24th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. Sir John McLeay) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– I direct a question to the Postmaster-General. Can he elaborate on his department’s policy in connexion with its decision to use closed circuit television at the Hobart General Post Office for the purpose of checking on mail sorters? Does he consider equipment of this type is necessary, particularly if it is to be used, as appears likely, to compile dossiers on employees as well as for disciplinary surveillance? If closed circuit television is not to be used for this purpose will the Minister say why it is being installed and, in addition, whether similar equipment is to be installed at other mail-sorting centres throughout the Commonwealth?
– There has been some reference in the press to the matter raised by the honorable member for Bass and naturally I have had a look at it. The suggestion that the closed circuit television is to be used for the preparation of - to use this unfortunate word- dossiers, is simply hooey. There is no basis for it at all. In fact, for very many years there has been some supervision of the work in various sections of the department, particularly for the purpose of ensuring the security of the mail services. I shall not, in answer to a question, go into detail as to the present position; but I shall give the honorable member for Bass a complete picture of the matter which has been dealt with between the Post Office and the unions concerned, so that he will have full information about it. I can satisfy myself by saying that the inferences in the honorable member’s question are not justified.
– I direct a question to the Minister for the Army. It refers to his recent announcement that approximately 20 acres of land in the military area at George’s Heights, in the electorate of Warringah, is to be released by his department. Can the Minister tell the House what action, if any, has been taken to implement this release? What is the present position?
– As I informed the honorable member for Warringah, a decision has been made to release approximately 20 acres of land at George’s Heights at Mosman, which is quite near Rawson Park. This land is very undulating and is steep in parts. At the moment the surveyors are engaged in identifying the exact boundaries of the area to be released. As soon as this is completed the land will be handed over to my colleague, the Minister for the Interior, for disposal. At that stage the honorable member may make any representations he wishes to my colleague.
– Can the PostmasterGeneral say when the Australian Broadcasting Commission’s channel 3 television station will be in operation in Canberra? Is the Minister aware that commercial television station CTC-7 in Canberra commenced telecasting on 2nd June, 1962, ahead of schedule? Will the national station, to be established, be of sufficient power and range to provide a television service to towns in the Snowy Mountains area such as Cooma, Tumut, Gundagai and Adelong?
– I am glad that the honorable member has afforded me the opportunity to give the House the latest information regarding the national television station in Canberra. Already questions on this subject have been directed to me by the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory and the honorable member for Eden-Monaro. I have said previously that it is planned to commence transmission from the new station some time in December, and I expect that that will still be achieved. The station will have a good range, but I point out to the honorable member that the area which will be covered by the station is, in places, pretty difficult country, and there will be some places in which the reception may not be as good as desired. However, some of these places - and several of them are in the honorable gentleman’s own electorate - will be covered by the proposed station at Wagga Wagga. There have been several setbacks to which I should like to refer briefly. The honorable member for Eden-Monaro, I think, referred to the question of a studio for the station. That has been dealt with. Honorable members will have seen recently that the mast is now nearing completion. The transmitter equipment is also in position, and will be ready for testing quite shortly. The only remaining difficulty is in connexion with the antenna, which has been ordered from Germany and the delivery of which is late. However, I was informed during the last day or two that the antenna should be delivered in Canberra this month, and after testing it will be installed. Also, I am informed that arrangements by the Postmaster-General’s Department for relay facilities are well forward, and will be ready in April. So, unless some unforeseen difficulty arises, I see no reason why the station should not be operating as planned towards the end of the year. It is a tight programme of work, but I believe that it will be achieved.
– Will the Minister for Immigration supply his chief migration officers overseas with the information that the South Australian Housing Trust has started a scheme to provide brick and brickveneer houses at prices of from £3,400 to £3,800 on a deposit of £50, with weekly repayments ranging from £3 14s. to £4 a week? Will the Minister also ensure that all the department’s overseas posts have the necessary application forms?
– I know that my honorable friend is very much concerned with this subject of housing for immigrants, and I certainly will see that the chief migration officer in London has the information to which the honorable members refers about the activities of that highly meritorious body, the South Australian Housing Trust. At the same time, however, if by any chance the honorable member implies, or makes some innuendo by the wording of his question, that Australian migration officers abroad are not sufficiently well informed, or are not giving accurate information about housing opportunities here, I must correct him, because from time to time my department issues quite well-prepared and wellillustrated pamphlets setting out information as up to date as possible having regard to the exigencies of printing. However, I am grateful for what the honorable gentleman has said, and I can assure him that this latest move by the South Australian Housing Trust will certainly be known in London if it is not known there already.
– I ask a question of the Postmaster-General: What were the circumstances in which the Deputy Prime Minister brought pressure to bear on the PostmasterGeneral or members of his department to have a telephone restored to the premises of a starting-price bookmaker in the electorate of the Deputy Prime Minister - no doubt following representations from the person concerned? Was the Postmaster-General’s unwillingness to assist in investigations into Post Office malpractices in Melbourne due to his concern for the position of his leader in assisting this starting-price bookmaker? Does he agree with Mr. Justice Taylor that the Deputy Prime Minister should have been told to mind his own business in this particular matter?
– The honorable member for Wilmot has based his question, which, I may say, was couched in rather offensive terms in the circumstances, on a brief statement which appeared in a Melbourne newspaper last evening. My attention was directed to it, as also was the attention of my colleague, the Minister for Trade. As this occurrence was supposed to have taken place in 1957, the right honorable gentleman naturally asked me whether I had any recollection of it. He had none, nor had I. He asked me to obtain all relevant facts, if there were any, from the files held in my department. I may say that any files in which such information would be contained are now in the possession of the royal commission. Naturally I will do what he has asked, and will supply any information that is available. I can assure the honorable member for Wilmot that whatever the facts that are discovered, they will not disclose the exertion of any pressure on me by the right honorable gentleman for anything not completely proper.
– by leave - My attention was directed to the news item on which the honorable member’s question is based. I have no personal recollection whatever of any such incident. Having seen the news item, I immediately asked my staff to look through my records, which, in respect of electorate matters, are in Melbourne. At the same time I asked my colleague, the Postmaster-General, to inform me of any record of such an incident that might exist in his department.
– You mean you cannot recollect this particular case?
– I say quite unequivocally that I have no recollection whatever of this case. Whatever is contained in the records in my possession or in the PostmasterGeneral’s possession I will disclose as soon as it is available to me.
– I wish to ask the Treasurer a question. What special grant was made to the States for employmentgiving activities as a result of the last meeting of the Australian Loan Council and the last Premiers’ Conference? Was it envisaged by the Commonwealth that part of such special grant would be again made available to local government authorities, as was the case with the grant made in February? Is the right honorable gentleman aware of recent reports that the New South Wales Government has paid the whole of its share of this grant into its consolidated revenue account, so that county councils and other local government authorities will be deprived of any part of it?
– The total amount made available by the Commonwealth Government was £12,500,000, of which £3,000,000 went to New South Wales. No stipulation was made by the Commonwealth Government, except that it was stated that we wished the money to be used, as far as practicable, in employmentgiving activities. I do not know what use the New South Wales Government intends to make of these funds. I understand that the total amount has been paid into the consolidated revenue account of that Government.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Territories. I preface it by reminding the honorable gentleman of a reply that he gave on Wednesday last when I asked him whether the right to strike, under the provisions of the criminal code of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea, was an unqualified right, and whether it extended to plantation workers. The Minister replied -
The question seeks an expression of legal opinion.
I now ask whether the unequivocal assurance given to the United Nations Trusteeship Council by the Australian Government in its 1960-61 report that native workers did enjoy the right to strike under the provisions of the criminal code is a statement of fact.
– I do not think the honorable member has put the position quite fairly. The question that he placed on the notice-paper clearly was one that required a legal interpretation of certain acts. I did not think that it was within my province to attempt to give such an interpretation, nor did the Standing Orders allow me to express a legal opinion on the matter. So far as Administration policy is concerned, the statement that we made to the United Nations is a correct statement.
– I ask the Minister for Trade whether his attention has been directed to a resolution adopted by the Australian Labour Party in which in part it accuses the Government of inaction concerning possible British entry into the European Economic Community. Quite apart from considerations of fairness and accuracy, will the Minister take an early opportunity to remind the Leader of the Opposition that until the British Government decided to ascertain the terms of entry into the Common Market, British Ministers, including the Prime Minister, explicitly pointed to the difficulties of Britain’s joining the Common Market? Will the right honorable gentleman also remind the Leader of the Opposition that resolutions passed by the House of Commons in August last year provided that the United Kingdom would not enter the Common Market unless Commonwealth interests could be protected? Finally, will the right honorable gentleman appeal to the Leader of the Opposition to abandon his partisan attitude towards this grave issue?
– The publicly wellknown facts are that until Mr. Duncan Sandys came to Australia in July last year the repeatedly stated attitude of the British Government, as expressed by the British Prime Minister and other Ministers, was that Britain would not join the Common Market if agriculture was included in the provisions governing her entry. Judging by what Mr. Sandys said on his visit to Australia. Britain’s attitude was that she was considering joining the Common Market but would not do so unless British agriculture was adequately protected, unless the trade of the seven European Free Trade Area countries was protected and unless Commonwealth trade was adequately protected. That attitude is a matter of public record, and has been stated and re-stated by Mr. Macmillan and his Ministers. It has been stated in very vigorous terms by Mr. Reginald Maudling in the House of Commons. He is now Chancellor of the Exchequer, but for some years he was British Minister in charge of negotiations with the European Economic Community on various matters, including the terms of Britain’s entry.
That is the state of affairs that existed. So soon as the British Government publicly disclosed in a communique that it was considering joining the Common Market, the Australian Government took steps to consult Australian industry and the British Government. We took steps first to have departmental officers, and later parliamentarians, in Britain to safeguard Australia’s interests. That is a well-known fact. In the interests of Australia I hope that this issue can be dealt with not as a party political issue, but as an Australian issue. Australian trade could in certain circumstances be seriously affected by Britain’s entry into the Common Market. Our interests are not served if we are divided on this matter. We will need all the unity that we can get.
– I ask the Minister for Immigration whether it is a fact that in recent months there has been a marked increase in the number of British migrants coming to Australia. If so, are there any indications that the increase has been caused by recent Common Market developments?
– Without any doubt, within the last few months a much greater interest in Australia has been shown by potential migrants in Great Britain. This has been most heartening, particularly as recently the Old Country has been enjoying its usual warm summer months. The unusually high number of applications to migrate to Australia could very well be the result of some internal unsettlement occasioned by the prospects of the United Kingdom joining the Common Market. That could be one of the factors. One can think of other reasons, too. Whatever the ultimate or main cause of this interest, from our point of view the result is most encouraging. Speaking for myself, and I am sure on behalf of the Government, I welcome very warmly this recrudescence of interest in Australia on the part of potential British migrants.
– I preface my question to the Minister for External Affairs by referring to a resolution which I understand was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in December, 1960, entitled “ Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples “. Can the Minister state when and how this resolution is to be applied to those nations which have been deprived of their national independence and which are in bondage to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and Communist China?
– The honorable gentleman is correct. The United Nations did pass a resolution in December, 1960, which bears the general title he has mentioned. The United Nations is presently seeking to implement this resolution through the agency of a committee of seventeen which the United Nations appointed in 1961. Australia is a member of that committee. The committee has decided, in the first place, to direct its attention to the colonial territories of the Western powers - Great Britain, Portugal and South Africa. It has not been decided yet in which direction it will turn its attention when it has completed dealing with these particular colonial territories.
I hold the view that this general declaration does apply to the peoples who are in subjugation to the Soviet and to Communist China, and I hope that in due course the United Nations will direct its attention to those territories. It is noticeable that while Great Britain is busy granting independence to so many people, the Soviet and Communist China are busy extending their empires and increasing the areas of subjugation. It is very noticeable also that when the question of investigating or even discussing Soviet imperialism and colonialism is mentioned in the United Nations, the Soviet group becomes very emotional. Honorable members will remember the occasion - I think it was in 1960 - when the chairman broke his gavel trying to restore order following a reference to Soviet colonialism.
– I address my question to the Minister for Shipping and Transport. Has the Minister read an article which appeared in the magazine “ Overseas Trading “ dated 7th September, 1962, which is issued by the Department of Trade under the authority of the Minister for Trade? The article states that the new Meyer-Heine Line, which is providing a six-weekly service between Australia, South-East Asia and Japan, is Australian-owned and is completely Australian-controlled. Will the Minister confirm this? If the article is incorrect, will he take up the matter with the Minister for Trade and have the article corrected?
– I have not read the article to which the honorable member has referred, but I will do so. However, as it deals with an overseas shipping line it is definitely a matter for the Department of Trade. If the honorable member puts his question on the notice-paper I will look into it and let him have a reply.
– I wish to direct a question to the Minister for Primary Industry. I refer to the latest announcement about further sales of wheat to mainland China in which the expression “namely, 25,000,000 bushels” was used. First, is the Minister in a position to inform the House how much money is at present outstanding on previous sales to that country and when payment is likely to be completed? Secondly, are sales of wheat to mainland China limited to our surplus, after meeting the requirements of the home and traditional overseas markets, or does the Australian Wheat Board now regard China as a regular buyer of our wheat?
– I am not in a position to state off the cuff the amount outstanding. I can say definitely that all payments have been met by the Chinese Government on the due dates. Payment for the major purchases of the first year, amounting to approximately 2,000,000 tons, has been made in full and the credits outstanding apply only to the smaller quantity shipped within the last twelve months. I would not say that the wheat sold to China consists only of surpluses. In fact, the sales made this year amounted to some 500,000 tons, and were made by the Australian Wheat Board to keep faith with the Chinese in view of the larger purchases of the previous year. I have not received official particulars of the announcement made recently about further sales. I have been advised that word is on the way to Canberra but I have not received it yet. I think it can be accepted that China is regarded more or less as a regular purchaser of our wheat.
– I ask the AttorneyGeneral a question. I notice that the honorable gentleman is scheduled to deliver at the Law Convention next January a paper on the subject of monopolies and restrictive trade practices. I ask whether he expects that the paper will give an explanation of a bill on that subject which he will have introduced during the remaining weeks of this session, or whether he expects that his paper will give an explanation of his failure to carry out the Prime Minister’s promise, made three years before next January, that such legislation would be introduced.
– I am sorry that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition is a little ahead of me. The Law Council of Australia asked me whether I would read a paper at its convention in Hobart in January next. I said that I would, and a number of topics were offered to me. I have chosen none of them yet.
– I wish to ask the Prime Minister a question. As the bush-fire season is approaching, will the right honorable gentleman inform me whether Senator Gorton is still responsible for liaison between this Government and the Victorian Government in the event of any emergency? If Senator Gorton is not still responsible for such liaison, will the Prime Minister consider appointing a Minister for the purpose very soon so that, in the event of sudden emergency, there need be no delay if action by the Commonwealth becomes necessary?
– I confess that I had not thought of this matter. I am very glad to be reminded of it. I will be very happy indeed to ask Senator Gorton to act once more in that capacity.
– My question is addressed to the Postmaster-General. I ask him once again whether he will consider favorably the request by the Queensland Dairymen’s Organization that the Chilverton telephone exchange, in the Ravenshoe area, be opened on Sundays until 10 p.m., as the present poor telephone services in the district greatly inconvenience farmers who wish to take advantage of the facilities provided by the local artificial insemination centre for the breeding of stock.
– The honorable member for Leichhardt said that he desired to direct my attention, once again, to this matter. That reminds me that he has made representations to me on this subject previously. My recollection of the matter is not completely clear, but I think the information which I obtained and passed on to the honorable member was that there were difficulties in staffing in this country centre. I shall have another look at the matter, as he requests, and see whether there has been any change in the situation. If I remember rightly, provision has been made for the tying in of some subscriber so that in the event of an emergency a service will be available.
– I wish to ask the Minister for Labour and National Service a question relating to statements emanating from various sources on the problem of absorbing school leavers in the next few months. Has the honorable gentleman’s department received any indication that the general range of employers in trade, commerce, industry and the public services have so geared themselves to absorbing school leavers that the problem will not be as great as many people have expected?
– I welcome this question. I think the problem of absorbing school leavers after the Christmas period has been grossly exaggerated. I have said, Sir, that whilst there will be an increase in the number of students leaving school and registering with the department, because of the improving economic position and the large increase in the number of job vacancies, it will be much easier to absorb the school leavers in the coming Christmas period than it was last year. The second part of the honorable gentleman’s question is also important. Recently, I have had some discussions with groups - particularly manufacturers and Rotary clubs and have urged them to make up their minds as quickly as they can on their recruitment programmes. If that is done in the closest co-operation with my department I am sure that, instead of this being a problem period, it will present great opportunities for manufacturers and those engaged in tertiary industry to get young people leaving school into employment as quickly as possible. I think that the quicker the employers act the better it will be for the country as a whole, and the better will be the quality of the labour they get.
– I ask the Minister for Primary Industry whether it is a fact that a stud Corriedale ram and six stud ewes sailed for Brazil last Saturday from Sydney in the cargo ship “ Hadsall “. If this is a fact, will the Minister state whether it is Government policy to export rams and ewes, particularly on the one ship? Will the Minister state the purpose for which the ram and ewes have been exported, and whether he has arranged for them to be greeted on arrival by the Australian parliamentary delegation which is at present in Brazil? Furthermore, will he state whether there is anything that the ram and ewes may do for the benefit of primary industry in Brazil’ which could not be accomplished in Australia for Australia?
– I do not know whether it is a fact.
” WHITE AUSTRALIA “.
– I wish to ask the Minister for Immigration a question relating to his recent public statement concerning the number of Asians now being naturalized in Australia and the continued use by certain newspapers of the term, “ White Australia “. Will the Minister consider meeting leading editors of daily newspapers with a view to their discontinuing the use of this phrase?
– The honorable gentleman has made an interesting suggestion and I will certainly treat it seriously and give some thought to it. Like him, I deplore the fact that some newspapers - though not all sections of the press, by any means - still continue to use an outmoded phrase which, unhappily, in some quarters dies hard. Ever since I have been a member of this Parliament, which is now approaching thirteen years, I have heard Ministers and honorable members, particularly on this side of the House, b-ut I must say in fairness, on both sides of the House, deplore the use of the phrase “ White Australia “. That phrase does not in its overtones represent the migration policy of this country. There are aspects of it, which, of course, are offensive with their connotation of racial prejudice, and there are suggestions which have no place in the thinking of either the Government or the Australian public. The honorable member has done a service by reminding, I hope, those sections of the press that are continuing to offend. I shall certainly follow up his idea to see whether anything further can be done. In conclusion, may I say that in my own limited experience of public life I have found that however hard one may try, there are one or two sections of the press that are not the easiest of institutions to persuade.
– I ask the Minister for Supply: Will he tell this House when members will have an opportunity to consider tariff amendments numbers 42 to 49, which deal with the textile industry, and which were mysteriously deleted from the business of the House yesterday?
– I am sorry, but I cannot tell the honorable gentleman exactly when these matters will come before the House. The programme is in the hands of my colleague, the Leader of the House.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Trade. In view of the great importance of insecticides and weedicides to the primary industries, and in view of the fact that the bulk of these products are used by the primary industries, will he consider replacing the present high rates of duty designed to protect the Australian manufacturers of these products by a bounty so that the price to the producer will be kept as low as possible?
– This raises a question of policy, but it is a policy that the Australian primary industries would have been completely free to propose themselves to the Tariff Board when the hearing w;15 taking place on this matter. I cannot from memory recall whether any such proposal was made, but the question itself implies that there are high prices resulting from what the honorable member claims to be very high tariffs. My recollection is - I will check it later when this matter comes before the House for debate - that when price cutting was engaged in by suppliers from overseas, a request for a higher tariff was made by Australian manufacturers. The request was granted and the Australian producers sustained the then original price, notwithstanding that higher duties had been imposed. Obviously the higher tariff protected the volume of their production and avoided the necessity for a price increase. Surely, this is a very desirable outcome of tariff policy.
– My question is addressed to the Prime Minister. Does the Prime Minister still hold the view that the Newcastle-Hunter valley area is politically unstable? If so, will the right honorable gentleman state whether the electorates represented by three of his colleagues, including the Minister for Supply, are included in the views he has expressed?
Should those electorates not be considered electorally unstable, and in view of the fact that at least some 50,000 or 60,000 people living north of Sydney within those electorates are anxious to see Her Majesty the Queen when she visits Australia next year, has the Prime Minister anything to add to his previous answer to a question by me or will he re-examine the possibility of the royal yacht berthing at Newcastle for about four hours on its voyage between Brisbane and Sydney so that a royal progress may be made through the streets of the city of Newcastle to enable both stable and unstable supporters of the honorable members representing the six electorates concerned to have an opportunity of paying homage to their monarch?
– I must make it clear to the honorable member that the arrangements for the Royal Tour in each State are in the hands of each State respectively, in consultation with Sir Roy Dowling, who has been appointed the Queen’s Secretary for this purpose. He is at present on a tour of the various States to discuss with them the particular arrangements to be made in the light of discussions that he had in London with the Queen herself. I am a little taken aback to be told that I said that Newcastle was politically unstable. That would never have occurred to me. lt has, from my point of view, an almost deplorable stability.
– I direct a question to the Treasurer. In July of this year there were severe floods on the northern rivers of New South Wales. To assist people directly affected by the disaster the State Government sought Commonwealth assistance on the usual £l-for-£l basis which is provided in the case of such disasters. Since the floods there has been unusually serious postflooding damage by way of stock losses due to dysentery and malnutrition. I ask the Treasurer: If the State Government made a further request for assistance on a £l-for-£l basis to meet this disaster, would he give it consideration?
– I shall refresh my recollection of what has passed between the State Government and the Commonwealth Government on this matter. I do not have the facts in my mind at the moment. There is a well established practice in these matters. The Commonwealth Government has shown its willingness to look sympathetically at requests reaching it from State governments, where the State concerned would be making a contribution on a £1- for-£l basis with the Commonwealth. The conditions which apply in these matters are now well understood. However, I cannot anticipate a request for action on the part of the Government of New South Wales. I repeat that it is our practice to look at these matters sympathetically against the background of the damage that has occurred. I will see whether I can supplement this answer when I have turned up the correspondence.
– I address a question to the Treasurer. In view of the immense contribution for good afforded the nation by the independent schools, will the Treasurer consider amendments to the income tax act to increase, among other things, the allowance against income tax for school fees to cover their full expense’, as was recently suggested by the chairman of the conference of headmasters of the independent schools of Australia?
– This question raises a matter of policy which it would not be appropriate to discuss at this point of time. Honorable members are aware that it was this Government which initiated the practice whereby deductions can be made from the payment of income tax in respect of school expenses incurred by parents. From time to time we review the position, and the period leading up to the presentation of the Budget is the appropriate time for that purpose.
– I address a question to the Prime Minister. I preface it by referring to the fact that there has been an increasing demand, which I have noted with satisfaction and which is being met by an increased financial provision, for the issuing of an Australian flag and a flag certificate to schools throughout the country. To develop further respect for the national flag among the young people/ of the community generally, will the Prime Minister ask his department to investigate the possibility of extending this admirable scheme to youth groups such as the Boy Scouts, Girl Guides and charitable bodies, which invariably suffer from limited funds?
– I will be glad to have a look into this matter without in any way suggesting any particular decision. 1 will certainly have a look at it.
– by leave - I desire to answer an inquiry by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, which he made last Thursday when I was tabling some treaties. The honorable member asked me whether 1 would move that the treaties be printed, and his words were -
So that the House may have the opportunity to express its views on them as the Prime Minister promised it would have when he announced this new procedure on 10th May.
I did not have before me the “ Hansard “, as I think the Deputy Leader of the Opposition had at that time, and I said that if I had the opportunity I would say what I would do on the following day of sitting. [ must apologize for having left it to this point of time. I have now looked at the “ Hansard “ and it is quite clear that the Prime Minister did not promise in any sense that there would be a motion for printing the treaties.
– I did not say that.
-I am glad to hear that, asI thought the question rather suggested it. What the Prime Minister did say was that the process of tabling, which had theretofore not been followed, would afford the House through its own processes opportunity to express its views in respect of treaties and particularly those which had not been ratified at the point of tabling. I have had a look at the matter again and I do not propose to depart from the Prime Minister’s proposal and move for printing. If any honorable member wishes to express a view with respect to treaties and agreements which have been tabled, there are ample processes in the House to enable him to do so.
– by leaveWhen the Minister for External Affairs tabled the treaties last week I had no intimation beforehand that he was going to do so, but I remembered that this was in accordance with a practice which the Prime Minister had announced in the first part of last year. I got the passage from “ Hansard “ and asked the question in the terms which have been quoted. I did not say that the Prime Minister had promised that he would move, or that the Minister for External Affairs, in tabling treaties, would move that they should be printed. I quoted the Prime Minister’s exact words. I asked the Minister for External Affairs whether he would move that the treaties should be printed, because that is one method - and the usual method and the most familiar method - by which the House is given the opportunity to express its views. I was not asserting or implying that that is the only method, but it is the usual one. I quoted the exact words of the Prime Minister when he announced this procedure last year.
– by leave - Yesterday, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) asked me whether I could get for the House the reply to a question put to me by the honorable member for Scullin (Mr. Peters), which I had promised to follow up. I now give the House such information as I have been able to secure. While on my feet I would like also to take the opportunity to amplify a reply I gave yesterday to the honorable member for West Sydney who raised with me the question of Commonwealth payment of municipal rates.
On 3rd October, the honorable member for Scullin asked me a question without notice relating to the foreign exchange outlay on fees for licences to produce in Australia goods of overseas design, and I promised to make inquiries into the matter. The Leader of the Opposition, as I have said, also referred to this matter in a question which he asked me yesterday. The information now available to me suggests that the table of payments on current account published by the Commonwealth Statistician in “The Australian Balance of Payments Bulletin “ contains a debit item, “ Royalties, Copyrights, etcetera “. This item relates to all payments for the use of patents, copyrights, trademarks, &c. It would include, not only licence-fees for the production of goods, but also a wide range of other overseas payments of a royalty or copyright nature.
Separate figures for various categories of such fees are not available, but the total payments overseas for patents, copyrights, trademarks, &c, as shown in the bulletin to which I have referred have been as follows in recent years -
I am unable to say what proportion of these figures would relate to new licencefees for designs of goods already produced in Australia, but I should be surprised if the amount was significant. The great bulk of licence fee payments would, I should think, relate to goods produced in Australia under licence arrangements that have been in operation for many years.
It is the long-standing policy of the Government, as it was of the previous Labour administration, to welcome the investment of overseas capital in Australia, particularly where it is of a kind likely to help in the balanced development of Australia’s resources and brings with it the importation of skills and know-how. Consistent with this policy, there has not since the war been any restriction on the making of payments overseas in respect of bona fide licence fees for the production of goods, and I am unable to see that any change in this position would be warranted.
The amount of such fees clearly represents a very small proportion of the value of the goods produced in Australia by the use of such licences. It is also of little significance when - compared with the balance of payments outgo for the importation of goods. The licence-fees arrange- ments result in the strengthening and broadening of Australia’s productive capacity. In many cases they also result, at small cost in terms of overseas exchange, in the production of goods of importance to our development which we would otherwise to have to import or go without.
The honorable member for West Sydney (Mr. Minogue) raised the matter of payment of municipal rates on Commonwealth properties, and I said that there were situations in which the Commonwealth, while not liable under the Constitution for the payment of municipal rates, does make payment for services rendered to the Commonwealth. I think that I should give some detail on this point and now do so.
In accordance with the provisions of ‘he Constitution, the Commonwealth does not pay rates assessed on property used exclusively for Commonwealth purposes or on vacant lands. There are, however, many classes of Commonwealth-owned property in respect of which the Commonwealth makes ex gratia payments to local governing bodies.
Payment is made for any particular services rendered by a rating authority such as water, sewerage, electricity, sanitary or garbage services.
Provision is made at all times for the payment of rates on war service homes; the Commonwealth does not, however, pay rates on vacant land of which it is the registered proprietor.
A payment is made to the municipal authority where the Commonwealth acquires land on which are erected residential or business premises and the buildings are occupied by persons other than the Commonwealth.
If the lessee or tenant of leased Commonwealth property pays to the Commonwealth either as a separate amount, or within his rental, the equivalent of rates, the Commonwealth pays the equivalent to the rating authority as an ex gratia payment.
– Is that the position in relation to married quarters in the Army?
– I am coming to that in a moment, although I am not sure that I shall be covering it specifically.
A Commonwealth instrumentality engaged in commercial enterprise in competition with private firms or organizations, and either owning property or leasing property from the Commonwealth, pays an amount equivalent to the rates assessed on the property to the local governing body.
The amount equivalent to the rates assessed will be paid to the local governing body by the Commonwealth on houses erected on Commonwealth property and used solely for domestic purposes; no payment is made when the residence forms part of a building used for official purposes. I am not clear whether that refers to occupancy by military or service personnel. I will clear that up if I can, for the Deputy Leader of the Opposition.
In those areas in which the Commonwealth and not the local authority provides services the amount to be paid to the local authority is adjusted.
– In accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1913-1960, I bring up the report relating to the following work: -
Modernization and expansion of the Darwin Hospital, Northern Territory.
In broad terms, the committee supports the proposals for the modernization and expansion of the Darwin Hospital. However, we have recommended that the whole, rather than only part, of the proposed nurses’ home be air-conditioned. There is an increasing recognition that the trying climatic conditions in Darwin dictate a need for airconditioned accommodation, and this is in evidence in buildings recently erected there for commercial purposes, while the facility is becoming more commonly accepted in buildings in the more temperate southern capitals.
This is not the first time the committee has made strong recommendations about air-conditioning in Darwin, but we think the stage has now been reached when the Government should recognize the trend and reach the firm conclusion to air-condition, as standard practice, future buildings in Darwin.
We believe that the escape which airconditioning would provide, from the oppressive conditions applying in Darwin for so much of the year would be an aid to the recruitment and retention of staff and provide some compensation for the lack of amenities and attractions which we in the south tend to take for granted.
The provision of the additional airconditioning would add approximately £95,000 to the estimated cost of £1,537,800 of the proposal as referred to the committee.
Ordered to be printed.
Motion (by Mr. McEwen) agreed to -
That leave of absence for one month be given to the honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. Brimblecombe) on the ground of parliamentary business overseas.
Motion (by Mr. Calwell) agreed to -
That leave of absence for one month be given to the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley), the honorable member for Braddon (Mr. Davies), the honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) and the honorable member for Gellibrand (Mr. Mclvor) on the ground of parliamentary business overseas.
Motion (by Mr. Adermann) agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to provide for the disposal of the moneys standing to the credit of the Wheat Industry Stabilization Fund established by the Wheat Industry Assistance Act 1938.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
– by leave - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
This bill provides for the transfer to the States of certain moneys standing in a Commonwealth trust fund, to be used for the benefit of the wheat industry. The bill will revive old memories in the minds of wheat farmers of a previous generation and will also be a reminder to the generation of today of the problems that were encountered many years ago and the efforts that were necessary to overcome them.
Wheat-growing was a depressed industry in the 1930’s, so much so that its troubles were matters of major concern to all Australian governments. At a Premiers’ conference in August, 1938, a detailed plan, the Wheat Industry Assistance Plan, was developed in an attempt to counter the difficulties being experienced by wheat-growers at the time because of depressed prices. Subsequently, legislative backing to the plan was introduced by the Commonwealth and State Governments and passed in their respective Parliaments. A highly important feature of the plan was the provision of financial assistance to wheat-growers on uneconomic holdings in the States of New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia, to enable them to move into other forms of production, and also the provision of finance for the reconstruction of holdings. This was called the Marginal Wheat Areas Scheme, and its administration was undertaken by the State governments concerned with moneys provided by the Commonwealth out of the proceeds of a flour tax.
While the Wheat Industry Assistance Plan benefited many needy wheat-growers in years gone by, the need for the plan has long since passed. The portion of the plan which dealt with the marginal wheat areas proved successful, and all that remains to be done is to dispose of the unspent balance of approximately £266,000 of the moneys originally provided for the operation of the scheme. That is the object of this bill.
The States were partners with the Commonwealth in the Wheat Assistance Plan, and it is fitting therefore that the States should be consulted about the utilization of funds not needed for the original purpose. Consultation with the States has taken place at meetings of the Australian Agricultural Council, and the recommendations of the council have been endorsed by all the Australian governments.
Two important decisions had to be taken. First, it was a question of the best use to which the money could be put. The deciding factor here was that the money came originally from funds intended to benefit wheat-growers. It was considered, therefore, that the wheat-growers hari’ a moral claim to the money. However, it was not practicable to transfer the money to the war-time wheat pools for distribution, since they have been wound up long ago. The alternative chosen was that the State Departments of Agriculture should get the money and utilize it for the benefit of the wheat industry.
The second issue to be decided was the amount to be paid to each of the States concerned. Having regard to the history of the fund, it was considered that the last wheat pool from which flour tax had been deducted to provide marginal areas funds offered a fair basis of distribution. It was agreed, therefore, that the States should share the money according to the share of wheat from their growers into No. 9 (1945- 46) Pool. It is proposed that the sum available, £266,000, be distributed as shown in the schedule to the bill. There are, of course, other ways in which the money could be shared, but this is the course recommended by the Australian Agricultural Council, and it appeals to the Government as a reasonable one.
The bill provides that the money is to be spent by the States according to plans approved by the Commonwealth Minister concerned. The Government’s intention is that it is to be used to ensure additional benefits to the wheat industry through extra research and extension work that could not be undertaken otherwise. It may not be used in payment for work already in hand, or to relieve the States of any normal expenses, but it will allow work to be undertaken as an addition to the valuable work in these fields the States are currently carrying out. Each State Department of Agriculture has projects that could be carried out if more money were available for the purpose, and the marginal areas residue will allow the present State programmes to be expanded. Each State will need to submit a plan for using its share of the amount, and the plans put forward will naturally vary according to the requirements of the different States. However, they will all need to have the common factor of being something additional and of benefit to the wheat industry.
I commend the bill to honorable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Pollard) adjourned.
In Committee of Ways and Means:
Consideration resumed from 10th October (vide page 1386).
Customs Tariff Amendment (No. 29)
Consideration resumed from 8th August (vide page 96), on motion by Mr. Fairhall -
That the Schedule to the Customs Tariff 1933- 1962, as proposed to be amended by Customs Tariff Proposals, be further amended as set out in the Schedule to these Proposals . . . (vide page 95).
– Is it the wish of the committee that the motion be considered as a whole? There being no objection, that course will be followed.
.- This proposal deals with only one Tariff Board report, and although the names of items mentioned in the proposal are rather frightening, I think they can all be conveniently lumped together and called synthetic rubber. This will make for greater simplicity of discussion.
The report of the Special Advisory Authority on which this proposal is based is a very interesting one. The Australian Synthetic Rubber Company Limited, which is the only producer of synthetic rubber in Australia, is owned jointly by the Mobil group and the Goodyear Tyre and Rubber Company (Australia) Limited. This latter company has 30 per cent, of the holdings. However, the company manufacturing the synthetic rubber is essentially a subsidiary of the Altona Petrochemical Company Proprietary Limited, which is also owned by the Mobil group.
When the Australian Synthetic Rubber Company commenced production it was warned by the consumers of synthetic rubber that the plant it was installing was bigger than was justified by the estimated demand for the product. The company was told by Sir Robert Blackwood, in public evidence, that there would be a requirement for only 20,000 tons of synthetic rubber. Nevertheless, the company went ahead and built a plant with a capacity of 30,000 tons. We now see the result. The company has had to go to the Special Advisory Authority and ask for increased protection because the high capital cost involved in building an unnecessarily large plant increased its cost of production. But, of course, the company gets the increased duty, which gives it this great advantage: It now sits over this industry, with a known capacity to produce 10,000 tons more of the product than will be required for many years. This very fact will frighten away any entrepreneur who might consider establishing another plant for the production of synthetic rubber. Its very position of being able to sit over the market is advanced by the company as justification for the extra duty. I say that it is not a proper function of the Special Advisory Authority, or of the protective system, to create a position in which a large company will have a monopoly of production for the next ten years.
It is also worth remembering - and this is a .very important point - that this company gets its monomers from the Altona petrochemical complex at prices considerably higher than those prevailing on world markets. Monomers, by the way, are byproducts obtained in the process of refining petrol. The company uses the high cost of the raw material, the monomers, as a further justification for the increased duty. That automatically enables Altona to be profitable but, notwithstanding that, the Government steps in and proposes to afford that organization even greater protection. All over the world the price of monomers has fallen, but not for those produced by Altona.
I should mention another important aspect of this matter. Synthetic rubber is the raw material used in other industries and high duties on its importation make their competitive position more difficult. For example, synthetic rubber is used in the manufacture of cheap children’s shoes. Australian manufacturers of cheap children’s shoes made from rubber are threatened by the importation of cheap children’s shoes from overseas. One reason for this is that the overseas competitor does not pay high prices for his raw material. I am prepared to wager that within the next few months the Special Advisory Authority will be asked to afford protection to Australian manufacturers against the importation of cheap rubber shoes from Hong Kong. That will not be the solution to the problem. The only attribute of cheap rubber shoes for children is cheapness. If you impose a duty on imported rubber shoes you stop them from being cheap and then people will not buy them.
– That would assist the leather industry.
– If that is the object of the exercise, all very well; but I thought the object of the exercise was to help the synthetic rubber industry. The problem is not solved by imposing duties on the raw materials used in other industries. Honorable members opposite should not delude themselves by thinking that we can escape from our dilemma in that way. The imposition of duties makes more difficult the position of the user of those materials.
There are other aspects of this matter that are worth mentioning. If one peruses the formidable list of compounds in the schedule one will agree that synthetic rubber is a very complex product. Many grades of rubber are needed by manufacturers, and the Australian industry admits that it cannot supply all of the grades required. So some rubber must be imported, and it comes into this country under by-law. Do not pretend that the industry can supply all of the grades needed.
Procedures change in the use of this complex product. The South Australian Rubber Company, an excellent company, prides itself on being able to meet competition so long as it is not forced to pay high prices for its raw materials. The company makes rubber car mats, steering wheels and similar articles. The imposition of a high duty has placed the company in a difficult position. In addition, restrictions on the importation of synthetic rubber prevents the company from obtaining the technical information from overseas that is so vital to the manufacturer of a quality article. Obviously, if you stop some of these complex compounds from coming into the country the overseas manufacturer will not be interested in supplying technical information concerning their use. That is another danger associated with attempting to protect an industry that lies at the base of other secondary industries. I ask honorable members opposite: Do you not realize the danger? In this case the company deliberately set out to produce more of a product than was needed. Because it has a capacity of 10,000 tons more than is needed, it expects to be protected.
.-! listened carefully to the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly), but I still do not know what he is advocating. Does he suggest that we should allow large quantities of synthetic rubber to be imported and thus destroy our own synthetic rubber industry? That result would be most undesirable. The synthetic rubber industry is important to Australia. That was clearly demonstrated during the last war when supplies of natural rubber were cut off.
– The honorable member for Wakefield did not advocate the destruction of the synthetic rubber industry.
– Well, what is his object? During his contribution on these tariff proposals I have not heard him say that the charge being made for the commodity in Australia is excessive. He has said that in respect of some articles, but on this occasion he has changed his method of attack on Australian industry. He has not alleged that vast profits have been made and for that reason the industry should be confronted with competition that would eliminate it. The honorable member has consistently claimed that tariffs should be reduced in order to destroy an industry or to reduce the effectiveness of an industry.
– That is not what he said.
– I have been listening to this debate while the honorable member for Gippsland has been absent from the chamber. As each proposal comes before the committee the honorable member for Wakefield rises to attack the recommendations of the Special Advisory Authority and the Tariff Board. In effect, he says that they do not know their job.
More than anything else to-day Australia needs import replacement industries, whether those industries affect primary production or secondary production. Such industries are vital to our national solvency. We must export more or import less. Those are the alternatives. Time after time the honorable member for Wakefield has risen to say that we should import more of every type of commodity, that we should make it easy for people to make excessive profits from the sale of foreign-made goods imported into this country. I am not defending the exploitation of the people of this country by either primary or secondary industries or by those who manipulate them. Of course the people of Australia are being exploited by primary producers; of course they are being exploited by secondary industries; of course they are being exploited by big emporiums and retailers, but the way to prevent that is not by the destruction of the protective tariff system. You do not destroy a native-born exploiter by replacing him with a foreign exploiter. That is the proposition which is being put up to us continually by honorable members opposite. They pretend solicitude for the consumers. In reality what they seek are cheap commodities upon which large profits can be made, irrespective of where those products originate.
– Order! The honorable member is getting a little wide of the subject of synthetic rubber.
– I bow to your ruling, Mr. Temporary Chairman. I think that I have answered effectively the general attitude of the honorable member for Wakefield over the last few days. He has been supported, of course, by members of the Country Party - free traders in reality who seek to masquerade every now and then as protectors of Australian industry.
.- I participate in the debate at this stage because, as I understand it, the honorable member for Scullin (Mr. Peters), either because he does not know any better or deliberately, misrepresented the points made by the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly). What he alleged the honorable member for Wakefield said was so different from that honorable gentleman’s statements that it was almost farcical. He even levelled accusations against the honorable member for Wakefield because, in discussing this particular reference, his criticisms were based on different grounds from his previous criticisms of other references. What an extraordinary accusation! To me, the statements of the honorable member for Scullin prove the value and the validity of the points made by the honorable member for Wakefield because different circumstances surround each of the references under discussion. He would have been suspect if he had attacked the recommendations of the Special Advisory Authority on the same grounds on every occasion.
As I understand it, the honorable member for Wakefield said that this particular recommendation makes it more difficult for companies producing rubber goods in Australia to operate efficiently, to expand and to provide employment. One such company is the South Australian rubber mills, one of the most successful, enterprising and expanding companies in this field in Australia. It is located in the electorate of the honorable member for Kingston (Mr. Galvin). The number of employees in the company has risen every year. As the honorable member for Wakefield has said, the effects of the recommendation would be fair enough if there were overwhelming advantages to offset them, but all that this recommendation does is to assist an off-shoot of a giant petro-chemical company to monopolize the Australian market for this product for years ahead. It is sitting over the Australian market with an enormous amount of excess capacity.
Can anyone justify imposing these disabilities on the industries which use the product? Can anyone justify preventing them from providing increasing employment? Can anyone justify preventing them from having access to the expertise which is so essential if we are to expand as a manufacturing nation? Can anyone justify putting a giant monopoly in the position of holding the Australian community to ransom?
.- I listened with interest, as usual, to the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly) and to the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Forbes). There is no shadow of doubt that both honorable gentlemen are opposed to the establishment of this industry in Australia.
– Well, you moan and, worse still, you criticize the industry because it has had the vision to provide a capacity which will enable it to cope with the increasing future demands of the Australian people. Obviously, if the Government which the honorable gentleman supports happens to remain in office the cost, due to inflation, of providing increased capacity at some future date would be considerably greater than it is now.
But let me return to the industry in question. Neither of the two honorable gentlemen who have spoken have ever seen the plant and equipment involved. The company is established at Altona, in Victoria, beside a rapidly expanding residential area populated by the workers, artisans and professional people of Australia. Surely the honorable gentleman cannot argue effectively that it is a bad thing for Australia to have established within its own confines the wherewithal to produce a very important basic material. In this era of motor transportation, what industry is more important to Australia than that which produces the basic rubber on which practically all transport to-day moves?
It is true that, in the main, this industry is owned almost exclusively by a foreign company, but does that detract in any way from the fact that we need this essential industry badly? Do the two honorable gentlemen opposite suppose that if there were no such plant in Australia they would be able for very long to obtain their products any cheaper than at the price they now pay for them? It is all very fine for the honorable member for Barker to theorize and suggest in effect that this is a burden on the economy. Let him prove to me that in the absence of local production there would not be very quickly a combination of companies manufacturing the same product overseas rubbing their hands together and saying: “ There is no basic synthetic rubber plant in Australia. Let us get round the table. Let us eliminate competition among ourselves and let us bleed the Australian people”. Then because these were overseas concerns we could do nothing about them. The fact remains that with the enterprise on our own soil we can ensure that its staffs are Australian and that the wages and salaries paid to them comply with Australian standards. In addition, by having these employment-giving enterprises in Australia we provide a market for an increasing amount of the primary products of the electorates that the honorable gentlemen represent.
If you have any doubt about what overseas concerns will do to this country in the absence of well-established and weilprotected industries, have a look at the holdings in the great motor car companies of the world. The General Motors Corporation has financial holdings, not only in the United States of America but also in Great Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Asia. The same is true of the Ford, Chrysler and other organizations. In the absence of competition, enterprises of the kind that we are discussing are in the happy position of being able to exploit the Australian community to the nth degree. I have no doubt about their capacity to exploit people. However, I am comforted by the fact that if they do exploit the community and there is not available already legislative machinery to deal with them, any government with an ounce of common sense could very readily provide whatever machinery was needed to prevent exploitation of the Australian people. Those on the other side of this Parliament who compose and support this Government are the ones who have been most negligent in the prevention of restrictive trade practices, for they have failed to equip the Commonwealth with the powers recommended by the all-party Constitutional Review Committee.
Order ! This is not a debate on monopolies.
– I know it is not, Mr. Temporary Chairman, but I am illustrating what could happen if the will of the honorable member for Barker and the honorable member for Wakefield were given effect to and these essential industries were destroyed.
We hear all this talk about excess capacity. Does not any man, when he intends to erect a structure, whether it be a home, farm shed or anything else, prove himself to be short of vision if he builds a skimpy structure without allowing for the expansion of his needs? Do not we in Australia visualize an intake of about another 2,000,000 migrants in the next ten years? More rubber and associated products will undoubtedly be required in the next ten years, and any firm would be well advised to equip itself to increase its output of those products.
Mr. Temporary Chairman, I support the recommendation of the Tariff Board that this essential industry be afforded protection. I regret, of course, that the plant in question is almost wholly owned by overseas interests and that dividends and profits will inevitably be repatriated to the United States of America to pay for the cost of construction of the plant. But, at least, the establishment is here, and we can exercise a very much larger measure of control over it than we would be able to exercise over any great importing concern, as experience in this country has shown very clearly.
– Mr. Temporary Chairman, the committee has been treated in the last couple of days to a debate on the subject of Tariffs which shows nothing so clearly as it shows the inevitability of sectional unhappiness regardless of what one does in the tariff field. I have a very lively interest in the points of view put forward by my friends, the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly) and the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Forbes). Indeed, the honorable member for Wakefield, on his side, and I, on mine, are becoming tediously repetitious. The honorable member for Barker has recognized the fact that, inevitably, there will be some difficulties for all sections of the community if a tariff is to be imposed on a product which finds its way into an industry as a basic raw material. He has recognized, also, the fact that there may be compensating national advantages, as, I believe, there are in this instance. The honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) made quite a sound point when he said that, when one establishes a plant, particularly in the chemical industry, obviously one will look a little further ahead than the immediate demand and will provide for the future. There is another overriding factor in this industry, Mr. Temporary Chairman: There is a minimum size of plant below which there is no hope of efficient operation.
The particular plant that the company in question in this instance has been obliged to establish has an output of some 20,000 tons of material a year. This is well in excess of the level of demand at the time when the plant was constructed, but, if the plant is to operate efficiently, it must have reserved for it practically the whole of the Australian market. This is not a new concept in industry. At the present time, the whole of Europe is debating a project which is designed basically to reserve the European market for European producers. If such a principle is good there, it is equally good here. 1 admit, as 1 said earlier, that I have a warm sympathy for the point of view put forward by the honorable member for Wakefield, but this is not a case of guarding a monopoly or of this country paying somebody to come in and establish a private monopoly interest of his own. The great question that we have to decide, after having looked at the thing objectively, is where the private interest finishes and where the public interest begins. The department which I have the honour to administer is charged with the responsibility for seeing that this country is well prepared, in terms of stocks of materials, for a possible international conflict. One of the things of which we store great quantities is natural rubber. I have very keen memories about the last war, when we would have been very glad indeed to have in Australia a plant of this kind able to manufacture synthetic rubber.
– Hear, hear!
– My friend agrees with me.
The industries of this country, and, indeed, our entire economy, stand poised at present at a very interesting and critical point. My friend, the honorable member for Wakefield has talked a good deal of sound sense in the last couple of days about the dependence of this country on the output of the primary industries, which, heretofore, has propped up the economy, as it is doing now and, indeed, will do for some time to come. But we have reached the stage at which this country is no longer safe if we depend almost completely on the output of the primary industries. The time has come when we must offset some of the load on the primary industries by transferring it to the secondary industries.. Our secondary industries must become competitive in the markets of the world. If they are to do that, Sir, we can do it only by developing a sound base for them in our domestic market. It may well be that we shall have to adopt quite a number of devices like these tariff measures to preserve for the Australian manufacturer enough of the Australian market to enable him to achieve a reasonably economic basis of production.
Very largely for this reason, we have turned to quantitative restrictions on imports, which, as we all well know, were opposed by the honorable member for Wakefield, and we have appointed a Special Advisory Authority to deal quickly with these problems that may well undermine the economic basis of Australian industry. I point out to the honorable member that the duty that is now to be imposed represents a temporary measure recommended by the Special Advisory Authority. The matter has already been referred to the Tariff Board for a full-scale inquiry into all the aspects that the honorable gentleman has raised.
I want to be quiet during the rest of the discussion on the remaining Tariff Proposals, Sir, because I think that we are taking up too much time on the general aspects of the subject. Therefore, I do not propose, during the remainder of the discussion, to continue to urge the honorable member for Wakefield in the way in which I urged him last evening. Then, I urged him, as I urge him now, and as I urge other honorable members who may be disposed to offer criticism, to examine the matter objectively. I would not deny any honorable member his right to express criticism. Nobody wants to stifle criticism on matters as important as these. However, I urge honorable members to examine the problems objectively and with a little more foresight than has been exhibited in the kind of contribution to this discussion that we have heard so far.
There is a great future ahead of this country industrially. If we do not take advantage of our opportunities to build a great future industrially, we shall have no future nationally. The measures adopted by this Government for the protection of these quite important basic industries are designed to protect not only such industries but also the public interest generally in the widest possible way.
.- Mr. Temporary Chairman, one can agree with much of what the Minister for Supply (Mr. Fairhall) has just said, and I agree also with a considerable proportion of the observations made by the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly) during the consideration of these Tariff Proposals. One of the problems that the honorable member for Wakefield and the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Forbes) are up against is that the Labour Opposition constantly misinterprets not only their remarks but also the motives behind those remarks. The honorable member for Wakefield at no time suggested that the industry that we are now discussing should go out of existence. The basis of his observations was the question: Is the means adopted the means that should be used to bolster an industry, however necessary it may be? Is the means proposed the correct method?
– The answer from one who is a Labour man is “ Yes “. Has he considered the ultimate result? Has he looked at the pyramiding of costs and at other problems that will occur as a result of the adoption of the measures proposed? Is he sure that those measures represent the only means of achieving the objective? The Minister for Supply (Mr. Fairhall) and the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard), answering the criticisms that the honorable member for Wakefield levelled at the enterprise in question, have said that the company having constructed a plant with a capacity in excess of the known market for its product, exercised foresight and was wise to provide the excess capacity so that future demands could be met. That would be all right if there were a possibility of future competition coming from overseas; but by doing what it has done, this concern at Altona has denied opportunity to encourage the setting up of similar business at the refinery in Western Australia. That has been done deliberately - a monopolistic set-up. It is strange to hear the honorable member for Lalor in one breath condemning monopolies and restrictive trade practices and, in another breath, supporting them, defending them and advocating them. Having heard the honorable member for Lalor speak so often on these questions, his remarks now come strangely to my ears.
I support the honorable member for Wakefield on the question which he raised. Is this the only means available to protect and expand Australian industries? Of course we have to have export earnings; of course we have to get into other export fields, but we have to sell commodities at prices which will meet external competition. That fact has been lost sight of throughout this debate. Primary industries have to meet external competition and pay protected prices inside Australia. Our secondary industries will have to do exactly the same thing. How are they going to do it?
– What about butter?
– Of course we protect our butter because the national policy is protectionist. We shall have to apply that protec- tion in every respect. We cannot avoid it. If you are going to protect an industry which supplies raw materials to another industry, then that industry must be protected, and so it goes on. Where do you end? Ultimately, you will be producing good synthetic rubber in Australia to sell overseas, but you will have to charge ten times the price at which it can be bought in another country. What chance have we of building up an export industry in that way? That is our problem and are we adopting the best way of solving it? Or should the problem be tackled in another way? Should not these industries be told, as the primary producer is being told, to achieve efficient production and to cut their costs? Should they not be told to produce two pieces of rubber where they previously produced one? That is what the primary producer has been able to do, and it is time that secondary industry was told to do the same thing. That is the only solution to the problem.
What does this firm do when its costs go up a little? Does it appeal to the Australian Tariff Board for more protection or does it say: “ Here is an inescapable additional cost. We shall have to see where we can save so that we shall not have to pass on the increased cost “? That is what the primary producer has to do. That is what he has been told to do by Parliament and by the honorable member for Lalor. But 1 have not heard the honorable member say that a secondary producer has to cut his costs, or achieve more efficient management in order to meet overseas competition as the primary producer has to meet it. The honorable member for Wakefield has put up a sound, basic argument which the socalled economists of this country should examine. Every economist whom you hear speak has a different story to tell.
– He was attacking your Government.
– He was not. He was attacking the whole national system which could be putting this country on the wrong road. It is deplorable to find the extent to which the remarks of the honorable member for Wakefield are being twisted. He has attempted to warn the whole nation that the course that we are adopting might be the wrong way to achieve our objective of becoming a manufacturing nation. It could be the wrong way, and we could find ourselves economically busted.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– Mr. Temporary Chairman, I wish to make a personal explanation. First, I should like to say that I realize that last night, at about 11 o’clock, there was a lot of noise in the chamber and it was difficult to hear what was being said and who was saying it. I have been reported as having said, when the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) was speaking, “ The honorable member is a humbug.” I want to say that I do not use words of that sort, and I do not regard the honorable member for Lalor as being in that category.
Customs Tariff Amendment (No. 30)
Consideration resumed from 8th August (vide page 97), on motion by Mr. Fairhall -
That the Schedule to the Customs Tariff 1933- 1962, as proposed to be amended by Customs Tariff Proposals, be further amended as set out in the Schedule to these Proposals . . . (vide page 97).
.- This item deals with a temporary duty on 1-in. chain or larger. Because there may be some doubt as to what 1-in. chain is, I have brought a sample into the chamber and I now exhibit it for honorable members to see. It is not dog chain or watch chain - it is inch chain. This is the smallest of this type of chain that is dealt with under this proposal. I had thought of having it incorporated in “ Hansard “, but 1 understand that there would be some technical difficulty. Anyhow, it is too expensive and I will take it home again. This type of chain is used to tie up ships or to clear scrub. It is not a luxury. It is a necessity.
The proposal before the committee is based on the report of the Special Advisory Authority. I pay the authority a tribute for the brevity of his reports, but this one is the briefest. He did not say what quantity of imports was coming in. 1 did the best I could with the figures at my disposal, and worked out a monthly rate of imports. During 1959-60, the rate was 782 cwt. a month. In 1960-61, it was 819 cwt. and in 1961-62 it was 345 cwt. - less than half the rate for 1959-60. So it appears that imports have not been much trouble. Only one company in Australia is making this chain, and it is using steel. To me, making chain does not seem to be a very intricate process. I do not know much about it. I imagine that they would cut the lengths, bend them and weld them and, if they are very heavy, put a bridge in them. I presume that they use steel. In Australia, steel costs the chainmaker ?42 a ton. In the United Kingdom whence the chain is said to come, it costs ?50 a ton. I have been taunted by honorable members with the accusation that I am a free trader and do not want to support secondary industries. That is not so. I believe in a wise protective system. Here we have a case in point. It shows what can be done with a protective system, wisely used. Steel for the manufacture of chain is cheaper in Australia than it is in the United Kingdom, and yet we need a duty over and above the cost of freight. You do not cart this chain out easily. It is heavy chain. Most of it is bigger than the piece which I hold in my hand. It has been contended that this product needs the protection of a 30 per cent, duty over and above freight although it is made from steel which is ?8 a ton cheaper than United Kingdom steel. I repeat that I am not a free trader. I believe in a sound protective system. But no one can justify the present proposal to me as a necessary duty. I believe that this company, the only one that makes chain, is just sheltering from the results of its own inefficiency.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Customs Tariff Amendment (No. 31).
Consideration resumed from 8th August (vide page 98), on motion by Mr. Fairhall -
That the Schedule te the Customs Tariff 1933- 1962, as proposed to be amended by Customs Tariff Proposals, be further amended as set out in the Schedule to these Proposals . . . (vide page 97).
-(Mr. Locock).- Is it the wish of the committee that this motion be considered as a whole? There being no objection, that course will be followed.
.- The item that I want to discuss under this heading is that which proposes to increase duties on towels, towelling and also nappies - or babies’ napkins, as I think they are called in higher circles.
– Yes; you would be an authority, no doubt. It is interesting to realize that the Tariff Board Report on this item in 1959 recommended 17i per cent. British preferential tariff and a 55 per cent, most-favoured-nations rate, which seems pretty fair protection for a garment which, I understand, is essential to a certain age group. In 1959-60 Australia provided 95 per cent, of towels, towelling and babies’ napkins made of terry towelling and 93 per cent, the year after. The Special Advisory Authority had some difficulty in arriving at the amount of imports this year, as indeed he should, because the year was not through when he made his report. He made an estimate that we are supplying at least 75 per cent, of our requirements and said that it could be even more, but he added that there was a danger that imports might flood in later on. He said that in his opinion the Australian manufacturers had not as yet been adversely affected by the imports of terry towels and towelling. But having said that, he added that of course they might be in the future. I might have a drought next year, too, but no one seems to worry about that. Sir Frank Meere, the Special Advisory Authority, obviously has not gone very deeply into the matter of babies’ napkins. It is worth remembering that on towels coming in from Hong Kong the emergency duties on an ad valorem basis work out at 200 per cent., and even 212 per cent, in some cases. That seems to me to be a pretty heavy impost on the babies. But, of course, they have no vote yet, although their parents have.
Much comment has been made on the fact that not all, but some, of the imports are coming in from mainland China. That may be so, but surely it is not up to the Special Advisory Authority to guide our foreign policy as well as our fiscal policy and price levels. I thought the question whether China should trade with Australia would have been a matter of policy to be decided by the Minister for External Affairs (Sir Garfield Barwick), not a special tariff authority. If we are not to trade with China then I think at least the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) should be told about it because, after all, we sold the Chinese £65,000,000 worth of goods last year. They bought from us-
– Order ! I remind the honorable member of his comment that the matter of trade with China is one coming more within the province of another department. The honorable member was correct, and I suggest that he confine himself more to the subject-matter before the committee.
- Sir, the subject-matter before the committee deals specifically with imports from mainland China.
– The matter before the committee is the recommendation of the Special Advisory Authority for certain tariffs. While the honorable member is entitled, to illustrate a point, to refer to the principle of trading with a particular country, I suggest that he should not develop his speech into a discussion on external affairs policy.
– Is it your ruling then, Sir, that in discussing a report on which the rate of duty on certain imports from mainland China is based we are not permitted to discuss the impact of that tariff?
– What I have suggested to the honorable member for Wakefield is that his speech should not develop substantially into comment on something that is related purely to external affairs policy. The honorable member may refer in passing to the effect that some political situation has on the importation of the articles under discussion, but he should not develop those remarks into a general dis: cussion of international affairs and the relationship of this country with Communist China, or any other country with which we trade.
– I repeat, Sir, that the debate centres on what is in the Special. Advisory Authority’s report. I was dealing With a matter raised in the report. If I offend again I will do so unwittingly, I Assure you, Sir. May I add, purely as an aside, that we have heard to-day that mainland China has taken another 25,000,000 bushels of Australian wheat. I find it difficult to understand how the Chinese are to pay for this wheat if we will not buy goods from them, but of course I must not trespass on that subject any further.
But surely we are allowed to discuss the question of imports from cheap-labour countries, and indeed this has been bandied about this chamber continually during this debate. Most of the towels and towelling come in from Hong Kong and other poor areas. Everywhere that the Minister for External Affairs goes in his visits to Asia he quite properly talks of how we can help these poor struggling countries. Trade is more important than aid, he says, and one hears his clarion call all over Asia. I agree with him, having seen something of the difficulties that exist. But it is not easy really to help them by aid alone. The call of the Minister for External Affairs and the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) for trade, not aid, is a very proper attitude. The only trouble is that as soon as we start to trade a stop is put to it. The principle is unimpeachable; it is only the practice that is hard. In any case, in this matter it seems that not much harm is being done. Sir Frank admits that not many imports are flooding in, and I notice that Dickies, a firm manufacturing towelling of very good quality and one of the main applicants for protection, does not seem to have been ruined. Its profit in the last financial year was 16.8 per cent., which of course may not seem high to some honorable members but it certainly sounds high to a primary producer. That company, which is recognized as being one of the most efficient, is still making 16.8 per cent, profit without imports flooding in. Is this the object of the exercise? I thought the Special Advisory Authority was appointed to stop imports coming in, if they are flooding in, but the object of the exercise seems to be to protect income, rather than protect industries against imports.
.- I was interested in remarks of the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly). It is true, as the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie) observed, that he is at least consistent. I think something should be said about the attitude of the Tariff Board towards the importation of terry towelling, euphemistically known as diapers, because it arrives at a rinding, in its treatment of these commodities, in a strange manner. Without being too harsh, I am inclined to believe that there is something stupid in the way the Tariff Board treats these items. It will be noticed that these articles are treated on a weight basis. There could scarcely be any more stupid way of treating these commodities. They should be treated on a footage basis, not necessarily on a yardage basis. If that were done a great deal more common sense could be injected into the treatment of these commodities by the Tariff Board.
The honorable member for Wakefield has observed that the profit made on Dickies’ towels seems to be substantial. I remind him that the difference between success and failure in the textile industry is frequently a matter of only a few days, depending on the arrival of imports from overseas. It is a well-known fact that in the textile industry you make hay while the sun shines when a Liberal Government governs, because you cannot be sure what its attitude will be from week to week. The honorable member for Wakefield mentioned a profit of 16.4 per cent., but under the circumstances that profit is not nearly as large as it might appear to be. I have previously said in this chamber that the Tariff Board fails to show a satisfactory understanding of the textile industry. I submit that by the nature of its report it has again demonstrated its inability to understand the textile industry.. - 1 am certain that if it did so it would treat these commodities on an area or footage basis instead of a weight basis.
The imports into this country which compete against Australian products come mostly from mainland China, which is the principal exporter to Australia at present, or from Hong Kong. It is certain that the product of any Australian mill, subject to the laws governing hygiene in Australian factories, is clean and hygienic. In consequence people who buy Australian-made products can be sure in advance that they are scrupulously clean and completely free from any disease that might be brought in to Australia on towelling imported from Hong Kong or mainland China. It is frequently found that these cheaper textiles which are imported from Hong Kong or mainland China are faithful replicas of Australian designs. Protests about this have been made from time to time. Both buyers and customers in the textile industry become aware that certain designs are made in Australian mills. It is easy to deceive undiscerning customers, many of whom go into shops and perceive what they believe must necessarily be an Australian-made towel. Australian manufacturers have from time to time protested against this practice to the embassies of the countries concerned, but without a great deal of success. I mention these matters in expressing my dissatisfaction at the manner in which the Tariff Board is dealing with these items.
These textiles, which are imported from Hong Kong or mainland China, are purchased by Australian importers at ridiculously low prices and are sold at prices only a little below that of Australian products. It will readily be perceived that somebody is making a very fat profit out of the importation of these materials into Australia to the detriment of Australian industry and, despite what the honorable member for Wakefield has said, their importation frequently results in the unemployment of Australian workers.
.- I believe that in dealing with these three items this morning the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly) has completely failed to understand the business principles and practices that lie behind applications to the Special Advisory Authority and the action which it accordingly takes. While dealing with towels, I recall an incident which occurred about a fortnight ago when my wife wanted to buy some towels in a shop in Bourke-street, Melbourne. She went into one store and found that it had nothing but imported towels displayed for sale. She asked whether there were any Australian towels for sale and apparently the store could not have cared less.
– Of course, because the margin of profit on imported towels is higher.
– Exactly. My wife then went into the store next door, where the story was the same. It displayed imported towels, mostly made in mainland China. My wife then said to one of the sales people, “ Have you not any Australian towels? I do not want this stuff “. The shop assistant raised his hands and said, “Hurray! I am so pleased that somebody has come in who wants to buy Australian and keep Australians working “. He then produced Australian-made towels from under the counter. It is this policy on the part of many importers and stores which has made it necessary for manufacturers like Driglo, Dickies and others to go to the special authority and tell him what has happened in the industry.
The honorable member for Wakefield does not understand business or what happens in the textile industry. He complained that not enough information is given in the short reports that we get from the Special Advisory Authority. The special authority gives a report which is well within the bounds of the reference to him; but he studies the facts and finds out what the imports are, and with his years of experience in tariff work he knows what their impact is. I rose to speak only because I felt I could not let this debate pass without registering my complete disapproval of the exercise which the honorable member for Wakefield has undertaken, and to say that I believe the Special Advisory Authority is doing his work entirely satisfactorily under the terms of his appointment.
.- I take this opportunity, and I trust I shall be in order in doing so, to point out the inconsistency of the position taken up by the honorable member for McMillan (Mr. Buchanan). He made a very good case for the production and purchase of Australianmade towels and he admires the person who does these things. But it cannot have escaped the notice of honorable members that the honorable member for McMillan and other members on the Government side seem to be very selective in what they would like to have produced in Australia. Their attitude towards the production and purchase of Australian towelling is not the kind of attitude they have in relation to other things produced in Australia. They have failed to support, and have in fact opposed, moves from this side of the chamber to give some protection to Australian talent in the production of television programmes. Instead they have agreed to and have facilitated the flooding of the Australian market with cheap imported programmes. They have never given any support to the development of Che Australian shipbuilding industry.
– Order! The honorable member for Yarra said when he rose that he hoped that his observations would be relevant. I trust that he will sustain that hope.
– I thought that you would say that, Mr. Chairman. It is very difficult to follow a path through the myriads of inconsistencies one finds in the arguments of honorable members opposite in relation to the protection of Australian production, but I think that the honorable member for McMillan (Mr. Buchanan) has made the position most clear on this occasion, and I am sure that there is nothing more for me to say in regard to it.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Customs Tariff Amendment (No. 32).
Consideration resumed from 8th August (vide page 100), on motion by Mr. Fairhall-
That the Schedule to the Customs Tariff 1933-1962, as proposed to be amended by Customs Tariff Proposals, be further amended as set out in the Schedule to these Proposals . . . (vide page 98).
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Customs Tariff Amendment (No. 33).
Consideration resumed from 8th August (vide page 111), on motion by Mr. Fairhall -
That the Schedule to the Customs Tariff 1933-1962, as proposed to be amended by Customs Tariff Proposals, be further amended as set out in the Schedule to these Proposals . . . (vide page 101).
– This is rather a lengthy item, as the schedule indicates. There are three matters to be dealt with - the proposals following the recommendation by the Tariff Board after inquiry and report on bonded fibre fabrics, tartaric acid and cream of tartar, discontinuous man-made fibre yarns, pneumatic tires and tubes, sensitive balances and static capacitors and woollen yarns. I ask the committee to deal, as complementary matters to this item, with Customs Tariff (Canada Preference) Amendment (No. 4) and Customs Tariff (New Zealand Preference) Amendment (No. 6). As I explained yesterday, these two proposals are consequential on the proposed amendment, and I imagine will go through without difficulty, but the committee may wish to deal with a number of the items separately.
– May I suggest to the Minister that we take the Canadian preference and New Zealand preference proposals after we have dealt with the individual items.
– I am quite happy about that.
– Then the question is, “ That item 106 be agreed to “.
– This is a purely procedural matter, and I am sure it willnot require debate.
Item agreed to.
Items 112 and 123 agreed to.
Item 163; -
.- This is one item of this proposal which I want to deal with because it is with a real sense of relief that I find something in the proposals in which I concur entirely. We all know that there has been a most effective price ring in relation to tires and tubes. Indeed, the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Jones) has often been very pressing in bringing this matter to our attention.
The report concerned with this matter sprang from a reference by the Department of Trade to the Tariff Board. This is not a usual procedure, as these references usually come from the industry.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
In Committee of Supply: Consideration resumed from 9th October (vide page 1313).
.- I wish to discuss the estimates for the Department of Trade, which has become, generally speak; ing, one of the most important of Commonwealth Government departments. One of the significant features of developments during the last ten years has been the increasing importance of the Department of Trade. To-day in many ways it rivals what has been for years the most significant department, the Department of the Treasury.
Yesterday the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) chose to use question-time to argue very assertively, as though there was a pressing need to do so, that Australian exports to Pacific and Asian countries had increased very substantially. We should, first of all, notice the assertive manner that the Minister used. He submitted his arguments as though he believed that there was a definite need to be assertive and dogmatic. I suggest that this attitude exposed some guilty conscience in regard to this matter. The Minister used force and aggression where argument was lacking, as he so often does.
It is true that Australian exports to the Pacific and Asian areas have increased. While it is a little difficult to confirm the figures given by the Minister for the proportionate increases, I can suggest to the committee that our exports to Asia and the Pacific area have increased by about 13 per cent., to about 33 per cent., over the last ten or twelve years. The first point I wish to make is that this increase, in our trade with Pacific and Asian countries would have taken place no matter what government had been in office in Australia and no matter what policy that government had followed. The increase in our trade with the Asian area is a direct result of the changing economic patterns in the Eastern world and in the Western world. One cannot ignore completely the fact that Europe has tended more and more to restrict and exclude Australian trade. The trend towards decline in our exports to Europe has been going on for 60 or70 years, with the process being accelerated in recent years. On the other hand, up and down the coasts of the Pacific we haveseen one nation after the other gaining indepen dence in one way or another, and increasing their power to purchase. This has been followed by an increase of exports from Australia to those countries. The great force that has been working behind thisshift in our trading patterns has been the change in trading relations between European and Asian countries and the buying power of the increasingly independent Asian countries, and the shift would have occurred quite independently of the government in office and of the policy followed by that government.
Having these facts in mind, we can understand why the Minister chose to be assertive and dogmatic, as though trying to overprove a case that he knew had to be overstressed if it was to be convincing. It is true that increases have occurred in exports to the countries bordering on the Pacific, but let me say that those increases have followed a most uneven pattern. This has been, to some extent, the result of the policy measures adopted by this Government. The Government has done right in extending the Trade Commissioner service. It has done right in introducing its exports insurance scheme. I am not sure that it has done right in extending its tax concessions to exporters. However, it has taken some steps, though very amateurish, along the road of development of trade with the new world. To some extent it has succeeded, by such agreements as the Japanese trade agreement.
If we refer to the published figures we find that the increases in our exports to countries in the Pacific area have been very uneven. We have made significant increases only to certain countries. During the last twelve months the greatest increase has occurred in our exports to Japan. The increase there was to the extent of £26,600,000. Communist China came next with £21,600,000, followed by India with £1 1,700,000. The figure for Singapore was £3,700,000. Apart from those countries, there were very slight increases in exports to other Pacific area countries, and in some cases the volume of exports declined. In the case of Malaya there was a reduction of £100,000, Pakistan £1,600,000, Formosa £400,000, and so on. The great majority of countries bordering on the Pacific and in the south-west Pacific get less than 5 per cent, of their imports from Australia, and in some cases as little as 2 or 3 per cent. Therefore, even giving the fullest credit to the Government for what its measures have achieved, it must be apparent that there is still a very long way to go. To countries such as Cambodia and Laos and most of the South American countries we export hardly anything at all. Our exports to South American countries are in no case, other than that of the Argentine, worth an amount annually running to more than five figures. The Pacific and South America is almost an unexplored region so far as Australian exports are concerned.
There are two matters that I would like to mention in passing at this stage. First,I want to refer to the Japanese trade agreement. We have frequently heard honorable members opposite attacking the Labour Party for its attitude to that trade agreement. I want to take this opportunity to make clear the position of the Labour Party. At the time when the Japanese trade agreement was introduced into this House there was no indication whatever of any steps that would be taken to protect Australian industries from the impact of increased imports.
– Oh yes, there was.
– There was not. The provision for the appointment of the Special Advisory Authority, the only effective means for emergency action, was made only after the campaign with which the Labour Party was associated, designed to show the people of Australia that unless steps were taken to deal with the expected effects of increased Japanese imports considerable damage would be done to Australian industry. It was as a result of that campaign that the Government appointed the Special Advisory Authority. Although I contend that the authority has gone too far in some cases, I am prepared to concede that it has prevented a good deal of the damage that Australian industries might have suffered but for the authority’s efforts.
The Labour Party does not object to trading with Japan or any other country. Our policy is that Australia should trade with any country no matter what its politics may be, as long as such trade is on a sound commercial basis. The Country Party, with tongue in cheek, now subscribes to that policy. So far the Liberal Party has been unwilling to accept it. The Labour Party contends that Australia’s exports to countries in the Pacific and South-West Pacific areas must increase and as a consequence our imports from those areas must increase. We must take steps to anticipate the effect of those increased imports on
Australian producers and workers. As we go into this field of increased exports we must take steps to safeguard industries that may be unduly dislocated by the consequent rise in imports. I know what the honorable member for Wakefield is thinking, and in this respect I agree with him. Anything that we do must be done wisely, prudently and economically; but something must be done.
I think there is a political element in our present trade policy. I think the policy of the Department of Trade is to trade with the so-called free world and not to encourage trade with that part of the world that is looked upon as not being free. Apart altogether from the aspect of international affairs, we must realize that our prospects of trading with the so-called free world as it exists in the Pacific area are very small indeed. Let us take, as an extreme case, the South-East Asia Treaty Organization powers and similar powers. We find that in the last year or two our trade with those powers has not increased at all and that in some cases there has been a significant decline in trade. There has been a big increase in trade with the United States of America over the last twelve months, but in the case of Thailand there was a decline from £3,300,000 in 1959-60 to £1,800,000 in 1960-61 and only a small increase since. In the case of the Philippines there has been a decline from £4,600,000 to £3,700,000. Our trade with Pakistan has declined, and in a period of twelve months our trade with Formosa has declined by £100,000. It is completely unwise from an economic point of view to allow political considerations to influence decisions as to where we will trade.
We must try to discover the things that are obstructing the extension of exports from Australia. For the time being we must put aside the question of the effect of imports. Not taking them necessarily in order of importance, we must first pay regard to restrictions that arise concerning the export of goods from Australia because of licences, franchises or agreements entered into by Australian manufacturers with overseas companies. When the Australian manufacturer enters into such arrangements he invariably is restricted as to the area in which he may sell his goods.
For example, it is quite impossible for , Australian-produced British cars to be exported to the greater part of the Pacific . area. The Australian-produced American : car is not specifically restricted from export but the policy in this connexion is specific- , ally described. I understand that the recent series of television programmes with which the Department of Trade has been associated is running into a dead end because there are not enough Australian producers free to export overseas to allow the television programmes to continue. Difficulties have arisen because of the effect of those restrictions on the capacity of Australian producers to export.
Well over 1,000 companies in Australia to-day are either controlled or significantly influenced by overseas capital invested in them or by the fact that they hold licences to manufacture certain goods. The figures give some indication of the significance of the growth of this practice. In some respects the investment of overseas capital may have advantages but there are also very serious disadvantages and, as far as Australia is concerned, we are fast reaching the stage where the disadvantages outweigh the advantages. The value of shares, debentures and notes of Australian companies held by overseas companies was £186,900,000 in 1952 and had increased to £595,000,000 in 1961. That is an increase of £408,000,000 worth of control in Australian industries over that period of nine years. The book value of the assets of branches actually owned by overseas companies in Australia in 1952 was £223,900,000. By 1961 the figure had increased by £154,000,000 to £378,000,000. So the increase in the financial grip that overseas concerns have on Australian factories and industries has increased by almost £600,000,000 in only nine years. I do not suggest that every £1 of those investments represents a restrictive influence on Australian exports, but the value of the investments is most significant. When I first raised this matter here several years ago I regret to say that the Minister for Trade brushed aside my questions as though there were no restrictive agreements or franchises in operation-
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– During the course of his remarks the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns) made two points which 1 particularly wish to deal with. The honorable member defended the Opposition’s attitude towards the Japanese Trade Agreement. He was taken to task by the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull) who showed how incorrect were the statements made by the honorable member for Yarra. The honorable member must himself be aware that his remarks were a complete distortion of the truth. He tried to imply that Labour’s attitude to the Japanese Trade Agreement was based on the fact that the agreement contained no safeguards against an excessive flow of goods into this country. He claimed that the agreement became safe only after the establishment of the Special Advisory Authority procedure. That, the honorable member knows, is a complete distortion of the truth. It is well known that after the agreement was introduced safeguards were provided by liaison between the Australian Government and the Japanese Government. Whenever it seemed that an Australian industry might be threatened by over-importation of Japanese goods, action was taken by the Australian Government and the situation was almost immediately remedied by the Japanese Government. The honorable member for Yarra knows that fact as well as anybody does. It is quite untrue to suggest that the agreement became safe, as far as Australian industries were concerned, only after the establishment of the Special Advisory Authority. The Labour Party is trying to wriggle out of a position in which it finds itself because of its narrow economic thinking. If Labour’s opposition to the Japanese Trade Agreement had been effective, Australia would have lost a very valuable trade weapon.
Another point, equally as fatuous as the one to which I have referred, made by the honorable member was that Australia should trade more with countries in the Pacific. To whom would we sell our goods? The fishes? The honorable member knows that Australia’s best customer is Japan. He knows that we are doing tremendous trade with the west coast of America and with Canada. He knows that steps are being taken to increase trading opportunities with Central and South American countries. The honorable member knows that some of the major areas of the Pacific are under French control. He knows that those areas do not require Australian raw materials, that they have a fairly tightly controlled economy and that it would be impossible to break into that market. I do not know exactly what he thinks we can do. If he considers the coast of Asia he must know that we are doing a substantial trade with red China - to which some people object - and that we have a useful trade with Formosa and other countries in the area. To try to make a case that Australia is not looking for markets is ridiculous.
The Estimates provide for an increased allocation of £425,000 for the Department of Trade, making the total vote £4,265,000, and an increase of £191,000 for the Trade Commissioner Service. This latter increase will be devoted to meeting the expense incurred in increasing the number of trade posts during the past year. There has been also a rather important addition to one of our trading activities in the form of the Australian National Travel Association. The total allocation of £260,000 represents an increase of £61,000 on the previous vote. The subsidy to the South American shipping service has been increased from £75,000 to £125,000. This is very important to the establishment of trade with South America.
It is unnecessary for me to repeat the remarks that the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) made in an eloquent speech in reply to a question yesterday morning when he indicated the level of our trade. But I must say that I have no time for the constant criticism that although the entry of Great Britain into the European Common Market has constituted a threat to Australia’s trade, we have been doing nothing about it and so have opened our country to serious economic disaster. Any one who has made the effort to study the activities of the Department of Trade will realize the enormous amount of work which has gone into this particular branch of the Australian economy during the last five or ten years. I think that Australians generally owe a great debt of gratitude to the vigorous policies pursued by the Minister and the wisdom of the Cabinet which has supported him. It is ridiculous to suggest that we could fall into the trap of relying too much on a market when we know that over the period, irrespective of the European Common Market, Great Britain gradually has been buying less from us and that we have had to look for alternate markets.
I do not propose to catalogue the various features of the Department of Trade which are making such an impact on our problems, but there are certain points which I think need some explanation. While the Government, through the Trade Commissioner Service, can do and has done a tremendous amount to help individual firms and organizations to establish contact, the thought seems to exist in some people’s minds that trade commissioners are actually entrepreneurs and are in foreign countries to do the actual trading. Let me remind honorable members that these officers are overseas only to assist people to get on with the job of trading, to establish contact, to arrange introductions and publicity, to investigate and study markets and that kind of thing. To imply that a trade commissioner is in the position of a middle man who actually carries on terms of trade between the principal in Australia and the customer in another country obviously is ridiculous. In the first place, the trade commissioner would not have the opportunity to do that and, in addition, a certain degree of specialization is required in all forms of trade. The man would not be born who could handle all the various products that we have to sell. So there is an obligation on firms, organizations and individuals interested in exports to use their own initiative. It must be remembered also that unless we are to accept a socialized form of overseas export control, with all the negotiations in the hands of some government agency, we always will be required to exercise our own initiative in the field of overseas trade.
There has been some ill-informed criticism by people returning from abroad - probably the first time they have left Australia’s shores - and writing a book about Australian trade, thinking that they know everything. These people criticize Australia’s selling policies abroad. They probably have met some disgruntled chap who missed out on an agency and has blown in their ear about how badly our selling is being done. That happens all the time.
With those few remarks about selling overseas, let me turn to a particular item relating to an area which always has interested me tremendously. Selling overseas to-day is highly competitive. Let us face up to that. This applies particularly in central and South America, where foreign aid, mainly from the United States, is being devoted to expanding the economy and to raising the standards of living. Obviously, if this process continues we shall miss opportunities if we do not make some attempt to break into this market. I am not sure whether the report I have in my hand has been circulated to honorable members, but I suggest that any one interested in trade should obtain a copy of it. It is a report of the recent Australian trade mission to South America, which, I say with a degree of pride, was led by my brother. Australia was extremely lucky to have a man of his capacity and experience to lead a mission of this kind.
– But how lucky he is to haVe a brother like you.
– I bow to the honorable member’s judgment. The points to be considered are brought out very well in this report. Not only is it very good, descriptively, in relation to the problems confronting us in selling in South America, but it also has some very valuable recommendations which I believe are both practical and imaginative and which the Government should consider very seriously.
Let me summarize the factors which we should realize in connexion with South American markets. In the first place, there are some very serious handicaps in trading with South America. With the exception of a certain number of small exports to the west coast in the past, and spasmodic shipments of other commodities to certain other countries, Australia is breaking into a completely new area in the face of very tough competition. It is not as if we were going into a market which has not been thoroughly exploited before. We are up against tough competition. In the second place, most of these countries, with the exception of Venezuela and Peru, have very serious overseas balance of trade problems. Their overseas balances are inclined to be rather shaky. As a result, the countries concerned must impose very strict import controls. That also involves the problem that credit will be required to finance a number of transactions which may transpire between Australian exporters and South American buyers.
Thirdly, until recently there was no regular shipping service to South American ports. Due to the activities of the Minister for Trade, the Government has now introduced a regular shipping service. We hope that sufficient patronage will be forthcoming to make this a worth-while proposition. Fourthly, we must always keep in mind that in South America there are continuous epidemics of political instability. These are not of the kind referred to in a question this morning in relation to Newcastle. Finally, we must realize that as most of these countries have adverse balances of trade we cannot have a oneway traffic. We must try to help them by making it possible for them to sell us some of their surpluses. This is not always easy in the case of South America, because a lot of the products of that area are also our products.
I repeat that any honorable member who is interested in the future of Australia’s trade should obtain this excellent report and study it closely because the points made in it are applicable to many other countries. Honorable members will be well rewarded for their efforts.
.- The Government probably has spent more upon providing trade representatives throughout the world, has printed more brochures on trade, and has accumulated greater trading deficits than has any other government in the history of Australia. It has spent more and has made less than has any other government. The subject of trade, inevitably, is bound up with the welfare of the industries that produce the commodities that this country sells overseas. The Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann), who, I am pleased to see, is in the chamber at present, has a big say in the welfare and promotion, if there is any promotion, of primary industries in this country. As the Australian Labour Party has always recognized, the primary industries are most important to Australia. They provide food for our people and raw materials for processing in factories. They provide the com modities that earn 80 per cent, of our ex. port income. It must be obvious to all,then, how essential it is to increase primary production as our population grows and our secondary industries expand, making ever greater demands for raw materials.
I do net wish to give honorable members any opinions. All I wish to do is to put before them certain official statistics about Australian primary industries published by the Bureau of Census and Statistics. They show that, in 1951, the net value of Australian primary production totalled £1,139,000,000. In 1957, the total was; £1,233,000,000. In 1951, the net value of primary production was £138 a head of the population. In 1957, it was only £129 a head of the population. The 1957 figure, as everybody will recognize, was not very good. The Government decided to create a Primary Industry portfolio. Initially, it put in charge of that portfolio an elegant socialite member of the Liberal Party of Australia, who acquired all his knowledge of primary production in the drawing rooms of Potts Point. He did not last long in the job, and was supplanted by a notsoelegant member of the Australian Country Party, a gentleman who, every one will admit, has written all over him evidence of the fact that he has been closely and very recently associated with primary products.
What was the result of the creation of the Primary Industry portfolio? The net value of primary production fell from £1,233,000,000 in 1957 to £1,212,000,000 in 1960, and the value per head of the population fell from £129 to £119. Between 1951 and 1960, under the administration of this Government, the value of primary production per head of the population fell by £19.
– What was the increase in the population?
– It was something like 3,000,000. However, the decline in the value of primary production per head of the population does not tell the whole tale. In 1951, the basic wage was less than £7 a week. In 1960, it was more than £14 a week. Therefore, the £138 worth of primary production per head of the population in 1951 was the equivalent of twice as much in 1960, or £276. So the actual figure of £119 in 1960 should be compared with £276 and not £138. This shows that the value of primary production per head of the population, under the administration of this Government, really declined by an amount immensely greater than £19 between 1951 and 1960.
All our people, both those who were already resident here in 1951 and those who have arrived in this country since, need as much food to-day as the individual needed then. The needs of our secondary industries for raw materials, however, are immensely greater. The value of materials used in factories in 1951 was £1,235,000,000. In 1959, the latest year for which these figures have been provided by the Bureau of Census and Statistics, the value was £2,485,000,000 - more than twice as much. In 1951, as I have said, the net value of primary production was £1,139,000,000. The value of materials used in the factories being £1,235,000,000 in that year, the difference between the two amounts was less than £100,000,000. By 1961, the difference had increased to more than £1,200,000,000. Every year, the figure grows. Generally, it increases each year by an amount greater than the increase in the previous year.
I know that some manufactured materials are used in factories, but the primary industries provide by far the greater quantity and value of raw materials used in factories. On many occasions, Mr. Chairman, I have directed attention to the decline of more than 1,000 in the number of farms in Australia since 1939, although our population has increased by more than 3,000,000. I have also pointed out that tens of thousands fewer workers were employed in rural production in 1960 than in 1939. Not only are our primary industries failing to expand as the needs of Australia increase, but also, as our main source of export income, they have failed by approximately £2,000,000,000 to meet our overseas commitments during the last twelve years. This immense, this colossal figure grows annually.
It must be obvious to all that the main economic problem confronting this country is that of expanding our exports or establishing import-replacement industries. Both demand an increase in the diversification of production by primary industries. Such diversification, of course, is not taking place under the administration of the present Government. Is it any wonder, then, that the “Australian Financial Review “, in its latest issue, has described as one of the greatest howlers in history a statement made last Thursday by the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt)? He said-
It seems to me and, I think, to most of my colleagues, that we have got the economy in just about as perfect a degree of balance as we are ever likely to get it at any particular time.
According to the Treasurer, the economy of this country is in perfect balancel He said, also, that our export industries are strong, although, as I have pointed out, the statistics in Official documents show how the value of primary production has declined over the years. Will the Government answer the story told by these figures? Will the Minister for Primary Industry tell us that the statistics of the net value of primary production shown In the official documents from which I took them are incorrect? Will he say that our export figures are incorrect? Will he say that the problems confronting this country do not concern the secondary export industries or the replacement industries? Not at all.
The Government called a convention to spur on export production some time ago, but has now forgotten about it. I believe that the Government is now proposing to appoint a committee to look closely at the economy. Yet, one after another, Government supporters stand up in their places and say that there is nothing wrong with the economy. They say that under this Government the economy has improved as never before in our history. Then Ministers rush frantically in to their departmental chiefs and say, “So serious is the position that we have to create independent committees to inquire into export industries and endeavour to stop the tragic drift that has taken place “.
– Cheer up, old man.
– It is all right for the honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. Mackinnon), one of the leading members of the squatocracy, to say, “ Cheer up “. Whatever happens to this country it will not be the section of the community that he represents that will have to pay the piper. Once again, as in the days of the depression, it will be the wage-earner and the pensioners who are called upon to tighten their belts because of this Government’s disastrous and scandalous economic policy, which is responsible for the trading disabilities under which Australia is suffering.
.- I rise to speak on the Estimates as they affect the primary industries. In answer to the honorable member for Scullin (Mr. Peters) I remind the committee that the disabilities of the primary industries are not wholly the responsibility of the Government. The honorable member for Scullin brought to light a number of points which I shall not try to answer. He said that the increase in o ir income from exports of primary production had not been in keeping with the increase in our population. The honorable member should cast his mind back to a statement that has been made on several occasions by members on this side of the chamber, and that was originated by the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen). The Minister said that if present export prices were the same as prices during 1953, on our present volume of exports our export income would have been from £400,000,000 to £500,000,000 higher for the last financial year than it was. So I say to the honorable member for Scullin that the disabilities of the primary producers are not wholly the responsibility of the Government. Possibly, as a government, we must accept a certain amount of responsibility
There are two causes of the present situation: the first is high costs and the second is lower returns. I think all honorable members know that prices for our major commodities could be classified in two categories: home consumption prices and world ruling prices. The home consumption prices for such commodities as wheat and dairy produce are influenced by stabilization schemes. In this respect the present Government, at any rate, has played a very active role in protecting local industries. Prices for our exports is not within the control of the Government. We are at the mercy of world parity rates. If we export commodities of which huge quantities are available throughout the world we must naturally expect to get less for them than for a commodity which is in short supply. The honorable member for Scullin must keep this in mind.
It has been said that the Government has some responsibility for high costs. But how often have we heard honorable members opposite criticize the action which the Government took in November, 1960, to check inflation? Surely Opposition members should appreciate such action. Yet our Opposition friends attacked the Government, right, left and centre. Then there are other industries, such as the wool industry, which depend completely on world prices for income. These commodities are in a somewhat different category from the one to which I have referred. It is rather interesting to note that even the wool industry to-day is very concerned about its future. We have heard all about the different schemes that have been put forward. I should like to quote from a Victorian newspaper concerning a meeting of the executive of the Victorian Wheat and Wool Growers Association. This report is headed -
I suppose that the Opposition will blame the Government for the low price of wool. This article contains the following comment: -
Many woolgrowers are in a precarious financial position because of lower wool prices, and in a number of cases were in danger of being pushed off their farms, the State Executive was told last week. It was decided to seek the support of the Australian Wool and Meat Producers’ Federation for a subsidy of ls. a lb. on the first 12,000 lbs. of wool produced until orderly marketing legislation is introduced.
I shall not say whether I support this proposal or otherwise at this stage, but it is evident that the wool-growers have been worrying about what might happen in the future. As I have said, the Government is not responsible for the price of wool. I suggest that these are some of the things that the Opposition should keep in mind.
Many suggestions could be made when one is discussing primary industry. Time will not permit me to deal with all the suggestions that have been put forward, but I propose to speak on three of them. The first concerns estate duties, the second concerns a possible superphosphate subsidy, and the third concerns assistance through the Australian Tariff Board. No one can expect to be a successful producer if he is financially embarrassed, if he has an overloaded overdraft, or if his property is too small. One of the problems confronting a number of primary producers is the high ruling probate duties. While it might be said that a primary producer, or any one, is not liable for probate until that ill-fated day, if he is at all successful in business he prepares well in advance for that day. So, he has this added responsibility to make sure that his dependants are looked after. There are several ways in which one can prepare. There is insurance, and certain investments from which money can be withdrawn virtually at short notice. All this adds up to one thing, that is, that there is a backlog of money which should actually be put back into the property for working purposes.
If honorable members cast their minds back they will recall that I referred to this matter in the course of the Budget debate and made certain comparisons of the probate duties in Victoria with those imposed by the Commonwealth. It has been said that the Victorian rates are much lower than those of the Commonwealth. I think a statement was made to the effect that the Victorian rates were the lowest in the Commonwealth. Of course, that is not correct, because Commonwealth rates are a good deal lower than those in any of the States.
It is rather interesting to note that the Commonwealth duty on an amount of £20,000 is equivalent to 6 per cent. When the amount increases to £120,000, the duty becomes 26 per cent. The Victorian rates, and I quote only those because I have not time to quote them all, range from 2s. in the £1 on £20,000 to 7s. 6d. in the £1 on £75,000. I appreciate that the Commonwealth estate duty is not levied until after the States have taken their portion but, all in all, if one adds the two rates of duty together one can see that a property worth in the vicinity of £70,000, £80,000 or £100,000 would attract a rate of death duties which is extremely high. Is it any wonder that when a property owner gets into this category he finds that he must sacrifice his efficiency to prepare for the ill-fated day?
My recommendation is that the Commonwealth should give some consideration to a form of rebate of probate on land that is continuously used for primary production. I am not suggesting the door should be opened wide and a privilege extended to anybody who wants to invest his money in land, but I do suggest that, where a man is using property for his sole income and can prove that he has occupied that property for a certain number of years, he should be given some consideration. I will not be fobbed off by the statement that this cannot be done because I know it can be done. In the United Kingdom a very good system is in operation.
If honorable members look at the Estimates, they will see that the total revenue from Commonwealth estate duty is only £17,000,000. If there were to be a rebate of some 30 or 40 per cent. - say, one-third - that would not mean a loss to the Commonwealth of one-third of £17,000,000; it would mean only one-third of the duty on primary producing properties. When honorable members consider the total estate duty revenue of £17,000,000 in relation to our £2,000,000,000 Budget they will realize that the amount involved would be infinitesimal. That is one recommendation that I make to this Government.
I do not have time to cover all other matters that I mentioned earlier, but I should like to make special reference to the recommendations made in this chamber last night by the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Forbes) in relation to a bounty on some items now subject to tariff duty. The Estimates forecast an increase in customs revenue of something like £11,000,000 this year- from £85,000,000 to £96,000,000. I believe that this represents a challenge both to the primary producer and to the Government. I say that it is a challenge because I believe it is up to the primary producers to put their case forward, as the honorable member for Barker suggested yesterday. If they are prepared to put forward a case, I believe that the Government would be prepared to listen to them. I say that it is a challenge to the Government also. It should consider listening to such a case, because we know only too well that every time there is an increase in tariff, while it may afford protection to certain industries within our shores, it also gives impetus to the already spiralling costs of primary producers. The Treasury has an income from customs duties of just on £100,000,000. Surely to goodness some of that £100,000,000 could be ploughed back to the industries that contribute extremely high revenue and are the basis of Australia’s future. I refer to primary production. If the primary producer’s costs are high, naturally he is in difficulties so far as his goods for export are concerned. If we keep our costs to a minimum, we will be able to compete with the various overseas countries. We all know that we could be in trouble with many of our commodities - not only wheat and butter, but other commodities - because of the European Common Market. I suggest, with all respect, Mr. Chairman, that if we are to compete under these unfortunate circumstances we must be able to reduce our costs somewhere along the line. A rebate such as I have suggested would not be an entire loss.
The same thing applies to another request that I have made from time to time, supported by my colleague the honorable member for Indi (Mr. Holten), in relation to the subsidy on superphosphate.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– Mr. Chairman, I first want to say that like many of my colleagues on this side of the House, I am not at all satisfied with the Government’s efforts to increase Australian exports. We feel that the Government has fallen down badly and that there has been a marked lack of foresight. Honorable members on this side of the chamber cannot reconcile the Government’s declarations that it has been working hard to win markets in Asia with, for example, the credit squeeze with its consequent crippling of Australian industry and a number of other contemporary events for which this Government can be fairly and squarely indicted. Trade with Asia is not at all healthy. We do not feel that we have had a fair share of the business available, and I intend to produce some figures shortly to substantiate my claim. Honorable members have heard a great deal from the Government about what has been done about trade, but the amount of trade per head of population has actually fallen over recent years. In 1950-51 Australia exported goods to the value of £107 per head. By 1957-58 the figure had fallen from £107 to £45 per head, and there seems to be very little in that record of which the Government can be proud.
The exports of manufactured goods are particularly disappointing. In the ten-year period, 1948-49 to 1957-58, the exports of manufactured goods rose only from 9.7 per cent, to 13.7 per cent., an increase of just 4 per cent. Those are the official figures of the Commonwealth Statistician. There is in Asia a worthwhile market for Australian goods which has not yet been tapped to the fullest extent. The whole of Asia, including Japan, has less than 5 per cent, of the world’s industrial production capacity. Less than 5 per cent, of the world’s industrial production takes place in Asia, which has 45 per cent, of the world’s people. So, there is plenty of scope for the sale of Australia’s manufactured products in Asia. There is a great market to be tapped in Asia. In 1959, the total import bill of Asian countries, including Japan but excluding China, was £5,000,000,000, or five times the total value of Australia’s exports in that year. There is no doubt that we could make a much greater export effort than we have made up to the present time.
I now refer the committee to precise figures from the Commonwealth Statistician to indicate Australia’s share of imports by Asiatic countries. Fifteen countries have been listed here by the Statistician. It is interesting to see that we have supplied such an infinitesimal proportion of the goods which Asiatic countries have obtained from many parts of the world. We got 2.6 per cent, of Burma’s business and the figures for the remaining fourteen countries are as follows: - Ceylon 4.1 per cent., Formosa 1 per cent., Hong Kong 2.6 per cent., India 1.7 per cent., Indonesia 1.6 per cent., Japan 9 per cent., South Korea 1.4 per cent., Laos .7 per cent., Malaya 6.1 per cent., Pakistan 1 per cent., Philippines 2.1 per cent., Singapore 3.6 per cent., Thailand 1 per cent, and South Viet Nam 3 per cent. Over the last two years we have supplied an average of 4.4 per cent, of the purchases of those countries, or 4.4 per cent, of their total imports. They are countries in close proximity to Australia. They are our nearest neighbours, in respect of which we should have a really worth-while freight advantage over many other countries in the world. When we see that Indonesia, the closest of these countries to Australia, gave us no more than 1.6 per cent, of its business we recognize that there has been something seriously wrong with our trading efforts. I repeat that we have received only 4.4 per cent, of the business of those fifteen countries.
Some peculiar factors prevail in respect of Japan. The Japanese need our wool especially and cannot obtain it elsewhere. Excluding Japan, we have obtained only 2.3 per cent, of the trade of the remaining fourteen countries I have mentioned. If this Government is happy about that state of affairs I strongly doubt that its attitude reflects the views of thinking Australians about these matters. Australia obtains 14.4 per cent, of its imports from the countries I have mentioned and they take only 4.4 per cent, of their imports from Australia. These are figures which no one can deny. For the year 1959-60, 10 per cent, of Australia’s exports went to Asia, whilst 32 per cent, of Japan’s exports went to Asia. So, a much greater volume and a much greater proportion of Japan’s total exports went to Asia than was the case with Australia’s exports. Asia is Japan’s best customer and we, a European outpost of Empire in an Asiatic setting, have not yet won Asia as our best customer. Because of the lack of realism implied in the figures I have given, this Government must accept a great deal of criticism and blame.
One of the most apparent aspects of the problem is that we in Australia are subjecting ourselves to a great international cartel and monopoly which controls shipping freights. In the past we have heard a lot about this subject. In the Speech which His Excellency The Administrator delivered to Parliament, reference was made to the fact that at some time in the future the Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) would introduce legislation to deal with monopolies in Australia. The greatest monopoly and that which is doing most harm to Australia at present is the conference shipping lines. It is an overseas cartel which is holding industrialists and primary industry to ransom. Why do members of the Country
Party turn their backs on the people who produce our primary products, whilst their goods are being transported at extortionate costs resulting in unfair competition for the farmers? Why do we not hear members of the Country Party speaking on this subject? Supporters of the Government destroyed the people’s shipping line - The Commonwealth Shipping Line.
It is interesting to note that in the last ten years no fewer than 114 ships have been sold or lost to the Australian trade. Of those 114 ships, 102 have been sold to overseas shipping companies and the remaining twelve have been scrapped; 102 of our ships have been handed over to operators in other parts of the world in the past ten years. That is not just my own contention but is what the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Opperman) said, as reported in “ Hansard “ of 17th May, 1962. Is there not a skerrick of Australian blood in the veins of honorable members opposite who have allowed Australia to be denied its birthright in this regard?
It is interesting to see how Australian wheat has been shipped to China. Our wheat has been sold to China despite rather than because of the attitude of members opposite. Almost a year ago the Minister for Shipping and Transport, in answer to a question, told me that 68 ships were used to transport Australian wheat to China, and he mentioned the various flags under which those ships operate. Even Czechoslovakia, which has no sea-front, has its own shipping line and provides some ships to transport Australian wheat to China. Not one of the 68 vessels mentioned is registered in Australia. Why do the nations owning those 68 ships run them? They are not benefactors or benevolent societies. Moving Australian wheat by sea is a profitable trade. Unfortunately, we have been held to ransom by a large number of these countries. There are three Liberian ships, two Lebanese, one Netherlands, one Finnish, one Polish and 21 British ships engaged in this trade. There are ships from all parts of the world, but not one Australian ship is engaged in moving our wheat to China.
The Minister for Shipping and Transport advised honorable members recently that there are no bulk wheat carriers under construction or even contemplated in Australia at the present time. One of my colleagues has asked whether the Minister is against Australian shipping. Does the Government stand for Australian shipping? The answer is an unequivocal “ No “. Almost every other country in the world has its own shipping, so why not Australia? Australia is now one of the great trading nations of the world, but we do not regulate our shipping freights. In reply to questions on numerous occasions the Minister for Shipping and Transport has indicated that we had no say when shipping freights went up on the average by 5 per cent. each year, with the result that they have risen by 58 per cent. since 1951. There is big money involved in these transactions when we take into account that something like £150,000,000 is spent each year on transporting our exports, and a similar amount is spent on transporting our imports. Some people opposite have said on occasions that a Commonwealth shipping line would not pay. It pays other countries to run their own shipping lines all round the world.
It is important to mention that the obvious need is for the Government to take into account not just the profit and loss of a shipping line. There are other factors to be considered. There is, for instance, the employment of Australian seamen, which is worth taking into account. Three years ago, there were about 8,000 seamen in Australia and to-day there are about 2,500. The Australian shipbuilding industry could well be taken into account, too. We have here the capacity to build ships, we have the wharf labourers to load them and we have the seamen to man them. We have everything, indeed, but a government that is prepared to display some fair dinkum Australianism, which would give our primary and secondary products the opportunity to compete with the products of other parts of the world. The Commonwealth shipping line was undoubtedly successful during and after World War I. We had 60-odd vessels in that line, and it paid handsome profits to the Commonwealth. It was not because of failure that it was finally abandoned, but indeed because of its outstanding success, which caused the entrepreneurs and big business concerns in other parts of the world to bring about its destruction by the Bruce Government in 1921, after it had made something like £4,000,000 profit for the people of this country but, par ticularly, after it had been of great benefit in regulating shipping freights all round Australia. Incidentally, the value of Qantas and Trans-Australia Airlines in the civil aviation field, quite apart from the profits they make, is that they ensure that there are decent standards in the air in Australia and that safety prevails. They set a standard. A Commonwealth shipping line could have precisely the same effect.
We are being held to ransom, as any cursory glance at the shipping freights paid by Australians will very quickly show. For example, it costs 170s. a ton to send steel from Australia to Singapore, but the cost of sending steel from the United Kingdom to Singapore is only 120s. a ton, although the distance from the United Kingdom to Singapore is about double the distance from Australia to Singapore. To shift a ton of steel from Australia to Hong Kong costs 179s., but to shift a ton from the United Kingdom to Hong Kong costs only 144s. Remember, in many cases the shipping lines moving the steel are precisely the same ones–
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I will address my remarks to the estimates for the Department of Trade, covered by Divisions Nos. 301 to 353. The honorable member for Hughes (Mr. L. R. Johnson) devoted a third of his speech to shipping. I remind the honorable member that we as a people, and as a trading nation, must use the cheapest form of shipping to transport our exports. It is elementary that if Czechoslovakian ships carry our freight for less, then it is necessary for us to use those ships. The honorable member for Hughes also said that the Oppositon was not happy about the amount of export business Australia has received over the last three years. Let me assure him that members on this side of the chamber are not happy about it either. That is why the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) has sought, and obtained, another £400,000 for the vote of his department, which has been increased from approximately £3,800,000 to £4,200,000 for the current year.
We on this side realize that over the years we have become one of the great trading nations, and have depended on our primary industries to provide 80 per cent, of our export income. Our secondary industries provide 10 per cent, of the export income and about 10 per cent, is earned by the sale of minerals. We realize that all countries that have depended entirely on primary industries have had depressed economies since 1953. That answers the question raised by the honorable member for Scullin (Mr. Peters-), who said that we had not increased our production of primary products between 1950 and 1961. Unfortunately for his argument, the honorable member’s figures were of pounds, shillings and pence, and not of volume, because this country has actually increased its production of primary goods by 50 per cent, since 1950, without using one additional man from the labour force and without increasing the cost of production. The terms of our trade in the export of primary products have been reduced because of competition from South America, Europe, Canada, the United States of America and other countries. This has reduced the value of our primary exports by about one-third since 1953, so that where we earned £1 then we now earn 13s. 4d. If the honorable member for Scullin will convert the pounds, shillings and pence to figures of volume between 1953 and 1961 he will see that there has been a 50 per cent, increase since then.
The countries that have concentrated on secondary products are those which have increased their economic standing and their standards of living. Notable examples are Japan, West Germany, Italy, France and, to a lesser extent, the United Kingdom. That is why I should like greater emphasis placed by the Department of Trade, and certainly by the Government, on ensuring that we maintain cost stability and increase our exports of manufactured goods.
I have a great feeling of respect for the honorable member for Wakefield, who last night and this morning told a story which in total was not an advocacy of free trade but of stability of costs. He realizes, as I am sure all honorable members do, that unless we maintain reasonable costs in the production of our export goods, both primary and secondary, we shall not be competitive in the world markets in the years to come.
– He is prepared to sacrifice every secondary industry in the country.
– The honorable member for Wakefield is not prepared to sacrifice anything; and he is prepared to accept the proposition that, in certain cases, and for a period, protective tariffs are essential to secondary industries. What he really means is that this protection should not continue year after year, and be maintained for the benefit of established companies that have £50,000,000 or more in capital in this country. There are many examples of tariff protection being essential to manufacturing concerns, but it adds to the cost of the product and offsets any advantages that we may have in raw materials, and any natural advantages that we may have in being in the southern part of the Pacific. We have tremendous advantages, particularly in mineral resources. One has only to look at the Pilbara area in the Hamersley Range of Western Australia, where on even conservative estimates there are 3,000,000,000 tons of iron ore of 60 per cent, or more quality, which is better than any iron ore that can be obtained elsewhere, except India. Some European countries, in fact, are using ore of 20 per cent, iron content. Our purpose in future, starting from now, should be to utilize these rich resources of iron ore through the Department of Trade, through industry and through private enterprise generally.
I believe that the Department of Trade has done a tremendous job, particularly over the last two or three years, in setting the pattern, in laying out the canvas, so that Australian manufacturers, of whom I speak particularly, can exploit the export markets that are available. It is often said that we in this country, because of our high wage system, because of our methods of establishing working conditions, because we work only 40 hours a week or even fewer than 40 hours a week, and because of many other things, cannot compete with overseas countries. How many people know that the city worker in Japan gets £14 9s. a week, or the equivalent of that amount? That is the average wage established by the statistician in Japan and published in Japanese newspapers in June this year. It is the average wage for boys, girls, men and women in Japanese cities.
How many people know that in Japan labour is used not nearly as efficiently as it is used in Australia? How many people know that we have in many industries the required technical skill and ability, and that all we need are the muscles? We want to get rid of all these Indian chiefs and get a few more Indians on the job. We have had report after report from various chambers of manufactures, from Opposition parties and Government parties alike, from the export development council, from manufacturing advisory councils, but what we want is somebody on the job with a bag of samples, visiting the various capitals in the South American countries. The honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. Mackinnon) showed the committee a report, but he did not say that there are 400,000,000 people in these areas, importing not less than £3,500,000,000 worth of goods a year.
– Do you mean 400,000,000 in South America?
– Yes, there are 400,000,000 people in South America. If we got 10 per cent, of the business available there it would mean an extra £350,000,000 for Australia, and I can tell the committee that the countries getting the business at the present time are no more competitive with Japan or Australia than America is. America is a much higher cost country than Australia.
What this country needs is to get the men out with their samples, and the suggestion I make is that top marketing men from Australian industries should be seconded to the various trade commissioner posts throughout the world. They should sit alongside the trade commissioners and trade counsellors that we have in these posts. We would need only about 28 men, and the cost to Australia would be a very minor matter. Over the years, the trade commissioners and counsellors have concentrated their efforts - quite rightly - on the selling of primary produce in the places where we thought we could sell it. Now the time has come for us to realize the importance of exporting other goods, and we have begun to realize it. In May, 1960, a convention, as it was called, was held to discuss the export of manufactured goods and mining materials. I think 250 people attended that convention, and they came to the conclusion that we had to have an export explosion. But they were the Indian chiefs. Now we want the Indians to do the work, so that we can take advantage of the natural resources that we have in this country.
How many people know that we have, at Weipa and in the Darling Range, sufficient natural resources of bauxite to supply the world, and at a competitive price? Admittedly, some protection would have to be granted to the industry in the early stages, but that protection would certainly be given if secondary industry could set about the job and make suitable plans with the Government. I mentioned earlier the Hamersley Range in the Pilbara region of Western Australia. We should encourage an overseas steel company to set up a manufacturing undertaking in that area, selling its products overseas. Such an organization should not be allowed to sell within Australia, because we should let the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited maintain the advantage it has at present in this country, but we could have such an organization selling overseas. How many honorable members know that we produce pig iron at less than £22 a ton? You can get this information from the report of the Tariff Board at, I think, page 8. The same report says that the Japanese produce the same kind of pig iron at something more than £33 a ton. We have a 50 per cent, advantage over Japan, one of our main competitors. How many people know that Japan is as much afraid of our competition as we are afraid of Japanese competition?
How many people saw the T.V. programme last Sunday - I am supposed to be against T.V., but I really am not - when two managing directors were interviewed. One was connected with a knitting mill, and could therefore speak of the textile industry, and the other was in the food industry, having charge of a company producing canned fruit. Both expressed themselves as being very satisfied with their export business. One was Mr. McCrae of the Speedo organization, which is exporting swim suits to America, and the other was a Mr. Smith, who, as I said, is concerned with food processing. Both of those gentlemen said that it was a tougher proposition to sell in Australia against the very solid competition of the merchandising carried on here than it is to sell in America. The reasons for this are quite simple. In America we have a potential market of 180,000,000 people. We need only 1 per cent, of the business in America to solve all our problems. We need only 10 per cent, of the business in India or Pakistan or Cambodia or any other of the countries mentioned by the honorable member for Hughes (Mr. L. R. Johnson), and I can tell the committee that 10 per cent, of the population of those countries not only wants our products but buys similar products from other countries. Ten per cent, of Asians have a higher standard of living than we, as a people, have in this country.
But, as I said, we want the Indians, we want the men with the samples to go out with their price lists, with their conditions of supply. Whilst we had the economic measures of 1960-61 in force we sold overseas £13,000,000 worth of steel, but if you talk to people in South-East Asian countries now about steel they will say, “ The B.H.P. Company cannot supply our orders, because they are concentrating on the local market “. If honorable members would like to speak to the general manager of the B.H.P. organization at Port Kembla, Mr. Parrish, he will confirm my statement that his company cannot meet export orders because the motor industry and the domestic appliance industry in Australia have reached almost boom proportions.
How many honorable members, on either side of the committee, realize that primary industry in the future will be able to absorb a very small proportion of the men who will be injected into the labour force during the next year, or the next five years or ten years? We must all remember that during the next five years we will have to absorb into industry 500,000 boys and girls leaving school. These will have to be taken by secondary industry or by tertiary or service industries. Manufacturers in this country must appreciate the fact that their market is not for 10,000,000 people in Australia, as their inhibited thinking has led them to believe over the years, but that their markets are world markets. Their companies will be based in Australia, but they will have merchandizing men, serviced from Australia, selling to the world.
Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
Mr. JONES (Newcastle) [3.43J.- Like other speakers on this side of the committee, I am very concerned at the failure of this Government to do something about the combines that operate in the shipping industry and have been able to fix freight rates that are pricing Australian goods out of world markets. We have all heard the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly), yesterday and this morning, putting forward arguments against giving tariff protection to Australian industries while our primary products have to compete on overseas markets. The honorable member is a supporter of the Government, and what I cannot understand is why he and other members of the Australian Country Party continue to permit the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) to agree to the imposition of these freight rates, which are fixed by the overseas conference lines, whose ships carry cargo from and to Australia. Honorable members opposite continue to permit these people to exploit the Australian producer and to price Australian products out of world markets.
I will give this committee a few examples of what is being done at the present time. During the last few weeks I have had the opportunity of discussing the problems of the textile industry with a manufacturer who has extensive operations in that industry. Textile firms have to compete not only on the Australian market with imports from various overseas countries but also on overseas markets with goods produced in Japan and other countries. As a result of freight concessions granted by overseas shipping lines to Japanese manufacturers, the particular company to which I am referring, which has been a substantial exporter of wool-tops to India, Pakistan and other Asian countries, is having difficulty competing with Japanese exports. Australian wool is being exported to Japan and processed by Japanese labour and the wool-tops are then exported from Japan to compete with Australian-produced wool-tops. Because of freight and credit concessions the Japanese product is pricing the Australian product out of the market. This is resulting in loss of employment to Australian workers and the loss of an important Australian industry. This is an important matter and we should do something about it.
Under the heading “High Freights Block Sales to Asia “ the following report appears in a September, 1962, issue of the “ Australian Financial Review “: -
Freight rates quoted by the Australian-Malayan Shipping Conference were effectively keeping Australian exporters out of important South-East Asian markets, Mr. R. Burn, manager of fertiliser manufacturer George Shirley Pty. Ltd., said yesterday.
He said: “Sulphuric acid, for example, can be landed by Japanese exporters for £28 a ton in Singapore. This includes freight. “ But the conference offered us a staggering £25 a ton freight rate, which is virtually equal to the full landed price of the competing Japanese product.”
Australian producers believe they can manufacture at prices competitive with Japanese factories.
This important industry is being priced out of the South-East Asian market not because the Australian industry is not competitive but simply because of the freight rates that are being imposed on Australian companies by the Australia-Indonesia-Malaya Shipping Conference. I could cite many other examples. The honorable member for Hughes (Mr. L. R. Johnson) quoted figures in relation to freight rates. These are most important.
Let us take the case of steel carried in ships. The ships that carry steel from Britain or Europe to the East will carry it also from Port Kembla, Newcastle or Kwinana to the East. Between Australia and Singapore, a distance of 4,400 miles, the freight rate on steel is 175s. a ton, but between the United Kingdom or Europe and Singapore, a distance of 9,500 miles, the freight rate on steel is 118s. 9d. a ton. Between Australia and Hong Kong, a distance of about 4,400 miles, the freight rate on steel is £178s. 6d. a ton, but between the United Kingdom or Europe and the same port, a distance of about 9,700 miles, the freight rate is 143s. 9d. a ton. Let us take this example a step further. Between Australia and the west coast of America or Canada, a distance of 8,000 miles, the freight on steel is 20 United States dollars a ton, but between the United Kingdom or Europe and the same ports, a distance of 9,000 miles, the freight rate is 14 dollars a ton. Although those cargoes are carried by the same ships, we find that marked difference in the handling charges. Let us see what is happening a little closer to home. The freight on steel between Port Kembla, Newcastle or Melbourne and New Zealand is £8 2s. 6d. a ton. The freight on steel between the United Kingdom and New Zealand is £8 lis. 3d. a ton, and as from 1st November next it will be increased to £9 2s. a ton. Despite the great difference between the distance from Australian ports to New Zealand and the distance from United Kingdom ports to New Zealand, we find almost no difference in the freight charges. I stress that the same shipping lines are involved - the Trans-Tasman Freight Conference lines and the Australia-New Zealand conference lines. The same ships are used on the two routes, yet steel is transported from Britain to New Zealand at approximately the same rate as is charged for carrying steel from Australia to New Zealand. Yet this Government does nothing about that state of affairs.
Let us consider another important point so far as steel is concerned. Newcastle is one of the two major steel producing centres in Australia. The steel industry is of vital importance to Newcastle and Port Kembla because so many people in those areas work in the industry. At present Australia exports between £35,000,000 and £40,000,000 worth of steel annually. About £25,000,000 worth of steel goes to New Zealand annually. What will happen to our exports as a result of the freights that are being charged on our steel? Australian steel will be priced out of the New Zealand market, particularly when we recall that in August this year New Zealand reduced its tariff on Japanese steel from 20 per cent, to 5 per cent, a ton. In addition, the freight on steel carried from Japan to New Zealand has been reduced to £4 8s. a ton. Compare that charge with the rate of £8 2s. 6d a ton charged on Australian steel shipped to New Zealand, bearing in mind that the distance between New Zealand and Japan is about three times longer than the distance between Australia and New Zealand. The shipping line that is responsible for this 50 per cent, reduction in freights is subsidized by this Government to carry Australian products to other parts of the world. I refer to the Meyer-Heine Line. That shipping line is responsible for pricing Australian steel out of the New Zealand market, yet this Government sees fit to subsidize it in order to encourage it to carry Australian cargoes overseas.
Australia should build its own shipping line. We can build ships in Australia. We can man them with Australian seamen. In its annual report the Australian National Line discloses that the “Princess of Tasmania “, on its run from Melbourne to Devonport, carries cargo at a cost of 4d. a ton-mile. If we compare that figure with the operating cost of similar types of ferries overseas we find that the ferry from Wellington to Picton in New Zealand operates at a cost of 8d. a ton-mile and a ferry in Italy operates at a cost of Id. a ton-mile. So it cannot be said that Australians cannot build ships and that we cannot operate them as cheaply as anybody else.
Recently, Norwegian, Swedish, Danish and French shipping companies claimed that Conference Line ships were carrying New Zealand produce to their countries. Those companies demanded a share of the business, and it was granted to them. When Dutch companies sought a share of the business they were told that if they reduced their sailings from twelve to four per annum they would be given a share of the business. However, the Dutch companies replied by increasing their sailings from twelve to eighteen per annum. The result has been that freight charges on wool shipped from New Zealand to Europe have been reduced by 6i per cent. Why is it not possible for a similar state of affairs to operate with regard to the transport of Australian steel and other products to the world’s markets? The Australian domestic price of steel compares more than favorably with the Japanese domestic price.
The leading article in the “ New Zealand Herald “ of Wednesday, 3rd October, points out that there is not one steel merchant in New Zealand who to-day is not buying Japanese steel. The Japanese diplomatic corps there is highly delighted because it realizes that while this state of affairs is permitted to continue by the Australian Government, Japan will be able to capture not only the Asian market for sulphuric acid and for Australian wool tops but also will be able to keep Australian steel out of Asian and New Zealand markets. That is what is happening to-day. The Government claims that Australia cannot compete. But what is the real reason? I believe that the Australian Shipbuilding Board is not building ships fast enough to compete with overseas vessels. The honorable member for Mcpherson (Mr. Barnes) laughs at that. I do not know why, because this aspect should concern him. He represents a rural electorate which is vitally affected by shipping freights.
Let us compare some of the vessels which are being built overseas with Australian vessels. Take first Norwegian bulk carriers. The “Kollgier” of 11,000 tons was built in 1952 and travels at 13i knots; the “ Kollshegg “ of 10,000 tons was built in 1950 and travels at 14 knots, while the “Kollbris” of 12,000 tons was built in 1960 and travels at 16 knots. What speed do our bulk carriers travel? They crawl along at 12i knots! What is the speed of the “Mount Keira” and the “Mount Kembla”, two 10,000 ton vessels, built in 1960? They travel at 124 knots!
Let us look at some of the Swedish cargo ships which operate exclusively between Australia and the west coast of America. The “Pearl Sea” of about 6,500 tons travels at 18 knots; the “Coral Sea” of about 6,000 tons also travels at 18 knots, and the “Lake Ontario” of 8,000 tons travels at 19i knots. Comparable Australian ships, “ Boonaroo “ and “ Bulwarra “ built in 1953 and 1954 respectively travel at 12 knots. How can we compare freight rates when we are building snails while others are building hares? Overseas vessels can put a good distance between themselves and the shore in a very short time.
Now let us consider the “ Princess of Tasmania “ and the ferry being built at Cockatoo Island. The new ferry will travel at 17 knots. How will these vessels compare with other passenger ships plying along the Australian coast? Passengers can travel on the “ Canberra “ and the “ Oriana “ at 27 knots. When will we wake up to the fact that if we are to compete we must get out of the horse-and-buggy stage, not only in our economy but also in our thinking in relation to ships, so that the speed of our ships will be at least comparable with overseas vessels.
Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I move - [Customs Tariff Amendment (No. 50).]
The customs tariff proposals, which I have just tabled, are consequent on recommendations by a special advisory authority, whose report I shall table later this day.
Temporary duties are imposed on certain forged steel flanges of the slip-on or weldneck types. The temporary duties will operate in addition to the normal duties but will not apply to goods in direct transit to Australia on 7th September, 1962, which which are entered for home consumption on arrival.
The normal protective needs of this industry have been referred to the Tariff Board for inquiry and the temporary duties will operate only until such time as the Government takes action upon receipt of the final report of the board.
I commend the proposals to honorable members.
Mr. FAIRHALL (Paterson- Minister for
Supply). - I lay on the table of the House a report by a special advisory authority on the following subject: -
Ordered to be printed.
In Committee of Supply: Consideration resumed (vide page 1441).
– The votes before the committee are: Department of Customs and Excise £5,462,000; Department of Trade £4,265,000 and Department of Primary Industry £16,889,000.
.-I listened attentively to the speech of the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Jones) which dealt chiefly with shipping freights. His major argument has not been answered. He claimed that shipping freights from Australia to other countries, especially Asian countries, are higher than freights from, say, Europe to Asia and from Japan to various ports. He failed to mention whether those freights would be reduced if we operated our own Australian shipping line. I do not think there is any evidence to show that our freights would be less than those now charged by conference lines.
Let me take one specific example. The cost of transporting copper concentrates by our own vessels from Port Augusta to Port Kembla is two and a half times as much as the cost of transporting them from Port Augusta to Japan - a much greater distance. So, the freight charge to Japan would be two and a half times greater than it is now if we usedour Australian ships manned according to the Australian scale. We just cannot compete with overseas lines if our costs remain at their existing level. Does the honorable member suggest that we should ask the Australian taxpayer to subsidize for all time an Australian shipping line? As I have mentioned in other speeches, the subsidy would need to be tremendous. Surely it is better to concentrate on exports in which we have a margin of efficiency instead of concentrating on trying to save costs overseas in an industry in which we are about the most inefficient in the world.
The main point I want to discuss relates to trade promotion, a subject about which we have been castigated by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitiam) and other honorable members opposite. If there is one thing of which this Government can be proud, it is the way in which it has endeavoured, while it has been in office, to promote trade overseas. One of the ways in which this work has been done is through the efforts of the Export Development Council, a body associated with the Department of Trade, the estimates for which we are now discussing. I was honoured to be able to sit in at a meeting of this council a few weeks ago and to gain an understanding of the work being done by it and of the multifarious tasks to which it is devoting its attention.
I believe that there is no greater need for this nation to-day than the need to develop our export trade by obtaining new markets and opening up new export trade in additional products. This was well illustrated earlier by the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Whittorn), and I echo the thoughts that he has already expressed on this subject. What we have to do is to see that we produce in Australia goods required in overseas markets. We should not just be content with the idea of selling our surplus products in overseas markets. I believe that we can obtain no better illustration of what is needed to-day than by comparing the present time with the time of the first Queen Elizabeth, who knighted many of her subjects for taking to England’s shores goods from South America, Asia and Africa. Those goods were England’s great need, and the first Elizabeth made her kingdom great by encouraging her subjects in the task of obtaining the necessary trade. I believe that the second Elizabeth should now honour her subjects in Australia who sell her Australian nation’s goods in the markets of South America, Asia and Africa. I should like to see the names of people who have made a great contribution to the development of new overseas markets for our goods heading the honours lists that appear at the New Year and on the occasion of the Sovereign’s birthday.
-“ Sir Peter “ would sound very nice.
– I should like very much to go overseas. I believe that we should highlight in the way that I have mentioned the services rendered to this nation by people who contribute to the expansion of our export trade.
Let me, having made those introductory remarks, say something of the ways in which we could improve our trade promotion efforts. I start with these questions: Are we as a nation trying, by means of trade promotion, to do too much at the one time? Are we trying to attack too many markets with too great a range of products? We are trying to develop markets in Asia, Africa, South America, the Persian Gulf area, the Middle East and the eastern Mediterranean area. Are we trying to do too much at once? Should we concentrate on making a greater effort in fewer markets? I think there is a danger that we are trying to spread the butter too thinly. If we spread our efforts over such a wide range, additional problems arise.
We have to realize that we cannot leave the task either solely to our trade commissioners or solely to private enterprise in some of the newer markets, particularly the smaller ones such as those in Africa. To meet the needs of medium-size and small firms in the export trade, all our marketing forces must work more closely together if we are to make on effective attack on the smaller overseas markets. The Government tackled this problem, first, by subsidizing the development of shipping services. I think that was the first need. Without proper shipping services, we have no chance of developing markets in many countries. Already, the development of shipping services has helped to promote export trade with South America, the Middle East, the eastern Mediterranean area and Africa.
– The ships are chartered vessels and not our own.
– Yes. They are chartered at much lower cost than that which would be incurred if we used Australian ships. Therefore, we are getting better value for our money.
– I think that is problematical.
– What I said earlier demonstrated it clearly, as our own costs are so high.
I think that the next need is the obtaining of warehouses in some of these countries where we have growing markets. The Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) has told us on more than one occasion that he is examining a scheme for the provision of warehouses in a number of countries. It is many months since he first announced that warehouses were to be obtained. I wonder how much longer we have to wait before the policy is put into effect. I hope that this scheme that has been foreshadowed for so long will soon see the light of day. I think that if we are to have warehouses, as I hope we shall, in some countries where we have our smaller export markets, we shall need to undertake a scheme to send marketing experts abroad to sell our products through those warehouses. I should like to see established some form of export development corporation that would enable private-enterprise marketing experts who work with our trade commissioners, not only helping the trade commissioners in some ways, but also conducting trade from the standpoint of private enterprise, thereby helping in the work of developing new markets centred on warehouses in various ports in a number of countries. In the early stages, some form of subsidy will no doubt be required. I think that, just as we rightly protect our infant industries in Australia, we should rightly protect our marketing firms, especially new ones, in new markets. Such a policy should provide a pattern for the development of markets in Africa, particularly, and in South America, the Persian Gulf area and the Middle East.
The efforts being made in other respects by the Export Development Council and the Department of Trade have a great deal to commend them. I was particularly pleased to see the way in which Australian investment in overseas firms is being encouraged. The Australian Dairy Produce Board took the lead by investing in a firm in Burma a few months ago and encouraging that firm to process Australian dairy products and sell them in South-East Asia. There must be many similar fields for investment. I should like to see much greater emphasis placed on this sort of activity by boards responsible for the marketing of primary products, such as the Dairy Produce Board. There must be other ways in which Australian investment in overseas industrial or manufacturing companies would encourage the use of Australian raw materials overseas. I think that we ought to put a great deal of additional effort into this sort of activity in the coming months.
There is also the vexed question of extended credit. Countries like Japan extend credit, sometimes for periods up to five years, to other nations that buy capital goods. We shall find it difficult to compete unless we, too, extend as much credit as we can make available. Australian firms relying on their own resources alone cannot extend enough credit.
Then there is the need to train certain kinds of specialists in this country. So often in the exporting field one finds that a specification for capital goods is written by an engineer, architect or other professional man who was trained in, say, the United Kingdom or West Germany. The person who writes a specification tends automatically to write it in a particular way according to the training that he received and the sort of goods produced in the country in which he was trained. Therefore, if we wish to export some of our capital goods, I think that we have to go out of our way to encourage more people to come to our universities and post-graduate schools to be trained here in these specialities, and to learn of the capacity of Australian industry. Then, when they go back home to a developing country they will tend to write specifications, say for a railway engine, having in mind the sort of industry in which they have had experience while in Australia. They will use Australian measurements and Australian specifications. If we want to supply this wider range of exports we have to start right from the beginning, which means getting specialists, training them in our ways, and showing them the sort of work that goes on in this country.
I want to commend the work of the Department of Trade, and of those bodies such as the Export Development Council, which are devoting such a tremendous effort to the widening of our markets and the increase of our exports, and to making knowledge of Australian industry and primary production available to vast markets that we could supply if extra effort were devoted to this task. Above all, what a tremendous need there is for this nation of Australia to get in and export.
.- I rise to speak in this debate mainly because of some remarks made a few nights ago by the honorable member for McMillan (Mr. Buchanan). I refer particularly to a product which is constantly under criticism from certain members of this committee. It is margarine. According to “ Hansard “, the honorable member for McMillan said -
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.
The honorable member went on to say -
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 N.S.W. Government is not fulfilling its promise to bring in the necessary amending legislation to carry out the decision of the Australian Agricultural Council
The decision, I understand, was to continue the restriction on this item. The honorable member has made certain charges against the company concerned without substantiating them, and I have no reason to believe the submission he has made. It would have been preferable for him to have submitted reasons in support of his contention instead of making such an allegation against a reputable company in my constituency. I suggest that he should substantiate his charges. In making submissions without proof, he has done little credit to himself, and has reflected on a very reputable organization.
I wish to deal with the attitude of members of the Australian Country Party and other members to the subject of margarine manufacture. It is true that butter consumption has fallen. I think it is also true to say that the vast majority of Australians prefer that great commodity, butter, to be on their tables in preference to any substitute that might be available. Why is butter consumption falling? For one thing, restaurants are putting the same quantity of butter on their tables as they gave in the days of butter rationing. This results in a tremendous reduction in the consumption of butter. It is. a position which might be rectified by propaganda.
It is also clear that the lack of purchasing power in the community is responsible for the increased quantities of margarine appearing on the tables of the people. Every one knows, Mr. Temporary Chairman, that the Labour Government, under the late Mr. Chifley, gave the butter industry a subsidy of £17,000,000 in 1946, when the basic wage was about £5 5s. a week. To-day, when the basic wage is about £15 a week, the present Government is paying a subsidy of £13,500,000 a year to the industry. It should pay £51,000,000. The price of butter will need to come down in order to make it available to pensioners and consumers everywhere. In ten years, this Government has reduced the subsidy from £17,500,000 to £13,500,000, a sum which is hardly worth mentioning in view of the present shortage of purchasing power.
In every other country in the world in which butter is produced it is subsidized substantially. This Government is destroying the capacity of dairy-farmers to produce butter at a price that the public can pay, because the Government has failed to main tain the subsidy at the level at which it was fixed by the Labour Government. When I have been in certain areas during an election campaign I have found that the greatest consumers of margarine are those people who work in the dairying districts. In those country districts, consumption of margarine is larger than it is in industrial constituencies.
I say to honorable members opposite that they had better wake up instead of blaming the people in the margarine industry. I wonder whether they realize that, to-day, anything that a cow can do a scientist can do better. This means that there will be greater problems in country districts. There are now machines which will produce more milk from cabbages than can be obtained from cows. I suppose, as the result of this development, honorable members opposite will want to restrict the growth of cabbages on the grounds that such production is a threat to the dairy industry. To-day, they want to restrict margarine. Why? Are they not members of a free-enterprise party? Do the government parties not stand for competition? Are they not opposed to measures of control? Members opposite have stated that they want to restrict the production of the margarine industry, which employs hundreds of people. Yet, according to the dairy industry committee’s report, margarine is as nutritious as butter.
The Australian Country Party and the Liberal Party must realize the problems of competition that face the dairy industry. As a result of investigations sponsored by the industry, the wool industry is providing an answer to competition from synthetics, and the dairy industry should take similar measures. The members of the Country Party want railway subsidies, taxation concessions, concessions on vehicle registrations, special rates of interest from the Rural Bank of New South Wales, flood relief grants and reimbursements, advice on research, free veterinary assistance, greater technical assistance and a dozen other things. Yet they refuse to subsidize the dairy industry on a scale comparable to that on which it was subsidized by the Chifley Government fourteen years ago. I have no complaint to make against butter. I believe it is a product that everybody wants, but lack of purchasing power and failure to subsidize this commodity adequately have lessened the demand from the average consumer. Butter is losing its market because of the financial policies of this Government, and the failure of the Country Party to look after the dairy industry.
Let us examine the report of the Dairy Industry Committee of Enquiry. The Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) hid this report for months. He was not prepared to produce it in the Parliament because it is an indictment of the policy of the Country Party for the dairy districts. The report, at page 99, reads as follows: -
Table margarine as at present manufactured and presented for sale, is a wholesome, nutritious food closely resembling butter in appearance and pack and is obtainable at about two-thirds of the price of butter. It is favoured by new Australians who have become accustomed to it as a normal article of diet, and by pensioners and low income people who cannot afford butter.
Yet members opposite seek to take margarine off the tables of these people and leave them with less butter. I suppose that Government supporters would then give them dripping. The report continues -
Restrictions on the production of such a food are repungant to freedom-loving Australians and as such could scarcely be justified, even on the grounds of “ the greatest good for the greatest number “.
What has the Government to say in reply to the report of its own dairy industry committee? Perhaps Government supporters might say that the members of the committee do not know what they are talking about, just as they say that the electoral redistribution commissioners do not know what they are talking about because they do not agree with them. The dairy industry report continues -
The argument of the dairy organizations that a good all-Australian product like butter should not be subjected to the competition of a cheap-labour imported product like margarine has little substance. If it were valid, wool would be worn universally instead of cotton and man-made fibres, and coal would be used instead of oil to power many industrial plants.
The report also contains this statement -
The Committee confirms its belief that “in the overall interests of the nation “ restrictions on the production of table margarine should be removed, but that during the process of reorganization of the dairy industry they should be maintained.
Answer that if you will. That was the attitude of your own dairy industry inquiry committee. One of the problems of the dairy industry is the fall in butter consumption caused by the failure of the Government to make the industry an efficient and worth-while industry. Let us look at the position. In the part of the report dealing with the efficiency of the industry, the committee said -
The Committee would like to end its observations on efficiency on the note struck in the last paragraph. Unfortunately it cannot. Whilst it is satisfied that the industry as a whole should not be condemned as inefficient, it is far from satisfied that there is not room for considerable improvement in the efficiency of many individual units … In some instances yards and outbuildings were littered with rubbish, useful farm equipment was neglected and broken machinery, discarded barbed wire, logs and other debris were lying in places where they could have caused injury to cattle. Frequently farmers operating in these conditions were loudest in their complaints about harsh conditions.
In other words, the industry is inefficient. Honorable members have only to read the report of the committee to see that the industry is inefficient. The fact is that this Government has not given effect to policies that would have enabled the dairy industry to become more effective. I ask the honorable members opposite, who are interjecting, why they supported a reduction in the subsidy to dairy farmers, thus increasing the price of butter to Australian families. The policy of a Labour government would be to ensure reasonable conditions for those working in the industry, a fair return to the producer, and a fair price to the consumer. I ask the Minister for Primary Industry what he proposes to do about the industry.
Now let us look at the situation with regard to margarine. Margarine production is restricted. How can the so-called free-enterprise, open competition, parties now in government justify these restrictions? They were elected on their free enterprise policy yet they support restrictions on the production of this commodity! I have with me an interesting little booklet entitled “ Margarine in Australia “ in which are some very important passages. I have not time to read them all, but I should like permission from the committee to have them incorporated in “ Hansard “.
– Is leave granted? There being an objection, leave is not granted.
– I can well understand that. This is a vital document and Government supporters do not want material of this kind included in the record. The committee’s report states that the margarine industry is an important Australian industry. It adds that it is a world-wide industry and goes on to give production figures from all over Australia. Dealing with the quality of this product, it states -
Table margarine as at present manufactured and presented for sale, is a wholesome, nutritious food . . .
People who may be dying from heart complaints are ordered by their doctors to have margarine on their table instead of butter, but due to the inhuman restrictive policies of this Government they find that they cannot obtain this product because production has been restricted to meet the wishes of the Country Party and other sections.
– That is a false claim.
– It is no good quibbling about it; I have quoted from the report of the Dairy Industry Committee of Enquiry. The answer to the problem of putting more butter on the table is to have a reasonable price for butter; to subsidize it to the extent necessary to allow pensioners and others to buy it. Everybody wants butter, but not all can get it. Because of the falling purchasing power of money, many people cannot afford it. The sooner the Government wakes up to that fact the more prosperous the dairy farmers will become. The booklet to which I referred earlier states -
Out of a total of about 38,000 tons of raw materials now used in the manufacture of all types of margarine in Australia, about 28,000 tons is wholly produced in Australia.
Some of the raw material - peanut oil - comes from the electorate of the Minister for Primary Industry. I wonder if we will hear him attacking the margarine industry, considering that some of its raw material comes from Kingaroy and other places that he represents. I think it is as well for honorable members opposite to know of the policy the Government has pursued and to realize that such a policy is not the final solution to the problem of placing more butter on the tables of the people of this country.
The price of butter to-day is 4s.11d. or 5s. per lb. The pensioners in my electorate receive £5 5s. a week from this miserable Government. They would use a couple of pounds of butter or more a week if they could afford it; but they are limited to margarine. They cannot afford butter because of the economic policies of this Government. To-day table margarine can be bought at from 3s. 2d. to 3s. 4d. per lb., compared with about 5s. per lb. for butter. Five shillings may not be much to a lot of capitalists who have dairy farms as well as seats in Parliament, but to the pensioners in receipt of £5 5s. a week it is a great amount. The report of the inquiry committee goes on to say that the extent of competition has been greatly exaggerated. That is because the Country Party has shown its incompetence to provide for the dairying industry.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- It was very interesting to hear from the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) probably the best advocacy of margarine that we have heard in this chamber. I do not know how the honorable member for Cowper (Mr. McGuren) will regard this because, after all, he, too, belongs to the Australian Labour Party and has to follow the policies and ideas of that party. The honorable member for Grayndler cited figures to show that the subsidies given to the dairy industry by the Chifiey Government were much greater than those given under this Administration. He did not mention the fortunes made by the Chifiey Government from its sales to Great Britain at the expense of the dairy farmer. The Chifiey Government had large sums to give away, but the honorable member did not mention that. In his advocacy of margarine he was unable to make any comment on the reluctance of the New South Wales Government to enforce that State’s production quota. I remind the committee that two Labour Governments in Australia - the former Labour Government of Queensland and the present Labour Government of New South Wales, permitted the greatest increase of margarine production. Our margarine problem arises mainly in those two States, and as I am reminded by the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony), the only margarine production increases since 1941 have occurred there. I understand that to-day the New South Wales Labour Government is considering lifting the restrictions on the manufacture of margarine. That is what the honorable member for Cowper has to advocate also because he is a member of the Labour Party. He has to go along with the party, but I challenge him to have the speech made by the honorable member for Grayndler to-day printed in his local newspaper. Knowing the ability of the honorable member for Grayndler to suit his remarks to the occasion I know that if he does go to the electorate of Cowper to assist his colleague at the next election he will deliver an altogether different speech.
In speaking to the Estimates honorable members on this side of the chamber have to answer quite a lot of statements from the Opposition which are completely fallacious. The honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns) was obviously very troubled by the suggestions from this side of the House about the attitude of the Labour Party to the Japanese Trade Agreement, which has since proved of such tremendous assistance to Australian trade. The honorable member for Yarra suggested that this opposition was voiced simply because honorable members opposite were concerned about Japanese imports into Australia. I went through “ Hansard “ and took out quotations from speeches by some honorable members opposite. It was, of course, a tedious process, but here are the extracts I made from those speeches: The honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) referred to the proposed legislation for the Japanese Trade Agreement as -
The greatest betrayal of Australian interests that has been perpetrated by this anti-Australian Government in all its long, sorry history.
The honorable member for East Sydney is, of course, one of the prominent members of the shadow cabinet of the Australian Labour Party. The honorable member for Scullin (Mr. Peters) said -
The Minister for Trade knows the facts but he has still not hesitated to sell our birthright. He has sold this country’s opportunities to develop and to expand its population, in order to obtain a market for a mess of second-grade wheat produced by the cockies.
That is another instance of the attitude of the Labour Party which the honorable member for Cowper (Mr. McGuren) should remember. The honorable member for Watson (Mr. Cope) said -
Undoubtedly this Japanese Trade Agreement will deal a devastating blow to many Australian industries.
The honorable member for Griffith (Mr. Coutts) said -
There is no need to promote the sale of wool. We know there is not enough wool produced in the world to meet existing demands.
– There is nothing so stale as yesterday’s news.
– That may be so, but I want to remind honorable members opposite that they opposed the Japanese Trade Agreement. The honorable member for Hughes (Mr. L. R. Johnson) said -
I am pleased to join with my colleagues in contending that this agreement should not, in the interests of the Australian people, be ratified.
The honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) said -
The Government’s attitude will turn the clock back 300 years to the days when some people were boiled in oil.
Those honorable members thus condemned an agreement which to-day brings Australia trade worth £150,000,000 a year- and it is an expanding trade. Where would we be if the ideas of honorable members opposite had prevailed? I turn now to the extraordinary views of the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Jones) on shipping and trade. He, like all other honorable members opposite whom I have heard, particularly the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam), advocated that we should have our own national line to take all our exports overseas. All honorable members opposite support that contention.
– We did not say “ all our exports “.
– Is it to be limited to our wheat exports? That is fair enough. The honorable member for Shortland (Mr. Griffiths) compared the cost of shipping concentrates from Port Augusta to Port Kembla with the cost of shipment from Port Augusta to Japan, and he pointed out that the cost from Port Augusta to Port Kembla was two and a half times as great as that from Port Augusta to Japan. If we had to sell our meat, wheat and butter overseas under those freight conditions, the primary producers of Australia would be ruined.
What is the history of the Australian National Line? In the years of war from 1914 to 1918 the Labour Government built ships in Australia to carry our produce. That was at a time when shipping was in exceedingly short supply all over the world owing to the German submarine campaign. After the war, when the shipping tonnages of the various nations had again increased, Australian ships had no chance of competing, and when they were eventually sold in 1928 they had lost £10,000,000 of the taxpayers’ money. When this Government came into power in 1949 it was saddled with the National Line, which was losing nearly £1,500,000 a year. Those ships were losing money to such an extent that no one would buy them. The Government tried to sell them but no company would buy them. So they were converted into bulk handling ships because it was realized that there was no profit in general cargo. To-day there are only a few general cargo ships on the Australian coast, and undoubtedly, when they are obsolete, that trade will end. There are no Australian passenger ships at all on our coast now and that is the result of union pressure, industrial lawlessness, high costs and all the rest of it.
I have quoted some of the reasons which honorable members opposite gave when we questioned their policy of opposing the Japanese Trade Agreement. I think the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Jones) quoted from a report on Australian shipping and overseas trade, but he did not mention that in many instances we have chartered these vessels overseas and have lost money because we have no hope of competing with oversea ships.
Some of the comparative operating costs of British and Australian motor ships, excluding depreciation, on the basis of cost per day are as follows: -
We see that the crew’s wages for the Australian ship are more than double the amount of those of the English vessel.
– But the English vessels have not English crews.
– That is one of the reasons for the difference in costs and illustrates the burden that honorable members opposite would place on the taxpayers of Australia. The Government is to be congratulated on its efforts to stimulate the trade of both primary and secondary industries in Australia. It has done a great deal to promote our trade in the southern hemisphere and in the Mediterranean. If we are to continue our development and retain our high standard of living we must keep costs down. It is up to every one in Australia to make this effort, just as the primary producers have endeavoured to keep their costs down in order to meet falling prices overseas and increasing internal costs brought about by shorter working hours and increases in the basic wage. The primary industries, particularly those that are not subsidized, have had to shoulder that burden. If by some great misfortune the Labour Party got into power and instituted some of the policies it enunciates, Australia’s development would stop dead. It would also result in the great and stable resources which this Government has built up being squandered in a policy demonstration by a party that has no concern for the future of Australia.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- The honorable member for Mcpherson (Mr. Barnes) is known as one of the most reactionary members of the Country Party. We know that he is anti-worker, because he has expressed such points of view in this chamber. One of the reasons why he thinks Australia, one of the great exporting nations of the world, should not have its own shipping line is that we would have to pay trade unionists just wages for working on Australian ships. He is in favour of coolie labour and of cheap labour. He would bring back cheap labour into the cane-fields and other country areas of Australia if he had his way. That is what the honorable member for Mcpherson always advocates, but we know that if we are to develop and have pride in our heritage we must have our own overseas shipping line. We have one of the greatest international airlines in the world - Qantas Empire Airways Limited. Why can we not have one of the greatest overseas shipping lines in the world? The answer, is that we are being held to ransom by the overseas shipowners - and we have been held to ransom too long.
The Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen), the estimates for whose department we are now debating, is one of the two most disastrous Ministers who have been in government with the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies). I think it would be difficult to decide which was the more disastrous - the tragic Treasurer or the calamity-howling Minister for Trade. The Minister for Trade has held his portfolio, under one name or another, for the twelve years this Government has been in office, and in that time we have had a deficit balance of trade amounting to £1,600,000,000. We are on the wrong side of the ledger by that amount. In February, 1960, the Government made the tragic decision to abolish import restrictions, a decision that will produce a worsening of Australia’s position every year. The trade deficit of £1,600,000,000 that we have contracted under this Government has been met by running down our overseas balances, by increasing government borrowing overseas and by a big inflow of private capital from overseas. The people overseas who invest capital in Australia are not doing so out of charity, or because they want to be good to us. They do it to earn profits for themselves. The Government gives absolutely no guidance about, and exercises no control over, this capital. It makes no determination about what kind of capital we need and what kind we do not need. During the Government’s term of office the annual interest burden on our public debt has risen from £19,000,000 to £32,000,000.
Of all borrowing, government borrowing is the least evil. But to increase the interest on our public debt from £19,000,000 to £32,000,000 a year is beyond all understanding. Capital outflow on private investment in the first year of the present administration was £14,000,000. Last year it had increased to £56,000,000- an increase of 400 per cent.- I give notice to honorable members that this outflow will continue to gallop from now on, because the governments of the United States of America and Great Britain are already putting pressure on American and British companies and individuals investing in Australia to repatriate more and more of their dividends. So we will face an even greater crisis in our trade payments position.
Those two countries, America and Britain - those two powerful friends on whom we have been relying so much - have had exceedingly favorable trade balances with us. In the same twelve year period we had a trade deficit with the United Kingdom of nearly £800,000,000 - and that was before there was any likelihood of Britain’s entering the European. Economic Community. Yet we hear the Minister for Trade howling calamity, when he did nothing about this in all those years, and is doing nothing about it now. He has put forward no positive proposals for dealing with the problem. Our deficit with the United States in the last twelve years has been about £500,000,000. I remind honorable members opposite of a speech made by the Minister for Trade to a meeting, which was reported in the “Sydney Morning Herald” of 12th June, 1962. The statement of this Minister, one of the two most tragic ministers of the Menzies era, is reported as follows: - “ The United States now has 20 per cent of the Australian market; Americans buy less than one dollar per head from us, whereas Australians buy 46 dollars per head from them every year,” said Mr. McEwen.
The report goes on - “Australia has bought 1,200 million dollars more from the U.S. than the U.S. bought from Australia, and yet they have 20 times our population. “ In addition we have run up a debt to l he U.S. of the order of 1,300 million dollars.”
That is an admission by the Minister for Trade as to what has happened while he has been in office. But what action has the Minister taken about this deficit in trade with the United States of America and Britain? He has taken no action in the past twelve years, and now he finds himself in a crisis, and the Government has panicked over Britain’s proposed entry into the European Economic Community.
Before the war, we used to export to Britain at least 50 per cent, of our total exports. By 1950-51, the proportion had dropped to 32.7, in 1952-53 it increased to 41.2, but by 1960-61 it had dropped to 23.9. Last year, the percentage was only 19 per cent. Again I emphasize that all this happened before Britain was moving to enter the European Economic Community. Belgium and Luxembourg took 4.9 per cent, of our trade in 1950-51, and by 1960-61 the proportion had dropped to 2.3 per cent. France’s share of Australia’s exports fell from 9.1 per cent, in 1950-51 to 5.3 per cent, in 1960-61. West Germany’s share was 2.8 per cent, in 1950-51, and remained at that figure in 1960-61. Italy’s share fell from 5 per cent, in 1950-51 to 4.9 per cent, in 1960-61, and the Netherlands share fell from 1.1 per cent, to 0.6 per cent, in the same period.
Our trade has declined with practically every European country. This underlines the fact that we are living in the Asian trade realm, and must trade with Asia. Asia is the natural outlet for our goods. The honorable member for Hughes (Mr. L. R. Johnson) gave figures of our trade with Asia. There are only two countries in Asia with which we trade to any degree - Japan and China. We have a trade agreement as the basis of our trade with Japan. As to trade with China, we know what a great saviour that has been for the Government in the last few years. To the Government’s delight our trade with China has been built up to £66,000,000 a year, or 6 per cent, of our total trade, but our imports from China amount to only £3,800,000 a year. Our trade with other Asian countries is nothing like so high as that. Ceylon takes 0.8 per cent, of our total exports. Hong Kong takes 1.8 per cent. To India, with its 450,000,000 people, we send 2.3 per cent, of all our exports. Malaya gets 1.1 per cent., Pakistan .2 per cent., Singapore 1.3 per cent, and Burma .2 per cent. Then I ask the sabre-rattling honorable members opposite to look at the next one on the list, our Seato ally, Thailand, to which we send only 0.2 per cent, of our exports, while China, which honorable members on the other side of the committee would like to disown, gets 6 per cent. Then to Indonesia, our neighbour to the near north with a population of 90,000,000, we send .3 per cent, of our exports.
This is the challenge to honorable members opposite: You must start looking for new markets. We live in the Asian area, and we must start trading with Asia and building up goodwill with Asia. We live also in the sphere of influence of Africa and Latin America, and we should seek markets in those areas.
Within the time available to me I wish to deal with some positive measures which we, if in government, would carry out. The Australian Government’s first task is to bring about full employment. It must reintroduce import controls and make sure that Australian firms can produce goods with Australian material and Australian men. The Government should adopt an economic policy designed not only to achieve full employment but also to ensure an efficient level of effective demand, so that the Australian people will be able to buy more fruit, meat, dairy produce, sugar and other products, for which the demand overseas will seriously decline as a result of Great Britain’s entry into the European Economic Community. The honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly) may not realize it, but our dried fruits and canned fruits industries, as well as our dairying industry, will lose many of their present markets. I suggest that a consumer subsidy should be introduced in respect of those goods, so that the workers of Australia can consume more of them. This will raise the standard of living not only of the workers and their families, but also of the pensioners, who have had such a raw deal.
The Australian Government should establish a primary industries planning authority to ascertain future demand for Australian primary products, and to formulate action to ensure that any losses caused by a reduction of exports will not be borne only by the producers and the workers in primary industries, but will be fairly distributed over the nation as a whole. Such an authority could work for the future development of primary industry to meet the needs of Australian consumers and overseas buyers of Australian produce.
We should seek and establish markets in overseas countries, particularly Asian countries. Australia should trade with all nations, and our overseas trading opportunities should not be restricted by the provisions of franchises or licences, or by agreements entered into by Australian subsidiaries of overseas corporations which would restrict or prohibit the export of goods from Australia. In this respect I issue a challenge to the Government. What has it done to control the effects of these franchises? Honorable members opposite know full well that there are many overseas companies manufacturing goods in Australia that we cannot export because of directions from parent companies outside Australia, which lay down what we can and cannot sell, and where we can and cannot sell various goods.
The Australian Government should also set up an Australian shipping commission to operate overseas and coastal ships.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- The honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren) and other Opposition speakers have spent a great deal of their time in criticizing this Government for not selling enough of our goods on the Asian market. If ever there was a government that has done as much as possible, and has taken positive action, to ensure that our costs have been stabilized, so that we could enlarge our markets in Asia and compete with other countries, it has been this Government. If ever there was a government that did as much as possible to ensure that our costs of production increased so that we would be unable to sell our goods overseas, it has been the Labour Government of New South Wales. If that is not sufficient answer to the honorable member for Reid, I remind him that it was a socialist Commonwealth government in the period from 1946 to 1949 that started the inflationary spiral that this Government has had to check. As honorable members are all aware, the economic measures that we have taken have been unpopular in various sections of the community, but they have been successful. It is well known to the honorable members who are now seeking to interject that during the last three quarterly periods the costofliving index has even been reduced by a couple of points.
I shall return to those considerations in a few minutes. First, however, I want to discuss the estimates for the Department of Trade, and in particular a report of the Special Advisory Authority on citrus juices. The authority said there is no doubt that the citrus industry is economically import’ ant to Australia and that it cannot progress unless the growers are assured of a profitable average price for their fruit. He also said -
In July 2,685 gallons of lemon juice were imported and there were no imports in August. In July only 392 gallons of orange juice were imported and again there were no imports in August. Imports of citrus fruit syrups in the two months totalled 38 gallons. It would seem to me therefore that there are insufficient grounds for action in the form of temporary duties.
It will be remembered that on two occasions representatives of the citrus industry had applied to the Special Advisory Authority for urgent action to be taken to protect them against the imports of juices and syrups from several countries overseas. The Special Advisory Authority, in this latest report, gives reasons for his view that the industry should have a permanent rather than a temporary protection. While the final objective of the Citrus Growers Federation is permanent protection, dismissal of the request for temporary protection means that the problems of the citrus industry are not properly understood by the authority.
I digress here for a moment to remind the committee that during the last two days we have been discussing protection given to manufacturing industries with sensitively balanced economies. We have heard how action has been quickly taken to assist them. The report on the application by the citrusgrowers shows quite a different approach.
However, I am told that the imports for the period ended 8th September amounted to 9,600 gallons, valued at £2,428. I remind honorable members that there were no imports in August, and it was largely on this fact that the authority based his recommendation that protection should not be granted. I have also seen the returns for the second and third weeks of September, the period ended 22nd September. These showed that there were no imports of juice in the second week and 500 gallons imported from the United States of America in the third week.
The economy of this industry is very delicately balanced. The import of only small quantities of juices and syrups has a quick and depressing effect on prices of fruit and juices sold within Australia. The Special Advisory Authority suggests no way of guarding against the effect of sudden imports of quantities of citrus juices. I believe that some of the juices being imported are coming from countries in which production and export are subsidized.
I mentioned a few moments ago the recommendation for permanent protection but no temporary protection. Let me refer the committee to page 4 of the Tariff Board’s annual report for the year 1961-62. Paragraph 5 gives the average time lag between the date of a normal reference and the date of report. In 1956-57, the time lag was 14i months, in 1959-60 the time lag was 15 months, and in 1961-62 it was 10J months. So honorable members will see that the industry could be ruined in the time taken by the Tariff Board to hold a hearing in normal circumstances. The federation has asked that its case be again referred to the Tariff Board so that urgent protective action may be taken before the industry is further damaged. I ask the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) to give earnest and sympathetic consideration to this request.
The pattern of Australian export trade is changing. The Government is continuing to expand the Trade Commissioner Service. With the opening of the new post in Athens last July, we now have 37 trade commissioner posts in 28 countries. Although the tonnage of our goods shipped to the United Kingdom has increased, the percentage of our exports to the United Kingdom has decreased. In the year ended 30th June, 1962, the percentage of goods shipped to various areas was as follows: -
The honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren) will be particularly interested in the figure relating to exports to Japan. The Minister for Trade has referred to the damage that some industries may surfer if
Britain enters the European Economic Community. That is why Australia’s representatives in the discussions have stressed that action should be taken to test the effect on any of our industries of any general agreement that may be reached. We must take action to ensure that losses are not borne alone by those industries most affected or by some rural communities. Our actions should distribute throughout the community any losses that are sustained. So, should the United Kingdom join the Common Market, this changing pattern, some examples of which I have given to honorable members, will be quickened.
I believe that Australia can sell more goods in Asia. The Department of Trade and private enterprise must co-operate even more than they are co-operating now if we are to take full advantage of what are sometimes called the waiting markets of Asia. Indonesia could become one of our biggest customers. One of the problems that we face is that many Asian countries have weak foreign exchange positions and are seeking long-term finance. One example given to me recently was that of a request for a seven-year loan period at an interest rate of 5 per cent. I am informed that Germany, Japan and Russia are increasing their exports to Asia because they are making long-term finance available. I recommend that the Government should give urgent consideration to this matter so that Australia also may be able to make loans to these countries. At the same time, we should increase the amount of money made available for advertising in the widest sense. We should advertise more freely in the foreign press, foreign journals and by way of film. Other promotional activities, such as trade missions, trade ships and support for trade fairs, must be continued.
I wish to say something now about tourism. In the Estimates a sum of £260,000 is being made available to the Australian National Travel Association. That sum is made up of £200,000 as a basic grant and a matching grant of £1 for £1 to a limit of £75,000 in respect of contributions from non-Commonwealth sources. Last year, £198,532 was spent from an appropriation of £203,820. It is well known that increasing numbers of
Australians are touring overseas, but we want to persuade more people to include Australia in their itineraries. I hope that the additional money being made available in the Estimates will enable us to encourage overseas tourist authorities to include many Australian centres in their package tours.
I desire for a moment to refer to my proposal for increasing our international advertising. In saying that, I make no criticism of the Government’s policy or of the work of officers of the Department of Trade at home or abroad. We are fortunate in having men of great ability doing this work. However, despite all our activities, the ignorance abroad of Australia’s trade potential is worrying. I could give many examples of that ignorance, but I will content myself with quoting one example. In a radio broadcast earlier this year a senior official of Radio Malaya said -
The coming of Malaysia and the Association of South-East Asia will reduce British influence in this region under which Australia has hitherto been basking. When Britain joins the European Common Market Australia will be seeking new customers in South-East Asia who may be the people to prevent the Australian economy from collapsing.
I have read only part of the broadcast, but I think it contains the operative phrases. The balance of the broadcast emphasized that that senior Malayan Government official was ignorant of the trade promotion activities which Australia has been undertaking for a number of years in his own and adjacent countries. I have found that quite a number of people in those areas are unaware of the wide range of goods Australia has for sale. Great opportunities exist for us to increase the sale of foodstuffs, transport equipment, agricultural machinery, domestic appliances, radio and telecommunications equipment, Australianmade motor cars, steel and steel products. Shipping costs for manufactured goods, which have already been referred to to-day, would be lowered if those goods were shipped, wherever possible, in an unassembled state, thus saving shipping space. I believe it is necessary to do all the things that I have mentioned whether Britain joins the European Economic Community or not, but her entry will mean that it is even more urgent for us to take the action that I have suggested.
.- I propose to confine my remarks to the estimates for the Department of Trade. Listening to the opening remarks of the honorable member for Robertson (Mr. Dean) I was struck by the unashamed feeling in his expression of satisfaction in being a supporter of a government which, after twelve years in office, was forced to introduce a credit squeeze, thereby throwing out of work more than 100,000 Australians. The honorable member said that although the Government had met with some unpopularity, he was very satisfied with the present position although, months after the Government had been re-elected, more than 80,000 persons are still seeking employment in Australia. The honorable member for Robertson and his colleagues should realize the importance to Australia of trade. I think all honorable members realize that if we are to continue this great enterprise of the Commonwealth of Australia we must increase our trading capacity in as many directions as possible. One of the first and fudamental lessons that a commercial traveller receives is that having made a customer he must not lose that customer. Having made contact with a client and having sold his goods with satisfaction, the commercial traveller should be able to increase his orders in future transactions.
I have taken the trouble to look at the monthly bulletin of overseas trade statistics for July, 1962, which is issued by the Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics. I have been alarmed to find that our trading figures with 25 customer nations have fallen in 1962 as compared with 1961. In other words, we sold less to each of them in 1 962 than we did in 1961. Every commercial enterprise, even the large commercial enterprises which this Government is dedicated to represent and support in this Parliament, would want to conduct an investigation on every occasion it found that a customer was buying less one year than he did the previous year. What has the Department of Trade done about this? Has it considered very carefully why the 25 customers out of the 58 listed by the bureau bought fewer goods from Australia in 1962 than they did in 1961? Has the Department of Trade discovered why we are not selling this year the quantity of goods to these customers that we sold last year? Has the Department of Trade looked at the quality of goods that we exported to those 25 customer nations? Has the trade commissioner in those countries investigated the reason for the deterioration in trade relationships? If the present trend continues, next year we can expect 35 customer nations to buy less from us than they bought this year. At a time when the Government states that we should be increasing our trade we find that we are selling fewer goods to 25 customer nations.
It is true that we have trade commissioners in 28 countries. Very many of them are estimable gentlemen. I have had the privilege and pleasure of meeting many of them on numerous occasions. But I am concerned at the growing trend within the department which appoints trade commissioners to disregard for appointment men who have had commercial experience. It is most important that the men who represent us in the field of trade, particularly for only trade relationships, should be men who have been through the mill of business enterprises. They should be men who have sold goods; they should be men who understand how to market goods, and they should be men who understand manufacturing processes. I do not wish to malign and attack the general body of trade commissioners, but some of the trade commissioners who represent this country are departmental officers who have had no commercial experience. There is a greater need for organization within Australia for exports. Just as we need a trade commissioner service overseas, we need a body of men in Australia who will go to manufacturers and encourage them to export. I maintain that many middle-type manufacturers in Australia are producing goods which are well suited for overseas markets.
The Department of Trade issues a very fine bulletin called “Overseas Trading”. I commend the department for this publication because it is very informative. I refer now to volume 14, No. 19, which contains a special article relating to Ceylon. I take Ceylon as an example even though it is only a small trading country. The article states -
Australian exporters could increase their share of the available market in Ceylon.
About 90 per cent, of Australia’s existing annual exports to Ceylon are made up of food items.
Ceylon was still importing goods other than food to the value of £A. 104,000,000. Australia’s share of this potential volume was almost nil.
The following page contains a list of goods manufactured in Australia which could find a ready market in Ceylon. The list commences with sugar cane harvesters, tractors, ploughs, cage wheels, rotary slashers, and goes on to food processing machinery. Has the Department of Trade, which publishes this booklet, sent representatives to manufacturers of these goods to encourage them to enter this export field? I do not think that it has. I maintain that it is part of the duty of the Department of Trade to do this because too many manufacturers do not realize the possibilities of the export market. Only the other day I learned of a frock manufacturer in Sydney who visited Malaya and actually sold frocks there. I am prepared to say that 99 per cent, of men engaged in manufacturing frocks in Australia or who control enterprises selling these garments would not think of going to Malaya for an order. A manufacturer of ladies swimming costumes recently went to Honolulu and obtained orders. He actually sold swimming costumes in Honolulu where local manufacturers are supposed to make wonderful swimming creations. I have enjoyed watching them walking along the beaches of Waikiki. I maintain that the Department of Trade is not doing sufficient within Australia to encourage our export markets. I do not believe that the Department of Trade is exercising sufficient supervision over the quality of goods that we are already exporting.
– What makes you think that?
– The honorable member for Corangamite has asked me what makes me think that. I shall tell him. I have spoken to importers in the countries which buy our goods and they have complained about the quality of the items they have received - soap which is misshapen and tinned foodstuffs with the labels torn off. Generally these are goods of an inferior quality which should not have been allowed to leave Australia because they are no advertisement for this country and of no assistance in building up our export trade.
I am not satisfied with the personnel of our trade missions. Recently we have sent five trade missions to different parts of the world. In the main, they consist of a representative of the Department of Trade, three, four or five representatives of big banking institutions and probably the chairman of directors of some large corporations. I join with the honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. Mackinnon) and the honorable member for Balaclava (Mr. Whittorn) in repeating what I have said on two or three occasions in the short time that I have been in this Parliament. We must send men overseas with samples in their bags ready to take orders. It is not any good for us to send trade missions comprising heads of banks who might say that they represent 100 or 150 different industries. What will they learn or bring back to Australia which cannot be read in any publication produced by any country?
– The representatives of the banks accompany the trade missions to handle the all-important question of credit.
– Just a minute. Trade missions which we send overseas make certain investigations, but when they return no one knows what transpired abroad. The other day I asked the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) to tell me the actual value of orders received by any trade mission which had gone overseas in the last twelve months under the supervision of his department. He answered me honestly and fairly. He said that there was no way of knowing this because many members of the trade missions were leaders of private enterprises and they had not told the Government whether they had received any orders. Is not this a terrible situation?
I agree wholeheartedly that obtaining orders is not the only duty of trade missions. They must build up goodwill and explore the markets more closely than the trade commissioner may have done. But any businessman will agree that the first job is to obtain orders. How do we know whether our trade mission to South America obtained orders? How do we know whether our trade mission to the Middle East obtained orders? It is all very well for members of the trade missions to return to Australia and tell us that there are markets overseas that we should be able to obtain because they are interested in, say, our machinery or some other commodity. Do these overseas organizations buy anything? I maintain that if a trade mission is organized and supervised by the Department of Trade and, as is generally the case, led by an officer or a nominee of the department, the mission, on its return to Australia, should report to the Government and say, for example, “We received so many million pounds worth of orders. We expect to receive X million pounds worth of additional orders in the next six months.” Any businessman would require that of his representative, whoever he was and wherever he had been. In this respect, I think, the methods adopted are very, very slipshod.
I was interested to read in this publication, “ Overseas Trading “, an article written by Mr. W. G. Davis, general manager of Ansair Proprietary Limited, transport and general engineers. The article is headed “Australia’s trade future lies in Asian markets “, and states -
That they are “waiting markets” is evident to any business man who goes to see for himself. Unfortunately, too few Australian businessmen are doing this.
Australia’s salesmen must be prepared to spend plenty of time in the countries they visit. It is not worthwhile making hasty trips.
It is easy, Sir, for the Government to say that these things are the responsibility, not of the Department of Trade, but of private enterprise. I point out that the department is charged with the responsibility for developing our export markets. On the shoulders of the Minister for Trade rests the whole future, unfortunately, of Australia’s export markets. Is it not proper that the head of the department should have the responsibility for organizing trade missions and seeing that Australian businessmen are made aware of export possibilities? Should not officers of the department be telling manufacturers who have possibilities of entering export trade: “We will encourage you and help you. What can we do for you? We know of a particular country that is interested in products like yours “ ? However, the department and its officers are not doing that.
If any support were needed for the arguments about shipping put before the committee by the honorable member for Hughes (Mr. L. R. Johnson), the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Jones) and other honorable members, it is to be found in the lack of logic in the selection of three trade ships that the Government sent overseas to sell Australian goods. The “ Milos “, flying the Swedish flag, went to Manila. The “ Straat Cumberland “, flying the Dutch flag, went to Malaya. The “ Chakrata “, flying the British flag, went to the Persian Gulf. These vessels, unashamedly flying foreign flags at their mastheads, were sent abroad to promote the sale of Australian goods. What sort of salesmen have we in the Department of Trade, and what sort of salesman is the Minister for Trade, if this sort of thing is done? How will this sort of situation help us to build up export markets and promote the export trade that this country needs? The Department of Trade cannot shift the blame for this from its own shoulders, try as it may.
We in this country have known for a long time that the United Kingdom will enter the European Economic Community. Are we to wait until the tragedy occurs, Mr. Chairman, before we do anything? Are we to wait till the day after agreement on Britain’s entry is signed and then say, “ We shall now worry about export markets for Australia “ ? No, Mr. Chairrna.nl That is not fair and proper treatment for the great people of this country. The people of Australia, by their perseverance and dedication in founding a great and growing Commonwealth, are entitled to better treatment and to greater efficiency on the part of a Minister who should dictate policy for the benefit of the people of Australia so as to ensure their success and their happiness.
– I hope that the committee will excuse me if for a few minutes I divert the attention of honorable members from the estimates for the Department of Trade and direct attention to the estimates for the Department of Primary Industry, which are being discussed concurrently. I should like to refer briefly to the opening sentences of a statement made only a few weeks ago by the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) as chairman of the Australian Agricultural Council. He said that the
Australian Agricultural Council, which met at Perth recently, considers that any continued use of fibroma virus to immunize domestic rabbits against myxomatosis must be under closely prescribed conditions. It is my belief, Mr. Chairman, that, if the Agricultural Council were not a forum in which the Minister in charge of agriculture in any one State has the right to exercise a veto, this statement would have been in much stronger terms than were in fact used. It is well known that one State - New South Wales - permits the use of the fibroma virus for the inoculation of domestic rabbits or commercial rabbit farms, and the New South Wales Minister who attended the recent meeting of the council evidently was able to prevent that body from making the kind of statement that it should have made - a statement that the use of the fibroma virus should be completely outlawed, except in certain scientific experiments.
It is worth going briefly into the history of this matter, Mr. Chairman, because the rabbit story has just about completed the full circle in Australia. Myxomatosis was introduced here at a time when the ordinary farmer in Australia was having tremendous difficulty in controlling rabbits. It has been estimated by various people that the benefits to the ordinary farmer of the successful introduction of myxomatosis have run into tens of millions of pounds. Some have placed the figure as high as hundreds of millions of pounds. It is worth noting that the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, which was largely responsible for the introduction of the myxoma virus, very nearly gave up its efforts to introduce it, because the initial efforts at inoculating wild rabbits were not successful. However, the organization persisted, with encouragement from the primary industries, and ultimately its experiments were successful.
In 1953, a professor at the Australian National University was having difficulty in conducting certain experiments, because laboratory rabbits used in those experiments were dying off from myxomatosis. He heard, or knew, about the fibroma virus, which is used to immunize rabbits against myxomatosis, and he obtained permission from the Commonwealth Department of Health to import fibroma virus into Australia. 1 believe that no one could raise any objection to the use of this virus under closely controlled laboratory conditions where rabbits used in essential experiments require protection. Obviously, serious losses in research capability could occur if rabbits used in experiments were to die from myxomatosis at a crucial stage of a particular experiment.
After the effective introduction of myxomatosis in Australia, rabbit farms were established in several States, especially in New South Wales. When the New South Wales Government heard that the fibroma virus had been introduced into Australia and was in use at the Australian National University, that Government obtained some of the fibroma virus and made quantities of it available to commercial rabbit-farmers. This is quite a different matter, because rabbit-farmers use the fibroma virus, without any controls, on rabbits that are not kept in insect or vector-proof cages. As a result, there is a very real danger that the fibroma virus will spread from the domestic rabbits on the rabbit farms to the wild rabbit population and thus completely nullify and destroy the effects of the myxomatosis campaign, with very serious consequences for farmers and primary producers in this country.
For a while, no action was taken about the use of fibroma virus. I think this was because no one really knew what decisions had been made by the New South Wales Government. Ultimately, however, organizations of primary producers and pest destruction councils in various States found that the New South Wales Government had made it possible for the fibroma virus to be used on rabbit farms as a protection against the myxoma virus. The organizations of primary producers, immediately they learned this, began to campaign for two things - first, the end of rabbit-farming on the ground that it constituted a danger to the rabbit eradiction campaign, and, secondly, and much more important, the prevention of the use of the fibroma virus. The Victorian Government - under the stimulus of the Vermin and Noxious Weeds Destruction Board - the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization and the New South Wales Government - the New South Wales Government as well, remember - invited Dr. Shope, an eminent virologist, of the Rockefeller
Institute in the United States of America, to come to Australia to report on the continued effectiveness of the myxoma virus and on the possible danger that the use of the fibroma virus presented to the continued effectiveness of the myxoma virus. It is important for us to study the nature of this report, because its findings have been completely ignored by the New South Wales Government, one of the authorities which brought Dr. Shope to Australia for the purpose of making this report.
Dr. Shope commented on the general effectiveness of myxomatosis and expressed his opinion that it is still of great benefit to the Australian farmer generally. Referring to future research into the myxoma virus, he went on to say -
Unfortunately those who appear to be “ throwing in the towel “ are the very ones best qualified by training and experience to carry on the myxoma work.
He added that a governmental authority should be established to co-ordinate the work of the various States on this problem. Dr. Shope contends that some of these native rabbits in South America should be introduced into Australia because the myxoma virus is endemic in South America and it would be possible to get from the South American rabbit a stronger form of myxoma which would be of benefit to Australia. He said -
It would seem logical, also, to seek the immunological variants of myxoma virus in other parts of the world where the disease occurs naturally, especially in South America. Such a variant would prove of extreme value to Australia.
It is more important, however, to look at Dr. Shope’s opinions concerning fibroma virus because this was the main thing for which he was brought to Australia. He assumes, as I think we all should, that myxoma virus will continue to be of effective use in Australia unless its effectiveness is nullified by the decision of the New South Wales State Government to allow rabbit farms to continue to use the fibroma virus. I cannot explain this better than by quoting the words of Dr. Shope himself. He says -
To trie casual disinterested individual, I believe it would be perfectly evident that when Australia once made the decision to use myxoma virus to control its rabbit pest problem it also made the decision never to do anything that might diminish the effectiveness of that virus in fulfilling its mission. lt would come as a surprise therefore, to this disinterested individual to learn that, with myxomatosis performing its mission fairly well, Australia now placed its effectiveness at hazard by introducing counter-measures that conceivably might be quite effective. It is my opinion that fibroma virus, as presently used to protect domestic rabbits in commercial rabbitries against myxomatosis, constitutes a definite hazard of unknown magnitude. Being a live virus vaccine, the fibroma virus survives and multiplies in every domestic rabbit to which it is given. Potentially at least, each vaccinated domestic rabbit generates enough newly-formed fibroma virus to infect, and hence protect against myxomatosis, 100,000,000 more domestic rabbits - or a similar number of Australian wild rabbits.
Surely this is a fairly damning indictment of the use of fibroma virus on the rabbit farms of New South Wales. Dr. Shope recognizes that there are some virologists who say there is no particular danger in this matter. He says that such people rely on laboratory experiments in which it has been difficult, at times, to transmit the fibroma virus from one laboratory rabbit to another. But he goes on to point out that no experiments have been undertaken with wild rabbits in the natural conditions under which the fibroma might spread if it got into the wild rabbit population. He also points out that in the United States of America, under endemic or native conditions in some of the eastern states, fibroma virus has been found to be effective in 100 per cent, of the rabbits in certain localities. He goes on to say, in technical terms, that the fibroma lesion or wound which is made in a wild rabbit by natural causes is quite different from the wound made under artificial conditions when one rabbit is inoculated in a laboratory, and he says in his view this could have a significant effect on the ability of insects of various kinds to spread fibroma virus from one wild rabbit to another. He concludes that the hazard from the use of fibroma virus in Australia is higher than is apparently thought. The only really safe procedure, in his view, is completely to outlaw the use of fibroma virus. This conclusion has been absolutely ignored by the New South Wales Government, which was a party to bringing Dr. Shope to Australia.
The view of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization on this matter is ambiguous. It considers that the evidence available suggests that transmission of the fibroma virus from one rabbit to another is infrequent, but it is admitted that only laboratory work has been done, and no work has been done on wild rabbits. It could not be undertaken under natural conditions. This is one of the points to which Dr. Shope directed attention, and concerning which he claimed that our knowledge was insufficient. Australian virologists conclude that there is a negligible danger from this particular thing, but they do not say that there is no danger.
I have spoken to some of these people, and they have said that they used the word “ negligible “ in a scientific sense, and not as an indication of what might actually happen. They did not use that word in the ordinary sense. They based their conclusion, first, on the assumption that fibroma virus rarely spreads. They say that this is an assumption for which there is not much evidence, and for which there is no evidence so far as wild rabbits are concerned. They based the conclusion, secondly, on what the C.S.I.R.O. claim is the knowledge that the myxoma virus spreads more easily than any fibroma virus that might be effective under native endemic conditions. But I do not see how they can judge this, because the fibroma virus has not been tested under native endemic conditions. It cannot be so tested because of the dangers involved. Having regard to the original difficulty experienced by the C.S.I.R.O. in getting the myxoma virus to spread, and having regard to the fact that C.S.I.R.O. scientists nearly gave up their efforts to have it spread in the wild native population, I cannot see that any one could conclude that under native conditions the myxoma will spread more easily than the fibroma virus, and that the myxoma virus will win the battle between the two.
Having regard to what has gone on, it is interesting to look at the New South Wales position. New South Wales is the leading State in rabbit farming. There are no rabbit farms in Victoria, South Australia or Queensland. Those in Western Australia are under sentence of death, and those in Tasmania might also be under sentence of death. New South Wales is the only State? ever to allow the use of fibroma virus on commercial rabbit farms. You would have thought, perhaps, that having regard to the definiteness of Dr. Shope’s report, and to the vagueness of the C.S.I.R.O. report, that, the New South Wales Government would have banned the use of fibroma virus. But that is not so. It has not done this. Recently, the Minister for Agriculture in New South Wales issued a quite extraordinary press statement. He said that the existing rabbit farms could continue in operation, but that no new rabbit farm permits would be issued. Thus the old farmers were given a monopoly, and there are not very many of them. The fibroma virus can be used only in two counties, but its use will not be restricted as to quantity. It will be restricted as to condition in those two counties. He said that vaccination is to take place in mosquitoproof cages, but how many of us have been bitten by mosquitoes in houses that are meant to be mosquito-proof? The New South Wales Government has given a monopoly to the manufacturers of fibroma virus and to its distributors. The Minister for Agriculture in New South Wales quoted authorities who said that the fibroma virus was most unlikely to spread - that the danger of its spreading was very small. He therefore recognized that there is a danger, and if the chance of danger is one in 10,000,000 the virus should be banned by the New South Wales Government.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- The subject of trade, of course, is of paramount importance to any nation. More particularly is it of great importance to this nation when we view developments in the international sphere. I refer to the intended entry of the United Kingdom into the European Common Market and its implications. In 1961, our exports to the United Kingdom amounted to £231,581,000, and our imports from that country amounted to £340,531,000. We are going to experience a very considerable contraction in our exports to the United Kingdom. This is something of moment which deserves considerable attention from the people of this nation. Therefore, we immediately proceed to query the activity undertaken by the Department of Trade to ensure that our exports are receiving stimulated support for expansion in the international sphere. As the honorable member for Phillip (Mr. Einfeld) pointed out earlier in the course of his very informative contribution to this debate, one can hardly but wonder what are the qualifications of our trade commissioners and other trade representatives overseas when, of 58 nations surveyed, Australian exports to 25 have declined. One can hardly but wonder whether a proper attitude is being adopted to the manner in which our exports are being presented on overseas markets. When one hears that Australian butter is mixed with inferior quality English butter and sold in bulk under the joint brand name “ Empire “, one realizes that Australian butter must be having a very difficult time in the heavily competitive English market. When one reads that the High Commissioner of New Zealand has very attractive displays of New Zealand commodities, particularly primary products such as apples, in the windows of his building in London, one cannot help wondering why the Australian High Commissioner has not similar displays of home-produced commodities. When one hears from reliable sources that Australian canned fruits have been sold in the Middle East under the brand name “ Ibis “, in a can displaying a picture of an ibis, causing the people there to look on the product with some suspicion and regard it as stewed ibis, one wonders at the efficacy of our sales promotion.
I have often heard criticism of the manner in which our commodities are presented on the home and export markets in poor-quality wrappings and bearing labels that lack imagination. When one realizes that these and other shortcomings are preventing what should be an extensive and increasing sale of our commodities overseas, one understands more clearly what is involved in this issue of trade. One also sees the hypocrisy of honorable members opposite who are so loud in their criticism of the Communist countries. Then, when one considers overseas trade figures and discovers that all that has saved this Government during the past several years has been a large build-up of trade with Communist nations, one realizes the duality of personality and gross insincerity of Government supporters. Members of the Country Party, who are about to interject, obviously should be the last to be critical because if it were not for the large amounts of wool and wheat that are being sold to Communist China their constituents would not be as prosperous as they are to-day.
I offer no criticism of our trade with Communist China. I believe that we must trade with any nation with which we can trade. That is Labour’s attitude and honorable members opposite who criticized us for it not many years ago soon made a volte-face when the opportunity to export to Communist countries arose. At one time they opposed, with strong principle, any association with the red countries of the world because such an association, they claimed, would taint us. But obviously when the time of trial and testing arrived they were not afraid to take advantage of the opportunity. They are not worried about the political colour of a nation so long as something is going into their pockets. That shows their insincerity and duality of personality.
I should like to quote figures of imports and exports to demonstrate what I have said. Imports to this country from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in 1956-57 cost £262,000 and in 1960- 61 the figure was £850,000. Our exports in the same periods were £19,000 and £8,198,000 respectively. Those figures show the rapid leap forward in the trade between Australia and Russia. In 1956-57 imports from China were valued at £2,115,000, and in 1960-61, £3,974,000. In those periods our exports to China totalled £6,438,000 and £39,857,000 respectively. Those exports have been the salvation of members of the Country Party and their constituents, and I have no doubt that this year the flow will be even larger as Country Party supporters lean even more heavily on trade with Communist countries. In to-day’s paper I read with considerable interest that further deals had been negotiated with the Chinese for the sale of Australian wheat to a value of approximately £18,000,000; yet these are the people who were regarded with suspicion and who, it was said, could not meet their payments! They have never defaulted in their payments.
Trade with Hungary is of interest also. In 1956-57 our imports from Hungary were £325,000 and in 1960-61 they were £558,000. In the same periods exports to Hungary were £45,000 and £329,000 respectively. Imports from North Korea in 1956-57 were nil and in 1960-61 were £1,000. Exports to North Korea in 1956-57 were nil and in 1960-61 £1,909,000. In the same periods imports from Poland were £213,000 and £393,000, and exports £12,553,000 and £7,931,000. These figures indicate quite definitely how Country Party supporters depend on this type of trade to sustain them as other markets contract.
What has the Department of Trade ever done, and what has this Government done, to expand trade with near eastern countries? Indonesia is a new and expanding nation to our north. It is a country with which, I firmly believe, we should establish friendly relations and to which we should extend assistance in very many ways. I was very pleased to read in this morning’s papers that £500,000 is to be contributed by this Government for radio networks to be used at air stations in Indonesia, but I feel that such contributions are paltry and should be far greater. By increasing our assistance we will be able to improve our standing in the eyes of these people and so be in a position to seek more trade with them. There are very definite possibilities for extending our trade with this new nation to our near north. It is a nation of 90,000,000 people, starting on an era of great development. When one reads in official statistical reports that in 1960-61 Indonesia’s purchases from us included only 75 commercial vehicles, negligible quantities of iron and steel plate, and only £300,000 worth of machines and machinery, one realizes that we are missing great opportunities. We should understand that these are the people with whom our future is inextricably connected. These are the people of the new world to whom we must make the greatest contribution, and to whom we must look for the greatest contribution to our future, if this country is to develop. It is absolutely imperative that Australia should establish and maintain good relations with these people. How much better it would be for us if the Government were to make some concrete moves to initiate trade agreements with the peoples of new nations to which we must look if we are to sustain our international trade! In 1960-61, the value of our imports exceeded that of our exports to Malaya by £3,202,000, the value of those exports being £11,993,000 and that of the imports £15,195,000. The value of our imports exceeded that of our exports to Singapore over the same period by £10,329,000, the value of those imports amounting to £1,856,000 and that of the exports £12,185,000. Those are only a few of the instances that can be quoted to illustrate that to our north are the places to which we must look for our future. If we are going to enter these fields to our north it is necessary that we do so on a competitive basis. I do not think we are able to do this in the present circumstances when Australian commodities are exported in foreignowned ships.
The honorable member for Phillip (Mr. Einfeld) described how our trade missions have gone overseas to tell the people of other countries of Australia’s glorious industrialization and development and of our products and output. Those missions have travelled in foreign-owned ships bearing under their nameplates the registration ports of foreign lands. This is ridiculous and denigrates us in the eyes of the countries visited. The Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) was embarrassed when asked by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) to explain why freight rates on the export of steel from Australia to Singapore were 175s. a ton whilst from Great Britain to Singapore, a much longer distance, the freight is 163s. Obviously here is an urgent need for the introduction of a nationally operated overseas shipping line under the control of an authority akin to that which successfully controls Qantas Empire Airways. These things must be done and will have to be done if Australia is to develop and improve its position as it must in the light of developing trends in international trade and if it is going to face the future confidently and successfully.
– by leave - Mr. Speaker, earlier today I said that as soon as I was in a position to give any information I would give to the House information related to a press statement which was the basis of a question asked in the House by the Whip of the Labour Party - a question in which, if I may refresh the memory of the House, the Whip of the Labour Party asked my colleague, the Postmaster-General (Mr. Davidson) -
What were the circumstances in which the Deputy Prime Minister brought pressure to bear on the Postmaster-General or members of his department to have a telephone restored to the premises of a starting price bookmaker in the electorate of the Deputy Prime Minister? Was the Postmaster-General’s unwillingness to assist in investigations into Post Office malpractices in Melbourne due to his concern for the position of his leader in assisting illegal starting price bookmaking? Does he agree with Mr. Justice Taylor that the Deputy Prime Minister should have been told to mind his own business?
That is a lift from a report in last night’s Melbourne “Herald”. I told the House that I had no memory whatever of any incident related to these circumstances, but that I would attempt to have my own files dealing with my electorate correspondence, which are in Melbourne, examined. My colleague, whom I approached, told mc that his files were with the royal commission in Melbourne. I arranged for my filing system in Melbourne to be studied and, dictated over the telephone, is the only letter that I have written in this connexion. It is a letter addressed to a State parliamentarian, the Honorable Percy Feltham, of Shepparton, who is a solicitor. He wrote to me on this case, and I have at this moment no knowledge whether he wrote to me as a parliamentarian or in his capacity as a lawyer. My records show that on 11th December, 1957, I wrote this letter -
Dear Mr. Feltham,
I have received your letter of 27th November, 1957, telling me of the circumstances in which a telephone, Shepparton No. 333, in the name of Mrs. Sophia Alexandratos was disconnected by the Postmaster-General’s Department. 1 shall let you know if there is anything that can be done to help in this case.
Yours sincerely, (sgd.) J. McEwen.
On the carbon copy of that letter my private secretary has typed “ For favour of advice, please. (Sgd.) F. O’Connor, Private Secretary, 11/12/57”. That is the sum total of the representations made by me or on my behalf in this connexion.
– Did you let him know what happened?
– I did not write to the person concerned. In due course the PostmasterGeneral apparently wrote to me and told me that the service had been restored; but the whole of the correspondence in this connexion is with the royal commission in Melbourne.
I add to this a teleprint that I have been furnished with by my colleague the PostmasterGeneral. It is a transcript of something which took place at the royal commission in Melbourne to-day when Dr. Coppel who is appearing at the commission said, inter alia -
What I want to make clear, because I think that those who merely read the newspapers would not appreciate it, is that the decision of the department to reconnect was made in strict accordance with departmental regulations and could not I think fairly be said to have been made by any improper political pressure.
The teleprint continues -
After further statements by both counsel and the commissioner, the commissioner said -
That is the point, is it not: As far as the department was concerned, they regarded what Mr. Alexandratos had done as interference with the telephone service? They had decided to cancel it and were loath to renew it. As to the representations that were made, it appears that all Mr. McEwen did was to pass on something that was sent to him by a State member. The representations were made on behalf of Mrs. Alexandratos against whom as far as interference was concerned the department made no allegation.
The total representations that could be claimed to have been made in my name, I repeat, are contained in the minute made by my private secretary -
The Private Secretary to the PostmasterGeneral:
For favour of advice, please. (F. O’Connor) Private Secretary.
And this becomes the basis of some comment at the royal commission which led the royal commissioner - I am bound to say I think very indiscreetly - to say that I should have been told to mind my own business. It is the duty of every member of Parliament, as we recognize, to convey upon request a representation that is made to him. None of us, on either side of the House, accepts it as his responsibility to verify this. If we support it, then we have that responsibility. If we do not seek to verify it we merely pass it on. I think this is a completely common practice, and perhaps more often than not it is passed on by a secretary - whether private or ministerial. It is a common practice.
It is a bad thing for this country if a royal commissioner will recklessly say that the Deputy Prime Minister should have been told to mind his own business - without any evidence whatever. It is outrageous that the Whip of the Labour Party should frame a quite scurrilous question in this regard. The Sydney “ Sun “ of to-day carries, with tremendous display on the front page, headlines reading -
Bookie’s Political Friends. Deputy Prime Minister McEwen replies in Parliament.
Then on page 2, with black lines, there appears the following: -
Bookie’s Political Friends. McEwen (the Deputy Prime Minister) is questioned in Parliament.
This is accompanied by a photograph of me. And all this is founded on the words, “ For favour of advice, please “. I think it is an outrageous incident, Mr. Speaker. I think I am entitled to an apology from the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie). I certainly think I am entitled to an apology from the Sydney “Sun”.
Sitting suspended from 6.7 to 8 p.m.
In Committee of Supply: Consideration resumed (vide page 1462).
.- I desire to deal briefly with the estimates for the Department of Trade and the Department of Primary Industry, but most of all I want to answer several statements that were made in the chamber earlier to-day. Recently I have been asking whether the Labour Party now favours the Japanese Trade Agreement, and so far I have not been able to get a reply. It will be recalled that a few days ago I read from “ Hansard “ a motion submitted by Dr. Evatt, who was Leader of the Labour Party at the time the measure to ratify that agreement was before the Parliament.
I also read from “ Hansard “ what the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) had said at the time. That seemed to stir the Labour Party up to some degree, and members of the Opposition have been making speeches about the Japanese Trade Agreement. They are more or less trying to say that they are now somewhat in agreement with that commercial arrangement, but they are not willing to admit outright that they were wrong in their attitude at the time the agreement was made and that the agreement has proved of great benefit to Australia. I do not want to take political advantage out of this, for the simple reason that I know every one makes mistakes. I know that I make plenty, and I suppose that even what was sometimes called the “ great Australian Labour Party “ can make a mistake.
– It is now called “ greater “.
– If the honorable gentleman means by that that the Labour Party grates on our nerves from time to time I think he is right. Nevertheless, I think the once-called great Australian Labour Party can make mistakes. It would be a very good thing for the whole of Australia if the Opposition got behind the Government in supporting this agreement. I was rather amazed by the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns). I do not think I have ever known any one who could put on such an act as he did, although perhaps the man on the flying trapeze could do it. To-day he made a speech in which he said that at the time the Japanese Trade Agreement was before this chamber there was no protection for industries that might be affected by imports from Japan.
When the bill was before the House the Minister in charge of it said that special arrangements had been made with Japan to provide that immediately Japanese goods entering this country were adversely affecting our own industry Japan would act to stop these goods from being sent here. Evidently the honorable member for Yarra was not satisfied with that. I do not think he should have been altogether. He did not say to-day that he would support that trade agreement now, but he implied it, and his justification for the change in attitude was that now we had a special advisory authority to which an industry could apply for immediate temporary tariff protection in the case of a threat to it from imports. He said that in that respect the position was not as bad as it was when the agreement was before the Parliament originally for ratification. I remember - but after all one has to have more than just memory in this chamber - that when the legislation establishing the special advisory authority procedure was before the House the honorable member for Yarra spoke largely against it. At the end of a speech at that time he said -
The 1960 emergency measures have failed. The 1962 emergency measures, predominantly the same, are being introduced. What grounds have we to believe that they will be one scrap better.
The 1962 emergency measures to which he referred included the setting up of the Special Advisory Authority. Now the honorable gentleman is saying that he is more or less prepared to support the Japanese Trade Agreement because we now have the special advisory authority procedure in operation. It appears to me that the honorable gentleman has taken two things that he opposed and put them together, and now says that he is in agreement with the result. If we could have anything more fantastic than that I should like to know what it is.
Now take another view of it. Does the honorable gentleman believe that the special advisory authority procedure is operating satisfactorily? He did not say. I do not know whether or not he thinks it is operating satisfactorily. Sometimes we say that people cannot have it both ways. The honorable member for Yarra cannot have it three ways, or one of three ways, because on every one of the three counts he stands condemned1 when judged on logic.
I hope that the member on the Opposition side who follows me in this debate will explain the conflicting attitudes that I have mentioned, because if they are perplexing to members of the Parliament how must they be to the public outside who have no “ Hansard “ report to help them? They must appear baffling indeed to the public, even to supporters of the Labour Party. They must wonder why the Labour Party is still opposing this great trade agreement that has done so much to allow Australia to market satisfactorily millions upon millions of pounds of its primary products which are the very lifeblood of the economy.
I listened to the honorable member for Phillip (Mr. Einfeld). He spoke about the Government’s inactivity in promoting certain things on behalf of Australia.
– Well, that is true, is it not?
– No. He said the Government had applied what is called the “ credit squeeze “. We all know that the so-called credit squeeze was made necessary by the very buoyancy of the economy. The alternative was inflation which, for a start, would have put primary production out of action, after which the whole of the country would have just about folded up. So, I repeat, the very buoyancy of the economy made it necessary to take action. I know that a Jot of people were hurt by the credit restrictions.
– They are still being hurt.
– No. I know that to-day there is great liquidity of finance and that there is confidence in the country. I know that to-day you can make sales and that people are travelling round the country making sales as heretofore. I know that retail sales have risen to a level higher than ever before.
– You know that that is not true.
– I know that it is absolutely true. The Labour Party wants to plant a feeling of depression among the people and the trouble is that people outside who hear or read what members of the Labour Party have to say may react by thinking in these terms: These men are in Parliament and should know what is going on, so things must really be very bad. 1 agree that things were bad, but they are not bad now.
I believe that the best way to stress a point is to give an illustration. There was a man who had a big long tank which he filled with water and divided into two equal parts with a glass partition. On one side of the partition he put a bass - one of those small-mouthed and vicious fish - and on the other side of the partition he put ten or twelve minnows - those small fish of which bass are so fond. As soon as the bass saw the minnows he made for them and hit his head against the glass partition. He kept doing this over a period of three days, and then retired melancholy and beaten. The man then took out the glass partition and the minnows swam round the bass, but the big fish paid no attention to them. He had been sold the proposition that it was not good business to go after the minnows. The Labour Party wants to sell the people a somewhat similar proposition to-day on the basis that business is bad. It wants to promote the idea that things are bad in this country. I say they are doing a great disservice to this great Commonwealth. Cannot wc get together and try to lift up this nation and make it the best nation in the world? I think that should be possible.
The honorable member for Hughes (Mr. L. R. Johnson) spoke about the Commonwealth shipping line and said what a great organization it bad been in the past. If the Government had not got rid of that line it probably would have ruined our whole economy. The honorable member went on to comment that although it is said that a Commonwealth shipping line would not pay, countries all around the world conduct shipping lines successfully. Well, it does not take much ingenuity to answer that. Why do they operate shipping lines successfully? I will tell you. It is simply because certain countries have lower standards of living and wage levels than we have, and their ships are carrying our goods to other countries with high standards of living. The people who work on those vessels do not get the high rates of payment that Australian seamen get. Australian standards being what they are, we can pay these people fairly big money on their standards for freights, and that is why their shipping lines are payable propositions.
Labour speakers are all the time saying that we must have a Commonwealth shipping line, but if such a line were ever established you would find members of the Opposition making inflammatory speeches and unions staging strikes. The seamen working for the Commonwealth shipping line would be on strike and the country would be held to ransom. We have a member of this Parliament who is the president of the Australian Federated Union of Locomotive Enginemen. I do not say that he asked the railwaymen to strike recently in New South Wales and Victoria, but he did not do much to stop them. As a matter of fact, if he was opposed to strikes such as the one that was recently held, he would not be president of that union. He would relinquish his position and say that this country wants service, not strikes.
Some Labour men will ask, “ Why should not people strike if their conditions are not good? “ The conditions of railwaymen in this country are probably better than those of railway workers anywhere else in the world. If these men were downtrodden or were getting very poor pay or were working long hours there might be some justification for their action. But there is no justification for it when we have an arbitration court to which a union can put a case. That is the way to settle these disputes, not by the law of the jungle.
I asked a question yesterday of the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen). Of course Opposition members knew, as soon as the Minister started to answer the question, that he would probably give some information that they did not want to be made available to the public. As a consequence, there was a constant hubbub throughout the time he was answering the question. I will repeat one or two things that he said. He said that when the Labour Government went out of office our exports of coal were exactly nil.
– We were importing coal.
– As the Minister has said by way of interjection, we were importing coal at that time. Last year our coal exports earned £13,000,000. I do not need to remind Victorians of the days when a Labour government was in office, and when coal from New South Wales was needed for heating and power in Victoria. In those days the people were constantly wondering when ships would arrive with the necessary coal, or whether the> would have been loaded with coal at Newcastle and would arrive in time to prevent Victorian cities from suffering from a lack of heating and power. I could also remind the committee of the great coal strike on the New South Wales fields. I do not want to hit the Labour Party too hard, but I must remind honorable members that Mr. Chifley, the leader of what was called the great Australian Labour Party, saw fit to send troops to the fields at that time.
Returning to what the Minister for Trade said, he pointed out that exports of steel increased from £2,000,000 a year when this Government came into office to £38,000,000 last financial year.
I am told that my time is nearly up, but I desire to say this in conclusion: This Government is acting in the best interests of the people. The Opposition is making a poor job of fighting it. There is no life or fire in honorable members opposite. Finally, I ask: If this Government has not been on the right track, why has it won every election since 1949?
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– During his speech this afternoon, the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) referred to a report by the Dairy Industry Committee of Enquiry. He did so, of course, while trying to put a case for the margarine industry. He quoted extensively from that report to show that many of the troubles in the dairying industry were due to inefficiency or indolence. There is no question that the committee did find this was so in respect of, possibly, one-third of the industry. I should have thought that members of the Country Party who claim to represent the dairying industry would have come right in and put a case for the dairy farmers. So far they have failed to do so, and we know very well that they would not wish to be reminded of the circumstances revealed by the report, which was submitted and then carefully suppressed for a long time by the Country Party Minister.
Quite recently the Institute of Agriculture at the University of Western Australia conducted a re-survey of dairy farming in the south-west of Western Australia, and I think, in fairness to dairy farmers, I should read some of the remarks made by the people who made that survey. I have the report before me, and on page 9 are given reasons for the re-survey, including the following:
Dairying in the area surveyed has been the subject of a number of studies, including two Royal Commissions. The general picture to emerge has been that of an industry in which net farm incomes are low and living conditions often sub-standard, despite extensive financial assistance and various forms of government protection.
The major problems identified with the industry have been the limited area of pasture, the dearth of capital for expansion, the difficulties of development arising from the nature of the environment and the low standards of farm management. At the same time it has been recognized by some that: “ the low income farmers . . . lack the means of achieving higher efficiency, not the willingness or capacity.”
– You said they are indolent.
– I said that the committee found that they were indolent. However, the point I wish to make is that the people who conducted this survey in Western Australia found that the low income farmers in many cases do not lack willingness or capacity. As soon as I make that statement and as soon as I try to put a case for the dairy farmers, *Ae members of the Country Party hop in, just as they hopped in when a proposal was before us recently to do something about flood mitigation, and voted against the proposal.
The picture of the dairying industry is a pretty grim one, and proposals were made by the committee of inquiry that the Government has neither sought nor, in my view, thought to implement. The committee said that we have a picture of an industry that enjoys protection to the extent of 47 per cent., and many of these receiving that protection not in fact being entitled to it. The wealthier a farmer is, the more he gets out of this protection. The survey in Western Australia and the investigations conducted by the Dairy Industry Committee of Enquiry demonstrate that this is an industry in which many people are existing on less than the basic wage. What is more, they are working mighty hard for it. One would expect the Country Party to do something for these people. The Dairy Industry Committee of Enquiry found that one-third of the people in the industry who are living on a sub-standard return have no possible hope of making a go of their venture. In arriving at that conclusion the committee had the benefit of visits to 4,000 farms. Those men must be rehabilitated, because as things now stand they have no prospect of ever making a go of their farms.
It may be wondered where the money to rehabilitate them will come from. A nation which, under a Labour government, was able to rehabilitate 1,000,000 ex-service personnel, should be able to rehabilitate the farmers whom the committee decided had no chance of economically operating. Those people should not be left to starve in the industry as the coal-miners have been left to starve. The Country Party should be pleading the cause of these people.
– What is your opinion about margarine?
– I am not prepared to state my opinion about the honorable member for McPherson, because if I did so the Chairman would order me to withdraw my remarks. In the south-western sector of Western Australia - the area covered by the survey to which I have referred - men worked under government supervision to clear their blocks as long ago as 30 years. They worked in places near Nannup and Busselton and only now the Western Australian Government has decided that many of the areas covered by the survey are completely uneconomic and will have to be resumed for re-afforestation. The dairy industry cries out for rationalization. It is an industry that this Government has done nothing to help. Government supporters talk about our overseas earnings. The committee’s report shows that overseas earnings for which the dairy industry was responsible amounted to £126,000,000 over a period of ten years. In each of those ten years we paid £13,500,000 in bounty to that industry. So the plain fact is that we spent £135,000,000 over a ten-year period in order to achieve overseas earnings of £126,000,000. Something must be done about this industry. Those farmers who have no hope of making a decent living must be rehabilitated.
– What are your views on margarine?
– I was on one of the blocks to which I have referred. All that the honorable member for McPherson (Mr. Barnes) has to say about these people is that they are admitted failures - that they never had a hope.
The committee recommended that not only must those who cannot make a go of their farms be rehabilitated but also that something must be done for those who could carry on economically if they were given proper assistance. The committee recommends that financial assistance should be provided by the Commonwealth at an interest rate of 31 per cent What chance have these people of obtaining financial assistance to-day at an interest rate of 3i per cent.? It is well known that they are over-capitalized. The honorable member for Wakefield has suggested that farmers do not receive more than about 2 per cent, return on their capital investment. The dairy industry is an industry in which the farmers are unable to make a living. Only recently we had the spectacle of a Liberal Party Minister throwing open land in the Heytesbury area despite the fact that the committee of inquiry had stated that it would be foolish to open up land in that area. Already settlers in that area are in difficulties. The Liberal Party Minister concerned told them that if they did not like the land they could get out. But when a man has worked hard to clear his land and has some roots in the area it is not easy for him to walk off it and become one of the great army of unemployed. The Country Party should be doing something for these people. It should not be my responsibility to plead their cause. But when we on this side of the chamber attempt to do something for the man on the land we suffer the fate suffered by the honorable member for Cowper (Mr. McGuren) who sought to obtain Commonwealth assistance for flood mitigation work. All we get are jeers and sneers.
The Dairy Industry Committee of Enquiry pointed out that if sales tax were removed from foodstuffs the basic ingredients of which are provided by the dairying industry, a greater amount of those foodstuffs would be consumed locally. The committee has recommended that sales tax on ice cream should be abolished. If that were done consumption of ice cream would probably be doubled. This is a job for the Country Party; it should be seeking these things. It has often been said that if sales tax on foodstuffs were removed the home market would have a greater consuming power than it now has. I note that rather than listen to me expose their shortcomings members of the Country Party are, in the main, absent from the chamber at this moment. That is an indication of what they think about the dairy-farmer. I plead with the Minister for Trade to endeavour to persuade the Government to do something for these impoverished farmers. After all, the Country Party has enormous persuasive powers at present, and it is a shame that it is not using its powers to have something done for these farmers. If only one member of the Country Party had crossed the floor of the House we would now have well under way on the north coast of New South Wales a scheme of flood mitigation. The ringleaders in the Country Party who ensured that nothing was done about flood mitigation are the honorable member for McPherson and the honorable member for Richmond (Mr. Anthony). Shame on them for the way in which they attempt to deceive the farmers.
The dairy industry badly need’s assistance - all the more so now in the light of the threat of the Common Market. This is a job for the Country Party.
.- The obscure honorable member who has just resumed his seat received admiring looks from the honorable member for Cowper (Mr. McGuren) for something he said about the dairy industry. He said that the report of the Dairy Industry Committee of Enquiry stated that dairy-farmers were indolent. I do not know why the honorable member for Cowper, who seeks to speak in this place for the dairy-farmers, was casting such admiring looks at his colleague, because if the newspapers in the electorate of Cowper quoted that statement as something which should gain support from the Labour Party I know what would happen to Che honorable member. Of course the report did not say that the dairy-farmers were indolent. Some crackpot professor made the remark in evidence before the committee. Apparently the honorable member who has just walked out of the chamber thinks that this was an attack on some one. Who was the attack upon? If it was an attack upon the Government, we can take it. If it was an attack upon the dairy industry, I deny the charge because there are no harder working people than those engaged in the dairy industry. The best people in the Labour Party will recognize that.
If the statement was an attack upon the Government, let us compare this Government’s record with that of the Labour Party when in office. In 1945 and 1947 the Chifley Government’s Prices Commissioner, Professor Copland, refused two well-based applications for an increase in the price of butter on the most ridiculous grounds. In the first case he said: “ Good seasons are coming; all the men will be coming back from the front and there will be plenty of wire netting and superphosphate “. He was a prophet. Two years later he refused the second application because the cost structure was based on two bad seasons. Thus two completely different reasons were given for refusing the applications.
When the Menzies Government came into power the butter-producer for the first time received some assistance and recognition from the price structure. The Labour Party not only wanted to keep the dairy- farmer in subjection but also wanted to make his wife and children work too. That is the answer to the honorable member who claims that dairy-farmers are indolent.
Let us look at something else which the Labour Party did to the dairy industry. The New South Wales Labour Government gave an undertaking to restrict margarine production to a certain figure. In Australia 44,000 lb. of margarine were manufactured. Corruptly and improperly the New South Wales Labour Government allowed the quota to be broken. When the now Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) appeared for Marrickville Margarine-
– Mr. Chairman, I rise to order. I take objection to the honorable member for Macarthur referring to alleged corrupt activities by the New South Wales Government.
– Order! There is no substance in the point of order.
– There is no substance in the point of order? Then I call the honorable member for Macarthur a corrupt member of this Parliament.
– Order! The committee should come to order. There is no power within the Chair to protect a government outside this Parliament, but I remind the honorable member for Barton that there is power within the Chair to protect members of this Parliament. The honorable member for Macarthur will proceed.
– Mr. Chairman, I wish to raise a point of order. Is it in order for a member of the Country Party who believes in free enterprise to refer to restrictions?
– Order! There is no substance in the point of order.
– Of course, there now will be a succession of points of order taken by the Opposition to prevent this coming out. Let the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) listen to this: Marrickville Margarine in New South Wales deliberately produced over its quota and the Department of Agriculture had to be induced to prosecute this firm. When I was interrupted I was saying that the now Attorney-General and the now Deputy Leader of the Opposition appeared for Marrickville Margarine and asked for the file to be produced by the New South Wales Department of Agriculture. Of course, the file was not produced, has never been produced and can never be produced because it hides corruption. The honorable member who preceded me had the gall to stand here and say that dairy farmers are indolent and that the Government has done nothing for them notwithstanding that his own party has made it possible for 20,000 lb. of butter to be displaced from the market by corrupt handling of the margarine quota. The proof of this is in the report of the court case. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition will remember his appearance for Marrickville Margarine before Mr. Denton, S.M. This is the truth, so God help the dairy farmers when a Labour government takes over because they will be put back into the position they occupied in 1945 and 1947!
There was also a sneer and a sniping attack on the industry because of something called government protection, but if this aspect is studied it will be seen that the rural industries receive protection at the rate of lj per cent, and the manufacturing industries at the rate of 3i per cent. In addition, the bulk of the manufacturing industries are selling on the ready domestic market while rural industries must export. The dairy farmer must sell his surplus overseas.
I want to continue on that aspect for a moment. The British Government has set a quota on Australian butter of 62,000 tons. We have been in the habit of selling much more than that to the United Kingdom. Already the effect of the negotiations for Britain’s entry into the Common Market is being felt by the dairy industry, and this year it is estimated that about 1 0,000 tons of butter will have to be diverted elsewhere.
Yesterday morning the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen), in probably the most devastating answer ever given to a question in this House and in probably the most devastating attack ever made on the Labour Party with its weak, ineffectual and inexperienced sniping, pointed out that due to the tremendous energy of his departmental officers, and of the Government, the whole pattern of trade is now changing. Threefifths of our exports are going to the Pacific area - to America, to the east, and to the north. The dairy industry, which is under attack by honorable members opposite with their sneering and their sniping, has a sense of very great achievement because at present there are not less than five large re-combined milk plants installed in SouthEast Asia - in Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Rangoon and the Philippines. In fact, the drive of the Minister for Trade and his officers, as well as of the Australian Government, is so great that Australia has led the move into South-East Asia. The eyes of the world are upon this market and Australia has scored a victory by getting in first. The whole of the plant for the milk factories, the whole of the butter oil, the whole of the sugar and the whole of the skim milk powder will be exported by Australia to these five great plants in SouthEast Asia.
Why are the eyes of the world upon South-East Asia? Population growth in the world is so great that in the next 30 to 38 years the rate of growth of the population of South-East Asia will equal the rate of growth in the previous 2,000 years. In other words, the world population will have risen from 3,000,000,000 to 6,000,000,000. The Americans, the Belgians and the Finns have raced to get into this market upon which the eyes of the world are focused. Australia has won the race.
The honorable member who preceded me made some impossible and deplorable remarks about this industry which the Labour Party is attacking. It never was an inefficient industry but it has been called that by members of the Labour Party because they want to keep it in servitude. By its own efforts and by an increase in efficiency the dairy industry has made a tremendous move forward. Labour wants trade unionists to have cheap food. The dairy industry, having been given a subsidy of £2,000,000 by the Labour Government, in the first place, is now stuck with it and cannot do away with it because of its present cost structure. The industry never wanted the subsidy in the first place, and now cannot get rid of it. During the war, when the Japanese were threatening Australia, amidst all the crisis and emotion of those days, the Labour Government proposed the subsidy and it was agreed to. We shall live to regret the day when the subsidy was introduced by the Labour Government. As I have said, Mr. Chairman, we are now stuck with it and it must go on.
One Opposition speaker said that no effect is being given to the recommendations in the report of the Dairy Industry Committee of Enquiry. Let me tell him that the industry itself, without government interference, regimentation or tyranny, and without any bureaucratic direction, is attending to the matter with great success and with a great sense of achievement.
A few minutes ago, I mentioned that the Minister for Trade had yesterday, in answer to a question, told us about the drive by this Government to expand Australia’s export trade. Everybody in this place and the people who listened to him on the radio were entranced by the story told by this man who has directed the Department of Trade with great energy. That is a great department. It has broken through red tape and abandoned stereotyped replies to inquiries directed to it. It has really gone all out to develop our great export trade and the industries on which it depends. We might find the equal of the present Minister for Trade among men whom he has trained, but we can never replace him with any one who can do a better job for us. The history of Australia’s trade in this period, when it is written, will tell how the present Minister has established a great department and given Australia’s export trade a tremendous boost. All Australians are grateful for this, and it is time members of the Australian Labour Party recognized that the present Minister has done a great deal for Australia. He worked tirelessly throughout the months of the earlier negotiations over the European Common Market proposals and, on his return to Australia, moved so gracefully off the centre of the stage and handed over to the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), who dealt with the political aspects of the matter. The Minister for Trade has worked day and night - night after night until midnight - for the people of Australia so that this country may have the benefit of the great trade which we have developed.
An honorable member on the opposite side of the chamber said earlier that the dairy farmers were indolent and that something should be done about them. He said that we ought to help the dairy industry. The estimates for the Department of Primary Industry, which we are discussing now, provide a few illustrations of the assistance that this Government is giving the dairy industry as well as other primary industries. These estimates include provision for £250,000 for dairy industry extension grants, £300,000 for agricultural advisory services, £200,000 for wheat research, £25,000 for the tobacco industry, £1 1,000 for the barley industry and £25,000 for minor research in various fields. Under special appropriations, £50,000 is provided for canned fruit sales promotion, £380,000 for cattle and beef research, £280,000 for dairy produce research, £260,000 for dairy produce sales promotion, £150,000 for research in the tobacco industry, £200,000 for wheat research, £1,500,000 for wool research and £2,500,000 for wool us» promotion. All of these amounts will be matched by similar sums contributed by the industries concerned for research, sales promotion and modern methods of merchandising for the presentation of their respective goods to prospective buyers both in Australia and overseas.
Mr. Eric Roberts, of Victoria, a very great man, who is Chairman of the Australian Dairy Produce Board, and Mr. Hedley Clark, who is in charge of promotion on behalf of the board, are working to present Australia’s dairy products to the people of Asia in a way which will not offend the religious susceptibilities of Asians of various religious beliefs. All sorts of difficulties have to be overcome, but these men are overcoming them.
Let us pay tribute, too, Sir, to the men who have led various Australian groups on trade promotion trips overseas - the men like Mr. Warren McDonald, Mr. Donald Mackinnon and the honorable member for Darling Downs (Mr. Swartz), who is now Minister for Repatriation, and many other men, who have given Australia yeoman service. They have gone abroad and made, strenuous efforts to dig into the markets available. They have presented Australian goods abroad in an effective manner and have won large orders by their efforts. This is typical of the trade promotion work being undertaken, and, at a time when the conditions of world trade generally are causing considerable anxiety to many countries, Australian trade has gone ahead by leaps and bounds. Had the Australian Labour Party been in office, however, Australian trade would have been killed by high costs and high shipping freights.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– Mr. Chairman, with your indulgence I may wish to make a personal explanation. I happened to hear the honorable member for Macarthur refer to me in connexion with a court case some years ago. 1 ask: Did he mention the other counsel engaged in the case?
– Mr. Chairman, do the forms of this place permit me to answer the question?
– The Deputy Leader of the Opposition, apparently, was absent from the chamber and did not hear what happened. I shall repeat what I said. It can be checked in “ Hansard “ to-morrow. I said that Marrickville Margarine Proprietary Limited had provoked the New South Wales Department of Agriculture to prosecute it in the courts, and that counsel who appeared were none other than the present Attorney-General, Sir Garfield Barwick, and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition will remember quite clearly those circumstances.
– Yes, we were briefed together.
– Afterwards, I shall give him a copy of the relevant volume of the law reports from the Parliamentary Library so that he can refresh his memory, if he wishes.
– There is no need. 1 already have it.
By way of personal explanation, Sir, the honorable gentleman could well have completed the recital of the names of the distinguished team in the case by mentioning that it also included the gentlemen who are now Mr. Justice Macfarlan and Judge Cameron-Smith.
.- Mr. Chairman, some of the observations made by the honorable member for Macarthur (Mr. Jeff Bate) on some vital matters need answering. He has just made a very erratic speech. I want to clear up most definitely, first, the accusation that he levelled ait the honorable member for Darebin (Mr. Courtnay), who preceded him in the debate. The honorable member for Macarthur said that the honorable member for Darebin had stated that the dairy farmers of Australia were indolent. The honorable member for Darebin had said nothing of the kind. He bad quoted the opinion of a professor, which was given in the report of the Dairy Industry Committee of Enquiry. The professor had made that statement about the Australian dairymen. I suggest that the honorable member for Macarthur ought to apologize to the honorable member for Darebin for having charged that honorable member with saying something that he had not said.
The honorable member for Macarthur stated that the Chifley Government had given £2,000,000 to help the dairy industry. The amount was really £17,000,000. I was a member of the Parliament at the time when the money was provided for the industry, whereas the honorable member for Macarthur was still milking the cows on his dairy farm. In that matter, too, he was wrong. I should like to mention, too, the margarine issue, which has been discussed to-day. The New South Wales Parliament has passed legislation, which is being implemented at present, to control the manufacture of margarine in New South Wales.
On the subject of flood mitigation, the honorable member for Macarthur had something to say to the honorable member for Cowper (Mr. McGuren) - a new member who has won the seat for the Australian Labour Party for the first time in history.
– He is a very good member, too.
– He is a splendid member and he very effectively represents that rural electorate, Mr. Chairman. Flood mitigation works on the north coast of New South Wales would prevent the complete loss of a year’s production by the dairy farmers there once every four years on the average. A flood mitigation scheme on the Clarence River system would save the dairy farmers of the region the total loss of a year’s production once every four years - a loss that they have been sustaining for many years. The losses in milk production alone in the Clarence River area have totalled £2,500,000 over ten years. Yet Government supporters have the nerve to twit the honorable member for Cowper on his battle to obtain federal assistance for flood mitigation projects on this vital river system. Last week the honor’able member for Cowper introduced a motion directing the Government’s attention to this issue. When the vote was taken members on the Government side from the area concerned voted against the motion. I would say that is a classical illustration of hypocrisy.
– Order! I remind the honorable member for Wilmot, who has commented on how long he has been a member, that he should be aware of the Standing Orders. He has no right to canvass or to mention things that happened during the debate on a previous motion connected with the Estimates.
– With due respect to you, Mr. Chairman, the margarine issue has been mentioned since we returned to the subject of trade. However, that was all that I wished to say in answer to the erratic statements of the honorable member for Macarthur.
When the Opposition becomes the Government, after the next general election, the issue of the United Kingdom’s entry into the European Common Market will become a challenge to us, just as it is now a challenge to the present Government. It will be a tremendous challenge to this country to make good the loss of about £130,000,000 worth of markets for primary products in Europe. The emphasis in this debate - and rightly so - has been on the need to boost our exports of primary products to new markets after the old markets are lost or cut in half. The factors affecting this important issue are six, in my opinion. These factors affect the success or otherwise of our battle to make good the loss of £130,000,000 worth of trade with Europe.
First, we have to examine the type of product that we are going to sell in new Asian markets. Secondly, we have to revolutionize the packaging of our exports. At Deloraine in my electorate in Tasmania a company has just installed a very expensive plant from Germany to produce butter oil for distribution to the Asian market. I commend the action of that firm in importing this revolutionary machinery so that butter may be sold in a form more suitable to the Asian market.
Thirdly, we have to sell our products to the Asian countries. This calls for good salesmanship. There must be constant pressure from private industry and from government departments to sell our goods in those areas. Fourthly, the demand for our products has to be stimulated. We shall be going into what is largely a rice area where rice is the staple diet, and we have to encourage the Asian people to eat our product. It is difficult to sell bread to a man who is an eater of rice. We have to show the Asian people the value of our product and, in other ways, encourage them to eat our product, to wear the clothes that we produce and to use our industrial plant in their new industries. This is a colossal job which cannot be done in a year or two. To change a nation’s attitude to clothes, food and industry would take, perhaps, seven years. It is interesting to note that in Japan there is a definite change in diet. The Japanese are using more and more of our cereal products for food.
The fifth factor affecting our battle for new markets is transport, and this is probably the key to the whole situation. Shipping has become our problem. We have seen the tragedy of our dependence on overseas shipping lines to carry Australian products overseas. We are the only exporting nation that has not its own shipping line. Even Japan has its own shipping line. It does not depend on overseas shipping.
– What do you mean by “ even Japan “? Japan builds ships at lower prices than we build them, and runs them for less.
– I know that Japan built 325 ships last year, and is now ahead of Britain. It is time that the Minister for
Shipping and Transport (Mr. Opperman) really did something for this country and started to establish an Australian overseas shipping line. All he is doing is to pour money into the pockets of overseas shipping companies.
– You do not know anything about the economics of the matter.
– I know quite a lot about it. The economics angle can be overcome. I was in this Parliament before you were, and I have been advocating this procedure since this Government has been in office.
– Order! I suggest, again, that the committee come to order, and allow the honorable member to make his speech on his own, without any assistance.
– Overseas markets can be won, but the extent of our victory will be dependent on our ability to get the goods to the markets as quickly as possible. There is a reference in “ Muster “, of 14th March, which is interesting in this respect.
– Is that the one that has the recipe for margarine?
– Leave margarine out of this. I propose to quote what the chairman of the Commonwealth Banking Corporation, Mr. Warren D. McDonald, said after he returned recently from leading a trade mission to the Middle East. He is reported as follows: -
I have emphasized one weakness. Here is another weakness in that we lack a regular shipping service to ports other than those in Asia. Trade with the Middle East is suffering because we have not a regular shipping service to exploit potential markets in that area.
I wrote to the Minister for Shipping and Transport earlier this year about the possibility of refrigeration for our overseas ships sailing to Asian markets. In a letter of 26th July he replied as follows: -
If conversion were undertaken it could only be at very heavy expense and would result in providing on each ship about 90,000 cubic feet of space for refrigerated goods, equivalent to about 1,000 tons of average cargo. In a 6,000 ton ship this is obviously uneconomic, and experience shows that little other cargo, if any is available. There are, moreover, regular sailings by ships of a number of overseas companies, many with refrigerator space, to ports in South-East Asia.
My reason for raising this subject was that we had goods we could sell to Asia if we had more refrigerated space.
The Minister’s letter continued -
Four sailings from Tasmanian ports for SouthEast Asian ports between June 25th and August 9th have been noted, all by vessels which carry refrigerated cargo. It would appear from an examination of these facts that existing services are adequate and provide room for their expansion.
If events should prove that the growth of trade demands a fresh appraisal of services to the region, I will be happy to have the Australian National Line examine the proposal again.
– That is the most sensible thing you have read to-night.
– That is the most sensible thing that you have written for a long time. You have agreed to look at this matter again if the present shipping services cannot provide the space needed.
The sixth important factor is the influence of freight charges. The following report appeared in the “Australian Financial Review” in September: -
Freight rates quoted by the Australian Malayan Shipping Conference were effectively keeping Australian exporters out of important South-East Asian markets, Mr. R. Burn, manager of fertilizer manufacturer George Shirley Pty. Ltd., said yesterday.
He said: “ Sulphuric acid, for example, can be landed by Japanese exporters for ?28 a ton in Singapore. This includes freight. “ But the conference offered us a staggering ?25 a ton freight rate, which is virtually equal to the full landed price of the competing Japanese product.”
Mr. Burn also said
The problem confronting us in the charter field lies with the fact that we would have to shift about 5,000 tons, or a full cargo, when we have not yet worked our way into the market.
That is important. How can these men try to get into a new market if they have to find 5,000 tons of goods to fill a whole ship? They have only a small market at the start and yet they have been kept out of this market by high freight rates being charged by the Australia-Malaya shipping conference.
These are just a few illustrations of the battles and problems before us, and I do not think this Government is handling these problems with any degree of initiative or any degree of adventure. Freights have gone up heavily in the United Kingdom-Continent conference lines, too. In 1955 they went up 7i per cent.; in 1957, 14 per cent.; in 1958 they went up between 7 per cent, and 31 per cent, on exports; and last year, between 5 per cent, and 7i per cent. This is what is going on with the British conference lines, this monopoly of shipowners who meet and decide their own freights. There is no competition at all. Twenty-two shipping companies form the conference lines and they decide what freights they will charge. As freight rates increase, so our producers are hit, and we lose our markets on the other side.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
Proposed votes agreed to.
Department of Territories.
Proposed Vote, ?514,000.
Proposed Vote, ?9,239,200.
Proposed Vote, ?5,675,400.
Proposed Vote, ?51,000.
Proposed Vote, ?20,201,000.
Proposed Vote, ?40,300.
Proposed Vote, ?100.
– Mr. Chairman, I wish to speak on the estimates for the Department of Territories in connexion with the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. I am very disappointed that greater encouragement has not been given to the native co-operative system than has been the case since this Government came into office at the end of 1949. The Chifley Government, under the able administration of the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward), who was then Minister for External Territories, did a considerable amount of good work in the establishment of the co-operative system. Unfortunately, this Government has not encouraged the co-operative movement to assume the important role that was originally planned for it in the economy of the territory.
Dr. Murray Groves, who is the senior lecturer in anthropology at the Auckland University at the present time, and who spent many years of his childhood and of his adult life in Papua and New Guinea, said in his Chifley Memorial Lecture this year that the New Guinea administrative machine reflected the Menzies Government’s preoccupation with European commercial and industrial enterprises. The Menzies Government, said Dr. Groves, wanted to see bigger and better European industries, but saw no need for large and powerful Papuan-owned and Papuan-controlled business corporations. To use Dr. Groves’s own words, referring to the Minister for Territories -
While he himself holds the godlike power of which he speaks, he will uphold the economic status quo: what is good for Burns Philp, Steamships Trading Company, and the white coffee planters of the New Guinea Highlands is good for all the people of Papua and New Guinea.
Actually the Government has, in effect, partnered these interests that Dr. Groves mentioned in their strangulation of the cooperatives. I cite, for example, one small instance at Goroka. I visited Goroka two years ago and learned from people with whom I talked that the district officer, during the currency of this Government’s reign, had issued an instruction that native coffeegrowers were no longer to be given the right to purchase through the Administration the little machines that are used to dehusk - if I may use that word for want of a better one - the raw coffee beans. The natives were compelled to buy these little machines from retail traders and were, as a result, forced to pay considerably more for them than they would have paid had the Chifley Government’s policy of buying the machines and selling them at cost price been continued. That is just one example. The attitude of the authorities was, “We will make these native coffee-growers buy their coffee machines from the local retailers so that the retailers can get their pound of flesh the same as any one else “. Why must the Government do these things? The previous system was costing the Government nothing, nor was it costing the taxpayer one single penny. Surely the Government could have continued the Chifley Government’s policy of buying goods that were necessary to enable the native farmers to carry out their work, and letting the natives have them at cost price. But no, the system had to be cut out. No doubt that was a consequence of pressure brought to bear upon the district officer at Goroka to force the native growers to buy from the local stores.
We know that one of the reasons that the co-operatives have not flourished in New Guinea in the way they should have flourished is the overcharging that is engaged in by the wholesalers in New Guinea. Burns Philp, Steamships Trading Company and W. R. Carpenter and Company want to kill all retail competition with their own retail stores, and since they are the only people who can supply the co-operatives on a wholesale basis, they are in the fortunate and unique position of being able virtually to destroy the co-operatives if they want to do so. This has occurred to such an extent that only the very large co-operatives have continued to exist, and even they have not had the increasing turnover that they should have been able to show in recent years. In fact, if one looks at the figures one finds that the turnover, far from increasing at a rapid rate, has been gradually declining. In this respect it is as well, I think, for me to quote once again from the Chifley Memorial Lecture by Dr. Murray Groves -
Co-operative societies and rural progress societies, the major agents of change in the Papuan sector of the economy, have not fulfilled their promise.
What Dr. Groves, an anthropologist, was trying to say was that the co-operatives afforded one of the most magnificent means of teaching the natives to govern themselves and look ofter their own interests. As he pointed out, the co-operatives have not given the very good results that one would have hoped for. Dr. Groves continued -
The co-operative society record is singularly unimpressive.
That is under the Menzies Government -
Between 1956 and 1961, total capital investment in co-operatives increased from £333,689 to only £531,224, which is a very small fraction of the capital invested in European enterprises. In the san-e period total turnover increased very little indeed, from £1,002,965 in 1956 to only £1,181,909 in 1961. Of this turnover, retail trade accounted for about half, and sales of copra accounted for almost all of the balance. The copra industry was well established among
Papuans long before the war, when there were also many retail trade stores. The co-operative movement has done little more than appropriate some of the retail trade and some of the copra trade previously handled by private traders. Cooperatives have not significantly helped to develop the Papuan sector of the economy: they have merely diverted transactions from one set of trade stores to another.
The Australian Labour Party declared unequivocally in paragraph 12 of its 1961 conference statement of policy on New Guinea, that it would establish -
Government owned and operated warehouses to supply native co-operative retail stores and to generally operate in active competition with all existing warehouses.
The Labour Party’s policy in this regard is the only answer to the problem and the only way that native co-operatives have any opportunity to compete with the machinations of Burns Philp and Company Limited. This is the only way in which the native co-operative system can be established. It is the way in which the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward), when Minister for External Territories, hoped it would be possible ‘ to establish the system. As Dr. Murray Groves has said, the co-operatives could make a tremendous contribution towards equipping the New Guineans for self-government. One has only to look at what is happening in New Guinea to realize that we have to do more than we are now doing for the native co-operative system. Labour’s policy, as declared by its last federal conference, states -
Enough finance and other necessary forms of assistance should be made available for the establishment and development of native land settlement co-operatives and co-operatives for the treatment, milling, shipping and marketing of native produce.
When I was in New Guinea I learned that 18.000 acres of beautiful land in the Markham Valley had that week been leased to none other than Bulolo Gold Dredging Limited. This is a foreign-owned company which came into the Territory for the purpose of dredging gold. Instead of using this 18,000 acres of available land for the establishment of a native cattle-raising co-operative the authorities handed it over to this company for a period of 50 years. The company was not charged a penny for this 18,000 acres of land, and all that it has to pay is a miserable 6d. an acre rent each year. Over the whole 50-year period, that rental will amount to only £2 10s. an acre. That is the kind of thing this Government should be stamping out instead of encouraging, because while the Government continues to shut its eyes to this kind of manipulation by people of this sort and while local authorities are recommending transactions of this kind to be adopted by the Government, we will never be in a position to say we are doing all we can for the native people of New Guinea.
It is all very well for the Government to say it will not allow any alienation of native land until it is satisfied that the land will not be required for the native population. How can the Government give a lease of 50 years, or in some cases 99 years - there are two types of lease in the Territory, the 99-year lease and the 50-year lease - and still say that it conscientiously believes it can guarantee that the natives will not require the land during the full term of the lease? The Labour Party is opposed to any further alienation of native land. In our policy declaration made by the federal conference we stated in paragraph 4 -
No further alienation of native land. No new lease of land shall be for a longer period than five years.
We cannot faithfully carry out our obligation to safeguard the future land requirements of the people of New Guinea if we give land to overseas investors for periods longer than five years. To grant a lease for 50 years is absurd and the granting of leases for 99 years is scandalous, and should not be tolerated.
I turn now to another aspect of New Guinea life for which this Government has to take some responsibility. The Chifley Labour Government established a coastal shipping service in New Guinea, the idea being that eventually not only would there be a shipping service from one coastal port of New Guinea to another but also a service carrying trade and commerce between New Guinea and Australia in governmentowned ships operating not for profit but for the benefit of the New Guinea people. But this Government, at the first opportunity - not long after it took office - decided to sell that shipping line which had been established by the Commonwealth Government in the days of the late Mr. Chifley.
The Labour Party has formed a determined policy in relation to shipping. Paragraph 11 of our declaration of policy on New Guinea states that an Australian Labour government will be pledged to introduce -
Government-owned and operated shipping services, including a coastal shipping service in active competition with all existing shipping services.
Until that is done we have no hope of meeting and properly discharging our obligation to the people of New Guinea. I believe Australia will ignore these examples of exploitation and maladministration at her peril. I believe that some members in this chamber will live to see the day when they will regret their indifference to the present social discrimination in New Guinea and their indifference to the injustice which is allowed to exist there. Paragraph 14 of the Labour Party’s policy declaration on New Guinea makes it perfectly clear that we are opposed to all ‘forms of economic, social or political discrimination against members of the native population. No one can help Australia by pretending that all is well in New Guinea. We have to treat the New Guineans as ordinary people.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– The honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) concluded his speech by saying that nobody was helping New Guinea by proving that all was well there. I counter that statement by saying that no one is helping New Guinea by proving that all is foul there. This chamber has become accustomed to the fact that whenever the honorable member for Hindmarsh rises to speak on this subject his whole purpose seems to be to prove that Australia is rotten and that it is a land of exploiters which is engaging in probably the greatest colonial failure of all times. I believe that honorable members on both sides of the chamber who have paid closer attention to New Guinea than the member for Hindmarsh has will know that Australia, under the present Government and governments of the opposite colour, has achievements to her credit of which she can well be proud. It is not our purpose to prove that everything in New Guinea is perfect; but we are doing an honorable job there in an honorable way. As the honorable member for Hindmarsh proceeded, he seemed to be trying to suggest that recent decisions by the Australian Labour Party were in some way vitally different from the policies that the Menzies Government has been carrying out in New Guinea over the past twelve years. There is no vital difference between them.
What the honorable member says is the policy of the Labour Party on racial discrimination is no different from the policy which we profess and which we have zealously carried out in trying to end racial discrimination in New Guinea. What the honorable member said about giving economic opportunity to the people is the policy which, on behalf of the Australian people and with a great deal of support from honorable members opposite, we have carried out during recent years. The honorable member mentioned various measures for the encouragement of local government in New Guinea. That is a policy which we have carried out, I believe, with the support of honorable members on both sides of the chamber. I have always hoped, with a good foundation on faith that it was so, that there is a two-party policy for the advancement of the educational, social, economic and political welfare of the people of New Guinea. One of the very few exceptions to that profession that I make is always illustrated by the speeches made by the honorable member for Hindmarsh trying to prove that we are not engaged in an Australian enterprise but are engaged in some sort of mean, petty, partisan enterprise, and that it is something which should divide this country instead of being one of the great areas on which the country should unite. [Quorum formed.]
When the quorum was called I was making a few brief remarks in reply to the honorable member for Hindmarsh. I do not want to dwell on his speech because I think that the speech itself comes from a very doubtful quarter and is based on doubtful evidence. There is only one comment I want to make before resuming the main text of my speech in introducing these estimates. He referred to the work of cooperatives. The fact is that when this Government took office the idea of cooperatives had been voiced but there were none in existence. They had been proposed and thought of as a useful means of promoting the economic advance of the people. We agreed with that, and under us, from an anual turnover that did not exist at all, the anual turnover of co-operatives in the hands of the native people has advanced to more than £1,000,000 a year. In our co-operative training schools, which are still being pushed ahead with great energy year by year, the native people are being trained in co-operative methods and the officials, storemen, clerks and managers of the co-operative enterprises are being trained for that work. But the point I want to make is this: That as the people progress we are finding that there is need for a greater diversity of economic methods than is presented by co-operative societies alone.
In certain communities, particularly communities where they have the problem of raising capital or where they have the problem of getting skill in management, the cooperative is the perfect practical instrument. They can pool their limited resources - their £5 per head - and have the capital with which to engage in enterprises. If they are not capable of running anything themselves in a co-operative society they can engage a storeman, a clerk or a manager who will run it for them, and we value the co-operatives as the perfect instrument in certain circumstances. But as the people of the Territory are advancing, and administrative methods are advancing, we are using other methods as well as co-operatives, and to-day you will find in the Territory indigenous people who are planters and contractors - self-employed persons in their own right - carrying on their own businesses, raising their own capital, employing their own labour, and preferring that method to taking part in the co-operative activity in the Territory.
You will also find in the local governing councils people who are sufficiently advanced now to do their own borrowing through conventional financial institutions with the backing of a guarantee from the Government, and raising their capital and managing their own enterprises. But per- haps the finest testimony of the way in which the indigenous people are sharing in the economic advancement of the Territory is the fact that at a time when the crop exports of the Territory have been growing very rapidly the indigenous people. instead of having no share in these exports, as was the case only a few years ago, are responsible for producing at least a quarter of the exports of copra and at least one-third of the exports of cocoa and coffee. They are significant people in the total picture of production in the Territory. They are not doing that mainly through co-operatives; they are doing it just the same as we might do it in our own society through individual enterprise, with people becoming farmers or growers and engaging in work on their own account on land that they own.
I do not want to spend the whole of the time available to me, or to occupy the time of honorable members in answering the honorable member for Hindmarsh. I was moved to do so because I think that many of the things that he said were unfounded and not in the best interests of Australia. What I wanted to do, at the outset, was to say something, very briefly, by way of introduction of the estimates of the Department of Territories, and then to refer to a single subject. The estimates for the Australian Territories cover so wide a range of activities that it would not be possible to deal adequately with even a few of the items during the time available. I therefore propose simply to direct the attention of the House to the various divisions of the estimates under discussion and to confine my remarks to one subject - higher education in Papua and New Guinea. The fact that I select this subject does not mean that I undervalue the importance of many other activities that come under my administration.
Some weeks ago I distributed to all honorable members “ Notes on the Budget “ to assist them in their examination of the estimates for the Northern Territory and Papua and New Guinea. The expenditure for the Department of Territories centred in Canberra comes under Division 375 and £354,000 is provided for what might be called central office expenses. Expenditures for the Northern Territory come chiefly under Divisions 750, 751, 756, 971, 974 and 975 and provide a total of, in round figures, £14,000,000, compared with less than £7,000,000 five years ago and £3,000,000 ten years ago. The vote for the Territory of Papua and New
Guinea appears as a single-line entry under Division 786 and, as honorable members know, the grant of £20,000,000 for this year will be added to local Territory revenue of £8,600,000 and local loan raisings of £900,000 to give a total budget for the Territory of £29,580,000. There is an additional item in Division 991, namely £367,000 for loans to ex-servicemen in agricultural enterprises, including loans to native ex-servicemen, so we can round off the total provision for the Territory this year at about £30,000,000. Only five years ago it was little more than £15,000,000 and ten years ago £7,000,000. Thus from the figures that I have given it can be seen that in the two large Territories expenditure has been doubled every five years.
In referring to the subject of higher education in Papua and New Guinea I wish to correct some misconceptions. Ever since I became Minister, education has shared top priority with health and agricultural extension work. The Administration of the Territory has been asked to ensure that it has had that priority. The Government has never undervalued the importance of education as an instrument in the advancement of a people.
Sometimes commentators talk of the advancement of the people of Papua and New Guinea as though advancement is something that can be delivered like a parcel. Advancement comes as the result of changes that take place in the people themselves. It is the miracle of growth; not a feat of sudden magic.
This change in the people is promoted and assisted in many ways. In all our efforts in the schools we have to recognize that the people are also being educated in a great number of other ways. When the agricultural extension officer introduces a new crop or a new method of cultivation; when a medical assistant brings hygiene practices to a village; when the patrol officer checks fighting, people are being educated just as they are educated in a school. I mention this fact because, very early in my term as Minister, in a direction given to the Administration on the subject of education policy, I particularly stressed the interrelationship between all phases of Administration activity, and the need to ensure the closest possible relationship between the
Department of Education and the other departments of the Administration, both so that they would have common aims and so that they would progress hand in hand and not in conflict with one another. That direction, of course, still stands.
Another point I made in this early ministerial direction and one which I think to be still of considerable importance is that there is a need for a good deal of flexibility both in curricula and teaching methods. I said in my earlier instruction: “ What is done by the Education Department must be constantly and carefully adjusted to go hand in hand with the changes that are taking place in the various parts of the Territory and must pay regard to the fact that these changes are not occurring uniformly throughout the Territory “.
With these qualifications in mind, the work of the Education Department may be planned differently at one time from the way in which it will be planned at another time. Eight or nine years ago, having regard to the situation in the Territory at that time and the limits of our capacity to do everything at once, the immediate tasks of the Education Department were set as follows: -
The Administration has come a long way, in face of considerable difficulties, in achieving these tasks. It will continue with those tasks. The enrolments in native primary schools conducted by the Administration increased from 1,129 in 1947 to 4,058 in 1952 and to 33,235 this year. The greater part of primary education in the Territory is provided in mission schools, whose enrolments have increased from 131,020 in 1952 to an estimated 168,000 this year. Just to state the enrolments in mission schools does not give an accurate statement of the progress that has been made, however, as the most significant contribution made by the missions has been to raise the standard of instruction provided in their schools. This may best be shown by enrolment figures in registered and recognized mission schools, that is to say, schools, conducted by the missions, which meet the standards required by the Department of Education. These have increased from 27,390 in 1958, to an estimated 88,000 this year. To summarize what I have been saying, in round figures we have not only put 66,000 more people into primary schools in the past ten years, we have also made reforms that mean that fully efficient education has been brought to over 90,000 more children. To give some kind of a comparison, let us take what might be called one of the smaller or middle-sized States, Western Australia. In that State there is a total school population of about 110,000. In ten years we have brought fully efficient education, for the first time, to almost as many children in the Territory as there are in all the schools of Western Australia.
To date the greatest emphasis has necessarily been on primary education as this is the foundation for all other educational development, but nevertheless qualified students seeking higher education or training have been assisted to obtain it, either overseas or in the Territory. Since 1954 the Administration has awarded up to twenty scholarships per annum to enable promising native students to attend secondary schools in Australia, and well over 100 of the scholarship students have attended secondary schools in Australia. At the same time post-primary and secondary schools have been established in the Territory, and in 1958 the first group of native students wholly educated at secondary schools in the Territory sat for the Queensland Junior Certificate Examination. In 1960, two high schools were opened in the Territory at Port Moresby and Rabaul, and in 1961, a third high school commenced in Lae. Students of all races attend these secondary schools, the only qualification for entry being educational standard. At the primary level we have special schools. We have schools mainly for native children, because they have to learn English as a foreign language, and the curriculum suitable for European children would not be suitable for them. When they reach the secondary school level, native and European children attend the same schools and follow the same curriculum or similar curriculums
In Territory circumstances there is a great time lag in education. In our own community, school children have the advantage of coming from homes where every one speaks English - or Australian - where books and wireless are common, and the education system is a familiar part of their social and cultural background. Yet within this community children may expect to attend school for a period of twelve or thirteen years before reaching matriculation level. In the Territory, school children must first learn a foreign language, namely English, before they can effectively be taught the various subjects of the curriculum. Their background is alien to a formal education system, and even the idea of writing is unknown to them. In the face of these difficulties, it might reasonably be expected that native children would take longer than Australian children to achieve matriculation standards. It takes the Australian child twelve or thirteen years to reach this standard. Can we hope for the native child to do any better?
It might also be expected that a smaller proportion of children in secondary schools would be able to proceed to tertiary education than in Australia, not because of any lack of innate capacity, but because of the intrinsic difficulties of starting their study in a foreign language and in an unknown medium.
I have dwelt upon this subject in some detail so that the importance of the time lag may be properly appreciated. After any single forward step in education in the Territories, it takes a further six or seven years before the increase in primary enrolments is reflected in secondary enrolments and a further six years before it shows at matriculation level. In fact the present secondary enrolments are the result of efforts started in 1955 or earlier, and the university students that we hope to have in the next few years will be drawn from those whom we started at school from 1951 onwards.
As the result of hard work in the past, we are now moving further ahead to prepare facilities for higher education. There are already a number of opportunities for higher education. At present native students may receive the following forms of training. The Public Service Institute provides clerical, administrative and managerial training and tutorial assistance for matriculation or university courses. At the Papuan Medical College students who enter at standard IX. or higher may train as assistant medical officers, dental assistants, nurses, infant and maternal welfare assistants and medical technicians. There are 341 indigenous students now in training. Courses being conducted by the Department of Native Affairs train officers for positions such as assistant co-operative officer, patrol officer, and local government clerk. Fortyfour persons are currently in training in those schools. At agricultural colleges, students of standard IX. level may be trained to take a diploma in agriculture. There are 22 currently in training in those courses. Courses are conducted by the Department of Posts and Telegraphs for postal assistants, communication officers, technicians and linemen. Sixty-three are in training in that school. Teacher training is conducted in three courses starting at different levels. This year 195 are in training as teachers. The pre-entry and auxiliary training branch of the Department of Education organizes correspondence tuition through the Queensland Education Department for indigenous public servants. The present enrolment is 1,948. Thus, already more than 2,600 students are engaged this year in various forms of higher training following completion of part of the secondary school course. At universities in Australia students are assisted by Administration and private scholarships. At the moment we have only three native students as undergraduates at Australian universities.
In planning for higher education one of the serious problems we encounter is the very heavy wastage of students about the age of fifteen or sixteen. Their employment opportunities are so attractive and their cultural background is such that they have little inducement to continue at school once they become men at the age of fifteen or sixteen. Therefore, in order to try to meet this wastage, which is a serious prob lem - the problem of losing boys and girls when they are starting their real education - and with the object of ensuring that we will have an adequate number of students for higher education, directions have been given to the Administration to provide for selection procedures - picking out the right children at the right time - financial encouragement, the introduction of scholarships, not only as a measure of financial assistance, but also as a symbol of success, cadetships for a greater number of students and similar inducements so that, as far as possible, we can ensure that those children who show the capacity for higher education will in fact proceed to higher education. The latest report that I have received about the number of school leavers from Administration and mission secondary schools shows that in 1963 approximately 620 children will leave secondary schools but of these possibly little more than twenty will have reached Leaving or matriculation standard. In successive years the numbers proceeding to matriculation will grow and it is estimated that by 1967 the numbers of those reaching Leaving standard will be well above 120. In the same year it is expected that about 2,000 will leave secondary schools at various stages below the Leaving. We hope that, as the result of increasing inducements and the growing interest of the people themselves in higher education, we may be able to improve considerably upon these figures.
Our present plans for higher institutions are -
In planning for a university, which will be perhaps our most difficult and in some ways our most contentious task, the Administration of the Territory and various departments of the Commonwealth Government will be closely associated with the Australian National University and with the Christian missions. I should like to express the appreciation of the Government at the co-operation we are receiving from these non-governmental bodies. The close co-operation of the missions is needed both because their schools will produce many of the candidates for higher education and because some of the opportunities and needs for the university graduate will appear in the field of religious work. A young country such as Papua and New Guinea - indeed any country - needs its spiritual leaders of distinction no less than its political leaders.
In conclusion I should like to say something by way of general comment about education in a country such as Papua and New Guinea. I have already suggested that education in an evolving society needs itself to be able to change readily in response to new situations. Perhaps we sometimes talk too easily of education as though it is a manufactured article that can be imported into one country from another country and put to immediate use just like a motor vehicle. So often we find commentators on public affairs saying what ought to be done in education in the same way as they might describe the ideal motor vehicle without thinking for one moment about the state of the roads on which it is to travel. Perhaps among other commentators there is a tendency to continue to use the old vehicle that was well suited to the pioneering tracks but which m’ay well not be suited to better roads of the future. We must always try to make sure that our education system fits the conditions in the Territory as they change from place to place and from time to time. It has been my aim as Minister to try to keep as close to reality as I can, neither hanging back from change nor introducing new methods just for the sake of appearance.
I also suggest that what we should try to do is not to transplant into the Territory the Australian education system holus- bolus, but to develop a Territory education system, meeting the needs of Territory people living in the Territory community. The schools are part of the process of creating a new nation and are engaged in an original and creative task, not simply giving skills and knowledge but shaping a community.
I would not profess, particularly in the presence of so many people who have been engaged in education, to talk with any learning on this subject, but it seems to me that we cannot divorce education from the life which people are living. It is true that we need to make it possible for Papua and New Guinea to produce all its own technicians - if one can use the term in the highest sense - that is to say its doctors, its engineers, scientists, lawyers, public servants and so on, but the need for education concerns not only the tens of thousands of technicians but the life of the millions.
When one looks at the country’s resources and tries to estimate the future of the country one cannot come to any conclusion except that its people will still be predominantly agricultural people and are still likely to find a better standard of living, their happiest social integration and their highest personal satisfaction in circumstances in which a large majority of them are still a rural people and possibly still village people. If this forecast is correct, then we do not want to start destroying something which we may later have to recreate. We must not educate people out of the ground that nourishes them. We should not by any means hold back any one from opportunity for educational advancement to the highest point of academic attainment, but over the years we also have to develop an educational system which is closely related to the situation of the Territory community of the future.
I do not think that we want to use our schools in order to produce imitation Australians of the past century. We want our schools to be producing Papuans of the new century. We do not want education to be something that pulls the native boy up by the roots and separates him from his country and his people and, even while we are taking exceptional measures to select the ablest people for higher formal education, I suggest that we need to consider carefully these broad and general questions. We also need to recognize that from now onwards the people themselves will be helping to shape the sort of educational system they want, shaping it both by their response to opportunity and by the sort of opportunities they create for themselves.
One other point which seems to me to be fundamental in the development of the educational system in Papua and New Guinea is the need for giving people a means of communication among themselves. At present the vast majority of the people are still illiterate. They talk literally hundreds of different languages. The creation of unity and understanding among all these peoples calls for a means of communication and there appears to be no better means of communication than the English language. We want to bring literacy in English so that in future the boy from the Sepik can talk or write to the boy from Bougainville and the boy from the Gulf of Papua can talk to the man from the Highlands with clarity and with the certainty that each will be understood, sharing a language and ideas as well as a geographical area.
It is not only that they should be able to communicate with one another but that they should have standards and values in common. There is a challenge here to the leaders of the native people. Do they want their children to go to school only to learn the white man’s magic of making money or do they also want to learn how to live together and to learn how best to build their own nation so that it will be a good nation?
These general questions become of even higher importance as we move towards the detailed planning of a university and of its associated institutions than they were when we were urgently concentrating on turning out enough children who could read, write and count and become candidates for further study or serve the immediate needs of their country for skilled labour. I am sure that those to whom the Government has confided the planning of tertiary education and the Director of Education and staff in the Territory will bring both their expertness as educationalists and their vision as didicated men to these problems. I would commend to members of the House the suggestion that they, too, should see schooling in the Territory in this wider context.
In Committee of Ways and Means:
Customs Tariff Amendment (No. 33)
Consideration resumed (vide page 1424).
– If it is the wish of the committee, we shall take items 163, 173, 177, 178 and 180. I do not think it would be advisable for the committee to go forward to one item and then come back to another. Therefore, to take them in the order as they appear, which accords with the suggestion and keeps them in numerical order, would be more satisfactory. In that case, item 333 which deals with pneumatic tires and tubes will be considered after item 181.
– And also after item 163.
– May I point out that all of the items in the schedule to item 333 dealing with pneumatic tires and tubes are as follows:- Items 163, 173, 177, 178, 180 and 350. All these items are subsidiary to item 333. They all relate to pneumatic tires of various shades, sizes and uses. All these items should be dealt with under the heading of pneumatic tires in association with item 333.
– 1 suggest to the committee that we deal with item 163 formally without debate and that discussion may ensue when item 333 is taken. If we clear item 163, we can go through the others in numerical sequence.
There being no objection, that course will be followed.
Item 163 agreed to.
– Mr. Chairman, I just wish to intimate that the Australian Labour Party intends, at a later stage - preferably during the consideration of the textile group of items - to take a vote of the committee on the general question of the reduction of duties. We, as a party that traditionally supports a policy for the protection of industry, believe that the attitude adopted recently by the Government and sometimes by the Tariff Board runs contrary to the general attitude on protection.
I wish only to note at this stage that item 173 concerns a slight reduction in duty on one kind of article. I concur to some extent with the remarks made by the Minister for Supply (Mr. Fairhall). Tariffs are highly complex, and, particularly when new items are being dealt with, we receive printed reports some of which bear the name of an article or a commodtiy of the existence of which one has no previous knowledge. Apparently, the sensitive balance described in item 173 is the sort of thing that those of us who took physics and chemistry at school knew as a beam balance. One firm in Australia has been making these balances, but, apparently, selling them at a price at which it could not compete with the imported article. Therefore, the firm sought additional tariff protection, but the Tariff Board, in its report on the subject, rejected the firm’s submissions. In fact, the proposal now before the committee is that the duty on imported balances be reduced. This will place the Australian manufacturer in an even more adverse situation than previously.
We have now listened to the discussion of Tariff Proposals for nearly two days and, sometimes, it is hard to get them in perspective. The industry that produces sensitive balances may not be very significant in terms of the total Australian economy. It may be no more significant than was the industry producing ship chains that was mentioned in this place earlier to-day. Sometimes, it is hard to know whether the reduction of duty on an item the manufacture of which in this country represents so small a proportion of our economic activity really makes a great deal of difference in the long run.
I foreshadow, for the information of the committee, that when the textile group of items is considered, we shall divide the committee on the question of the future of the entire textile industry - an important and significant industry. My colleague, the honorable member for St. George (Mr. Clay), who has had personal experience in that industry, will discuss the proposals with respect to textiles. At this stage, I merely intimate that the Labour Party, at any rate, is dissatisfied with the Government’s attitude towards the protection of Australian industry generally. The reduction of duty on an imported article of comparatively minor significance may appear to be of trivial importance. However, the Australian industry producing a similar article, which at least has established itself in this country with a certain degree of success, will be prejudiced by the proposed reduction of duty.
Unfortunately, this evening, I am in the position of having to take over in this debate from a colleague who, for personal reasons, has had to go elsewhere, and I am, like the Minister for Supply, a little perplexed about the intricacies of some of the items that we have to discuss. We do not propose to take a vote of the committee on this item. I simply intimate to the committee what it may expect later.
Item agreed to.
Items 177, 178 and 180- by leave- taken together, and agreed to.
– Mr. Chairman, I wish merely to note that we have here another proposal for a reduction of duty based on a recommendation by the Tariff Board. The item is capacitors, fixed or variable, described in these terms -
Static, power factor correction, having a rating of 1 kVAr or higher.
What that means I do not quite know.
– But you are against the proposal?
– I am against it in principle, shall I say.
– Even though you do not know why?
– Sometimes, the honorable member for Barker does not know why he is against something, either, and he takes half an hour to explain why. I shall make my explanations when we are considering the more significant group of items - the textile group. I trust that the honorable member does not want to adopt a frivolous attitude on these matters. After all, the industry concerned is of some significance to those who are engaged in it. It may be easy for some honorable members opposite to approach the matter lightheartedly and lightheadedly, but it is of some significance to a number of people.
Again, I wish merely to note that the Tariff Board has proposed a reduction of duty on an import against which an Australian firm has sought additional protection.
Item agreed to.
Item 243 agreed to.
.’ - Item 279 deals with tartaric acid and cream of tartar. These things, also, are a little more significant, perhaps, than beam balances. Cream of tartar and tartaric acid are related to two Australian industries. I understand that tartaric acid is used in the manufacture of cheese and that cream of tartar is a by-product of the wine industry. But at least each of them is of some significance. If honorable members have read the report which has been produced on these items I think they will find that only one firm in Australia produces cream of tartar. It is one of those condiminiums - a mixture of British and American capital and a certain amount of Australian capital. One of its principal customers is another large foreign firm. At times, it is rather hard to discover just how local some of these industries are. It would seem to me that the quantity of tartaric acid that goes into cheese would not greatly affect the price of a 50 lb. or 60 lb. block of cheese. Again, it is hard to assess what the net effect of a reduction of duty might be.
In the report to which 1 have referred, attention isdirected to the fact that certain overseas suppliers of some of the essentials of this industry were supplying it, apparently for a competitive advantage, at a price that was not the fair price on the external market. They were quoting a price for sale in Australia lower than the selling price at the point of production which, I think, was Germany or the Netherlands. That sort of circumstance posed a difficulty as far as the Australian firm was concerned. Again, the Tariff Board did not see fit to accede to the claims of the local industry for a rise in the duty and, again, this particular measure provides for a reduction of the duty.
The Opposition does not intend to divide the committee on this item. I merely indicate that there is another fairly technical question which it is pretty difficult for a body of this kind to resolve. Our friend, the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly), had a fair bit to say about other items that have already come before the committee. His remarks pointed to the great difficulty that the Parliament faces in attempting to make important decisions of this kind. It is true that we have bodies such as the newly appointed emergency duty body on the one hand and the Tariff Board on the other who make their decisions, but ultimately those decisions have to be ratified by the Parliament and the Parliament is expected to make intelligent decisions upon all these questions. I sometimes wonder whether there should not be a special committee of the House to consider these matters more tranquilly.
– This committee could not be any more tranquil than it is now.
– It is tranquil almost to the point of extinction, sometimes. I think that you and I would agree that it is not a very good way to go about these matters. I do not think that the heavens would fall if the cream of tartar industry in Australia had to close down. But this proposal is significant to that industry, which I think employs about ISO people. I think that, occasionally, this committee is not as sympathetic as it ought to be to some of these industries that have been pioneered in Australia in very -difficult circumstances and which might easily be driven to the point of extinction by the rather casual attitude with which matters are sometimes disposed of in this chamber.
.- I was rather reluctant to speak on this issue because I was waiting to see the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly) rise, as he has risen about seventeen times already in this debate, to criticize the action of either the Australian Tariff Board or the Special Advisory Authority for granting preference to Australian industry. This is a very important issue. All honorable members are aware of the important role that cream of tartar plays in domestic cooking. The thing that annoys me, and I am really horrified to discuss this with the honorable member for Wakefield who has annoyed us for the last two days by his pseudo-criticism of the Government and his assumption of the role of a free trader who wanted to have no protection
– Order! I remind the honorable member that during the debate on these tariff proposals a fair amount of time has been spent on what might be termed “ general application “. It is my intention, from now on, that honorable members shall confine their remarks strictly to the particular proposal before the committee.
– I am speaking specifically about cream of tartar. I am delighted to know that there is no opposition to and no criticism of the decision of the special authority.
– Order! I remind the honorable member that the report of the special authority is purely incidental to the discussion of this proposal.
– It is quite difficult for me to comply with the requirements of the Chair, much as I want to do so. I conclude my remarks.
Item agreed to.
.- I was beginning to wonder how widely I could discuss this question. I have been reading in “Hansard” what I have already said in this debate and I find that I seem to have given the impression of being somewhat critical in a mild way. This surprised me, being a man of equable disposition. So it is with real relief that I come to an item with which I entirely concur. This item brings about a reduction in duty. I ask Opposition members, who have been very vocal when duties have been reduced, whether they intend to bring this question to a vote. I am very interested in this because, as we all know, there has been for some years now a most effective price ring on tires. It is interesting to find that the Tariff Board inquiry which led to this reduction in duty was instigated by the Department of Trade and not at the request of the industry. I should like to pay a tribute to the Minister and to the Department for putting this matter before the Tariff Board, for the very reason that they thought, perhaps-
– I raise a point of order. Mr. Chairman: Is the honorable member for Wakefield in order in view of the ruling you gave a few moments ago to the honorable member for Griffith?
– If the honorable member for Wakefield continues his speech I will be able to tell whether he is in order.
– The Tariff Board in its report, as we know-
– Order! I remind the honorable member for Wakefield that I have ruled that the Tariff Board report is incidental to the matter before the committee. We have had a general discussion and the matter before the committee at this moment is only item 333, which proposes the omission of a certain item and the insertion in its stead of another item.
– Mr. Chairman, do I understand you to say that in debating a particular tariff an honorable member may not even discuss the report on which the tariff is based?
– The honorable member for Barker has understood completely what the Chair has said.
– Apparently there is nothing I can say that will be within Standing Orders.
.- In view of my background knowledge of this matter, the facts of which I have brought to this House on previous occasions, I am wondering whether the recommended reduction of tariff is sufficient. Honorable members are aware that there is a restrictive trade agreement in operation among local manufacturers who not only opposed any reduction of tariff but sought an increase of the tariff. I believe that the applicants for an increase were Dunlop Rubber (Australia) Limited, the Olympic Tyre and Rubber Company Proprietary Limited-
– I take a point of order: The honorable member is reading from the Tariff Board’s report.
– I have ruled that honorable members may not comment in detail on the Tariff Board’s report. The honorable member for Newcastle may refer to the need for an increase or a decrease of a tariff. At the moment he is questioning whether the reduction of tariff in this instance should not have been greater. That is in order.
- Mr. Chairman, I take it that the committee’s responsibility to-night is to decide whether it should accept recommended increases or decreases of tariffs. If an honorable member is not permitted to produce evidence to show why certain recommended tariffs should be reduced, or increased, I am afraid debate will be quite impossible. Therefore I propose, with your indulgence, to state that I should like the Minister in his reply to the debate to indicate whether, in his opinion, the committee’s recommendations are reasonable, or whether the committee-
– The Tariff Board?
– I said “committee”. I should like to know whether the committee that conducted the inquiry had all the facts and figures brought to its attention by the various people who attended, or whether the evidence submitted in support of their case-
– I take a point of order, Mr. Chairman: You pulled up the honorable member for Wakefield for doing what the honorable member for Newcastle is doing now. He is talking about the Tariff Board and reading from the report.
– Order! The Chair needs no assistance in the conduct of this debate. The honorable member for Newcastle is in order.
– Mr. Chairman, the report says that evidence was tendered by people who wanted an increase in the tariff, by others who wanted it left as it was, and by others who wanted it reduced. I believe that restrictive trade practices are in operation. In support of my statement I refer the committee to the Tariff Board’s annual report for 1962 which, in paragraph 58, states quite clearly that evidence received during the year indicated that interests in some industries had continued to engage in practices directed to the restriction of competition. I wish to show to-night that restrictive trade practices operate in the tire industry in Australia. That is why I question whether the red iction that has been recommended is sufficient. In its report the board goes on to say that in some cases it was claimed that manufacturers were requiring merchants to discontinue the handling of imported goods, and that there was also evidence of the existence of uniform price lists compiled in agreement between certain groups of manufacturers. I have evidence here, which I have presented to the House on previous occasions, that manufacturers have compiled uniform price lists which they have imposed on the retailers. As the result of the imposition of these fixed price lists by the manufacturers in the rubber industry we find that John Citizen has to pay more for his tires, tubes and retreads. That is the result of these restrictive trade practices. These same tire manufacturers, Goodyear Tyre and Rubber Company (Australia) Limited, Dunlop Rubber (Australia) Limited, Hardie Rubber Company Limited, B. F. Goodrich (Australia) Proprietary Limited, and the rest of them sent a circular letter to various traders, setting out the tire manufacturers’ terms and conditions of trade. The circular read -
I am instructed to inform you that as from 2nd September 1960 the following are no longer eligible for volume discount: -
Ace Tyre Service- 89/93 Lambton Road,
Lascoe Auto Sales - III Cabramatta Road,
Spences’ Rubber Works - 151 Forest Road, Hurstville.
We find that these are the firms which opposed any increase in duty.
Alexander Stewart Norquay and Henry Boyd Spence, the principals of Spences’ Rubber Works, Forest-road, Hurstville, were put out of business by the tire monopoly that exists in Australia. In order to continue to operate as a retailer of tires, tubes and retreads they had to import their requirements, and it is natural justice that they should have had the opportunity to oppose this application for further protection. In view of the past record of the tire monopoly, I think we should examine the position to see whether the duty should be reduced still further. I think that firms such as the Goodyear Tyre and Rubber Company (Australia) Limited and B. F. Goodrich (Australia) Proprietary Limited are part and parcel of the tire racket in Australia to-day. I wish now to refer to an article in an American journal, “Tyre, Battery and Accessory News “ of April, 1961. It shows ( that not only do the Goodyear and Goodrich people indulge in restrictive trade practices in Australia, but that they have also been found guilty in the United States of America of similar practices. The journal states -
On March 15th, the full Federal Trade Commission ruled that TBA commission contracts between the Goodyear Tyre and Rubber Company and Atlantic Refining Company - -
That is Atlantic Oil - and those between the Firestone Tyre & Rubber Co. and Shell Oil Co. are illegal. In a somewhat similar case involving the B. F. Goodrich Co. and the Texas Co., the case was sent back to the hearing examiner for further evidence.
Now let us see what people in the trade have to say. In the issue of the “Daily Telegraph” of 16th September, 1960, there appears an article headed “ Motorists ‘ pay more’ for tyres”. The facts are undeniable, and facts and figures have been produced by men such as Mr. Spence of Spences’ Rubber Works, whose businesses were destroyed and who were not allowed to sell Australia-made tires and tubes or retreads. I will give figures to show that the restrictive trade practices engaged in by the Australian companies I have mentioned have meant a considerable increase in the price of tires to the public.
The rates at present applicable give the A.A. fleet operator a discount of 22i per cent., whereas prior to the bringing in of this trade agreement between the manufacturers it was common for people in this category to receive a discount of 40 per cent., with a 5 per cent, additional discount for cash. An A fleet operator now receives 18 per cent, discount as against the earlier 40 per cent, plus 5 per cent, extra for cash. The B fleet operator now receives 15 per cent, as against the earlier figure of 30 per cent. Municipal councils - this involves us because the Government through its instrumentalities uses tires, tubes and retreads - were given similar treatment. Municipal councils, unless qualifying for higher hire fleet operator classification, receive 15 per cent, discount, whereas previously they received 55 per cent. Charitable organizations now receive a discount of 18 per cent, whereas previously they received 33 per cent.
The private motorist used to be able to go into numerous tire-retailing establishments and obtain 15 per cent, discount off the list price, but to-day retailers are noi permitted to give that reduction. This means that in the case of a tire for a Holden car, for example - the most popular car in Australia to-day - the motorist pays 30s. more than he paid formerly. This is what this trade agreement means to the average man in the street. The companies concerned have gone also into the field of retreads. They were not content with tying up the new tire agreements and determining the price at which tires should be sold, which has meant a substantial increase in price to the purchaser-
– Order! I suggest that the honorable member for Newcastle might come back to the item before the committee.
– I am showing that the companies which have applied for an increase in tariffs are in fact racketeers. I will produce evidence to prove that assertion and I question whether the reduction brought about-
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I intend, without trespassing on your ruling, Mr. Chairman, to discuss the report of the Tariff Board on which this ruling was based. I wish the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Jones) could have been in the chamber earlier when we were discussing restrictive trade pra’ctices as they applied to other tariff items. In each case the Labour spokesmen supported the increased duties which followed. I hope the honorable member for Newcastle will remain in the chamber during the rest of the debate- because there are other examples I will be happy to place before him. As he has said, this matter springs from a Tariff Board report following a submission by the department and not by the industry. The report recommended a reduction in duty because the board felt that this ring was operating. The report states -
An examination of the evidence suggests to the board that some of these imports in recent years have partly been the result of Australian distributors adhering to price policies which encourage the purchase of imported tyres and tubes.
That is the kind of language they use in official quarters when they mean there is something queer going on - and evidently there was something queer going on.
One point I want to make in particular is that the reaction of the Chamber of Manufactures to the announcement of this report is something we are getting another dose of now on the subject of man-made fibres. Is it because they see this weapon being used - as it must be used - to counter restrictive trade practices? It is interesting to read the recent book in which Karmel and Brunt compare the concentration of industry in Australia with that in the United States of America and conclude that there is a far greater tendency towards monopoly in Australia than in America. The writers go on to admit that Australia is particularly ill equipped to counter the restrictive trade practices that comenaturally to a monopoly, and reluctantly conclude that the Tariff Board is about the most effective arm of government which could be used to curb such tendencies. I repeat that I have been trying to put forward this point of view continually in this discussion to-night.
In any event - and this should be said - the tire companies seem to be pulling through somehow in spite of their bitter comments. In September this year Dunlop’s published their balance-sheet. They have lifted turnover from £65,200,000 to £71,100,000, and the directors say that the last year was one of consistent progress. Profits for the year were £1,950,000 compared with £1,600,000 last year, which from my point of view as a primary producer seems a reasonable return with assets standing at £15,250,000. After all the wailing at the wall the profit rate was 19.6 per cent, this year compared with 16 per cent, last year.
I should like to congratulate the board on the way in which its report is set out, particularly the calculations of the ad valorem equivalent of the specific duties. They are there plainly for us to see. That is something that I very much commend to the board for the future. It makes things much more simple for us uninitiated people to follow. It would also lead to me, at least, pestering the Department of Trade less often. I very much support this reduction of duties for the reasons I have stated.
.- It is with some reluctance that I feel obliged to support the remarks of the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Jones) respecting this matter. 1 say “ with some reluctance “ because I realize that by supporting an even lower tariff than that recommended I am supporting inroads by Japanese, Chinese and British tires into the Australian community at the expense of the local product. This is an unenviable situation, and it derives wholly and solely from the dilatoriness of the AttorneyGeneral (Sir Garfield Barwick) and the Government in bringing down a restrictive trade practices law.
One of the tire distributors referred to in this matter happens to live in my electorate. Honorable members may recall that last year in this chamber - or it may have been the year before - I was moved, along with the honorable member for Newcastle, to direct the attention of the Parliament to the fact that businesses of this kind were actually being driven out of existence by the operation of the monopoly. As the honorable member for Newcastle has quite rightly said, the ring of tire manufacturers sent out, each ostensibly independently, a list which was uniform in character in that the whole range of prices and discounts were the same in each case, and they demanded that distributors sell according to those prices and give discounts only to purchasers of a certain volume of tires.
This ring fixed the prices with the threat to the distributors that they would be deprived of supplies by the manufacturers if they did not adhere to the prices fixed. The company in Hurstville to which I have referred violated this code issued by manufacturers, and accordingly had its supplies withheld. Fortunately, it was able to obtain tires from another source of supply - Japan. That might be injurious in some respects to a local industry, but we have to have regard to the fact that the ring also controlled recapping services, and that the trend was towards a similar control of the supply of batteries and all kinds of vehicle equipment. Had it not been pos sible for distributors to take advantage of other sources of supply the scale of prices set by the ring would have meant that the costs of production of all industries that use motor transport, and of all kinds of public services such as those supplied by local councils, would have risen. The fact that a handful of companies was able to defeat the ring after many smaller firms had been forced to go out of existence brought some relief to people who use tires.
I have a vivid recollection of the time when, along with other teachers, I had access to a certain firm in Wattle-street, Sydney, where, as a bona fide teacher, I could obtain tires at a discount of 15 per cent. Other distributors gave such discounts to other groups of consumers. All this was ruled out as a result of the operation of this ring.
As I said, the restrictive code imposed by the manufacturers applied not only to tires and tubes but to recapping services and was about to be extended to cover batteries and other accessories. This ring even set up its own judicial body, which tried some of the distributors who violated the code. The ring even demanded that when local government authorities including the Sydney City Council called for tenders for the supply of the products it dealt in, any one proposing to submit a tender should send it through the association so that the association could ensure that all the tenders were uniform. That is the sort of thing that went on, so I cannot have any sympathy for this particular group of manufacturers. I suggest that this is one clear case where the Australian consumer has to be protected. Failing the Government’s bringing in restrictive trade practices legislation to deal with this kind of thing in the only realistic and proper way I have no option but to support the honorable member for Newcastle in trying to break down the operations of this local ring.
.- One of the things that strikes me about this matter is that we are protecting Dunlop from Dunlop, so to speak, because one finds from the report that not only does the Dunlop company manufacture tires in Australia, but it also manufactures tires in Japan. It is the self-same company, and what we are really doing is protecting Dunlop Australia from Dunlop Japan. To my mind this is one of the many ludicrous aspects of this matter that is before the committee at the present time.
I pointed out when I was last on my feet that these people have instituted a racket in the fixation of prices internally within Australia. We now come to the question whether we should assist them to fix prices internationally, by setting the rates of duty that these people require. We should also examine the question whether they require any protection, having regard to the profits that they are making. The honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly) made some reference to profits a little while ago. I have some very interesting information here with regard to two companies. I can tell the committee that Dunlop Rubber (Australia) Limited has made quite substantial and even exorbitant profits over the years. At present it has very substantial reserves, which have been built up out of these profits, which have been running at the rate of 10 per cent, and 121 per cent, per annum, after bonus share issues have been made. The Olympic organization is in a somewhat similar position. The profits of Olympic Consolidated Industries Limited and its subsidiary companies have been running at the rate of about 18 per cent, and even higher. The Olympic organization has also built up quite substantial reserves. All this has been achieved as a result of the price fixing in which these firms have indulged.
I pointed out earlier that price fixing of new tires had been carried on. It has also been carried on in respect of retreads. These companies were not content to restrict their price-fixing activities to new tires. They moved into the field of retreads, and prices have shown a substantial increase as a result. For example, a retread for a tire for a new Holden cost £4 19s. 9d. under the old arrangement, but the actual price charged by these independent traders was £3 14s. 9d. As a result of the arrangement entered into by these companies, the price was increased to £5 2s. That is the price charged for every retread of a Holden tire. This means that the ordinary user now has to pay £1 7s. 3d. more for a retread than he paid previously. For a new tire the ordinary citizen who has no fleet-owners’ concession has to pay an additional £1 10s. as a result of this agreement.
These companies were not even satisfied with fixing trade agreements. They then moved into a new field and bought out as many independent traders as possible. In my electorate there were quite a number of independent traders, people buying tires wholesale and selling them on the retail market. Most of them had their own retreading businesses. The tire manufacturers have moved in and bought out almost all of them. Only one, or two at the most, still exist as independent traders, and because of this trade agreement they have been forced into the position of having to follow the dictates of the manufacturers or go out of business. They are in a position similar to that of Mr. Spence, who had to bring in imported tires to maintain his business. Whilst we can agree to this reduction, because I believe it to be a move in the right direction, these companies being well and truly able to meet any competition from imported tires, I ask the Minister to examine the position closely to see whether there could not be even further reductions.
.- I think the committee can see pretty clearly that any industry that is substantially protected by a tariff, particularly in a small country like Australia, is likely to reach a position in which there will remain only a few producers and price-fixing agreements will almost inevitably be entered into. Such agreements are by no means isolated. They are quite general. They apply not only in respect of the item we are now discussing, but also to many, if not all, goods produced by relatively heavy industries in Australia. The article mentioned by the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly), written recently by Professor Karmel and another, shows the significance of this kind of practice and suggests, as a remedy, that the Tariff Board can reduce tariffs in cases of this kind. I believe that this, in a sense, would b-3 simply to take the matter one further step back without guaranteeing any kind of success. The honorable member for
Newcastle (Mr. Jones) in a way has answered the submission put by the honorable member for Wakefield that all we have to do is to reduce tariffs so as to create greater competition by having goods imported into the country from countries with lower costs of production for sale here at lower prices. The honorable member for Newcastle points out that this will not really solve the problem, because in this case the producer in Japan is the same concern that is producing in Australia, and what we are endeavouring to do is to protect the Australian Dunlop from the Japanese Dunlop. As was pointed out in discussions of other items yesterday, there is no guarantee that the imported item will really compete with the local item, and so reduce prices in Australia.
I direct the attention of the committee to a conclusion that was arrived at in relation to another industry, the shipping industry. I believe it applies with equal force to the industry concerned with the production and sale of motor car tires. I refer to a statement made by none other than, I think, Lord Inchcape, who had been the architect of the cartel of conference lines controlling ships carrying goods to and from Australia. This cartel fixes the freights to be charged for taking goods to and from this country. Lord Inchcape said -
We are advanced socialists. We have discovered that combination, not competition, means success in trade, and we are going to take the profits of combination until the people are sufficiently intelligent to take the profits for themselves.
In other words, combination is an inevitable result in industries of this kind, and I think the remedy does not lie in reducing tariffs, although in this case I would favour a reduction of the tariff. The remedy lies in the establishment of public enterprise to compete with the monopolistic organizations that dominate the economy at the present time. It is necessary for me to take only a few seconds to direct the attention of the committee to this matter. The reduction of tariffs, the setting up of special advisers, recourse to the Tariff Board and Tariff Board reports - - these are not the remedies. Sooner or later we will have to turn our attention in a number of significant fields of activity in Australia to the setting up of public enterprise, so that we can give the monopolistic rings of private producers some real and effective competition.
Item agreed to.
Items 350, 390, 391, 392, 393, 432, 433, 443, 444 and 445 - by leave - taken together, and agreed to.
– This is the first of a group of items dealing with textiles. We do not intend to oppose this item at the moment, because we will be calling for a vote on item 465 as a general protest against the proposals in respect of all these textile items. The Minister for Supply (Mr. Fairhall) has indicated that item 465 is the principal item in the group dealing with textiles and I assume that the debate will centre on that item. We will agree to items 459 to 464 but we intend to force a division on item 465 in order to indicate our general attitude to the treatment that is being meted out to the textile industry.
Item agreed to.
Items 460 to 464 - by leave - taken together, and agreed to.
.- The honorable member for St. George (Mr. Clay) and the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) propose to speak in some detail about the textile industry, of which they have more specialized knowledge than I. The feeling of the Labour Party is that this industry is in a critical condition. Traditionally it has been a significant employer in Australia of man-power, but to-day it is facing competition from countries where the circumstances of production in terms of labour costs are much different from those which apply in Australia. We feel that a sympathetic approach should be made to this industry. So far no such approach has been made.
Some two or three years ago the Tariff Board indicated that there was some difficulty in providing adequate protection for the textile industry because it tended to bring its complaints separately to the board whereas many of the problems of the industry were collective rather than separate. My colleagues will go into some detail in respect of that matter. The honorable member for St. George is closely acquainted with this industry, having been a union official in the industry for a good many years prior to entering the Parliament. I merely take this opportunity to indicate that we propose to vote against this item as an indication of our dissatisfaction with the Government’s treatment of this industry.
.- As the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean) has indicated, the item now before the committee and those that have just been agreed to deal with yarns at present being produced in Australia and imported from overseas. In every case but one, those yarns contain blends of wool. The objection that we take to the reduction of tariff in the case of this and the other items that have been agreed to is based on the fact that the goods contain raw wool. The other fibres in the yarn are specifically referred to in each of the items. They include rami, flax, silk, cotton and manmade fibres. It will be seen that in every case there is a blend of wool with each of the fibres, whether they be natural or manmade fibres.
In view of the extreme complexity of the documents that are placed before us, the Tariff Board, the Department of Customs and Excise or somebody else should make a determined effort to simplify the documents. It is almost impossible, unless one has been a life-long student of tariff matters, to grasp what they convey or to attempt to understand them. I have spent several hours on the documents and I still find difficulty in tracking down the one that I want to refer to and in understanding it when I find it. A serious attempt should be made to produce these documents in a more understandable form.
I think it is fair to say that where it seems fit to do so, we should from time to time challenge the infallibility of the Tariff Board. The board has made a series of recommendations here with regard to about seven different blends of yarn. Sometimes 1 wonder whether the board fully understands what it is doing when it makes its recommendations with regard the tariff. I strongly deplore any tendency to lower any tariff on products associated with the textile industry because that industry, more than any other, is vulnerable to competition from textile industries situated in cheap labour countries. Consequently, as a matter of principle, if for no other reason, we intend to call for a division in order to register our protest at what the Tariff Board is doing to the textile industry so far as yarns are concerned.
When I speak of the incomprehensibility of the documents before us my mind turns immediately to Hogben’s “Mathematics for the Million “ in which he points out that some mathematicians do their utmost to make their subject seem incomprehensible to their pupils so that they may impress their pupils with their own vast mental powers. It seems to me that whoever prepares these documents sets out, after studying his subject, to make us feel how clever and intellectual he must be in order to understand these documents.
The first item that I refer to is item 459
I suggest at this point that there is a remedy that the Tariff Board should have adopted. It should have the same duty on any yarn that contains wool. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports has indicated that we are taking all these items together because in every case the same recommendation applies. Where there is less than 20 per cent, of wool, a certain duty shall apply. We register our opposition to the recommendation of the Tariff Board and will protest against this further impost on the textile industry and the wool-growers of Australia by voting against it.
.- I join in the criticism of this measure that has been voiced by the honorable member for St. George (Mr. Clay) who speaks with full knowledge of this industry because he was closely allied with it for many years. There has been considerable criticism from the textile industry of the attitude of the Tariff Board to the submissions, not only of employers but also of the trade unions. Great criticism has been levelled also against the Government’s policy in respect of the textile industry. In that regard it is significant that the Minister for Supply (Mr. Fairhall) saw fit to postpone for a time discussion of these measures, evidently because the Government realized that considerable criticism was levelled against it. It wanted to see where it stood.
Under the heading of “ Hardship in Textile Trade “, the Melbourne “ Sun “ of 9th October published this report -
Sections of Australia’s textile industry were suffering severe hardship following recent easing of import duties, the Australian Textile Council’s chief executive officer, Mr. A. J. Burgess, said yesterday.
Criticizing three recent Tariff Board reports, Mr. Burgess said the Government had applied “ stopgo “ measures to three sections of the industry - woollen piece goods, man-made fibres, and furnishing fabrics.
Unemployment could result unless full protection was restored.
Furnishing fabric manufacturers were already in difficulty before the tariff restrictions were eased. “ It now seems that many of these manufacturers will have great difficulty in surviving,” Mr. Burgess said.
He said that with the easing of duties on wool textiles, Australian manufacturers anticipated a flood of imports.
Manufacturers had asked the Minister for Trade, Mr. McEwen, to receive a deputation in Car/berra.
They would ask the Government to continue tariff protection to avoid unemployment.
As the honorable member for St. George had said, this affects not only the textile industry but also the primary producers and the wool-growers, and there should be considerable opposition from that section of the community to the attitude of the Government in these matters. Speaking recently in the New South Wales Parliament, Mr. R. H. Erskine who until recently was New South Wales secretary of the Australian Textile Workers’ Union and is now federal president of that organization, was very critical of the Tariff Board’s proposals regarding the textile industry generally. He mentioned how many persons in cheap labour countries were benefiting at the expense of Australian textile manufacturers because of the Government’s attitude to protection of this industry. No doubt he had in mind, as we have, that on one occasion the present Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) said the Australian textile industry did not matter much and was not a really important industry. Mr. Erskine produced a rug made in China and said -
This rug is a standing disgrace and those responsible for letting it into this country ought to be placed on trial. This rug was made in China from wool waste. It would not be good enough to put on the horse called Dark Night that is owned by an honorable member. This rug is being sold in Melbourne at 6s. lid. and as I have said is made out of waste wool. It has red, white and blue stripes but these will run because the dye is bad. These rugs are being sold in Melbourne and probably also in Sydney. In my opinion this is a disgrace.
I understand that similar rugs of higher quality produced in Australia would be much dearer, and this cheap importation is having a great effect on the textile industry. Mr. Erskine, who speaks with great authority, went on to say -
The towel section of the industry has 866 female and 360 male employees, with a wage bill of £19,495 a week. One must approach the problem realistically. Towels are being imported from India, China, Hong Kong and elsewhere to such an extent that, if something is not done, sooner or later there will not be two shifts working in the towel industry but only one shift, and there might be unemployment.
I do not want to run over the full text of Mr. Erskine’s remarks but no doubt speaking on behalf of his union-
– Order! I suggest to the honorable member that he should come back to the subject-matter under discussion.
– I appreciate what you have said, Mr. Chairman, but I was only making broad observations in line with the comments of other honorable members on an important industry. I was referring to the ramifications of what you will agree are extensive items even although many are subsidiary to the matters actually under discussion.
With other members of the Opposition I register criticism of what the Government is doing to the textile industry. I endorse the sentiments expressed by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean) and the honorable member for St. George. As one who represents a considerable number of textile industries, I hope the Government will review its attitude on these matters. I hope that it will consider certain issues in the Tariff Board’s report on textile industries and generally review its attitude to an industry which employs many workers. Thousands of Australians depend upon this industry, which is not getting the support from the Government to which it is entitled. I hope the Government will review its policy on import controls and give protection to the textile industry. Otherwise we may expect sections of the industry to close down, leading to unemployment on a wider scale.
.- I wish to identify myself with the criticism of these measures that has been expressed by my colleagues. In particular I wish to refer to the section dealing with woollen piece goods and the findings of the Tariff Board in relation to emergency tariffs on cheap Italian fabrics which do not contain any virgin fibres. I quote from the Tariff Board’s report on woollen piece goods at page 15 -
It is noted, however, that the Italian fabrics most feared by the local industry are those which contain reclaimed rather than virgin wool. Such fabrics, although of inferior quality to Australian cloths, were said to be comparable in appearance with some of the local fabrics . . .
The Board is aware that it may be difficult to devise and administer legislation which would ensure that all fabrics containing reclaimed wool are clearly labelled as such. Nevertheless, it believes that such a provision would afford protection for both the customer and the Australian manufacturer of woollen piece goods and that advantages would accrue to both, if some means can be found to deal with this problem.
That is the pith of the argument that I wish to address to honorable members. I am aware that the Government is well informed on the attitude of the textile industry to this problem and that the textile manufacturers association has approached the Government on this matter. Reviewing the history of the textile industry, we see that it has been through a rather disastrous period in the past two years. The importation of cheap Italian fabrics containing non-virgin fibres has had a marked effect on the textile industry. When we consider the adverse effect upon the economy of the nation flowing from the recession in this sphere of industrial activity, I fail to see how the Government can allow the abolition of this emergency tariff without taking action immediately to provide some alternative form of protection. It is rather anomalous for the board to state that there are grounds for the abolition of this tariff and then go on to state that it realizes that some protection for the industry against the importation of this kind of material is necessary for the benefit of the industry and of the consumer market in Australia.
When import controls were lifted in 1960 and a flood of imports came into Australia, foremost among these imports were textile goods. A large quantity of these commodities which came from Italy contained fabrics composed of non-virgin fibres. Much of it came from the Prato district in Italy. It is made of used material, the life is worn out of it, its resilience is destroyed; it is reteased, rehandled in the plants and then formed again into new thread and used in the manufacture of various types of fabric. As previous speakers have pointed out, this fabric is presented to the public in rather bright colours. Apparently fabric bearing an export label has some peculiar attraction for a large section of the consumer market. The result of the importation of this kind of cheap commodity, which had none of the value or wearing quality of the high-grade efficiently produced Australian commodity which contains wholly virgin fibres using their own homeproduced wool, was that the Australianproduced wool was undersold, the local industry was destroyed and widespread unemployment followed.
I ask the committee to reflect that at one stage the textile industry was so seriously afflicted by the effect of the importation of this kind of Italian fabric, plus the effect of the credit squeeze, that at least 50 per cent, of the employment force in the textile industry suffered. The employees were displaced from employment, placed on short time or, in the case of women, displaced altogether, although this information was not contained in the unemployment figures registered with the appropriate department. Honorable members can appreciate readily that the industry suffered extreme casualties.
One serious implication which must be considered is that many of the young girls and men displaced from the textile industry were never regained or re-employed in the industry. When one considers that these people must receive a minimum of six months’ training before becoming proficient in this particular sphere of activity, one can realize the loss which the industry suffered and the detrimental effect upon the efficiency and the production of the industry while new employees were trained to re-establish it.
Incidentally, the textile industry and the clothing trade are the biggest employers of labour next to the metal industries. They employ 71,000 persons. In addition, the textile industry in itself is the second biggest employer of female labour. These things are very important. They must be borne in mind because we do not want a recurrence of the situation which has existed for the past two years and which has been the cause of the introduction of these emergency tariffs. When one considers the figures relating to the production of woven cloth in Australia for the past three years, one realizes that the textile industry has not to date regained its proper status, the status which it should hold, and did hold prior to the introduction of the credit squeeze. In 1959-60 production was 30,235,000 square yards. In 1960-61 it was 26,466,000 square yards and in 1961-62 it was 25,069,000 square yards. As the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) pointed out, production in this industry is still depressed. The Government will be grossly remiss and will dp a grave disservice to the economic welfare of this community if it does not take some action to protect the textile industry from the importation of cheap Italianproduced cloth containing non-virgin fibres.
When one realizes that the home industry employs people in factories at award rates of pay, and affords a wide range of employment, and when one compares this with the situation in Italy, one sees the disparity in conditions. In Italy, a large proportion of these commodities are produced by families on sub-contract. The families have small plants or machines under the house and when the father finishes his work, perhaps on a farm, he comes home and he and his wife and several children work on the plant and produce the material. Whatever they receive for their labour represents profit over their running costs. They live on what is estimated to be a standard of living onehalf as high as ours, so it is apparent how much lower the cost of production is in Italy than it is in Australia.
We must appreciate the great contribution which this industry makes to the nation’s welfare. According to the report, 43 member mills of the woollen textile manufacturers group use funds to the value of £30,500,000 a year for the production of woven fabrics. In addition, during the last three years, 44 members of the group spent £5,000,000 on capital equipment.
Another aspect which must be considered is that the production of fabrics by these woollen mills goes hand in glove with the production of wool tops. There is an expanding demand on the wool market for Australian-produced wool tops. To produce these wool tops on a worthwhile basis it is necessary for the home textile industry to operate at its full production quota. Only by doing this does the production of wool tops for the overseas market become profitable because our markets lie in many low cost countries. If we depress the production of the textile industry at home, we reduce the return to be expected from the sale of wool tops overseas.
Reverting to the importation from Italy of the material containing non-virgin fibres to which I have referred, I note that in 1958-59 Italy’s share of our imports amounted to 13 per cent. In 1959-60 it rose to 21 per cent, and in 1960-61 it increased still further to 33 per cent. Notwithstanding the fact that emergency tariffs apply to-day, in the nine months to 31st
March, 1962, Italy supplied 15 per cent. of our imports of this commodity. At this rate we can expect that she will supply about 20 per cent. in a full twelve months. This means that actually we are little better off than we were in 1959-60 when the importation of this material from Italy reached such a high level.
I suggest to the Government that it should consider seriously some alternative form of protection for this industry which, I reiterate, employs such a large number of Australian workers and which makes such a large contribution to the nation’s economy. As honorable members have pointed out previously, this was either the worst hit industry, or among the worst hit, industries in the nation as a result of, first, the abolition of import controls and, secondly, the credit squeeze. I do not think the Government can take credit for any of these things. If the proposed action is allowed to go unchecked, it will be a reason for further censure of the Government and will further deplete its stocks in the eyes of the people. I believe that the Government has a responsibility and a duty to the textile industry which - Government members should be interested in this - is using large quantities of Australian wool to the benefit, not only of the Australian wool industry, but of the nation generally. Further, the textile industry is one of the major manufacturing industries of the nation that can truly be said to be decentralized. Taking all these things into consideration, and in view of the fact that the Tariff Board has stated that some protection is necessary, I urge the Minister for Supply (Mr. Fairhall), who is now at the table, to tell us, before this debate concludes, just what the Government proposes as an alternative to save this industry.
Question put -
That the item be agreed to.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. P. E. Lucock.)
Majority . . . . 5
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Remainder of Customs Tariff Amendment (No. 33) - by leave - taken as a whole, and agreed to.
Customs Tariff (Canada Preference) Amendment (No. 4)
Consideration resumed from 8th August (vide page 14), on motion by Mr. Fairhall-
That the Schedule to the Customs Tariff (Canada Preference) 1960-1962 be amended as set out in the Schedule to these proposals . . . (vide page 113).
Customs Tariff (New Zealand Preference) Amendment (No. 6)
Consideration resumed from 8th August (vide page 115), on motion by Mr. Fairhall-
That the Schedule to the Customs Tariff (New Zealand Preference) 1933-1962 be amended as set out in the Schedule to the Proposals . , . (vide page 115).
– Is it the wish of the committee to consider together, and as a whole, Customs Tariff (Canada Preference) Amendment (No. 4) and Customs Tariff (New Zealand Preference) Amendment (No. 6)? These matters are complementary to the Customs Tariff Amendment which has just been passed by the committee. There being no objection, that course will be followed.
Questions resolved in the affirmative.
Customs Tariff Amendment (No. 34).
Consideration resumed from 8th August (vide page 112), on motion by Mr. Fairhall-
That the Schedule to the Customs Tariff 1933- 1962, as proposed to be amended by Customs Tariff Proposals, be further amended as set out in the Schedule to these Proposals . . . (vide page 111).
– Is it the wish of the committee that the motion be taken as a whole? There being no objection, that course will be followed.
.- I will delay the committee for only a short time on this item. It deals with air compressors, on which a duty was imposed as the result of a report by the Special Advisory Authority. There seems to be only one company at risk. That is Kirby Refrigeration Units Proprietary Limited. It cannot meet competition from a company making exactly the same compressors in Scotland. The Scottish company and (he Australian company both make these compressors under licence from a company in the United States of America. The Scottish manufacturer has to send his products into Australia over a 30 per cent, tariff wall. The special adviser admits in his report that imports are not coming in. In fact, he says that this year the volume of imports was only one-third of what it was last year, but the threat that they may come in has meant that the Kirby company has had to keep its prices down, which it obviously resents.
The higher duties embodied in this tariff amendment, again, are being imposed to protect income and not to protect the industry against imports. When the Special Advisory Authority was appointed, we were not told that this was to be his function. Is he equipped by training, and has he the required staff, to enable him to make such a judgment? Was he appointed to make judgments such as this? Is it his function to say that an industry is entitled to specified profits? If it is, we certainly were not told that that was so.
If this is to be the way of things. Sir, why should this industry be singled out for such favorable treatment? Are we who produce for the export market less important or less deserving? I admit that perhaps there are not many of us and perhaps we are not a strong political force, but, for the life of me, I cannot see why a Special Advisory Authority cannot ensure that we, too, earn reasonable profits and obtain a fair return on our capital investment. I should like such an authority, if one were appointed, to start his benefaction at a certain farm in South Australia.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Customs Tariff Amendment (No. 35).
Consideration resumed from 8th August (vide page 1 1 3), on motion by Mr. Fairhei -
That the Schedule to the Customs Tariff 1933- 1962, as proposed to be amended by Customs Tariff Proposals, be further amended as set out in the Schedule to these Proposals . . . (vide page 112).
– Is it the wish of the committee that the motion be considered as a whole? There being no objection, that course will be followed.
– Mr. Chairman, this tariff amendment deals with penicillin and allied products. The report on these products presented by Sir Frank Meere, the Special Advisory Authority, highlights some of the difficulties that face tariff-makers in Australia. Temporary duties were imposed some months ago to meet the situation of the industry. Referring to these, the Special Advisory Authority, in his report, stated -
While the temporary duties on streptomycin have had some effect on imports, it is clear that the temporary duties on penicillins have completely failed to achieve their purpose. The reason for this failure was that, in order to avoid the new duties, the overseas principals elected to take higher margins of profit on material sold to their subsidiaries, even though the new prices resulted in lower profits for the subsidiaries. This was done in the overall interest of the group and the difficulties which it would involve were, apparently, considered preferable to allowing the subsidiaries to purchase their requirements of basic materials from their competitors in Australia.
This highlights again the sort of difficulty that was mentioned by the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly) when the committee was considering Customs Tariff Amendment (No. 34). He pointed out that when what are, in effect, monopoly groups are being dealt with, it is doubtful whether the tariff procedure is adequate to solve the problems that are presented. The Special Advisory Authority went on -
The position in regard to streptomycin sulphate is somewhat different. The fall in imports has been due mainly to the fact that one importing company has been taken over by the Australian producer and another is buying because the Australian producer is supplying at a specially low price to obtain the business.
This, again, indicates the difficulty presented in instances such as that mentioned by my friend, the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Jones), who told us of a company established in Australia under the same name as its parent in Britain or the United States of America. In order to defeat the purpose of the tariff, the parent company simply charged its subsidiary in Australia a higher or a lower price, according to the circumstances.
The tariff seems really to be an inadequate instrument for dealing with the sort of situation that is met with in respect of penicillin and streptomycin. These are life-saving drugs the production of which is almost socialized. But, because the production is let out to private drug companies, all sorts of undesirable commercial practices creep in. This is unfortunate, and I hope that honorable members will examine this report more closely after these discussions are concluded and perhaps reflect on the question of whether there are serious deficiencies in the existing tariff-making machinery. I do not propose at this stage to say more. I merely note this as in interesting case study for those who are interested in problems of this sort.
.- Mr. Chairman, I no not feel inclined to enter into deep discussion on this tariff amendment now, but the committee should be told that about 60 per cent, of the penicillin and streptomycin used in this country is used in the form of veterinary products. Yesterday, I checked on the prices of mastitis penicillin in the United Kingdom and in Australia, and I found that this product is almost three times as dear in Australia as in Britain.
It is not for me to say whether the industry of which penicillin and streptomycin are products should be protected. The industry may be vital to us, but I am not competent to decide whether it should be protected. The Government may well be right in its proposal to protect the industry. If this industry ought to be protected, surely a case could be made for assistance by the payment of a bounty rather than by loading those who use these products with costs which, as I have pointed out with respect to mastitis penicillin, are three times as high as the cost of imported products. This is especially important as the major proportion of these drugs is used by those who produce for our export trade. I use a great deal of penicillin on my property, and I resent having to pay three times as much for it as is paid by a competitor who has not to bear as high freight charge on the transport of fat lambs as that to which I am subject. Penicillin is essential to the conduct of my farm. I repeat that if the industry is vital, it could be fairly assisted by the payment of a bounty instead of by the imposition of quota restrictions on imports.
– Mr. Chairman, I support very briefly the remarks just made by the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly). I know a little about the industry of which penicillin and streptomycin are products. I think that the only commercial producers of these drugs happen to be. in my electorate. The history of the protection of this industry is interesting and pertinent to the points raised by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean) and the honorable member for Wakefield. The Tariff Board, after its original inquiry some years ago, rejected an application for the protection of the industry, because the Government had not stated publicly that the industry was necessary for defence purposes and because a duty of 300 per cent, or more would have been needed. Subsequently, the Government made a public statement to the effect that the industry was essential for defence and other reasons. A deputy chairman of the Tariff Board, I think, later recommended protection by means of higher duties, and we now have a proposal for protection by means of quota restrictions instead of duty. The reasons for this were partly dealt with by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports.
The fact that the industry is to be protected by quota restrictions does not mean that the local producers will not charge the prices that they need to charge in order to make profits - prices, indeed, that perhaps the producers should charge, since the Government has stated that we need the industry for defence and health reasons. 1 agree with that view. I think that the Tariff Board, in its original report, was correct when it said that the industry would need tariff protection by a duty of something like 300 per cent. This, presumably, means that the cost of these drugs when produced in Australia would be about 300 per cent, more than if they were imported. This does not affect the individual citizen, because, when he needs these drugs for the treatment of an illness, the Government pays the bill. If the price becomes very high, the Government pays the cost just the same. But the Government does not pay the bill for the farmers and the primary producers who are responsible for 60 per cent, of the usage of these drugs.
The prices that the manufacturers rightly charge for these products are kept high by a policy that has been adopted by the Government for health and defence reasons. Those who will h:-,c to pay the high prices and subsidize the Australian production of these drugs are the farmers and primary producers who use most of the output. These products are essential to the maintenance of the health of stock. One cannot get along without them under modern conditions of intensive agriculture. Under these conditions the Government can see that the industry is necessary for very obvious reasons. I believe that a very strong case could be made to show that much lower prices should be charged, and the difference made up by a direct bounty. This is completely analogous to the sort of case made so ably by my friend the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Forbes) yesterday in relation to weedicides and insecticides.
I hope nobody will get up and say that I do not want this industry protected. That is the kind of criticism that has been made against almost every person who has criticized the level or the means of protection. I am criticizing, to some extent, the means of protection, but I emphasize most strongly that I support the action of this Government in giving protection. However, I do P.ot like the farmer having to pay the cost of that protection. I believe that the Government should pay it by way of a bounty.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Customs Tariff Amendment (No. 36).
Consideration resumed from 16th August (vide page 450), on motion by Mr. Fairhall-
That the Schedule to the Customs Tariff 1933- 1962, as proposed to be amended by Customs Tariff Proposals, be further amended as set out in the Schedule to these Proposals . . . (vide page 450).
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Customs Tariff Amendment (No. 37).
Consideration resumed from 23rd August (vide page 664), on motion by Mr. Fairhall -
That the Schedule to the Customs Tariff 1933- 1962, as proposed to be amended by Customs Tariff Proposals, be further amended as set out in the Schedule to these Proposals . . . (vide page 663).
– Is it the wish of the committee that the motion be taken as a whole? There being no objection, that course will be followed.
.- This is a proposal on which I speak with some feeling. It is one of the classical cases which I warned against when the Special
Advisory Authority was appointed. This industry was examined by the full Tariff Board in October, 1961. In its report the board found that wall tile manufacturers in Australia could be divided into two groups. One group was using imported tile biscuit and was doing very well indeed in meeting overseas competition. The other group was using local clay and was being severely threatened by imports. The board found that to enable the second group to use local clay, as at present organized, and at its present level of operation to compete against imports from the United Kingdom, and at the same time to operate at a reasonable profit, an ad valorem duty of about 75 per cent, would be required. In the board’s opinion a duty at this level could not be justified for this section of the industry. So the board, as a result of its full inquiry, reduced the duties on wall tiles.
The Government acted on the board’s recommendation on 26th January. Yet, on 17th July of this year - only six months after acting on the full board’s report - the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) referred the question to the Special Advisory Authority. In fact he was reviewing the Tariff Board’s report. This is the kind of thing that I feared would happen and of which I warned the House when the act was being amended. The position had not altered radically since the board’s report in October last year. The decision of the Minister to refer the matter to the Special Advisory Authority, only six months after acting on the full board’s report, strikes right at the root of the independence of the Tariff Board system. The Special Advisory Authority, of course, obliged in his usual charming manner and increased the protection again. The full board’s decision was arrived at after very careful examination of the position only six months before. After all, it is the board’s function to decide whether industries are economic and efficient. Indeed, that was the policy on which I, as a Government supporter, supported the Government at the last election. When the Tariff Board does this the Minister moves in and alters the position again.
Under the Special Advisory Authority legislation the matter must go back to the full Tariff Board. What happens if the next time the board sticks to its guns and refuses to be intimidated by this kind of pressure? What happens if it takes off the duty imposed recently by the Special Advisory Authority? Does the matter go back to the Special Advisory Authority again, going round and round in circles with the duty going up and down like a yo-yo? Or is the board expected to wilt under this kind of pressure? If so, we are indeed undone, because a strong and independent Tariff Board is our only bulwark against advantages being awarded to those with the greatest political pressure. If this kind of action is taken as a precedent it will not be long before the tariff board system ceases to be effective. Is this what the Minister wants? Is this what the Department of Trade wants? Do they want to go back to the old days of lobbying, with the person with the biggest pocket and the biggest political pressure getting the highest duty? I do not say that that is what they want, but they will get it if they go on in this way.
There is another most interesting side to this case. It is one of the classical examples of restrictive trade practices. This is something which I have checked very carefully. The Tariff Board in its report made particular reference to a restrictive trade practice which was operating in this industry; and I quote from the full board’s report -
The Board considers it particularly important to draw attention to the distribution of white tiles in Australia. These tiles are entirely imported, local producers being unable to compete with the low cost of highly mechanized large scale production overseas. In most countries white tiles find a wide use, especially in the less expensive homes, because of their substantial price advantage over coloured tiles. Evidence showed that white tiles from the United Kingdom land into the Australian merchants’ stores at 2 ls. 5d. per square yard, and retail in at least one Slate at 47s. 6d. per square yard, a margin of approximately 122 per cent compared wilh 70 per cent, for imported coloured tiles and 33 per cent, for locally produced coloured tiles.
That is a quotation from the Tariff Boa-d’s report. It was hoped that the duty that was put on would in some measure counter this kind of practice. What happened when this emergency duty was put on again? The story is that the Australian and British manufacturers will supply their tiles only to the local Tile Merchants Association. They just will not supply them to anybody outside the ring. If anybody who is not in the ring wanted to buy tiles he could not get them from Australia or the United Kingdom; he would have to get them elsewhere. He would have to get them from Japan, Spain or Italy. I repeat that he has no other choice. The Australian and British producers will not supply them.
Now, as a result of this Special Advisory Authority recommendation - which by the way gives a total protection of 91 per cent, against tiles from Italy - any one outside the ring is effectively prevented from getting tiles from anywhere. The Australian and British manufacturers will not supply him, and he cannot import the tiles because of the high duty. So, all the business is left in the hands of the Tile Merchants Association, and the restrictive trade practice, instead of being weakened, is actually strengthened.
Sir, we are being told continually that legislation to control restrictive trade practices is just around the corner. Some of us are becoming impatient about its tardy arrival. But I did not expect that one arm of government would deliberately set out to encourage it, particularly when it was warned by the other fiscal arm about what was going on.
.- For the life of me I cannot help thinking how unfortunate the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Bury) was to be dismissed from the Ministry for disagreeing with Government policy, after listening to the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly) speaking on the matters under discussion in connexion with tariff items. I think the honorable member has disagreed with virtually every recommendation brought down. Some of the cases under discussion have concerned industries in my constituency. The honorable member has disagreed with policies and with duties being imposed to enable industries to continue to manufacture and give employment. I do not know what attitude he intends to take to the protection of Australian industry. He is opposed to the tariff proposals that we are now discussing and wherever this special authority has given consideration to a matter and recommended other duties he finds the decision to be completely wrong. He has also criticized the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) for referring these matters to the special authority because it appears to him that the Tariff Board should be supreme. I do not know what decision he wants the Tariff Board to give because he commented for and against. Therefore, it is a wonder to me not only how he can retain his membership of the party but can support the Government with which he differs on practically every aspect of tariff policy. As I said last night, I should like to see him give effect to that great liberal understanding that he claims to have and vote as he speaks on this matter. Then we would see whether he is really sincere.
Let us take the question of cycle saddles. I have known from the commencement of this industry one of the principals of the Pierce Bell Manufacturing Company. This company was established here at a vital time in the war years. It provided for the Australian war effort certain essential items. Later, it produced for the Australian cycling world nearly all the saddles required. Subsequently, because of the influx of saddles from countries with lower living standards and with cheaper costs of production than ours it was faced with extinction. With the credit squeeze applied by the Government plus the importation of British saddles and Italian saddles it was found that it would be practically impossible to carry on unless adequate protection might be given. The special authority, after prompt and urgent inquiry at the request of the Minister for Trade, has given certain protection to the industry. I do not think it is enough. Some oversea cycle saddle manufacturers are prepared to dump goods on our market and put Australian industries such as this out of business.
It is time, whether the Tariff Board agrees or disagrees, for protection to be given immediately in order that the welfare of those in the industry may be protected. The honorable member for Wakefield was very pleased to have some Australian industries established in the war years. Because of its own part in the conflict, the United Kingdom could not give us the industrial assistance we needed in the war years. Continuation of the attitude adopted by the honorable member for Wakefield would mean that if there were another war we would not have industries because he would not have any of them protected. He would not have any secondary industry in the country. This is a completely negative approach. I believe that whilst it is not the complete answer, the reference to the special authority by the Minister of certain matters such as cycle saddles is important and urgent, and if something had not been done more Australians would have been paid off and more people would have been employed overseas at the expense of the Australian workers. Therefore, I must differ with the honorable member for Wakefield on that item.
To the subject of ceramic tiles, similar remarks appear to apply because this is an Australian industry which is entitled to full and adequate protection. If the Tariff Board inquired into this matter and found, in its wisdom, that a case had not been made out at that time, it does not mean that circumstances have not changed as exemplified by the findings of the special authority. When all is said and done, the Tariff Board is not always right. It has not done the right thing by the textile industry by any stretch of the imagination. On this item of ceramic tiles I think certain consideration has been given by the special authority which was evidently denied by the Tariff Board on a previous occasion. We should bear in mind that, on some occasions, when the Tariff Board has given opinions and made recommendations the Government has refused to adopt them and in many cases, whether it has been for or against the Tariff Board decision, the Government has not taken action in respect of items.
I support, with other members of the Opposition, the proposal concerning the two items under discussion. 1 think that the special authority has seen the needs of these two industries and has given a certain measure of protection which, no doubt, could be considerably increased. I do not doubt that, ultimately, because of the influx of goods from overseas, it will probably be found that added protection will have to be given to these industries. I say again that I should like the honorable member for Wakefield to tell this com mittee how he maintains his support for a government with which he differs on every aspect of tariff policy. I should like to know why he does not join the Australian Country Party - a free trade party which wants to see the Tariff Board broken down and industry destroyed.
The continuation of the policy of the honorable member for Wakefield, no matter how much knowledge he may display of these matters, indicates that he does not believe in secondary industry; he does not believe in the protection of Australian jobs; and he does not believe in exporting Australian manufactures. His attitude to all these tariff proposals is completely opposed to the interests of Australian secondary industries. As I hear him talk on these measures and when I see the halfhearted and half-baked approach of the Liberal Party to the protection of Australian industries I do not doubt why the - credit squeeze was applied, why restrictions were lifted from imports, and why Australian manufacturing industries went to the wall. The honorable member for Wakefield exemplified the policy of the Liberal Party and the Country Party which is opposed to protection and opposed to Australian industry.
Only because of the close shave that the Government parties had at the last general election are they now giving any sort of protection to industries that deserve and demand it. No wonder there is unemployment. No wonder thousands are out of work. No wonder the potential of secondary industries has not been developed. No wonder our production has been reduced to such an extent that 130,000 people could not get work a short time ago. I therefore submit that protection is long overdue in respect of the two items under discussion and in respect of others for which protection has been granted. With other members on this side of the chamber I raise my objection to the attitude of the Government generally, to that of the honorable member for Wakefield in particular, and to the policy being followed by this government which is completely destroying Australian secondary industries which were established and built up under Labour governments of the past. .
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Friday, 12th October 1962.
Customs Tariff Amendment (No. 38).
Consideration resumed from 30th August (vide page 910), on motion by Mr. McEwen -
That the Schedule to the Customs Tariff 1933- 1962, as proposed to be amended by Customs Tariff Proposals, be further amended as set out in the Schedule to these Proposals . . . (vide page 910).
– Is it the wish of the committee that the motion be taken as a whole? There being no objection, that procedure will be followed.
.Mr. Chairman, the matter I wish to raise will take up only a very short amount of the committee’s time. I desire to speak about chicory, and I do not think that many honorable members know very much about the subject. Not very much chicory is produced in Australia. In the last three years practically the entire amount has been grown in my electorate. Production amounts only to about 250 tons a year and growing it is more or less a part-time occupation. The people who grow it have one great thing in their favour and that is that they can supply the whole needs of Australia.
A certain amount of chicory has been imported with the result that some of the local product has not been sold. Last year, 32.6 per cent. of local production was not sold. This had to be kept in store and that, of course, cost a lot of money. Eventually, the chicory was put on to the market and disposed of. This year there are 85 tons of the crop left to be disposed of. As I have said, it is only a small crop and it costs about £105 a ton. One other factor that greatly favours keeping this industry going is that the other countries that supply chicory are mostly behind the iron curtain. Chicory has been imported from Czechoslovakia and Poland. It is good to support our own industries and also to conserve our overseas funds.
Two very great firms use chicory. One is Bushells Proprietary Limited and the other is the Nestle Company (Australia) Limited. They have both tried imported chicory and they have both gone back to using Australian-grown chicory. They find it completely adequate. The Australian industry has tried to export some of its products but because of freight and insurance charges that has been found to be impossible. The duty is only lid. per lb. I believe that it is very worth while to keep this industry going.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Customs Tariff Amendment (No. 39).
Consideration resumed from 30th August, (vide page 911), on motion by Mr. McEwen -
That the Schedule to the Customs Tariff 1933- 1962, as proposed to be amended by Customs Tariff Proposals, be further amended as set out in the Schedule to these Proposals . . . (vide page 910).
– Is it the wish of the committee that the motion be taken as a whole? There being no objection, that course will be followed.
.Mr. Chairman, I hope that this will be the last time I will have to speak to-night. The material with which I want to deal particularly under this proposal is chloropicrin. It is commonly known as larvacide, and is used as a soil fumigant, particularly in glasshouse production, and for the destruction of rabbits and foxes. It is sold in Australia as larvarcide. There is only one Australian manufacturer of it, namely Consolidated Chemical Industries Proprietary Limited. That company also makes thioglycollic acid. I thought I would have to get the honorable member for McMillan (Mr. Buchanan), who obviously knows a good deal about these matters, to pronounce that name for me.
The amount of duty in June last year was12½ per cent. under the British preferential tariff and 25 per cent, under the mostfavourednation tariff. In July last year imports of cheap larvacide started to enter Australia from Japan, so emergency proceedings under section 17a of the Tariff Board Act were instituted and a deputy chairman imposed an emergency duty of 10d. per lb. In June this year the full Tariff Board looked at the industry again and found that it was not economic. The full board recommended that the protective tariff be removed and that only a small duty be left in operation. When the Tariff Board Act was amended last year and the Special Advisory Authority was appointed, one of the reasons given for that action was that the full Tariff Board might feel diffident about departing from recommendations of one of its deputy chairmen. This is another case in which that reason certainly did not apply.
The full Tariff Board, after examining the industry very carefully, found that it was not economic and therefore reduced the protection. In essence, it wiped out the industry. That probably enrages members of the Opposition because of the loss of employment involved. However, I believe that we ought to do some clear thinking about employment in secondary industries. We are told continually that only secondary industries can employ the migrants, the school-leavers and the increasing population. We are told also that primary industry is not important in regard to employment because it employs only about 12 per cent, of the work force. Secondary industry employs only 30 per cent. Most of our workers are engaged in neither primary industry nor secondary industry, because 58 per cent, of the work force are engaged in the service industries.
In connexion with the employment position, which obviously enrages the Opposition continually, it is worth remembering that Australia has a greater proportion of its people engaged in secondary industry than the United States of America has.
Mi. Einfeld. - Are you suggesting that that is bad?
– No, I am just stating that as a fact. We in Australia depend on the primary industry sector for our exports. In most years the United States of America fa a net importer of primary products. It depends for its trade credits on exports of Secondary products. The point I want !o make is that Australia has a greater proportion of its work force engaged a secondary industry than the United
States of America has; yet we depend for our trade credits on the products of our primary industries. I believe that ought to be said because this question of employment has been bandied about as if the secondary industry sector were the only one that could employ our people. Obviously, that is not so.
I go back now to the question of chloropicrin. It is sad that this industry should be wiped out, with the consequent loss of employment! I sympathize with honorable members opposite in their concern. I imagined that there would be a march on Parliament House and that we would be beseiged by angry workers! It was a sad occasion, but this action had to be taken. But let us look at the figures. Let us do a little arithmetic on this matter. The annual requirement of larvacide in Australia is stated by the Tariff Board to be about 80 tons. The emergency duty was lOd. per lb. That meant that the excess costs borne by the glass-house growers and the man who wanted to fumigate his rabbits worked out at £7,466 13s. 4d. for one year. But, of course, employment was lost. The factor that justified this protection was the employment gained by it.
Do honorable members know how many people were engaged in making chloropicrin? Listen to this. These are very interesting figures. There was one man engaged full-time and one man engaged part-time. Let us assume that those two men were engaged full-time and let us do some more arithmetic at this point. In those circumstances the users of Iarvacide would be subsidizing each of those two men at the rate of £3,733 6s. 8d. a year. In other words, it would pay the users of larvacide to give those two men £3,700 a year each to stay at home and watch television. That is the kind of example on which I was eager to conclude. I believe that it shows pretty clearly that there is something not quite right in this protective system that we have built up. That example also shows the absolute necessity of having a truly independent Tariff Board to consider these panic decisions. There is considerable anxiety in responsible quarters that the Government and the Associated Chambers of Manufactures want to have a Tariff Board that is more amenable to their influence. We must never allow that to happen.
I should like to make one other comment on this chlorine complex. The board, in its report in connexion with chloropicrin, mentioned the adverse effect of the high Australian price of the basic chlorine products - dense soda ash, caustic soda, light soda ash and so on - that form the base of so many of our secondary industries. A comparison of prices is interesting. The prices of dense soda ash are £30 a ton in Australia and £18 a ton in the United Kingdom. The prices of light soda ash are £37 5s. in1 Australia and £18 10s. in the United States of America. It is more than twice as dear in Australia as in the United States of America. The prices of caustic soda are £65 in Australia and £39 12s. in the United Kingdom. I notice that the board said there should be another look at the whole chlorine complex, and I agree. It may be essential to have this industry in Australia, and I think the Minister agrees that it is essential. If it is, assist.tance surely should be given by a bounty, not a tariff, so as to keep Australian prices more in line with those of our overseas competitors. Otherwise you make the position of various secondary industries that use these basic materials more difficult. It is no real answer to say that you will put extra duties on these products also. If you do that you make these products too dear and the consumer buys a substitute material instead. That means that even less of the base material is bought and used, and so the cost per unit goes up and the next industry down the line suffers even more. I agree with the Tariff Board’s report that there is something organically wrong with this chlorine complex which is striking at the roots of our chemical industry. I say that at some stage we must examine whether it would not be a proper use of the protective system to use a bounty to protect this industry so as not to load the cost on to the other users. I say that you cannot continue the present method without making the cost of secondary industries further down the line so expensive that they are forced to use substitutes. I thank the committee for putting up with a long series of lectures from me on what I realize are not popular subjects for debate, but I take some comfort from this quotation from Alfred Marshal -
Students of social science must above all fear popular approval. Evil is with them when all men speak well of them. It is almost impossible for a student of social science to be a true patriot and have the reputation of being one at the same time.
.Mr. Chairman, my reason for rising is to mention a comparatively minor matter which relates not so much to something that has happened as to something which might happen. This arises out of the Tariff Board’s report on chlorine products and the recomendations on them with which the committee is dealing. If the committee looks at the Board’s report it will find that in relation to a product known as B.H.C., which is a sort of lindane-based product, the board has recommended - I gather that its recommendation has been accepted by the Government - that any increase in the present rates of duty must be carefully considered, particularly because of the possible added cost to primary producers. The report states that in the absence of increased imports of B.H.C. of a grade comparable with that manufactured by Imperial Chemical Industries of Australia and New Zealand Limited, the board does not propose to recommend any variation in the existing rates of duty. However, as a measure of assistance to I.C.I, the board proposes to recommend that lindane should be removed from by-law admission and admitted at the same rate of duty as B.H.C, except when it can be established that it is necessary for technical reasons to use lindane. For some pasture tests in particular, lindane used dry with superphosphate is the cheapest and most effective method of control. The cockchafer grub is a pest that is becoming increasingly prevalent in the high-rainfall improved pasture areas of Australia. Another method of controlling this pest is by spraying with B.H.C. after the grubs appear, but that is not as effective and is not as cheap as the use of lindane. As the board has indicated, all lindane has been imported into Australia duty free under by-law. It is still open for that to happen under the board’s recommendation that has been accepted by the Government. Everything depends on what the Department of Customs and Excise decides as the importation necessary under by-law for technical reasons. My purpose in rising is to refer the Minister representing the Minister for Customs and Excise to this particular provision and to impress on him that the department should consider this recommendation most carefully; it should consider the importance of having the cheapest possible source of lindane for this scourge, the cockchafer grub, which can wipe out a person’s income in one year unless it is controlled. In other words, I am suggesting to the Minister that, technically, lindane is the best way to cope with this particular pest and that if the officers of the Department of Customs and Excise in their wisdom recommend otherwise, the Minister should have a very good look at this indeed.
– I feel impelled to make some comments on the observations of the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly) on this item. On an earlier occasion in this debate he took the opportunity to speak of some of the weedicides and insecticides which are within this complex of chlorine products. But in speaking a few moments ago he spoke particularly of the item chloropicrin and became sarcastic. The fact is, of course, that the chloropicrin incident has not been completely covered by the honorable member for Wakefield. He is a farmer, as I am. We know larvacides and their original purpose. Before myxomatosis, larvacide was the best discovery for dealing with rabbits, and was widely in demand in this country. It was in very short supply and the country was immensely grateful when chloropicrin was first manufactured here. I can remember when the whole community troubled with rabbits was unable to buy chloropicrin in sufficient quantities. There are some who seem to have short memories; who forget that there ought to be some protection for an industry established in this country in certain circumstances. I encounter exactly similar circumstances in relation to protection for the nitrogenous fertilizers industry. When I was Minister for Commerce and Agriculture, knowing that the sugar, fruit and vegetable industries in Australia are dependent on nitrogenous fertilizers, I brought 100,000 tons in from North Korea before the Korean War because that was the only place in the world where we could get it. Companies have spent millions of pounds to establish this industry in Australia or to extend it, but now that the fertilizer can be imported more cheaply there are those who would say, “ Let the people who have invested their money in this industry lose it; we want the cheapest fertilizer we can get. Let those who invested their money when we needed it lose it. We do not need it now.” That is not a just policy; it is not one that would be tolerated. When in that particular case the primary producers, giving evidence before the board, proposed that if protection were given it should be given by bounty, the board recommended that, the Government accepted the recommendation, and the Parliament approved it. Here is an illustration of what can be done, of what is within the control of those who can recount the significance to primary industry in this country of higher costs of a protected item.
In regard to some of these items, those who have such great enthusiasm to protect the costs of primary industries, and who are members of primary industry organizations, might well have triggered off their organizations to go to the Tariff Board more frequently and propose that the board consider the recommendation to the Government of a bounty as a method of protection. One thing that might come out of this debate is the arousing of a greater consciousness in the minds of those who are in primary industry organizations that this is their opportunity.
But what really happened with chloropicrin? Its principal use was in dealing with rabbits. Myxomatosis made chloropicrin no longer necessary to anything like the same degree, so the unit costs rose as consumption declined. In due course the industry came along and asked for temporary protection. Although there is some sneer about it, this was not dealt with by Sir Frank Meere; this was dealt with by a member of the Tariff Board, one of the deputy chairmen, who did what the Parliament obviously expected him to do when it passed the legislation. He made a recommendation designed to hold the industry in its structure pending a full examination by the Tariff Board.
The Tariff Board proceeded then, according to law, to conduct its full examination, and in due course reported that in the existing circumstances the industry was not economic and did not warrant being perpetually sustained by protection. The board recommended accordingly, and the protection has been withdrawn. What has the honorable member for Wakefield to complain about in that? Does he really want an industry to be destroyed by one man on a 30-days hearing? The purpose that the Parliament and the Government had in mind when this Special Advisory Authority was appointed was that in certain circumstances there should be an opportunity to accord quick protection to an industry, not as a matter of deciding its permanent future, but in order to sustain it until such time as the full Tariff Board, at leisure, with the full experience that it has and the full staff that it has behind it, could go into the matter. In this case it has decided, after examination, not to recommend to the Government that there be continued protection. This is an illustration of something that the honorable member for Wakefield should have been praising, not condemning.
Turning more broadly to the item that we are discussing which involves the whole structure of the chlorine products industry - this item was referred to the Tariff Board on 3rd November, 1960. The public hearings took place a few months later, in May and June of the following year. At about that time the section of the industry that was producing weedicides and insecticides was sustaining serious damage from imports - or there was prima facie evidence to that effect - and a request was made for a hearing by the Special Advisory Authority. He conducted his hearing and recommended temporary sliding scale duties, which were applied on 28 th June of this year to five products. It so happened, by a strange coincidence which the Department of Trade was unable to predict, that on the same day the Tariff Board signed its full report. But the Tariff Board’s full report, signed on the same day, did not reach the Department of Trade for four weeks. So four weeks later the Tariff Board report on the whole item came along. But that report itself stated that, in the closing stages of the board’s consideration of the chlorine products, the firms producing weedicides and insecticides - certainly some of them - advised the board that they had new infor mation and wished to make amended requests. But the board in its report, which is in the possession of the Parliament, stated that to have considered the new evidence would have delayed the full report and therefore it made its full report without hearing the new evidence. The production of its full report required, according to the law, in due course a termination of the temporary duty. The board was recommending the maintenance of and, in some cases, increases in, the level of protection. So we had a situation in which the temporary protection accorded, after evidence had been heard by the deputy chairman, had to be terminated, and the report of the board was admittedly made without having heard the additional evidence that the industry wanted to supply.
So the Government did what I am sure was the proper thing to do. In regard to these particular items - not the whole of the chlorine products - it referred the matter back again to the deputy chairman for a hearing designed to enable him to decide whether the structure of the industry should be held until the Tariff Board heard the evidence that, it was advised, the industry desired to submit. The deputy chairman heard further evidence and made a recommendation to the Government, which was accepted, and the structure of the industry has been held. Then, the law operating as the Government had proposed, and as the Parliament had approved it should operate, the matter was referred back again to the Tariff Board for a normal hearing on this item, in respect of which its report had stated that evidence was desired to be given which, in the interests of saving time, it did not feel it should hear. Those are the circumstances.
The honorable member spoke earlier of the board’s being submitted to a requirement to investigate an industry, the deputy chairman examining the same industry and going back to the board. This sort of thing happens. This is an explanation of how it has happened. What would the Parliament wish? Would the Parliament wish that an industry be allowed to wither and die, that investment and employment be lost, production cease, and the foreign exchange of the country be used up in paying for imports because we would not bother to take the intricate trouble of seeing that there was a proper hearing of a request for protection of an Australian industry?
– It took you a long while to wake up.
– Only this Government awakened to the need for supplementing the Tariff Board machinery by provision for a short-term inquiry. Such a thought had never crossed Labour’s mind, for all its talk through the years. I admit that where temporary protection is accorded the facts show that often the recommendation is for a substantially high tariff, and sometimes for a quantitative restriction. I think I do the honorable member for Wakefield no injustice in saying that his remarks implied that the community was always subjected to the higher prices that are theoretically possible when higher duties are imposed. But the facts do not accord with that. The facts are that on a number of occasions an industry seeking protection so that its volume of production might be continued has voluntarily said to be the Special Advisory Authority that if protection is accorded it will not increase its prices. And this has happened in eight cases before the Special Advisory Authority. In each instance the industry has undertaken not to increase its price at all if additional protection is accorded. This brings out the point that protection is not always necessary for the purpose of enabling an industry to charge a higher price. It is very often needed to enable an industry to avoid the necessity for charging higher prices - the kind of protection which will protect an industry’s volume, keep down its unit cost of production and enable it to avoid a higher price which it would have to charge if it remained in existence but servicing a smaller volume of demand.
A tariff does not always result in a higher price. Not infrequently it can be shown to result in an avoidance of higher prices and, on some occasions, in lower prices. I repeat that in eight cases industry volunteered not to increase prices and in a number of other cases there was no increase in the price of the product beyond what I will describe as the normal or predamage price. An industry may be selling its product at a certain price. Imports flow in and compete with its product. The industry normally tries to protect itself by dropping its price. Industry after industry has dropped its price on a number of occasions in an attempt to stand up to competition from imports, but when the loss has been greater than it could bear, has sought temporary protection. When this has been accorded the industry, in those circumstances, has restored its price level - sometimes under a high temporary protection - to that obtaining before the temporary higher protection was accorded.
This is the way in which this system of temporary protection is operating to the good of this country and is sustaining confidence in industry to a degree which, in to-day’s circumstances of world trade, could not be sustained if we still had the old system under which an industry could expect no decision on an application to the Tariff Board for a year, two years or, on occasions, even longer. And now, when the situation demands it, any industry can be assured of a decision - not always in its favour - within 30 days.
I conclude by making reference to a very distinguished Australian whose name has been bandied a good deal in this debate, Sir Frank Meere. For eight years he was Comptroller-General of Customs. He is a man who, having served the country well, had retired. In the circumstances in which Australian industry is situated to-day, when we wanted to free the two deputy chairmen of the Tariff Board, who were doing this temporary duty work, so as to permit them to concentrate full time on normal Tariff Board hearings, the Government asked Sir Frank to come back and work at this job. He did not seek employment. We went to him because we believed he was the man most experienced and competent to do this hold-the-line kind of operation.
I think it is a poor thing if a distinguished man who has served the country well as a public servant, who is respected in many parts of the world and who, on the invitation of the Government, has come back to do a job, is then to be spoken of without credit in the Parliament because of the kind of work he does. Let me say - I believe my opinion is very widely shared - that Sir Frank Meere is a man to whom we all owe a debt for the work he is doing for the industry of this country. I believe this view is widely held and I publicly express the thanks of the Government to Sir Frank for the job he is doing.
.Mr. Chairman, I will speak very briefly. If the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) would do me the kindness of reading through my speeches he will find there no word of personal criticism of Sir Frank Meere. He will see many references to my disagreement with his recommendations. Sir Frank would not expect me to agree with his recommendations just because he is a very fine person of unimpeachable character, as I willingly admit he is! Surely I am not expected, because of that, to agree with his recommendations. I wish the Minister would do me the kindness of pointing out any adverse references - if he can find them - that I have made to Sir Frank Meere as a person. Surely his recommendations are another matter and I am entitled to my own opinion about them and, I think, to express it! I have been continually taunted with being a free trader and with not believing in protection. I believe - I say it again, I hope for the last time although I doubt whether it will be - that I am a firm believer in a wise protective system. I know, too, that the prices of some of the products that the Minister mentioned have not been raised. I”’ mentioned some in my earlier speech - phthalic anhydride is one that comes readily to mind - whose prices had actually been reduced. However, I will give the Minister a list of instances where prices have been raised. In most cases those increases sprang from the invitation of the Special Advisory Authority who laid it on the line and said a-n increase in duty would enable prices to rise. The reasons are set out. The Minister was quite fair in stating, that this protection would stop some industries from withering and dying, although it seems hard to believe that Imperial Chemical Industries of Australia and New Zealand would so quickly wither and die. But in the case of engines, D.D.T., P.V.C., 2,4-D, 2,4,5-T and other items the price went up. Unfortunately I have not my notes with me. I admit that a protective system being used well does not automatically lead to an increase in prices. All those who believe in a sound protective system know that. But it does so in many cases and in the instances I have mentioned it did so. I have pointed out that in many cases there was a deliberate invitation by the Special Advisory Authority who laid it on the line that increased tariff protection would enable manufacturers to raise their prices. Weedicide was a case in particular.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Customs Tariff Amendment (No. 40).
Consideration resumed from 30th August (vide page 912), on motion by Mr. McEwen -
That the Schedule to the Customs Tariff 1 933- 1962, as proposed to be amended by Customs Tariff Proposals, be further amended as set out in the Schedule to these Proposals . (vide page 911).
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Customs Tariff Amendment (No. 41).
Consideration resumed from 30 August (vide page 913), on motion by Mr. McEwen -
That the Schedule to the Customs Tariff 1933- 1962, as proposed to be amended by Customs Tariff Proposals, be further amended as set out in the Schedule to these Proposals . (vide page 912).
Customs Tariff (New Zealand Preference) Amendment (No. 7).
Consideration resumed from 30th August (vide page 913), on motion by Mr. McEwen -
That the Schedule to the Customs Tariff (New Zealand Preference) 1933-1962, as proposed to be amended by Customs Tariff (New Zealand Preference) Proposals introduced into the House of Representatives on the eighth day of August, One thousand nine hundred and sixty-two (vide page 913).
– Mr. Chairman, I suggest that Customs Tariff Amendment (No. 41) and Customs Tariff (New Zealand Preference) Amendment (No. 7) be taken together.
– It is the wish of the committee that Customs Tariff Amendment (No. 41) and Customs Tariff (New Zealand Preference) Amendment (No. 7) be taken together? There being no objection, that course will be followed.
Questions resolved in the affirmative.
Standing Orders suspended; resolutions adopted.
That Mr. Fairhall and Mr. McEwen do prepare and bring in bills to carry out the foregoing resolutions.
Suspension of Standing Orders.
Motion (by Mr. Fairhall) - by leave - agreed to -
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the Customs Tariff Bills being brought in together and a motion being moved that the bills be passed.
Bills presented, and (on motion by Mr. Fairhall) passed.
House adjourned at 12.53 a.m. (Friday).
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
n asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - 1. (a) The Commonwealth Statistician publishes in the Monthly Review of Business Statistics, with acknowledgement, indexes of industrial production for eleven countries taken from the “Monthly Bulletin of Statistics”, published by the Statistical Office of the United Nations. (b) The Commonwealth Statistician does not publish an index of industrial production for Australia. There are at the present time, insufficient data on factory production available in quantity terms for the preparation of an index which would be truly representative of all factory production. Some forms of factory production, by their nature, are not measurable in terms of quantities.
n asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
On numerous occasions this year the Government has referred to actions taken and measures proposed which will assist the employment situation in Queensland, both in the short and long run. References to many of these were made in the Treasurer’s Budget speech for 1962-63. They included the following measures for 1962-63: -
m asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
In addition to the above meetings, it was agreed at the Conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers responsible for fisheries matters in September, 1962, that a meeting of officers should be held in the near future to examine management of the Southern-crayfish fishery.
n asked the Minister representing the Minister for the Navy, upon notice -
– The Minister for the Navy has supplied the following information: -
n asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows: - 1 and 2. For the Government’s general position on decentralization, I refer the honorable member to my reply in to-day’s “ Hansard “ to a question on the subject by the honorable member for Bendigo. The Government’s interest in this matter is readily discernible from the efforts it has made over the years to assist, in numerous ways, the process of development of the nation as a whole. These efforts have been greatly stepped up in recent years by the large sums devoted by the Government to assistance towards various major developmental projects and activities, particularly in the north of Australia. Among the projects and activities of a developmental nature, for which the Commonwealth is providing funds, those in Queensland, already in train or in prospect, hold a prominent place. The large expenditure already proceeding on the Mount Isa railway, on the construction of beef cattle roads, and on coal-loading facilities at Gladstone Harbour, are cases in point. This year’s Budget provides for assistance in financing the first stages of a scheme to open up and develop to full production a vast area of the rich brigalow lands in the Fitzroy Basin of central Queensland, as well as for additional funds for the sealing of roads included in the beef cattle road construction programme referred to. The Government’s decision to double the funds available in 1962-63 for oil search subsidies may also be expected, in the light of the discoveries of oil at Cabawin and Moonie, to have beneficial results for the programme of oil exploration in Queensland.
n asked the Prime Minister, upon notice-
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - 1 and 2. I have not received such a request.
n asked the Minister for Trade, upon notice -
Will he prepare and distribute to honorable members a detailed statement outlining the possible effects upon the specific Australian industries, and Australian trade generally, if Britain should enter the European Economic Community without obtaining a continuance of Commonwealth preferences?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
In my speeches in this chamber on 3rd May and 30th August this year, I dealt with this subject in some detail. The Prime Minister also referred to it in his speech on 9th August. It is not proposed to issue a statement along the lines suggested by the honorable member at present.
b asked the Minister for Trade, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
b asked the Minister for Trade, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Packing Cases from Japan.
d asked the Minister for Trade, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
d asked the Minister represent ing the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The Minister for Health has furnished the following reply: -
d asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The Minister for Health has furnished the following reply: -
d asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The Minister for Health has furnished the following reply: -
b asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The Minister for Health has furnished the following reply: -
b asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -
Why did the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee restrict the classes of patients for whom the drug largactil may be prescribed as a pharmaceutical benefit?
– The Minister for Health has furnished the following reply: -
In accordance with its usual practice, the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee took into account all relevant considerations, including the therapeutic efficacy of the drug for various classes of patients, before making its recommendation. The honorable member will be interested to learn that steps are being taken to introduce a procedure designed to make it easier for exhospital patients to obtain their maintenance supplies of largactil. I have sought the advice of State Ministers for Health concerning the proposed change, and it is hoped that the new procedure will commence in the near future.
a asked the Minister represent ing the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The Minister for Health has furnished the following reply: -
s asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
son asked the Postmaster-
General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Tress is a major step forward in the development of the Australian telegraph service and its adoption is expected to place our telegraph service in the forefront of mechanized systems. For a total capital expenditure of approximately £900,000, savings of up to £500,000 a year should ultimately prove possible.
The installation of Tress has been undertaken progressively since 1959 and is now almost completed. On present indications, the prediction of savings will be achieved.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 11 October 1962, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1962/19621011_reps_24_hor36/>.