24th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. Sir John McLeay) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I address a question to the Minister for Territories. Has his department given consideration to the report of the United Nations Visiting Mission (1962) on the Trust Territory of New Guinea and to the recommendations it contains? If so, when will he make an announcement of what the Government has decided to do in respect of each of the recommendations? Will he arrange for this policy statement to be made before the debate on the estimates for the Department of Territories takes place? Will he make available also as full a summary of this year’s report as was made available on the 1959 report in” the now defunct journal “ South Pacific “?
– The procedure which the Government has adopted, and which it has consistently followed, is to place its chief reliance upon the Territory itself and to use the Legislative Council for the Territory as the channel through which views on the next constitutional change should be expressed. In keeping with that procedure, some time ago - before the Foot report was presented - a select committee of the Legislative Council was set up in order to inquire into the next stage in constitutional advancement in the Territory. I am informed by the Acting Administrator that the select committee, which has been taking evidence throughout the Territory, is expected to present an interim report, probably next week. That report will go, in the first instance, to the Legislative Council, which set up the committee. I think that in deference to the Legislative Council, and out of proper respect for it, we should await the report of the select committee and the views expressed by the Legislative Council on that report before the Government itself expresses any opinion. All I can say is that the Government certainly will not hang back over any constitutional advancement in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. Incidentally, it came under my notice only yesterday - it may interest the honorable member - that when Sir Hugh Foot was Government Secretary in Nigeria he put forward in very emphatic form the policy that we are now espousing - that you consult the people rather than outside bodies.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Trade. In the light of a recent statement made by an Australian importer concerning the importation from red China of large quantities of shoes which will retail at a very low figure, can the Minister tell the House whether local shoe manufacturers are adequately protected so that continuity of employment and sales will be maintained?
– I think we all know that the local shoe industry is very important indeed, and that throughout the years it has enjoyed, under the protection afforded to it, an overwhelming percentage of the Australian market. The industry, working closely with the Australian Chamber of Manufactures, knows that if it feels it is hurt, or is likely to be hurt, by a damaging flood of imports it may bring the facts of the matter to the attention of the Department of Trade and, upon a prima facie case - not necessarily a conclusive case - being made, the Minister for Trade would then refer the matter to the Special Advisory Authority, who is obliged within 30 days to make a finding and a recommendation. This is undoubtedly the most adequate and expeditious system of protecting Australian industry that has ever existed in the history of this country, and it was brought in by this Government.
– I desire to direct a question to the Treasurer. In view of the fact that it is many years since bank exchange on cheques within Australia has been reviewed, will the right honorable gentleman institute inquiries with a view to having the system of exchange rates looked into carefully?
– Are you talking about inland exchange rates?
– I believe thai under the new system of bank charges introduced by the trading banks, inland exchange is abolished. I do not know whether I apprehend the honorable gentleman’s question completely, but I will study it in the text and see what information I can give him.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister. I refer to the large number of tariff proposals which come before this House for approval. In view of the virtual impossibility as things stand at present of the Parliament giving adequate scrutiny to these proposals, and in view of their vital importance to the Australian economy, will he discuss with the Leader of the Opposition the possibility of setting up a joint standing committee of this House, the duty of which will be to scrutinize adequately all tariff proposals and report on them to the House?
– Mr. Speaker, the honorable member was good enough to speak to me about” this matter two or three weeks ago and I have discussed it with my colleagues. We are not prepared to establish such a committee; we do not believe that that would be an appropriate thing to do. We do recognize that, particularly under current legislation and current practice, there are many tariff matters which do come before the House and, under those circumstances, we have decided that, a reasonable interval having elapsed between the tabling of a report and its ultimate discussion in the House, there should be in every sessional meeting at least two opportunities for a tariff debate. That, I think, will give an opportunity, which has not been always available in the past, for maintaining a closer scrutiny of the proposals.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Social Services, ls the Minister aware that many old people have been reduced to a state of poverty as a result of the failure of some finance companies to pay interest or dividends on investments? Does the Minister know that certain companies in New South Wales are being investigated to ascertain whether fraud or corruption has occurred in the administration of their affairs, and that the investigations are likely to extend over a very long period? Has the Government any plan for the relief of those people who are not now in receipt of an income equal to or greater than the base pension rate? In view of the probability that many have lost their assets, will the Minister consider a basis by which such people might apply for pensions?
– I have no personal knowledge of the matter the honorable member now raises with me. It will be my pleasure to make an investigation and, if the information that he has given to the House can be substantiated, it may conceivably be examined at the Government level. If there is anything that can be done to alleviate these circumstances, it will be considered.
– Could you, Mr. Speaker, canvass the members of the Joint House Committee regarding the television set now situated in the members’ tearoom? So far as I am concerned this is a dastardly piece of equipment to have in that place, where we go to discuss various matters in peace and quietness. I should like to know the opinion of the Joint House Committee about it.
– I shall look at the suggestion made by the honorable member, and I will advise him of the decision made in respect of it.
– I ask the Minister for Labour and National Service: Is it a fact that there are about 85,000 persons registered as unemployed in Australia to-day? Also, is it a fact that, prior to the last general election, the Prime Minister promised to restore full employment within twelve months? In view of this promise will the Minister state by what stimulating process of magic he proposes to honour this obligation? Furthermore, in the inevitable event of the promise being unfulfilled, will the Minister arrange for the publication of a complete list of the pledges made and broken by the Government since 1949, listing in the highest priority tha Government’s failure to provide full employment for the people of Australia?
– It is almost impossible, Sir, to take this kind of question seriously, because it is not intended to elicit information but is intended rather to be provocative and political. I, Sir, can state the Prime Minister’s position emphatically and with certainty. He believes in full employment. Action was taken both in February and during the course of the Budget discussions to restore the concept of full employment as quickly as was reasonably practicable. What I can say is that the number of registered unemployed is not quite as high as the figure mentioned by the honorable gentleman. I shall have, during the course of the next five or six days, the figures for September. I hope, and the Government believes, that they will show another change, perhaps even a substantial drop in the numbers of unemployed. If the honorable gentleman will contain himself for a little longer I am sure he will find that the Government’s policies are, in fact, working out.
– Has the
Minister for Primary Industry seen the report by the chairman of the Australian Dairy Produce Board which says that some States, especially New South Wales, are not enforcing quotas on the producers of margarine? Has the Minister investigated this matter? Is there any truth in the statements and, if so, is there anything that the Commonwealth Government can do about the position?
– As I indicated in a reply to a similar question last week, the importance of having production quotas for margarine was discussed at the last meeting of the Australian Agricultural Council in July, when all State Ministers concerned agreed that it was necessary to take action legislatively to correct certain weaknesses in the law. I understand that the New South Wales Minister for Agriculture has obtained Cabinet approval for the drafting of a bill, and that when he has completed the drafting and has received final approval from the New South Wales Cabinet he will introduce the bill in the New South Wales Parliament.
– Has the Minister for Primary Industry seen the text of a resolution carried at a recent conference convened by the Tasmanian meat board? Did that resolution, which was supported by the Tasmanian Department of Agriculture, request the Minister to revise the proposals submitted by him to the Australian Meat Board in respect of meat export operations? If the Minister has been notified of the resolution, what action has been or will be taken to have the proposals reconsidered?
– I cannot recall having received any representations from Tasmania, nor can I recall having submitted any proposals to the Australian Meat Board with respect to any proposed amendment of the constitution of the board, if that is what the honorable member refers to. That is all I can say to the honorable member.
– I address a question to the Prime Minister. The Victorian Government appears to be determined to hang a man in my electorate in about a fortnight’s time. Will the right honorable gentleman use his good offices as leader of the Liberal Party and as leader of Australia, in an attempt to dissuade the Victorian Government from action that would degrade the Victorian community and would constitute a relapse into barbarism?
– Mr. Speaker, I am reasonably fully occupied attending to Commonwealth problems without intervening in those of State governments.
– I desire to address a question to the Attorney-General. It refers to the working of the uniform company legislation and to the model act that has been drawn up. Has the Minister’s attention been directed to the fact that the secretary of a very important company, with widespread ramifications, is also a director of that company? Having regard to the peculiar responsibilities of a secretary to the shareholders, and to the fact that a secretary cannot be excused from an illegal act because of a direction by the director* to carry out such an act, is not the holding of the two positions a contravention of the model legislation?
– My attention has not been directed to any matter such as that raised by the honorable member. If he will furnish me with particulars I will certainly look into the matter. If a Commonwealth-registered company is involved, and there has been a breach of the act, I can take steps. If it is a matter of a State-registered company, then it will have to be referred to one of the State AttorneysGeneral.
– I wish to ask the Minister for Territories a question. Have arrangements been made for the visiting Papuan leaders to visit any city councils in Aus«tralia? Did the Minister reject a proposal that these visitors pay a call on the Sydney City Council? Did the Minister reject this proposal because the Sydney City Council has a Labour Lord Mayor?
– I am quite at a loss to know the source of the honorable member’s erroneous information. So far as I was concerned, the course designed for these visitors from Papua and New Guinea was to be a course of political education, to be taken in Canberra and nowhere else but Canberra. There was never any consideration in my mind of any place but Canberra.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Trade. I refer to recent Tariff Board reports on woollen piece goods and furnishing fabrics. When the Minister is making his report to the Cabinet on the recommendations of the Tariff Board, will he ensure that very serious consideration is given to the localized effects on employment problems involved in carrying out the board’s proposals?
– I can assure the honorable member that when Tariff Board reports are taken to the Cabinet for consideration, every aspect of acceptance or rejection of the report is brought before the Cabinet.
– In asking my question of the Minister for Labour and National Service, I direct his attention to the serious and chronic unemployment problems affecting country districts. Is he aware that, despite the reduction of unemployment figures for the whole of Australia in the last twelve months, the numbers of those out of work in country centres have increased? Will the Minister take immediate action to provide employment for workless persons in the country, paying special attention to those centres in which the unemployment problem is chronic? Finally, will he arrange for alternative employment to be provided for those who lose their jobs in the mining industry?
– I think it can be said, as the honorable gentleman has implied, that we no longer face the problem of slackness in the general level of demand with its consequential impact on the general level of employment. We do face two problems: One is that of the unskilled worker and the other, to a lesser extent, is the problem of special categories of people, particularly young women, in country areas. Those matters are receiving my consideration. As to the statement about the numbers of registrants in country areas, I doubt whether the numbers are increasing, as the honorable gentleman has said.
– I can produce the figures.
– -If the honorable gentleman will have patience he will find that his statement is wrong. These matters do cause concern to the Government, and particularly to myself. We are looking at the problems carefully. As I have said, they require special treatment rather than a general increase of the level of demand.
– My question is directed to the Minister for External Affairs. Can the Minister explain to the House the role of the Indonesian delegation which, I gather, is accompanying the United Nations delegation in West New Guinea at the moment?
– I am not sure that I agree with the basic assumption on which the honorable member builds his question. The United Nations Temporary Administration is, of course, at liberty to employ Indonesians as well as other nationals, and indeed when it cannot obtain other nationals it has been employing Indonesians. I know of no delegation in the sense suggested by the honorable member - that is to say, as if there is some independent Indonesian activity apart from that of the United Nations Temporary Administration. If the honorable gentleman has some additional information, I am prepared to look at it.
– I desire to ask the AttorneyGeneral a question. Did the Attorney-General or the Government receive a request that the Commonwealth meet the legal costs involved in a challenge to the Court of Disputed Returns in respect of the filling of the fifth Senate position in New South Wales at the last general election? If so, when and from whom was it received? Was the request complied with? If so, in what expenditure was the Commonwealth involved? To whom was this money paid? Has there ever been any previous occasion when the Commonwealth has met all or part of the cost of such an action? If not, will the AttorneyGeneral explain the reason for the departure from the established practice on this occasion? Finally, prior to any proceedings being initiated, did the Attorney-General or the Government give an assurance to Mr. J. Kane, a D.L.P. candidate and the runner-up in the disputed election, that the Government would meet or contribute substantially to any costs incurred in the event of a challenge to the election result being lodged?
– I will answer the last of a long series of questions first. The answer to the last question is, “ No “; there was no prior assurance given to the D.L.P. people who challenged this ballot. As to the balance of the questions, let me say first that I received a request from Mr. Kane for a contribution to his costs. This was after the decision in the case had been given in the High Court. I do not know whether there is any precedent for making contributions to costs in these circumstances, but I do know that at one stage of the proceedings I contemplated whether the Commonwealth should intervene, be cause the Commonwealth as such had a very considerable interest in the interpretation that would be put upon the electoral law. I decided that I should not intervene, as the two opponents were, I thought, well equipped to put all the points that ought to be put before the court. However, when an application was made to me by Mr. Kane, I thought that, as the Commonwealth had not involved itself in what would have been considerable expense in an intervention, and had derived a very considerable benefit in having had its law interpreted, I should make a contribution to the expenses of each of the parties. Accordingly, I notified both parties of my willingness to make a contribution. Up to the present time, no money has been paid.
– I direct to the Minister for Primary Industry a question which is supplementary to that asked by the honorable member for Wannon. I ask: Is New South Wales the only State which has been accused of not policing the margarine quotas, and, as a result, has margarine been sent to other States? Also, is it not a fact that the reason why the New South Wales Labour Government has not yet introduced appropriate legislation to limit the production of margarine is that Labour wants to use margarine to force down the price of butter under a cheapfood policy?
– Evidence submitted to the Australian Agricultural Council was to the effect that, in the main, margarine quotas were exceeded in New South Wales and that the appropriate legislation showed a weakness in certain States, particularly in New South Wales, especially in relation to the collection of statistics of the operations of each manufacturing company, lt was hoped that this situation could be corrected by removing the weakness in the legislation. My information about the activities of the New South Wales Government is taken from the “ Hansard “ report of statements made by the New South Wales Minister for Agriculture in answering a question.
– Is this a Dorothy Dix-er?
– No, it is not. After the New South Wales Minister had answered one question, a Labour member of the New South Wales Parliament asked a supplementary question in which he suggested something along the lines intimated by the honorable member for Richmond - that Labour considered that margarine could be marketed quite cheaply, that it ought to be supplied and that, because of the cheaper price, the consumption of margarine was greater. That is all I want to say about the matter.
– I direct to the Treasurer a question which I preface by reminding him of a question that I asked in August about the Queensland Treasurer’s criticism of the federal Budget. I now ask: Does the right honorable gentleman agree with Mr. Hiley’s criticism of Sir Roland Wilson? If not, does the Minister support the public rebuke of Mr. Hiley by the president of the Queensland branch of the Liberal Party of Australia?
– My colleague who was acting Treasurer gave, I thought, a full and effective reply to the remarks which had been made by Mr. Hiley. I do not propose to stir up the controversy at this stage. These matters can be dealt with suitably at meetings of the Australian Loan Council. All questions about loan raisings and the conditions attaching to them are resolved by the council and, when the council next meets, there will no doubt be an opportunity to examine fully the Commonwealth loan-raising programme. I shall be interested to hear then any views which may be put, either by Mr. Hiley or by any of the other members of the Loan Council.
– I wish to ask the Minister for Labour and National Service a question. Has his attention been directed to the fact that the Australian Federated Union of Locomotive Enginemen is considering a further 24-hour railway stoppage throughout Australia? Will the Minister discuss this matter with the president of that union, who, I understand, is here in Canberra, to see whether the union president will enter into discussions with the Victorian branch of the Waterside Workers Federation of Australia to ensure that, even if hardship is caused to women and children and coworkers by such a strike, the Victorian waterfront workers will not be victimized by having to strike as they did a fortnight ago?
– It would be an act of the greatest folly for the Australian Federated Union of Locomotive Enginemen to engage in another strike on an issue similar to that which caused their strike a few weeks ago. As to the Melbourne branch of the Waterside Workers Federation, I do not think that the highest officers in the trade union movement, or even in the federation itself, are responsible for what happens on the Melbourne waterfront. I believe that the Melbourne branch of the Waterside Workers Federation is more or less derelict of leadership and the degree of irresponsibility it is showing is something which, if I may put it this way, excites the horror of most Australians.
– My question to the Attorney-General is supplementary to that which was asked of him by the honorable member for East Sydney. Did the AttorneyGeneral decide to offer a contribution towards the expenses of the unsuccessful petitioner in the case before the Court of Disputed Returns on the ground that the Commonwealth had been saved the expense of intervening, or because the petitioner asked for that contribution? If the offer was made because the Commonwealth had been saved the cost of intervention, why was this offer not made before the case was heard or, at least, after the decision had been given but prior to argument taking place before a single judge on the question of costs? If, however, the contribution was made either solely or partly because of the request, was this request made by the petitioner before the first hearing, before the second hearing, or after the second hearing?
– I do not appreciate that the so-called alternatives in the question are really alternatives. I did make, the offer because I thought that the
Commonwealth had been saved expense, and I did make the offer because I was asked to do so. I did not make an offer before I was asked to do so because I assumed at that time that the parties concerned were able to look after themselves and naturally I would not, in those circumstances, make an offer.
The request was made to me after the whole proceedings had concluded. This was the first communication of any kind that I had had with either party. The matter had been completed when I was asked to contribute towards the costs. As I have said, I decided that we had been saved costs. I know that on many occasions the Commonwealth is ordered to pay costs when it is a party and when a matter of federal law is decided for the benefit of the Commonwealth. I decided that I would make the contribution when I was asked to do so after these proceedings had concluded.
– Who asked you?
– As I stated in my previous reply, I was asked by Mr. Kane.
– Has the Treasurer’s attention been directed to the remarks of a learned professor in Brisbane regarding the need for greater flexibility in Australian budgets? With export income variations and the likely outcome of the Common Market decisions influencing the Australian situation, will supplementary budgets be used possibly as part of orderly fiscal procedure in preference to their use as an emergency operation?
– I do not recall having seen the statement to which the honorable member has referred. I am reluctant to engage in any lengthy dissertation on the very important and very interesting topic which the honorable gentleman has introduced. There is far more flexibility inside our Commonwealth system than is generally appreciated. We have not merely a regular budget in which the Government’s broad financial programme for the year is indicated publicly but also meetings of the Australian Loan Council which, over recent years, have tended to occur on at least two occasions during the year. There are periodical reviews of the economic situation by the Reserve Bank of Australia and the various other banking elements in Australia. With the Reserve Bank working in collaboration with the Government through Treasury representatives, we are able to influence trading bank policy and, in a variety of other ways, are able to make some impact from time to time upon the economic tempo. That does not mean that in an economy as subject to variable factors, such as seasons and overseas prices, as the Australian economy is we can proceed evenly without adjustment from time to time. I think we all recognize that adjustments have to be made, but it is the objective of our policy to maintain steady progress. For most of our period of office we have succeeded in doing that.
– I ask the Minister for Primary Industry whether it is correct that Australian wheat-farmers have every reason to believe that the entry into the European Common Market of the United Kingdom will have an adverse effect on the export of Australian soft wheat, which is now used for flour-milling purposes. Also, is it correct that, if there should be a decline in the demand for milling wheat, Australia will have to rely largely on exporting her wheat to supply stock food markets? If so, could this bring about a reduction in the overall price received for Australian wheat? Finally, if it is possible that the demand for soft wheat should decline, what action is the Government taking to capture additional markets to offset such a loss?
– I have not the opinion of the Australian wheat industry on the matter raised by the honorable member. We all know that the European countries which are members of the Common Market produce a wheat which is similar to Australian f.a.q. wheat, but they are not at present providing anything in excess of their own requirements. Indeed, last year, because of drought, Italy needed to import instead of exporting. All these seasonal factors need to be taken into consideration. I think that the whole matter of the Common Market could well be dealt with in a fuller discussion of the subject.
– Supplementary to my remarks during the adjournment debate last Thursday, and the reply of the Minister for Trade thereto, I now ask: Is the Minister for Trade aware that the Special Advisory Authority has stated that a very close watch should be kept on imports of citrus juices, and that, if necessary, the matter could be referred back to him? Is it suggested that the Minister for Trade, the industry, or the Special Advisory Authority should keep this close watch? Is information available at least one month in advance of any likely increase in citrus juice imports?
– There is a wellestablished system, which I think is fairly widely known, for dealing with the problem to which the honorable member has referred. Any industry which feels it is in jeopardy, or may fall into jeopardy, as a result of imports can establish an industry panel by arrangement with the Department of Trade. Speaking from memory, I should say that some 40 or 50 industries have already done so. The panel and the officers of the Department of Trade then pool their knowledge to study all the evidence available on imports, impending imports, and overseas prices. From this information they form a judgment on whether the industry is under threat. Such studies are going on continuously in respect of many Australian industries under arrangements made by this Government, which works in close partnership with industries in this matter. I am sure that the Special Advisory Authority had that arrangement in mind when he suggested that a close watch should be kept on imports of citrus juices in the coming months. I am not certain whether there is at present a citrus industry panel, but if there is not one could be set up to-morrow on the decision of the industry itself. The Government has equipped itself with the best possible means of knowing all that is relevant to the importation of this product and it is on that basis that a judgment can be made as to whether the matter should be referred again to the Special Advisory Authority.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Social Services. Is he aware that scores of thousands of pensioners are forced to use margarine because butter is beyond their means? In the interests of the dairy farmers will he consider suggesting to the Government that pensions be increased to enable pensioners to buy butter instead of margarine?
– The honorable member knows, as every honorable member knows, that the rates of social services benefits are determined each year and that it is not possible for me to vary them from time to time.
– I ask the Treasurer: Is he aware that the value of the American dollar in Australia in 1939 was 4s. 2d.? Is he aware also that that value has now risen to approximately 8s. 9d.? Can he give any reason, apart from the provisions of the Bretton Woods Agreement, why this fall in the value of Australian currency should have taken place? Does he agree that this artificial devaluation is to-day the greatest handicap which Australia faces in seeking new markets?
– I do not know that I can satisfy the honorable gentleman’s curiosity completely, but, having just returned from America, I can tell him that one can get a haircut much more cheaply here, and that even the price of a beer is lower in Australia.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Primary Industry. Has the Government or the Australian Wheat Board considered establishing a means of grading Australian wheat in order to make it easier to market overseas? Would the grading of Australian wheat make possible its entry into some markets which are now closed to it? If the Government or the Australian Wheat Board has not investigated this problem recently, will the Minister see that the matter is examined?
– The grading of Australian wheat has been under discussion by the Australian Wheat Board on many occasions. In effect the action it has taken is to segregate the hard wheats from the f.a.q. wheats wherever possible. The hard wheat has been segregated in northern New South Wales in recent years, in order to enhance sales. Victorian wheat is, generally speaking, all f.a.q. and of one quality. I shall look further into the question and see whether there is anything I can do in the matter.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Shipping and Transport. Some little time ago the Minister informed me that more than 70 ships had been employed in the transportation of Australian wheat to China and that none of those vessels was Australian-owned. Will he say whether he is satisfied with this situation? Has any action been taken to encourage Australian ownership of bulk wheat carriers, or is the Minister prepared to risk the loss of this valuable market through rapidly rising shipping freights?
– I think the honorable member is confused in assuming that this trade calls for the participation of Australian-owned ships. It is a matter for those who sell the wheat to make their arrangements for its delivery. Wheat is now being carried at a much lower freight rate than would be the case if the ships concerned were operating under Australian conditions. My colleague the Minister for Trade will probably bear me out when I say that there would be no trade in wheat to China if it had to be transported in Australian-owned vessels instead of in those which are now carrying it.
– by leave - It is my pleasure to inform the House that the former British protectorate of Uganda becomes from to-day an independent nation and a full member of the Commonwealth.
Australia is being represented at the independence celebrations in Kampala by the Honorable Sir Josiah Francis, who, on behalf of the Government and people of Australia, will present to Uganda an Australian painting and a library of Australian historical, literary and constitutional works. Sir Josiah will also present the Commonwealth Parliament’s gift to the National Assembly of Uganda - a sandglass for the timing of parliamentary divisions.
I have sent a message to the Honorable Milton Obote, Prime Minister of Uganda, in the following terms: -
On the occasion of the celebration of the independence of Uganda, I gladly take this opportunity to convey to you and to the people of Uganda my most sincere congratulations and those of the Australian Government and people.
Uganda’s independence within the Commonwealth marks a further and important stage in the achievement of independence by the peoples of Africa, and Australia looks forward to the development of close and friendly relations between the two countries.
I am sure all honorable members will join me in warmly welcoming Uganda into the community of nations, and more particularly into membership of the British Commonwealth of Nations.
– by leave - Mr. Speaker, I think I cannot do better than to say that the Opposition supports the sentiments contained in the message which the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) has sent to the Government of Uganda and the views which he expressed to the House in support of that message.
Resolution of the Council of the City of Newport.
- Mr. President and I have received from the Council of the City of Newport in the United States of America a resolution signed by the Mayor, relating to the part played by the yacht “ Gretel “ in the recent series of races for the America’s Cup.
We appreciate both the spirit of the resolution and the terms in which it is expressed, and have arranged for it to be laid on the table of the Library for inspection by members of the Parliament and others who may be interested.
– Pursuant to section 14 of the Commonwealth Grants Commission Act, I lay on the table the following paper: -
Commonwealth Grants Commission Act - Commonwealth Grants Commission - Twentyninth report (1962).
The recommendations contained in the report will be adopted by the Government, and the enabling legislation will be introduced to-day.
Message recommending appropriation reported.
In committee (Consideration of GovernorGeneral’s message):
Motion (by Mr. Harold Holt) agreed to -
That it is expedient that an appropriation of revenue be made for the purposes of a bill for an act to grant financial assistance to the States of Western Australia and Tasmania.
Standing Orders suspended; resolution adopted.
That Mr. Harold Holt and Sir Garfield Barwick do prepare and bring in a bill to carry out the foregoing resolution.
Bill presented by Mr. Harold Holt, and read a first time.
– I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The main purpose of this bill is to authorize the payment in 1962-63 of special grants totalling £11,251,000 to the States of Western Australia and Tasmania. The payment of these grants has been recommended by the Commonwealth Grants Commission in its Twenty-ninth Report, which has already been tabled. The bill also authorizes the payment of advances to Western Australia and Tasmania in the early months of 1963-64, pending the authorization by Parliament of the special grants for that year. A similar provision has been included in the legislation authorizing payment of grants for a number of years.
Under the procedures currently adopted by the commission the special grants recommended each year are composed of two parts. One part is based on the commission’s estimate of a claimant State’s financial needs for the year in which the grant is to be paid, and is regarded by the commission as an advance payment subject to final adjustment two years later when the commission has completed its examination of -the audited budget results of the States for that year. The other part of the grant represents the final adjustment, positive or negative, of the advance payment made two years earlier.
In accordance with its usual practice, the commission has arrived at its recommendations by making a detailed comparison of the Budgets of each of the claimant States with those of the standard States, particular account being taken of differences in levels of expenditure and in efforts to raise revenue. As was the case last year, the commission has taken the States of New South Wales and Victoria as the standard States for the purpose of these comparisons.
The special grants which the commission has recommended for payment in 1962-63 and the special grants paid in 1961-62 are set out in a table which, with the permission of the House, I shall have incorporated in “ Hansard “. It is as follows: -
In total, the special grants recommended for 1962-63 are £20,000 greater than those paid in 1961-62. In 1961-62 the increase in the grants recommended for Western Australia and Tasmania over those for the preceding year was £2,613,000. The substantially smaller increase this year is primarily due to the fact that the adjustment to the advance payment made two years earlier is about £1,500,000 less this year than in 1961-62.
The effect of adopting the commission’s recommendations would be to increase the total general revenue grants, that is, financial assistance grants plus special grants, payable to the two claimant States by about £1,589,000 this financial year, using for this purpose the Commonwealth Statistician’s latest estimates of the financial assistance grants. For Western Australia the increase would be approximately £1,187,000 and for Tasmania approximately £402,000. The precise amounts payable as financial assistance grants for 1962-63 remain to be determined by the Statistician before, at the latest, 31st December of this year. In addition, Western Australia will receive £894,000 and Tasmania £1,168,000 from the additional assistance grant of £12,500,000 being provided in 1962-63 for employment-giving activities.
The estimated amounts of total general revenue grants payable to each State in 1962-63. and the amounts paid in 1961-62, are compared in a further table, and with the leave of the House I shall have this table incorporated in “ Hansard “. It reads -
The Government considers that the Commonwealth Grants Commission’s recommendations regarding special grants for Western Australia and Tasmania in 1962-63 should be adopted. I therefore commend the bill to honorable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Clyde Cameron) adjourned.
In Committee of Ways and Means:
– I move -
– (1.) That, in this Resolution, unless the con trary intention appears - “ constituent document “, in relation to a company, mean the memorandum or articles of association, rules or other document constituting the company or governing its activities; “ co-operative company “ have the same meaning as in Division 9 of Part III. ofthe Assessment Act; “ friendly society dispensary “ mean a friendly society dispensary to which Division 9a of Part III. of the Assessment Act applies; “ investment income “ have the same meaning as in Division 9b of Part III. of the Assessment Act; “ life assurance company “ have the same meaning as in Division 8 of Part III. of the Assessment Act: “ mutual income “, in relation to a life assurance company (other than a mutual life assurance company), mean -
Imposition of Income Tax and Social Services Contribution.
– (1.) That a tax by the name of income tax and social services contribution be imposed at the rates declared in this Resolution. (2.) That income tax and social services contribution payable in accordance with section one hundred and twenty-eight b of the Assessment Act be not imposed by the Act passed to give effect to this Resolution and a reference in the succeeding provisions of this Resolution to tax be read as not including a reference to income tax and social services contribution so payable. (3.) That, notwithstanding anything contained in this Resolution, tax be not imposed upon a taxable income that does not exceed One hundred and four pounds derived by -
Rates of Tax Payable by Persons other than Companies.
Limitation of Tax Payable by Aged Persons.
– (1.) That this paragraph apply to a taxpayer who -
Rebate of Tax Payable by Persons other than Companies.
Rates of Tax Payable by a Company.
Elimination of Pence.
– (1.) That the provisions of this paragraph apply in relation to -
Tax where Amount to be Collected or Refunded would not Exceed Two Shillings.
– (1.) That, notwithstanding anything contained in the preceding provisions of this Resolution, where a person has, in accordance with section two hundred and twenty-one h of the Assessment Act, forwarded to the Commissioner a tax stamps sheet or group certificate issued to him in respect of deductions made in a year from his salary or wages, and the difference between the available deductions and the tax that would, but for this sub-paragraph, be payable by that person in respect of the taxable income derived by him in that year is not more than Two shillings, the tax payable by that person in respect of that taxable income be an amount equal to the available deductions. (2.) That the last preceding sub-paragraph do not apply -
Levy of Tax.
Provisional Tax and Contribution.
General Rates of Tax Payable by Persons other than Companies.
The rate of tax for every £1 of each part of the taxable income specified in the first column of the following table is the rate set out in the second column of that table opposite to the reference to that part of the taxable income: -
Rates of Tax by Reference to an Average Income.
In the case of a taxpayer to whose income Division 16 of Part III. of the Assessment Act applies, the rates of tax are -
Rate of Tax by Reference te a Notional Income.
For every £1 of the taxable income of a taxpayer deriving a notional income, as specified by section fifty-nine ab, section eighty-six or section one hundred and fifty-eight d of the Assessment Act, the rate of tax is the rate ascertained by dividing the tax that would be payable under the First Schedule upon a taxable income equal to his notional income by a number equal to the number of whole pounds in that notional income.
Rate of tax Payable by a Trustee Other Than a Trustee of a Superannuation Fund.
For every £1 of the taxable income in respect of which a trustee, not being a trustee of a superannuation fund, is liable, in pursuance of either section ninety-eight or section ninety-nine of the Assessment Act, to be assessed and to pay tax, the rate of tax is the rate that would be payable under the First, Second or Third Schedule, as the case require*, if one individual were liable to be assessed and to pay tax on that taxable income.
Rales of Tax Payable by a Trustee of a Superannuation Fund.
In the case of a trustee of a superannuation fund, the rates of tax are -
Rates of Tax Payable by a Company other than a Company in the Capacity of a Trustee.
This resolution proposes that the rates of income tax and social services contribution that applied for the financial year ended 30th June, 1962, be re-enacted for the current financial year, 1962-63. The resolution will accordingly implement the Government’s decision to continue the 5 per cent, rebate of tax payable by persons other than companies.
The provisions of the resolution correspond with those of the act imposing income tax and social services contribution for last financial year, and for this reason I do not propose to refer in detail to the various paragraphs of the resolution.
The 5 per cent, rebate of the tax payable by individuals, which was introduced earlier this year as one of the Government’s measures to stimulate the economy, is reflected in the tax instalments now being deducted from salaries and wages. The rebate will also be reflected in the provisional tax payable during the current financial year.
The cost to revenue of the rebate on 1962-63 incomes will, it is estimated, amount to nearly £30,000,000 during the present financial year. I submit the resolution for the consideration of the committee.
In Committee of Supply: Consideration resumed from 4th October (vide page 1238).
Department of Civil Aviation
Proposed Vote, £13,543,000.
Department of Shipping and Transport
Proposed Vote, £4,150,000.
– I move -
That the amount of the vote - “ Department of Shipping and Transport, £4,150,000” - be reduced by £1-
As an instruction to the Government -
To provide the ,finance necessary to carry out the conversion to standard gauge of the Port Pirie-Broken Hill rail link.
I am pleased to be able to tell the Parliament that the South Australian Labour members of the Parliament, in both the Senate and the House of Representatives, have, by their successful advocacy of the South Australian cause, been able to secure the unanimous support of the Labour members from every other State for the amendment which I have just moved. I can state also, on behalf of the Labour Party - and I have the authority of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) to make this statement - that immediately a Labour government is elected to the treasury bench it will consider itself honour bound, morally bound and legally bound to observe the conditions and terms of the agreement entered into by the Commonwealth and South Australia for the standardization of the South Australian railway system. This will cover not only the railway link between Port Pirie and Broken Hill, which is mentioned in my amendment, but also the link between Port Pirie and Adelaide, the link between Darwin and Alice Springs and the whole of the standardization programme that was set out in the agreement entered into by the Chifley Government and South Australia.
I especially want to pay tribute to the magnificent work that has been performed on behalf of South Australia by Senator Jim Toohey who, right throughout the consideration of this matter, has been unceasing in his advocacy of the South Australian cause. He moved an amendment in another place in order to obtain the support of South Australian Liberal senators in that place for the proposition that we are now putting before the Parliament. Unfortunately, he did not get the support of the representatives of the Liberal Party from South Australia. However, we now give the South Australian representatives of the Liberal Party in the House of Representatives the opportunity to show whether they believe that their own State ought to be given the money which, under the terms of the CommonwealthState rail standardization agreement, is rightfully the property of South Australia or whether South Australia is to continue to suffer from the disabilities that it will suffer from if it is to continue trying to run a railway system with three separate railway gauges.
The Labour Party has a rule which provides that it is the duty of every Labour member of Parliament to advocate the cause of his State inside the party room and to do everything possible to obtain the support of his party for the things that he believes are right. In this instance the South Australian members of the Labour Party have been singularly successful in their advocacy of the South Australian cause. Once the party decides on a particular policy every member is bound to support that policy decision, whether he voted for or against it in the party room.
There is no evidence of Liberal members from South Australia ever having raised this rail standardization issue at a meeting of their party. Had the matter been raised in the Liberal Party room, and had their advocacy of it been unsuccessful, under the terms of their party rules it is open to them, if they feel that their State is entitled to this money, to deal with the matter in the Parliament as their consciences dictate. Time after time honorable members opposite have twitted us on the ground that we have to carry out the decisions made by the Labour caucus whereas, they say, they are free to vote as they please. I remind Liberal members from South Australia that they have evidently nothing to fear if they vote for the interests of their State on this issue, because, so far as I know, the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) has not indicated that the Government intends to regard the vote on this matter as vital to it. So. unless between now and the sitting down of the last Liberal member to speak on the amendment, a Minister indicates that the Government intends to regard this as a vital vote and will resign if the vote goes against it, honorable members opposite are free to vote for South Australia’s being given all it is entitled to under the agreement - an agreement, incidentally, in respect of which the Premier of South Australia approached the High Court. Honorable members opposite will be able to vote for South Australia in this matter without bringing about the defeat of the Government. All we need is one Liberal member from South Australia to cross the floor and support the amendment, and South Australia will be able to commence at once the standardization of the railway link between Port Pirie and Broken Hill.
– You are not in the hunt.
– 1 should like honorable members to note that remark by the honorable member, which indicates that he has made up his mind to vote against South Australia’s receiving this allocation of money. I point out that under the terms of paragraph 143 of the Liberal Party’s federal platform, he is obliged, if he honours the platform - and I take it that he subscribes to it - to accept the policy of assistance to the States for carrying out standardization of railways where justified. I intend to show now that rail standardization in South Australia is justified. I am going to rely upon no other authority, for the time being, than the Government Members Rail Standardization Committee of 1956 which, by unanimous decision, recommended to the Government the “ immediate “ standardization of the Broken Hill to Port Pirie and the KalgoorlieFremantle lines, as well as of the Wodonga-Melbourne line. I point out that the Wodonga-Melbourne standardized line not only has been started, but has been completed. I also point out that an agreement has been signed to provide the Western Australian Government with the £41,000,000 necessary to complete the Kalgoorlie-Fremantle line. However, because of a personal feud which seems to have developed between the Prime Minister and the South Australian Premier, and because of the failure of the Liberal members from South Australia in this Parlia ment to secure, in their party room, the support of their colleagues from other States in the way in which Labour members from South Australia have secured the support of their colleagues, the Port Pirie to Broken Hill link has been shelved indefinitely. The Government side’s own rail standardization committee pointed out in 1956, very properly, that the KalgoorlieFremantle link, costing £41,000,000, cannot bring its full benefits to bear until the Port Pirie to Broken Hill link is completed. The committee went on to say that, for that reason, the Kalgoorlie-Fremantle line stood behind the Port Pirie to Broken Hill project in order of importance. 1 said earlier that the KalgoorlieFremantle line was to be completed at a cost of £41,000,000. This Government has agreed to make the money available to Western Australia for that purpose; yet the cost of the Port Pirie to Broken Hill project is estimated, at the very most, to be something like £20,000,000, as compared with that £41,000,000 which the Government has already agreed to supply to the Western Australian Government. So £20,000,000 is all we need to complete the standardization of the rail link between Fremantle and Brisbane - about 3,000 miles.
The need for standardization is apparent to any one who has observed the deterioration of the main highways between the capital cities which has resulted from the use of heavy road transport for hauling interstate freight. It will cost millions and millions of pounds to repair the increasing damage to roads caused by these heavy vehicles used by road hauliers. In passing, it is well to remember that it was an interstate road transport vehicle weighing about 47 tons that caused the ultimate collapse of the King’s Bridge in Melbourne.
– I am sorry I made that comment, in view of my learned friend’s interjection.
– There is an inquiry in progress by a royal commission.
– 1 beg your pardon. I did not realize the matter was sub judice. I am terribly sorry; I would like my remark to be withdrawn, if that were possible. There is no doubt, however, that these interstate road hauliers are undercutting railway freight charges, because, unlike the railway organizations, they do not have to pay the full cost of construction and maintenance of the roads they use. There is no constitutional power to control interstate road hauliers. Not only do their vehicles pound the roads to pieces; because of their size they also frequently constitute a danger to other road users, and they certainly contribute greatly to hold-ups of the flow of traffic.
However, in spite of the advantages that road hauliers enjoy over the railways, I believe that the railways could compete with them if the railways were standardized and if modern rolling-stock and modern methods were introduced in place of the outdated equipment and methods that are now employed in most of the States. For instance, the piggyback transport system could well be introduced. Under this system, trailers loaded with goods are detached from their prime-movers and run on to flat-top railway trucks. This method is widely used in the United States of America, and if proper attention is given to adequate clearances from bridges and other structures there is no earthly reason why all the loaded trailers that we see on the roads to-day should not be run on to flat-top railway trucks, the prime-movers being left behind, taken by rail to destination points and picked up again by prime-movers for hauling to points of unloading. The introduction of this method would considerably reduce freight charges, even below the rates being charged to-day by interstate road hauliers. It would also help us to save our interstate highways from being literally destroyed, as they are now being destroyed, by heavy transport vehicles, the operators of which pay practically nothing towards the cost of repair of the damage that they cause to the roads.
I believe, also, that the use of heavier rails, the reduction of grades and the elimination of unnecessary curves could do much towards reducing the present high transport costs in this country. I remind the committee that probably no other country in the world has to meet transport costs at high as those that we have to meet in Australia. No less than 30 per cent, of the total cost of goods and services in Australia is attributable to transport charges. Some authorities estimate that the proportion of total costs of goods and services represented by transport charges is as high as 37 per cent. These costs must be reduced if Australia is to compete with other countries, particularly in prices of manufactured goods.
When the Kalgoorlie to Fremantle line is completed, there will be a continuous standard-gauge line from Perth to Brisbane, a distance of some 3,000 miles, except for the section of 253 miles from Port Pirie to Broken Hill. This section could be called the missing link, and it could be completed for half the cost of the line from Fremantle to Kalgoorlie, work on which is now being commenced. With the completion of the section from Port Pirie to Broken Hill, Perth would be brought within 2,500 miles of Sydney by means of an unbroken standard-gauge railway. Steel from the factories at Newcastle and Port Kembla, which is so necessary for the great motor body building industry of South Australia, could be delivered within 24 hours, as against the 45 hours required at the present time. The cost of transporting lead and zinc concentrates from Broken Hill to the giant smelters at Port Pirie would be reduced by £1,000,000 a year. Port Pirie is surely unique in Australia at the present time in having railway lines of three different gauges, 4 ft. 81 in., 3 ft. 6 in. and 5 ft. 3 in.
The South Australian Government is spending enormous amounts of money in providing up-to-date harbour facilities in Port Pirie to handle the concentrates that come from Broken Hill. But the chief advantages that that Government expects to flow from its expenditure on modern harbour facilities will be considerably reduced because of the antiquated narrow-gauge railway line, on which there are steep grades and unnecessary curves, and1 which costs those who use it more than £1,000,000 a year in excess freight charges. This amount could be saved if the Commonwealth Government would honour its agreement with South Australia.
The Victorian Railways gained 250,000 tons of freight last year with the introduction of a standard gauge on the line from
Wodonga to Melbourne. The increase in revenue to the Victorian Railways is estimated at £300,000 a year. The Government members’ committee itself estimated that the profit on freight carried by rail over 2,500 miles of standard-gauge line from Perth to Sydney would be no less than £6 a ton and could be as much as £10 a ton. It also made the significant observation that if the gain in freight was only 4,000 tons a week, the extra profit would be equal to interest charges, calculated at the rate of 10 per cent., on the whole of the money needed to complete the Fremantle to Kalgoorlie and Port Pirie to Broken Hill lines.
There is absolutely no argument against Commonwealth assistance to the South Australian Government for the construction of this line. The South Australian Parliament has unanimously requested assistance from the Commonwealth Government, and I ask South Australian Liberal members to support their own State.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I do not propose to speak about the standardization of gauge of the railway line from Broken Hill to Port Pirie, which has been adverted to by the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron). I will leave that to honorable members from South Australia, who are much better acquainted with the matter than I am.
If honorable members will look at page 154 of the Estimates, they will see an item for Commonwealth Aid Roads, showing “ Main Grants £46,000,000 “ and “ Matching Assistance £8,000,000”. I take this opportunity to remind the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Opperman) who is at present in the chamber, that in the not-too-distant future, in fact next year, the current Commonwealth Aid Roads Act will expire. In fact, if I remember rightly, next year’s payment will be the last payment under this legislation. A new act will then have to be drafted and a new formula devised to meet the needs of road construction in this country. I also remind the Minister that since 1959 our need to increase export income has greatly increased, and that a reduction of internal transport costs could well be the key to achieving competitive prices for our exports. If time permitted I would refer the Minister to statements that have been made in this House on numerous occasions, not only by me but also by many other honorable members, in support of the proposition that better roads make for cheaper and better living, and, indeed, for safer living. However, the Minister is well aware of such arguments.
Since 1959, when the existing legislation was brought down, a new problem has arisen in the shape of the projected entry of Great Britain into the European Economic Community. This has shown the necessity for us to increase our export trade. Whether our exports can compete successfully with those of other countries is a question that is occupying the minds of most business leaders in Australia at the present time. As I have already said, internal transport costs could well be an important factor in that problem.
The present road problem is being met by a plan in which the six State governments with insufficient funds are trying to cope individually with our present road difficulties. On the other hand, the Commonwealth has no constitutional power over road development, but it is expected to provide substantial finance, as I mentioned earlier, without having any say in either the priority or the planning of the expenditure for roads throughout this vast country. During the past four years, the Commonwealth Government has provided considerable funds from internal revenue, but this has still proved to be insufficient. I think the present plan is incapable of solving the very difficult problem that faces the country. If I remember rightly, the present basic grant is for £220,000,000 spread over five years with an additional grant, based on State allocations for road purposes, of £30,000,000. The plan started in 1959 with a basic grant of £40,000,000 to be increased each year by £2,000,000. The additional grants started with £2,000,000 and also will rise by £2,000,000 each year for five years. It is safe to say that the next allocation of funds for roads will have to exceed these figures considerably if we are going to face up to the serious situation that road construction and road maintenance has reached. I believe that we must find a better plan for raising huge sums of money for road maintenance than we have had over the past four years.
Mr. Temporary Chairman, I do not expect the State governments to co-operate in any Commonwealth road plan for the future that will in any way. impair their sovereign rights. This is not expected; but it is within reason to expect that by mutual agreement the States will give the Commonwealth sufficient authority to participate actively in road development and to assume the responsibility for specified arterial interstate roads, leaving the State and local government authorities to look after the financing of lesser highways. Recently, I travelled over some of our interstate roads, and portions of them alarmed me. Reconstruction was taking place in many sectors, but that has been going on for many years. Great distances of our arterial highways are still only single roads, but they should all be double carriageways with well defined divisions down the middle. Traffic has obviously outgrown road capacity, in speed and density, and the congestion in the cities and urban areas is alarming.
The problem becomes more frightening when one realizes that the number of vehicles on the roads will double in the 1960’s - during this present decade. In the past twelve months, Australia’s motor vehicle strength increased at the rate of 377 vehicles for every day of the year. With our present population, there is one vehicle to every 3.4 persons. These statistics would not be complete unless I made some reference to a more morbid subject, that is the number of people being killed or injured on our roads. In a newspaper to-day I noticed that in 1961, 59,121 people were injured and 2,479 people were killed. Every one must agree that these are appalling figures. In military parlance, this represents two battalions killed last year and three divisions injured.
I believe that we need a completely new approach to the technique of road financing, and we must tackle the road problem in Australia immediately. The figures presented by those professionally concerned with road building, in estimating the cost of the programme that faces Australia, are of enormous proportions. They are really astronomical. It is quite beyond the capacity of the Government to meet these figures out of income, particularly when we must provide a vast amount for other works that are necessary in the development of the country. Surely, we must face this problem of costs and realize that it is getting beyond the ability of the States, individually or collectively, or the Commonwealth as a whole, to provide the finance needed for road development, particularly in the way that we have been trying to do it in the past.
At the end of last year, the World Bank had lent 635,500,000 dollars for roads and some 22 countries had shared this amount. In other words, these countries had found it necessary to finance road development out of international loan funds. I believe that this channel of finance is open to us, if we approach road development with a plan based on Commonwealth and State cooperation, with the Commonwealth assuming financial responsibility for arterial roads. As honorable members know, we have six road building authorities in the Commonwealth, all capable of carrying out their several tasks and all capable of expanding their work force. All that is required is a co-ordinated plan plus finance. I believe that this is the time te start thinking of a new plan for road development. This is necessary, not only in the interests of safety on our roads but also in the interests of our national economy. As I said earlier, much depends on improving our economy, particularly in relation to exports.
I again remind the Minister that next year the 1959 Commonwealth aid roads plan will expire and a new act will have to be planned. I repeat that now is the time to prepare for a complete breakthrough in the technique of road financing. I hope the Minister will give the committee some idea of the plan he has in mind to meet the circumstances that will arise and will be particularly urgent. I hope that he will be able to say something about this matter.
.- I am pleased to support the motion of censure proposed by the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) on behalf of the Opposition, that the vote of the Department of Shipping and Transport be reduced by £1 as an instruction to the
Government to provide the finance necessary to carry out the conversion to standard gauge of the Port Pirie to Broken Hill rail link. The honorable member for Isaacs (Mr. Haworth), who came into the debate at this stage, did not have anything to say about this important project. However, it is quite easy to understand why he would not do so. Like his leaders, he is dominated by Melbourne interests and he follows the lead that they give. It is really not surprising that the honorable member would not take part in the debate on this important matter.
I believe that the Government merits censure for not having implemented the agreement with South Australia set out in the Railway Standardization (South Australia) Agreement Act 1949, which, as the honorable member for Hindmarsh stated, provides for a standard-gauge railway between Port Pirie and Broken Hill. The total distance is 254 miles - 218 miles within South Australia from Forth Pirie to Cockburn, and 36 miles within New South Wales from Cockburn to Broken Hill. The South Australian Government has been pressing the Commonwealth Government to implement this agreement. As the honorable member for Hindmarsh pointed out, the South Australian Parliament unanimously called on the South Australian members of this Parliament, both in this chamber and in another place, to support the implementation of the aggreement with South Australia when the matter came before either chamber of this Parliament.
The importance of the standard-gauge rail link between Port Pirie and Broken Hill cannot be denied. The new 4-ft. 8i-in. line between Melbourne and Albury and the Kalgoorlie to Kwinana link, when completed, will not by themselves untangle the mix-up of Australia’s tragic problem of rail gauges. When the Kalgoorlie to Kwinana link is completed, standard-gauge rollingstock will be able to operate from Perth to Port Pirie, but no further east until the link between Port Pirie and Broken Hill is completed. New South Wales rolling-stock has been operating between Sydney and Brisbane over 4-ft 8i-in. gauge line since 1930 and is now operating between Sydney and Melbourne on a standard-gauge line. But the standard-gauge rolling-stock cannot operate beyond Melbourne or west beyond Broken Hill because of the break of gauge at those two points. The ideal solution would be not only to complete the link between Port Pirie and Broken Hill but also to eliminate the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge line between Melbourne and Adelaide and Adelaide and Port Pirie. As a matter of fact, Sir Harold Clapp, in the report that he made in 1945, recommended a standard-gauge line across Australia from Perth to Brisbane, with a link between Port Pirie and Melbourne via Adelaide, as well as between Port Pirie and Sydney via Broken Hill. That, of course, represents the ultimate solution of the problem.
With the completion of the standardgauge line from Kalgoorlie to Kwinana, we shall still have a break in the standardgauge line across the continent because of the 3-ft. 6-in. gauge between Port Pirie and Broken Hill and the 5-ft. 3-in. gauge between Port Pirie and Melbourne. The amendment proposed by the honorable member for Hindmarsh seeks the provision of finance for the completion of the standardgauge line between Port Pirie and Broken Hill so that the break of standard gauge between those points at least can be eliminated, thereby providing a 4-ft. 8i-in. gauge line right across Australia from Kwinana through Perth, Port Pirie, Broken Hill and Sydney to Brisbane, which, with the Sydney to Melbourne line, will link all the mainland States. If such a link were provided, the complete rail journey between Brisbane and Perth via Broken Hill could be undertaken in about 60 hours, considerably less than the journey via Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide. That in itself is important.
As the honorable member for Hindmarsh mentioned a little earlier, transport costs are one of the biggest factors in our costs problem. It is estimated that in Australia transport costs represent 30 per cent, of our gross expenditure. This percentage is very high compared with the percentage in comparable countries. In Canada, for instance, where transport costs are high compared to those of some other countries, such costs are estimated to be 10 per cent, of the gross domestic expenditure. The Australian Tariff Board, in its annual reports, has continually directed attention to our excessive transport costs. I do not wish to go into its observations in any detail, but I direct attention to the board’s report for the year ended 30th June, 1954, as an illustration of the board’s views. In that report, under the heading “ Transport Costs “, the board, at paragraph 79, stated -
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.
The board went on to point out that there is no overriding transport authority. This, also, is an important fact to remember.
Similar observations have been made in subsequent reports presented by the Tariff Board, but I am pleased to note that in the latest report - that for the financial year 1961-62 - which was tabled recently, at paragraph 104, under the heading “Transport Costs”, the board stated -
Some reduction in road haulage rates between Melbourne and Sydney is believed to have followed the completion of the standard gauge link between Melbourne and Albury.
That is a very important point. It shows that the completion of that standard-gauge line has helped to reduce transport costs. This shows what can be done elsewhere if we can get the other projects completed. Not only is the rail service speedy and efficient, but its competition forces down charges for road haulage on routes parallel with those of the railways. Road transport charges, also, will be reduced when the 4-ft. 8i-in. gauge extends unbroken from Perth to Port Pirie on completion of the link between Kwinana and Kalgoorlie.
The cost of trans-shipping goods at Kalgoorlie, for instance, on transfer between the 3-ft. 6-in. gauge and the 4-ft. 8i-in. gauge, which now total about £70,000 per annum, will be eliminated. Trans-shipping costs would be eliminated at Port Pirie and Melbourne, also, if standard-gauge lines were provided between Port Pirie and Broken Hill and between Port Pirie and Melbourne, via Adelaide.
– The present delay, too, would be eliminated.
– That is so. Delay results in additional costs, as we all know. All these additional costs at important points will be eliminated once these standard-gauge pro jects are completed. The full benefit of standardization of rail gauges cannot be realized until the link between Port Pirie and Broken Hill is completed. The present absence of a standard-gauge line between those points constitutes a barrier that cannot be allowed any longer to stand in the way of our economic progress. At present, this Government represents the only obstacle in the way of the elimination of that barrier. The South Australian Government wants the barrier removed. As the honorable member for Hindmarsh mentioned, the cost would be no more than about £20,000,000. Indeed, the estimated cost is between £17,000,000 and £20,000,000.
Another important point about the completion of the standard-gauge link between Port Pirie and Broken Hill is the effect that such a link would have on sea transport between Europe and the eastern States of Australia. The round sea voyage could be shortened, because ships could trans-ship important cargo at Fremantle for carriage overland by train. This would improve the turn-round of vessels and enable large cargo ships terminating their voyages at Fremantle to complete six round trips a year instead of four as at present between Europe and Australia. In times of emergency, of course, this would be of tremendous advantage.
I ask the Government to ensure, when it ultimately arrives at an agreement with South Australia on the completion of the standard-gauge line between Port Pirie and Broken Hill, that it is more generous to South Australia than it has been to Western Australia over the arrangements for financing the standard-gauge link between Kalgoorlie and Kwinana. The rate of interest to be paid by Western Australia on tha money advanced by the Commonwealth is about 5i per cent., varying with the bond rate. As the honorable member for Hind1marsh mentioned, the total COSt of the project will be £41,000,000, of which the Commonwealth, initially, will provide £35,000,000 and Western Australia £6,000,000. If the cost were really to be met in these proportions, that would be reasonable. However, the agreement with Western Australia provides that that State must repay to the Commonwealth over 50 years approximately £20,000.000 of the £35,000,000 advanced. Therefore, in the long run, Western Australia will pay approximately £26,000,000 and the Commonwealth only about £15,000,000 of the total cost of £41,000,000. In addition, you must take into account the fact that interest charges will have to be met by Western Australia for 50 years. In total, the interest could reach £20,000,000, so in capital repayments and interest the cost to Western Australia could amount to £46,000,000, giving the Commonwealth a profit of £5,000,000 on the £15,000,000 which it will provide towards the cost of the programme. The Government’s action in charging such a high rate of interest on the £20,000,000 of capital initially advanced to Western Australia cannot be condemned too strongly. In the first place, the Commonwealth obtains the money from the people by taxation debt-free and interestfree. It is not required to repay the money to any one nor is it required to pay interest on it.
These are national as well as State projects. From a defence point of view the value of a standard-gauge line from Brisbane to Perth is very high. That was commented upon by Sir Harold Clapp in his 1 945 report when he quoted defence authorities on the importance of a standard-gauge line.
– The American forces supported him.
– As the honorable member says, the American forces supported him. The Government should look at the matter from that angle when it is entering further agreements with the States. It should bear a bigger proportion of the cost rather than place such a heavy burden on the States. The important thing is to get these jobs done. The cost is unimportant. The Commonwealth Government is the only government which can raise the necessary finance, and it should bc prepared to bear a bigger proportion of the cost. I am pleased to support the amendment which has been proposed by the honorable member for Hindmarsh and I sincerely hope that South Australian members of this chamber will have sufficient courage to support us when the vote is being taken, because by doing so they will be supporting not only their own State, which is very important, but also a national project which affects all States.
.- At the outset let me say that I agree with a great deal of what the honorable member for Stirling (Mr. Webb) has said. He has made a very clear economic case for the standardization of the railway gauge between Port Pirie and Broken Hill. With this I agree. Because the line runs through my electorate and because since I have been in this place I have been a member of the Government Members’ Rail Standardization Committee under the brilliant leadership of the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth), I have had every reason to take a very active interest in this particular line and in the standardization proposal. An excellent case can be made for it. The economic aspect associated with the use of the line is one important factor. One of the exciting changes which have been apparent in railway thinking in recent years is the economies associated wilh the use of diesel power, particularly on good lines. The reduced freight for the haulage of coal on the Commonwealth railway from Leigh Creek to Port Augusta is an illustration of this. There is no doubt that if we made proper use of diesel power on good lines we would have cheap transport.
Two important factors should be mentioned. The first is that we need access by rail to Whyalla from New South Wales. This would naturally follow standardization. The second important factor is the effects of the European Common Market on our return from lead and zinc. These appear to be serious. The use of diesel locomotives on a standard gauge line would reduce the cost of carrying refined lead from about £6 a ton to about £3 a ton. It is obvious that a very clear case exists for standardization. This is even more obvious when the standardization of the system as a whole is considered. It is unthinkable that the remaining section of the line between Brisbane and Perth should not be brought to the standard gauge of 4 ft. 8i in. From the defence angle, the need can be demonstrated even more clearly. There can be no doubt in any one’s mind that there is an economic and a defence need for this section of the line to be standardized. It should be mentioned - I do not think it is desperately important at this stage - that there is another aspect to this problem. If the Port Pirie-Broken Hill section is standardized you will leave out on the limb the other 3-ft. 6-in. sections of the line from Gladstone to Wilmington, and from Peterborough to Quorn. This presents a problem. I do not claim that it is insoluble but it should be recognized.
We all agree that a good case can be made for the standardization of the gauge. The question is when this work should be done. As a member of the Government Members’ Rail Standardization Committee, I have pressed that the work should be undertaken immediately. For obvious political reasons the Labour Party is now urging South Australian members to support it in this rather patent move to censure the Government. The railway committee has made no secret of its thinking on this subject. We believe that the work should be done now, but the Government believes that it should be done later.
– What do you think about it?
– I think it should be done now, but if the Government believes that it should be done later I shall be content to wait until later and to vote against the Opposition’s amendment. I shall do this for several reasons. In the first place, I came into this Parliament as a supporter of the Menzies Government. I would be a poor type if I failed to support the Menzies Government the first time this kind of pressure was applied to me. Secondly, let us not have talk about this not being a vital measure. On the one hand the honorable member for Hindmarsh taunted us by saying that it was not a vital measure, but on the other hand the honorable member for Stirling claimed that the amendment constituted a motion of censure on the Government. The Opposition cannot have it both ways. A motion of censure on the Government immediately becomes a vital measure. No doubt all honorable members realize that an amendment of the kind now before us could bring down the Government. I for one am not prepared to play a part in doing that at a time like this.
– Neither I nor my colleagues would be prepared to do that and bring about all the economic and political upset which would be entailed. In addition, there is an economic argument against our acceptance of the Opposition’s amendment. There is a tendency to claim that in a budget of £2,000,000,000 the Government surely could find about £800,000 for this work; but we must realize that if the Government commenced on this project it would have to carry it on to completion and in the end the total cost would be between £17,000,000 and £20,000,000. Surely the Government is the only body which is capable of assessing the wisdom of taking an economic step of that magnitude. In my speech during the Budget debate I said that I was not prepared to castigate the Government for not doing something which we would like to see done but which would add to the inflationary pressures that I so often have been urging the Government to withstand. For those reasons I shall certainly vote against the amendment. I shall continue to do what I have done since I have been in this place - I shall use all proper pressure on the Government to standardize this line when it is economically sound to do so. I should very much appreciate an assurance from the Government that it does intend to build this line and have it finished soon after the completion of the Kalgoorlie-Fremantle line. It is obvious that it will be needed then. I shall certainly oppose the proposed amendment for the reasons I have stated. I certainly am in favour of the lines being built as soon as possible, but I am certainly not prepared to support the Opposition’s proposal that it be done immediately.
.- Mr. Deputy Chairman, we have heard an extraordinary speech from the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly). He started by saying that an excellent case had been made out for the proposed amendment, and that there was an immediate and definite need for this work to be undertaken as soon as possible. Then he declared that, having been elected as a supporter of the Menzies Government, he had to weaken in the face of pressure from that quarter and oppose the amendment proposed. Does that mean that the honorable member is against the Playford Liberal Government in South Australia - the State from which he comes? The Playford Government lined up with the Australian Labour Party in South Australia in demanding that this great and important work be proceeded with.
The honorable member for Wakefield declared the Opposition’s proposal to be inflationary. How can it be inflationary if it is required both from the economic and the defence viewpoints? To-day, in answer to a question in the House, we heard the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) declare that one of the problems confronting the Government at the moment in respect of unemployment was the difficulty of placing unskilled and semi-skilled workers. Every day, one can read in the newspapers that bank finances are liquid, meaning that the banks have ample funds available. As a matter of fact, they have been trying to push finance out into the community but, because of the Government’s policy, the community has not been prepared to accept it.
Let me turn to the question of materials. The great steel monopoly, the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, is becoming worried about reductions in its overseas orders. It is wondering whether it will be able to keep up the rate of production and expansion that it has maintained in recent years. So we have the Government admitting that there is difficulty in placing the unemployed; we have the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited lacking orders for its steel; we have finance available. We have the honorable member for Wakefield declaring that the construction of this line is essential from an economic and a defence viewpoint; yet he has endeavoured to justify himself for proposing to vote against the amendment moved by the honorable member for Hindmarsh.
The Opposition’s motion deals with a great national work. There has been a very sparse attendance on the Government side of the chamber during this debate. The honorable member for Wakefield has been the only South Australian member present, and he has now disappeared from the chamber. He is evidently not prepared to stand up to his responsibilities. The question of rail standardization has been raised on occasions over a number of years, and has been a very live subject in transport circles. In 1921, a royal commission made a number of recommendations on this subject. Since then, certain portions of the work have been undertaken, but these have only been relatively small compared to the great magnitude of the work required. In 1944, the issue seemed to be dead.
I was a member of two war-time governments - one led by the late Mr. Curtin and the other led by the late Mr. Chifley. Consequently I know that during those difficult days of preparing to defend this country against the threat of invasion, innumerable representations were made, not only by our own defence chiefs, but also by American defence chiefs who were seriously worried about the number of breaks of gauge in our railway system. So as soon as the Labour Government saw that the labour and materials necessary for this work could be made available, it instructed Sir Harold Clapp, who was probably the greatest rail authority this country has produced, to prepare a detailed report on rail standardization. Everybody knows of the innumerable conferences that were held between the Commonwealth and the States concerned until finally we were able to get the transport ministers from each State to sign an agreement. One would then have thought that we were over our difficulties, and that the work could be undertaken.
Some of the States failed to carry out the provisions of the agreement I have mentioned, but in 1946 we were able to pass an act in this Parliament under which the Commonwealth was empowered to negotiate agreements with New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia. Victoria and South Australia passed the complementary legislation required by the act. New South Wales never did so. But South Australia was the only State that showed any real anxiety to get on with the work. The South Australian Government was anxious to negotiate. We did negotiate with it. So in 1949, one of the last acts passed by the Chifley Labour Government ratified an agreement with the South Australian Government in order that this very important work might be carried out in South Australia. We believed that if we could get what is known as the Peterborough division brought to standard gauge and secure the co-operation of the New South Wales Government either to acquire the Silverton Tramway Company Limited or to compel that company to standardize its 36 miles of line as it could be compelled to do under the act granting its franchise to construct and operate a railway, a great step towards the completion of rail standardization would have been taken.
The Commonwealth Government has acted in a completely dishonest way in its negotiations with the South Australian Government. I was Minister for Transport in the Chifley Government, and I piloted the legislation ratifying the agreement with South Australia through this Parliament. Therefore I am able to say that although the act did not specify any particular date for the commencement of the work it was understood in our discussions that as early as possible after the agreement was ratified by both Parliaments the work would be undertaken. I have no hestitation in saying that had the Labour Government remained in office after 1949 the work of standardizing the South Australian railway system would have commenced not later than the year 1950. I shall go a little further and say that we would have pressed on with the work of rail standardization throughout Australia in co-operation with those State governments which were prepared to enter into similar agreements.
What has the present Commonwealth Government done? Apparently, there is no question of party politics in this matter because the Liberal Government of South Australia wants to press on with the work. The Commonwealth Liberal-Country Party Government, however, is taking advantage of the fact that no particular date was set in the agreement for the commencement of the work. The Labour Government gave its word that it would commence the work of conversion as soon as possible and the South Australian Government knew that it could rely on the Labour Government to honour its undertaking. Evidently, the legal geniuses on the other side of the chamber have decided that there is a weakness in the act which ratified the agreement. So, ignoring any agreement that may have been entered into orally with the Government of South Australia, the present Commonwealth Government has rushed to the High Court of Australia. The High Court has determined that, because no date of commencement is specified in the act, no order can be made compelling the Commonwealth Government to carry out this agreement. T want to know what is the Government’s motive in delaying this work. There has been a rather interesting development lately. We know that our coastal shipping services have practically disappeared. I do not think they are to disappear for all time, because the Minister now has an ingenious plan to restore coastal shipping in Australian waters by the use of foreign labour on vessels which are to be operated by people in whom the Government has always displayed an interest. To show that this is not just wild imagination on my part, I point out that “ Wanganella “ is owned by an Australian company - A. G. Sims Limited - which deals in scrap metal. That company does not operate the vessel directly, because that would create difficulties for it under the Navigation Act. So it decided that one of its subsidiaries in Hong Kong, the Hang Fung Shipping and Trading Company, should operate it.
I understand that the Hang Fung company is a fully owned subsidiary of A. G. Sims Limited, and that it has registered the vessel in Hong Kong and is going to operate it in Australian waters with a foreign crew in order to reduce costs. Ampol Petroleum Limited, for instance, has admitted that it is going to operate its new tanker, “ P. J. Adams “, with foreign labour which it declares will cost about one-fifth of the cost of employing Australian seamen. No doubt this is the Government’s method of making shipping operations around the Australian coast profitable for the people in whom it is interested. Once the Government gets in the thin end of the wedge, it intends not only to make it possible for one or two companies to operate coastal shipping with foreign labour but also to extend that policy to shipping generally around the Australian coast. The most powerful competitors of this type of company in long-distance transport in Australia are the railways. The Government therefore does not want an efficient railway system and hence its decision not to press on with rail standardization projects. I would not be surprised if some of the interests I have mentioned are behind the Government in its attitude towards such works in South Australia. This Government claims to believe in national development, but nobody who examines its record would imagine that it does so.
At every election supporters of the Government talk about national development. Let us see what the Government has done in that respect. While on the subject of railways, I wish to refer to a small railway which operated in northern Queensland from Cooktown to Laura. From memory, this railway extended some 60 or 70 miles. Because it was losing a few thousand pounds a year, although serving a very important section of the Australian community in our far-flung north, which must be developed, the anti-Labour Government of Queensland, acting in co-operation with the Commonwealth Government, decided to sell it. The Queensland Government proposed to sell the line not for operation by the private purchaser but for dismantling. Tenders were invited and the line was eventually sold. Shortly after the sale there were floods in the area and people were isolated. There were no roads in the area and, according to police reports, local residents were threatened with starvation when supplies of essential materials were exhausted. Fortunately, the successful tenderer had not commenced to dismantle the railway and it was again brought into operation to enable relief to be taken to those people. To show that there was some collaboration between the Commonwealth Government and the anti-Labour Queensland Government, I recall that as soon as the railway had been sold to a tenderer, the Postmaster-General’s Department, which required some of the steel rails for its own purposes, purchased 19 miles of the line - about one-quarter of the rails available - and paid more for it than the tenderer paid the Queensland Government for the entire railway. I am quite certain that this Government has acted dishonestly in relation to this matter.
Let us turn to the report of the Government Members’ Rail Standardization Committee, to which the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly) referred. That report recommended that three works be undertaken urgently. One of them was the line from Wodonga to Melbourne and another was the line from Broken Hill to Port Pirie. So urgent were these works thought to be that the committee could not put them in any order of priority. The construction of the railway from Wodonga to Melbourne has been completed; and I want to know from the Government Members’ Rail Standardization Committee what is being done about the other work which it declared should have been put in hand immediately.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I enter this debate to discuss the estimates of the Department of Civil Aviation, but I wish, first, to reply to some of the harangue of the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward), when supporting the amendment moved by the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron). The honorable member for East Sydney endeavoured to give the impression that neither this, nor any other, conservative government had done much in the standardization of railway gauges throughout the Commonwealth. The fact is that wherever a railway has been constructed or converted to standard gauge in this country the work has been done by a conservative government. Labour has not done a thing in that direction; and that fact proves false the accusations made by the honorable member.
The honorable member for East Sydney tried also to make out that the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly) is a hypocrite because he refuses to vote for the amendment moved by the honorable member for Hindmarsh, although he supports the idea of a uniform-gauge railway line from Port Pirie to Broken Hill. Does the honorable member for East Sydney expect the honorable member for Wakefield to bring about the defeat of this Government and thus enable the socialist party to take the reins of office in this country - a party which is willing to risk the security of Australia and is in favour of inflation? Obviously, the honorable member for Wakefield will not do that. If the honorable member for East Sydney wants to talk about hypocrisy, let me recall what happened in this chamber about three years ago when we were discussing the vexed question of salary increases for members of this Parliament. I remember the debate clearly. Members of the Labour Party and the Government parties supported the general idea that there should be salary increases, but the honorable member for East Sydney wanted to make a hero of himself and rose and spoke against the proposed increases. I think he voted against one or two of those proposals and on other occasions absented himself from the chamber. But when the salary increases had been approved by the Parliament he was the first to put his hand out to receive the increase. That was the action of a hypocrite.
Turning now to the estimates of the Department of Civil Aviation, I wish to speak about the air terminal facilities at Coolangatta airport, on the south coast of Queensland. This airport is in the electorate of the honorable member for McPherson (Mr. Barnes) but also services the northern area of New South Wales. My remarks about the air terminal facilities at Coolangatta will be fully supported by the honorable member for Mcpherson. I know he will enter the debate and support me in this matter if time permits him to do so. This is the tenth busiest airport in Australia. lt is the third busiest, apart from the capital city airports, being surpassed in volume of traffic only by Launceston, in Tasmania, and Townsville, in Queensland. But the facilities for catering for passengers at Coolangatta are deficient. There are days when passengers cannot get into the air terminal. On wet days, under semi-tropical conditions, there is a seething mass of people trying to get into the terminal building. Such conditions at the airport are dreadful on a day when eighteen or twenty planes may be handled in an afternoon. The present building was erected when the airport was opened in 1953, and it measures about 80 feet by 20 feet. One can understand that as this is one of the most rapidly developing airports in Australia, the facilities for passengers there have now become deficient. This is one of the busiest air passenger terminals in Australia. When honorable members consider Mat although it was opened only in 1953, it is now the tenth busiest in Australia they will have some idea of the magnitude of its development.
The Department of Civil Aviation has done an excellent job in putting down a bitumen tarmac. At the moment the department is making extensive repairs to the tarmac and is extending it. It has put in extra parking facilities for aircraft and wonderful parking facilities for motor cars. It has also improved the traffic control tower; but has done nothing about the air terminal itself. I hope that in the near future either another terminal will be built or considerable extensions will be made to the existing building.
The reason that this airport has grown so considerably is that it has opened up to the people of Australia and to overseas visitors one area of Australia that is a real tourist area. People have started to evaluate its immense tourist potential. Here is an area of tremendous scenic contrast. There are rugged mountains, cane land, banana land, grazing land, golden beaches and sparkling waters extending for 20 or 30 miles north and south of the airport, taking in southern Queensland and northern New South Wales. Although the northern part of New South Wales is not so well developed as the southern part of Queensland, I believe that it has a great potential and that in the not far distant future, provided that the transport facilities are adequate to attract tourists, it will go ahead very rapidly.
I should like to see a modern air terminal at Coolangatta because this is probably the only airport, other than Melbourne and Sydney, visited by foreign tourists. Travellers from overseas all want to go to the Gold Coast, but when they land at Coolangatta and see a small terminal building, completely over-crowded with visitors and tourists, they must gain a rather discouraging first impression of this part of Australia. It is for that reason that I should like to see the department push ahead with the improvement of the facilities there.
In addition to the congestion caused by the vast number of air passengers travelling to and from Coolangatta, at week-ends this airport is a tourist attraction for local people. There is, consequently, a tremendous influx of people who are out for a Saturday or a Sunday drive. Most of those people go into the terminal to look round. As a result passengers have great difficulty in booking their luggage and obtaining their tickets. Therefore, I think the argument in favour of improved terminal facilities is very strong.
This terminal building has no provision for the sale of newspapers or refreshments. I think there is a tremendous potential for that sort of thing. Often there are delays to aircraft and passengers may have to wait for an hour, or even two hours. In those circumstances it would be very pleasant if they were able to obtain some sort of refreshment or reading material to occupy them during this period.
– They need a licence for a coffee bar.
– I am sure that if the facilities were there some one would take out a licence and put in a coffee bar.
There is one other matter I want to mention about the Coolangatta air service which I use twice a week. Coolangatta airport serves an area extending from as far south as Byron Bay to about 20 miles north of Surfers Paradise, yet under the rationalization agreement there are only two aeroplanes daily into and out of Coolangatta. Both the Trans-Australia Airlines and Ansett-A.N.A. flights come in at exactly the same time - approximately 1.30 p.m. - and leave at the same time. It seems silly to have two aircraft arriving at the airport at the same time. If their arrival times were spread out they would provide a much more convenient service to people visiting this part of Australia. Butler was first into this area and, until he was pushed out of business, he provided an alternative time for travel. Once Butler was eliminated we found, under rationalization, that both planes came in at the same time and left at the same time. If a businessman from this area wants to visit Melbourne or Sydney it takes him three days. He leaves at mid-day and has no time left in that day to conduct his business on arrival in Sydney or Melbourne; he attends to his business on the following day and then returns to Coolangatta on the third day. If there were an early morning flight, as there used to be, a businessman could go down early in the morning and come back in the evening of the same day. The provision of such a service would also be a great attraction to tourists. Many visitors to the area like to pay a quick visit to Melbourne or Sydney to see how their businesses are being conducted, and if only one day were involved they would do so; but when they have to lose three days they either do not go, or do not come to Coolangatta in the first place.
I ask the Department of Civil Aviation to look into this matter of rationalizataion as it affects Coolangatta because this is Australia’s third busiest non-capital-city airport and warrants every consideration. As I have said, the terminal facilities are quite deficient. Although we appreciate the vast amount of work that has been done on the airport by the department in extending the tarmac, putting in a new control tower and providing parking facilities, the point has now been reached where the passenger facilities must be improved. I know that every word I have said will be supported by the honorable member for McPherson, who already knows the potential of this area and, I am sure, knows of the deficiencies of the airport.
.- I support the amendment moved by the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron). I believe the strongest possible protest should be made to emphasize the failure of this Government to protect the interests of South Australia and, incidentally, the interests of Australia. An outstanding pointer on this matter has been the attitude of Government supporters, who speak in one direction and vote in another.
The bald fact is that rail standardization is vital to the people of South Australia and also to the security of Australia. This is a serious economic issue for South Australia. It affects the economic security of Port Pirie - in fact, the very future of Port Pirie; it affects the employment position in South Australia, and it affects transport. It is equally vital to the defence of our nation. For many years statesmen and other leaders of our nation have stressed the importance of a uniform rail gauge for defence purposes, yet nothing practical has been done. The nearest approach to some reality was in 1949 when the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward), then Minister for Transport, concluded an agreement with the South Australian Government for the commencement of this work. As the honorable member has already mentioned, the intention of that discussion and that agreement was that the work should be commenced almost immediately and, as he also said, had a Labour Government remained in office in 1950 that rail standardization would have become a reality.
Of course the history of rail standardization goes back many years. As far back as 1921 there were royal commissions which emphatically recommended that rail standardization be regarded as a vital matter for this nation. It was left to a Labour Government to bring about the necessary machinery to make this a reality, but with the change of government from Labour to Liberal nothing was done, other than the appointment in 1950 of a Government Members Rail Standardization Committee. This was the pay-off for not actually starting the work in 1950. The honorable member for East Sydney has told members that the agreement was reached in 1949. Of course there were many difficulties in the way at that time. That was in the post-war period when materials were difficult to obtain and when there were other difficulties that also affected the implementation of this kind of proposal. However, notwithstanding the difficulties of that time, the agreement was reached and it was intended to commence the work. Even the then member for Wakefield, Sir Philip McBride, who is now leader of the Liberal Party organization, supported in 1949 the ratification of the agreement and the commencement of this standardization project. There again, of course, other pressures have had their influence, and the project has gone overboard right up to this time.
There are many interesting aspects of this whole issue - and not only interesting, but also very confusing. The committee which the Menzies Government appointed in 1950 to consider uniformity of rail gauges blamed the Premier of South Australia, Sir Thomas Playford, for not commencing the standardization project. On the other hand, Sir Thomas tells another story in which he blames the Commonwealth Government. So we are entitled to ask which party it telling the truth, or whether either party is telling the truth. I think that the issues have been slanted not only by the members of the committee which I have mentioned but also by Sir Thomas Playford and the South Australian Government in order to present their own side of the picture in as good a light as possible. Then we had the two soothsayers from South Australia blaming the Labour Party for the fact that standardization had not proceeded. In a profound document, namely a letter to the “ Views and Comments “ column of the Adelaide “Advertiser” in September, the honorable members for Barker (Mr. Forbes) and Wakefield (Mr. Kelly) set out to show, by illogical deduction, that we should be condemning the Labour Party and not the poor, inoffensive L.C.L. senators who chose to support the Government rather than vote in the interests of rail standardization in South Australia. But, of course, nobody took any notice of those two gentlemen. Their effusion was treated for what it was worth. It was just piffle and poppycock. Nobody even bothered to reply to them. Then we had the South Australian daily press supporting the attitude of the South Australian Parliament which took the step of unanimously asking all senators from South Australia to support the provision of finance for railway standardization in our State. At the time of the discussion on this matter the Adelaide “ Advertiser “ stated -
In the long history of rail standardization plans, no other State has been treated so offhandedly by the Federal Government. In railway matters, indeed, the story of unfulfilled Federal pledges to S.A. goes back even further. Part of the agreement for the Northern Territory’s transfer to the Commonwealth was that the Adelaide-Darwin railway should be completed. It should not surprise Canberra that this State - the first to sign a standardizaion agreement with the Commonwealth - is disinclined to wait another SO years for a start to be made on modernizing the Port Pirie-Broken Hill line.
Mr. Menzies can now be in no doubt as to S.A.’s displeasure at his shelving of rail gauge standardization in this State.
It has been put before him bluntly, and he must realize that only party loyalties by the S.A. Liberal senators will save him from a ignominious defeat in the Senate.
S.A.’s claims to standardization cannot be brought too often before the overlords of Canberra. It is no mere political stunt, but a vital issue in the State’s economic progress.
The future of the vast Port Pirie smelting works, faced now with lower world prices, could well be affected by perpetuation of the old narrow gauge line from Broken Hill.
The State’s rapidly expanding motor industry needs a uniform gauge through to Sydney to reduce transport costs.
And many other industries, important parts of S.A.’s growing industrial strength, are looking for better transport facilities to enable them to forge ahead.
That statement typifies the feeling of the South Australian people on this project, and I hope that even at this late stage the Government members who have not yet spoken in the debate will show that they are prepared to stand up for South Australia’s interests and not adopt the attitude of the honorable member for Wakefield, which has been to damn with faint praise the proposition contained in the amendment and then say meekly that he intends to vote against it. That is not a statesman-like attitude and I hope it will not be taken by other South Australian members.
To add to the confusion, as I said earlier, some three years ago Sir Thomas Playford promised the people of South Australia that within a matter of a few weeks 600 to 700 workmen would be employed on the rail conversion. This statement was made during a South Australian Parliamentary byelection when the Liberal-Country League was desperately trying to win the country seat of Frome from the Labour Party. The question that I pose is: Did the South Australian Premier have any justification for making that promise to the South Australian people, or was he deliberately falsepretending on that occasion? Perhaps other honorable members who have not yet spoken in the debate will answer the question for me. I want to know whether the Premier was, as is alleged by some of his party colleagues in another place, grandstanding and false-pretending to the people of the Frome electorate in South Australia or, on the other hand, did he have some promise from this Commonwealth Government which justified him in making such a public statement.
It is interesting, as I said before, to observe how some members speak in one direction and vote in another. It might be pertinent to mention a few of the statements alleged to have been made by senators in another place. According to the Adelaide “News” of 10th August, Senator Laught said -
The Commonwealth must consider the standardization of the Port Pirie-Broken Hill section as something that will phase in with the standardization of the Kwinana-Kalgoorlie section of the line.
Senator Mattner is alleged to have said
Nobody has done more for standardization than the South Australian senators.
I say good luck to Sir Thomas and we will do all we can to get some money for him.
This is of vital importance to South Australia and should have started long ago.
What I am most concerned about is the future of Port Pirie if the work is not done.
Despite the attitude of South Australian Liberal senators on this matter we find
Senator Paltridge taking a directly opposite line. He said on 30th August -
Whatever the desire of the South Australian Premier to grandstand to the South Australian public might have been, grandstanding does not influence people like us who are somewhat used to the practices and procedures of a parliament.
After continuing with a tirade of abuse against Sir Thomas Playford the senator concluded his speech with the following words: -
I put it to you, Mr. President, and honorable senators, that in the light of all these factors - the criticism now made by Sir Thomas Playford and the manner in which he has played this political game - Sir Thomas has acted in a way which does not bring any credit to himself and may well contribute very largely to his political destruction.
I wonder whether that was an observation or a threat.
– And it was said by a Liberal Minister.
– Yes, it was a comment by a Liberal Minister in this Parliament on a statement made by a Liberal Premier. Senator Paltridge said further -
As far as the Commonwealth is concerned, it has at all times and at all points been as cooperative as any reasonable man could expect. Maybe Sir Thomas Playford is not a reasonable man.
– That certainly points to a split amongst the Liberals.
– That is the kind of statement that is being made by Liberal members in various Houses of Parliament about other Liberal members. Statements of that kind do not do credit to those who make them, and the sordid and tragic aspect of the whole matter is that South Australia is suffering all the time. This should not happen, and it certainly would not happen under a Labour government. I look forward to a Labour government occupying the Treasury bench within a very short time, because a Labour government would ensure that the people of South Australia, after many years of waiting, would get what is justly due to them. It would ensure that the defence and national well-being of Australia would be strengthened by the completion of this line. I support the honorable member for Hindmarsh, and I hope that all other members of this committee will also support him.
.- I wish to refer to Division No. 373, Shipbuilding
Industry - Assistance, for which an amount of £1,950,000 is provided in the Estimates. I regret that in this debate I have to follow honorable members who have conducted a discussion about railways. I had hoped to hear something from honorable members opposite about shipping matters, because I felt certain I could have been very critical of anything they might have said. Perhaps I will have another opportunity to answer any statements that they may subsequently make.
I would like to pay a compliment to the Commonwealth Government for its very commendable record of assistance to the Australian shipbuilding industry. The Government’s decision to grant a subsidy of 33J per cent, towards costs of shipbuilding was a major step in the encouragement of the building of ships locally. It should also be realized that this move on the part of the Government has resulted in a considerable volume of employment being available to men engaged in the shipbuilding industry. The Government’s subsidy has resulted, for instance, in the building of the Ampol vessel, the “P. J. Adams”, which is being constructed at a. cost of about £4,000,000, with the Commonwealth Government contributing, by way of subsidy, to the extent of over £1,000,000.
I pay a tribute also to the Australian National Line for its foresight in building up a modern fleet. It is pleasing to note, from the annual report of the Australian National Line, that it has undertaken, during 1961-62, the construction of a passenger and vehicular deck motor ship for the Sydney-Tasmania service. This vessel is being constructed at Cockatoo Dock in Sydney and is providing a good deal of employment for men engaged in the industry. The vessel is being built at a cost of about £3,500,000. The line has also commenced construction of a new 7,500-tons deadweight bulk cargo vessel, and also entered into negotiations for the purchase of a 21,400-tons deadweight bulk carrier laid down at Whyalla by the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited. These developments all point to the earnest endeavour of this Government to provide employment in Australian shipyards.
The shipping industry is one that has been considerably maligned by honorable mem bers opposite, and also by the Communist hierarchy in the Seamen’s Union and the Waterside Workers Federation. It is interesting to note how those who seek to wreck the shipping industry - and who have succeeded to some extent over the years - have tried to make the word “ shipowner “ synonymous with “ Frankenstein “. I remember a waterside worker saying on one occasion that if he wanted to frighten his children he would talk about shipowners.
This is the kind of mind conditioning that has been indulged in by certain elements in the industry for many years, and which has been responsible to no small degree for the reduction of the number of ships in operation in Australian coastal waters.
In recent years there has been a considerable contraction of the size and extent of the shipping industry in Australia. There is now no intra-state shipping fleet at all in New South Wales. Those who know something of the industry will recall that up to shortly after the 1939-45 war three intrastate companies were operating out of the port of Sydney. There was the Newcastle and Hunter River company, which operated ships between Sydney and Newcastle. There was the North Coast Steam Navigation Company Limited, which had some 32 vessels plying to north coast ports. There was also the Illawarra Steamship Company, which ran ships to ports on the south coast. If you visit the port of Sydney now you will find that there are no ships whatsoever engaged in the intra-state trade. This is’ something to be deeply regretted in an island continent which is so dependent on its shipping fleet.
If one considers the position with regard to interstate vessels, one finds that the number of interstate companies has been reduced from eight to, I think, four. Whereas there were about 300 vessels in the interstate trade just after the war, there are now only 114. This is the result of the very serious attacks that have been made on our shipping industry, at a time when we should have an industry second to none in the world to serve the needs of Australian ports. Any one who travels now between Sydney and Brisbane on a Sunday can go for hours without sighting a ship. How different it was a few years ago, when a sea traveller would be continually passing ships on the Sydney to
Brisbane sea lanes. You do, of course, occasionally see a tanker, but there are fewer of the vessels that previously carried a big proportion of our general cargoes from port to port.
It is necessary to have a thorough look at our shipping industry if we are to see our transport problems in proper perspective. The Seamen’s Union has been mainly responsible for the deterioration of the shipbuilding industry,
– It is not rubbish at all. If you study the history of the industry you will find that shipowners generally have been plagued by stoppage after stoppage. Perhaps the position has improved in the last year or two, but prior to that there were repeated stoppages of one day’s duration which would cost the shipowners involved an average of £1,000 a day for each ship. In practically all cases there was no valid reason at all for the vessel to be held up, and the stoppages occurred simply because of the determination of the Communist-dominated Seamen’s Union to wreck the industry.
Most of the stoppages were for quite trivial reasons. I remember one occasion on which a vessel had a Christmas cargo to take to Townsville, but was held up in Brisbane for ten days because a seaman complained that there was not enough locker space in his cabin for his 27 suits. That has been the kind of ridiculous reason given for stoppages, and it has been hard to understand how men could have been silly enough to allow themselves to be involved in such disputes. But I can assure the committee that that was the reason given for the particular stoppage I have mentioned - the seaman concerned had not enough room for his 27 suits. Obviously he was not a man with much sense of responsibility, because he evidently spent whatever money he had on buying all those suits.
– Do you believe he should not have been well dressed?
– He was well dressed, all right. However, I have given just one example of the reasons that have been advanced for holding up vessels. Other reasons have been just as trivial. On one occasion, for instance, a coffee percolator was not big enough.
It becomes quite obvious that an unnecessary number of hold-ups are occurring when one finds that two judges of the Commonwealth arbitration jurisdiction have to be allocated full-time to look after the industry. One judge looks after the maritime unions and the other looks after the shore unions. This shows how important the industry is to the nation and how important it is to the Communist leaders who seek to direct it. 1 contend that the decline of the industry is very largely due to the militancy with which it has been confronted for a number of years. I say emphatically that it is not due to the inefficiency of the Australian shipowners, as honorable members opposite would like us to believe. I would agree that there has been keen competition from road, rail and air transport. The militancy with which the industry has been saturated has been responsible for the exorbitant costs imposed. It has also been responsible for ships being held up. Another reason for the decline of the industry is to be found in the industrial troubles that beset shipowners when they place their ships in dock. It is a pity that the honorable member for Kingsford-Smith (Mr. Curtin) is not here. He would know that the industrial troubles in the shipyards were the work of militant unions. One union I have in mind is the Painters and Dockers Union. I recall that early in the 1950’s the painters and dockers, with other trade unions, held a gun at the head of a very large ship repair yard in Sydney, Mort’s Dock, and said, “ If you do not give us an extra 15s. a week we will not work for you “. The employers granted the extra 15s. Having entered into that agreement, the unions started to pick off the other ship repair yards. These yards were forced to accede to the demand for a higher wage and the wages and conditions were brought into line with those conceded by Mort’s Dock. The militant unions again started to attack Mort’s Dock and eventually Mort’s Dock went out of operation, thus depriving many men of a livelihood.
I am happy to say that the shipping industry has been revolutionized. There has been a vigorous development of a door-to-door “ seatainer “ service, the
Creation of a sales promotion organization to develop traffic, the establishment of modern cargo terminals and the development of specialized services to meet the requirements of a changing character of sea-borne trade. The Australian shipping companies have put up an heroic struggle over the years to aid Australia’s economic and geographic development. This has been done against tremendous odds. If any one suggests that communism and militancy have had no effect on our transport generally, I would refer to a statement made by Mr. Pieter de Vries in May of this year. He was the visiting secretary of the Transport Workers Federation in Great Britain, which has an affiliated membership of 7,000,000. According to press reports, he found it very strange that, although Communists cannot get into Parliament, they can control the unions. He said it was astonishing that in a country with no big unemployment, Communists could hold key positions in trade unions. One of the unions that must puzzle him most is the Waterside Workers Federation. Recently, it lost a Communist from a key position and elected a non-Communist. It elected Mr. Fitzgibbon in place of the late Jim Healy. The statement to which I have referred was made by a well-known British trade union leader. Surely his observations on the trade union position here are worthy of note. 1 am pleased to learn that the Commonwealth Government is to give every support to a shipowner who wishes !o help develop the coastal trade. This statement has been attributed to the Minister for Shipping’ and Transport (Mr. Opperman). I suggest that the industry could be best assisted by the introduction of a scheme to provide investment allowances such as that which operates in the United Kingdom. This would be a worth-while contribution to the Australian shipping industry.
Mr. E. JAMES HARRISON (Blaxland) 15.161. - We have just listened to a remarkable speech by the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Cockle).
– It was a very good speech.
– Yes, a very good speech crying about something that has happened to an industry that brought about its undoing. I have never heard that shipping companies did not make large profits, but they allowed their charges to rise to such a level that in modern days of transport the industry became outmoded. The honorable member surely must know that the intra-state shipping lines proved completely unable to meet modern requirements. People just could not wait four or five days for goods to come from the north coast of New South Wales to Sydney when an efficient rail service was available.
The honorable member must know, too, that when there was open competition two years ago for the transport of steel between Wollongong and Victoria, the New South Wales railways, with their modern services, were able to outstrip the shipping companies and were able to provide for the carriage of the goods at a lower price than the shipping companies could. The time factor was also important. The shipping companies have not brought themselves up to date. They have only themselves to (hank for their present plight. It is of no use for an honorable member to come here, wailing at the wall and blaming others for the present condition of the shipping industry. We have listened to this story in the Parliament for many years and when a new member came here we expected something different. However, we still hear the old charge that the communists are to blame. Perhaps we on this side of the committee could blame the profiteers, but I prefer to put to the honorable member that the shipping interests allowed themselves to become completely outmoded and were unable to meet the requirements of the public. Ships are unable to move goods quickly enough to meet the demands of these days. Shipping companies could have won the contract to ship steel from Wollongong to Melbourne, but they did not despite their new loading facilities and other developments. Ships cannot compete with rail transport in this era.
If rail transport gets a break, it will not only put shipping in its true place as an inefficient means of transport in the present economy; it will also do this for road and air transport. With the unification of the rail gauge between Sydney and Melbourne, the railways can profitably carry goods for something less than 2d. a ton-mile. Even if the shipping companies took only a reasonable profit, they could not compete with the railways on this basis, having regard to the time factor.
I strongly support the amendment moved by the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron). I cannot help but recall the report on rail standardization submitted by a committee of Government supporters, which was ordered to be printed on 2nd November, 1956 - almost six years ago. That committee began by stating in its first recommendation -
While there may be considerable doubts as to the justification for undertaking large-scale standardization of Australian railways under present circumstances . . .
It went on to recommend three projects for immediate implementation. The three standard-gauge links recommended were, first, that from Wodonga to Melbourne - this has already been completed - secondly, that from Broken Hill to Adelaide via Port Pirie, and, thirdly, that from Kalgoorlie to Perth and Fremantle. At page 1 of its report, the committee of Government supporters stated -
The standard gauge from Kalgoorlie westwards could not bring its full benefits until the Broken Hill-Port Pirie link was completed, and therefore stands behind it in priority. Both the Broken Hill line and the Melbourne line are of such high priority that it is difficult to decide which should be first constructed.
Dealing with the link between Broken Hill, Port Pirie and Adelaide, at page 17 of the report the committee declared -
The confusion and congestion at the Port Pirie transfer yards is such that goods arriving at Adelaide by road for loading on to the Commonwealth railway system are frequently taken on by road to Port Augusta, 56 miles away, where loading conditions are better. The wharfs at Port Pirie arc also prejudiced by the difficulties of bringing the three gauges down to ships’ side.
That report was accepted by the House of Representatives. The committee of Government supporters that made the report spoke of the defence value of the railways in the final analysis. 1 cannot help reminding honorable members that, on the- night when the “ Southern Aurora “ began its initial trip from Sydney to Melbourne on the standardgauge service, there was a great to-do because the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth), whose name appears first among the names of those members of the Parliament who signed this report, was not with us. Indeed, a very nice lady carried a placard which read, “Where is Billy Wentworth?”. He was chairman of the committee of Government supporters which investigated the standardization of railways. I wonder what his feelings are to-day when he thinks of the amendment that is now before the committee. The present Minister for Air (Mr. Fairbairn), also, was a member of the committee of Government supporters. His name appears second in the list of those who signed the report. The present Government Whip, the honorable member for Perth (Mr. Chaney), was the third member of that committee to sign the report.
That report called for the completion of the standard-gauge link between Broken Hill, Port Pirie and Adelaide before the completion of that between Kalgoorlie and Kwinana. However, there is a good reason why the link between Kalgoorlie and Kwinana has been undertaken first - because the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited wanted it. This year, and in 1961, the requirements of that company have had much more influence on the Menzies Government than the thinking of the Liberal and Country League Government in South Australia has had. The requirements of that big company have had a much more important bearing on the point of view of this Government than the national interest, which requires the standard-gauge link in South Australia, has had. Those are the facts behind the decision to undertake the construction of the line between Kalgoorlie and Kwinana first. Something that the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited wants is of more importance to this Government than is an important rail project that the South Australian Parliament, by unanimous decision, has pressed for.
The Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Opperman), who is now conducting a conversation at the table, is not sufficiently interested in this discussion even to pay attention to it. However, we believe that, somewhere at the top levels of this Government, thought is being given to a report on rail standardization that was presented to the Parliament by a committee of Labour members on the same day on which the committee of Government supporters presented its report - 31st October, 1956. The report by the committee of Opposition members was ordered to be printed, as was that by the committee of Government supporters, on 2nd November of the same year.
The report by the Opposition committee on rail standardization posed the question of whether the standardization of rail gauges was the answer to Australia’s transport problems. That committee stated that rail standardization, for all its value, was not the answer. The honorable member for Warringah, who made a plea on behalf of shipping, would do well to read what we on this side of the Parliament stated in our report. As appears at page 17, we pointed out that shipping has its place and its value in transport in Australia, and that bulk loading should put shipping in its proper perspective and enable it to play its part in the Australian transport system. We pointed out, also, that the use of dieselelectric locomotives by the railways would so reduce costs as to make long-distance haulage an important factor in transport. The committee went on to state that all this would not provide the answer to the transport difficulties of this country.
After almost thirteen years of administration by the Menzies Government, we are still where we were in 1949 with respect to the co-ordination of transport. The only co-ordination that has been undertaken so far has been forced on the road hauliers by the competition of the railways in interstate transport. Before the opening of the standard-gauge line between Melbourne and Sydney, long-distance road hauliers used to thumb their noses at the railway authorities when those authorities talked in terms of co-ordinated road and rail transport. However it was interesting to see what happened on the day when the first goods trains on the standard-gauge service left Sydney for Melbourne. That was a day not to be forgotten by those who saw the trains leaving Sydney. There were four freight trains, two with loads of 1,200 tons each and two with loads of 900 tons each, which left the Sydney terminal at express speed at intervals of twenty minutes. The great bulk of the freight carried represented co-ordinated road and rail traffic. Road hauliers were forced by rail competition to resort to the rail services.
The ineptitude of this Government is illustrated by its failure to establish the sort of machinery that should be associated with this kind of traffic - machinery that the committee of Opposition members reported was necessary. I refer to our recommenda tion for the establishment of an interstate commission to co-ordinate transport. We on this side of the chamber make no bones about it: When a Labour government comes into office, whether in April or in November of next year, one of the first things that we shall do is establish an interstate commission within the framework of section 101 of the Constitution. That section is very clear. It states -
There shall be an Inter-State 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.
The section makes particular reference to trade and commerce. That is a tremendously important field of activity to-day, Mr. Temporary Chairman. From the day on which the United Kingdom finally becomes a member of the European Economic Community, this field of activity will become more important than ever in Australia. If we do not co-ordinate trade and commerce in this country, we shall not successfully meet the difficulties that we shall face after the United Kingdom enters the European Common Market. We cannot conduct our trade and commerce most effectively without co-ordinating transport. This Government has been warned of the dangers, but it has only tinkered at the job of establishing an interstate commission. The Government has not attended to the real problem in transport any more than it has attended to the problems that face Australia as a result of Britain’s proposal to join the Common Market. We on this side of the chamber say quite frankly that the Government’s thinking is out of step with the needs of the situation. When Britain enters the European Common Market, the government of the day will fail this nation as a government if it does not co-ordinate transport so as to permit the proper conduct of our trade and commerce.
Let me remind honorable members that, since the British representatives last met the representatives of The Six, the Common Market countries have in the last few weeks made a major decision to undertake the complete co-ordination of transport under a transport commission. This will be, not a body established by one country alone, but an international body embracing all six countries. This commission will control not only rail transport. It will even control the kinds of vehicles that may use the roads and various other associated matters. The whole framework of transport in the six countries will be co-ordinated under one commission which will direct transport into various channels and control transport operations completely. Until we learn something of the progress that is being made on this aspect of transport, it is idle for us in this place to devote four hours to a discussion of matters which do not amount to a single solitary jot in the future planning of transport in Australia.
This Government seems to have lost every semblance of reasonable thinking about what is necessary in this field. Maybe because the railways are primarily the responsibility of the six State governments, this Government considers that it has not the power to see that rail transport is organized in the best interests of Australia but a Labour Government would do that. I put it to the committee as strongly as 1 can that unless we meet like with like; unless we handle trade and commerce in our own circle with the same efficiency as the European Economic Community handles its own and unless we hand over our transport problems to an interstate commission which will plan with the same efficiency and capacity as the European Economic Community is bringing to the solution of its problems, when Great Britain joins the European Common Market we shall fail the people we represent. This Parliament will fail the people if it does not measure up at least to the capacity being displayed by member countries of the European Economic Community in evolving solutions to transport problems. Do not let us argue about whether we should introduce an interstate shipping line unless we first understand its value in what will become, from the day Great Britain enters the Common Market, a new world.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- The Labour Party’s motion now before the Chair is in these terms -
That the amount of the vote - “ Department of Shipping and Transport, £4,150,000 “-be reduced by £1-
As an instruction to the Government -
To provide the finance necessary to carry out the conversion to standard gauge of the Port Pirie-Broken Hill rail link.
The motion is a complete sham. The Labour Party knows very well that even by reducing the proposed vote to the Department of Shipping and Transport it will not move one inch nearer to the provision of a standard gauge line from Port Pirie to Broken Hill. The Labour Party knows, if it knows anything, that no expenditure can be made from revenue without the Governor-General’s message. The Labour Party knows perfectly well that the Governor-General’s message is based on the advice of the duly elected government of the day. I remind members of the Labour Parly that much as they would like to be the government they have been rejected by the people for the last twelve years and will continue to be rejected if they persist in the kind of humbug and nonsense that is going on to-day.
The honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Sexton) paid a tribute to the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward), who, he stated, when Minister for Transport entered into the rail standardization agreement with South Australia. Let me remind the honorable member for East Sydney, in case he has forgotten, and other members of the Labour Party, that that agreement has just been held by the High Court of Australia not to be a legal agreement but purely a political agreement. Just like the honorable member for East Sydney, it is all politics and no fact or substance. If the agreement had been a legally enforceable agreement the South Australian Government would have succeeded in its action, but, because the agreement was like the honorable member for East Sydney - merely political - it was not enforceable. Notwithstanding the fact that there is not an enforceable agreement on rail standardization, this Government has proceeded far along the line of rail standardization because it believes in rail standardization. This Government provided £5,000,000 towards the standardization of the rail gauge in the south-east of South Australia. This Government provided the funds for the standardization of the rail gauge from Albury to Melbourne. Recently this Goment provided £1,300,000 for the purchase of diesel-electric motors as a first step towards the standardization of the rail gauge from Port Pirie to Broken Hill. This is not a question of whether rail gauges will be standardized. Of course they will be standardized. Every party in this chamber, every government in Australia, and the people of this country believe in rail standardization.
– Why do you not get on with the job?
– The honorable member for East Sydney has asked why we do not get on with the job. This Government has got on with the job. This Government has done a tremendous amount of rail standardization work. The honorable member for East Sydney, when a Minister, did nothing but talk. He did not cause one inch agreement which the High Court has just held to be completely futile and unenforceable. As my friend the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Forbes) has said, he did nothing but talk. He did not cause 1 inch of railway line in Australia to be standardized.
There is not the slightest doubt that our rail gauges will be standardized. The question is not whether they will be standardized but in what priority the work will be undertaken. No one could possibly imagine that the Government would standardize all the rail gauges in Australia. Only the main central lines will be standardized. To standardize the others would bc futile and stupid. Of course the rail gauge between Port Pire and Broken Hill will be standardized. In my opinion the work will be commenced in the near future.
– What guarantee have you for that?
– A jolly sight more guarantee than we had under the illegal, unenforceable, agreement of the honorable member for East Sydney.
When we consider the standardization of rail gauges we realize that a tremendous amount of capital is involved. Each State has in mind projects which will cost vast sums of money. The duly elected government of the people of the Commonwealth has to consider the projects that are put before it and decide which are most beneficial to Australia and so determine the order of priority in which they will be undertaken. No self-respecting Commonwealth government could succumb to blackmail by a State government or outside bodies. No Commonwealth government would be worthy of the name if it succumbed to any resolution passed by a State government or a group of outside citizens. It is nonsense to imagine that a motion such as was moved in the Senate or has been moved now in this place by the Opposition will be accepted. Members of the Labour Party know that it will not be accepted. They know that they are humbugs and shams. If the Commonwealth Government succumbed to this pressure by the South Australian Government, representatives of every State government would be in Canberra next week with a list of works which they had decided should be undertaken immediately. The amendment before the Chair is an impudent attempt by members of the Labour Party to blackmail the Government. They are aggrieved because they are always in the wilderness of opposition. They cannot form a government and have the responsibility of office because the people just do not want them and will not have them.
This Government will remain in office. It will continue to benefit the people of Australia and proceed with development at as fast a rate as the country can possibly afford. The Government can be extremely proud of its achievements in promoting development. No country of its size has developed as fast as Australia. I have sufficient confidence in the Minister for Shipping and Transport, and in the Government, to know that this work of standardizing the gauge from Port Pirie to Broken Hill will be proceeded with as soon as the economic position of the country permits. It is not for us as private members, and it is not for the Labour Party as an Opposition to determine the priorities for the expenditure of the scarce resources of government on public works. I believe that, generally speaking, the Government has done an excellent job in the development of this country. Although we do not always agree with its priorities on various matters, taken over the whole field of development, this Government has a record of which it can be justly proud. I say that we will not support this motion, because it represents blackmailing tactics by the Labour Party which is attempting to wrest from the duly elected Government of the country the power to expend the money which it has the responsibility of raising. Therefore, I oppose the amendment.
– 1 call the honorable member for Batman. This will be the honorable member’s maiden speech in this Parliament. I hope that the committee will give due heed to this fact and will hear him in silence.
.- Before speaking on the subject-matter of the debate, Mr. Temporary Chairman, I wish to thank you for your kind remark. I also wish to thank the good people of Batman for having made it possible for me to represent them in this Parliament. Before I came to this Parliament I knew the late honorable member for Batman, Mr. Alan Bird. Mr. Bird was a good man, a Christian man and a forthright man. I hope that I may follow in his footsteps and maintain the pattern of his behaviour. As the new boy in this Parliament I want to say how impressed I was when I was received by the Speaker both inside the House and outside it. I was also impressed, and I am still impressed by the courtesy and kindness that have been shown to me by the staff of the House. They have done all that they could to make me comfortable.
To get back to the subject-matter of the debate, Mr. Temporary Chairman, I heard the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Cockle) mention coastal shipping. He said that a ship had been held up because a seaman could not get his 27 suits into his locker. I do not know whether the days in which I served in ships might be called the good old days or the bad old days, but I was one of those fellows who have been described as coming up through the hawse pipe. I came up the hard way, and in my days you could not get one suit into your locker, let alone 27. There were twelve of us living in a room 20 ft. long and 12 ft. wide. Those were the conditions under which we lived in 1927. A very famous character of that day put on a strike - if you like to call it a strike - so that the seamen could get ham and eggs twice a week. That fellow became known, and is known to this day, as “ Ham and Eggs “ Lyons. As a result of his action, from 1927 to the outbreak of war in 1939, eggs were served twice a week, on Thursdays and Sundays, no matter whether the ship was in port or not. Prior to that, even when eggs were 8d. a dozen in Adelaide, and would have been cheaper than any other food, they had not been served to the seamen.
The honorable member for Warringah mentioned that intra-state shipping and interstate shipping had fallen by the wayside. I want to remind him that that happened during this Government’s term of office. I remind the committee that we had some very good coastal passenger ships at one time. When war broke out, we had eighteen of them. They included “ Manunda “, “ Manoora “, “ Kanimbla “, “ Westralia “, “ Orungal “, “ Ormiston “, : Taroona “ and “ Canberra “. Most of them have gone during the life of this Government. I think that the Australian Shipbuilding Board has done a fair job in building ships, but it has not replaced the ships that should have been replaced. lt has allowed foreign ships to ply on the coast and carry passengers and cargo that should have been carried by our own ships.
Much has been said about “ P. J. Adams “. I have here a report issued by the Department of Shipping and Transport in 1960. The following passage appears in a foreword to the report by the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Opperman): -
Although various dry cargo vessels are under construction for the coastal trade it is notable that the only tanker on order in Australia is for use in overseas trade, despite a complete absence of any Australian owned tankers engaged in coastal trading. Refined petroleum products arc the second largest individual item carried between coastal ports, being exceeded only by the ironstone lift.
The Minister went on to say that there was an opening for the construction of coastal tankers. He said that Australian yards had the capacity to construct them, and that such work would provide a great stimulus to the Australian shipbuilding industry and to the shipping industry in general. What has happened since then? No tankers are under construction. “ P. J. Adams “ is nearly completed. As we all know, it is going to be manned by a foreign crew.
I have read the letter that has been circulated to all honorable members by Ampol Petroleum Limited, but I say this: The Ampol company, in its advertisements, has advocated that we should be Australian and buy Australian, and do all the other things that go with being a good Australian. But have they been good Australians? I do not know. The same company has lent itself to the building of “ Gretel”. Is “ Gretel “ going to be manned by nonAustralians? Why not, in view of this company’s policy? We should have enough national pride to see that our own ships are Australian manned. I congratulate the Government for having made it possible to build “ P. J. Adams “ in Australia, but the job would have been finished off properly had the ship been manned by our own nationals.
I agree with the statement of the Minister for Shipping and Transport that tankers, should be built in Australia. At times, some seventeen tankers are trading around the Australian coast, carrying petroleum products. Constantly, six tankers are doing this. These fly the flags of all nations, lt is possible to see around the Australian coast tankers flying the Liberian flag or the flag of Panama. Those flags are known as “ flags of convenience “ because the owners of the ships do not have to observe the safety regulations that are laid down by other countries. Those same ships, which are undermanned, are carrying cargoes around our coast. 1 have been a pilot for the last fourteen years and have seen these things and have watched the trend. This practice should be stopped. We should have our own tankers for our national benefit. I remind the chamber that during the Suez crisis, when the tanker fleet was suddenly recalled, Australia could have been left isolated. It is time we had tankers of our own. Even a ship the size of “ P. J. Adams “ is capable of trading around our coast, and 1 hope the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Opperman) will do something to ensure the building of tankers for Australia because they are most necessary.
The estimates of the Department of Shipping and Transport provide for a subsidy for a shipping service to Papua and New Guinea and three vessels, “ Bulolo “, “Malaita”, and “Malekula” are mentioned. These vessels are running from
Australian ports to Papua-New Guinea in competition with Chinese-manned ships trading between Sydney, Melbourne and Papua. These are some of the ships which fly the flag of convenience; they do not trade solely on our coast. I ask the Minister to stop that practice, because those ships should be manned by our own nationals.
I want next to speak about the loss of Australian passenger shipping services. Any one wanting to travel on the Australian coast to-day must do so in either a British or a foreign-owned passenger ship. In an emergency Australia would be left with no ships capable of giving it service. Members will recall that when our forces were taken to Malaya some of them went there in a ship called “ Flaminia “ because we had no shipping of our own with which to transport them. “ Flaminia “ was an Italianmanned ship flying the flag of Panama. That kind of thing is wrong.
I wish now to bring to the notice of the Minister our lack of ice-breakers. The Antarctic continent is said to cover approximately 5,000,000 square miles, and Australia controls practically half of that area. But every year we send 15,000 miles to Denmark to charter three ice-breakers with which to transport personnel and stores to the Antarctic. It is time we stood on our own feet in this regard. We have been a nation long enough, and if we do not soon stand on our own feet we will lose our country. AH the other nations which have possessions in the Antarctic supply those areas with their own ships. I hope the Minister will see his way clear to ensure that Australia has its own ice-breakers for this purpose.
Recently a new line, known as the Boomerang Line, has been formed and its vessels are running between Australia and South America. In a magazine published by the Department of Trade a fortnight ago there was a picture of one of these ships and under the picture appeared the words, “ This is an Australian ship “. It is not an Australian ship. There appeared also the words, “This is an Australian-owned company “, but that also is incorrect. The Boomerang Line is entirely Norwegianowned and is trading between Australia and South America. We should be trading with South America in our own right. We are looking for markets overseas and are trying to expand our exports, so we should be building in Australia ships capable of trading with overseas countries. I hope the Minister will do something to bring this about.
Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I congratulate the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Benson) on his maiden speech which he delivered with obvious sincerity and knowledge of his subject and with due force and expression. I hope the honorable member, with undoubted knowledge of his subject which should enable him to inform this House from time to time on problems associated with the sea, shipping and seamen, will not allow political bias at any time to cloud his sound judgment, although I agree that that is an error into which any of us might fall. The honorable member mentioned the loss of Australian passenger shipping from our coast. He referred to “ Kanimbla “, “ Manoora “ and other ships, all of which were privately owned. Those vessels were not government-owned and their services were discontinued on economic grounds only. Obviously the cost of operation was too great to enable the companies to continue to operate those vessels. I do not see how a socialized shipping service can provide greater economy in operation than a privately operated service; and this is where the honorable member must not allow his technical knowledge to be clouded by political bias. No socialized service, whatever it might be, is necessarily more economic than a privately owned service. In fact, quite the opposite is the case; a socialized service is generally uneconomic.
– What about Trans-Australia Airlines?
– An honorable member opposite mentions Trans-Australia Airlines. I want to deal with the airlines of Australia, including Trans-Australia Airlines and Ansett-A.N.A., as well as the operations of the Department of Civil Aviation. Unfortunately the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge) is in another place, but I hope he will take cognizance of what I have to say about our air services.
The service to and from Western Australia was never so bad as it has been since rationalization. That service has never been so bad as it is to-day, in spite of modern methods and improved aircraft. I use both Trans-Australia Airlines’s service and that of Ansett-A.N.A. and travel between Canberra and Perth twice a week. However, since rationalization the competitive spirit which previously operated between the two airlines has ceased to exist.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
– The committee is discussing the Estimates and dealing in particular with the votes for the Department of Civil Aviation and the Department of Shipping and Transport. The honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) has moved that the vote of the Department of Shipping and Transport be reduced by £1 as an instruction to the Government to proceed with the construction of a standard-gauge railway in South Australia. I have not engaged in that argument, as there are enough arguments in my own State of Western Australia; the South Australians can argue that for themselves.
At the suspension of the sitting I was pursuing the question of the deterioration in air services to Western Australia. We find the anomalous position that both airline companies under the rationalization scheme are guilty of using the aircraft that are most suited for long-distance travelling the most infrequently on these services. The aircraft most suited for travel between the west coast and the eastern States are the Electras, but we have to put up with Viscounts and outmoded DC6’s. As those planes cannot cover the full distance without refuelling travellers reach their destination at all hours. In spite of advances made in aircraft, the service to Western Australia has not improved at all. I suggest that it is time the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge) and the major airline companies got together and looked at the question of acquiring aircraft suitable for long-distance travel. Australia is a big continent. All too frequently we look only at the short distance between Sydney and Melbourne, Melbourne and Canberra, or
Sydney and Canberra and think that that is the whole of Australia. Australia extends for thousands of miles. When we think of air travel to-day we should be thinking of pure jet aircraft. It is time the airways had these aircraft for the services between the east coast and the important and rapidly developing State of Western Australia.
I know that an argument the airways companies frequently advance is that aircraft have to be kept in the air to make them pay. With suitable jet aircraft operating over long distances and with satisfactory schedules the aircraft could be kept in the air. Airline companies overseas do not worry about flying their planes mainly at times to suit the businessman as we do in Australia. At present all aircraft schedules cater for the businessman; planes leave after breakfast, after lunch or after dinner. But in Western Australia passengers have to board the aircraft at mid-night and arrive in the eastern States without having a night’s sleep. I know that aircraft have to be kept in the air, but if they could fly the distance in 3i hours instead of 7 hours they could do the trip twice as often.
I move now to a subject concerning the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Opperman). The Minister’s note on the proposed vote of £42,000 for maintenance of the Eyre and Barkly highways states that the item covers an annual contribution of £25,000 towards the maintenance of the Eyre Highway between Penong in South Australia and Norseman in Western Australia, a distance of 723 miles. Sir, I ask you and the committee to imagine how far £25,000 will go in maintaining 723 miles of road! Why, I could spit in the dust and do as much good. Representations have been made repeatedly to the Commonwealth Government for something to be done about the Eyre Highway. This is a strategic highway which is extremely important, and yet in this important period in the history of Western Australia, when this highway will be used to a tremendous extent, we find that the Commonwealth has not started to think about putting in a decent road. This is a disappointment to the people in the west, and it must be a disappointment to many in Australia who want to travel along that highway. I suggest to the Minister that he have another look at this matter. I know that he has had a consultation with the Premier of Western Australia, who came to Canberra on one occasion especially to plead for Commonwealth assistance to improve the Eyre Highway. I believe that the Commonwealth could find the money necessary for this project from that portion of the Commonwealth Aid Roads fund, which is available to it for defence purposes. This highway can be regarded as one required for ancillary defence purposes.
In the few moments that I have left I should like to deal with the promotion of road safety practices, for which an amount of £150,000 is again provided this year. The Minister’s note under this head says -
An extensive programme of public education on road safety, using principally the mass media of metropolitan press, T.V. and radio will be financed from the Commonwealth allocation and the cost of local campaigns in the A.C.T. and N.T. will also be met from this amount.
He goes on to say that £50,000 will go to the States. I am certain that nobody could be very happy about the position with regard to road accidents in Australia at the present time. A road safety campaign has been conducted over a period of years, but we find that the incidence of road accidents is steadily increasing year by year. It is no good telling me that we have a bigger population and more vehicles capable of faster speeds. I feel that somehow we are not getting an effective programme of public education. I doubt whether the advertisements have any real effect in creating an awareness of the need for safety on the roads. I suggest that the money might be used more successfully if it were devoted to an investigation of the real causes of road accidents. It is all very well to say that speed or some other single cause is responsible for accidents; we should find out whether an educational campaign is needed, or just what it is that is wanted to avoid these accidents. If speed is the cause, then it may be necessary to look for some means of controlling the speed, not voluntarily, but by fitting governors to cars. We must seek other ways of overcoming accidents, which I am satisfied cannot be prevented merely by displaying horror placards reading “ Death is so permanent “, or something of that sort. Something must be done about the accidents as television films and radio programmes have made no impression.
I suggest that the Minister should call a conference or appoint a committee to investigate the causes of accidents. There should be a thorough examination of the circumstances of every accident so that a real picture of the causes of accidents in Australia can be found. Then the experts could sit down and ascertain ways and means of avoiding accidents. There is a need for something more than displays of films or horror pictures along the roadside. 1 hope the Minister will take some notice of what I have said.
I believe that the amendment moved by the honorable member for Hindmarsh will not achieve the purpose that the Labour Party would have us believe it wants us to achieve. I propose to vote against it.
.- In rising to support this amendment I must say that I am disappointed at the way in which the speech of the mover, the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron), has been received by members of the Government parties. I regard the honorable member’s speech in support of his amendment as that of a man who has a great Australian outlook. In moving his amendment and speaking in support of it he was not moved by political considerations, and that is why I am supporting him. The honorable member for Hindmarsh has long been known as a man who is fighting in this Parliament, to some degree hopelessly, for the advancement of this nation. The ideas he has submitted have repeatedly been rejected by the Government, not for logical reasons, but merely because the Government has the numbers to defeat Opposition amendments and proposals, and because it will not recognize the patriotic motives of the honorable member for Hindmarsh or admit the worth of the ideas that he has advanced here on many occasions.
The amendment calls for the immediate implementation of the finding of the Labour Party’s committee on rail standardization which some years ago investigated standardization very thoroughly. That committee applied itself most diligently to its task, and the thanks of the Australian people, particularly those of Western Australia and South Australia, are due to the secretary of the committee, the honorable member for Stirling (Mr. Webb). Other members of the committee have worked very hard, particularly its chairman, but modesty for-; bids me to mention his name.
Rail standardization is of major importance to this country, and we hope that members on the Government side, particularly those who come from South Australia, will purge themselves of political hatred and prejudice, rising above these base considerations, and support the amendment. 1 do so because, if this amendment is carried, and acted upon, it will be of untold benefit, primarily to South Australia, and generally to all of the people of Australia. That is why 1 am raising my voice in support of the amendment.
The amendment deals with proposals to engage immediately in the standardization of the railway between Port Pirie and Broken Hill, lt is true that this railway is of narrow gauge - 3 ft. 6 in. According to the report of the South Australian Commissioner of Railways the construction of the line was commenced in the year 1875. The line runs from Port Pirie through Peterborough to what I am told is called “ Cockburn “, and thence via the Silverton tramway to Broken Hill. The line reached Broken Hill in about 1887. I understand from those who have travelled on the line that it looks as though no improvement has been made to it since 1887. This railway is inefficient and costly to operate. It is costly in maintenance of the vehicles used on it, and its freight charges are high. The latest example of standardization - the line between Wodonga and Melbourne - has proved that standardization of gauges between the principal parts of this Commonwealth reduces costs. Indeed, the Tariff Board reminds us that the recent reduction in road charges by heavy transport operators was forced on those people by competition from the standard gauge line between Melbourne and Sydney. That is one of the most cogent arguments in favour of the extension of standardization.
The Labour Party’s committee on rail standardization, and the similar committee of Government supporters which was headed by the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth), some years ago advocated the extension of standardization. The Labour Party’s committee preceded the
Government members’ committee in presenting its report to the Parliament advocating the extension of standardization.
The standardization of the line between Sydney and Melbourne means that there is a standard gauge between Melbourne and Brisbane. The Government has decided to assist in the building of a standard gauge from Kalgoorlie to Fremantle in Western Australia, but even then there will remain that break of gauge which has been the terror of everybody who takes a big, broad Australian outlook. It was the terror of defence chiefs and of Cabinet Ministers in the Curtin and Chifley Governments during the war. That break of gauge between the principal centres of Australia will continue to exist, and the eastern States will have no standard-gauge connexion with Western Australia and South Australia.
In this amendment we ask the Government to implement immediately the agreement which the Commonwealth Parliament entered into with South Australia in 1949. There must be some degree of honour between parliaments and governments, even Liberal governments. This Parliament did enter into an agreement with South Australia to co-operate in the work of standardizing the line between Port Pirie, an important industrial centre in South Australia, and Broken Hill in New South Wales. The completion of this work would do more than connect Broken Hill with Port Pirie. It would also connect the railway systems of the eastern States ultimately with the railway systems of Western Australia and with the port of Fremantle and would be of the utmost advantage to the industrialized parts of South Australia.
The honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Luchetti) has pointed out repeatedly that the mining industry in New South Wales is falling into a decline. With the construction of this standardized railway which we advocate the black coal mining centres of western New South Wales would be brought very much closer to the places that demand New South Wales black coal for smelting. This would reduce to a great degree the costs associated with the smelting of lead from Broken Hill.
Before the suspension of the sitting, the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly) gave a most inglorious display of, on the one hand, patriotism to his State and, on the other hand, cowardice as demanded by loyalty to his party. He believes in what we are advocating, but he is afraid to support us and his State. He said that the cost of the smelting of lead could be reduced by from £3 to £6 a ton by the lowering of the freights charged for the transport of ore from Broken Hill to the Port Pirie smelters. With the advent of the European Common Market, notwithstanding what the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Bury) states, there is going to be difficulty for Australia, particularly in the export lead market, and the cry here for a long time has been that Australia must reduce costs of production. The easiest and quickest way to reduce the costs of production of our export products is to reduce the cost of transportation. This can be done by linking more closely the great industrial State of New South Wales, with its heavy volume of coal production, with the other great State of South Australia, which is developing more and more along industrial lines.
Some honorable members on the Government side may oppose the proposition advanced by the honorable member for Hindmarsh, contending that it would not be an economic proposition. Figures published by the South Australian Railways Commissioner in his last annual report show that traffic on the Broken Hill to Port Pirie line is very heavy indeed. As I said earlier, having in mind the fact that the line was built between 1875 and 1877, it is rather amazing that the line is able to carry the traffic that it is called upon to carry. We find that during the last year for which figures are available the line carried 751,000 tons of minerals between Broken Hill and Port Pirie, and 143,000 tons of general goods. The total revenue received by the South Australian Railways Department for the carriage of all these goods was £3,312,000. The traffic is increasing as time goes on and the revenue is increasing proportionately. It is obvious, therefore, that the standardization of gauge of this line would be of great value to the Commonwealth. It would be of economic value to the Commonwealth and it would be a payable proposition for the railway authority operating the line.
If the Government decided to implement the agreement entered into some years ago, there would be no difficulty in carrying out the work. The terrain of the country does not present any engineering difficulties. There are 80,000 persons at present registered as unemployed. Technical engineering staff is available immediately to carry out the planning and supervision of the project. We are at present sending our highly trained engineers from the Snowy Mountains scheme to Cambodia and other SouthEast Asian countries, to plan flood prevention and hydro-electric schemes in those countries. Here we have an opportunity to use them in this country, and we should be using them for our own development.
– Finish on that note.
– I shall be happy to finish on that note, because I think it is a very worthy note indeed. In any case, I shall finish within my time. I say in conclusion that I believe this to be one of the finest amendments proposed in this Parliament since I have been a member of it. It is designed for the development of Australia and it is entirely purged of any political motives. I hope that it will be carried. It has the unanimous support of every member of the South Australian Parliament, Liberal, Labour and Independent alike. It has the support of a large number of members of this committee, but I am afraid that many of them, for political reasons, will not be game to support the amendment.
.- The honorable member for Griffith (Mr. Coutts) ended his speech by saying, if I remember his words correctly, that this amendment was purged of political motives. 1 should not think that there is one member of this committee who would believe that statement, not even the honorable member for Griffith himself. There is not one member of the public who would believe it. If any proof is needed of political motives, the amendment was moved by the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron), who has never done anything in his life for other than political reasons.
The honorable member for Griffith reflected on my colleague, the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly), who put the case for the Government so well in this debate. The honorable member for Wakefield did not say, as the honorable member for Griffith alleged, that he intended to reject the amendment because he felt he had to support the Government. What he said, and what I join with him in saying, is that the Opposition, in moving this amendment, has put us on this side of the chamber in the position of having to choose between rejecting the amendment or bringing upon Australia the absolutely unmitigated disaster of a socialist government. The honorable member for Wakefield said he would not abide that. Neither will I abide it, because nothing could be worse for the country than that it should have a socialist government thrust upon it.
I want to refer to a number of distortions and misstatements uttered by honorable gentlemen opposite in this debate. I refer particularly to the honorable member for Hindmarsh and the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward). Both of them implied that South Australia was the Cinderella State in the matter of rail standardization. The honorable member for East Sydney said in so many words, “ I negotiated this agreement”. Actually he did not say exactly that; he said that the Labour Government had negotiated it, but everybody realized that he was the Minister for Transport at the time. He said that the negotiation of the agreement was one of the last acts of the Labour Government before it went out of office, and that nothing has since happened with respect to that agreement until this moment. The honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Sexton) made a similar statement, and when I interjected he refused to answer me, because he knew he was distorting the truth. The fact is that this Government, the Menzies Government, spent £5,000,000 under this agreement on rail standardization in South Australia in the south-eastern division, in my own electorate. The project was completed only last year. The first standardization project ever undertaken in any State with Commonwealth financial assistance was carried out in South Australia with, the help of this Government. As the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Malcolm Fraser) reminds me, it was in the electorate of Barker, with great advantage to that area and to the whole State of South Australia.
I, like my colleagues, the honorable member for Wakefield and the honorable member for Sturt (Mr. Wilson), believe that this line should be standardized. We urge upon the
Government the desirability of standardizing it as soon as possible, but we cannot accept this resolution, which has been brought forward purely for party political purposes.
I just want to say a few words about the motives and the morality of honorable members opposite in bringing forward this amendment. I must confess that I am deeply disappointed in my Labour friends from South Australia. I am even more disappointed in the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) for his failure to appear during this debate. He has been very vocal on this matter in the past. Of course, he has tried to show a different image of the Australian Labour Party from that which has been displayed in the past. I wonder whether he realizes the sordid, motives involved in the introduction of this resolution and, rather than tarnish the image that he has tried so hard to display, has kept out of the discussion, although he has been quite vocal on the subject in the past. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition has endeavoured to build up an image of the Australian Labour Party as an organization with vision, Australian to the core, which would govern in the best interests of Australia as a whole - no jobs for the boys, no roads and bridges solutions of the problems of political support, no subjection to pressure groups, whether they be public or private. The reports of the federal conferences of the Australian Labour Party show that this is one reason why Labour stands for unification and the abolition of the federal system - not unification of rail gauges but unification of the system of government - so that available funds can be spent in accordance with national priority and not at the dictates of political logrolling.
Last week, we had Opposition members urging us to take a national view, as they put it, of our responsibilities rather than a parochial one in the fields of education and flood control. You, Mr. Chairman, put the Opposition to rights on that point, as I remember so well. The Opposition has put the development of the north in the forefront of its policy and has urged us to accept our national responsibilities in the matter. These are fine phrases, particularly in the mouth of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. He is a fine phrase-maker. He spins words well. He has an excellent presence, and from that commanding height he arouses all the emotions of a vision splendid of Australia’s future. He exudes highmindedness and noble aspirations - a fine image, a noble image. He has done well. We have only to look at the motley crew behind him - the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron), for instance, or those who pull the strings in the Trades Hall in Melbourne and other places - to realize that any one who could even start to compound them into an image of nobility or national interest is either a genius or a superb illusionist.
Just imagine the qualities necessary to persuade the Australian public that there is something noble and fine about the honorable member for Hindmarsh, and that if he were in office he would pursue, as he has tried to suggest this afternoon, a highminded policy based on the national interest! The proposition has only to be stated to make it clear that at the very least the Deputy Leader of the Opposition has almost superhuman powers of persuasion.
So much for the image; what of the reality? As so often happens, this is very different. Take the case we are discussing - rail standardization in South Australia, which is the subject of the amendment. Where are the arguments based on national priorities? Where are the arguments designed to show that this project has a greater claim on the resources of the Commonwealth at this stage than have the other works of national importance that we are undertaking? Where are these arguments? They have not been used. Not once in this debate has any member of the Opposition from South Australia tried in any way to relate the priority of this project to the priorities of other great national works that we are undertaking with increasing frequency.
– What did Sir Thomas Playford say?
– It is no use trying to get out of it, as the honorable member for Scullin does, by pointing out that Sir Thomas Playford thinks that this work has a higher priority than anything else has. Of course he does! That is his job as Premier of South Australia - to give anything in South Australia a higher priority than anything elsewhere - and for over 25 years he has done this remarkably well. It is not his job to lift his eyes beyond the confines of the borders of South Australia. It is his task to demand and assert that every project in his State has the highest priority. But these gentlemen opposite are not Sir Thomas Playfords. Quite apart from the fact that they have not as much ability in their whole bodies as he has in his little finger, they claim to stand for the nation. The honorable member for Griffith (Mr. Coutts) said that the honorable member for Hindmarsh was an Australian patriot; that he had moved this resolution in the national interests. That is what Opposition members claim. That is the image they try to project. So much do they believe in national priorities in the national interest that they desire to do away with the States so that there will be no doubt about their ability to establish these priorities!
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition has been in Port Augusta over the weekend - in the electorate of the honorable member for Grey (Mr. Edgar Russell), who has been strangely silent in this debate - being soundly trounced by the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly) in a debate on the development of northern Australia. He stood there with his hand on his heart and said in that magnificent way of his: “ Labour will develop the north. This will be given the highest priority. That we pledge “. Fine words, but how is it to be carried out if the principles enumerated by honorable gentlemen in this debate are to be applied? It so happens that the north falls in only two of the six States; but according to honorable gentlemen opposite, if works are undertaken in one State, it is right and just that they . should be undertaken in equal proportion in the others. This, of course, is another way of saying that the development of the north would never take place. What has happened in this situation of national priorities, to the bright and shining image that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition has tried so carefully to create? The fact is that the whole image, at the first test, is exposed for what it is - a front that crumbles to the ground the moment there is a chance of making political capital out of demagogic appeals to the baser and more parochial instincts in people. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition is revealed for what he really is - not a knight in shining armour, the image he has tried to project, but the worst type oflog rolling Tammany Hall political boss. The members from South Australia are a lot of ward heelers, yapping at the heels of the big boss, yelping for some of the spoils as a reward for betraying their political principles.
Whatever they may do about their political principles, I will not betray mine by supporting an amendment which would bring a socialist government into office, particularly this Opposition. Nothing is important enough to inflict such a disaster on Australia. I have complete faith that this Government will provide funds in the next few years to make a start on the South Australian project; it will certainly be prodded into doing so by me and by my colleagues on this side of the chamber from South Australia. But I have faith, because this Government has the best record in the field of rail standardization in Australian history. Indeed, it is the only record. I would like to emphasise that by repeating what I said earlier! This Government is the only government that has standardized one inch of the State railways since federation. I have faith that the Government will continue this record.
.- I support the amendment so ably moved by the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron). In addressing myself to the estimates for the Department of Shipping and Transport, I wish to make my contribution on the subject of Australia’s roads. In doing so, I fully endorse the statement that appeared in the “Morning Bulletin “ of Rockhampton on Friday, 20th July, 1962. Under the heading “Australian Road Federation “, it said -
The Federation holds that Australia’s roads problem will never be solved until it is attacked as a nation and not by a collection of States.
How true those words are, Mr. Chairman. The same article declared that a complete overhaul of our roads is considered to be inevitable, whatever the cost. As to what the cost may be, the Australian Road Federation has a comforting slogan -
Good roads don’t cost, they pay.
With that statement I am in full accord. In support of this theory, the article in the Rockhampton “ Morning Bulletin “ cited the United States Bureau of Public Roads. That instrumentality financed its early road schemes with bonds which, it was predicted, would never pay off, but the wealth created was so vast that no trouble was experienced in meeting the charges. The fact is that the development of a country and the development of its roads usually go hand in hand. The root of Australia’s road problem is that we have no national plan. The six State governments are trying to cope individually with the problem without having the necessary resources. Admittedly, the Commonwealth has no constitutional power over road development, but it is asked to provide substantial finance without a voice in the planning of the expenditure.
Let me direct my remarks for a few minutes to the road system throughout Australia, Mr. Chairman. Better roads will not be achieved by proclaiming how much governments have spent in the past or have promised to spend in the next few years. Better roads can be achieved only by considering how much money we need to spend on roads and how such sums can be raised and most effectively spent. The raising of revenue and loans for the construction of roads is a dual responsibility of the Commonwealth and the States. Only the Commonwealth can now raise revenue proportionate to the use made of the roads, and the States and their subordinate bodies have the greatest experience in constructing roads. There is no clearer example of the need for co-operation between the Commonwealth and the States. But there is no machinery for that co-operation. Consideration of the further provision of finance for road’s would not be necessary if funds were already being provided to enable sufficient expenditure to be undertaken and to enable it to be made in an equitable manner.
In 1956, the Commonwealth Department of Shipping and Transport, with the assistance of the State road authorities, prepared for the Australian Transport Advisory Council a paper in which it was estimated that the minimum requirements for a reasonable and practicable programme for the construction and maintenance of all roads in the ensuing ten years would entail a cost of £1,643,000,000. This figure was based on 1956 cost levels and on such information as the State road authorities had available, but was arrived at without much detailed field study. In 1959, the Department of Shipping and Transport, on behalf of the Australian Transport Advisory Council, issued a statement estimating that the financial requirements of the State mainroad authorities for the future development, improvement and maintenance of principal national highways and subsidiaries during the next ten years would total £949,500,000. Here again, the estimate was prepared without much detailed field study.
Last year, the National Association of Australian State Road Authorities reported that £2,350,000,000 was required to bring all main roads and all other roads in country areas to an appropriate standard within ten years. This estimate was the result of work undertaken by the State road authorities over several years. First, the authorities agreed on the appropriate standards. Next, in co-operation with the local councils, particularly in country areas, they examined the traffic and the needs over many thousands of miles judged to be typical throughout the various States. They deliberately endeavoured to avoid setting any standard which could be thought too generous. The estimate excluded only urban residential streets which are not main roads. It thus excluded only those roads which can be appropriately constructed and maintained by expenditure made out of local government rates or borrowings. The estimate can therefore be taken to indicate the amount of money which the Commonwealth and the States must raise in revenue or borrow for road purposes.
How much money is being spent on roads? The Department of Shipping and Transport estimates that the original sources of funds expended on road works in each State from 1955 to 1960 were as follows: -
Between the same years, the Commonwealth collections of petrol tax increased from £37,500,000 to £58,300,000, and its road grants to the States under the Commonwealth Aid Roads Act increased from £26,100,000’ to £43,900,000. Over the same period, the gross State motor taxes increased from £29,800,000 to £47,600,000. So it is clear, Mr. Chairman, that road expenditures are not keeping pace with road requirements and that further funds will be required for the programme recommended. Therefore, it is necessary to consider whether further funds can be raised from Commonwealth, State and local government sources, and, if they can, how they can be raised.
How can we raise more money for roads? The Commonwealth raises revenue from the petrol tax, which, since it is either a customs or an excise duty, can, under the Constitution, be levied by the Commonwealth alone. The States raise revenue by licencefees, registration fees, tolls and ton-mile taxes. They borrow money through the Commonwealth which raises it by way of loans and taxes.
Local government bodies raise revenue from rates and borrow funds from the public on the terms and to the extent permitted by the Australian Loan Council. The Commonwealth Government maintains the attitude that petrol tax is a general revenue tax and not a special purpose tax. Treasury officials are said to sponsor this attitude. However, the Commonwealth Grants Commission has expressed the contrary view. The Government itself inconsistently regards the taxes which State governments levy as special purpose taxes and not general revenue taxes because it requires the States to increase such taxes to earn matching grants from the Commonwealth under the Commonwealth Aid Roads Act.
The argument that the petrol tax is not a special purpose tax has become an impediment to national planning for road construction since the 1955 High Court judgments and the Privy Council decision on the State ton-mile taxes. These were the only taxes which the States levied on the basis of the use which vehicles made of the roads. The court’s decision prevented the States imposing any such taxes on vehicles engaged in interstate trade except to the extent necessary to maintain the roads in their existing condition. Since that time it has been clear that the only tax which can be imposed evenly on all road users is the petrol tax which is a Commonwealth monopoly.
The petrol tax has other virtues. It defies constitutional challenge, and the amount paid varies with the weight of the vehicle, the distance covered and the speed at which it is driven. Most State taxes come from flat rate fees charged for registering vehicles and for licensing drivers. The fees are the same whether a person drives a vehicle for 5,000 miles or for 50,000 miles. No tax is saved by having regard to this aspect. It is not certain whether the Constitution permits State governments to charge fees for registering vehicles and for licensing drivers engaged in interstate trade, or to levy tolls on vehicles traversing a toll road or a bridge in the course of an interstate journey. They may levy fees on interstate vehicles only within the limits which have been mentioned. The States can charge prohibitive licensing-fees for vehicles competing with the railways on an intra-state journey but can charge no fees on those engaged on a genuine interstate journey. State revenue raising for roads is thus hedged around with a multitude of limitations and exemptions.
Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– Like some honorable members on this side of the chamber I was naturally disappointed that there was no mention in the Budget of a preliminary allocation for the standardization of the rail gauge between Broken Hill and Port Pirie. Nevertheless I am afraid that I cannot vote fo> the motion proposed by the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) for the very good and simple reason that a vote on the Estimates must, of its very nature, be a vote of censure of the Government and must involve its resignation. This is not a proper issue on which to do that. This is not a case of the denial of the standardization of this line; very much the opposite! If honorable members read the letter which the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) sent last August to Sir Thomas Playford they will see that all that is involved is a deferment of the project. I would have hoped that a deferment would not take place, but this is no reason to put into office an alternative government. And what an alternative!
It is all very well for honorable members opposite to say somewhat sanctimoniously, “ Let us keep this issue above party politics “. They know very well that if this motion were carried, it being a motion relating to the Estimates, it would involve, unless it were reversed immediately, the assignation of the Government. They know also that they themselves are bound very strictly by caucus rules. In point of fact, they have signed a pledge in that regard. We on this side of the chamber are not so bound. We have not signed any such pledge. So the clamour comes very ill indeed from honorable members opposite who have tied themselves hand and foot by the caucus pledge which every single one of them has signed. lt is gratifying to me, and I think to other members of our rail standardization committee, to know that of the three lines which we recommended for standardization - the Albury to Melbourne line, the Kalgoorlie to Fremantle line and the Broken Hill to Port Pirie line - one has been completed and is in operation, another is under construction and the third has been assented to in principle by the Government. In addition, it has the cordial support of the Premier of South Australia. Even the Opposition is now jumping on the band wagon, or shall I say the railway wagon. It is a source of some gratification to members of our committee to know that our three projects have fared in the way which I have mentioned.
In my view the Broken Hill to Port Pirie line - I have some reason for saying this - will return full interest on the new money invested. It is economically good, it ls important for the future of the towns of Broken Hill and Port Pirie and it is also of quite considerable moment for the further development of secondary industries in Adelaide. In addition, it has gained a new importance because of the proposal to develop the complex of industries at Whyalla, and it fits in well with the Commonwealth system. It will bring additional revenue to the Commonwealth trans-continental railway, it will improve our whole system of national transport and it certainly has a good deal of significance from the defence point of view.
I shall not go into this matter in detail because I believe that the principles stated in the rail standardization committee’s report still holds good. But there are new factors which now seem to render this line more vital. They are, first, the possible entry of Great Britain into the European Common Market and the consequent troubles which the metal refining industry at Port Pirie may thereby experience. So there is a new reason to help Port Pirie. There is the development of the steel industry at Whyalla to which I have already referred. There is an ominous worsening in the international situation which I think should increase the defence significance of the line. There is the question of the proper development of port facilities at Port Pirie, and finally, there is the present construction under way of the Western Australian link which of itself renders the Broken Hill to Port Pirie section - the missing link - yet more logical and, I would say, yet more inevitable. The amount required for this area would be a small amount only. I am not going to try to dig up the past. I do not know to what extent this is involved in the complex negotiations over the Chowilla Dam and other things in South Australia. I believe that this is only a deferment, and I hope it is only a temporary deferment.
I say this particularly, because, with the use of diesel locomotives on the line from Broken Hill to Port Pirie, there will undoubtedly be some redundancy in the steam workshops at Peterborough. One would have hoped that at this stage the earthworks around Peterborough could have been put under construction so as to help that town in the period of transition. Those earthworks - the cutting out of the Belalie bank and the other banks round about - would be useful in the immediate phase before the whole line was completed because this would enable the present gradients to be eliminated. The rails being laid temporarily on 3-ft. 6-in. gauge with, of course, a 4-ft. 8i-in. alinement of sleepers, would give, in the immediate present, a much greater economy in the operation of trains from Broken Hill down to Port Pirie. This is a matter, I think, of some consequence, and I hope that when the Government comes to review this, as it will be doing over the Christmas recess, it will examine this problem of the gradients around Peterborough and make some immediate allocation so that this small section, at any rate, can be started. I hope, at all events, that this line will be completed in 1967 or 1968, concurrently with the completion of the Western Australian section, so that we shall be able to get the trains running right through by that time. Even if we started next year there would be ample time to do that.
May I make, finally, one small point? This arises from a suggestion made to me, 1 think, by a Mr. Barker. I hope he does not object to my citing his name. His suggestion seems very constructive. It is that we should put in at Port Pirie a bogie-changing system like that operating at Dynon-road, in Melbourne. You will recall, Mr. Chairman, that at Dynon-road there is a system under which the vans coming in on the 4-ft. 8£-in. gauge are jacked up off their bogies, 5-ft. 3-in. bogies are run under them and, in only a few minutes, they are ready to run off on the new gauge. This system, of course, is not applicable to all types of cargo, but there are some types of cargo for which it is quite adequate. It seems to me that we should be doing this at Port Pirie so that the 5-ft. 3-in. cargo coming through from Melbourne to Adelaide City can be loaded at this point into vans which would have their bogies changed to standard gauge at Port Pirie and then run across to Kalgoorlie. This is a small thing, perhaps, but 1 suggest it as an interim measure which might be undertaken straight away.
Let me reiterate, in conclusion, that I am bitterly disappointed that the Government has not seen fit to make some small allocation this year for this work. I think it is a wrong decision. I hope it will be reconsidered, and I hope that something will be done about it in time to allow work to start on a full scale, perhaps around Peterborough, some time in the first half of 1963. I further hope that the full standardization of this vital link will be completed concurrently with the standardization of the Western Australian railway so that these works can each get the benefit of the other. The work will be incomplete unless both are done and both operate concurrently. It would be intolerable to leave out this most important link in the development of the Australian railway system. I am sorry that I cannot support the proposal of the honorable member for Hindmarsh because it does involve a vote of censure on the Government, and nobody in his right senses, I believe, would like to see members opposite, the alternative government, have any chance to get into power.
Mx. CURTIN (Kingsford-Smith) [9.7].- The estimates before the committee relating to civil aviation, shipping and transport give one the opportunity to say a few words on the intentions of the Government in relation to the building of a Commonwealth shipping line. Members on this side of the chamber, from time to time, have directed the Government’s attention to the urgent necessity to build this line. The burning question of the day, which affects our balance of payments, concerns the high freight rates that are charged on our exports, and I cannot understand the stubborn resistance of this Government to the construction of a Commonwealth shipping line. It brings one to the obvious conclusion that members of the Government are the victims of powerful overseas financial interests. One such interest which comes to my mind is the overseas shipping conference. This has its tentacles on all the shipping routes of the world. The members of this shipping group can force the Commonwealth Government to obey their will. That is instanced by the recent 5 per cent, increase in freights which occurred just as our Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) was entering upon delicate negotiations on the European Common Market when he was in Europe. This overseas monopoly is not satisfied with the control of our shipping lines. It has stretched its tentacles into our airways and our surface transport.
– Order! I suggest that the remarks being made by the honorable member for Kingsford-Smith are more pertinent to the Department of Trade than to the divisions of the Estimates with which the committee is dealing at the moment. Overseas shipping policy and the negotiation of freight rates come under the Department of Trade, not under the Department of Shipping and Transport.
– Thank you, Mr. Chairman, but I really believe that the building of ships is essential for the carriage of passengers - migrants, for instance - as well as freight. I think that shipping and the freight which ships carry should come under the heading of the Department of Shipping and Transport. If shipping does not come within the area of transport I do not know what does. We have shipping transport, land transport and air transport. I wanted to refer to the grip which the overseas shipping conference is starting to get on the internal airlines of Australia. I believe that that comes under the Department of Civil Aviation. The great success of the Ansett-A.N.A. organization, which is a subsidiary of an overseas shipping group, is not due to efficient methods or administration, but to its friends in high places who are removing the obstacles which bar its progress in its day-to-day operations. Already ugly rumours are circulating in Canberra to the effect that a move will shortly be made by Ansett-A.N.A. - Mr. Ansett, of course, is only the managing director of the firm and a tool in the game - to take over Trans-Australia Airlines. Honorable members opposite may laugh, but when we remember the take-overs which have been permitted by this Government involving national assets which the Labour Party built up in the past, I think nothing is beyond this Government. I believe there is some truth in this rumour. I understand that when amendments to the Air Navigation Act were being discussed by Cabinet last week, with a view to allowing TransAustralia Airlines to operate helicopters intra-state, the question was asked, “ Why do we not sell Trans-Australia Airlines anyhow? “ I challenge any Minister who is present in the chamber to deny that allegation. Why does not any Minister deny that statement, if he can?
Trans-Australia Airlines was the creation of the Chifley Labour Government some years ago to provide employment for demobilized air force personnel on their return to civil life. What a grand job those lads made of Trans-Australia Airlines in building up its world-wide reputation. Yet here we find this overseas monopoly creeping in from the sea to take over our air transport. Through one of their subsidiaries, Ansett Transport Industries, we find these interests trying to grab control of surface transport throughout the Commonwealth. One cannot deny the crippling effect that this monopoly, aided and abetted by the Government, is having on our transport generally. Government interference in this regard is most marked. The Government is anxious at all times to assist AnsettA.N.A., a private air line, with all the means at its disposal. Supporters of the Government will not deny that recently a huge sum of the taxpayers’ money was loaned to Ansett-A.N.A. at a cheap rate of interest to enable it to expand. Th.it transaction constitutes one of the scandals of this Government’s regime.
The Australian National Airlines Commission was set up and loaded with government appointees; and it set about to discourage Trans-Australia Airlines and to assist the anti-Australian organization of Ansett-A.N.A. by all the means at its disposal. The Government refused to amend the Air Navigation Act to allow TransAustralia Airlines to operate intra-state except in Tasmania, Queensland, and Federal Government territories. It refused to allow Trans-Australia Airlines to make interstate charter nights; and it was when an amendment to the act was being discussed in Cabinet that the question, “ Why do we not sell T.A.A. anyhow? “ was asked. I do not know why supporters of the Government have such a set against TransAustralia Airlines. I suppose it is because Trans-Australia Airlines was originated by the Chifley Labour Government. We all remember the great organization that the late Mr. Chifley set up in all parts of the Commonwealth to expand Trans-Australia Airlines to what it is to-day. Helicopter Utilities Proprietary Limited, a subsidiary of Ansett-A.N.A., enjoys the support of this Government.
I am concerned about the weak attitude adopted by the Government in respect of our sea transport problems and the everincreasing cost of freights, which is imposing a great strain on our overseas balances and is having an adverse effect on primary producers. Where are the Country Party members? Something must be done by the Opposition to assist primary producers and others against the unjust burden of everincreasing freight charges. Would it not be good economics to construct a Commonwealth shipping line comprised of-
– Order! I again remind the honorable member for KingsfordSmith that it has been the practice that matters relating to an overseas shipping line in respect of freight be discussed on the estimates of the Department of Trade.
– But, Mr. Chairman, the honorable member for KingsfordSmith
– Order! The honorable member for Hughes will keep order. I repeat that the subject matter which the member for Kingsford-Smith is discussing relating to an overseas shipping line and to freights and to primary industry should be discussed when the committee is dealing with the estimates of the Department of Trade.
– I bow to your ruling, Mr. Chairman, but I still want to discuss sea transport and the carriage of migrants to Australia. Whatever freight ships may take to Europe, they bring back migrants to Australia. Ships must be built, so why not have a Commonwealth line of ships to enable Australia to compete with the private enterprise overseas shipping lines which to-day are charging extortionate rates of freight and fares for migrants-
– Order! If the honorable member wants to discuss migrants he can do so on the estimates of the Department of Immigration.
– Then we will talk about ships. I think it is necessary to have an injection of new finance to get heavy industry moving. I am concerned about the unemployment that is caused to-day by lack of expansion of our heavy industries. Why do not members of the Country Party support heavy industries in the country? Such industries could help in the construction of a shipping line and by that means could give relief to the people who are searching far and wide for jobs. However,
Government supporter’s prefer to leave the unemployed to the tender mercies of the overseas shipping monopolies.
– Order! I have given the honorable member for KingsfordSmith a ruling in this matter and have given the reasons for that ruling in the particular circumstances. The honorable member has a perfect right, and will have the opportunity, when the estimates of the Department of Trade come before the committee to mention the matters to which he is now referring. These matters do not fall within the control of the’ Department of Shipping and Transport.
– I bow to your ruling, Mr. Chairman, but as the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Opperman) is at the table I would like to refer to our coastal shipping. Australia has 12,000 miles of coastline, with lovely rivers, harbours and bays. We now find that this Government, through the Minister, has relaxed the maritime regulations in order to allow overseas shipping to trade on our coast, carrying passengers and so on. This is something which the Labour Government prohibited in order to build up a shipping industry for Australia. What is the Minister going to do about it?
You, Mr. Chairman, have taken up most of my time on this matter, but I think this is the place to talk about the expansion of industry in Australia and the necessity for an interstate shipping line. In the short time at my disposal I should like to have something to say in regard to a remark made by the general manager of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, Mr. Sweetman, that the future of Australia’s building industry-
The CHAIRMAN__ Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– Mr. Chairman, first of all I should like to refer to the maiden speech of the new member for Batman (Mr. Benson) and to assure him with sincerity that I congratulate him on his effort. A first speech always involves some degree of strain, but the clarity with which he put his ideas to this committee indicates that, so far as the Labour platform is concerned, the electorate of Batman will be represented with great capacity. However, as he will know from his experience in his profession, it is possible at times to get off course. That is what happened to him to-night and I should like to put him back into the proper channel in at least one respect. He mentioned the subsidy on the shipping service to Papua and New Guinea. That service is maintained with three vessels which are operated by the Burns Philp Line under subsidy agreement with the Commonwealth. The company runs the service with vessels registered in Australia and with crews operating under Australian award conditions. In answer to the honorable member for Kingsford-Smith (Mr. Curtin), who also found himself somewhat diverted from a true course, let me say that the subsidy of £150,000 on the Papua and New Guinea service is an illustration of the higher costs of Australian shipping compared with other lines. It is necessary to have a subsidy of this magnitude to put Australian shipping on no more than level terms with its competitors.
Various matters have been brought to my attention during this debate. One subject of discussion has been roads, a most interesting topic. Of course, because of the expansion of Australia we find that there is always a pressing demand for longer, wider and smoother roads, but I would like to say just briefly that all of the indications are that the Commonwealth Government has been well aware of this matter. For example, in 1953-54 Commonwealth expenditure on roads was £17,000,000. At 30th June, 1954, motor vehicle registrations were 1,947,000. At 30th June, 1962, motor vehicle registrations had reached 3,139,000, or 1.62 times the 1954 figure, yet for the year 1962-63 the amount payable under the Commonwealth Aid Roads Act is £58,000,000, or 3.4 times the 1953-54 figure. That is an indication that Commonwealth expenditure is ahead of motor vehicle registrations.
The main theme of this debate has been the amendment moved by the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron). The honorable member attacked the Government for an alleged lack of interest in standardization generally, and used the South Australian standardization agreement and the Broken Hill-Port Pirie line in particular, merely as a vehicle to develop $ particular theme during this debate on the estimates of the Department of Shipping and Transport. Obviously the honorable member for Hindmarsh was playing politics. There is nothing wrong with that; that is his prerogative. The only objection that one can have is that the honorable member endeavoured to hide this. He sought to cover up his motive with an affected altruistic outlook towards South Australia, but actually he wished only to embarrass South Australian members on this side of the chamber by implying that they should - or rather, demanding that they should - upset a perfectly logical and proper Government decision on rail standardization simply because they have been elected to this Parliament as representatives of the South Australian electors. It is to their credit that on such a vital issue as this one - I repeat that it is a vital issue so far as the vote is concerned - they have, with great discernment, realized that this is a national parliament surveying national needs to be catered for at the appropriate time. They have been ready to say so outspokenly and have declared that they will act accordingly.
South Australian members of this chamber and of another place have not been remiss in their duty to their State. They have made their representations to me and have discussed this matter as keenly as any South Australian would wish them to do. But, after all, they are logical people and they understand the situation as they have explained to-day. They are not to be reproached; I wish to clear that point and to put it on record.
The honorable member for Hindmarsh has his supporters in the Opposition but I am afraid that if he reads “ Hansard “ he will find that their professed support for his amendment has not been all that it seemed. For example, we heard the honorable member for Stirling (Mr. Webb) struggling between two desires: One was not to deprecate the standardization plans of his own State of Western Australia and the other was to show that there had been an injury to South Australia. During that struggle, and perhaps because of it, he made an extraordinary but most revealing statement. He said, referring to standardization, “ Cost does not matter “. This is typical of Labour thinking on all matters, Anybody who has been in this Parliament over a period of time has heard Oppositions members speaking on all subjects - on pensions, repatriation, health, medical services, roads and shipping - saying, “ Cost does not matter; hang the expense “. They have suggested that it does not matter if you create over employment, and it does not matter if you give inflation its head. If we were to add all the sums that the Opposition would have us include in the Estimates, they would be found to reach the fantastic figure of £200,000,000 or £300,000,000 extra in a year in which we already have a deficit budget.
The honorable member for Stirling, who comes from Western Australia may say, “ Hang the cost; that does not matter. Spend it, irrespective “, but we on this side of the chamber - this is the crux of the matter - have a sense of responsibility. The affairs of this country must be approached with a degree of responsibility. No one hearing a member say as support for his argument for proceeding with a standardization project that cost does not matter could possibly accept such a statement. The Government believes that any expenditure should result in tangible benefits commensurate with the cost, and that is what has happened with the Western Australian standardization scheme. We had in this case a standardization project whose value was commensurate with the cost. It meant that iron ore from Koolyanobbing that could not be transported by any other means was going to be transported to Kwinana over a standard-gauge line. That line would be a revenue-producer when it was finished, and it would mean something to Western Australia immediately. But two things had to be carried out at the same time. We had to have the railway line finished at the same time as the completion of the integrated steel and iron manufacturing plant at Kwinana. That was why the Western Australian project could be accepted at that time and was well worth going ahead with.
Nobody on the other side has had the audacity to say that that project should not have been proceeded with. However, honorable members opposite have shown audacity in other directions. The honorable member for Adelaide (Mr. Sexton) has said that nothing has been done about rail standardization. In my book “ nothing “ means nothing at all. His statement is typical of the statements that have been made to bolster the Opposition’s case. The honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison), who followed him on the Opposition side, did not consider that nothing had been done. In fact, he had some eulogistic things to say about the standardization of the Albury-Melbourne link. He said that that standardization project had brought revenue - as indeed it has done. He referred to the quicker transport of freight and mentioned the constructive step forward that had been made in rail standardization with the completion of this project. Yet, I repeat, the honorable member for Adelaide says that nothing has been done. What kind of support is this for the honorable member for Hindmarsh? Is it support for his amendment when his colleagues make totally differing statements? Of course it is not. This is another example of the contradictory statements made1 by honorable members opposite.
Then we had the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) coming into the debate and, with his usual fluency and inaccuracy, claiming that the Government rushed to the High Court in connexion with the 1949 agreement with South Australia. That also is typical of the inaccuracies from the other side. We did not do anything of the kind. It is important to emphasize the fact that it was the South Australian Government which served a writ out of the High Court on this Government.
Clause 9 of the agreement states that any question arising as to the order in which, and as to the time at which, the standardization works shall be carried out shall be determined by agreement between the parties. The Opposition implies that there has been a disinclination on the part of the Government to adhere to the agreement, but, despite interjections, it was noticeable, as the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Forbes) pointed out, that honorable members opposite conveniently overlooked the conversion of the South-Eastern Division, which was completed in 1959 at a total cost of £5,039,482. Since then- and quite rightly, since he is acting for his State - the South Australian Premier has continued to press strongly for the work to be carried out on the line between Broken Hill and Port Pirie, and in the financial year 1960-61 £50,000 was made available for survey. Up to June 1962 a total of £17,459 was expended.
The High Court ruled that the agreement did not specify any particular time for the work to commence. I want to emphasize that in all the statements that have been made this Government has at no time displayed the attitude of side-stepping the agreement or any understanding. Anybody who reads the last letter on this matter exchanged between the Prime Minister and the South Australian Premier will realize that there has been no negligence on the part of the Government in relation to this project. The letter clarifies the position, but the whole attack that the Opposition has been developing has at all times been on the ground that rail standardization in South Australia has been swept aside so far as the Commonwealth Government was concerned.
Before coming to the letter from the Prime Minister to the Premier I should like to point out that in February, 1961, the Prime Minister said that the Government had under particular and sympathetic consideration such large enterprises as standard railway gauges from Broken Hill to Port Pirie, including a modified interim proposal that had recently been advanced by South Australia for diesel locomotion as a first step. In his letter to the Premier in August, 1962, the Prime Minister pointed out that the programme, including rolling stock, had been estimated by the Premier to cost some £17,000,000 or £20,000,000 and that the Premier had suggested that the expenditure be spread over several years. The Prime Minister wrote - and I want to emphasize this -
This is quite a sizable project, and though we do of course accept the desirability of a standard gauge line from Port Pirie to Broken Hill, we have had to measure the financial commitment involved against our general budgetary position present and prospective, and against our other commitments in respect of major works projects in the Slates, particularly in the field of rail transport.
I go back to those words -
We do of course accept the desirability of a standard gauge line from Port Pirie to Broken Hill.
This, put in context with the £5,000,000 project on the south-eastern line, is an indication of the good faith of this Govern ment. The Prime Minister also said in that letter-
My Cabinet colleagues and I have considered closely, in the light of these circumstances, your request that the Commonwealth should provide the finance to carry out the conversion to standard gauge of the permanent way in the Peterborough Division. But we do not see our way to commit funds at present for this project.
That is entirely different from the attitude of “ hang the cost “ shown by the honorable member for Stirling. That statement in the letter is an expression of responsibility on the part of this Government, which is selecting projects in their order of merit. The Prime Minister also said in that letter to Sir Thomas Playford -
But you will of course appreciate that our present decision does not imply any definitive rejection of the Port Pirie-Broken Hill conversion work. We do intend to look again at your present proposal as and when work on other railway projects to which we are financially committed is further advanced.
Can anybody see in that anything other than an interest by the Government in rail standardization? Look at the other things in this field that the Government has done. The Albury-Melbourne link has been standardized and a beginning has been made on the Kalgoorlie-Perth-Kwinana project. There is also the money that the Government made available for the railway reconstruction work in Queensland. All these things show the Government’s interest in railway development. They tell a story that is the complete opposite of the one that the members of the Opposition have been trying to put over during this debate.
Another factor to which no reference has been made by honorable members opposite is the question of diesel locomotives and rolling stock for use on the existing 3-ft. 6-in. gauge line between Port Pirie and Broken Hill, which can be put into use immediately. The line has been reconstructed with heavier gauge rail to take faster traffic and the use of the diesels will mean a reduction of time of transport. The diesels will also be able to take longer and heavier loads than was possible with steam traction. Honorable members opposite are interjecting. The trouble with them is that they want to put their case but they will not listen to the logical reply that the Government has to their case. I point out that the dieselization of the line will bring additional revenue of between £300,000 and £400,000 and that it will make an immediate contribution to the economy of the State.
So, in the debate on this amendment, the Opposition has not proved its case. Members of the Opposition have not supported the amendment strongly, but have got completely away from it and have contradicted each other. They have shown what an absolutely weak case they have. The amendment is irrelevant. It is not supported by any logic or any reason; it is of no value to the cause it professes to support, and it will suffer the fate at the hands of this Parliament that it deserves.
– I wish to make a personal explanation, because I have been misrepresented by the Minister for Shipping and Transport. I agree with him about the subsidies in respect of “ Bulolo “ and like ships, but I was referring to the ships that have come down from Hong Kong in competition with those vessels. I think the Minister should understand what I meant. I did not want to go too far on that matter, because the Minister is well aware that there are two Hong Kong shipping lines now operating out of Sydney to Papua and New Guinea. It was to the vessels of those lines that I was referring.
Motion (by Sir Garfield Barwick) put -
That the question be now put.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. P. E. Lucock.)
Majority . , . . 2
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Question put -
That the vote proposed to be reduced (Mr. Clyde Cameron’s amendment) be so reduced.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. P. E. Lucock.)
Majority . . . . 2
Question so resolved in the negative.
Proposed votes agreed to.
Department of Customs and Excise
Proposed Vote, £5,462,000.
Department of Trade
Proposed Vote, £4,265,000.
Department of Primary Industry
Proposed Vote, £16,889,000.
.- When I entered this Parliament early this year I did so with a feeling of awe and humility because of its great traditions and the great men who have sat in it in the past. In particular I believed that the political parties which sit opposite me in this place represented what they say they represent - the Liberal Party representing the large commercial interests in this country and the Country Party representing the farmer, both large and small. How naive and simple I was! I was very quickly disillusioned. I soon discovered that although the Liberal Party is what I understood it to be, the Country Party represents only the proverbial Pitt-street farmer - the pastoralist and the grazier. That was the reason for my disillusionment. The Country Party does not represent the small farmer although that is the section of our rural community which needs most protection. Honorable members will understand why I sat in my seat day after day, dejected and silent, shocked into insensibility by the callous disregard of the Country Party for the interests of the small farmer whom they claim to represent.
Then, last Thursday night I walked into the chamber and my spirits soared for there was the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull) pleading the cause of the citrus grower - a small farmer. I had been wrong, I told myself. Here was one man true to the principles of his party, even though his colleagues were not. Honorable members will understand the reason for my elation. I even heard the honorable member for Mallee join with me and other honorable members in demanding some form of longterm protection for the citrus grower against the importation of citrus juices. I believed that he supported my pleas on behalf of the growers when I first raised the matter in this chamber early in April of this year. So, in my innocence, I rushed in to ask the honorable member to support the growers, other members of this place and myself in our demands that the import of citrus juices be barred by the simple method of imposing quantitative restrictions.
I even forgave the honorable member his silence since last March when the issue was first raised. I know the historic opposition of his party, which has always been opposed to any form of protection of Australian industry, but I considered that he was one man who had risen above this rather insular outlook of his party. I even felt that the honorable member for Mallee might be fair dinkum. For this reason, I asked him to join with us on this side of the chamber in advocating quantitative restrictions on non-essential imports. However, I have heard not one encouraging word from him since. This morning he asked another question, but it represented merely reiteration of the outlook which he espoused the other evening. That is an impractical outlook. It is the outlook of one who says that something ought to be done about this problem but refuses to explain how or to try to find a practical way by which something can be done.
The fact is that ever since last March, those engaged in the Australian citrus industry have been complaining in a very violent manner about imports of juice, which are having a depressing effect on the industry’s price structure. We have gone through all the various stages of the matter being submitted to a Special Advisory Authority, and so on, and now we have a suggestion by a Special Advisory Authority that perhaps long-term tariff restrictions should be imposed on imports of citrus juices. That is not a practical proposition. As a consequence, I thought that the honorable member for Mallee would advocate in this chamber some practical measure such as the imposition of quantitative import restrictions. Unfortunately, I was very sadly disillusioned. I find that the honorable member is not fair dinkum and is not as yet prepared to support such a measure.
Speaking seriously, I say that this problem is a very big one. It involves, first, the need for the protection of Australian industries and, secondly, the need to protect Australia’s overseas reserves. We have seen in the “Australian Financial Review” and in other newspapers only this week expressions of concern by representatives of various textile and other industries about the lack of tariff protection against imports. We have seen, also, that imports are having depressing effects on Australian industries, and, in particular, on some rural industries. There are to-day anything up to 2,000,000 gallons of unsold citrus juices in stock and prices received in the last couple of years have not been high enough to afford citrusgrowers reasonable living standards. In particular, the low prices prevent the grower from accumulating the capital he needs to undertake expansion or to undertake the capita] expenditure that would be required if the suggestion made by the Special Advisory Authority in his recent report were adopted. That was a suggestion that the grower find ways and means of expressing juice in times when there is an excess of supply. This, of course, calls for capital equipment and, consequently, the expenditure of capital. If the grower cannot get an adequate return for his product, naturally, he cannot obtain the funds with which to buy the capita] equipment needed to implement a proposal such as this.
Problems of this kind are not peculiar to the citrus industry, however. They beset large sectors of Australian industry. This kind of problem seems not to be overcome by the normal tariff procedures at present being adopted by this Government. In fact, one can say only that these procedures have been found a very useful means of passing the buck and letting matters slide without doing anything about the problem while ignoring the basic fact that the only final solution is the introduction of quantitative import restrictions. For these’ reasons, I have been very interested to hear the views of honorable members opposite. Surely some of them claim a wish to protect Australian industry. Surely some of them realize the serious situation in which many industries are placed to-day.
Another very important issue is involved. This is the very serious deterioration in our overseas reserves and our terms of trade over the last decade. If our terms of trade were as good to-day as they were in the early 1950’s, this country would be receiving something like £500,000,000 a year more for its exports than it is now receiving. That is just on the basis of prices alone. Yet, this country is finding it more and more necessary to live on imports of capital. We are financing our imports by the raising of capital overseas. That might not be so bad if we were importing essential capital equipment needed to develop new Australian industries and improve existing industries. But it is a serious thing when these imports of capital are being used simply to finance the import of nonessential goods. Yet that is what is happening in Australia to-day. We are like a man who borrows £100 from a bank, goes to the races and loses the money. There is no basic difference between the two sets of circumstances.
Until we as a nation are prepared to find ways and means of limiting imports and keeping them within the purchasing capacity of our returns from exports, we shall continue to see our load of capital debt grow heavier. Our liability for invisibles will continue to increase at the steady rate at which it has been growing. Invisible debits in our balance of payments now amount to nearly £60,000,000 a year. That is a terrific liability for a country such as Australia to incur on invisibles. It is being brought about mainly by the remittance of dividends on the capital brought into this country primarily to pay for imports of non-essential goods.
In these circumstances, I think it is reasonable for the Opposition to appeal to the Government to impose import licensing. If this measure is not adopted, in ten or fifteen years’ time our load of invisible debits will be unbearably heavy and we shall find it impossible to carry. This load of debt on invisibles is being incurred in the payment of dividends on the large inflow of capital, not all of which is being used for the essential tasks of development. Far too often, this capital is being used for the import of non-essential commodities, including citrus juices and the like, and fresh and frozen peas and other products which can be produced and which should be produced in this country. So I ask that the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) seriously consider this problem of limiting imports. Control of imports is one of the most important aspects of the activities of the Department of Trade. I think it is essential, also, that the Minister give far more consideration to means of developing Australian trade so as to improve the terms of trade for this country. As I have pointed out, if our terms of trade to-day were as good as they were a decade ago we would be receiving something like £500,000,000 more for our exports than we now receive. Accordingly, we would not find it so necessary to seek overseas capital to pay for our imports.
The Minister must consider carefully ways of selling our goods overseas, improving the Trade Commissioner service and so on. We must have import licensing to conserve our overseas reserves and to protect our industries. I ask the honorable member for Mallee in particular to join with us on this side of the chamber in advocating a restriction of imports of citrus juices to protect the small citrus farmer and other primary producers whom his party is supposed to represent.
.- The honorable member for Mitchell (Mr. Armitage) has just made a personal attack upon me. He said that in my advocacy I was not, to use his own words, fair dinkum. He is interjecting now and trying to deny that he said that, but “Hansard” will support my statement. He means really that I am not honest in my advocacy of certain things in this place. I have been in this Parliament a good deal longer than he has and that charge has not been levelled against me ever before by any honorable member on either side of the chamber. I can only come to the conclusion that the reason for his statement is that he has been in this Parliament only a very short time. It is rather strange that he read the speech in which he made an attack upon me. If the honorable member for Mitchell thought that I was wrong in my advocacy and was not doing the right thing for the citrus juice industry, I can understand him on the spur of the moment and in the heat of debate saying certain things, but when an honorable member has his speech prepared, as the honorable member for Mitchell had on this occasion, and reads that speech to the committee, his attack appears to be premeditated. I advise the honorable member to think before he makes such statements.
Any honorable member who cares to do so can look back through “ Hansard “ and he will find countless appeals that I have made, often with success, for certain things of benefit to the very small farmer. I have had to bear the brunt of interjections from the Opposition on every occasion. I remember the time when I was trying to have myxomatosis spread among rabbits. Every time I rose to speak Opposition members called out, “ Rabbits, rabbits “, but they stopped doing so when, as a result of my advocacy, the myxomatosis was tested at a certain place suggested by me upstream on the Murray from Kerang and it was then and there that the mosquitoes for the first time made it successful. Then the Opposition became strangely quiet. The point I am making all the time about skeleton weed-
– Mr. Temporary Chairman, I have been listening very carefully to the honorable member for Mallee. Can this be related to some section in the Estimates?
– Order! The honorable member for Mallee is in order.
– The honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) has tried to prevent me speaking on these matters. I was referring to my advocacy in relation to skeleton weed when he asked whether my remarks could he related to the section of the Estimates before the committee. Of course they can. Our primary industries. especially wheat growing, in Victoria are threatened by this weed, but the honorable member for Wills just would not understand that because he comes from a different part of Victoria from that which I represent. I have often heard him speak in this place and I have had to agree with Charles Lamb that it is difficult to feel quite at ease with a man who has been a schoolteacher because he comes, like Gulliver, from among his little folk and cannot easily adjust the stature of his understanding.
Order! The honorable member for Mallee will now relate his speech to the section of the Estimates before the committee.
– I do not want to devote the whole of the time allotted to me in this debate to replying to the honorable member for Mitchell. When I asked my first question recently in relation to fruit juices - which is one aspect of primary industry - I said that I had been waiting patiently for the report of the special advisory authority. That report is now available and I have now based my case on sections of the report with which I do not agree. I have asked the Minister certain questions in the House and I have spoken on this subject during the adjournment debate. To-day I addressed a question to the Minister for Trade who, in reply, referred to the collaboration which exists between the industry panel and the officers of the Department of Trade who work together and who watch imports closely. The Minister said that if they decide that something should be done it is done immediately, and he assured me that they will continue to watch this matter very closely.
I was not in favour of import licensing. I favoured a very high tariff of 2s. 6d. more than it is at present, as suggested by the citrus industry. I do not favour quantitative restrictions for certain reasons. One is that the primary producers all over this country have been harassed greatly by certain quantitative restrictions - almost prohibitions - on certain imports which would have assisted them directly and, in other ways, would have brought down the cost of production of many items used in primary production.
Let me point out to the honorable member for Mitchell that I have dealt with this matter. He may have a few citrus growers in his area but I have been dealing with citrus growers since long before this Parliament ever heard or thought of him. I say that in the most kindly way because I do not think there is room in this Parliament for honorable members on either side to make these paltry political personal attacks on one another. I do not intend to make such an attack on the honorable member. Instead I say to him that if I can assist him in any way which will avoid the necessity for him to read his speeches, he can depend on me.
We have before us the proposed vote for the very important Department of Trade. I compliment the Minister for Trade on the great fight that he put up overseas on behalf of our primary producers during the early Common Market talks. A certain professor said recently in Geelong, I think it was, that certain people had cried too loud about the effect that the Common Market may have on some of our exports. I do not agree with that to any extent. I believe that the future will show that the Minister for Trade, going overseas as he did and speaking in his forceful way of the great dangers which may follow Great Britain’s entry into the European Common Market, has awakened Australia, other Commonwealth countries and the United Kingdom itself to the responsibilities which the United Kingdom, as the leader of the Commonwealth of Nations, has to Commonwealth countries. I do not think that any one can speak of the final outcome of this matter with any degree of certainty. Only recently the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) said overseas that he could not say whether it would be good or bad for Commonwealth countries if the United Kingdom joined the European Economic Community because at that time the exact conditions under which the United Kingdom would join were not known.
Certain Opposition members who have gone overseas - I do not refer now to the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) - have returned to Australia and, while other members of Parliament have been overseas at the Prime Ministers’ conference, have travelled the country sniping at the Government in a way which does not bring credit to them, to the Opposition generally or to Australia. I refer especially to the
Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam). He has said on numerous occasions that throughout the years this Government, the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) and his department should have been seeking new markets for our primary products and that they should not have allowed the projected entry of the United Kingdom into the European Economic Community to have resulted in the chance of an upheaval in our trade. Every one knows that our trade with the United Kingdom has been decreasing substantial recently, but we have been selling more primary products than ever before. Therefore, the Department of Trade must have secured more markets on which we can sell increased quantities of our products. Yet the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and other members opposite are constantly saying that we should have found other markets.
It must be remembered that when other markets are found, Opposition members often find fault with them. Probably no new market has been so beneficial to Australia over the last 30 or 40 years as the Japanese market, particularly under the Japanese Trade Agreement. But when that agreement came into the House for discussion and ratification the whole of the Labour Opposition, with the exception of the honorable member for Lalor, who was overseas at the time, spoke and voted against it. Now 1 find that Opposition members are strangely quiet on this subject. Is it a fact that the Labour Party has found out that it was wrong about this great project? Do they now support our trade with Japan, which is so favorable to Australia, or do they maintain the position which they adopted when the matter was first debated in this chamber? I should like somebody to answer these questions. I have here a copy of “ Hansard “ which shows what happened during the debate on the Japanese Trade Agreement. The then Leader of the Opposition, Dr. Evatt, moved -
That the following words be added to the motion: - “ and this House expresses its disapproval of the Agreement on Commerce between the Commonwealth of Australia and Japan “.
Do Opposition members disapprove of this trade agreement now? After all, Dr. Evatt had the support of all Opposition members.
– Hear, hear!
– The honorable member for East Sydney says, “ Hear, hear! “ Let me quote what he said when the Japanese Trade Agreement was before the Parliament. He said -
This agreement constitutes the greatest betray.,1 of Australian interests that has been perpetrated by this anti-Australian Government in all its long, sorry history.
Does the honorable member for East Sydney support the Japanese Trade Agreement now?
– I am not allowed to answer you. I would be out of order if I did so. If the Chair will give me permission, I will answer you.
– If there is something that you want to interject about, you do so.
Order! Honorable members will address the Chair.
– I say, Sir, that the honorable member for East Sydney could interject very quickly if he wished to do so. The opinions of Opposition members have changed since the Japanese Trade Agreement was debated in this chamber. The foresight of the Minister for Trade in arranging this agreement has proved to be of inestimable value to Australia. Opposition members know that if they were to speak against this trade agreement now they would not get much support from the primary producers. As a matter of fact, they do not get much support from the primary producers now. Labour is not represented in many primary-producing areas.
Leaving the Department of Trade, I now want to say one or two words on the Department of Primary Industry. The Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) has been very diligent in doing all that he could, through his department, for primary producers throughout the country. It was reported in the newspapers recently that there may be a record wheat crop. In most areas of the part of Victoria that I represent, the crops are magnificent, but there is a certain portion of the country in which the crops are not very good. Unfortunately, that happens in Australia.
– That is so in South Australia!. ‘
– That is understood. In spite of that, it appears that we will have a very good crop throughout Australia generally. The rains have come fairly close to the right time. I understand that the Minister for Primary Industry shortly will introduce a bill for the continuation of the wheat stabilization scheme, which expires with the coming crop. That scheme has proved to be of great value to primary producers. A stabilization scheme was introduced, first of all, by a Labour government but any one who looked at the scheme now would not recognize it as the scheme which Labour introduced. The honorable member for Lalor, who was at one time Minister for Commerce and Agriculture in a Labour government, knows that when the relevant bill was first introduced it was not accepted. The Labour government had to bring a new bill forward before the Australian Country Party or the people themselves would accept stabilization.
Order! The honorable members time has expired.
.- Mr. Deputy Chairman, I have appreciated the efforts recently made by the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull) on behalf of the citrus-growers of his area and, I suppose, also the citrus-growers whom, among other primary producers, I represent in Wide Bay.
– He supports the Government that inflicted these conditions on the citrus-growers.
– I think he might have had a change of heart. I am always willing to give every one a chance in that regard. I believe that the honorable member for Mallee mentioned that Australia was one of the ten greatest trading nations in the world. In view of the possible loss of established markets, particularly for primary produce, resulting from the entry of the United Kingdom into the European Economic Community, Australia has a need to find other markets. It is true that Australia’s dependency on the United Kingdom market has lessened over the years since the last war, but still there is a need to find new markets. Some efforts have been made in that regard, and I do not seek to detract from what has been done by the
Department of Trade and the Minister for Trade in that field.
However, the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Benson), in a fine maiden speech, to-night drew attention to the fact that an expansion of Australian trade depends to a large extent on the establishment of shipping services to other countries, particularly South America. He pointed to our total dependence on overseasowned shipping companies to establish and maintain these services. There is a need for an Australian-owned overseas shipping line, in the interests of primary producers. This is necessary to ensure fairer freight charges and interest charges and to put a stop to the repeated increases of freight rates which we have experienced during the past twelve months.
These remarks apply also to the ownership of the oil tankers serving Australia. Whilst the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Opperman) has admitted that there is an opening for oil tankers to trade on the Australian coast and to carry overseas oil refined in Australia, it appears to me that the Government is so dedicated to its policy of private enterprise that, even after having seen the necessity for Australia to own its own tanker fleet, the Government would prefer the nation to do without such a fleet unless it were privately owned. The opinion that Australia should have an overseas shipping line is not confined to Labour members only. As the honorable member for Kingsford-Smith (Mr. Curtin) said earlier, the shipping manager of Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited said that it was essential to our local shipbuilding industry that we should have an Australian overseas shipping line, lt is pleasing to note that there has been an increase in the volume of freight carried by the Australian National Line ships in the last twelve months.
The annual report of the Australian National Line for 1962 states -
Throughout the twelve months, every possible effort has been made to obtain overseas business for ships of the Fleet, with the result that 25 voyages were undertaken to various parts of the world, representing the carriage of 184,688 tons as compared to 44,283 tons during the preceding year.
Unhappily, no recovery in the world tramp market has occurred, the reverse in fact, and on rare occasions only has it been possible to show a profit from overseas voyaging. On the other hand, losses over all were less than those involved had ships been laid up, whilst the Commission has, of course, constantly considered the desirability of providing the maximum amount of employment for Australian seamen.
Since the close of the year, cargoes offering for overseas have again diminished, with freight and charter rates falling in sympathy, from which it is to be expected that, unless some recovery occurs, the prospects of vessels of the Australian National Line participating in the tramp trade on reasonable terms will become increasingly remote.
I suggest to the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Opperman) that vessels such as “ Iranda “ and “ Illowra “ - bulk cargo vessels of 7,000-odd tons - could be used to carry freight to the East with back loading. If there is no probability of back loading from those countries the Minister should investigate the possibility of the vessels calling at Yampi Sound to get back loading to ports on Australia’s eastern coast. Much has been said about the benefits of a nationally owned and government operated shipping line. I refer honorable members to the report of the Joint Committee of Public Accounts on Commonwealth Government shipping activities, for the year 1926. At page 22 of the report, under the heading “ Minority observations and recommendations”, the following appears: -
In the Interim Report by the Joint Committee of Public Accounts presented to Parliament in August last, it was unanimously recommended that iri the interests of Australia the Commonwealth Line should be retained subject, however, to drastic curtailment in overhead expenses and a review of the system of financing.
The report stated, further -
We consider it to be of paramount importance to Australia that the Australian Commonwealth Line of Steamers should be retained for the following reasons: - The Line has been, and still is, a controlling factor in regulating freight rates on exports from Australia to the United Kingdom and imports to Australia from the United Kingdom.
In support of the above claim, we would point out that during November, 1925, it was proposed that some outward rates from the United Kingdom should be increased by approximately 10 per cent.
That is a case very similar to what has been happening over the past two years, when we have seen freight increases each twelve months, which have not been opposed by the present Government. The report continues -
The Directors in Sydney replied that they could not agree to any increase as they considered present rate were sufficiently remunerative to British owners. This suggested increase did not materialize.
Here we have an instance of a Commonwealthowned shipping line restraining the overseas shipping combines which carried the greatest proportion of the freight, from increasing freight rates - something which must have been to the benefit of the primary producers of Australia in those days and would be so to-day. The report continues -
Further, in August, 1926, the Australian Commonwealth Shipping Board was instrumental in bringing about a general reduction of approximately 10 per cent, on freight rates on commodities exported from Australia to the United Kingdom and the Continent.
The report states, further -
The annual saving to Australian primary producers and exporters by reason of this reduction alone amounts to far more than the greatest annual loss made by the Line, even including all interest and depreciation charges, and it must be remembered that the greater portion of voyage losses was incurred owing to the unsuitable tonnage transferred by the Board.
The opinion was expressed that the Line is not now in a position to control freight rates between Australia and the United Kingdom and the Continent owing to the increasing competition by foreign ship-owners-
The same story as is being put forward to-day - but this is entirely refuted by the fact that as recently as the end of October last, the Australian Commonwealth Shipping Board received advice from its London Office that both the British and foreign owners proposed immediately to increase freight rates by approximately 15 per cent, on all cargo carried from the United Kingdom and Continent to Australia; and the Board was asked to agree to the proposal. The Board declined, and the suggested increase did not come into effect. Had the Board agreed to this proposal the earnings of the Line would have increased materially,
Apparently the directors of the board had at heart the interests of the majority of the people of Australia and were not motivated by improper motives. The report continues - but as the Commonwealth ships carry only about 7 per cent, of the imports, its earnings would benefit only to that extent, whilst British and foreign owners would receive additional earnings under the higher rates of freight in respect of 93 per cent, of the trade. The annual saving to Australia in this instance again more than covers the annual loss by the Line after including all charges such as interest and depreciation.
I feel that the conditions which applied when that report was made apply to-day and that it is in the interests of the nation that a Commonwealth overseas shipping line should be established to counter the freight charge increases which are being made annually, adding to the cost of Australian imports from overseas and reducing the return to primary producers and manufacturers in Australia. Because this freight is carried in overseas vessels Australia derives nothing from it in wages or insurance charges and consequently all this money is paid out with no benefit to Australia and is contributing to our overseas debt. In view of these facts I believe the Government should give due consideration to the establishment of a national overseas shipping line.
.- I am inclined to follow the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Hansen) in his remarks on Australia’s shipping problem, while discussing the estimates of the Department of Shipping and Transport, which were disposed of a little while ago. I suppose the problem has something to do with those estimates, because we have to have ships for our overseas trade. But this obsession of so many honorable members opposite that we should have our own shipping line is against the facts as we know them. There are so many irresponsible and unauthorized stoppages by seamen, whose union is Communist controlled, that h has become quite impracticable even to consider running such a shipping line. It is a lot cheaper at present to take copper concentrates from Whyalla to Japan than to take them from Whyalla to Port Kembla; and the fault lies in the union control. It is cheaper to take steel from Japan to New Zealand than from Newcastle or Port Kembla to New Zealand. That wipes out any possibility of economically operating such a shipping line as members opposite propose.
However, I do not want to become involved in that matter. I rose to discuss an item of the estimates of the Department of Primary Industry under the heading “ Dairy Industry - Extension Services Grant, £250,000”. As this amount has appeared in the Estimates annually since 1948, it is obvious that the services it is designed to assist have become progressively less in value as the years have gone by, although the purpose for which the expenditure is designed is still a most desirable one. The present arrangement goes on until June, 1963, and it seems appropriate that when the grant is renewed next year it should be increased considerably.
I should like to take herd testing just as an example, and I should like to refer to Victoria, not only because it is the leading State in dairy production, but also because it is the most progressive in adopting new ideas, new techniques, and applying them in practical every-day operation. In the electorate of McMillan, which I have the honour to represent, I believe that we are exemplifying this very greatly because we claim to have a greater interest in and a greater concentration of dairying than anywhere else. Victoria, overall, has more cows under test to-day than all other States collectively. The figure is approximately 200,000, and this could, with advantage, be greatly expanded if adequate financial encouragement were given.
Of Victoria’s grant of £2,250,000, £64,880 is used to subsidize herd testing. That represents only 15 per cent of the total cost of testing, as against 33i per cent, of total testing costs in 1948. The position has deteriorated considerably. The cost of testing has increased from 10s. 3d. to 18s. 3d. per cow, a rise of 8s., and its value to the industry can be measured by the fact that over the years, with the use of this device for improving our methods, there has been a steady increase in butterfat production until to-day we have a top figure of 282 lb. of butter-fat per cow.
One of the most significant features of herd testing in Victoria lies in the impetus that it gives. It has made possible the success that we are achieving to-day in artificial breeding and sire surveys. The large number of cows under test in Victoria and the positive means of stock identification employed, plus the high degree of cooperation between the Royal Agricultural Society and the Department of Agriculture, assure a high degree of accuracy in the progeny testing that is so essential to successful artificial breeding.
I do not need to stress the advantages of the widespread use of sires of high genetic merit, the control of disease and the encouragement of better farm management and animal husbandry that accompany the extension of artificial breeding. These things are essential to improving both quality and quantity of the product available.
In Victoria, we have a co-operative farm distributing semen to a rapidly growing section of the dairying industry through established groups in all the main centres, as well as distributing a large quantity to interstate users. In New South Wales, there is a State farm run by the Milk Board, but the conditions of the two farms are quite different. New South Wales has the finance available, because the work is being sponsored by the Milk Board, but there is not the same measure of control through herd testing and positive identification. The Victorian organization, which I will explain in detail in a moment, can be fairly regarded as a national project rather than just a State one. Dairy-farmers from other States will want semen from the bulls eventually accepted into the “ proven sire “ category and, in addition, semen-producing centres in other States will want to buy sons of these bulls.
The standards which are required by the Victorian bull farm, and which have been rigidly adhered to at some considerable cost, are extremely stringent. They are aimed at providing the greatly improved genetic background that a farmer may want. Yearling bulls are specially selected. They must be by proven sires from dams producing at least 50 lb. of butter-fat more than the herd average in each of the last three successive years. Approximately 300 doses are taken from each bull and distributed on a basis of ten cow doses to each of 30 selected farms. Allowing for normal conception rates and sex ratios, this is calculated to provide at least two daughters of the bull on each farm and finally to bring up to 60 daughters into production under differing conditions of management, but at the same time and in the same season.
I have outlined the scheme in some detail to show that it is as near to the ideal as can be got and to establish the fact that it places a fairly substantial burden on a very few shoulders - and pockets. Under normal methods, using natural service, and even in artificial breeding schemes using less carefully planned methods, by the time bulls are proven most of them are dead.
Last season, 300 herd-test farmers cooperating in the progeny test accepted the responsibility and cost of testing these sires for the direct or indirect benefit of the whole dairy industry throughout the Commonwealth. The farm buys the bulls and issues the semen free of charge, but the farmer must pay the cost of insemination. The young sires being tested, after having donated their 30 cow doses, are put away for about four years until their daughters’ figures are available, and then are accepted into the team of proven sires or are slaughtered.
This is a very costly business and I suggest that its great contribution to the national interest warrants some assistance from both Federal and State spheres. At present, money made available to the States under the dairy industry extension grant carries a proviso that not more than 40 per cent, should be applied to herd testing. When the present agreement comes up for renewal next year, it seems to me to be highly desirable that the total amount should be very considerably increased to meet to-day’s increased costs because, as I said before, the same amount has been allocated for the last fifteen years. The State allocations should be varied so that instead of each State allocating 40 per cent, of its grant, 40 per cent, of the total grant should be set aside for herd testing subsidies and distributed to each State in direct proportion to the number of cows being tested in each State. A similar arrangement could well be introduced for the furtherance of progeny testing for the acceleration of herd improvement.
Incidentally, I should mention that it is most desirable that the States should introduce uniform legislation to control and encourage artificial breeding and to co-ordinate the search for superior sires.
Mention of uniform legislation reminds me of the urgent need for uniform legislation in regard to margarine sales in Australia. This is something that has been mentioned during question time a couple of times in the last week or so. We all know that to protect an industry that has been responsible for establishing flourishing communities over a wide area of the Australian continent it has been agreed for a long time now that the production of margarine should be restricted by imposing quotas on the various manufacturers. It is well known that Marrickville Margarine has been supplying larger quantities to the trade than it is permitted by quota to manufacture.
Yet the returns shown by the Commonwealth Statistician record total figures that are within the permitted quantity. It appears that whilst other States, particularly Victoria and South Australia, are policing production adequately and that whilst the manufacturers in those States are complying with the law, there are loopholes in the New South Wales legislation that enable manufacturers to avoid inspection. Last February the Australian Agricultural Council considered this matter in Perth and the State Ministers concerned unanimously agreed to continue the present limitation of 16,000 tons a year and decided that where necessary the States would bring in amending legislation to make their laws as to branding, inspection and production quotas uniform. It is quite apparent to everybody in the trade that in spite of this the company in Marrickville is still evading the requirements of the law, as it has been doing for some years, and that for some reason the New South Wales Government is not fulfilling its promise to bring in the necessary amending legislation to carry out the decision of the Australian Agricultural Council. I think we would bc justified in asking why this state of affairs is allowed to continue.
The estimates for the Department of Trade show the extremely wide range of activities that that department has come to undertake, largely in recent years. In Australia’s rapid growth as a manufacturing nation we have come up against the great problem of the organization that is required to cope with our growing needs. The changes necessary from time to time to meet altered circumstances have been made successfully, but now we have some new problems arising in the pattern of our overseas trade as a result of the imminent entry of the United Kingdom into the European Common Market.
– Order! The honorable gentleman’s time has expired.
House adjourned at 10.55 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
s asked the Minister representing the Minister for Customs and Excise, upon notice -
– The Minister for Customs and Excise has furnished the following answer to the honorable member’s questions: -
Details of imports into Australia of fresh frozen peas were not separately compiled prior to the year 1958-59. Details of recorded quantities since the commencement of that year are -
Details of imports of canned peas were not separately recorded prior to 1st July, 1962; but examination of entries during 1961-62 disclosed importation of approximately 800,000 lb. of canned peas, mainly of United Kingdom origin, during July, August and September, 1961. From October, 1961, onwards imports were negligible. The quantities recorded since 1st July, 1962, have been: July 24 lb. of United Kingdom origin, August nil.
n asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
d asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
– The Minister for Civil Aviation has supplied the following information: -
s asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The Minister for Health has furnished the following reply: - 1 and 2. Yes. Chlorpromazine hydrochloride is available as a pharmaceutical benefit in the following instances: -
Any disease or condition in a pensioner.
Any disease or condition in a patient receiving treatment in or at an approved hospital.
With the written authority of the DirectorGeneral, the treatment of a mental disorder in a person who has been discharged from an approved hospital at which he received treatment for a mental disorder and who is living in a place remote from an approved hospital.
On the recommendation of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee, it was restricted as a pharmaceutical benefit to the above from 1st May, 1962. 3 and 4. Representations have been received to remove the restrictions applying to the use of chlorpromazine hydrochloride as a pharmaceutical benefit, and the matter is under consideration by the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee. In the meantime, I have written to State Ministers for Health seeking their co-operation in introducing a procedure which will make it easier for expatients of approved hospitals to obtain maintenance supplies of this drug. I am still awaiting replies from several States. Should this procedure be acceptable to the States, the necessary arrangements will be made as soon as possible.
n asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
n asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice - ls he able to state the value of the basic wage, expressed in Australian currency, in each of the following countries: - Australia, New Zealand, England, each of the Common Market countries, Japan, Russia, India, Pakistan, Malaya, Canada, United States of America and Argentina?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
So far as I am aware, no other country has a basic wage based on the same principles as Australia’s basic wage and an international comparison cannot therefore be made. The Australian Commonwealth (six capitals) basic wage for adult males is, at present, £14 8s.
son asked the Minister for Territories, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - 1. (a) 3,368; (b) 1,084.
ser asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
There has only been one auction sale held under the restricted conditions, in June last, when the amounts paid to secure leases of blocks so offered were much lower than the amounts paid for blocks in the same area offered at open auction. This was due, of course, to the fact that the restricted conditions greatly reduce the number of persons eligible to bid.
ser asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
n asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
d asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
d asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice - 1, When did the agreement between the Commonwealth and the States which provides for the payment of a Commonwealth subsidy of 8s. a day per occupied bed and 12s. a day for pensioners treated in State registered hospitals expire? 2, What steps have been taken to negotiate a fresh agreement and when does the Minister expect to announce its terms?
– The Minister for Health has furnished the following reply: -
d asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows: - 1 and 2-
Commonwealth income tax and social services contribution were assessed as separate levies for the financial year 1949-50. The two levies were amalgamated to form a single levy for the 1950-51 and subsequent financial years. Broadly stated, the basic rates of income tax payable by private and public (that is, non-private) companies for the 1949-50 financial year were -
The comparable rates of income tax and social services contribution currently operating are -
Social services contribution and additional income tax were payable by private companies for the financial year 1949-50 on the “undistributed amount “, as defined, at the rates appropriate to the incomes of shareholders. For the 1952-53 and subsequent financial years, the rate at which additional income tax and social services contribution is charged has been set at a flat rate of 10s. in the £1. Non-resident private companies not carrying on business in Australia by means either of a principal office or branch v/ere in 1949-50, and are at present, outside the scope of the additional tax.
Further tax at the rate of 2s. in £1 was payable by certain classes of non-private companies for the financial year 1949-50 on undistributed income. Subject to some modifications, the tax was imposed on substantially the balance of taxable income after deducting therefrom Commonwealth tax on the income and dividends paid out of such income within a prescribed period. ThB classes of companies exempted from liability to further tax are indicated in footnote (a) to the table below. Further tax was not payable by nonprivate companies for the 1951-52 and subsequent financial years.
Particular classes of non-private companies were in 1949-50, and are at present, subject to special rates of tax. Details of the rates applying for the 1949-50 financial year and at present are shown hereunder: -
In addition to the various rates of tax detailed above, companies, both private and non-private, are liable to pay tax on interest paid or credited to non-residents and interest paid or credited on certain bearer debentures. In each instance the company is entitled to deduct from the interest otherwise payable the amount necessary to pay the tax. The rates payable in the financial year 1949- 50 were respectively 6s. in the £1 and approximately 10s. in the £1. The present operative rates are respectively 8s. in the £1 and approximately 8s. 3d. in the £1. Dividend (withholding) tax, which was first imposed for the financial year 1960-61, is at present payable on dividends derived by non-residents. The basic rate of dividend (withholding) tax is 6s. in the £1, but the rate is limited by the operation of double tax agreements to 3s. in £1 on dividends derived by residents of the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Canada and New Zealand. Resident companies are required to withhold the appropriate amount of tax and remit it to the Commissioner of Taxation.
Other Commonwealth levies which were not specifically imposed on companies as such but to which companies may have been subject in 1949- 50 or may be subject at the present time are as follows:
Levies for the financial year 1 949-50 -
Land tax (abolished 1st July, 1962).
Wool contributory charge.
Stevedoring industry charge. Wheat export charge.
Levies at present operative -
Excise duty. Sales tax.
Stevedoring industry charge.
Wheat export charge.
Cattle slaughter levy.
Dairy produce levy.
Miscellaneous export charges.
s asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable members questions are as follows: -
Homes for the Aged.
n asked the Minister for Social Services, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
3, 4 and 5. There is no means test applied by the Government to occupants of homes subsidized under the Aged Persons Homes Act. The erection of Homes in Queensland, as in other States, is for persons who qualify as “.aged persons “ under the act, irrespective of their means.
n asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development, upon notice -
How many warrants of possession were (a) issued and (b) executed under section 30a of the War Service Homes Act in each State in each quarter of the last two years?
– The Minister for National Development has supplied the following answer to the honorable member’s question: -
The number of warrants of possession (a) issued and (b) executed in each State during the periods set out in the question are as follows: -
n asked the Minister for Social Services, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Mir. Hayden asked the Minister for Social Services, upon notice -
n. - The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows: - 1 and 2. Except in the rare instances when they are prescribed in connexion with rehabilitation, no spectacles are provided by the Commonwealth Department of Social Services.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 9 October 1962, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1962/19621009_reps_24_hor36/>.