but actually.
– We have the Post Office, the railways and many other things in this country run on a socialistic basis. Once upon a time private enterprise also ran the army. It ran everything. We need not go off on to sidelines to point out that at one time private enterprise ran the army and there was a time when the Master-General of Ordnance was a private operator. We have it on record in the military annals that on one occasion when he was supplying his artillery for the benefit of England he had a quarrel with the King. He packed up his artillery and took it home, and we lost the battle. So private enterprise is not always what you think it is. If you think it is always successful look at the bankruptcy list and you will find out what happens to the majority of private enterprises.
– That is their own money, not other people’s.
– They get their money from somebody else, by charging too much. The honorable member for Macarthur said that in this era of the Menzies Government there is mechanization of the coal industry. Undoubtedly there is. As I have pointed out, we should be very careful that mechanization does not go so far that you completely mechanize your industry. If it goes too far, of course, some people might even decide to mechanize this House. I can imagine a lot of tape recorders talking to the microphones and we could sit at home and hear what the public has to put up with when we talk here. My friend, the honorable member for McPherson, said “ Rome was not built in a day “. I tell him that if the Menzies Government had been in charge there, Rome would not have been built yet.
I was very pleased that the honorable member for McPherson (Mr. Barnes) touched upon the necessity to establish population in Queensland. I support him in that. This supports our contention that the most important factor in any country is people. An industry, mechanized or manual, must be operated so that it supplies benefits to people, whether primary producers or other workers.
We have heard a little about steel. Honorable members on the Government side wanted to know why there is no steelworks in central Queensland, where coal can be mined. I might point out that we have also iron ore deposits in central Queensland. One of the reasons why they are not operated - the main reason - is that one of the largest mining companies in the Commonwealth has a lease over 10,000 square miles of the area in which these deposits exist, but it does not suit the company to utilize them. It operates somewhere else. These are the biggest deposits in central Queensland, and this company has the lot. The deposits are in the Many Peaks district, at the back of Gladstone, from which this coal will be shipped. Not only have we the coal that would lend itself to the development of a steel industry, but we also have the iron ore. However, nobody is allowed to touch it. One of my constituents got himself into trouble by going out and trying to scratch a bit of gold. He was informed by the mining warden that he could not do that on his own property, because a mining company owned the mining rights. If we could remedy that situation we would be able to develop central Queensland. I was the secretary of the Central Queensland Development Organization before I came here. The honorable member for Macarthur (Mr. Jeff Bate) mentioned that we took him around and showed him the district. It has been estimated that if we had aluminium smelters in central Queensland, where we could produce electricity for .5d. per unit-
– Old or new currency?
– In new currency or the old currency, but I would prefer the decimal currency which your Government does not seem terribly anxious to bring into being.
– Is your party anxious to do so?
– Give us a chance. Come across to this side in a division and give us a couple of votes, and later we will give you decimal currency and a few other things that will benefit you more than what you get now. If we had electric power for the smelting of aluminium, we would be able to use it also to produce fertilizers and sulphuric acid and to extract by-products from coal, of which there are more than 90. We would be able so to develop central Queensland then that in ten years an additional population of 200,000 people could be attracted. That is the sort of thing that we have to do in this country.
There is much more at stake in this matter than exporting coal to Japan. There is the development of this country generally. There is the putting of population into the central and northern areas of Queensland, so that we can continue to hold them. What is the use of having abundant raw materials in areas that have little or no population, such as Queensland, the Northern Territory and Western Australia? Those parts of the
Commonwealth must be given more attention than has been given to them in the past if we want to keep what we have. If we can develop these areas and put people into them, we will no longer be in the danger that other people will some day become dissatisfied because, to get this coal and iron, they have, to buy it from us. They may develop the idea that it would be much easier, to come here and take it. That was tried once, and we know that on that famous occasion the Australian people, faced with that danger, immediately changed the Government. If this Government gets the country into similar difficulties again, we will be glad to take over from it again. We do not want anybody to set up a foreign enclave in this country. We think that we can handle the work of development ourselves, but we can do it only if we develop to the full these raw materials by the work of our own people.
The granting of this money to the Gladstone Harbour Board is a step in the right direction. It is a small step, but it is in the right direction. If this money provides work for a sufficient number of Australians on the spot - the people who are there and are willing to do the job - it will be money well spent, but if it does nothing more than merely facilitate the export of a large proportion of the assets of this country to somewhere else, and we do not reap any profit, our effort will have been in vain. We do not mind who buys our goods. We are in business to sell things. We are in business to provide our people with an increasingly high standard of living, irrespective of how they earn that living. I say again that we are very pleased to see this move. We hope that the Government, not only will establish, but will maintain for long periods the facilities for exporting this coal. We also urge on the Government the necessity for establishing more industries which will themselves consume the coal. We are rather perturbed by the fact that the deposits of aluminium ore which are to be found in Queensland are being exported.
– What about the export income?
– A quantity of 600,000 tons is being sent to Japan. The export income in some of these cases will not do us a great deal of good. In the case of coal and aluminium, the people operating the companies are foreigners. They will take their profits to some other country.
– What about the foreign currency earnings?
– The only earnings that we get in the case of coal are the earnings of the coal-miners, the wharf labourers and the transport workers. The shareholders do not live in Australia.
– What about royalties?
– We will get something in that way. But surely it is not beyond the comprehension even of honorable members on the Government side to realize that we are entitled to the entire profit from the export of the assets of this country.
– What goes overseas is only fractional.
– It is not. If my honorable friend is prepared to investigate the amount of money that leaves this country as an invisible export, he may be surprised to learn that it amounts to hundreds of millions of pounds per annum. It is a tremendous amount of money. It is going, in one instance, to a country that has a law that says that not more than 40 per cent, of the shareholding of any company operating in that country shall be foreign. Here the shareholding can be 100 per cent, foreign.
– Where is that country?
– It is the United States of America.
– You do not expect it to donate capital to us, do you?
– I do not expect it to donate the capital. I expect Australians to provide capital to develop these industries and prevent them from falling into the hands of foreign operators. This is one of the points upon which we part company from honorable members on the Government side. We believe that Australian industries and Australian assets are the property of the Commonwealth of Austra lia, not of any individual. We believe that no individual has the right to give them away.
– You have been going all right until now.
– I will keep going all right. I am even prepared to help the Western Australians to develop their industries, because they are in the same position as we are.
– Order! I suggest that the honorable member be allowed to make his own speech.
– Thank you, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Finally, I urge . that we do not only provide these amounts of money which will enable the Gladstone Harbour Board to install this very necessary machinery, but that we assist the board in a more generous and wide-spread way. For instance, we should have given the Gladstone Harbour Board the whole of the £200,000, seeing that we got it from the taxpayers in the first place. Instead of that, the Government proposes to lend half that sum to the harbour board and to charge interest for it. The Government is not entitled to do that. This is the people’s money. It does not belong to the honorable members of this Parliament, and if money is to be used for the development of the industries of this country, it should be made available by way of grants. But if it is lent, it should be lent at a rate that will enable the Harbour Board to carry out its operations in such a way as will return the greatest possible benefit to all concerned.
– One per cent.
– One per cent, would be ample, seeing that we pay nothing for that money. When we seek to establish industries, we should do everything within our power to ensure that as many people as possible are employed. We should see to it that the greatest possible number of miners, transport workers and waterside workers are employed, because this, in turn, will lead to the employment of greater numbers in the various businesses in the cities and towns. Let me remind honorable members of the Country Party in particular that the more wages the average working man can earn the more primary products he can buy, and the better the price he can pay for those products.
We are prepared to say that we thoroughly approve of the bill, and we very enthusiastically support it so far as it goes, but we urge upon the Government the need to investigate further the industries of central Queensland, and to provide the additional capital that is undoubtedly required to develop those industries to the stage where everybody will have a job and where the home market will be big enough to absorb the excess products that Australia may not be able to sell abroad in the next few years. I repeat, we are very pleased to support the bill so far as it goes.
.- As another representative from Queensland, and a member of the Australian Labour Party, which has so many Queensland representatives in this Parliament, I am delighted to be associated with the passage of this bill, not because of the generosity of the proposal it contains, but because it is a gesture towards aiding in a small way the development of this important export industry in central Queensland. Lest those few honorable members on the Government side who are now in the chamber be not properly informed about the position in Queensland, let me point out to them that the money to be provided under this bill is to aid the development of that part of the State known as central Queensland, which begins about 500 miles north of the capital city of Brisbane. I do not want honorable members on the Government side to be deluded into believing that they are making a major contribution to the development of the whole of the State, because there is as much territory north of the Tropic of Capricorn as there is south of that line, and this bill makes no provision for any development of the extensive coal-fields north of the Tropic of Capricorn.
The agreement, which is the schedule to the bill, is to have no force or effect until the State of Queensland has produced to the Commonwealth evidence establishing to the satisfaction of the Treasurer that a firm order has been placed for the purchase for export from Australia through the port of Gladstone of not less than 1,000,000 tons of coal during a period of five years commencing on 1st April, 1962. I take it that the State has furnished to the Treasurer evidence that such an order has been received. It is very good to know that such a large quantity of coal is to be exported through the Gladstone harbour during the next five years, for it will give a great boost to the coal-mining industry in that part of the State. The coal-mining industry of Queensland has not enjoyed a great deal of prosperity, nor has it been very efficient.
Being desirous of obtaining factual information relating to the coal-mining industry of Queensland, I consulted the “ Year Book of Queensland “, published under instructions from the Commonwealth Treasurer, only to find that that gentleman, through his statistical officer, is most modest about supplying information concerning the coal-mining industry in Queensland. The information on this subject contained in that book is restricted to two paragraphs. Perhaps that is some indication of the lack of interest which this Government has shown towards Queensland in the past. The reference to the State coal mines in Queensland is so short that I shall quote the whole of it. It reads -
In 1959, the State Government operated two coal mines - at Collinsville (near Bowen), and Ogmore (north of Rockhampton).
The publication says nothing more about the important coal-mining industry which has been operated by the Queensland Government over a period of years, so it is very difficult to obtain any factual information from that source. Whilst representatives from Queensland might be fully informed of all the ramifications of the coal-mining industry in their own State, those honorable members who represent electorates south of the Queensland border may be pardoned for not being so well informed and, because they are not so well informed, the Queensland representatives in this Parliament have a greater responsibility to inform this Parliament of the requirements of Queensland from a developmental point of view. Unfortunately, that responsibility was not taken very seriously in the past, and for years the citizens of Queensland complacently accepted the reluctance of those who then represented them - they were members of the Government parties - to push the claims of Queensland. But, on 9th December last, the people of Queensland rose in indignation as one, as it were, and expelled a great number of those lazy, uninterested members from this Parliament and sent in a new team, a team of Australian Labour Party representatives, who are not reluctant, and who are not afraid, to recognize and give publicity to the need for aiding this important State, and the important cod industry in particular.
There has been a great deal of argument amongst members of the Australian Country Party and the Liberal Party in Queensland about representations made for aid on behalf of Queensland to the Government at Canberra. Those arguments almost led to open warfare between the former Minister for Supply (Mr. Hulme) and the former honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Pearce) on the one hand, and the present State Country Party Minister for Mines, Mr. Evans, on the other. I understand that, at Christmas time, in a spirit of goodwill, Mr. Evans sent a Christmas card to the former honorable member for Petrie (Mr. Hulme), expressing best wishes for the coming year. Mr. Evans, of course, had attacked Mr. Hulme at considerable length and with a good deal of venom during the election campaign. Members of the Australian Labour Party were reluctant to interfere. We regarded it with a good deal of enthusiasm, because it was quite helpful to us on that occasion. Mr. Hulme refused to accept Mr. Evans’s Christmas card in a spirit of goodwill.
– What has this to do with the bill?
– I am leading up to the important matter regarding coal. Mr. Hulme returned the card to Mr. Evans, telling him that he should revise his list. There have been many claims as to who is responsible for the development of the market for coal in Japan. Mr. Hulme, the Minister for Supply at the time, publicized the fact that the former member for Capricornia was responsible for obtaining these markets. This has been hotly denied and disputed by Mr. Evans, the present Minister for Mines. Only recently, Mr. Evans paid a visit to Japan, ostensibly to seal the deal. So the people of Queensland are somewhat confused as to who is responsible for the market.
Since 9th December there has been a considerable amount of activity by this Government, which is giving assistance to Queensland and making money available for development in that State. Under this bill, the Government will make available £200,000, £100,000 of which will be a direct grant and the other £100,000 of which will carry the current rate of interest. The money is for the development of loading facilities at Gladstone harbour. Gladstone, as the member for the district has said, is a most important harbour on the coast of Queensland. It is a natural harbour which provides ample anchorage and very good harbour facilities for large coal bulk carriers. In his speech, the Treasurer told us that facilities will be available for bulk carriers of 15,000 tons to berth at the wharfs to load coal being exported in the main to Japan. The facilities will provide for increased loading capacity which will rise to about 500 tons an hour.
This is all to the advantage of the industry, or should I say to the advantage of the investors in the industry. It has been pointed out quite well by members on this side of the House that not much advantage will accrue to the citizens of the State. Thiess Brothers (Queensland) Proprietary Limited, the Queensland company, has associated with the Peabody organization, an American company, to handle the export of the coal. We have been fed with a lot of propaganda over a considerable time on the development of the field and the export of coal. First we were told that a Japanese company would build a railway. This was announced by Thiess Brothers (Queensland) Proprietary Limited and members of the Queensland Government, who will announce anything they hear from any source, using it as propaganda. The Japanese seemed to fade out of the picture. The next we heard was that the Peabody organization will build a railway which will cost about £9,000,000, to bring the coal-field into direct communication with the port of Gladstone. But up to the present, all we know about this is what has been published in the “ CourierMail”. No legislation has been submitted to the Queensland Parliament to provide for Thiess Peabody Coal Proprietary Limited to construct the railway, and of course legislation will be necessary before this can be done.
However, we do know that the company enjoys very special freight concessions on the Queensland railways for the haulage of coal from the Kianga and Moura fields. It is interesting to note that the railway department has provided this most generous freight concession on coal hauled to Gladstone for export to Japan. This, in effect, is providing a subsidy to the Japanese manufacturer, who will produce his goods and export them to Australia. In many instances, the Japanese goods will be sold at a lower price than goods produced in Australia by manufacturers who will use coal on which the ordinary freight has been paid. It may be regarded as good business merely to export the coal, and so a freight concession is allowed. But I am something of a biased Australian, and the Australian manufacturer, in my view, should be given every consideration. I do not believe it to be sound national business to subsidize the carriage of coal for export only, when that coal will provide fuel for overseas manufacturers, and not to provide a similar concession on coal that will be used by Australian manufacturers. However, that is what the Queensland Government is doing.
Queensland is enormously wealthy in coal. Some years ago, the Hanlon Labour Government authorized a team of British coal experts to make a survey of the coal wealth of Queensland. This was done by the firm of Powell Duffryn, over a lengthy period. The Queensland Department of Mines has a very extensive record of the findings of the firm, and this is available to those who are interested. The bill before us relates only to the port of Gladstone, which will deal only with Kianga and Moura fields. It will not provide facilities for other fields. We have, perhaps, the most dramatic and exciting coal-field in the world at Blair Athol. The coal from this field has a high heating value and is found in cliffs 100 feet high. No mining is necessary; the coal is merely taken away in trucks. But this field is languishing because of a lack of orders. The Queensland Government has closed the excellent coal mine at Mount Mulligan. The fate of a field outside Bowen, at Collinsville, is in the balance. The Government has abandoned the mine and it has been sold to private enterprise. It has not yet gone into production again and there is some grave doubt as to whether it will ever produce coal again.
Whilst we are speaking of the export of coal for coking purposes, let us remember that the Queensland Government, for a . long period, conducted a coke oven business, associated with the Collinsville mine. There appeared to be no demand for the coke produced by these works, which were also offered for sale. However, I understand that the coke ovens have not been disposed of.
As I said, the record of coal-mining in Queensland has not been a very satisfactory one. The industry has developed to a minor degree, but it has not gone ahead by leaps and bounds, as one would think it. would in a State that possesses such great wealth in coal. There are many reasons why we have failed to develop this industry in Queensland as we should have done. Some little time ago, members of the Australian Country Party, by way of interjection, advocated the establishment of a steel works in central Queensland. Steel works do not exist there to-day because of the political activity of members of the Liberal Party and the Country Party in Queensland.
– That is not so.
– The honorable member for Moore is ill-informed. If he listens for a while, I will give him the names of the gentlemen who went to London as a delegation to persuade the bankers there to refuse to advance money to Queensland for the establishment of an iron and steel works at Bowen. Some years ago, the Premier of Queensland was Mr. E. G. Theodore, one of the most brilliant minds in Australian politics for a long time. Mr. Theodore conceived the idea of establishing an iron and steel works at Bowen, where there is ample coal available for coking and other purposes. A most efficient field exists just outside Bowen, which has an excellent harbour.
Mr. Theodore, as the Premier of the day, obtained a lease of the iron ore deposits at Yampi Sound in Western Australia. The plan was to transport the iron ore from Yampi to Bowen, where coal was available, and to establish a steel works. The apostles of private enterprise, the haters of development in Queensland, and the squattocracy, as it were, combined to send a delegation to London - this was before the existence of the Australian Loan Council as we know it now - to persuade the bankers to refuse to advance money for this purpose. The leaders of the delegation were Sir Robert Philp, a former Premier of Queensland; Sir Alfred Cowley, a former Minister and Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, and Mr. Walsh, a leading barrister of Brisbane. One of the former Country Party members in this House who represented Wide Bay, Mr. Brand, was a member of the Queensland Parliament which endorsed completely this traitorous action by the politicians of that day. 1 am sorry to say that those persons were successful in their anti-Queensland stand. They stabbed Queensland in the back, and by their action, supported entirely by the Liberal Party and the Country Party of that time in Queensland, deprived Queensland of this much-needed development.
– You would never have got that iron ore.
– Why not? The honorable member for Moore has some very vague ideas. The whole project was arranged on a sound businesslike basis, in accordance with Mr. Theodore’s normal practice. He was acting in the interests of Queensland, but he was stabbed in the back by members of the Country Party similar to the honorable member for Moore. Of course, that is history now. All these men are deceased and the affair has been written off as a bitter experience. It shows just how the anti-Labour forces have deprived Queensland of its just rights in the way of development. They have done that over a long period of years.
Those days have gone, and apparently this Government has been awakened to a minor degree to the requirements of Queensland. It is making a token gesture to show that it realizes what Queensland needs and the importance of developing that State. It has been suggested that this will be the means of providing employment in Queensland, but that is not the case, as the whole operation involved will be mechanical. The coal will be mined on the open-cut system and, according to a previous speaker, the most modern machinery will be used. This means that it will be a field of machines, not of men. The coal will be untouched by human hands, as it were. It will be handled entirely by mechanical equipment, imported from the United States of America. As the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Gray) has said, the coal will go to Japan and the profits will go to the United States. This is most unfortunate.
I had hoped that the profits would remain in Queensland and could be used for much-needed development in the central area, such as the Fitzroy Basin, to which the honorable member for Macarthur (Mr. Jeff Bate) referred. That basin bas great possibilities for development. Tha Fitzroy River drains in one system one of the largest catchment areas in the Commonwealth. But apparently we are not to see this development. However, I am still optimistic about the future and I hope that mining development will give some encouragement to the establishment of other industries in an area which has a great potential.
It is true that, in the past, development in Australia has been hastened by mining activity. The history of northern Queensland prior to the establishment of the sugar industry shows how the mining industry helped the development o£ that part of the State considerably. Experience has shown that throughout the Commonwealth, mining has attracted large numbers of people quickly to certain areas and as production has proceeded - or even when it has diminished - other industries have followed.
I hope that the project we have been discussing will encourage more and more people to go to central Queensland. While I regret that the Government is not making larger sums of money available for the development of this important part of Australia, we must be grateful for this very small token gesture. It might be called the widow’s mite.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages without amendment or debate.
In Committee of Ways and Means:
Customs Tariff Amendment (No. 1)
Consideration resumed from 22nd February (vide page 143), on motion by Mr. Fairhall -
That the Schedule to the Customs Tariff 1933-1961 be amended as set out in the Schedule to these Proposals . . . (vide page 142).
Customs Tariff Amendment (No. 2)
Consideration resumed from 22nd February (vide page 144), on motion by Mr. Fairhall-
That the Schedule to the Customs Tariff 1933-1961 be amended as set out in the Schedule to these Proposals . . . (vide page 143).
Customs Tariff Amendment (No. 3)
Consideration resumed from 22nd February (vide page 146), on motion by Mr. Fairhall-
That the Schedule to the Customs Tariff 1933-1961 be amended as set out in the Schedule to these Proposals . . . (vide page 144).
Customs Tariff Amendment (No. 4)
Consideration resumed from 22nd February (vide page 147), on motion by Mr. Fairhall-
That the Schedule to the Customs Tariff 1933-1961 be amended as set out in the Schedule to these Proposals . . . (vide page 147).
Customs Tariff Amendment (No. 5)
Consideration resumed from 22nd February (vide page 148), on motion by Mr. Fairhall -
That the Schedule to the Customs Tariff 1933-1961 be amended as set out in the Schedule to these Proposals . . . (vide page 147).
Customs Tariff Amendment (No. 6)
Consideration resumed from 7th March (vide page 526), on motion by Mr. Fairhall-
That the Schedule to the Customs Tariff 1933-1961, as proposed to be amended by Customs Tariff Proposals introduced into the House of Representatives on the twenty-second day of February . . . (vide page 522).
Customs Tariff Amendment (No. 7)
Consideration resumed from 7th March (vide page 527), on motion by Mr. Fairhall-
That the Schedule to the Customs Tariff 1933-1961, as proposed to be amended by Customs Tariff Proposals introduced into the House of Representatives on the twenty-second day of February . . . (vide page 527).
Customs Tariff Amendment (No. 8)
Consideration resumed from 7th March (vide page 528), on motion by Mr. Fairhall-
That the Schedule to the Customs Tariff 1933-1961, as proposed to be amended by Customs
Tariff Proposals introduced into the House of Representatives on the twenty-second day of February . . . (vide page 527).
Customs Tariff Amendment (No. 9)
Consideration resumed from 7th March (vide page 530), on motion by Mr. Fairhall-
That the Schedule to the Customs Tariff 1933-1961, as proposed to be amended by Customs Tariff Proposals introduced into the House of Representatives on the twenty-second day of February . . . (vide page 528).
Customs Tariff Amendment (No. 10)
Consideration resumed from 7th March vide (page 532), on motion by Mr. Fairhall-
That the Schedule to the Customs Tariff 1933- 1961, as proposed to be amended by Customs Tariff Proposals introduced into the House of Representatives on the twenty-second day of February . . . (vide page 531).
Customs Tariff Amendment (No. 11)
Consideration resumed from 7th March (vide page 533), on motion by Mr. Fairhall -
That the Schedule to the Customs Tariff 1933- 1961, as proposed to be amended by Customs Tariff Proposals introduced into the House of Representatives on the twenty-second day of February . . . (vide page 532).
Customs Tariff Amendment (No. 12)
Consideration resumed from 7th March (vide page 533), on motion by Mr. Fairhall-
That the Schedule to the Customs Tariff 1933- 1961, as proposed to be amended by Customs Tariff Proposals introduced into the House of Representatives on the twenty-second day of February . . . (vide page 533).
Customs Tariff Amendment (No. 13)
Consideration resumed from 14th March (vide page 776), on motion by Mr. Fairhall -
That the Schedule to the Customs Tariff 1933- 1961, as proposed to be amended by Customs Tariff Proposals, be further amended as set out in the Schedule to these Proposals . . . (vide page 775).
Customs Tariff Amendment (No. 14)
Consideration resumed from 28th March (vide page 1035), on motion by Mr. Fairhall-
That the Schedule to the Customs Tariff 1933- 1961, as proposed to be amended by Customs Tariff
Proposals, be further amended as set out in the Schedule to these Proposals . . . (vide page
Customs Tariff Amendment (No. 15)
Consideration resumed from 28th March (vide page 1036), on motion by Mr. Fairhall-
That the Schedule to the Customs Tariff 1933- 1961, as proposed to be amended by Customs Tariff Proposals, be further amended as set out in the Schedule to these Proposals . . . (vide page
Customs Tariff Amendment (No. 16)
Consideration resumed from 28th March (vide page 1037), on motion by Mr. Fairhall -
That the Schedule to the Customs Tariff 1933- 1961, as proposed to be amended by Customs Tariff Proposals, be further amended as set out in the Schedule to these Proposals . . . (vide page
Customs Tariff Amendment (No. 17)
Consideration resumed from 28th March (vide page 1038), on motion by Mr. Fairhall -
That the Schedule to the Customs Tariff 1933- 1961, as proposed to be amended by Customs Tariff Proposals, be further amended as set out in the Schedule to these Proposals . . . (vide page
Customs Tariff Amendment (No. 18)
Consideration resumed from 4th April (vide page 1277), on motion by Mr. Fairhall -
That the Schedule to the Customs Tariff 1933- 1961, as proposed to be amended by Customs Tariff Proposals, be further amended as set out in the Schedule to these Proposals . . . (vide page 1274).
Customs Tariff Amendment (No. 19)
Consideration resumed from 10th April (vide page 1490), on motion by Mr. Fairhall -
That the Schedule to the Customs Tariff 1933- 1961, as proposed to be amended by Customs Tariff Proposals, be further amended as set out in the Schedule to these Proposals . . . (vide page 1489).
Customs Tariff Amendment (No. 20)
Consideration resumed from 12th April (vide page 1666), on motion by Mr. Fairhall-
That the Schedule to the Customs Tariff 1933- 1961, as proposed to be amended by Customs
Tariff Proposals, be further amended as set out in the Schedule to these Proposals . . . (vide page 1666).
Customs Tariff (Canada Preference) Amendment (No. 1)
Consideration resumed from 7th March (vide page 534), on motion by Mr. Fairhall -
That the Second Schedule to the Customs Tariff (Canada Preference) 1960-1961 be amended as set out in the Schedule to these Proposals . , . (vide page 534).
Customs Tariff (Canada Preference) Amendment (No. 2)
Consideration resumed from 7th March (vide page 534), on motion by Mr. Fairhall-
That the Second Schedule to the Customs Tariff (Canada Preference) 1960-1961 be amended as set out in the Schedule to these Proposals . . . (vide page 534).
Customs Tariff (Canada Preference) Amendment (No. 3)
Consideration resumed from 7th March (vide page 534), on motion by Mr. Fairhall-
That the Second Schedule to the Customs Tariff (Canada Preference) 1960-1961 be amended as set out in the Schedule to these Proposals . . . (vide page 534). j
Customs Tariff (New Zealand Preference) Amendment (No. 1)
Consideration resumed from 22nd February (vide page 148), on motion by Mr. Fairhall-
That the Schedule to the Customs Tariff (New Zealand Preference) 1933-1961 be amended as set out in the Schedule to these Proposals . . . (vide page 148).
Customs Tariff (New Zealand Preference) Amendment (No. 2)
Consideration resumed from 7th March (vide page 535), on motion by Mr. Fairhall-
That the Schedule to the Customs Tariff (New Zealand Preference) 1933-1961 as proposed to be amended by Customs Tariff (New Zealand Preference) Proposals introduced into the House of Representatives on the twenty-second day of February . . . (vide page 535).
Customs Tariff (New Zealand Preference) - Amendment (No. 3)
Consideration resumed from 7th March (vide page 535), on motion by Mr. Fairhall-
That the Schedule to the Customs Tariff (New Zealand Preference) 1933-1961 as proposed to be amended by Customs Tariff (New Zealand Preference) Proposals introduced into the House of Representatives on the twenty-second day of February . . . (vide page 535).
Customs Tariff (New Zealand Preference) Amendment (No. 4)
Consideration resumed from 7th March (vide page 536), on motion by Mr. Fairhall-
That the Schedule to the Customs Tariff (New Zealand Preference) 1933-1961 as proposed to be amended by Customs Tariff (New Zealand Preference) Proposals introduced into the House of Representatives on the twenty-second day of February . . . (vide page 536).
Customs Tariff (Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland Preference) Amendment (No. 1)
Consideration resumed from 7th March (vide page 536), on motion by Mr. Fairhall -
That, on and after the eighth day of March, One thousand nine hundred and sixty-two - (a) . . . (vide page 536).
– Is it the wish of the committee that the motions referred to by the Minister be taken together?
There being no dissentient voice, that course will be adopted.
Motions - by leave - taken together.
.- Mr. Chairman, the tariff changes were introduced by the Government in some cases following reports by deputy chairmen of the Tariff Board recommending the imposition of temporary duties, and in other cases following reports made by fully constituted boards recommending changes in duty in the ordinary way.
The reports by the deputy chairmen under section 17a of the Tariff Board Act - that is, relating to temporary duties - concern the following items: -
Automotive electric equipment.
Fibre glass textile materials.
Internal combustion engines not exceeding 10 brake horse-power. Peanut oil and substitute oils. Penicillins and streptomycin. Road wheels other than of the well base and drop centre rim type. Styrene polymers and copolymers. Taximeters.
Weftless narrow fabrics of man-made fibres.
The remainder of the reports were made by fully constituted boards on the following goods: -
Ballpoint pens and pencils. Bean seed (phaseolus vulgaris). Bisphenol A: Epoxy resins. Bolt cutters.
Ceramic tiles and tile blanks.
Chain and chains.
Continuous man-made fibre yarns.
Electric clocks and parts including movements therefor. Fish in airtight containers. Floor coverings. Gelatine and animal glues. Glucose.
Industrial nitrocellulose. Lactose.
Musical instruments of the lute class. Nitrogenous fertilizers. Onions in their natural state. Plain safety pins.
Polyethylene resins and moulding compounds. Poultry.
Rubber bathing caps and hats. Spirit levels.
Synthetic resins of the styrene and acrylic types. Vacuum cleaners and floor polishers. Work trucks, mechanically propelled. Tire cord and cord tire fabrics.
I commend the proposals to honorable members.
.- Mr. Chairman, the Opposition agreed to discuss this vast number of tariff proposals together. At this stage, I want to record a protest against the procedure of asking the Parliament, at this late stage of the sessional period, to consider a total of no fewer than 28 tariff proposals. They all, of course, are related to Tariff Board reports, some by deputy chairmen and some by the full board. It is quite unreasonable to expect honorable members intelligently to discuss all these proposals in the time available. Indeed, the task is almost impossible. Perhaps, to some extent, the Parliament itself is responsible. However, the Government is primarily responsible. lt has fallen into the habit of introducing here tariff proposals which become operative almost immediately, the debate then being adjourned. This sort of thing has gone on for seven or eight months or more, and we are now confronted with the task of considering 28 tariff proposals together in a very limited time.
Some of the proposals provide for increased duties and some for simple amendments of the phraseology in the Customs Tariff Act which are considered to be necessary. I cannot read all the Tariff Board reports, and I have not attempted to do so. But I have browsed through a great number of them. I have come to the conclusion that in Australia - this may be due to the negligence of the Government and, indeed, of the Parliament, for I do not reflect on the Tariff Board - it is comparatively easy for big business to have its proposals accepted, at least in some measure, but that when the smaller businesses apply for tariff protection they do not find the going so easy. Members of the board - quite conscientiously and fairly, from their own individual stand-point - may take the view, as was mentioned in a recent debate on quantitative import restrictions and other tariff measures, that this country would not be wise to give tariff protection to industries with a very small total output and a very small market. For that reason, it appears to me, these small industries fall by the wayside. In our present situation, in. which we are losing substantial advantages in overseas markets, we should be prepared even to bolster up small so-called uneconomic industries by giving them some measure of protection. We should be prepared to stand the cost of that protection.
Let me deal with one item in Customs Tariff Proposals Nos. 1 to 5. I have picked out Item 366 (e) - musical instruments of the lute class, for example, banjos, guitars, mandolins or ukeleles. The manufacturers of this kind of instrument in Australia applied to the Tariff Board for tariff protection. The board, acting quite conscientiously and in its own wisdom, as it believed, rejected the request. However, man does not live by bread alone, and anybody who may consider that the industry which produces these instruments is a nonessential one ought to bear that in mind.
I suggest that there is great scope in Australia for the building up of musical tastes and the encouragement of the younger generation to learn to play some kind of musical instrument. We should not overlook the fact that in the last ten or twelve years something like 1,500,000 people have come here from other countries, and particularly from Europe, where the great mass of people, perhaps to a greater degree than is the case in Australia, play some kind of musical instrument, and especially stringed instruments. Among those newcomers, we may well have people who are fully capable of designing and manufacturing instruments of this kind. Already, as I see from quickly reading a report by a deputy chairman of the Tariff Board on guitars, which was presented to the Parliament in May last year, there are two manufacturers of guitars in this country. In the limited time available, I cannot read all the relevant parts of the report, but I should like to read the following passage:-
The manufacturers of low priced guitars in Australia were apparently unable to supply a large part of the market for these types of guitars when demand was at its peak, and large quantities of Japanese guitars were imported soon after the removal of import licensing restrictions. Imports of low priced Japanese guitars continued at a high level until early in 1961. In the face of this import competition, Australian production of low priced guitars virtually ceased.
The skilled people engaged in turning out these musical instruments naturally suffered unemployment as a consequence, and those who control the industry suffered, to some extent, a loss of income and a decline in business. The deputy chairman’s report goes on to say -
It was claimed by importing interests that cost advantages associated with large scale production of cheaper types of guitars, particularly in Japan, make production in Australia uneconomic. Comparisons of ex-factory selling prices of the lowest priced Australian made guitars with landed costs of comparable Japanese guitars show a very wide price disability to- the Australian’ manufacturers, equivalent to more than 150 per cent, of the f.o.b. price.
That is a very wide margin, I agree. Then the report goes on -
However, details of stocks of low priced guitars on hand and orders yet to arrive submitted by certain important wholesalers and retailers suggest that in view of the present decline in demand for guitars, even a complete prohibition of imports of low priced guitars would have very little effect on the short term prospects of Australian manufacturers in this low priced field.
After all, manufacturers are not so much concerned about short-term prospects as about long-term prospects. Hence their application for protection. What the deputy chairman said in that paragraph appears to be substantially true, but surely this country should be concerned about the long-term prospects of the Australian manufacturers of these articles. The report continues -
Australian production of better quality guitars, in the medium and high priced field, is carried on mainly by one firm, Maton Pty. Ltd., of Canterbury, Victoria. This firm, the largest Australian guitar manufacturer, reported increasing sales of its guitars until November, 1960, when sales began to fall sharply.
That was the result of lifting of import restrictions -
The fall in sales was even greater in the early months of 1961, the present situation being that production is at a very low level and stocks of guitars are at an exceptionally high level.
Later in his report the deputy chairman said -
Comparisons of factory selling prices of Australian guitars with landed duty free costs of comparable imported guitars suggested that, in the case of imports from the Federal Republic of Germany, the temporary duty requested by the industry would be insufficient to offset the apparent price disability to the Australian manufacturer. In the case of imports from the United States of America, however, the apparent, price disability shown would be more than offset by the requested duty for the particular models compared. Imports during the first four months of 1961 suggest that the United States of America is likely to be the more important source of imports in the immediate future.
So we throw Australian musical instrument manufacturing capacity to the four winds in order to provide a market for the manufacturers in Germany, Japan and the United States of America. The recommendation of the deputy chairman was that no urgent action be taken to protect the Australian guitar industry. In other words, apparently, the industry can fold up and perish.
I found an item in the “ Financial Review” of 1st February, 1962, dealing with this subject, in which the following appeared -
It (the board) recommended that the existing 5 per cent. British Preferential Tariff be wiped out and the 17i per cent. M.F.N, rate be reduced to 7i per cent
The board not only refused the application for an increase in one instance; it also wiped out the tariff in another instance. The article went on -
This recommendation, having been accepted by the Government, would seem to settle the fate of the manufacturer concerned, Maton Pty. Ltd., of Canterbury Road, Canterbury, Victoria.
Then follows the interesting part of the report -
However, this recommendation was, in fact, a split decision. Two members of the board, Sir Leslie Melville and Mr. R. Boyer were in favour-
In favour, apparently, of the request for tariff protection - and Messrs. J. R. Murray and E. J. Tucker were against it.
It only went forward as the board’s decision on the casting vote of the chairman, Sir Leslie, making the final count three to two.
The Government does not always accept the recommendations of the Tariff Board. It is not bound to do so. But I would suggest, in view of the evidence that is continuing to pile up, that possibly if a very large manufacturer had been involved, the Government might have referred the matter back to the Tariff Board for further consideration and report, or might even have given the protection that was sought.
There was a further reference to this matter in the “ Sydney Morning Herald “, of 2nd February, 1962. Under a subheading, “ Severely Hit “, on the front page of that newspaper, Mr. Anderson, of the
Associated Chambers of Manufactures, is reported to have referred to the effects of Tariff Board decisions in relation to domestic knitting machines, fabric dress gloves, guitars and safety pins. The report said - “ It is not generally recognized that of the 38,000 factories in Australia, 48,000 employ fewer than ten people,” Mr. Anderson said.
I direct the attention of the Parliament to this matter, because it appears to me, although I am not sufficiently informed to prove it, that there is a developing tendency on the part of this Government and this Parliament - I do not blame the Tariff Board, because it recommends as it thinks fit - due to the apathy of the Government itself, which finds it easy to accept recommendations and implement them - to allow insufficient time for the Parliament to study and investigate thoroughly these questions of Australian tariff protection, particularly protection of very small industries. I have said that this is due to the apathy of the Government, but perhaps the Opposition should also accept some responsibility. In any case, this appears to be the tendency on the part of this Parliament. Fantastic situations develop as a result. From time to time bounty bills come before the House, which the Opposition always supports. But one provision of a bounty bill is invariably to the effect that the bounty cuts out as soon as the manufacturer or producer shows a profit of more than 10 per cent. These unfortunate smaller operators, whose output and whose manufacturing activities are going to become more and more useful and essential to Australia, should be nurtured in their youth. After all, the great Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited was nurtured in its youth, by being paid a bonus on the production of steel. I suggest that there is also a case for nurturing industries like the guitar-manufacturing industry and the safety pin-manufacturing industry, as well as a whole range of smaller shows that come under the heading of smaller factory proprietorship referred to by Mr. Anderson.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- First, I would like to say that I am disappointed at the small amount of attention that these tariff proposals get. I am also disappointed that it is always the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) who leads for the Opposition in these debates. I have nothing against him personally, and I have no criticism of his understanding of primary industry, but I would have hoped that on some occasions some other members of the Opposition might come into these debates. I suggest, for instance, that the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean) might give us some added value by contributing to these debates.
Without being unduly critical, let me say that I always feel disappointed with the arguments used by the Opposition to justify high protection. Opposition speakers never admit that if protection is too high the economy in general, and exporting industries in particular, will not be able to afford to continue with the protective system. The Opposition never seems to admit these disadvantages. The honorable member for Lalor - although he did not do so on this occasion - often simply climbs happily on to his reaper and binder, that early classical example of successful protection in Australia, and charges off around the paddock. He never pauses to consider whether the crop or the time is ripe, or whether or not the binder is an antiquated machine nowadays. So long as it is making the delightful shattering noises that binders make he seems to be happy. I am looking forward to the time when other members of the Opposition will come into these debates, because they must be well aware that the Labour Party’s policy of high protection at any price is completely unworkable, and that if we are to have a developing economy we must have imports, and to pay for those we must export - and to sell our exports in the face of world competition we must keep our costs down. Honorable members opposite must know that there are arguments opposed to their beliefs.
I do not believe that the Labour Party has had a critical look at its policy of high protection for the last 50 years. I must remind honorable members opposite that it is not sufficient to be a fighting Opposition. You have to think also. It is not good enough, when protection is the subject of a debate, to hide behind the honorable member for Lalor and his ancient reaper and binder, no matter how much he enjoys - as he obviously does - eloquently urging his ancient team.
– A very satisfying occupation.
– It was indeed, but people use different implements now. lt is very refreshing to see that there is some glimmer of a change of outlook in the Labour Party. I quote from an article which appeared in the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ of 9th April in which Senator Ormonde had this comment to make -
Future Labour Governments might have to declare that high costs and high profits in uneconomic secondary industries cannot be allowed to hide behind tariff barriers forever.
I see at least a hope of some re-thinking about the Labour Party’s policy of high protection.
There is one general comment I want to make on the Opposition’s argument on protection, which also applies to many of the items with which these reports deal, and that is that you cannot force people to buy things. I ask the honorable member for Lalor to remember this when he is complaining about the action of the Tariff Board in respect of stringed instruments. You cannot force people to buy stringed instruments if they become too dear because of a high tariff, and it may well be that there will be fewer people playing such instruments in the future now. This seems to upset the honorable member. If, by putting a high duty on things, you increase their price - and this generally happens - you automatically reduce the demand for them. A clear case of this is the artificial fibre industry, part of which is dealt with in the schedule. A bounty is paid on the production of acetate flake and yarn, and there is a very high protective duty of 2s. 8id. a yard on piecegoods. The total subsidy paid by the taxpayers and the consumers in this case works out at more than £4,000,000, which is about £1,600 for each of the 2,500 people employed in the industry. If employment is the reason for this high protection it would be cheaper to send these people down to the beach with buckets and spades to shift sand about; if decentralization is the object of the exercise it would be cheaper, and we would get a better result, if we sent those 2,500 people to
Alice Springs and set them to doing the same job with the sands of the Todd River.
In spite of the tremendous assistance given to the industry the demand is switching from artificial fibres to cotton, because high protection has increased prices. In 1957, we were making 24,300,000 yards of rayon piecegoods. In 1960-61, because the prices had risen, the demand had dropped to just under 21,000,000 yards - a drop of 3,500,000 yards. I speak with some feeling on this, because as a wool-grower I cannot help feeling envious when assistance amounting to £4,000,000 is given to protect one of my main competitors, particularly when I consider that because I have to sell my wool on the world market, I have to bear an excessive proportion of that £4,000,000 burden.
We should be particularly careful about the protection that we give to primary industry. This may sound queer coming from a farmer, but the cost to the export industries is just as serious if excess costs are caused by protecting primary industries as it is if they are caused by protecting secondary industries. We should remember that a protected primary producer fights even more fiercely for more protection because he is fortified by the feeling that he is, after all, only getting his own back. But the main danger of unwisely protecting primary industry is that we thereby get an inbuilt rigidity into the system, and particularly an increase of land values which necessitates a continuation or increase of the protection in future years. This is clearly seen in the dairying industry.
I want to join with the honorable member for Lalor in protesting against having to digest 24 full Tariff Board reports and ten emergency reports in half an hour. As tie honorable member for Lalor pointed out the other night in another debate, a tariff is a tax and the people have to pay it. It may be based on expert advice but, even so, we should have an opportunity to scrutinize such taxes with some care. How can we do so when we are asked to deal with 34 reports in half an hour - less than one minute for each report?
Of these 24 full reports nine recommended, in essence, no change, eight recommended an increase and seven recommended a reduction. Of the 24, five followed on previous emergency reports made by a deputy chairman of the Tariff Board under section 17a of the old act. Of those five, in two cases - glucose and gelatine - duties were reduced, though not by very much, and in two cases - polyethylene and nitrocellulose - duties were increased. I should like to point out that there is no sign of the diffidence one heard about in the previous tariff debate that the full board might have about altering a deputy chairman’s recommendation. Indeed, why should there be when the grounds for the recommendations were different?
The case concerning polyethylene is of great interest. It was the subject of an emergency report in May of last year, when protection was increased. In September of last year, there was another emergency inquiry and protection was again increased. Then the full board increased protection again on 16th December. So there were three inquiries between May and December of last year. The poor, struggling industries being so industriously helped are, of course, worthy of the charity that we heap on them. The honorable member for Lalor will be glad to know, if he does not already know it, that they are I.C.I, and Union Carbide, with the Shell company holding their horses.
I must admit that the maze of polymers, co-polymers, monomers and misonomers propylenes and butylenes and isobutylenes and so on filled me with terror and confusion. I have an uneasy feeling that they may have confused the Tariff Board also. The only fact about which I am quite sure is that any time I buy polyethylene to run water to my stock it will cost me more than it ought to. But I am of little account in this maze of high finance, subsidiary companies and abstruse chemical formulae. I am not entitled to a reasonable margin of profit or a fair return on capital! I just work here! So, secure in the knowledge that these poor struggling companies are having their dividends protected I turn with proper humility and bowed head to look at the eight reports presented by the deputy chairman under section 17* of this legislation.
Of these eight reports, five were obviously reported on by the full board in 1960 or later, and they must all be reported on again by the full board. An industry gets an adverse report from the full board and then runs to the back door and gets a hand-out from a deputy chairman - on different grounds of course. Then it goes to the full board again, as it must. The parties go round and round in circles like a dog chasing its tail. What kind of stability can you get from this kind of system, and what will be the result on the morale of the Tariff Board if this sort of thing goes on?
Let us look at one particular case in these emergency reports - peanut oil. It is one of the vegetable oils and the subject of a full board report in December, 1960. In a speech in this House in October last year I complimented the board on the very full examination it made of a difficult subject. It is difficult because it is impossible to substitute one vegetable oil for another. But if the price of peanut oil goes up the demand can switch to safflower or linseed oil. The board aims to keep all- these vegetable oils in balance. The only complaint I had then was that no allowance was made for the protective effect of the duty-free by-law entry of peanut oil to mix with the dear Australian oil. I pointed out that this by-law entry gave, for the last three years, an average of £286,000 a year as a hidden subsidy to the Australian peanut industry and that this should have been admitted in the report.
On 2nd February, fourteen months after the full board’s report was received the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) asked a deputy chairman to have a look at the peanut oil section of the industry again. This the deputy chairman did, with surprising results. The duty was increased by ls. 3d. a gallon, making the new rates 3s. 3d. a gallon, British preferential, and 5s. 3d. a gallon, mostfavourednation. However, he admitted the logic of my argument that the effect of the free by-law entry increased the effective duty by four times, so the new duties really became 13s. a gallon British preferential and 21s. a gallon most-favoured-nation rate.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– With the approval of honorable members, I shall take my second period now. As the duty free price of peanut oil varies from 13s. a gallon to 17s. a gallon it is clear that the average incidence of this new duty works out at over 100 per cent, protection. This seems to be a queer way to go on.
A full report of the board goes to considerable trouble to keep the price of the various vegetable oils in balance in December, 1960. Then the report of a deputy chairman increases the mostfavourednation rate from 16s. to 21s. a gallon and upsets the whole apple cart. The inevitable result will be that the demand for peanut oil will be switched to safflower oil, linseed or one of the other oils. This is not the fault of the deputy chairman. He obviously could not, in 30 days, examine the whole field of substitute oils. In any case, he is not asked to inquire whether the industry is efficient or economic. All he was asked to do was to bring down an emergency recommendation to protect peanut oil alone.
What is the position of the Australian peanut industry? Most of our peanuts are grown in Queensland and the centre of the industry is in Kingaroy. Most of the peanuts are grown for the edible market. Only the surplus and those cull nuts not suitable for the edible trade are sold for crushing for oil. The price received for the edible nuts, which are the biggest part of the crop, is far higher than the Hid. per lb. which the Peanut Marketing Board says it has the right to expect for its culls. What right has it to demand 1 1 id. per lb. for its milling kernels? What right has it to ask the rest of Australia to subsidize it in this way?
I speak with some bitterness on this question. When the Forster committee was inquiring into the agricultural potential of the Northern Territory we examined the Australian peanut industry with some care. We came to the conclusion that we could grow peanuts for oil and sell them well under Hid. per lb. That was for all our peanuts and not just a portion of the crop, as is the case in Queensland. We had to turn away from this, however, because the Queensland peanut-grower had got this special by-law entry provision which would be destroyed if we started to produce peanuts also. So we reluctantly turned away from a crop which suits the peculiar environment of the Northern Territory perfectly. Having got the market to itself the
Peanut Marketing Board gets another hearing and is given a duty which will save it from putting its house in order, for its house is far from being in order.
The average acreage per farmer in Queensland is about 40 acres, which is not enough to carry the overhead costs of a £2,000 peanut harvester. The average yield per acre is about 1,000 lb. or considerably less than the 1,460 lb. per acre that the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization research station at Katherine has obtained. The main reason for the low yield in Queensland is that some of the peanuts are grown on areas not suitable for peanutgrowing. A reason for the high price demanded by the Peanut Marketing Board is that freight has to be paid from as far away as the Atherton Tableland. Another reason is that the land values are high. One of the reasons for this is that the peanut industry has been so well protected in the past and because of this will evidently need to be protected even more highly in the future. The handling facilities are far from modern. The industry does not bulk handle, and so on. But instead of tackling these problems it comes running to the rest of us for help and, because it has a friend at court, help it certainly gets - 100 per cent, protection! And the Northern Territory has to wait around like a forgotten bride while this kind of thing goes on.
Let us have a look at some of the other requests that have gone to the deputy chairman. In April, 1961, the full board reported on stationary engines and granted in respect of them 25 per cent. British preferential and 42i per cent, mostfavourednation rates. By October the industry was round by the back door again asking for emergency protection. This was granted - an extra 10 per cent., making it 35 per cent. British preferential and 52i per cent, most favoured nation. Now it will come again to the full board. I suppose if they get knocked back this time they will go to the back door again.
The full board, in April, 1961, recommended that in respect of weftless narrow fabrics the rates be free British preferential and 12 per cent, most favoured nation. By 12th September the industry was at the back door and got a 25 per cent, increase.
Now the industry goes to the full board again. Where is the end of this kind of thing?
In August, 1961, the board reported on penicillin and streptomycin and recommended a low rate of duty. By 12th December the parties were round at the back door and came out with duties that no one can understand because of their complexity. When I asked an officer of the Department of Customs and Excise for an ad valorem equivalent of the specific duties recommended, he went quite pale. But the duties appear to give an average protection of over 100 per cent, on cheap imported lines of penicillin and streptomycin. However, that is enough about temporary duties. It appears that if you ask loudly enough and long enough you are likely to get what you want.
Turning to the 24 reports of the full Tariff Board, I consider that there are two that should be looked at with care because in both cases the Minister departed from the board’s recommendations. I am not criticizing the Minister for that, because he is well within his rights, but I think it should be made clear what was going on. Onions were coming in from New Zealand and were threatening the Australian producer. The old rate of duty was £1 per ton against the New Zealand onions and the natural protection in the form of ocean freight, insurance, landing charges and weight loss on voyage worked out at around £13 8s. a ton, which seemed a considerable margin. I thought the board was generous in recommending a duty of £5 a ton. This gave a total protection of £18 8s. with the natural freight protection. The cost to the Australian growers worked out at £27 per ton. As I have said, the Minister altered this recommendation. He imposed a duty of £14 10s. per ton, less 1 per cent, for each 10s. by which the f.o.b. price per ton exceeded £27. My head reeled with the awful implications of this arithmetic. Perhaps the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) could have enlightened me, but I lay down beside the problem and sobbed bitterly. The department came to my aid and I am now the proud’ possessor of the knowledge that if the f.o.b. price in Australian currency is £33 per ton for New Zealand onions, which is about the usual price, the actual duty per ton works out at £5 10s. 9d., compared with the recommended duty of £5. But if the New Zealand price is £35 per ton, the duty drops to £3 18s. So the alteration from a flat rate of duty of £5 per ton to a sliding scale duty gives effective protection against low-priced imports and only a small protection when costs are high. I am not complaining about that. My only complaint is that it is so terribly hard to understand. I would have appreciated it if a table giving the actual effect of the Minister’s alterations had accompanied the news release concerning the change in duty.
In the case of lactose, the board’s report was again departed from, I understand, to conform with the New Zealand trade agreement. Although the Acting Minister for Trade (Senator Henty) issued a press release with these two alterations, I think that some mention should have been made of them in the Minister’s second-reading speech. I notice that, on the roneoed sheets which accompanied these schedules, the authority for the changes is given as “ T.B.R.”, which means “ Tariff Board report “. I think it should have been made clear that the Tariff Board’s report had been departed from.
Turning to the board’s report on vacuum cleaners and floor polishers, this recommended a reduction. Some interesting figures are tucked away in this report. For instance, the average margin for each machine between the cost price and the price which the consumer pays is about 113 per cent. One cannot but admire the effrontery of this industry, which comes to us asking for protection. You can imagine the scene. The manufacturers are sitting in conference. What do they say? Do they say, “We are up against a problem. Imports are coming in. We have to do something about it. Maybe we should lower our prices or reduce the profit margin “? No! Instead, they say, “ We shall go for an increase in duty “. I am glad that the Tariff Board knocked them back. I cannot help wondering whether they really need the 42i per cent, protection which they get now.
Gelatine is another interesting commodity. This was reported on by the full board in February, 1960, and no increase was recommended. Then there was a dumping inquiry in 1961, in which the industry’s request was refused. Then there was an emergency inquiry by a deputy chairman in April, 1961, which gave an increase in duty of 6d. per lb. Then there was a full Tariff Board inquiry, which finished in January of this year. That makes four inquiries in two years. That is not bad going. The full board finally reduced the duties on some lines, so I suppose the Davis gelatine people are now padding the well-worn track to the back door. At least they have the advantage of knowing the way. It must be a queer set-up in this industry. They get their raw materials such as hides and hooves at about the lowest prices in the world. They have a healthy export market. How they can export and yet say that they need protection of 42i- per cent, is something that I certainly cannot understand.
Sir, I admit that the longer I spend on reading Tariff Board reports the more wistful do I become. How wonderful it must be to be in an industry in which people recognize your true worth - in which you have the right to demand your proper due in the form of a reasonable profit and a fair return on capital. How convenient it must be, when the wind gets a bit chilly, to be able to turn with some confidence to some father figure who protects you from the unkind incursions of importers who are wickedly trying to sell you something cheap. I can clearly see now that I am in the wrong line of business. The only comfort I have as a wool-grower, with the finding of the wool inquiry committee ringing in my ears that the true value of my wool is 4id. per lb. less than in 1946-47, is that the same kind of providence will no doubt look after me in my adversity. Or does it not matter about me? After all, I produce only for the export market!
I want to turn now to the question of the standard of Tariff Board performances in general and the Tariff Board reports which are the basis for all these proposals. I think that we should deal with this question at this time. There has been some very serious criticism in the press recently about the quality of the board’s performances, about the slowness of its work, and about the difficulties of industry in completing the detailed questionnaire for which the Tariff Board asks. There has even been an invidious comparison of the quality of the Tariff Board’s reports under its present chairman, Sir Leslie Melville, and under its past chairman, Dr. Westerman, who is now the secretary to the Department of Trade. 1 believe it is important that these criticisms be examined because if our confidence in the board is diminished then the basis of our fiscal system becomes shaky. So I think you will agree, Sir, that I should look at these Tariff Board reports and see how they measure up to these criticisms.
I feel it is quite important that I should do so because of the luke-warm defence of the Tariff Board by the Acting Minister for Trade when this matter was raised in the press. Let us take the last point of criticism first, namely, that the board did better work under Dr. Westerman than it is doing under Sir Leslie Melville. I am not competent to assess the work or the technical merit of either of those two gentlemen, but there is one point that 1 want to make. Dr. Westerman was the chairman of the Tariff Board in 1958-59. In the annual report of that year this statement appears -
It should be noted that these inquiries provided no apparent support for the contention that the protection offered by import licensing had fostered uneconomic growth in industry generally.
This statement is important, particularly in view of the position now held by Dr. Westerman as the secretary to the Department of Trade. The board said that it could see no evidence of the fostering of uneconomic industry by import licensing. Surely this fact is behind the present agitation by the Chamber of Manufactures for the re-introduction of import licensing. We all know that during the import licensing period many industries sprang up which, when import licensing was removed, felt the cold wind of competition, even behind the shelter of a comparatively high tariff wall. Surely this fact is behind the present spate of emergency requests to the special adviser or the deputy chairmen. It is well known that, towards the end of the import licensing period, a great many industries were selling their goods at prices well below the duty paid price - not, I emphasize, the f.o.b. price. In many cases the price was 60 per cent, higher than the duty paid price. Assuming that the level of the tariff wall was sufficient to shelter efficient and economic industry, it must follow that licensing must have encouraged uneconomic growth, at least to the extent to which the selling price exceeded the duty paid price. [Extension of time granted.] I thank honorable members for their courtesy. Dr. Westerman, as chairman of the board in that year, said that he could not see any evidence of this happening.
There has been some criticism that the board is taking too long with its reports. The honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Malcolm Fraser) dealt with this question very effectively in a recent debate in this place. He pointed out that the average time taken to furnish a report fell from fifteen months in 1958-59 to ten months at the present time. The board also seems to be dealing with more reports in a year now than ever before. So it seems certain that the criticism that the board is not getting through its work expeditiously is not sustained. When it is realized that the improvement has been achieved in the face of a continual demand for emergency reports, and in the face of a shortage of project officers - the really vital members of the Tariff Board staff - this performance becomes all the more meritorious.
Let us have another look at this criticism of the length of time the board takes to make its inquiries. This criticism has been heard for many years; indeed, it was heard long before there were any emergency hearings. An industry goes to the Tariff Board with what it considers to be a very good case, and it then has to wait for many months before the board’s report is submitted. Why does it take so long? There are two main reasons. One is that both sides have to be heard. The industry has its case half ready when it goes to the Minister, but the other side, the overseas manufacturers and the consumers, have to be heard. If these two groups are not given time to prepare a case, then the Tariff Board hearing becomes a mockery. Here I point out that it must be remembered that the United Kingdom Trade Agreement lays it down that at least three months must elapse after the submission of a reference before a public inquiry is heard. The consumers - the housewives’ associations or the exporting industry groups, who are always adversely affected by increased duties, or the manufacturer who further processes the goods in question - must have time to prepare their cases. And this is not easy. The industry has its case half prepared when it goes to the Minister. It knows the subject; it has all its figures to hand. The opposition, on the other hand, has to start from scratch to prepare its case, and this is not easy, particularly having regard to the complexity of modern industrial processes, the polymers, the copolymers, the styrene and the acretylic resins of to-day. Many who criticize the board for the length of time it takes think that the object of a board of inquiry is simply to measure the amount of tariff required. They forget that the board has also to assess whether an industry is economic and efficient, and whether the excess cost caused by an increased duty is a proper burden to impose on the consumer and exporter. The board has to assess the cost of production in other countries and compare it with the total costs. That is not easy, and if it is done quickly, it will not be done well.
Now, what about this criticism of the questionnaire which the board requires to be completed? We have heard that it is too complex, but let us be clear on the matter. The increase in duty that an industry asks for usually leads to an increase in the cost of the goods, and this increase in price must be paid by the consumer. In other words, the consumer is subsidizing the manufacturer. If I go to the bank for a loan, I have to submit to a very careful scrutiny; if I were hoping to get a gift from the bank, I would expect to go through the third degree - and quite properly so. Why should not an industry which asks the Tariff Board to agree to a duty which the consumer has to pay not have to toe the line?
In effect, the industry is asking for a subsidy from the consumer, and it should be prepared to give very good reasons why that should be granted. It is not as though these industries were all innocent children in these matters. For instance, it must have taken a very detailed questionnaire and an extremely careful turning over of stones to find, as the board found in its report on continuous man-made fibres, that British Nylon Spinners (Australia) Limited, which is a subsidiary of Imperial Chemical
Industries of Australia and New Zealand Limited, was loading the production costs of its Australian yarn with the warehousing, handling and selling costs of the imported yarn which it also sells. I suggest that that company did not just volunteer the information. People who do that sort of thing do not come up to you with a sunny smile and say, “ I think you ought to know that I am doing this thing “. It would take a lot of ferreting around, and perhaps some very careful cross-examination, to uncover this and similar facts.
Many of the companies which often come to the board for protection are not novices at Tariff Board inquiries, nor are they infants in arms, and Imperial Chemical Industries of Australia and New Zealand Limited seems to be asking for protection more often than most. I should think it would take a fairly detailed questionnaire to uncover the ramifications of this industrial giant, to find out whether the production of soda ash by Imperial Chemical Industries of Australia and New Zealand Limited was really threatened by imports from I.C.I, in Britain. I have been critical of some of the Tariff Board reports in the past and I will be so again.
– Order! The honorable member’s extended time has expired.
.- I concur with my colleague, the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard), and the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly) in deploring the very small amount of time we have to consider the great number of reports brought forward within the last 24 hours, reports upon which this House is expected to form a judgment and express opinions. I believe that if they were held over until, perhaps, next Tuesday we would be in a far better position to speak effectively upon the proposals. But it seems to be the custom nowadays to bring reports down one day and have them passed through the House the following day. That, certainly, does not give sufficient time to permit of the proper consideration that ought to be given to every one of these items, and to some of them in particular.
The honorable member for Wakefield said that if duties were imposed upon imported rayon fibres the natural consequence would be that the price of fabrics made from those fibres in Australia would increase, and as a consequence cotton would be in a better competitive position and people would turn from rayons to cottons. That is partly true, but only partly. Apparently the honorable member for Wakefield has overlooked the strange partialities of the female members of our community who are not so much concerned with the price of the cloth they are purchasing as with its appearance. Frequently, they are prepared to pay twice as much to get the kind of fabric they are seeking. Nobody can deny that a more suitable fabric can be made, particularly for women’s wear, from rayon than can be made from cotton; so it is only partly true to say that price is the deciding factor. It is an important factor, but not necessarily the deciding factor.
These are certainly strange times when we hear it said by many people in this country over recent months that the principal architect of protection in this country is the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) a member of the Australian Country Party. As a member of the Australian Labour Party, I want to say something about the subject of protection for our local manufacturing industries. As I think every one in this House knows, there is only one manufacturer of acetate rayon in Australia. That is Courtaulds (Australia) Limited, which established a plant at Newcastle in 1953. I was present at the opening of that very fine factory. I understand that the value of the. plant is about £6,000,000, so it can readily be seen that a very large sum is tied up in the manufacture of rayon in Australia. It was the desire of Australian governments, both State and Federal, that the company establish itself here. I think it makes an excellent case for protection. Unless the Australian manufacturers at all times have access to a ready supply of the yarns that they require in order to clothe the Australian people, they must depend upon factories situated many thousands of miles from Australia. As a consequence of having the industry in Australia, a great benefit has been conferred upon Australian manufacturers of garments from rayon.
I want to say at this stage that the Tariff Board must not be regarded as infallible. At one time in the history of the Commonwealth Parliament, I understand, tariff discussions took up the bulk of the time of the House. Such a situation could not be permitted to continue, and the Tariff Board was born. In the main, it does a very good job, but I certainly do not regard it as infallible.
The sole manufacturer of acetate rayon in Australia made application for assistance. It had a perfect right to ask for assistance. I make that assertion despite the views expressed by the honorable member for Wakefield about some manufacturers who, at the first chill wind, rush around to the back door and seek, by devious means, to get the Tariff Board to come to their assistance. It must be remembered that this industry came to Australia with the agreement of Australian governments, Federal and State. I recall that there was intense competition between the State governments, each of which tried to induce the company to establish its factory in its State.
I said that I was dissatisfied with the recommendations of the Tariff Board. In all, seven recommendations were made. 1 disagree with recommendations (2), (3) and (4). In recommendation (2), the Tariff Board recommended that -
The rate of bounty payable on acetate yarn produced and sold in Australia be increased to 9d. per lb.
For a long time, the rate of bounty has been 6d. per lb., but during that long time there has been a very sharp decrease in the value of the 6d. We hear a lot of talk about the decrease in the value of the £1. In this instance I say that there has been a very sharp decrease in the value of the 6d. The Tariff Board has generously recommended that the rate of bounty be increased from 6d. to 9d. per lb. In view of the decline in the value of money and in view also of the importance ;of this industry, I think the board should have recommended that the rate be at least ls. Such a rate would have made little impact on the cost of the finished garments in Australia.
I disagree with recommendation (3). It fixes the maximum amount of bounty payable per annum at £130,000. I do not know whether the Tariff Board had a crystal ball in its possession, because at no time since the bounty has been paid to the sole manufacturer of rayon in Australia has it ever claimed the full amount of the bounty allowed to it. Now the maximum amount is suddenly raised to £130,000. I know that at this time every machine in Courtauld’s factory that spins acetate yarn is working at full speed. However, I also know that this kind of production is far too spasmodic to meet the wishes of the company or of the employees. 1 want honorable members to realize at this stage that the industry is established in a coal-mining district where there has been an enormous displacement of men from the coal-mines. Many of these men have found work in the textile industry manufacturing rayon.
I disagree also with recommendation (4), which is in the following terms: -
The provisions in the Rayon Yarn Bounty Act 1954-1959 whereby the bounty payable is reduced if the net profit of a producer derived from the production and sale of rayon yarn during a period to which the Act applies exceeds profit at the rate of 10 per centum per annum on the capital used in the production and sale of rayon yarn be omitted from the Act.
That is quite a big mouthful of words, but what it means is that the company, if it ever manages to make a profit exceeding 10 per cent., will lose bounty proportionately. I want to direct the attention of honorable members to the absence of profits for this company since it came here in 1953. In 1954-
– I take a point of order, Mr. Chairman. I would like to remind the honorable gentleman that the subject of acetate, with which he is dealing at the moment, is not at present before the committee. It was the subject of a resolution in the House yesterday. There will be an opportunity later for debate on this subject, but it is not before the committee at the moment.
– I remind the honorable member for St. George that what the Minister says is correct. There is legislation concerning this subject. It is not before the committee at this stage but will be before the committee at a later stage.
– Perhaps 1 misunderstood the Minister for Supply (Mr. Fairhall). I thought that we could discuss man-made fibres this afternoon. I was trying to use what has happened to this company as a means of criticizing effectively the recommendations of the Tariff Board, which I understood were under consideration.
– Details of the subject to which the honorable member is referring at the moment are in legislation which is on the notice-paper and which will come before the House for discussion at a later stage.
– May 1 put it this way: I was referring at this stage to the absence of profits during the years that the company has been operating here. I shall now make some remarks about the investing public, if that meets with your wishes, Mr. Chairman. I think the investing public has an interest in this matter. When the Tariff Board is hearing an application, people who favour an increase of tariff appear before it and advance their arguments. Those whose business interests may be damaged if additional tariff is imposed also appear and put their views. Indeed, they are invited by public advertisement to do so. I strongly believe that the investing public should be permitted to have some say in these matters. Many people are interested in the manufacture of man-made fibres at Courtauld’s factory at Tomago, near Newcastle, and for a long time these people have been waiting for their ship to come in.
I am well aware that the honorable member for Wakefield advanced quite cogent arguments about industries obtaining too much protection. I do not think it could be honestly said that Courtauld’s at Tomago has ever had sufficient protection. I believe the company would be justified in approaching the Tariff Board and asking for the protection that would enable it to produce at a unit cost comparable with that of overseas manufacturers. Unless the company has this additional protection from the Tariff Board, a great wrong will be done to a company which is, after all, supplying a very large amount of employment for people in a district where many ex-miners are seeking] employment. I felt that if I had an oppor(tunity to express these thoughts to-day, the Government might be induced to disregard this Tariff Board report and give something better than the Tariff Board has recommended, because there are many manufacturers to-day who - I believe with good cause - are describing the Tariff Board as at present constituted as a lowtariff board.
.- I join with the honorable member for St. George (Mr. Clay) and all other honorable members who have spoken in this debate from both sides of the chamber in suggesting that there be a new approach to tariff measures. The events of the past twelve months in particular have shown that possibly no actions of the Government have had such a detrimental effect on the Australian economy as its actions in relation to Australian industries and tariff proposals generally. Without going further into this matter in the limited time at my disposal, I want to say that a new procedure should be adopted, so that we could discuss in greater detail - and with greater clarity, for that matter - the various measures dealing with tariffs that come before the Parliament.
I want to deal with one or two other matters, but before doing so I shall express my opinion on some figures that were used by the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly). We are dealing with 24 full reports and ten emergency reports, which have been presented in the last couple of days. The length and variety of those reports would test the wisdom of a Solomon and the skill of the most brilliant member of this Parliament. They cover possibly the widest range of industries that it would be possible to cover in reports presented within such a short time. The first relates to vacuum cleaners and floor polishers. From there, we go to the report with which the honorable member for St. George dealt so fluently and well - the interim report on general textiles and continuous manmade fibre yarns. We pass from that report to one on ceramic tiles and tile blends, and then to a report on bench or table-type knitting machines. Then we have reports on industrial nitrous cellulose, lactose, plain safety pins, rubber bathing caps and hats, musical instruments of the lute class, onions in their natural state, portland cement from Japan, dumping of subsidized cord and cordtype fabrics and glycerine. Then we have the report of a deputy chairman on textile chips, gelatine and animal glues, ballpoint pens and pencils, glucose, taxi-meters, fibreglass textile materials, nitrogenous fertilizers, electric clocks and parts, including movements, and fabric dress cloths.
It will be seen, therefore, that we have the widest possible range of matters before us for discussion now. I suggest to the Government that if we had to discuss all reports in detail - and that might be necessary in some circumstances - we should be here, as the honorable member for St. George said, for about twelve months dealing with tariff board reports alone. Why could not the Government present these reports in smaller lots - say, two, three or four at a time? Why could not we discuss three or four reports at a time, or two or three, according to the importance and the size of the reports? If that were done, honorable members could do justice to the matters under discussion, as well as to their electors. The honorable member for Wakefield, who spoke on this matter after giving it a great deal of thought and, no doubt, after considerable preparation, had an extension of time, but he could have occupied even more time with his speech, to his own benefit and to the benefit of the committee. I hope that the speeches he wants to make on such matters - this applies also to the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard), the honorable member for St. George and others - will not be curtailed in future by the presentation of many extensive reports which could not possibly be discussed in the time available. I hope that the Government will act on my suggestions, because they seem to be in accord with the views of honorable members on both sides of the chamber.
I differ from the honorable member for Wakefield regarding the attitude of the Australian Labour Party to protection. It has never been the policy of the Australian Labour Party to protect industries which have no potential or are inefficient in any way. However, if you study some great Australian industries, you will find that they were protected, because of the policy of La’bour, in their early stages. Labour realized their potential. If that protection had not been available at the time when those industries may have been inefficient temporarily, they would not have grown to be the great and efficient industries they are to-day. Our policy has always been to give full protection to industries with a potential and to industries that could ultimately be beneficial to the general development of Australia. To say that we protect inefficient industries only for the sake of keeping them in existence is to mis- represent the policy of the Labour Party. Such a statement is not borne out by what has happened since Labour’s policy on tariffs was given effect through this Parliament. Many great Australian industries which once were criticized by predecessors of the honorable member for Wakefield - probably quite genuinely - for their inefficiency at the time, subsequently proved to be of great value to the allied cause in the last Great War and made a great contribution to the development of the country generally in times of peace.
In the few minutes at my disposal, I wish to say a few words in support of tine honorable member for St. George. I cannot speak with his degree of knowledge, because he once was engaged in the industry with which he dealt. The Courtauld undertaking, of which the honorable member spoke, was established, as he said, at the request of both the State and Federal governments in an area where it was necessary to have some avenues of employment. It was a mining and an industrial area. That industry is entitled to the fullest measure of protection from the country which encouraged it. The Courtauld organization invested about £6,000,000 and laid the basis of an industry which, over the years, has benefitted many thousands of people by enabling them to improve their living conditions and conditions of employment. The honorable member differs on certain matters from the findings of the Tariff Board, and I hope that the substance of his remarks will be borne in mind by this Government and by the Tariff Board when this matter comes under discussion again, as undoubtedly it must.
I want to deal now with vacuum cleaners and floor polishers. These items were referred recently to the Tariff Board for inquiry. The Tariff Board’s report was dated 27th October, 1961, and it was printed, by command, on 22nd February, 1962. The inquiry was sponsored by people closely interested in the welfare of the Australian industries manufacturing these machines. They desired that adequate protection be maintained. In the course of the inquiry, certain companies submitted arguments in support of their claims. I have not time to read them all, but the main arguments in support of retaining the existing duties are listed. The report states -
At the inquiry witnesses advanced the following arguments: -
Overseas manufacturers’ goods are produced under more favourable economic conditions. These include lower labour costs and larger markets permitting the introduction of automatic production processes which materially reduce manufacturing costs.
Then there are listed three or four other arguments, dealing with price competition from imports and other matters. The main argument in favour of reducing the existing duties was advanced by Hoover (Australia) Proprietary Limited, lt is recorded in the report that witnesses advanced the following argument -
Hoover experiences considerable difficulty in maintaining the supply of some locally-produced vacuum cleaner components, and lower duties on parts would allow for an alternative source of supply at economical prices.
The opponents of the proposal to maintain the existing protection broadly said that they wanted a reduction of the tariff so that they could compete on the open market. At page 5, the report gives other details. Table No. 1 gives the average number of persons employed in the production- and disposal of vacuum cleaners and floor polishers in 1960-61. On the production side, the numbers were 285 males and 165 females, a total of 450. On the selling, distribution and administration side, the employees numbered 410 males and 150 females, a total of 560. Altogether, 1,010 people were employed continuously in this work. I hurry through these details to show that a reasonable case was presented. The report goes on to show, at page 6 in table No. 5, the annual average distribution of Australian vacuum cleaners, compared with imported cleaners. In 1958, the distribution included 69 per cent, of local manufactures and 31 per cent, of imported cleaners. This subsequently changed to 74 per. cent, of local manufactures and 26 per cent, of imports. From 1958 to 1961 the average was 77 per cent, of locally manufactured and assembled goods and 23 per cent, of imported products. The board went on to state that only one of the companies which was producing machines wholly assembled from components manufactured in this country claimed that it was suffering from severe competition from imports.
Time does not permit me to cover all the products dealt with in this report. At page 8, it states that most imported vacuum cleaners sell at prices considerably lower than those of models manufactured in this country. This, again, establishes the need for the protection of this and other industries because of the low basic cost structure in some other countries. This is an extensive report, and it goes on to state that the imported product, the price of which is continually falling, is making continual inroads on the demand for the Australianmanufactured product. At page 11, the board makes this interesting statement -
At the present inquiry the Board received no requests for increased duties on the goods under reference. Hoover, which is the largest manufacturerassembler of vacuum cleaners and the largest importer-assembler of floor polishers, requested a reduction in the existing duties; the other producers represented requested the maintenance of the existing levels of duty.
The report goes on to state that Hoover (Australia) Proprietary Limited had made high profits and would undoubtedly be able to reduce its profits and its prices in order to meet competition by Australian vacuum cleaners. But that was not the case.
In this report, the board has recommended a substantial reduction of duty. A number of items are listed at page 3. The first is Item 176 (f) (1) - machines and machinery not elsewhere included. The British preferential rate has been reduced from 27i per cent, to 20 per cent, and the most-favoured-nation rate from 55 per cent, to 35 per cent. With respect to Item 179, the British preferential rate has been reduced from 25 per cent, to 20 per cent, and the most-favoured-nation rate from 40 per cent, to 35 per cent. The rates applicable to Item 380 (b) - vacuum cleaners - have been reduced from 25 per cent, to 20 per cent, and from 42i per cent, to 35 per cent, respectively. However, since this report was presented, I understand, the Australian product has been threatened by imported appliances from the United States of America. There is a very real threat to the Australian industry and to employment in that industry at a time when the industry has been seeking some measure of protection and trying to ensure that the existing rates of duty are maintained. Yet, as this report shows, the Tariff Board substantially reduced the rates. In do sense of the term can that action be regarded as a contribution towards the maintenance of employment in this industry. I suggest that this can reasonably be regarded as an instance in which the board has failed to give adequate and necessary protection to an Australian industry.
Questions resolved in the affirmative.
Standing Orders suspended; resolutions adopted.
That Mr. Fairhall and Mr. Bury do prepare and bring in bills to carry out the foregoing resolutions.
Suspension of Standing Orders.
Motion (by Mr. Fairhall) - by leave - agreed to -
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the Customs Tariff Bills being brought in together and a motion being moved that the bills be passed.
Bills presented, and (on motion by Mr. Fairhall) passed.
Sitting suspended from 6.1 to 8 p.m.
.- Mr. Speaker, for the information of honorable members and of the whole country I propose to make a statement with reference to Australia and the European Common Market.
Last July Britain decided to negotiate for admission to the European Economic Community. Shortly afterwards our Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) in his statement in this House explained the background to that decision. The Prime Minister described the talks which had taken place in Canberra a little earlier with Mr. Sandys, the British Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations, and he set out the issues involved.
In my speech during the debate that followed I dealt with the trade aspects of Britain’s decision as they concerned Australia.
What clearly emerged from those statements, was that this Government regarded the negotiations on which Britain was then about to embark as being of tremendous importance to Australia. Britain’s decision to apply to join, was, we recognized, one which she was entitled to take. We did not consider that it was proper for us to raise objections; but - and this we made clear to Mr. Sandys - neither was the absence of objection on our part to be interpreted as implying approval. This should be kept in mind.
Since then, negotiations have been proceeding, but they have not yet reached the stage of definite or decisive negotiations, at least insofar as our trade interests are concerned. There have been, as was to be expected, the inevitable preliminaries - the statement by Britain of its general approach, the assembling of facts and the identification of the problems. The development of the negotiations has been followed, very closely indeed, by this Government. The possible implications for our vital trading interests have been my especial concern. The Government’s course from the outset has been to see that Australia’s trade interests were adequately understood and, so far as could be contrived, safeguarded.
At this point I should recall the basic elements in the Government’s approach to Britain’s negotiations. Before these began, we were assured by Mr. Sandys when in Australia, and by statements by the British Prime Minister and other Ministers, that entry by Britain into the Common Market would be conditional upon her securing special arrangements to protect the important trading interests of Australia and other Commonwealth countries. No one could validly challenge Britain’s right to apply to join. Our attitude is to accept her application as real, to take in good faith her assurances that she would not join if the price was serious damage to Commonwealth trade, and, with these points constantly as the background of our thoughts, to proceed to propose constructively the kind of solution which would protect our trade - always bearing in mind that to advance- proposals which have no possibility of acceptance would be both futile and indeed deceptive to the industries concerned.
We have seen the need, and seized every opportunity, to try to ensure that at the highest political level the critical issues for Australia are fully understood by those government leaders whose views and policies will determine the outcome of the negotiations. As the Prime Minister made clear in his statement to this House last August, it was not until the visit of Mr. Sandys in July that the Government was told that Britain was on the point of making a decision whether she would enter negotiations to join the European Common Market, notwithstanding the involvement of agriculture and Commonwealth trade.
Within a month of Mr. Sandys’s visit we proceeded to call Australian industries into consultation, so that the Government could operate in partnership with those whose interests were touched or might be touched. Since then Australian industries have been kept informed on developments, and Government policy has evolved in close consultation with them. We have been in continuous consultation with Britain over the last seven or eight months and have had the opportunity to inform her fully of the facts and circumstances of our trade. Indeed, in September last, even before the actual negotiations commenced, a team of officials, led by the Secretary of the Department of Trade and the Secretary of the Department of Primary Industry, was engaged in extensive discussions in London with British officials on the whole range of our commodity trade interests that could be affected.
Since that time senior officials from the various departments directly concerned, including either the secretary or deputy secretary of my own department, have been constantly in Europe in contact with the officials concerned in London and Brussels with the negotiations. Beyond these direct and most important contacts among officials, the Government has made its view known at the highest level by way of normal diplomatic representation. No opportunity has been lost to ensure that Australia’s case and needs were brought to the attention of the governments of the Common Market countries. From the outset we have taken the view that Australia should be given the opportunity to explain at the negotiating con ference, through its own representatives, the facts of Australia’s trade interests in the British market, and the vital importance to Australia that these interests should be preserved.
My arrival in Europe was timed to enable me to have personal talks with Mr. Macmillan and Mr. Heath, the British Minister responsible for the actual conduct of the negotiations, on the question of our participation in Brussels. At their next meeting after my arrival in London - this was a few days later - the British and Common Market Ministers agreed that an Australian representative could make a comprehensive statement at a meeting of the top-level officials who, under the direction of their Ministers, are conducting the negotiations. Dr. W. A. Westerman, the permanent head of the Department of Trade, prepared this statement in consultation with me, and made it in Brussels on 26th April.
I turn now to report on my overseas visit. One thing should be made clear at once. I did not go abroad to conduct conclusive negotiations in the ordinary sense. My mission was to explain Australia’s interests and to convey the views and thinking of the Australian Government by direct personal contact, at high political level. At the same time, it was my purpose to elicit the thinking on these matters of the governments of the countries which I visited, so that we might better be able to design our own requests, in the shape most likely to be accepted.
My discussions were, of course, primarily concerned with the implications for Australia, of Britain’s application to join the European Economic Community. I intended also to canvass the prospects for wider international action to improve the conditions of trading in bulk commodities. As is well known, this Government has consistently supported the introduction of broadly based international agreements as a means of tackling some of the fundamental problems affecting trade in the bulk commodities.
My first talks were in Washington. The United States is not a principal party in these negotiations, but we all comprehend the massive influence of the United States in European affairs to-day. I was able to explain Australia’s attitude and her problems in this situation to the President, Mr.
Kennedy, and to the Acting Secretary of State, Mr. George Ball; also to the Secretary to the Treasury, Mr. Douglas Dillon, the Secretary for Commerce, Mr. Luther Hodges, and, in the absence of the Secretary for Agriculture, to the Under Secretary, Mr. Murphy; and also to a number of very senior officials of President Kennedy’s Administration. In each case I had very full and adequate discussions, and without exception was assured that the United States regarded Australia as a very worth-while friend, an important Western country, and that the United States would wish to see our essential interests protected. This, of course, was satisfying and gratifying. However, any one familiar with international trade is aware that the United States has always had an objection to the system of British preferential tariffs.
So that I would not fall into the error of over-interpreting the expressions of goodwill towards Australia I raised the question of our preferences with Britain and the need for them to be preserved if Britain should join the Common Market. This resulted in it being made clear to me that the United States felt that preferences were wrong in principle and, in its opinion, ought not to be perpetuated. I took the line that the United States was entitled to have its own view about British preferences. But I recalled that in the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade which was constructed in 1947 - and constructed predominantly on American initiative - British preferences had been an important issue. I reminded them in Washington that no British country could have joined the General Agreement unless the system of preferences was recognized, and that in fact a recognition of the system had been incorporated into the General Agreement.
It was against this background that 1 pointed out to the United States Government that if it wished to eliminate British preferences the place to raise it was in the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. It was made clear that Australia would take it very badly if the United States attempted to exercise an influence, on the occasion of Britain’s applying to join the Common Market, to try to kill the system of preferences. I pointed out that in Brussels, where Britain’s negotiations were proceeding, we had no right to appear or to speak - nor, for that matter, had the Americans - but that I recognized that they could exercise a most powerful influence and that for them to do this there against preferences would be quite wrong.
The outcome of these discussions was that I was clearly told that the United States Government would not seize on the occasion of Britain’s application to campaign with the countries of The Six to kill preferences. At the same time I was told that, if questioned, the United States Government would certainly have to make clear its well-known objection to the system. I drew the attention of the Americans to the British assurances that Britain would not join the Common Market on terms which would seriously harm her Commonwealth trading partners. Accordingly, I pointed out, strong American resistance to the continuation of preferences could have the result of making it virtually impossible for Britain to go in.
I then had discussions with the Prime Minister of Canada, Mr. Diefenbaker, and his Ministers for Finance, Trade and Commerce, and Agriculture, and their officials. Canada, and also New Zealand, have problems in this situation comparable to ours, but, of course, not identical. I was invited to visit New Zealand, but unfortunately was not able to do so. I look forward to talks with the New Zealand Prime Minister when he is in Canberra next week.
From North America I went to London and had discussions with the Prime Minister, Mr. Macmillan, Mr. Heath and other Ministers with particular responsibilities in the negotiations - Mr. Butler, Mr. Duncan Sandys, Mr. Selwyn Lloyd, Mr. Erroll and Mr. Soames. I was again assured by Mr. Macmillan and his Ministers of their firm intention to represent Australia’s needs clearly to The Six and to press for adequate safeguards for our trade. As I mentioned earlier, it was after these discussions and Mr. Heath’s subsequent attendance at a conference of the Common Market Ministers that the decision was taken to enable Australia to state her case directly in Brussels.
The discussions in London were concentrated less upon explanations of what stood to be affected than upon the real problems of the practical ways and means by which what stood to be affected could be safeguarded*. I was able to say that in Washington I had been assured that it was the policy of the present Administration to support efforts to achieve global arrangements designed to accord stability to world trade in bulk commodities. I of course had welcomed this. However, I emphasized in London, as 1 had earlier emphasized in Washington, that we were not prepared to concede that transitional arrangements would’ be sufficient, if it were left to mere hope that at some point of time in the future satisfactory global arrangements covering trade in these commodities would, or might, be devised. The protection which we would need if Britain joined the Common Market would be protection adequate in its terms and continuing until such time as world arrangements in respect of the matters I have been mentioning were achieved.
Following my first series of talks in London 1 went to Paris. I had discussions separately with the President, General de Gaulle, Prime Minister Debre and” Foreign Minister Couve de Murville, Minister for Economic Affairs Giscard d’Estaing and Minister for Agriculture Pisani. Here every one assured me of the high value which France put on the British Commonwealth as a political group and the high regard in which Australia was held and the sympathetic desire to see our economy remain viable. However, it became clear in Paris - as it continued to be clear in each successive capital of the countries I visited - that at high Government level there was a feeling that Australia was predominantly an exporter of wool, the bulk foods and metals, and that arrangements which would cover these items for a transitional period would be sufficient to protect the Australian interest. Also it become clear that certain views were commonly and strongly held by each of the Common Market governments. Here for the first, but not for the last time, I was profoundly impressed by the deep political attachment of the governments of the Common Market countries to the basic objectives of the Rome Treaty and its common agricultural policy.
It was clear that any special arrangements for Britain would have to be consistent with the principles of the Rome
Treaty. They would not he acceptable if they resulted, for example, in the United Kingdom’s having cost advantages over other Common Market countries. Accordingly, Britain could not expect to import food or materials free of duty whilst other members of the enlarged Common Market paid higher prices for the same items or paid import levies or duties on their imports. The view is also most strongly held by the Six that if Britain joined she could not have special dispensations which would in fact establish her as a separate trading area within the overall Common Market bloc.
The points were stressed that such a situation would require a customs frontier between Britain and the other countries, that it would be a violation, as it was stated, of the basic concept of a Common Market area, and would be a constant inducement to other members - present or prospective - also to want separate treatment. Furthermore, I was left in no doubt that members of The Six would expect to obtain a greater share of the British market for agricultural commodities if Britain joined. This certainly would be the expectation of the French.
This attitude represents a line of thinking generally and strongly held by the Common Market countries which, we must remember, have the decision on whether Britain shall be allowed to join.
Under present Common Market policy we would expect that of our recent trade with Britain about one-third, covering mainly wool, hides and skins and metal concentrates, would not be subject to new trade barriers of one kind or another. But everywhere in Europe I found it necessary to point out that another third would be seriously affected - embracing the bulk commodities such as wheat, meat, butter and sugar; and the remaining third of our trade with Britain, about £A. 80,000,000 a year in value, could also be grievously disrupted if subjected to the common external tariff.
It was in respect of items in this last group, such as for example as canned and dried fruits and lead and zinc metal, that I pointed out that entire Australian communities - often in isolated areas - were dependent on trade deliberately geared to Britain; that indeed government investment in irrigation works and private investment in orchards, farms, mines and smelters had been built upon the contractual preferential position, including unrestricted dutyfree entry, which we had enjoyed for 30 years in Britain. Our competitive position in that market rested on the preservation of our rights. I made similar points, of course, in relation to industries like sugar and meat, which are the great staple industries of the tropical north and the northern interior.
In the case of metals I had to show that duty-free entry for concentrates but substantial tariffs for ingot metal would be damaging to us from the aspect of employment, exchange earnings and the profitability of our industries. We have no export trade as yet in aluminium. However, there is a great investment in Australia^ - and in New Zealand - of Australian, British and United States capital. The total commitment would, I believe, be in excess of £200,000,000. This great prospective export industry of both Australia and New Zealand, I pointed out, must not be frustrated by an insurmountable European tariff barrier.
Our real and direct interest on behalf of Papua and New Guinea was, of course, raised. I explained that we would want to have an opportunity to consult on any arrangements regarding the future trading of tropical products which emerge from the Brussels negotiations, and which may affect the interests of these Territories. These explanations by me did arouse a new consciousness in the minds of the European governmental leaders that problems were raised for Australia beyond what they had previously comprehended. With variations of emphasis, I found the same point of view held, and the same explanations needed, when I called upon the West German Vice Chancellor, Dr. Erhard, in Bonn, and other Ministers and officials of that government. This was so again when I called on Ministers of the Governments of the Netherlands, Belgium and Italy - Foreign Minister Luns, Minister for Economic Affairs de Pous, and Minister for Agriculture Marijnen, at The Hague; Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Spaak, and Minister for Trade Fayat, in Brussels; and in Rome Deputy Prime Minister Piccioni, Minister for Foreign Trade Preti, Minister for Industry and Commerce Colombo, and Foreign Minister Segni.
The executive body of the present Common Market is a commission. I interviewed Dr. Hallstein, the president of the commission and also Dr. Mansholt, vicepresident and commissioner in charge of agricultural matters inside the community. Here I found full knowledge of Australia’s trading circumstances, but a knowledge represented in terms of arithmetic and statistics. This I set out to supplement, with explanations of the human and community problems for producers - many in remote areas - whose industries were geared to their contractual, preferential entry into the British market. I received full acknowledgment that this left a different kind of comprehension of the Australian problem in terms of social and human considerations.
A very important aspect of my mission in Europe was to form a judgment as to what we should ask for, with hope of success, by way of protection; to decide in what manner the request could best be presented; to see to it that the Governments which had to respond to that request gave their reactions with a full comprehension of the nature of the problems being raised for Australia. Important impressions made on my mind as the result of these most valuable discussions in the capitals of The Six may be briefly summed up in this way. There would be the strongest resistance to securing longterm special arrangements for Australian items, to enter Britain only, on terms different from those under which the same items of trade were being sold in the other Common Market countries.
From the Australian point of view it is obvious, of course, that our position is no worse, if we can sell an item into the whole Common Market area, including Britain, on the same preferential terms as we can sell that item in Britain to-day. Our position would, of course, be better if we could sell that item in unlimited quantity into an enlarged market, retaining the preference. But that would represent in the terms of the General’ Agreement on Tariffs and Trade a new preference for Australia. We all know that Gatt forbids that. So if
Britain has no chance of securing continuance beyond a transitional period of our preferences in her market alone, and if we cannot have our full preferential opportunity extended to the enlarged Common Market, how then can our trade be protected? There is one obvious means. That would be an arrangement under which we could sell on preferential terms the same items of trade into the enlarged area but in quantity no greater than the quantity which we sell to Britain. In this situation there would, of course, be no limit on the quantity we could sell beyond the quota by meeting the common external tariff.
So here is a request which we can make. It is one that ought to be regarded as fair, because it would give us no new advantage but merely preserve our present opportunities. This would be represented by a right to sell on our present preferential terms, a quota into the Common Market - the quantity being equivalent to our recent pattern of trade and with some fair provision for growth in the quota.
Such a provision for growth exists now, since our present right of duty-free entry into the United Kingdom is unrestricted as to quantity. We have trees planted, not yet bearing fruit. We have mines and smelters in the course of expanding, but not yet producing to their designed capacity. Under this kind of approach our trade could be protected. We would gain no new advantage of preferences. The principles of Gatt would not be violated. It is clear that Article 234 of the Treaty of Rome contemplates the possibility of some such situation.
That article says, in effect, that prior obligations to third countries resulting from conventions - like our trade agreement - shall not be affected by the provisions of the treaty in so far as those obligations are not incompatible with the treaty. Our existing rights of access to the British market are Britain’s obligations to us under our long-standing trade arrangements. Here is an approach - a principle - which would protect our trade, shaped after my full opportunities to ascertain the views strongly held by the countries which will have the determining decision upon this matter. It would not provide for Britain lower costs than her other partners in the Common
Market if she should join. It would not extend the value of our preferences beyond their present worth. lt was on the basis of that principle and against that background that I turned to examine our items of trade category by category in the second series of talks that 1 had with British Ministers after my discussions in Europe. My knowledge of the firmness with which certain views were held by the governments of the Common Market countries, and in the commission, enabled my consultations with British Ministers to be more practical and, I believe, more fruitful. In these discussions it was assumed that there could be secured special arrangements covering most of our trade for a transitional period. The main problem which had emerged was to secure special arrangements for our trade over the long term, that is, without a particular cut-off point of time. It was agreed that our claim was quite different and very much stronger than that of a trading partner outside the Common Market which did not have an historic special pattern of trade and a whole system of contractual arrangements. Therefore, our claim for protection could be related to our justifiable expectations in the British market if the issue of Britain applying to join the Common Market had never arisen.
It was obvious that we should not make any requests which would be in conflict with Gatt. It was agreed that we should not make requests which would be regarded as violating basic principles of the Treaty of Rome. It was agreed that our requests should be designed in relation to article 234 of the treaty. That article, as I have mentioned, contemplates continuation of trading relationships with a member country where a convention - which is one of the treaty words - has previously governed the terms of trading.
It was regarded as desirable that notwithstanding the complexity of our items of trade and the differentiation of treatment by the Common Market countries between items of different character, we should nevertheless aim to have perceivable in our various proposals a framework of consistency.
On these basic points it was valuable that I reached an understanding with the
Ministers of the British Government. At the same time there was a further examination and strengthening of the procedures of consultation between the British negotiators at various levels and the Australian representatives who will be maintained in London and Brussels.
In the broadest sense we are concerned with two categories of items which the Common Market itself deals with, each in a different manner. These are the items of the common agricultural policy, in abbreviation referred to as the “ C.A.P.” items, and the other category - the list of items the import of which into the Common Market would be subject to a common external tariff- spoken of as the “ C.E.T.” items.
Basically the common agricultural policy items with which we are concerned are those major items of foodstuffs which are produced in bulk quantity within the Common Market area - wheat, barley, butter, meat, sugar, apples and pears, wine, &c.
In regard to these items it is the intention of the Common Market that the producers of the Common Market countries shall receive a price to be agreed between the countries in due course. After a transitional period, the level of prices shall be uniform as between the countries. The producers are assured of receiving these prices because the Common Market Commission will see that the market operates to ensure that they do receive those prices.
This policy clearly requires that, to protect this objective internal price, imports shall not be permitted to under-sell the local product. So the intention, broadly, is that an import levy or customs duty shall be imposed which will bring the landed cost Of imported wheat or sugar, &c., to a level at which the local product cannot be undersold.
For us, this would mean that if Britain were a member, her producers would not have their returns made up by subsidies, but would receive from consumers the higher internal price; and Britain would have to accept these items without restriction when offered for sale from within the Common Market countries. Our wheat - again taking wheat as the example - would no longer have duty free entry but would have to pay the levy prescribed at the time.
Effectively to protect the European producer the levy would have to be high enough to accord protection against the cheapest wheat offering.
Therefore, the measure of the levy imposed on our wheat in that contingency would not, in effect, be determined by the British Government, for instance, nor by the Common Market countries as a whole. The levy on our wheat could be determined by some other country, perhaps a Communist country, offering wheat at a lower price and attracting, as we now see it, a high levy on all wheat imports. This, of course, produces a most dramatic change in our circumstances.
We believe that there is likelihood that the Common Market price for internal wheat and other products will prove an incentive to increased production. So we fear a diminished market, attracting fierce competition from outside Europe. The more a seller cut his prices to achieve a sale, the higher would be the levy on him and every one else. Such wheat sold more cheaply would be of no benefit to British or other European consumers. European treasuries would gain by collecting the levy in the first place, but in the second place the regulations under the Treaty of Rome contemplate that revenues so collected1 would be used to aid European agricultural production and, if necessary, provide funds to subsidize exports. So taxes collected on our own wheat could, under this situation, finally be spent to subsidize competition against us in third markets.
Against this situation and these contingencies, what should we ask the British to request as special protection for our trade? Our trade treaty with the United Kingdom provides us with the right to have a market there for 750,000 tons of wheat a year at commercial prices. The purpose is to give us price security against competition from subsidized wheat. This establishes the quantity we may state as our legitimate expectation in the United Kingdom market.
On price, I see no reason in logic why British consumers should not pay as much to our growers for our wheat, allowing for quality differentials, as they pay, for example, for French wheat. On the other hand, I see no reason why, in this artificially diminished market for non-European wheat, we should be forced into acceptance of very low prices through fierce competition and levies. This would be very important as there is a history of the price realized for wheat in Britain being taken as the price guide by importers everywhere else in the world.
Britain has a balance-of-payments problem which would be aggravated if she had to pay a much higher price than has recently prevailed for imported wheat, and we are asked to recognize that. On the other hand, this country has a grievous balanceofpayments problem. Due to low commodity prices our terms of trade have deteriorated in recent years whilst Britain’s terms of trade have actually improved.
Very full and frank discussions in London, taking wheat as a pattern common agricultural policy item, confirm that the interests of Australia and Britain are different in this situation.
They face their consumers having to pay higher prices for home-produced food, and higher prices for European imports, but they do not want the burden of higher prices for food and raw materials bought from outside the area. On the other hand, many of our exports are not to-day sold at profitable prices and there is our serious balanceofpayments problem. Therefore we need higher prices. This situation will show quite clearly why Australia wants satisfactory world arrangements for the bulk commodities.
I have to say that we did not succeed in resolving these differences, but the British Minister became increasingly aware of the strength of our arguments and the firmness of our views that our trade in wheat and the other common agricultural policy items should be sufficiently protected. Because of the inherent difficulties of this situation, I am not able to proceed further to-night in any analysis of this problem. However, following my discussions with five Ministers and many officials, British officials are now working in the closest cooperation with Australian officials in trying to work out an approach for these commodities which both Governments might accept in the Brussels negotiations.
Each of the common agricultural policy items has its own complexity. Meat as a commodity is extremely complex in its various forms and, incidentally, does not lend itself to market regulation by storing in bulk as does wheat or butter or wine or sugar. Britain is the big market of the world for imported butter, yet every one familiar with that trade believes that if butter prices go up beyond a certain level in Britain consumption will fall off seriously. This identifies butter as providing a quite special problem. These references illustrate the very great difficulties of devising proposals acceptable to the industries and to the countries concerned.
To-night, I must state simply that we are still at grips with these problems. In the meantime, however, the long-term meat agreement and the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement cover the position of those items at least for the unexpired periods of the agreements - until 1967 in the case of meat; and until 1969 in the case of sugar.
The items of our trade with Britain which would be subject to the common external tariff are valued, as I said earlier, at about £80,000,000 a year. In respect of this group I was able to reach agreement with British Ministers as to the best method of having our problems considered. In the first place, this would be to seek to have these items considered in four separate groups. The first group would comprise agricultural products, not subject to the common agricultural policy, including the processed foodstuffs; the next group raw materials, including the metals; the third group ordinary industrial factory products or hard manufactures; and the fourth group tropical products.
To the extent that our preferences in Britain operate at present against the products of countries of the Common Market, it is quite clear - I have to say this - that there would be no hope of securing approval of the Common Market countries for the perpetuation of the preferences for our products in Britain, against theirs. We must strive to preserve the measure of preference which we have against suppliers from outside the Common Market area. This will be of major importance in cases such as canned fruits and meats.
In other cases we must strive to preserve the “right of duty-free entry, or aim to achieve the lowest possible common external tariff duties - with the retention of the existing preference margins - against nonmember countries - on a given quantity of -exports. In effect, we are asking for tariff preference quotas, which will provide Australian exporters with comparable outlets to those currently enjoyed in the British market. In the case of metals, including lead, zinc, alumina, aluminium and cadmium, we have supported Britain’s request for a nil rate of duty in the common external tariff.
Again, I feel that I should point out that we could follow a course other than to accept the loss of our preferences against European production, and demand the preservation of that preference. But I am quite sure that to ask Britain to press this line would be to invite complete rejection. As I have said earlier, we must always bear in mind that to advance proposals which have no possibility of acceptance would be both futile and deceptive to the industries concerned.
What we have done is to take the common external tariff products in the four categories I have mentioned and in most cases to request that special arrangements be approved for us to continue to export either to Britain or to the whole Common Market area, on our present preference terms into Britain, a quantity representing our present pattern of trade, with a growth factor. This obviously is, and should be recognized as, reasonable, and in conformity with our contractual rights with Britain, and with the provisions of the Rome Treaty, and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade.
So, summed up, my second visit to London produced a wide area of agreement with British Ministers on the principles of the approach to our problems, an agreement on the kind of proposals to be advanced in respect of the items subject to the common external tariff and a very valuable, but certainly not conclusive discussion, on wheat. This, as I mentioned, is a .pattern item for the common agricultural policy products of which, in total, our recent trade with the United Kingdom has been worth around £80,000,000 in a year.
All that I have already explained will serve to indicate the lines on which the Australian case was presented by Dr.
Westerman, to the top-level negotiating officials of Britain, and the Common Market countries, in Brussels, on 26th April. He, of course, had. the practical aid of the industry, consultants and the co-operation of the Secretary of the Department of Primary Industry and of senior officials from other departments concerned. Dr. Westerman is a highly trained man, greatly experienced in public administration, and of high technical competence. Not only do I think he composed and presented the Australian case splendidly, but advice from a number of quarters comments in most gratifying terms on the efficacy of his presentation.
Naturally enough, I have been asked since my return whether 1 feel more optimistic or more pessimistic about the prospects for us in relation to Britain’s negotiations. To that kind of question I can give no definite answer.
On the credit side of developments, I am sure that our prospects of securing protection for our trade if Britain does join the Common Market are improved now that all the governments concerned have much better comprehension of Australia’s trade problems. They have a better understanding of the breadth of our items of trade; of the measure of our dependence upon our historic preferences; and the extent to which both public and private investment has been geared to the legitimate expectation that these preferential arrangements would continue. Within this understanding, there is now the realization that what we have at stake is not merely an amount of money in our balance of payments, but the actual livelihood of communities, many of them remote, which form the pattern of population and development of this country.
I would put on the credit side also what I would believe to be a new awareness within the United States Administration of the strength which we feel against the exercise of United States influence to kill preferences in these negotiations, and the positive and valid nature of our belief that the only point at which the United States can seek to reduce or eliminate preferences is by negotiation with us and others in the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade.
I am sure it is an advantage that this Government comprehends more vividly than it did, the deep feeling in the present
Common Market countries against any arrangements which would disrupt the character of the Common Market. In the same field on the credit side, and flowing from our perception of this position, is the fact that we are now able to advance proposals to protect our trade which are tailored to avoid conflict with the Treaty of Rome. Our request for protection must be recognized as having the validity of being based upon our rightful expectation to have an historic contractual pattern of trade protected if our trading partner joins the Common Market. These are all significant advantages in the conduct of great and historic negotiations, in which we are involved, though not as a principal.
We recognize the need for our ideas about what I will call safeguarding arrangements, to conform to the requirements of the Rome Treaty, and the reasonable expectations of The Six for improved access to the British market. In balance of this we can expect the Common Market countries to recognize that the strength of the Commonwealth does depend importantly on the trading relations among its members.
Commonwealth countries generally would endorse what Mr. Heath - Britain’s Lord Privy Seal and the Minister conducting its negotiations - said in his statement to the Ministers of The Six in Paris on 10th October. He said -
Commonwealth trade is one of the strongest elements in maintaining the Commonwealth association. It would be a tragedy if our entry into the Community forced other members of the Commonwealth to change their whole pattern of trade and consequently perhaps their political orientation. I do not think that such a development would be in your interests any more than in ours. Nor, looking at it now from the point of view of a potential member of the Community, would any of us wish the Community to be met with the hostility which would flow from a large group of countries strung across the world if they were to feel that their interests had suffered at our hands.
These are clear and important words of Mr. Heath, speaking for the British Government. Lest it be felt that I have given grounds for optimism, I am bound to say that I am far from satisfied that all of the genuine sympathy for, and understanding of, our problems, that was expressed will necessarily be translated into the sort of practical arrangements which would adequately safeguard our interests. As I said in a speech in London, just before my departure, arrangements purporting to protect our trade with Britain, or the equivalent, would not be satisfactory - if they left our industries facing a disastrous “ precipice “ after a transitional period; if they failed to cover sections of our trade which traditionally rely on the United Kingdom market; if the amount of tax imposed by the British authorities on food imports from Australia can be set by the price quotations of foreign suppliers, even Communists, outside the Commonwealth and outside the Common Market; if we are expected to give up concrete protection of trade items at a definite future point of time in the mere hope that “ world-wide solutions “ will by then have been found; if we are to be deprived of “ preferences “, and our traditional “ free entry “ into the British market, on a fiction of making trade freer, while, at the same time, formidable barriers are erected between us and our traditional market where none have previously existed; and above all, if, in the guise of the doctrine of “ non-discrimination “, our producers were to suffer transformation from a preferential position of very long standing to a position of drastic inferiority among suppliers to the British market.
Of course, it would be a travesty for the established industrial nations of the Western world to welcome the transition to political independence of the many under-developed countries, if there were not displayed concurrently an absolute determination to preserve for those new countries a basis of economic survival.
Britain cannot dictate the terms of her entry; she is, in plain fact, an applicant. She cannot dictate to The Six what they must agree to, to protect our trade. She must negotiate and seek to persuade them, and for reasons that have been made clear she must negotiate for us as well as for herself. This statement, therefore, is to put clearly before the Parliament and the Australian people the best assessment that I have been able to reach of the terms - reasonable and practicable - to be sought to protect our trade. It is my best judgment that to request Britain to ask on our behalf more than I am illustrating, would be to invite rejection with Unpredictable consequences for us if Britain should then join. On the other hand, if in the final stages of the negotiations Britain has been able to secure in our protection less than we seek, then we will be articulate in stating our position at that point of time. Britain herself, with her great responsibilities, has the ultimate decision as to Whether she will enter on terms less than satisfying to us, or on the other hand whether she will at this point decline to enter.
If that point should be reached, she will, as Mr. Macmillan has already pointed out, have a heavy responsibility. But, as Mr. Macmillan has also recently pointed out, an equally heavy responsibility would be borne by the European countries who in that contingency had refused measures of protection to our trade. Further, I am not overlooking the massive influence of the United States in this whole matter. She, although not a principal, has a great influence and if less than justice is obtainable for our circumstances, a share of the responsibility may, particularly if it extended to an issue of preferences, rest upon the United States.
For my part and for the part of this Government, it was my duty to interview, inform and get the views of all who carried responsibilities. We have done that. Every country has its own unique set of circumstances. We have analysed the Australian set of circumstances. We have constructed proposals accordingly. We have put these proposals forward within an overall framework of consistency. We have not fumbled the challenge to government, arising from these tremendous and historic negotiations in Brussels. From the time of Mr. Sandys’s visit we have seen our line of conduct clearly and we have stuck to it. We have declared that nobody could put Australia’s case in Brussels with the same wealth of understanding as Australia, and we won the right to do this last week. We have throughout kept In the very closest consultation with the Australian industries whose trade is at risk.
I detect since my return to Australia a much greater consciousness of the enormous significance for us of the outcome of these negotiations. There is now widespread recognition of the implications for our trade, for our development and for our capacity to grow. What the Australian Government is determined to do is to battle to protect Australia’s trade opportunities. We are not obstructive to the momentous prospect of Britain going in. We have demonstrated a constructive attitude. We do not accept for a moment that the overwhelming part of our trade interests cannot be safeguarded if the governments which are now negotiating have a full understanding of our trade and of the Australian case and, indeed, a full consciousness of our destiny in this remote continent.
The issues which I have discussed this evening are, in fact, part of a great historical drama now being played out in Europe, but they have repercussions around the whole world. The European Economic Community and all it stands for undoubtedly represent one of the great initiatives of history. The last two great world wars commenced between nations which are now joined in the Common Market. If a political and economic integration in Europe eliminates the possibility of a repetition of those devastating experiences, or importantly contributes to lessening the likelihood of conflict with the Communist world, the significance for all mankind must be assessed as very high.
Because of her geography, her history and her great influence in world affairs, Britain must concern herself with developments in Europe. We understand this very clearly. But no one must ever think that political integration or greater economic strength achieved in Europe, or even between Europe and the United States, will be a conclusive advantage for all that we of the West stand for, if the arrangements turn out to be achieved at a price which leaves many nations outside Europe hurt, harmed and disillusioned.
There is no security for what the Western world aims to make secure in such a situation as that. Because of the obvious truth of this we feel that a fight to safeguard Australia’s trading interest with all our European kinsfolk is much more than an activity of self-interest.
There is nothing that we are fighting for on Australia’s behalf which we are not equally fighting for on behalf of all the young countries of the world. So we feel Australians can bold their heads high in this matter. There are no party politics in this. Mr. Speaker, if ever there was an issue which should produce an Australian bipartisan policy, this is it.
I lay on the table the following paper: -
Australia and the European Common Market -Ministerial Statement, 3rd May, 1962.
Motion (by Mr. Townley) proposed -
That the paper be printed.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Pollard) adjourned.
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
APPROPRIATION BILL (No. 2) 1961-62. Second Reading.
Debate resumed from 3rd April (vide page 1222), on motion by Mr. Harold Holt-
That the bill be now read a second time.
– Is it the wish of the House that the four bills be discussed together? There being no objection, that course will be followed.
.- In resuming the debate on these measures, it might be appropriate to state what in fact they are. There are two appropriation measures covering the Additional Estimates of Expenditure for the year ending 30th June, 1962. These relate to ordinary revenue items on the one hand and to capital works and services items on the other. Then there are two supply bills, which are bills for the granting of the funds necessary to enable the Government to carry on from 1st July, 1962, until the end of November, 1962. These are for the ordinary purposes of government on the one hand and, on the other, for what is called capital expenditure. For the purposes of convenience, we are taking all these measures together.
Under a parliamentary system, it is necessary that the details of any money that is to be expended should be brought before the Parliament for examination in the first instance. Should there be any variation in the course of the year, requiring expenditure for purposes that were not contemplated, or if there are additional expenditures that were not foreseen, it is appropriate that those should be brought before the Parliament for sanction. It is mainly on the Additional Estimates of Expenditure that I would like a little more information, and I hope that, in the course of the debate, Ministers in charge of the various departments will answer some of the questions that will be asked.
As I have indicated, the second set of measures is designed to provide the Government with the money necessary to enable it to carry on for the first five months of the next financial year. The Parliament will go into recess in a fortnight or so, and probably will not resume again until August. The current Budget will expire on 30th June, and it is necessary that the machinery of government should continue to operate until we return. It is customary in these circumstances to grant supply for a period of five months. The supply bill is merely a kind of arithmetical computation of future expenditure, on the basis that the rate of expenditure in the next twelve months will be something of the order of the rate in the previous year. Therefore, approximately five-twelfths of the estimated expenditure is sanctioned in a supply bill.
There are one or two matters to which I shall direct attention and of which I shall seek some explanation. The first items in the Additional Estimates to which 1 wish to direct attention are shown at page 4 of the document, under the heading of the Prime Minister’s Department. They indicate to a certain extent some of the vicissitudes through which the nation has passed in the last few months. Under this heading, a grant of f 50,000 is to be provided for bush fire relief in Victoria. Honorable members know that we have had an unusual season in Victoria. About Christmas time, one of our most beautiful natural areas, in the Dandenongs, suffered large-scale devastation from bush fires. The Government has acted traditionally by making a contribution of £50,000 for the relief of those who suffered as a result of this devastation.
At page 6 provision is made for a sum of £586,000, under the heading “ Department of External Affairs - International Organizations - Contributions to support the United Nations Force in the Congo “. This need has arisen, in the international sphere, since the Budget was drawn up in August last year. Australia maintains its adherence to the purposes of the United Nations. We believe that although it is not a perfect institution and does not always achieve what we would like it to achieve, nevertheless it is still the best machinery devised by us to see that peace and goodwill prevail as far as possible in all parts of the world.
The next item upon which I should like some information is shown at page 14 of the Additional Estimates of Expenditure, under Division No. 193 - Taxation Branch. I refer to Item 05, “ Legal expenses, £45,000 “. I think the Government should indicate why this additional amount is being sought by the Taxation Branch of the Treasury. As we all know, the Taxation Branch has set up a number of Taxation Boards of Review, which are supposed to simplify differences of opinion between taxpayers on the one hand and the Commissioner of Taxation on the other. This simplified machinery is supposed to avoid approaches to the courts for the settlement of differences. Nevertheless, there seems to be a growing tendency recently for the Commissioner of Taxation not to be satisfied with the decisions of the Boards of Review. If they do not go the way the Taxation Branch feels they ought to go, it presses on with the case to a court. Occasionally the branch has even adopted the device of offering to pay the costs of both parties, irrespective of the result. I would be interested to know why this amount of £45,000, over and above what was provided in the Budget in August last, is being sought by the Commissioner of Taxation.
Under the heading of the Department of the Treasury, at page 13 of the Additional Estimates, in item 05 in sub-division 2 of Division No. 191, the sum of £45,000 is provided for loan management expenses. Again, I would appreciate an explanation by the Treasury of the need to provide this amount in addition to the sum provided in August last. What are the additional expenses of the order of £45,000 that have eventuated during the financial year?
I hope that the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Opperman), who is now at the table, or somebody else will take note of all these matters and bring them to the attention of the proper authorities. If we in this Parliament are to know what we are sanctioning we should, on some occasions at least, have more information than is given in a bare line or two in a document such as this.
– The Minister for Shipping and Transport will enlighten us if he can.
– He is more courteous in these matters than some of his colleagues occasionally are.
At page 24 of the Additional Estimates, under the heading of the Department of Trade, £33,000 is provided in item 04 of sub-division 3 of Division No. 301 for subsidy for a South American shipping service. Again, I would like a little more illumination on this at the appropriate stage. I had the good fortune, some four years ago, as a member of a parliamentary delegation, to visit parts of South America, and particularly Brazil, Venezuela and Peru. I have always believed that there are great prospects for reciprocal trade between Australia and Latin America. In many respects, the economies of this country and South America are complementary.
At the present time, when we seem to be reaching a point of crisis with respect to some of our older trading relations, there is a need to explore new markets. We have just listened with great interest to the views of the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) on that matter. I have no objection to the development of a regular shipping service between Australia and South America. However, I hope that we shall be given additional information about the matter. I should like to know which company is engaging in that enterprise and what subsidy is being paid. Is this a new service that has been developed in the last few months? I do not know whether this subsidy of £33,000 is the full amount of subsidy or whether it is in addition to the subsidy that was contemplated when the Budget was presented. Perhaps, at a later stage, the appropriate Minister will give us some information about this subsidy.
I turn now to an item at page 30 of the Additional Estimates which will be discussed in more detail later by my colleague, the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns) Under the heading of the Department of Primary Industry, provision is made in item 08 of sub-division 3 of Division No. 355 for £175,000 for the relief of distressed tobacco-growers. We all know that, six or eight months ago or more, this was a big issue in parts of Queensland and of Victoria. Apparently, some merit has been seen in the growers’ case, although £175,000 is perhaps not a great sum in a total budget of £1,700,000,000. Nevertheless, it may be a significant sum for the few hundred tobacco-growers concerned.
At page 31, under the heading of the Department of Social Services, in item 04 of sub-division 3 of Division No. 364, an amount of £1,500,000 is sought for assistance to approved organizations for the building of homes for the aged. My colleague, the honorable member for Yarra, will say something about that matter, also, when he addresses the House later. I hope that the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Roberton) will give us a little more information about the reasons why this additional amount is sought. Apparently, that field of social services had developed faster than was anticipated.
One of the shortcomings in our scheme of social services is the inadequate provision made for decent housing for some of the aged people in our community. When we consider that the cost of housing a person in these days is something like £3,000, we can see that £1,500,000 will not go far in terms of a population such as ours, for it is reckoned that approximately one in ten Australians is of pensionable age. This means that something like 1,000,000 people are in the aged category. I do not mean that all of them are unsatisfactorily housed. However, every honorable member knows that in his electorate there are considerable numbers of aged persons who are unsatisfactorily housed. Therefore, the provision of £1,500,000 in these Additional Estimates for assistance to approved organizations for the building of homes for the aged does not seem a great deal.
At page 32, Mr. Speaker, under the heading of the Department of Shipping and Transport, item 01 in sub-division 3 of Division No. 373 provides for £240,000 for subsidy for merchant ship construction. This is not a great deal in these days, when we consider that a new tanker that was recently built at Whyalla cost about £3,000,000. I believe that, in that instance, the Government subsidy was about one-third of the cost. When we think in those terms, £240,000 will not provide for many ships. This item calls for some explanation by the Government.
Honorable members on this side of the House believe that far more funds should be provided for merchant shipping construction in this country than are provided at present. Last evening, my colleague, the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Hansen), expressed dismay about an order having been given to Yugoslavia for the construction of a vessel that could have been built in Australia. We believe that more ship construction ought to be undertaken in Australia. We do not quibble about the provision of an additional £240,000 by way of subsidy, but we would like the Minister concerned to give us a little more information about the reasons why this provision is being made and to tell us something more of the Government’s plans for ship construction in this country.
Perhaps I may be pardoned for being parochial for a moment. There are large naval dockyards in my electorate. Naval ship construction is at present heavily curtailed, and we believe that the skill and techniques available at those naval dockyards, and at other dockyards in Australia, ought to be devoted to the construction of merchant shipping. This is a country with relatively more trade than has any other country in the world. Australia is the only nation of any significance that has an insignificant merchant fleet, and at least there is a need for the development of a national overseas shipping line.
At page 33 of the Additional Estimates, under the heading of the Department of Immigration, under sub-division 2 of Division No. 383, we find the item, “ 03. Contribution to maintenance of migrant families, £267,000.” Whether this is due to the Government’s credit-squeeze policy I do not know, but this amount appears to be required to provide for the relief of migrant families who hopefully came to these shores believing that they could get food, clothing, shelter and work, and who, apparently, have found a serious deficiency of some or all of those requirements. I would like a little more information from the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Downer) as to why this amount of £267,000 is being sought for the maintenance of migrant families, over and above the amount that it was anticipated would be required at the time of presentation of the Budget.
On pages 41, 42 and 43 of this document, Mr. Deputy Speaker, under the heading “ Department of Supply “, there are some items which are somewhat mysterious financially, and I hope that the Minister for Supply (Mr. Fairhall) will be able to tell us just what these items mean. The first of them is under Division No. 588, which refers to the clothing factory at South Melbourne. This establishment happens to be within the electorate of Melbourne Ports, but that is simply coincidental. There are other items in respect of the ordnance factory and the explosives factory at Maribyrnong, the small arms factory at Lithgow, the ammunition factory at Footscray, the munitions filling factory at St. Mary’s, the explosives factory at Mulwala, the aircraft factory at Fishermen’s Bend - which is also within the electorate of Melbourne Ports - the aircraft factory at Parafield, the explosives factory at Albion, the ordnance factory at Bendigo and the engine works at Port Melbourne. In each case these mysterious entries appear.
To take the first item as an example, we find, first, an entry in the following terms, “ Working capital advance (for payment to the credit of the Clothing Factory, South Melbourne, Trust Account), £808,369”. Immediately following that entry we find, “ Less unrequired balance of Clothing Factory Trust Account upon closure at 31st May, 1962, £808,369 “. The result of the sum, of course, is nought. Similar entries appear in respect of each of the other items I have mentioned. Again I would like some explanation from the appropriate Minister of these peculiar transactions.
Whether these undertakings have previously operated on trust accounts and it has been decided to close those accounts I am not quite sure. But if this is the case, then I think it represents at least a change of policy on the part of the Government, and some explanation should be forthcoming if this House is to comprehend intelligently the additional estimates of expenditure that are put before it.
I have mentioned just a few items chosen at random. In terms of a budget of £1,600,000,000 or £1,700,000,000, additional estimates of the order of £16,000,000 do not represent a very great amount proportionately. They show an error of about 1 per cent., and the major part of it is represented by over-spending in some sections of the defence departments and additional expenditure in others. As I say, the amount of £16,000,000 is not significant when compared with the total amount of more than £1,600,000,000. Nevertheless, the items I have selected for mention are worthy of some further explanation than a simple single line in the document, and 1 hope that when we return next week the appropriate Ministers will answer some of the questions that have been asked.
I leave the matter there. We offer no objection to the passage of this series of measures. These Additional Estimates are really preliminary to the preparation of the next Budget, and all we hope is that that Budget will be the last to be prepared by this Government. We hope that another government, with a greater sense of national purpose, and more cognizant of the great problems that perplex the Australian community economically, internally and externally, may have the opportunity to take over from the present Government, in which case what we are now doing will become only a bookkeeping exercise rather than the designing of a framework for the next Budget.
Mr. DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr. Drury)__
I call the honorable member for Lilley, and in doing so I point out that this is his maiden speech. I ask honorable members to extend to him the usual courtesies.
.- Thank you, Mr. Deputy Speaker. It is with some diffidence that I speak for the first time in this honorable place, which has been, and is, graced by so many able and distinguished representatives of the people.
At the outset I wish to thank the electors of Lilley for electing me as their representative in the Parliament of my native country. I feel keenly the responsibility that I have accepted towards the whole of the people of Australia, but, as I see the position, 1 have a particular duty to the people of my own State, Queensland, and to the electors of Lilley, whose generous support on polling day made it possible for me to be here representing a very important electorate. This electorate bears the name of a distinguished Queenslander, the late Sir Charles Lilley, who was elected to the first Queensland Parliament as the member for Fortitude Valley and later served with distinction as Attorney-General and Premier of the State. In due course he also served with credit as Chief Justice of the State and as chairman of the commission which reported in favour of the founding of a university in Queensland. I pledge myself to give the whole of my time and the very best of my ability to serving the electors in this National Parliament.
I wish to extend to our honorable Speaker my hearty congratulations on his elevation to the knighthood and on his recent re-election to the chair. I feel sure that the common purpose we all pursue in this chamber, to ensure the welfare of the people of Australia, will continue to be followed under Mr. Speaker’s guidance and encouragement. As a new member I look to him for the mercy that I need as well as the justice that I deserve.
I am interested to note that the Parliament has for its objective the true welfare of the people of Australia. No democratic institution could have a more laudable objective. As the years go by and I remain in your midst, I am certain that we shall have differences of opinion as to how that end may be attained, but I submit that so long as we keep that high and inspiring objective well before our minds we should be able to make our way without bitterness.
The State of Queensland, which I am so proud to represent in this National Parliament, Sir, has been sadly neglected during the reign of the present Government. Nowhere in Queensland will you find evidence of any major developmental works instituted on a national basis and financed from national revenue. Our roads and railways are in a deplorable state, no move has been made to improve our seaports, and little has been done to improve our airfields, since the last war. The only assistance that this Government has given for developmental works in Queensland has been the muchpublicized £5,000,000 for beef roads, spread over a period of five years, and a few hundred thousand pounds to be expended at Gladstone harbour. Each year we find in the Budget that £200,000,000 is being spent on defence, but, except for the maintenance of already existing military installations, no large proportion of this money has been spent in Queensland or northern Australia, the part of the country most open to attack by our potential enemies. Poised against the gateways of northern Australia we have hundreds of millions of Asiatics who if they have not already accepted the Communist philosophy are sympathetic to their Asiatic neighbours who have done so. These hundreds of millions of people are being armed to the teeth, and their territories are bursting at the seams. If and when they move I feel that it will be through northern Australia and Queensland that they will invade our country, and not through Tasmania, Victoria or our other southern States.
The primary and mineral wealth of Queensland and Northern Australia is well known to the world. So is the lack of development and population in those areas. It is of paramount importance for economic and defence purposes that the northern part of Australia and Queensland be developed and populated as quickly as possible. Unless this is done by the Commonwealth Government we are extending an open invitation to these millions of Asiatics to come and take this country from us.
Mr. Deputy Speaker, permit me at this stage to turn back the pages of time to when the parties now in office were campaigning in 1949 against the Australian Labour Party Government so ably led by the late Ben Chifley. The result of that election, much to the sorrow of the people of Australia, is now history. The present Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) during that campaign promised our people that a Liberal-Country Party Government would maintain a policy of full employment, and would put value back into the Australian £1. He asked the people to have faith, and he said that he could envisage an era of unprecedented prosperity and development. He has, Sir, repeated those promises so often during the past twelve years that he has talked himself into a trance and has dreamed that they had actually come true. While he dreamed, his supporters on the Government side stood in hushed silence, afraid to awaken their leader and tell him that the economy of the country was heading for the rocks, that mass unemployment pools were gathering, that his policy and his leadership were a complete failure.
While he slept and dreamed, foreign profit-hungry capitalists were devouring our national inheritance. Mount Isa Mines Limited was moving for a project that will cost the Queensland taxpayer £30,000,000, plus interest, while Mount Isa increased its profits and exported them. The Rio Tinto interests were reaching out for our bauxite deposits at Weipa so as to export the raw material to New Zealand and Japan, instead of processing it in Queensland. The ThiessPeabody interests are gorging on our coal deposits, which are also being sent to Japan instead of being used to fire the furnaces of an iron and steel industry at Gladstone and the furnaces of our aluminum smelting works.
The capitalist oil combines of America are hovering like buzzards ready to swoop on our oil deposits to do with them as they see fit - when it suits them to do it. Our small storekeepers have been swallowed by monopoly chain-store combines. General Motors-Holden’s Proprietary Limited is exporting millions of pounds of profits each year. The capitalist monopoly of Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited is tightening its stranglehold on our iron and steel industry and our mineral deposits. Japan is drooling for a serve of our iron ore deposits and our home-markets. Ships are being purchased from overseas shipbuilders while our own shipyards lie idle.
A total of £200,000,000 a year is being squandered on a defence programme that has left our country defenceless. Import controls were lifted and Australia was swamped with overseas goods, while our own products have remained in the warehouses unsold, and our production machinery is running at half pace. One hundred thousand Australian couples and immigrants each year are searching for homes that are not being built for sale at a price that they can afford to pay. One hundred and fifty thousand Australian unemployed are searching for jobs that have been taken away by this Government’s mismanagement of our national affairs.
The vast spaces of northern Australia have been left undeveloped and unpopulated. Private banking companies are channelling their money away from the primary producer, manufacturer and home-builder into the control of usury companies which are being permitted by this Government to exploit our people through high interest rates and other charges. Companies are permitted to offer fantastic interest rates for money that should be going into government loans and bonds for the development of our country.
After permitting these things to happen over a period of twelve years in office, Sir, the very same leader who in 1949 promised our people full employment and an era of unprecedented development and prosperity suddenly awoke and found that something was wrong with his party policy and his leadership. His dreams had not come true. His promises had not been fulfilled. The little Budget, the horror Budget and every other Budget had been a complete flop. So what does the leader of this Government do, Sir? He calls in the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) and between them they cook up the credit-squeezing Budget of November, 1960. “This will fix things”, says this Prime Minister. “This will bring our ship back on course. Everything will be all right in 1962.” They certainly fixed things! Up went sales tax, up went interest rates. Thousands were thrown out of work and industry was reduced to a walk. The building trade was brought to a complete halt. Said the leader of this Government to his Treasurer: “ I will show these yahoos. I will tread on a few corns. Everything will be all right, Mr. Treasurer, after I come back from New York and London.” And away went the leader of this Government, leaving his bewildered supporters holding the bag.
But, Sir, the people of this country had had enough; they had grown sick and tired of this crystal ball gazing, of this political prophet who had failed to hand down one correct prediction during the twelve years of his leadership. So on 9th December last, had it not been for the Communist Party support that the Prime Minister’s party received, he and his Government would have been thrown out of office; and I, Sir, having been sent into this honorable place to represent 47,778 electors of Lilley, together with their children, wholeheartedly endorse the actions of our people expressed through the ballot-box on 9th December.
I submit, Sir, that this Government should have spent at least half of the annual £200,000,000 defence allocation on the development of Queensland and northern Australia. This part of Australia is crying out for modern railways, modern roadways, water conservation schemes, improved harbour facilities, jet airfields, industrial factories of all kinds, improved and increased production in the primary industries and, last but not least, increased population. In my opinion this Government should have retained at least a SO per cent, profit interest in all mineral deposits, including oil, being discovered and developed in our country by capitalistic combines. The 50 per cent, profit so gained should have been used for the building of homes, schools, hospitals, factories and public utilities, in conjunction with the State governments. I believe that foreignOwned and Australian companies should be obliged by law to invest at least 50 per cent, of their net profit earned in Australia in government loans and bonds, to assist further with national development and defence.
I submit also that a national insurance scheme and a national shipping line should have been introduced and commenced by this Government for the benefit of our people and the economic security of our country. I believe that the purchasing of ships constructed in shipyards in foreign countries is wrong. They should be built in Australia by Australian tradesmen. Unemployment is uneconomical, unnecessary and unhealthy and should not be permitted to exist. Each person out of work is a drain on our national resources and a loss to our production growth. I believe that all social service payments and benefits, including child endowment, should have been increased each year so as to keep level with the ever-rising cost of living and the fall in the value and purchasing power of our £1, and that a national training scheme should have been introduced by this Government for the training of people displaced by automation, to fit them for other jobs.
It is quite evident, when one views the state of industrial and financial stagnation that this Government has brought upon our country and our people, that the only way open for national development and the salvation of our country is through an Australian Labour Party government being returned to office in this Parliament. It was Labour governments which in previous terms of office created the Commonwealth Bank, founded the Royal Australian Navy, built the Trans-Australian railway, conceived and started the Snowy Mountains scheme, established Trans-Australia Airlines, launched the aluminium industry in Australia and founded the Australian National University at Canberra.
When we become the government after the next federal election we will ease the means test, double child endowment and maternity allowances, increase pensions, cheapen the cost of homes, abolish sales tax on family necessaries and guarantee full employment. We will enlarge educational opportunities, abolish the 5s. charge for prescriptions, provide artificial limbs free to the needy, provide free pre-natal and maternity care and extend the home-help service. We will expand the free drug list, and end unemployment and the economic slump brought about by this Government. We will provide easier borrowing on reasonable terms and return to the States all receipts from petrol tax. We will remit pay-roll tax on local government activity other than on trading and will provide bold planning and the necessary finance for the immediate development of Queensland and northern Austraia.
My final submission, Sir, is that this Liberal-Country Party Government, by its many mistakes and the mismanagement of our country’s affairs over the past twelve years, together with its subsidiary in Queensland, the Nicklin-Morris Government, has passed the point of no return and is rushing headlong into political disintegration.
.- Despite the very remarkable statements by the honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Don Cameron) about what a Labour government would do for this country, I would like to repeat what I have said previously in this House: There is no country of comparable size and population in the world that has made the same progress in the last decade as Australia has. I have issued a challenge to any one to disprove that statement and I still leave that challenge open. I made it before and some one took me up on it, but he was not able to satisfy the qualifications that I laid down. The fact remains, that we, as a country, are in a tremendously healthy position at the present time. We have Ministers capable of upholding the honour and the great traditions of Australia. We have Ministers of ability and world standing, as honorable members, who were in the chamber to-night and heard the statement made by the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen), must agree.
We have a country that has progressed as the result of the industry of its people. It is a country that has progressed because of the far-sightedness of its leaders over the years and has reached a most enviable place among the nations of the world to-day. Australia has now set out to consolidate the position that it has reached and is also out to help other rapidly developing nations - many of them in the South Pacific area - which are seeking their place in the sun. To-night we have heard the Minister for Trade stress the great importance to Australia of our overseas trade and particularly - almost essentially - the importance of our primary industries and our primary exports. It was obvious that our primary industries are particularly concerned with the situation that may confront them in the event of Great Britain joining the European Common Market. For many years now those primary industries have supplied our every-day needs and provided, by the overseas funds they earn, the great bulk of the requirements of our secondary industries in the way of raw materials and, to some extent, plant and equipment for the factories.
I have never made any apologies for emphasizing the great debt that Australia as a nation owes to the men and women in the rural areas in this country; the men who went out many years ago and pioneered the outback and put up with all manner of deprivations; the men who accepted the life of the outback because it is a way of life to them. They have continued to populate the more sparsely populated areas of our country, because life in the country is the way of life which appeals to them, and one which they will continue to follow. So I make no apology for directing the attention of the House to the great debt that is owed to these people.
I will not speak for very long, but I would like to say that one thing which the Government can do is to try to make the life of the people in our rural areas a happier, better and more congenial one than they enjoy at the present time. It is not the fault of the Government that these people do not enjoy all the things that people in the city enjoy. It is an accident which occurs in any continent with a very rich coastal strip on which some of the large cities of the nation happen to be placed. For as long as I can remember there has been a feeling that insufficient consideration has been given to those people who live in the outback areas and who - as I have said - I have no objection to repeating it - produce the great wealth of this nation. We know that with the passage of time our secondary industries will come to the aid of our primary industries. We know that they will develop and build up an export trade, but the fact remains at present that those industries, because of their high costs, are unable to compete satisfactorily with the industries of other countries.
There are cases in which they can compete, but they are relatively few. So we look forward to the day when they will take their part in the scheme of things and cooperate with primary industry in enlarging the export trade which we enjoy to-day. This is a large exporting nation. It is the tenth largest trading nation in the world, but it can be bigger still if the secondary industries will come in and pull their weight. We appreciate that they are consumers of the goods produced by the rural industries. Equally, the rural industries are good consumers of the products of the factories of this country. We must not continue to lean as heavily as we do on those few people who produce the wealth on which we depend for our very existence.
If we continue to do that, we run the risk of suffering a worse fate than that fate it is certain we will suffer if we do not make satisfactory arrangements on the entry of the United Kingdom to the Common Market.
Australia could suffer severely if a great drought swept the country, or if bush fires in the pastoral areas of the rich western districts devastated the country as they did some years ago. Those are things that we have forgotten. I have lived through times of very bad fires and disastrous droughts. I have seen the ground so bare that there was no sign of a blade of grass on it, with sheep struggling to get feed. I have sown my crops and seen them wither away. I have finished at the end of the year, not with an income from the year’s activities, but with a debt with which to start the next year. The remarkable fact is that in this period of some twelve months, when unquestionably there was a recession, when our secondary industries unquestionably were pretty badly hit, and when our commercial undertakings complained that they did not have their previous level of sales, the primary industries still continued to produce the crops, the stock and the foodstuffs which they had produced for years gone by.
Our position to-day is stable very largely because the primary industries are in a condition of stability, but they have great problems. They have problems of high costs and low prices. There could have been a very serious problem in the wheat industry three or four years ago, and we would have had one to-day but for the fact that the Australian Wheat Board was able to make good sales and clear out the wheat storages.
I appeal to the Government, in its consideration of the Budget, to give more and deeper thought to the great problems afflicting the rural industries. We have been heartened by hearing the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) make a public acknowledgment of the debt that Australia owes to those industries, but we would like to see that statement translated into actuality. We would like to see certain things done to help people in the country - even if only small things - in order to give them heart. Over the last five or six years I have seen swimming baths constructed in country towns. I have seen amenities such as parks established. I have seen country people getting a better deal in their towns, but I make a particular appeal for those people living outside the towns. One of their great problems is communications. Years ago, a man with a telephone in the country was very lucky indeed.
– He was a rarity.
– Possibly he was a rarity. I can remember the days when we had mail services on only three days a week and, going back a bit further, on only two days a week. We got our newspapers in a heap and we spent two or three evenings reading them over so that we would not run out of reading material before the next mail came. The Postmaster-General (Mr. Davidson) has done a magnificent job in providing mail services, telephone services and communications generally, apart from broadcasting and television services. But, unfortunately, whilst people in the more populated areas enjoy everything of the best, the country folk in outback areas are not getting their fair share of amenities. I do not blame the Postmaster-General. No man has worked harder and with greater effect for country people than he.
A greater Budget allocation is required to enable country telephone services and mail services not only to be retained at the present level but to be improved. There are cases in which they are being reduced. I want to cite one or two. There is the case of the small telephone exchange, operated by a man or his wife and family living on a property. In years gone by it was very comfortable to have a little money coming in by rendering this service. It was almost in the form of pocket money, for the people concerned were still able to follow their ordinary occupations. Then came the time when they felt that the tie over the week-end was too great. They were able to run a motor car and wanted to go into town for the day but were tied to the telephone exchange. As the family grew up, there were no children to look after it while the parents were away. So they decided to give it away, and when they did that possibly twenty or thirty subscribers had no contact with the outside world.
I had a letter a little while ago from people who were suffering from this. The department had been notified that the telephone office people were giving up the work, and those who were connected to the office asked to have individual lines connected to a nearby exchange. This problem has been in existence for some time. The reason is that the allocation of money for these jobs is not sufficient. We have done remarkable work. We have duplicated, triplicated and quadruplicated our trunk lines. We have built fine exchanges in the large towns. We have put automatic equipment into those exchanges. I dare not go to my electorate and say that I can push a button and speak direct to Sydney without going through an intermediate manual exchange, because some people there would” say, “ We cannot ring any one. Our telephone office keeper gave the job away and we have no telephone connexion at all.” These are problems facing the people who are the life and soul of this country. They are living in out-back areas and depending on communications. There are women there with young children, with sickness in the home. Only twelve months ago a dangerous man was roaming the countryside with a .303 rifle. The women were at home all day and their telephones had been cut off because the telephone office people, for good reasons of their own, had decided to give the job away.
My appeal is for automatic exchanges wherever possible, but, in any event, for permanent exchanges to replace the parttime offices, of which there are so many in country areas. The department should look ahead further than it does when considering these problems. The department should not wait until a month or so before a telephone office keeper gives his job up before doing something about it. Preparations should be made in advance. I go so far as to suggest that there should be a priority for the installation of automatic exchanges in cases such as this. I sympathize with the department’s problems. Its officers say, “ We have great work to do. We cannot put automatic exchanges all over the place unless we have automatic exchanges with which to connect them in the towns and unless we have trunk lines to connect the towns to the cities.” The problem is right here at our door. We should allocate more money to the Postmaster-General’s Department with the idea of overcoming this great and real problem.
I repeat that those people to whom we owe so much for keeping this country solvent should be given the best treatment possible. Unfortunately, we are inclined to look at this as a matter of pounds, shillings and pence. We say that it may cost £6,000 or £10,000 to overcome the problem in office A or Z; or it may cost £4,000 for office C. We say, “We have already given these people telephones and built lines and established an office. Now, because the office keeper is to give that occupation away, we have to supply more money.”
I remind honorable members of what the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) said earlier in the night. He said, “ This is not a mathematical problem, it is a human problem which should receive our very great consideration “. I turn now to one or two other matters to which I hope the Government will give some consideration. First, there is the great problem of the difficulties confronting widows with children attending school. I should say that most of the widows with children attending school are young, and the fact that they have lost the breadwinner not only presents them with the great problem of having to provide for their children but also gives them the task of meeting the problem of costs, which are higher than those of the mother who has a man in the house.
I know that we try to look after widows as well as we possibly can, and that we pay them pensions and endowment for their children. That system has worked very well, and I am not critical of what we are doing, but I do direct the attention of the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Roberton) to one important aspect. With the tendency to-day to give our children higher education - and this is a most desirable ambition - a great problem arises when a child of one of these widows attains the age of sixteen years, perhaps by June or earlier in the first half of the year in which it normally would be sitting for the leaving certificate in New South Wales or comparable examinations in other States. I have had brought to my notice several cases of grievous difficulty in this direction, cases in which, in the last year of study for this important examination, the child turns sixteen and the widow thereupon loses the benefit of the allowance she had been receiving for the maintenance of that child. Only the other day I had brought to my notice the tragic case of a tuberculosis sufferer who was struggling to enable his child to obtain an education that would fit her to go out into the world. The child turned sixteen half way through the last year of her studies, and this man was faced immediately with the loss of the allowance with which he had been paying for the child’s education. This is a definite human problem to which I hope the Government will give consideration when it is preparing the next Budget.
I come now to the position of the handicapped people in our midst. The other day, I visited an organization in my electorate and saw there the fine work that was being done by local residents in helping handicapped persons - babies, children, and even adults who, for one reason or another, were unable to compete in the world of labour as their contemporaries were. They were not badly handicapped; they were able to do some work under guidance. One chap I saw was very diligently stitching up holes in corn sacks to be used for the storage of potatoes and, if they were good enough, possibly for the transportation of wheat to be stored in bulk at the silos. These people were being looked after entirely by voluntary civic effort in the town. The person in charge of the organization said to me, “ If we cannot get some assistance from outside, I am afraid we shall have to close down “. Their only source of revenue now is what they can raise by their own efforts, and such donations as are made to them. If this organization is forced to close down through lack of money, the people for whom it is now caring will immediately become a charge on the country. To-day, some of these handicapped persons are earning enough to avoid the necessity of applying for a pension. As a matter of fact, I doubt whether they would get a pension, because they would not be considered to be disabled to the extent that would qualify them for one.
I should like to mention one other matter. Possibly it is a matter which comes more within the scope of State functions. I refer to tourist activities. Each year, there is a great flow of tourists from this country to countries overseas - and good luck to them. The more people who can travel and see the world, the better, to my way of thinking. But, unfortunately, there are by no means enough people coming from overseas to see our grand country. We had a couple here this morning from North America, and they were delighted with what they had seen in Australia. They had not been only to Brisbane and Sydney; they had been to Orange. But they were exceptions.
– And they had been to Mildura.
– They have been to Mildura, as the honorable member for Mallee states. But in the main, the tourists who come to Australia go to the capital cities and do not see our great inland areas, the areas from which the products of Australia come. Our tourist effort is not good enough. Admittedly, a small amount is farmed out by the Department of Trade to organizations overseas, and I have no doubt that this money is spent very wisely, but I can assure honorable members that it is only with the greatest difficulty that overseas residents wishing to visit Australia can get any information about this country. As a general rule, the tourists to Australia from other countries get off the ship at Sydney, have a look at the coast and the waterfront areas, get on the ship again, travel to Melbourne, then have a look at Melbourne and then, after having visited those two admirable capital cities, return home on the ship and say, “ We have been to Australia “. They have not done anything of the sort. In other countries, arrangements are made for tourists not only by private industry, but also by governments who see to it that people who visit their countries are taken out and shown the things that they should see. I do hope that at some stage in the near future arrangements will be made in this country under which visitors to, say, Sydney will be able to contact a departmental officer who can say to them, “ If you go to such-and-such a place we have officers there who will look after you when you arrive, and who will see to it that you are shown something of the inland of Australia, that part of Australia that matters “. There are many things well worth seeing in the inland areas. For instance, many fine dams are being constructed in the outback for water conservation purposes. We are making great efforts to prevent water from running into the sea. In my electorate, the State Government is constructing the Burrendong Dam near Wellington. When it is completed, it will impound many times as much water as is contained in Sydney Harbour. Although the cost will be high, this will be a magnificent dam when it is finished.
– Who is building it?
– I have already told the House that it is being constructed by the State, by the Water Conservation and Irrigation Commission of New South Wales. I give the State all credit for undertaking this task. I am not quibbling about that at all, and I am surprised that the honorable member should have some fears that I am trying to filch credit from the State for this work. When completed, the dam will have cost, I think, £14,000,000. The point I was about to make was that the timber on the area that will be covered by water impounded by the dam is to be left where it is to die, so that there we shall have not only the ugly spectacle of dead branches sticking up out of the water but the hazard that dead timber will present to any attempt to conduct aquatic sports on the lake impounded by the dam. That applies to most of the dams that have been constructed in Australia. It is tragic to think that, having spent a colossal sum of money in impounding a vast body of water for the benefit of the countryside, the constructing authority has not thought it desirable to spend a further miserable £25,000 or £35,000 to make the area a place of beauty and pleasure to nearby residents. If this were done, we would be able to say to the tourists who visit Australia, “ Let us take you out and show you our grand water supply schemes, our lovely countryside, our wonderful sheep and all the other things of which we are so proud “. Often, for the sake of a few miserable pounds, that opportunity is lost to us. The local people are not accepting the situation. They are getting together and they will do the job themselves. They will clear the timber from around the fringes of the high water mark so that they can have the pleasure of the dam without the ugly timber sticking up through the water. They will have a dam on which they can have aquatic sports and enjoy themselves.
When we allocate money to the States for projects of this sort, as we do from time to time, all the money should not be considered to belong to one authority, in this case the Water Conservation and Irrigation Commission, to build a dam only. The money should be used to build a dam and to provide everything else that should go with a dam.
I am sorry that I have delayed the House longer than I had intended, but I did want to make this appeal. People in country areas are valuable and important to our economy. They can go through a drought, a flood or a fire and come up smiling. Let us contrast the people who immediately cried out twelve months ago that they were being hurt by the action of the Government with the country people who plug on and continue to grow wheat and raise sheep despite adversity and who are able to keep us afloat economically. We should give these people everything we can. We should give them good transport and good communications. We should give them everything to which they are justly entitled. [Quorum formed.]
.- I am pleased to have the opportunity to address myself to the subject of Supply. During the course of his speech, the honorable member for Lawson (Mr. Failes) said that Australia was the tenth exporting nation of the world.
– No, the tenth largest trading nation.
– That is so, the tenth largest trading nation. He pointed out the dangers of rising costs. One of the subjects I want to mention is costs, and principally transport costs. My remarks will be directed mainly to the Department of Shipping and Transport.
It has been said in this House on many occasions that transport costs account for more than 30 per cent, of gross domestic expenditure in Australia. That is a big factor, inflating our costs and services. As a matter of fact, it has helped to price us out of overseas markets. The honorable member for Lawson mentioned our high costs, and I think that the cost of transport is a factor that should be seriously considered. In 1957, the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) said that a Cabinet sub-committee would be appointed to examine the matter of transport costs and it would report back to this House. As far as I am aware, no report has ever been made by the subcommittee to the House. I had hoped that the sub-committee would have made some recommendation not only regarding internal transprot costs but also regarding freights charged by overseas shipping combines.
The only period in which the interests of our people have not been plundered by overseas shipping companies was when Australia had its own Commonwealth line of ships. I was pleased to hear the honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Don Cameron), in a very well presented maiden speech, refer to the importance of a national shipping line. He suggested such a line be established once again in Australia. The rackets of the overseas shipping interests extend back to a time before Australia was a nation. The old newspaper files that are available to us in the Library and the economic information tell an eloquent story of what happened in those days. When exports were limited to primary products, the shipping lines extracted every penny they could. When a few secondary industries were established, the shipping lines extracted extortionate profits from imports. That procedure has been followed whenever they have had the opportunity since then.
In its policy in the 1914 election, Labour promised to fight the shipping companies. This was expressed in the GovernorGeneral’s Speech on 8th October, 1914, as follows: -
My advisers are in favour of establishing a line of Commonwealth steamers, and steps towards that end will be taken as soon as possible.
When the Hughes Labour Government assumed office, we were at war. The patriotism of the shipping companies was revealed when they raised their freights between Australia and England from 47s. 6d. to 105s. a ton, although the British Government carried the war risk on ships at that time. The Australian Shipping Board during the 1914-18 war did not correct the position. Instead, as its members were representatives of private shipping interests, freights rose alarmingly. Prior to 1914-18, wheat was shipped at 30s. a ton, but freight on wheat rose to £15 a ton.
Lord Inchcape was responsible for forming a shipping monopoly and in fact this monopoly dictated the rate of fares and freights. His attitude was copied in the United States of America by Pierpont Morgan, who stated at a dinner tendered to him by the Shipping Trust -
We are advanced socialists; we have discovered that combination, not competition, means success in trade, and we are going to take the profits of combination until the people are sufficiently intelligent to take the profits for themselves.
That should give honorable members opposite food for thought. We realize to-day what is happening with monopolies and combines. Big take-overs are resulting in the control of industry being placed in fewer and fewer hands. This is paving the way, in effect, for the socialism of tomorrow.
In 1916, Mr. Hughes, who was Prime Minister, established the Commonwealth Shipping Line. First, he bought fifteen cargo vessels for just over £2,000,000. The Austral Line was augmented by 21 ex-army vessels. They were then combined into what was known as the Commonwealth Shipping Line. This line quickly made a substantial profit of nearly £6,060,000 and freights were reduced until they were about 50 per cent, of the freights charged by other shipping lines. This shows what can be done if a Commonwealth shipping line is established.
– In other words, the primary producers received a dividend.
– That is correct. The establishment of a national fleet stimulated the Australian shipbuilding industry as well. In 1919, ships constructed in Australia began to join the Commonwealth fleet. Senator Reid, who was a Liberal senator, dealt with this subject. His remarks appear in volume C, at page 1969 of “Hansard” of 7th September, 1922. He said -
The excellent quality of Australian ships was admitted by everybody concerned, even by those who were opposed to Government control . . .
Those were his words. Attempts were being made at that time to get rid of our shipping line. Government construction costs were about £30 a ton, compared with £36 a ton elsewhere. In 1921, we had over 3,000 men employed in the shipbuilding industry in Australia. From the time of its creation, Lord Inchcape and his shipping conference strove strenuously for the destruction of our Commonwealth shipping line, but Mr. W. M. Hughes, who had left the Labour Party, was one of those who fought against the monopoly interests. He said -
Except for the Commonwealth line there is no way to the markets of the world save at the price the great combines determine.
That is just as true to-day as it was then. In 1923, the Bruce-Page Government came into office, and that was the beginning of the end for the Commonwealth line. The Commonwealth shipping legislation of 1923 placed the fleet in the hands of a board. Three members had the power to sell, subject to the approval of the Treasurer - and the Treasurer of the day was Mr. S. M. Bruce, who was very much against the Commonwealth shipping line. In order to make its fate certain, Mr. Bruce, as he was then, taxed the fleet but continued to subsidize its rivals. Eventually the ships were sold at bargain prices. Eleven Australian ships were sold at half their market value, and by 1927 all that was left were seven ships of the 54 vessels of the Commonwealth fleet.
Finally, the Dale and Bay ships were sold. They had cost over £7,500,000 to build, but they were sold to the shipping conference for £1,900,000, to be paid by instalments. Lord Kylsant, who acted for the shipping combine, conveniently became bankrupt and Australia finally received only £580,000 for a fleet that had cost £7,500,000. Australia was again at the mercy of the overseas shipping monopolists, and unfair and exorbitant freight rates have been imposed on our exports and imports ever since.
The harm that has been done to Australia’s cost structure as a result of the disposal of the Commonwealth shipping line must be clear to all who take an interest in these matters. The formula on which freight rates are calculated is based on a cost-plus system at present, and the shipowners consequently cannot lose. Freights were increased by 5 per cent. early this year. The Associated Chambers of Commerce of Australia asked for an inquiry into costs and one of the items they listed was freight rates. Previously, the same organization had raised the question of shipping charges on commodities going to Asian markets. The Melbourne “Age” reported on 6th September, 1961, in this connexion -
Allegations of excessive shipping charges on commodities going to Asian markets were made to-day at the annual conference of the Australian Chambers of Commerce export council. Th? council formed a special committee to investigate the freight rates.
Reports show that grave concern is being felt about the excessive freight charges on our products that go overseas. Freight charges to Asian markets could have a big bearing on the export of our products to those markets if we seek to expand that trade following the possible decline of exports to Europe because of the European Common Market. It will be necessary for us to make certain that freight charges are not excessive.
The remedy that is so desperately needed should be clear to any thinking Australian who has the welfare of his country at heart. I suggest that we must, first, immediately commence an extensive shipbuilding programme; secondly, expand our present shipbuilding yards and construct new ones; thirdly, buy suitable ships that may be offering at reasonable prices to restore the Commonwealth shipping line; and, fourthly, charter suitable vessels that may be available to commence competition with overseas shipping interests. That, in fact, was the policy put forward by the Australian Labour Party at the last election. We proposed then to establish an overseas shipping line in addition to the coastal shipping line.
Australia is one of the largest trading nations in the world but it is the only one of the important trading nations that does not have any ships engaged in overseas trade. We are wholly at the mercy of overseas interests, and we cannot afford to leave our trade in their hands. As private! enterprise does not seem to be interested from Australia’s point of view, the Australian Government must step in and do the job. The Labour Party’s policy provides for just that.
The Tariff Board in its annual reports is constantly emphasizing the importance of transport costs, not only in overseas trade but within Australia as well. At page 15 of its report for the year ended 30th June, 1954, the Tariff Board statedOne of the disabilities tending to undermine the ability of Australian manufacturers to compete with overseas suppliers is the high level of freight charges in Australia on both raw materials and finished goods . . .
The effect of transport costs of all kinds on total costs in most industries which come under the notice of the Board is giving rise to increasing concern. There is evidence that this anxiety is shared by other interests and that more intensive studies of the problem are being undertaken. A major difficulty is that there is no over-riding transport authority . . .
The emphasis should rather be on flexibility and integration of all forms of transport.
Similar statements are contained in other reports. One of them is as follows: -
A recent inquiry by the Board into the shipbuilding industry provided evidence of a steep increase in sea freights since the war and exposed the fact that not only have many of the vessels engaged in the coastal trade passed the age at which they can be run with reasonable efficiency but there is no spirited move to replace them.
These are some of the statements we find in the Tariff Board’s reports. They are made in relation to our costs, and the Government should take notice of them. The Federal Parliamentary Labour Party, in its report on rail standardization, tabled in this House in 1956, recommended -
That for the purpose of co-ordinating transport in Australia, a Federal body be set up to be known as the Australian Interstate Commerce Commission, with power to -
Australia (rail, road and water).
That report recommended the construction of a 4-ft. 8i-in. gauge line between Broken Hill and Adelaide, Albury and Melbourne, and Kalgoorlie and Fremantle. Those recommendations, in conjunction with the recommendations of the government committee, have in fact been accepted by the Government, except that there has been delay in regard to some sections of the report. The last section of the Labour Party’s report requires further consideration by the Government. It poses the question, “ Does rail standardization pro vide the answer? “ The report states under that heading -
It does then seem to be that standardization of rail gauges within itself will not provide the answer to Australia’s transport economic problem. But co-ordinated transport within the control of an Interstate Commerce Commission and the availability of swift cheap rail service worked by diesel-electric locomotives between all capita] cities over a standardized railway system would certainly reduce substantially the transport cost content in Australia’s economy.
The co-ordination and regulation of all forms ot transport which conclude their journeys within the boundaries of any one State are completely within the legislative and administrative competence of that State. If any form of transport crosses the border between the State and another State, each State is precluded, by section 92 of the Constitution, from co-ordinating or regulating that form of transport. Section 101 of the Constitution, however, declares “that there shall be an Interstate Commission, with such powers of adjudication and administration as the Parliament deems necessary for the execution and maintenance within the Commonwealth, of the provisions of this Constitution relating to trade and commerce and of all laws made thereunder “. Section 51 (i) gives the Commonwealth power to make laws with respect to trade and commerce with other countries, and among the States. Under section 98 this power “extends to navigation and shipping, and to railways the property of any State “. Section 92 provides that “ trade, commerce and intercourse among the States, whether by means of internal carriage or ocean navigation, shall be absolutely free”. Section 99 precludes the Commonwealth from giving preference, by any law or regulation of trade, commerce or revenue, to one State or any part thereof, over another State or any part thereof.
There is thus a considerable field in which the Interstate Commission could exercise powers of adjudication and administration. Sections 102 and 104 define its powers as to railways. The Commission, however, has been in abeyance for nearly 40 years.
That was a very important part of the report made by the Australian Labour Party’s committee on standardization - a part that so far, apparently, has not been closely considered by this Government. I think it is about time the Government considered that part of the report. The extracts I have quoted from Tariff Board reports indicate that something like what was recommended by that committee is necessary to co-ordinate transport and reduce transport costs. We want transport costs reduced not only within Australia. We want overseas shipping freights, also, to be reduced.
It is pleasing to note, as I have mentioned, that the Government is now putting into effect the recommendations of both the Opposition committee and the committee of
Government supporters on the standarization of rail gauges. We are very pleased indeed that the link between Wodonga and Melbourne has been completed. When the standard-gauge link between Kalgoorlie and Kwinana is constructed as proposed, only the standard-gauge line between Port Pirie and Broken Hill will remain to be completed. No finality seems to have been reached on that project. A look at the Australian railway map shows clearly the national importance of that link. Agreement on it was reached with South Australia some years ago, but nothing seems to have been done to implement the project, despite the urgency of the need to complete a standard-gauge link between the capital cities throughout the mainland, without any break of gauge between Brisbane and Fremantle.
I sincerely hope the the Government will consider the matter as an urgent one, bearing in mind, also, the importance of transport costs and their effect on our economy. The completion of the standard-gauge railway across the continent, linking Brisbane and Fremantle, would reduce transport costs. If I remember correctly, the proposed standard-gauge link between Port Pirie and Broken Hill would be only about 253 miles in length. It is about time some move was made to complete that section of standard-gauge line.
As the situation stands, a break of gauge for traffic from Queensland and New South Wales to Western Australia occurs, not at Albury, but, in the first instance, at Melbourne and again at Port Pirie. This fact was mentioned in a letter published in a Melbourne newspaper to-day. The letter was written by Mr. J. M. Ashworth, former chief civil engineer of the Victorian railways, and it stated -
My letter (16/4) Way Out Of Gauge Muddle shows that the independent standard-gauge track from Albury to Melbourne does eliminate the gauge break at Albury, but creates a gauge break between 4 ft. 8i in. and 5 ft. 3 in. at Melbourne.
These are important matters to which we have to give close attention if we are to overcome our transport difficulties.
There can be no argument about costs. The need for the completion of the standard-gauge link between the east and the west of the continent is self-evident. It is needed not only in the interests of the national economy but also in the interests of our defence. The reports made by both the rail standardization committees that I have mentioned, which were composed of honorable members from the respective sides of the Parliament, directed attention to these two important features. The completion of the link would make rail transport more competitive with road transport and sea transport.
An interstate commerce commission of the kind that has been mentioned would enable us to co-ordinate all forms of transport and to ensure that each form was used for the job for which it was best suited. One would be able to travel from Perth to Sydney by rail in no more than three days. The development of bulk loading on the FlexiVan system which has recently been introduced - a system of lifting complete truckloads on to flat-top rail trucks and offloading them at the completion of the rail journey - would further reduce transport costs.
The sea trip from Europe could be shortened by unloading ships at Fremantle and trans-shipping cargoes to rail trucks there for transport to the eastern States. Cargoes would reach their destinations more quickly. This would also speed up the turnround of ships, and they could make more trips between Europe and Australia in a given time. If cargo vessels terminated their journey at Fremantle, for instance, they could undertake six round trips per annum between Europe and Australia, instead of four. This would release shipping for other work in time of emergency.
I have already said that transport costs represent about 30 per cent, of our gross domestic expenditure. This is excessive, compared with transport costs in other countries. Let me give Canada as an illustration. Transport costs there represent 10 per cent, of gross domestic expenditure. The way to reduce our transport costs is to complete the scheme for the standardization of rail gauges, to adopt more efficient methods of operation and to coordinate all forms of transport through the agency of a body such as the interstate commerce commission recommended in the report presented by members of the Australian Labour Party in this Parliament,
This would enable all forms of transport to function with complete efficiency in the best interests of the country.
I hope that the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Opperman), who was at the table for the greater part of my speech, will earnestly i insider the problem of transport costs and the suggestions that I have made. I trust that he will impress on the Government the urgent need to act for the sake of Australia’s economy and in the interests of the defence of this country.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Howson) adjourned.
Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices - Political Parties - Flood Mitigation - Coal Loading Facilities. Motion (by Mr. Hasluck) proposed-
That the House do now adjourn. Mr. COPE (Watson) [10.39].- Mr. Speaker, yesterday, my friend and colleague, the honorable member for Oxley (Mr. Hayden), asked the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) a question relating to monopolies and restrictive trade practices. The question and the answer are reported in “ Hansard “ as follows: -
– My question is directed to the Attorney-General. Does he consider that the growth of monopolies and the incidence of restrictive trade practices and of take-overs of local enterprises by those monopolies in this country urgently demand the introduction of legislation to control the activities of such monopolies? If so, will he say what action is proposed and when the Government will implement it?
– I have been steadily answering this kind of question for some time. If the honorable gentleman has some information about harmful monopolies or practices of the kind mentioned, and will give me that information, I shall be delighted to receive it as soon as possible.
My friend and -colleague this morning accepted the invitation extended to him by the Attorney-General, and he very ably explained the practices being indulged in by many of the monopolistic combines operating to-day. I should like to add a few comments, and I also accept the invitation of the Attorney-General to give some information about some of the restrictive trade practices being indulged in at the present time and about the power of the combines in Australia to-day.
I believe that the growth of the monopolistic combines, and their use of restrictive trade practices, have been condoned and encouraged by this Government by its failure to seek powers to control this incubus which has become a serious menace to the Australian economy. Let us go back to the year 1948, when referendum proposals on price control were put to the people of Australia. Honorable members will all recall that our late revered Prime Minister, Mr. Chifley, said that unless power to control prices and charges was conferred on the Commonwealth we would have a situation comparable to that of the dog chasing his tail. We know only too well that bis forecast was accurate, and that the resultant situation has been to the detriment particularly of primary producers. At the time of that referendum campaign, however, the then Opposition, led by Mr. Menzies, who is now the Prime Minister, and who was strongly supported by the Australian Country Party, bitterly opposed the referendum proposals on price control. I vividly recall some of the statements made by the then Leader of the Opposition, Mr. Menzies, who said that private enterprise and healthy competition would keep prices stable. We know now that Mr. Chifley was right and that Mr. Menzies was wrong, but of course it is not very unusual to find that Mr. Menzies was wrong.
No one can deny that since 1948 we have seen price control exercised not by the elected representatives of the people but by a few monopolistic combines. Let me give some examples, particularly in relation to consumer goods. There was a time, many years ago - and many honorable members will remember it - when a family could go into town to do some shopping and would see “ Sale “ signs on the fronts of many retail stores. They could then purchase many articles at bargain prices. Do you see those signs to-day? Certainly you do not. In those days a person could go into the city and possibly save a few pounds on the purchase of a few articles of mercery. He could walk from shop to shop and perhaps buy an article at one shop for half a crown less than the price at which it was being sold in other shops. Those days are gone, because the retailer is now just an agent of the monopolistic supplier. He has to charge the price that is set by the supplier. If he does not do so, he will not be supplied with those goods in the future.
Similar provisions prevail in respect of other goods. Confectionery is an outstanding example. Many cartel arrangements are made in respect of the sale of confectionery. You can go into a shop and see four or five different kinds of chocolates, half-pound or quarterpound boxes, or quarter-pound blocks, but you will find that the various lines all sell at the same price. The different retailers cannot compete for your business by undercutting on prices. If one of them does, he gets no more supplies.
The result of all this is that instead of having price control exercised by the elected representatives of the people, we find that it is exercised by a few monopolies. The motor trade is in the grip of these monopolies, which exercise price control over motor car parts, lubricating oil and petroleum. Price control of a similar kind applies in the case of clothing and shoes. This practice is increasing all over Australia, but what does this Government do about it? We are told that the AttorneyGeneral is going to the six State governments asking them for power to do something to restrict these trade practices. Is it not farcical that a Commonwealth AttorneyGeneral should go to the six States before he can introduce effective legislation? Even then, he must get uniformity among the six States before he can introduce such legislation.
Is it not obvious that this Government is shirking its responsibilities by not asking the people for the power to control this menace to the Australian economy? I believe that the Government does not want the power, and that the Attorney-General is merely putting up a front. He has been talking about this matter for two years, and we are now just as far from effective legislation as we were when he first mentioned the matter. The promises made in respect of restrictive trade practices are like many other promises that this Government has made.
Why does not the Government face the issue squarely and implement some of the recommendations made by the Constitu tional Review Committee? Those recommendations were made in most cases unanimously by the twelve members of the committee, although in some cases where unanimity was not achieved the majority in favour of the recommendations was eleven to one. That committee consisted of six Government members and six Opposition members. Yet we find that the Government will not follow the recommendations. Why did it establish the committee in the first place? Did it intend to act on the committee’s representations, or was it simply trying to impress the people by appearing to be doing something to control these monopolistic combines?
This is a matter that calls for immediate action. The members of the Country Party in this chamber are always crying about high costs. Who is responsible for the high costs in Australia to-day? The monopolistic combines are responsible. In 1948 the basic wage was £5 9s. a week. To-day it is £14 16s. That increase has been caused, not by prices chasing wages but by wages chasing prices. The alleged representatives of the rural community in this Parliament are crying all the time about high costs, but it is this Government that they support which has been responsible for those high costs. The Government has actually condoned the growth of monopolistic capitalism and restrictive trade practices.
As I said this morning, the honorable member for Oxley should be highly commended for bringing this matter before the House yesterday. In his very limited time of seven minutes this morning he put a very convincing case. I should like to hear one of the members of the Country Party rise in his place now and deny that monopolistic combines have a grip on the Australian economy to-day. I have heard them talking in the lobbies about the prices that farmers have to pay for their equipment, because those prices are controlled by monopolies.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I had not intended to speak to-night, and would not have done so had not the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Cope) made his sweeping statements. The honorable member made some vague remarks about farcical situations for which this Government was responsible, and about the Government having had two years to consider certain aspects of a most important matter, during which it had done nothing about it. He spoke of the Government’s endeavours to fool the people I thought that we should bring to his notice one of the greatest farces of all that has been carried on in the Labour Party for at least two years, if not longer, definitely with the object of fooling the people of Australia. I think we all remember comments made recently by the honorable member for Deakin (Mr. Davis) and by the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) about the genuine objectives of the Labour Party, and about the comments made by the leader of that party in his policy speech to the effect that the Labour Party did not intend to socialize any industry. We took a rather sceptical view of that. We thought it was really for the election period only. The honorable member for Deakin also mentioned that the federal executive of the Labour Party was going to Victoria the next day to join battle with the horrible, seemingly left-wing executive of the Victorian A.L.P. , and we were given to understand that certain things were going to take place and that certain action would definitely be taken by the federal executive. This all arose originally from a conference. As I understand it, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and Senator McKenna and Senator Kennelly from another place had suddenly raised the point that the Labour Party could never rule while it co-operated with Communists on trade union unity tickets, and in Victoria this was paramount. We all remember the battle-cries of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition about what was going to be done. We all remember the betting as to what the Leader of the Opposition would do when he got down there, and we ali remember that when he got there, there was silence and, indeed, oblivion.
In order to support this statement of the facts I have cuttings from newspapers over the period of two years in which these things have been happening. There are quite a few of them. In the Melbourne “Herald” of 11th June, 1959, we have the headings, “A.L.P. may not escape issue”. “Calwell tipped to attack on tickets “.
This is when the present Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) was Deputy Leader of the Opposition under Dr. Evatt. He girded up his armour, took up his broadsword and went to Victoria. He came back in silence. That was in June, 1959. In the Sydney “ Daily Telegraph “ of 23rd August, 1961, we had the headlines, “ Unity tickets crisis”. “Calwell urged to force showdown “.
The accompanying story contained this paragraph -
Senator Kennelly, who has already told the A.L.P. in Perth that unless something is done about Victoria, Labour can “ forget “ the next Federal elections, . . .
Seemingly, the Leader of the Opposition went down there and seemingly he returned in silence. Again, in the Sydney “ Daily Telegraph” of 23rd August, 1961, we had the headline, “A.L.P. aid to Communist, says union”.
The story under this headline began -
Australian Labor Party unionists yesterday laid charges with the Federal A.L.P. Executive against Victorian State Labor Party members.
It then goes on with comment on what the Deputy Leader of the Opposition said in support. Then we come to a large article in the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ dated 24th August, 1961, under the headline “ A.L.P. leaders call on Executive to act in Victoria”. There are some further remarks of Senator McKenna, Senator Kennelly and of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. Then we have the “ Sunday Telegraph “ of 27th August, 1961, which publishes the headline “ Calwell pays a fine price to hold the A.L.P. reins”. The story appearing under this headline contains the following paragraph: -
Mr. Calwell advised against Federal A.L.P. intervention in the affairs of the Communistinfluenced unity ticket tolerating A.L.P. Victorian Executive.
We then have a headline in the Melbourne “ Herald “ of 30th August, 1961- “ A.L.P. shock for two big unions “. The article appearing under this contains the following paragraph: -
Victoria’s Australian Labour Party chiefs will recommend three shock moves to next Friday’s full executive meeting as part of the new “get tough “ policy.
It goes on with further comment from the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and his various henchmen. It is interesting, Mr. Speaker, to realize that the only person who was attacked and was charged, as far as I can remember, was Senator Kennelly himself. When he got down to Victoria he found that he who had accused was being accused in return. Whether they wanted to get rid of him we do not know.
In the Sydney “Daily Telegraph” of 27th September, 1961, we find the headlines “ Unity ticket reports “. “ A.L.P. bluffs on Vic. rebels.”
In the New Year there was talk that there might soon be another Federal election and everything in the A.L.P. became sweet. It was going to clean up the Communists and clean up the unity tickets problem and fix up the waterfront and everything else. They were all happy. In the Melbourne “Herald” of 3rd January, 1962, we had the headline “Moves likely for Victorian A.L.P. probe”. I do not know whether or not the Melbourne “ Herald “ uses a stock headline for this subject year after year. In any event the story under that headline began -
A section of the Australian Labour Party wants the Federal executive, which will meet in Melbourne next week, to hold an inquiry into the Victorian branch.
We then come to 16th January, 1962, when the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ published an article under the headline “Why Federal Labour will not grasp the Victorian nettle”. This article is well worth reading, Mr. Speaker. It is full of interest. In it are mentioned many names of great power in the Labour Party at the moment and names of those hoping to have power in that party. Then in the “Age” of 6th March, 1962, we find the headline “Labor move on unity tickets not expected “.
So help me, Mr. Speaker, it is all very confusing for the public and for members on this side of the House. It is difficult to know what is really happening. We come to the “Sun-Herald” of 1st April, 1962, which published a headline “ Clean-up move in Vic. A.L.P.”. These are headlines, as you can see, Mr. Speaker, inches deep. This headline is surmounted by another headline reading “ Vital talks in Melbourne will be aimed at ridding the A.L.P.’s Victorian branch of left-wing extremists “.
We then come to the Melbourne “ Age “ of 6th April, 1962. For the sake of appearances in December the A.L.P. Executive decided to charge two left-wing so-called gentlemen in Victoria with having gone on a unity ticket with a Communist. You will remember it was suggested, I think again by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and some others of the party’s executive that these men had not been misbehaving. The headline in the “Age” of 6th April, 1962, read “Unity Tickets: State A.L.P. clears two”. Very convincing! The story mentions Mr. O’Brien and a few other gentlemen. These men were charged before the general election with appearing on a unity ticket, but when the election was over they were taken back into the Labour Party fold. Then on 7th April, 1962, we find in the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ the headline “ No action on unity ticket ‘ “.
All these headlines appeared for everybody to read. The “Age” of 7th April, 1962, published the headline, “ Labor Party talks on rule changes to strengthen movement”. So they are going to change the rules and whip in a few clauses. On the same page of the “Age” we see the headline, “ Unity ticket decision * huge joke ‘ “.
The whole thing is a farce. It is obvious to the people and to this House that it is a farce. In the Melbourne “ Herald “ of 12th April, we find the headline, “ Federal A.L.P. is not likely to intervene “. In the “ Age “ of 14th April we find the headline, “ No action by Federal body against State Labor Executive “.
This is the end! In the Sydney “ Sunday Telegraph “ of 15th April, 1962, we find the headline, “’ A.L.P. ‘ kisses and makes up ‘ “. This is really where we are getting to now. Then we come to the “Age “ of 16th April which published the headline, “ ‘ Happy relations ‘ in A.L.P. restored “. In one newspaper recently we had an article which suggests - and I believe it - that some members-
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Recently I asked a question of the Government concerning the possibility of using for additional purposes the same constitutional powers as were used by it to grant £5,000,000 for beef roads in Queensland and Western Australia and other money for flood mitigation in South Australia and to enable the building of wharfs at Port Kembla on the southern coast of New South Wales. I asked whether the Government would make a similar grant for flood mitigation in the northern rivers area of New South Wales. It was explained to me in reply that there were special circumstances concerned with the grants I had mentioned, as these particular projects were operating to assist our exports. I feel that we have to get down to reality in relation to such grants. We have to consider the value of the commodities produced in the area. A grant for flood mitigation could assist Australia in this period of difficulty, which was outlined by the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) to-night in his report on his unsuccessful visit overseas in regard to the marketing of commodities produced in Australia. If I remember correctly, he said we would need to produce goods that could be made available at a price acceptable to markets which we do not have at the present time.
It is rather interesting to know that during the last floods, in the Clarence River area alone some 1,000 farms were covered by water, which meant the complete loss of their crops. There were 500 dairy farms, 300 sugar farms and 200 farms producing maize, potatoes and other commodities affected, with the result that they completely lost their crops for this year. I do not quote the losses in any other area, because the figures in relation to the Clarence River area are the only ones I have available, but honorable members can rest assured that during the last floods producers in the other areas suffered substantially the same losses as were experienced by producers in the Clarence area.
The same set of conditions has prevailed on the northern rivers for many years now. About once in every four years the complete production from the alluvial river flats - from the Hunter River in New South Wales to the Mary River in Queensland has been lost. The producer loses heavily and the economy of this country is affected.
I did not think that we could not receive this bounty or subsidy to assist in flood mitigation simply because we were not concerned with the export trade. I would like to point out that at the present time from the Casino meat works, on the Richmond River in the Richmond electorate - part of the river is in my electorate - some 2,750 tons of beef is processed each year for export to America, and some 2,500 tons for export to the United Kingdom and, besides that, there are some 500 tons of offal. The average price received for the meat forwarded from that meat works is about 3s. per lb.
From the Grafton abattoir 2,200 tons of beef and 1,500 tons of mutton are sent to America each year. There is about 500 tons of offal.
Those figures deal with the meat industry. Approximately 80 per cent, of the meat produced in those areas is exported. While dealing with the dairy farms a while ago, I did not mention that during the four-year period from 1949-50 to 1953-54 some £270,000 was lost to the milk industry alone. It is interesting to note that from the Clarence River area each year some 1,000 tons of dried milk, worth about £80,000, is exported. A little further south, in the Macleay River area, about twice that amount of dried milk - 2,000 tons - as well as other milk products, is manufactured by Nestles.
It seems to me an extraordinary thing, in view of those few figures, that the answer given to a request I made for a grant for flood mitigation was, “ You cannot get the grant because this money is payable only to assist exports”. I suggest that the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony) and the honorable member for Lyne (Mr. Lucock) should be very interested in this factor. As members of the Country Party, they represent the people who produce the goods I have mentioned - beef, butter and milk. I feel that I should have their support when I make submissions to this Government on behalf of people living not only in my electorate but in their electorates also.
It is only a few weeks since the honorable member for Lyne asked the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) whether the Government would consider supplementing the assistance to the Macleay River area, through the flood mitigation authority there, in regard to the loss sustained through the floods by replacing lost equipment. In reply, the Prime Minister said he would do something about the matter. He said that the Commonwealth would make a contribution with the State Government on £1 for £1 basis.
That is all very well, but the point I want to make is that the State Government, as somebody mentioned a moment ago, is already supplying two-thirds of the cost of the various flood mitigation schemes throughout New South Wales. I suggest that the Commonwealth Government could supply the same amount of money on a £1 for £1 basis. In other words, if the State Government is prepared to make this very important contribution to assist exports - a matter in which we as a Commonwealth Government claim to be deeply interested - this Government should come to light with the same amount of money.
There is an important consideration here. Under the present system, while the State Government supplies two-thirds of the cost of flood mitigation, it will take some 30 years to complete most of those schemes. But if the Commonwealth Government provides the same amount of money as the Labour Government of New South Wales it will take only from seven to ten years to do the job. If that is done, it will bring relief in the transition period which is so important to the future of Australia.
I hear my friend, the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon), laughing. I am speaking of an industry which I happen to know something about. I do not have a bachelor flat in King’s Cross. I live in the country where the conditions I have been describing occur, and I can tell the Minister a lot about the efficiency of those organizations, which are represented mainly by the Country Party. They do a pretty good job. I make this appeal to the Government and I expect honorable members on both sides of this Parliament to support me in this application for a subsidy equal to that made available by the State Government-
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
Mr. COCKLE (Warringah) [11.91.- Mr. Speaker, I intend to make some reference to the shipping industry. It relates to the Coal Loading Works Agreement (Queensland) Bill 1962 dealing with the port of Gladstone, which was discussed earlier to-day. Honorable members opposite had a lot to say about the coal-mining industry generally, but, to my mind, they touched not at all on the actual purpose of the bill-
– On a point of order, Mr. Speaker: Is the honorable member in order in referring to a debate which occurred earlier to-day?
– The honorable member would not be in order in reviving the debate. The honorable member will have to confine his remarks to subjects outside the scope of the measure discussed in tha House this afternoon.
– I was making reference to coal-loading plant and the assistance which this Government has given to the coal industry by providing finance for the installation of coal-loading facilities at Port Kembla, Balmain and Newcastle. Assistance has been given, of course, also in relation to the coal-loading plant at Gladstone harbour. An important feature of coal-loading plant is that it assists in expediting the turn-round of ships. Obviously, that has a very important bearing on the economy of the shipping industry. If we were to continue with what may be termed outmoded coal-loading facilities in these ports to which I have referred, it would obviously be impracticable for Australia to capture and retain an export trade in coal.
– I rise to order again, Mr. Speaker. I suggest that this is a very thinly disguised attempt to deal with the subject-matter of a debate that occurred in Parliament to-day. The honorable member’s speech deals with the same subject.
– There is no substance! in the point of order. The honorable member for Warringah is confining his remarks to facts.
– As I was saying before I was interrupted, Mr. Speaker, the importance of these coal-loading facilities is that they expedite the turn-round of ships. That is vital to maintaining low freight costs, and those costs must be low if Australia is to retain its hold on the export market in coal. The competition from America in this field is obviously very great, and we are very fortunate that the quality of our coking and gas-making coal enables us to meet
American and Canadian competition. But when we look at our coal-loading facilities, we find that our rate of loading does not compare with the loading rate obtained with the facilities provided in American ports. Australia must keep pace with its competitors in the provision of coal-loading facilities if it is to retain its export markets.
The importance of retaining the export market for coal is quite obvious, since this trade provides a livelihood for the 1,200 or 2,000 men who are engaged in it. Whatever the Government can do to finance the provision of loading facilities will be very important to the coal-mining industry itself. It will be appreciated by honorable members, that, although there is a favorable climate for marketing Australian coal in big quantities in Japan, the coal industry will be gravely embarrassed in its negotiations with overseas coal-buyers if there are inordinate delays by the authorities concerned in getting on with the job of quickly providing port coal-loading facilities.
– You should have thought of that five years ago.
– It is not a question of what should have been done five years ago. It is a question of what should be done now. I have found that there is a considerable lack of co-operation, particularly by the waterside workers, in ensuring opportunities for the expeditious shipment of coal. I had experience of a case in which three firms were involved. In order to obtain coal orders it is essential, because of the very small margin in the tender prices, that there shall be no delay in the coal going over the belt, down into the ship and being stowed. The waterside workers at Port Kembla were asked to make themselves available for work between 5 p.m. on Saturday and 8 a.m. on Sunday. This was put to them as an instance in which their co-operation would mean that an export trade in coal could be retained or increased, which would make more work available to men in the coal industry. If the coal interests in this port were not able to maintain their markets, many men would be thrown out of work. Here was one instance of many in which the waterside workers failed to co-operate. They said “ No “ quite blankly. They said they would not be prepared to make men available between 5 p.m. on Saturday and 8 a.m. on Sunday, although the number of men involved would not have been more than eight.
That case, to my mind, shows that the union does not want to co-operate with any interests on the management side which seek to do a job of work.
– That is the result of bad organization.
– It is not a question of bad organization. The trouble is that there is no desire to be co-operative. If there are any delays of consequence in coal-loading, we will find that the Japanese buyers will lose their patience and place their orders elsewhere. The margin between the Australian tender price for coal and the tenders of other countries is so fine that Japanese buyers could easily be persuaded to place their orders elsewhere. It is essential that not only the unions but managements play their part in promoting efficiency at the mine level, in transport, and in stevedoring.
The early completion of the facilities to which I have referred at Port Kembla, Balmain and Newcastle could have a vital affect on freight costs. It could have a critical influence on the success of our competition with American coal-producers. I think it is well understood that the vessels to be used in the coal trade will be large vessels of about 20,000 tons, with a carrying capacity of 17,000 tons. Any delay to a vessel of that size results in an important increase in costs. Such a vessel costs about £1,500 a day to run, so one day lost in its turn-round schedule means a loss of £1,500. Great importance is attached by this Government, in co-operation with the State governments, to the promotion of the coal export trade. The Government recognizes the urgent need quickly to improve coalloading facilities. This can be judged from the programme of work which is now in hand at Port Kembla, Balmain and Carrington Basin, Newcastle, in addition to that which has been discussed to-day.
Motion (by Mr. Hasluck) put -
That the question be now put.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Sir John McLeay.)
Majority . . . . 5
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.27 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
r asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
asked the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice-
What was the date of the last visit by (a) an Australian Minister for External Affairs and (b) an Australian Cabinet Minister to (i) Malaya, (ii) Thailand, (iii) Viet Nam, and (iv) Laos?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
The last visit by an Australian Minister for External Affairs to Malaya was by the Right Hon. R. G. Casey in March, 19S8. The last visit by an Australian Cabinet Minister to Malaya took place in May, 1961, when I had that honour. The last time an Australian Minister for External Affairs visited Thailand was March, 1961. The Minister at that time was the Right Hon. R. G. Menzies. I have the honour to be the Australian Cabinet Minister who has most recently visited Thailand (in May, 1961). The Australian Minister for External Affairs who last visited Viet Nam and Laos was the Right Hon. R. G. Casey in October, 1957. Since that date no other Australian Cabinet Minister has visited Laos. The Australian Cabinet Minister to visit Viet Nam last was the Hon. J. O. Cramer, as Minister for the Army, in July, 1959. ,
s asked the Minister for Immigration, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Movement and other organizations, is concerned with individual cases, and comprehensive statistics of the kind sought are not available. The Department of Social Services is unable to supply information regarding the number of former migrants in receipt of age or invalid pensons or sickness benefits. These benefits are paid subject to certain qualifications, but once these qualifications are satisfied no differentiation is made between persons born in Australia and those who have come from overseas, whether natural-born British subjects or otherwise. Special benefit is payable to a comparatively small number of migrants ineligible for age or invalid pensions on residence or nationality grounds.
son asked the Minister for Immigration, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Questions 3 and 4 fall within the responsibility of my colleague, the Minister for Labour and National Service, who has supplied the following answers: -
d asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
– The Minister for Civil Aviation has supplied the following information: -
The information sought is confidential as between the company and the estates of the deceased. All that I am prepared to say is that the estate of each member of the crew will be credited with its full entitlement under the company’s death benefits insurance scheme. This scheme provides for payment in all cases of substantially greater benefits than those provided under workers’ compensation legislation, although the scheme is not based on such legislation.
g asked the Minister for Works, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows:-
s asked the Minster representing the Minister for Customs and Excise, upon notice -
– The Minister for Customs and Excise has furnished the following answers: -
y asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
s asked the Minister for Social Services, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
n asked the Minister for Social Services, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 3 May 1962, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1962/19620503_reps_24_hor35/>.