24th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. Sir John McLeay) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Mr. DRUMMOND presented a petition from certain electors in the northern part of the State of New South Wales urging that the present Parliament pass a bill for an act to implement the recommendation contained in paragraph 1284 of the Report of the All-Party Joint Committee on Constitutional Review of 1959 and thereby enable a Referendum to be held to provide an opportunity for the people to determine the question whether a new State should be formed.
That the petition be received and read. (The petition having been received, and the Clerk reading the petition) -
-Order! The forms of the House are being observed.
– I ask a question of the Minister for External Affairs and AttorneyGeneral. If any United Nations or other international agency contemplates employing an Australian private citizen, does it ask the Australian Government’s approval or opinion before making the appointment? If so, is a report sought or considered from the Australian Security Intelligence Organization? If the prospective employee fails to secure the international post because of a security or any other objection by the Australian Government, is he informed that the Government had objected to this appointment and is he given an opportunity to meet its objection?
– I have had no experience whatever of the United
Nations seeking my view as to the suitability of a man who has sought employment with it, and I know of no practice under which it does that.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for External Affairs. Is it true, as reported from New Delhi, that Russia is supplying defence equipment, including MIG fighters and helicopters, to India, causing Peking to protest to Moscow? Is it true, also, that Indian Communist leaders have condemned red China’s current acts of military aggression, thus further emphasizing the deep ideological conflict that exists between Soviet Russia and red China?
– It is true that Soviet Russia has supplied India with helicopters and transport aircraft. I have no information which would confirm that negotiations, of which we know, for the delivery of MIG aircraft have been completed. It is true that the leaders of the Indian Communist Party have condemned the Chinese Communist aggression. They have experienced, apparently, the strong solidarity of the Indian people, who stand behind the Indian Government in its opposition to this Communist aggression. The Communists like to get behind any nationalist movement, and, as so often happens, they do not mind changing their tune to do it. The Indian Communist Party has therefore come out in condemnation of the Chinese Communists. Whether this reflects on the known ideological conflict I do not think I am in a position at this moment to say. But it is quite apparent that there is a deep cleavage between the Soviet Communists and the Chinese Communists.
– This question is addressed to the Treasurer. Members of school councils in my district have brought to my notice the fact that schools, particularly technical high schools, arrange visits to other States to promote the educational progress of their students, and that parents incur much expense when their children make these trips. Members of the school councils want to know whether the Minister will allow the parents to claim, within the limit of £100 allowed as an income tax deduction for educational expenses for each child, portion or all of the expense of a child’s trip interstate to visit towns and industries for educational purposes.
– To the extent that the matter raised by the honorable gentleman may relate to policy, I shall see that his suggestion is considered. If the matter involves a ruling by the Commissioner of Taxation concerning deductions within the present limit, I shall see that the question is conveyed to the commissioner and I shall supply to the honorable member any information that I obtain from that officer.
AUSTRALIAN EMBASSY, f MOSCOW.
– I wish to ask the Minister for External Affairs a question. Has he heard a report, or has he seen any cables from Moscow stating that an employee of the Australian Embassy in Russia had defected and sought from the Soviet authorities permission to remain in that country? Is it true that such an event has happened? Is the Minister in a position to express a view as to why the man, Walker, decided to seek permission to stay in the Soviet Union?
– I have been aware for several days that a messengercaretaker named Walker, who is a citizen of the United Kingdom and who was recruited in England through Australia House in January, 1961, had absented himself from the embassy. About 10th October, it was decided to dispense with his services for inattention to duty. On his being informed of this and being given an opportunity to resign before he was repatriated, he absented himself from the embassy and refused to return until, as he said, he would be ready to leave the country to get a job in a country outside the Soviet Union. The embassy endeavoured to get in touch with him and, thinking that he might have been in need of medical assistance, took a doctor to see him at the place where he was thought to be, but, without avail. I have no official confirmation of this man’s having sought from the Soviet authorities permission to remain in Russia, although there was made public a Tass report to that effect. The man’s duties were those of messengercaretaker. In the course of those duties, he had no access to any confidential or classified material.
– My question is addressed to the Prime Minister. In the current crisis between the United States of America and Cuba, if war actually breaks out between the United States and Cuba or the United States and Russia, will Australia be automatically committed? Has the Australian Government entered into any outright commitment in this matter?
– This question is highly hypothetical. I do not propose to answer such questions on matters of international moment.
– I preface a question to the Minister for the Interior by stating that no doubt the Commonwealth Director of Civil Defence is working in close liaison with the various fire fighting services of the Commonwealth, including the bush fire fighting service. Is it correct that there is little standardization of fire fighting equipment between the States and within each State? In particular, do the services of New South Wales and Victoria use different tap threads? Is the Commonwealth Director of Civil Defence endeavouring to persuade the various authorities to work towards the adoption of standard practices and standard equipment in this important phase of civil defence?
– It is quite true that there is a wide divergence of standardization, particularly of couplings, for fire fighting equipment throughout Australia. I am not quite sure of the number of different kinds of couplings but I think there are about ten or twelve different kinds used by civil authorities throughout Australia and different ones, again, used by the armed services. This problem engaged the attention of the Department of Works, which is responsible for Commonwealth fire fighting services, some time before the civil defence authorities became interested in it. I regret to say that it is an exceedingly difficult matter in which to achieve any progress.
The questions arise, of course, of who is to bear the expenditure on standardization and what type we are to standardize on.
Naturally, each State prefers the standard that it has already adopted. When we last examined the problem I think we found that the total cost of conversion - depending on the type of unit which was selected as a standard - would be between £120,000 and £250,000. This seemed to be a large expenditure for something which would have only marginal value, as it were, on the borders of States. Quite frankly, Mr. Speaker, if, out of a clear, blue sky, £250,000 were thrown into my lap for civil defence there would be somewhat higher priorities for its expenditure. However, this matter is engaging the attention of the Director of Civil Defence.
– My question to the Treasurer arises from the fact that this is the year of the millionth Holden, an Australian car the production of which was sponsored by a Labour Government and which has almost 100 per cent. Australian content. Will the Treasurer give an assurance that because of the present buoyancy of the motor industry he does not intend to reimpose credit restrictions similar to those which his Government implemented previously when the industry was in a similar position to that which it is in to-day? If controls are in his mind, will he consider alternative legislation which would have the effect of forcing motor companies to manufacture with a much higher Australian content, thus giving further employment to Australians and saving much of our overseas funds which are at present required for imported car parts?
– The question contains so much detail that I do not know that I can fully answer it immediately. I note with interest the gratification which the honorable gentleman finds in action which he claims was taken by the Labour Government to encourage the establishment of a motor car industry in this country because, since that time most comment from the Labour side of the House on the production of the Holden car has been of a hostile character. It has been directed to the level of profits earned by the highly efficient Holden organization and has constituted an attack on the Government’s policy of encouraging investment in Austrafia of capital from overseas. However, at least we can all take some satisfaction from the fact that we now have in Australia a highly diversified automotive industry - highly competitive and with investment from many parts of the world - greatly adding to our industrial strength.
The honorable gentleman referred to past events. There is no parallel between the situation in the motor industry to-day and that which existed in the middle of 1960, other than that there is a very buoyant demand for the products of the industry. The reason why the Government thought it necessary to take special action directed at the motor industry towards the end of 1960 was not that the industry was selling a lot of motor cars but that at that time the pressure on domestic resources was such that much of the demand by the industry was spilling over into sources of supply outside Australia. There was an increase of about £50,000,000 in the overseas bill for the automotive industry, and this was occurring at a time when our overseas reserves were running down very rapidly. Fortunately, we are not experiencing that situation now. Our overseas reserves are comfortable and the motor industry is now very buoyant. I hope we will be able to maintain conditions’ of stability, with a sufficient growth in Australia to ensure that the industry continues at a healthy level.
– My question, which is addressed to the Minister for Labour and National Service, relates to the first of the very important official conferences which began in Melbourne yesterday, aimed at increasing the supply of skilled workers for industry. Since an increase in the productivity of our work force is a key element in our economic future, and an increase in the proportion of skilled to unskilled workers is essential in mopping up our remaining industrial unemployment, will the Minister impress upon the parties immediately concerned the vital interest that the whole of Australia has in the outcome of the discussions, and, above all, will he endeavour to imbue this quest with a keen sense of national purpose?
– It is true, as the honorable gentleman says, that yesterday the first of a series of conferences commenced relating to methods of increasing the number of technical people and tradesmen needed for the development of Au» tralian industry and their efficient training The first conference, as 1 think the honorable gentleman knows, involves the metal trades and the electrical trades. It is a conference, very broadly based, of manufacturers, representatives of trade unions and, particularly, representatives oi the” various State departments of labour. I have had reports already of a real feeling of goodwill and of eagerness on the part of all parties to co-operate in finding a solution to the problems oi productivity and of changing the ratio oi skilled to unskilled workers in industry. 1 am glad the honorable gentleman has raised this question. I think it is so important that 1 will see that the background of it is conveyed to all members of the conference.
– My question is directed to the Postmaster-General, and I preface it by reminding him that a short time ago I asked him about the installation of closed-circuit television in the General Post Office, Hobart The Minister disputed several points I made in my question, but promised to make certain information available to me. 1 ask the Minister whether he is now able to supply me with that information and. if he intends to do so by correspondence, when will it be available.
- Mr. Speaker, I did give the honorable member for Bass an undertaking that I would get further information on this matter for him. I have not yet obtained the information which I sought in reply to his question, but I will see whether I can expedite the matter. I I will let him have the information as quickly as possible. That statement does not mean that I withdraw in any way the general remarks which I made in reply to his question.
– I address a question to the Minister for Defence. In reply to a question asked in this House yesterday the Minister said that he would be making a statement on defence this week. Will he assure the House that honorable members who wish to debate the estimates of the Department of Defence and the three service departments, together with the statement on defence, will be allowed to speak tor a period longer than the normal time of fifteen minutes allowed for committee discussions?
Mt TOWNLEY. - The forms of the House vin determine the time that is allotted o this debate. I intend to make a statement on defence later this afternoon and the defence estimates will be debated to-morrow. If I remember correctly, six hours have been allowed in the programme for the discussion of the defence estimates. I think this is a longer period than we have ever previously had and it should be sufficiently long to meet the wishes of the honorable member.
– I address a question to the Minister for Labour and National Service. Has his attention been drawn to the September report of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority on stoppages and delays? If so, did he notice that in the port of Sydney the man-hours lost due to breaches by employers were three times as great in number as the hours lost because of industrial action by the waterside workers? Also, in view of his continued charge of Communist activity on the Australian waterfront, will he advise the House whether he has instituted inquiries to ascertain whether the employer-caused delays have been due to Communist activity?
- Mr. Speaker, this is a somewhat silly question and I will answer it in the way that I think such a question deserves. I have glanced through the report of the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority, but I was not struck by the fact that there was a large loss of man-hours due to failures on the part of the management. I informed the honorable member that I was surprised and disappointed at the heavy loss of man-hours that had taken place due to failure to comply with safety regulations. I have contacted the shipowners on the subject, and I have instructed the officers of my department to furnish a full report and to inform me of what I can do in order to overcome the problem.
I also informed the honorable member < - and this will bear repetition now - that we have tightened up the procedure governing the action which can be taken to prosecute tramp steamers which come to this country and break the safety regulations. I think the honorable member knows - and the House ought to know - that it is mainly the tramp steamers which are causing the trouble. I think you will agree, Sir, that the last part of the honorable member’s question was a little frivolous so I will leave him to work out his own destiny.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Primary Industry. Has he any evidence that the scarcity of whales in Australian waters this season was brought about by Russia’s unscrupulous slaughter of whales and that country’s blatant disregard for the International Whaling Agreement?
- Mr. Speaker, my department has no evidence of this nature.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Defence. In view of the events now taking place between Cuba, the United States of America and Russia, will the Minister ascertain whether the delivery date of the two destroyers which are to be built in the United States of America at a cost of £A.40,000,000 and the first of which is expected to be completed by December, 1965, and the second by December, 1966, will be affected or delayed? Will the Minister consider placing orders with Australian shipyards which, over the years, have proved to be superior to most yards?
– One of the two ships which the honorable member mentioned is due for delivery in the first half of 1965 and the other in the second half of 1965. These destroyers are on a big production line in the United States of America in a variety of shipyards, and construction of the two for Australia is up to schedule at present. We have been given guaranteed delivery dates for them, and I feel confident that they will be delivered on time.
The second part of the honorable member’s question related to Australian ship yards. I hasten to say that I have the highest regard for the work done by the artisans in Australian shipyards. I believe that it is second to none. Unfortunately, however, experience has shown that Australian shipyards work slowly. When we were considering the building of highly sophisticated vessels of the Charles F. Adams class, we felt we could not take the risk that would arise from the undoubted time-lag that would be involved in building the vessels in Australia. In the meantime, we are giving as much work as we can to Australian shipyards. The second two of the type 12 frigate are now passing from the builders to the Navy for commissioning. I am sure that the honorable gentleman, who is a judge of these things, will know that the type 12 frigates are as good as anything of their kind in the world. Unfortunately, even those ships took about eight years to build.
– WU1 the Minister for Repatriation state whether the extensions to the Repatriation General Hospital in Hobart have been completed and, if so, when they will be brought into use?
– I am pleased to inform the honorable member that the first stage of the extensions at the Repatriation General Hospital in Hobart has been practically completed. I might use the words “ at last “ in view of some unfortunate delays in construction, of which the honorable member is aware. During this week patients and the administrative and physiotherapy staffs will be moved into the new wards and the administrative block. In addition, the pathology section will move into new quarters either next week or the week after. Work will then commence immediately on demolition of the old administrative block, which will make way for the erection of a new kitchen block on the site. The modern facilities in this hospital will then be equal to those provided in any other hospital in Australia. The House will be pleased to know that the total cost of these works will be in the vicinity of £280,000.
– I preface my question to the Attorney-General by referring to a statement which was made yesterday by Mr. Renshaw, Deputy Premier and Treasurer of New South Wales, when opening the New South Wales Country Press Conference. The statement was to the effect that restrictive trade practices were hindering the continued operation of country wool-selling centres, flour-mills and other industries, and in a number of cases were responsible for their closure. Mr. Renshaw added that these restrictive trade practices were making it difficult for his Government to carry out its policy of decentralization. I ask the AttorneyGeneral: When can we expect the legislation to combat monopolies and restrictive trade practices which was promised by the Governor-General when opening the Twenty-third Parliament on 8th March, 1960, and which was referred to by the Tariff Board in its 1961 and 1962 annual reports?
– I did not read the statement which was made by the State Minister, but if he is troubled about restrictive practices hindering the selling of wool within his State he has complete power to deal with them. If there is any urgency in the matter, it is remarkable that the State has not done anything. I pointed out a day or two ago that it is quite wrong to say that legislation was promised. What has been happening is this: I have been doing a good deal of the work of the States in an endeavour to frame the kind of legislation that the States can pass in order to protect the people of this country. If any State government becomes impatient about the matter, it is prefectly free to pass any legislation it wants to pass.
– Is the Minister for Labour and National Service aware that in the State of New South Wales there is a proposal to increase the annual leave of employees to four weeks? Does the Minister agree that increased annual leave and shorter working hours will harm our already over-taxed primary and secondary industries competing in the export field? Will the Minister do his utmost to prevent this folly of shorter hours spreading throughout the nation?
– I raise a point of order, Mr. Speaker. What the honorable member said is completely untrue.
– Order! There is no substance in the point of order.
– I have been informed that the Sydney City Council has decided to increase the annual leave of its employees to four weeks, and I do know that the New South Wales Government adopts a most irresponsible attitude to the problems of primary industry. What it has decided to do is to reduce the hours of work to 40 a week. The primary industries and the export industries are protesting. This is obviously what the honorable member was referring to. I am afraid that there is nothing that I can do about this. It is within the power of both the State Government and the Sydney City Council to act in the way they intend. All I hope is that when they and others take action they will remember that our export industries have to compete actively in overseas markets, and that every increase in costs adds to their burden and prevents them doing so effectively. This is a lesson that really must be learned by all. and I hope that what the honorable member has said will bring the facts home to those who make the decisions.
– I ask the Prime Minister, as head of the Australian Government, whether, when dealing with the recommendations of the Legislative Council for Papua and New Guinea for a reformed council having a majority of elected members, he will consider the case for reform of the Northern Territory Legislative Council along the lines of the New Guinea recommendations. In making this request, I remind the right honorable gentleman that the last reform of the New Guinea council was introduced as recently as October of 1960, while the last reform of the Northern Territory council was eighteen months earlier, in April of 1959. If the Government does not intend to consider the case for the Northern Territory council, will the Prime Minister state the difference in merit, as he sees it. between the cases submitted by the two Territories?
– This problem is in the good and sound hands of my colleague, the Minister for Territories, who is by no means unaware of the problems either of the Northern Territory or of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. He has displayed a mind by no means infertile in producing ideas with relation to each of these Territories. As always, I will be interested to see what he has to put up at any time, and I will treat it with respect.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for External Affairs. I refer to President Kennedy’s broadcast to the nation, in which he informed the people that Russia had established nuclear weapons bases in Cuba. Can the Minister say whether any of the governments of South-East Asian countries which have accepted economic aid from Russia have given any assurances, either to the Australian Government or to the United Nations Organization, that they will not permit Russia to establish nuclear bases in those countries?
-I can inform the honorable member that no such assurance has been received by the Australian Government, and that no such assurance has been sought. Most of the countries which accept aid from the Soviet follow a non-alinement policy and have been quite consistently opposed to the establishment of nuclear weaponsbases in their areas. India and Ceylon, which have received aid from the Soviet, have given unqualified assurances to the Acting Secretary-General of the United Nations that they will not manufacture or house or receive nuclear weapons. Burma, which also has received Soviet assistance, has given a qualified undertaking. It has said that it will give the undertaking I have already mentioned provided all the present nonnuclear powers give a like undertaking.
Motion (by Mr. Hasluck) agreed to -
That Government business take precedence over general business to-morrow.
In Committee of Supply: Consideration resumed from 23rd October (vide page 1807).
Proposed Vote, £11,792,000.
Proposed Vote, £2,812,000.
.- The Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon), addressing himself to the estimates for his own department, took up 30 minutes of the limited time available for this debate in crawfishing away from the very important matter of the implementation of the principle of equal pay for the sexes for equal work performed. He made it very clear that his Liberal-Country Party Government does not stand for justice and the rights of women. It prefers a policy of discrimination against women. The Minister said that women are playing an increasingly large part in the economic life of their countries. He also said that it is natural that there should be support for theidea that men and women doing precisely the same jobs should receive precisely the same pay. Notwithstanding his acknowledgment of these facts, he failed to act fairly on behalf of women. Of course, we know that he is a bachelor.
As the Minister in charge of the Department of Labour and National Service, the honorable gentleman should play a leading part in providing the best conditions in industry without any discrimination, but instead of offering something constructive in the debate he wasted the time of the House with a drawling diatribe of frenzied excuses. Why should women working alongside men and doing the same work not receive the same pay? The Minister contended that they should get only 75 per cent of the male wage, just for the reason that they are women.
An International Labour Organization convention provides for equal pay for equal work. This principle is clearly laid down by the organization. The principle as set out in the convention was not meant to be treated merely as a set of words. It was agreed upon by a majority vote of affiliated nations, and each such nation is expected to implement and honour the convention. The Australian Government has failed to honour its obligations in this regard. Thirty-nine other nations affiliated with the International Labour Organization, including many underdeveloped countries not as advanced as Australia is, have implemented the principle of equal pay for equal work. This Government persists in discriminating against women in regard to their rights. In order to scare women out of fighting for those rights the Minister said that the likely cost of giving pay justice to women in Australia would be £200,000,000 a year. I challenge the Minister to prove the correctness of that figure. When he made his speech in the committee last week he did not give any facts or any proof to support the figure. The Minister, indeed, made it very clear where he and the Government stand on this important matter. He concluded his speech by saying -
In the light of what has been said, the Government does not think it appropriate to invite the Premiers to a discussion of the question of uniform legislation to deal with equal pay.
We know that, as the Minister mentioned, two governments have implemented the important principle of equal pay and thereby have given justice to women. One of them is the New South Wales Government. It did this because it is a Labour government, and it is the Labour Party’s policy to institute equal pay. That is the policy of the party in this Parliament, and it will be given effect after we have won the next general election.
I believe that there are many important reasons why the principle of equal pay should be implemented. I believe that implementation of the principle is important to working women because it is a matter of simple justice. It will ensure women receiving what they are entitled to receive for the work they do. I believe that people should be paid according to their needs, not according to their sex. It is also very important to working men, because it would afford men greater wage and job security and would discourage employers from hiring women for less money or, as sometimes happens, from replacing men with women workers at lower rates. We know that in these days of mechanization and automation we are reaching the stage where a job can be done by the pressing of a button, and women are just as capable of doing that as men are. Unequal pay is a threat to the wages and conditions of men in industry, because unscrupulous employers are naturally prepared to pay women less for doing the same work as men can do.
Implementation of the principle of equal pay is also important to industry itself, because it would protect fair employers from the unfair competition of others who attempt to use women as undercutters of men’s wages. This kind of thing actually happens. There are unscrupulous employers and unscrupulous managements which disregard the rights of breadwinners if they can get a job done on the cheap. Implementation of the principle is also important to housewives, because it means more economic security for them and their children as it protects the wages of the male heads of families.
I wish to direct the attention of honorable members to the promises made in 1949 on these very important matters by the members of this Government. Honorable gentlemen opposite gained election in that year on promises in regard to this and similar matters which they have failed to honour. I have in my hand the printed copy of the joint policy speech of the antiLabour parties delivered by the present Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies), who was then Leader of the Opposition, during the 1949 election campaign. It bears a photograph of the right honorable gentleman and it contains the promises that he and his colleagues used to gain office. Most of these promises have remained unfulfilled. One section of the copy of this policy speech is headed “ Women’s Special Problems “. I know that women have many problems. On that subject the right honorable gentleman said -
We have never accepted the view that men and women have an entirely distinct interest in politics, or that only some of its problems are proper for the consideration of women. The truth is that all the great questions of policy and administration affect men and women in equal degree.
He said later in that section of his speech -
As it was my privilege to say to you in the Policy Speech of 1946, the women of Australia “have established an unanswerable claim to economic, legal, industrial and political equality”.
If that means anything it means that women should be receiving equal pay. The right honorable gentleman continued -
I hope that the time will speedily come when we can say truthfully that there is no sex discrimination in public or private office, in political or industrial opportunity.
If that promise made in 1949 means anything at all it means that the Government is pledged to implement the principle of equal pay and thus give justice to women workers.
I wished to speak on other important matters, one of which is unemployment and another apprenticeship, but the Opposition Whip has told me that the Government intends to limit the debating time on the question before the chair to one hour. As I understand that a number of honorable members wish to speak on this important matter I shall confine my remarks to the subject of equal pay. I believe in equal pay for equal work, and it is time that the Government gave justice in this regard.
.- Regarding the remarks of the honorable member for Banks (Mr. Costa) on the subject of equal pay for women, I admit that it is true that this is a matter on which agreement has been reached at international level, in that umpteen nations have agreed to implement the principle. However, I suggest that the honorable member study the wage systems in the countries where the policy of equal pay is implemented. He will probably find that all of those systems are entirely different from the system of wage fixing by means of arbitration that we have in Australia. In the arbitration authorities and in the Public Service we have independent bodies which fix the rates of wages, and we do not want to interfere with that system. The question of equal pay should go before the arbitration court, which is the authority to decide on it. Heaven forbid that the fixation of wages and conditions should ever become a political football!
– It has in New South Wales.
– That sort of thing happens, with political parties using what is in effect bribery and corruption in order to gain or retain power. The proper place to have the equal pay matter determined is the court, which can consider the pros and cons of the whole thing. No doubt equal pay will benefit many people, but there would also be detriments, so let the arbitration court decide on it, rather than have it decided by this or any other parliament.
– You have the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration loaded with your judges. What about Joske?
The. CHAIRMAN (Mr. Lucock).- -Order! The honorable member for Kingsford Smith must remain silent.
– I turn to the question o£ wages generally. Members of the Labour Party have frequently said that thi Australian Country Party, of which I a, proud to be a member, is a low-wage party Nothing is further from the truth. Unfortunately, I have heard so-called economist^ on the Labour Party side and even; economists outside the Parliament - ments bers of a profession which deals in the. most inexact science in the world, which involves the giving of individual opinions by economists who cannot agree on any one., matter - say that they are not concerned with costs but only with high wages. Of course, wages are closely related t<j costs, because costs are largely dependent upon the level of wages. I have heard people say, talking about the development of this country, that, in order to get a’ greater home consumption of our goods,’ we need higher wages. Nothing could be further from the truth. I ask the economists to sink their teeth into this problem. Higher wages do not create an increased demand for goods. An overall increase in wages may do that, provided the total wages bill is spread over a greater number of consumers. I repeat that it is not higher wages that creates greater demand. Certainly high wages will create a high living standard, and we have that in Australia, but they do not create an increased demand.
If a man on £20 a week can comfortably afford to buy one shirt every now and again, he will not buy more shirts if he is given another £1 a week. He will not buy more shirts because he does not need them. A man who gets £1 a week more in wages will not buy more butter if he was already earning enough to enable him to fill his belly. If you give him more money he will not spend it on buying more food; he cannot expand his stomach. What is wanted to create a greater demand is more stomachs. I wish honorable members opposite, and the economists, would bear that in mind. An increase in the basic wage rate, or in margins, does not mean that there will be an increased demand for goods of which people are getting sufficient already. They will not buy more merely because they get more money. We are concerned with the home market for our primary and secondary products. The number of people we can sell them to - the demand for those goods - is what is important, rather than the number of people who are given high wages merely for the sake of giving them more money.
Having squashed the members of the Labour Party and left them breathless and without a cry, I want now to refer to port handling charges. I think this subject comes within the control of the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon). In March of this year the Parliament passed an amendment to the Stevedoring Industry Act providing for an increase in the stevedoring industry charge of lOd. per man-hour. In introducing the legislation, the Minister said that 9d. of this increase had already been absorbed by the shipping companies. He further said that, because of this, there would be no necessity for port handling charges to be increased. This was very welcome news. But, to my astonishment, on Thursday, 5th April, I saw a headline in the “ West Australian “ reading “ Port Charges Increased “. I quote from that newspaper -
Handling charges for goods shipped to and from Fremantle have been increased by 10 per cent.
The increases automatically cams after a rise of lOd. a man-hour in the Stevedoring Industry charge for each .waterside worker employed, effective from April 1.
Handling charges, levied by tha Fremantle Harbour Trust, are the cost of handling cargo inwards and outwards between the ship’s slings and the carrier’s trucks.
This was a direct contradiction of what the Minister had given us to understand- that cargo handling charges would not be increased. As a result of the Minister’s assertion, the Parliament assented to the legislation without a dissentient voice, honorable members believing that charges would not be increased. Had I known that there was to be an increase, I certainly would have raised my voice in protest. I feel that somewhere, somehow, Western Australian members have been sold a pup.
I made inquiries to ascertain why the Fremantle Harbour Trust found it necessary to pass on the increased charge to the extent of increasing cargo handling charges by 10 per cent. I discovered that the circumstances prevailing at Fremantle in rela tion to these charges are entirely different from those applying in any other port in Australia. In other ports, the cargo handling charges are a component of the shipping freights, so that the exporter or importer owning the cargo does not know what proportion of the cargo handling charges he is bearing. At Fremantle, these charges are entirely separate. The importers and exporters pay the shipping freights, and, in addition, they pay a cargo handling charge. That system is very good, and it could well apply in other ports, but because of this system applying only to Western Australia I feel that those meeting this cost are being taken for a ride by the shipping companies.
When I raised this matter in Western Australia I was told to be very careful. I was warned, “ You are going to buck a mighty influence”. Well, I am quite prepared to buck that mighty influence. Furthermore, I was told that, because of this system, it is almost as cheap to send a bale of wool from Brisbane to London as it is from Fremantle to London. The people shipping from Fremantle pay an additional handling charge, and the shipping companies claim that they make an allowance for that in fixing freight charges from Fremantle. However, despite the separate handling charge applied in that port, every time there is an increase of 2 per cent., 5 per cent, or 10 per cent, in shipping freights, the same percentage of increase is applied to Fremantle. That gives the lie to the claim of the shipping companies that, in fixing freight charges, they distinguish between Fremantle and other ports.
– There was a 5 per cent, increase this year.
– I thank the honorable member for reminding me of that. Fremantle was not excluded from that increase. The shipping companies claim that increased freight charges are made necessary by increased handling charges. I bring these matters to the attention of the Minister for Labour and National Service, and I suggest that the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) might also interest himself in them, as well as the Government of Western Australia, with a view to ensuring that the importers and exporters in that
State will not be taken for a ride by the shipowners, as I suggest they are being taken now.
I have been given an explanation of the increased charge imposed by the harbour authority, but I am not satisfied with that explanation. However, that is a matter that I am prepared to take up with the State authorities. I feel that it is time some one did something about removing another disability that is suffered by Western Australia as a result of it being a member of this federation.
.- I understand that the debate on this section of the Estimates is drawing to a close. Before it concludes, I should like to mention a few of the problems that specifically affect the area that I represent, the northern part of Queensland, and principally the area round Ingham and Ayr. As honorable members know, about 70 per cent, of the population of that area consists of people of migrant stock, of whom about 99 per cent, are Italians. Many of these people have been here for 50 or 60 years, and have families here. Many of them still have relatives in Italy. These people mostly are well off and would like to bring their relatives to Australia.
I have no complaint about the immigration machine as it exists now; it seems to be run fairly well. The officers of the department are courteous and do their best. However, the machine sometimes seems to stick when some one tries to put it into operation.
Communications have improved over the years, but satisfaction is obtained in these matters only after a terribly long time. On several occasions, I have received complaints that although air fares have been paid for a prospective migrant to come to Australia - in one instance with which I was concerned1, a brother in Australia had already paid the air fares - eighteen months or two years have elapsed before the migrant was able to get here. Indeed, only after I had made representations to the Department of Immigration in several cases was it possible for the migrants to get to this country.
Something like 260,000 Italians are working in Germany, and, owing to developments in the European Economic Community, our problem of getting migrants will be much greater in the next few years, as the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Downer) knows. I think that more advantage should be taken of the ready-made migrants, shall I say, who are undoubtedly available. I refer to those who have close relatives already in Australia. I ask the Minister to look into this aspect of immigration and see whether there is some means by which we can speed up the passage to Australia of prospective migrants who have in Australia close relatives who are ready to promote their migration, guarantee them, bring them here and look after them when they arrive. The situation in some parts of northern Queensland is really surprising. In one town with a population of 17,000, there are at least 13,000 Italians. In towns like that, one receives many complaints about the difficulty in bringing out close relatives. The problem is an urgent one, and I consider that it should be looked into.
In northern Queensland, we have a lot of itinerant cane-cutters who are migrants. They go to the north every year, but they do not do much good for the area because they are not permanent residents. They leave as soon as the season gets hot and, as a result, the gangs break up and the sugar harvest suffers. We could replace this labour by bringing out close relatives of people already resident in the north. In this way, we could provide a large body of resident cane-cutters and field workers who would not leave the area. They would help considerably in the development of northern Queensland. I think that most people realize that that area of Australia needs migrants probably more than does any other part of the country, but it is hard to get them. As I have already said, many migrants go there and leave after six months. I should like to think that, in the next year or so, we shall get more migrants to take up permanent residence in the north. However, I think that, because of developments in the European Economic Community, this is unlikely. I should like to see our immigration target of about 125,000 attained every year, and I should like a great proportion of our migrants each year to go to northern Australia. A considerable proportion of the present population of northern Queensland is made up of people who were originally migrants. The proportion is higher than most people realize. The sugar industry largely depends on the Italians. In some parts of northern Queensland, a visitor who does not speak Italian finds himself in some difficulty in communicating with the local people. 1 think that migrants like those Italians who have gone to northern Queensland should be looked after. They are people of the best type. They start with nothing, work long hours and usually seem to get somewhere. They must be looked after for the sake of the defence of that part of Australia.
Another problem arises very often with respect to the migration programme. This relates to health requirements. One migrant, whose case I took up, was rejected originally because he was slightly deaf in one ear. I pay tribute to the Minister, who, in his wisdom, has seen fit to bring the matter to a conclusion satisfactory to the migrant. I thank the Minister for his understanding. However, I think that some of the health requirements are too stringent. I recall another case in which the son of a family proposed to come to Australia, the family intending to follow him. When the family was medically examined, as it happened, his mother was in hospital, and the son’s application to migrate to Australia was deferred. It now looks as though we shall get neither him nor his family. These difficulties over health requirements present a big problem in parts of northern Queensland, where as much as 70 per cent, of the population is composed of Italians. I refer especially to the Ingham district and, to a lesser extent, to the Burdekin River delta. As honorable members know, in both those regions the sugar industry is almost the sole industry.
Another problem in relation to immigration is the fact that the big cities benefit more from an influx of migrants than do country areas. This is wrong. I do not know how we can overcome the difficulty, but we shall have to do so if we are to develop the north as much as is necessary. Migrants in the north, in addition to providing us with cane farmers and labour in the fields, have greatly improved our community culturally. We should be thankful to them for this. We have learned a lot from their habits and way of life, with great benefit to Australia generally.
My main interest in this subject of immigration concerns its importance for the defence of northern Queensland. Most of us realize to-day how important is the defence of that part of the country. As I have said, the sugar industry is still languishing for want of labour. Immediately the hot weather comes on, the cane-cutting gangs begin to break up because the itinerant cutters leave. This season, a good deal of cane will probably be left unharvested if the cutting cannot be completed by the Christmas holidays, because a lot of the mills will not pay overtime rates for the harvesting of cane during the Christmas season. If we could get more migrant labour to settle permanently in the north, especially, as I have suggested, close relatives of migrants who are already permanently resident there, this sort of thing could be largely avoided. I propose to take up no more of the committee’s time, because the time available for the discussion of these estimates is limited.
.- Mr. Temporary Chairman, my attention will be directed to the estimates for the Department of Immigration, and my preliminary remarks will deal with the results of last year’s programme and the sources from which our migrants are drawn. During 1961-62, there was, unfortunately, a decline in the number of settlers arriving in Australia and some noticeable increase in permanent departures from this country. The net gain from migration was smaller than in the two previous years. This may be attributed partly to the economic situation, which did not lend itself to a very high level of immigration. I suggest that we should recognize that, as the number of migrants lessens, the impact on various industries, such as the building industry, reduces the demand for services and so affects the absorption of migrants.
I am pleased to note that last year the Government’s policy gave special attention to the bringing out of wives and children, fiancees and other dependants of people already here. There was also a deliberate attempt to reduce the intake of unskilled and semi-skilled labour. Wisely, the emphasis on professional, skilled and other key newcomers remained unaltered. I suggest to the committee that while we experience any difficulty in finding the numbers of migrants that we require if we are to fulfil our programme restrictions regarding family relatives be removed. That, of course, would be conditional on the relatives in this country, who invariably provide the funds to bring out close relatives who come here, offering, as they so often do, an assurance that work and accommodation will be available. I think it is admirable to recognize that, although the percentages of nationalities that we have set may be exceeded, we shall get migrants who will knit into the family life of those families already established here. So I emphasize that point of personal conviction.
With regard to the sources from which our migrants are drawn, it is very interesting indeed to look back over the results and to analyse the sources from which we have obtained our new settlers. An analysis of the figures over a period of fifteen months up to the early months of this year reveals that 10,400 former migrants had left Australia and 8,400 people normally resident here had departed to settle over- seas. These departures reduced the net gain from immigration to 100,400. Of this gain, it is significant to note, the United
Kingdom and Ireland accounted for 39 per cent. Over the same period, we received 22,400 settlers from Italy, and permanent departures for that country were relatively low. The net gain from Italy was approximately 22 per cent of the total. The net gain from Greece was 10,300. However, when we turn to West Germany and the Netherlands, we find that the rate of return was somewhat higher. Arrivals from West Germany numbered 6,000 and there were 900 permanent departures. Whilst 5,500 arrived from the Netherlands, 1,200 left Australia to return. These figures produce a net gain from Germany of 5,100 and from the Netherlands of 4,300. Other figures of interest are the net migration figures for Malta totalling 2,300 and for Spain, Yugoslavia and Austria, about 2,200 each.
With regard to the future, the opinion has been expressed that competition, particularly for skilled labour, is likely to increase in the years immediately ahead. We will, therefore, watch the situation with keen interest, particularly in the United Kingdom, wondering whether the impact of the European Economic Community will create a demand in that country for labour or result in more and more people seeking the opportunities that migration to Australia will undoubtedly present. I believe that we must ever remember that to achieve the targets which the current policy has set, this country must offer an attractive future and a high standard of living to the newcomer. I believe that there is still room in immigration planning to improve further the encouragement that we offer, and the facilities that are available, particularly for the first few years of a new settler’s assimilation into the Australian community.
I shall ever be convinced that the migration programme is of vital importance because we are dealing, not with some inanimate body, but with men and women and boys and girls. Our procedures must therefore be refined to ensure that we handle the problems of immigration on a very high level. Some of my colleagues and I, a few months ago, had the very real privilege of travelling around the coast on a migrant vessel, the motor vessel “Fairsea “, and of travelling by train with some hundreds of migrants from Melbourne to the Bonegilla reception centre. Particularly should I like to refer to our contact with migrants from Spain whom we encountered in those few days. Recently, there has been an airlift of migrants, direct from Spain to Western Australia, my own State, and this has necessitated the re-opening of the Holden centre at Northam. We found that these Spanish migrants were offering a very good range of skilled trades ability, and it is pleasing to note that the womenfolk and children readily adapted themselves to local conditions. It was our privilege to sit at the table and eat with them on board ship. Notwithstanding the difficulties of language differences, we endeavoured to make contact with them as we travelled with them on the train. We were impressed to find the womenfolk and their children - particularly at Bonegilla - settling in after their first few weeks. I trust that our programme will concentrate as far as possible on immigration from Spain. I know that the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Downer) is inclined to do that at this stage.
I should also like to mention that ministerial and departmental co-operation has been extended to the intensive drive by the Western Australian Government to obtain tradesmen migrants from the United Kingdom. Excellent results have been achieved to date. I have asked the question of myself, “ Why is this so? “ I understand that some hundreds of tradesmen have already come by air to Western Australia. I believe that, as a result of the work of a selected recruiting team of three in the United Kingdom, 1,000 tradesmen have already indicated their desire to come to Western Australia. The members of the recruiting team have a good knowledge of Western Australia and its industries and of the various firms seeking tradesmen migrants, as well as the conditions of work that these firms offer. In addition, an assurance regarding housing and schooling and the availability of loans, say, from terminating building societies, has proved more than attractive to the tradesmen who have been interviewed in London or in one of the provincial cities.
In the moments remaining to me I want to deal with an excellent film which the Department of Immigration has been using in recent months overseas as propaganda. The film is titled, “ The Way We Live “. It came under unfair criticism by the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) some weeks ago in this chamber. Because immigration is of such vital importance to Australia it would seem reasonable to expect co-operation from the Opposition rather than the completely unjustified criticism to which I have referred. The honorable member for East Sydney, speaking of this film said -
In this propaganda film, to which attention recently has been directed, the department depicts what it terms the typical English migrant family. The film shows how after twelve months in Australia the family has saved enough to buy a building block at French’s Forest in Sydney and how after another twelve months the family has built its own home. The final scene in the film shows the family sailing on Sydney Harbour in its own yacht.
This is entirely incorrect and constitutes unjustified criticism of a splendid piece of propaganda of which I know the Minister is very proud1. I have here the script of this film, which reads in part as follows: -
We decided to buy a plot of land on time payment while we waited for our loan . . ,
The land would serve as our deposit later . . . Our plot was 50 feet by 100 feet - about average Australian size … It was in an area where the local council allowed brick or timber building . . Many of the houses in Australia are built of timber . . . they suit the climate . . .
It’s a good feeling owning a little bit of your new country . . . Although we knew we would have to wait some time for our loan, we began re-planning our house immediately to reduce building costs . . .
To save more money on the building costs, we cleared our own land . . . and . . . dug the foundations. Finally we got our loan, and the builder began work. That was three years ago now . . we’re paying off our mortgage over 30 years . . . It’s easy to manage on a working wage . . . We’ve gradually furnished our house, too . . .
That was the theme of that section of the film about the home being constructed. There are no words at all in the script regarding the purchase of a yacht by that particular family. When the honorable member for East Sydney made his criticism he referred unjustly to a scene depicting one of the typical sports of Australia on Sydney Harbour.
– He would not do that.
– The honorable member for Hindmarsh knows full well that my statement is correct. I also find it necessary to refer to unjustified criticism by another member of the Opposition. In an extremely political speech, some weeks ago, the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) dealt with hostels in his electorate which he said that he had recently inspected and found to be in a shocking state. The honorable member said -
These hostels are insanitary places . . . The hostels are now a seething mass of discontent.
He also said -
The reason is that they have to live in stinking, temporary accommodation.
When I heard that statement I said to myself, “ This is typical of the honorable member for Lalor when he becomes vicious and political in a speech “. Some of my colleagues and I went to look at three of these hostels and we have submitted our report on what we saw. We entirely disagree with the honorable member for Lalor. We had available to us a very recent health inspector’s report on the three hostels that we looked at. There was not a word of criticism in it. There was nothing insanitary about those hostels. Significantly, all other hostels are considered to be better than the ones we inspected.
The honorable member for Lalor linked up his remarks on these hostels with his political campaign. He said that it was while he was on that campaign that he had visited these migrant hostels in his own electorate. His look must have been superficial. When we were there we interviewed and had a meal with the womenfolk of migrant families who had lived in the hostels for some months. We found that some of them had experimented with the renting of places outside in the community. They had come back deliberately to the migrant hostel because they had found that they could marshall their financial resources better there and prepare for the eventual purchase of their own land to establish their own homes. We found that they were complimentary regarding the accommodation that was made available to them and the very excellent standard of food and services provided. Migration to Australia will flow for many years indeed. I believe, however, that each capital city should be provided with a modern, permanent hostel for migrants. We do not have to put up with what we have; the day is coming when we will want to offer a better standard of accommodation to newcomers who have to be temporarily accommodated until they are assimilated into the community.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I want once again to say something about the Department of Immigration. It is my pleasure to pay a tribute to the administration of this very fine department. I think we are all sorry that the former head of the department, Sir Tasman Heyes, was forced to retire because of age, but we are all very pleased that his place has been taken by a man who has shown himself to be capable of upholding the very high standards of his predecessor. I refer to the very fine work being done by Mr. Heydon.
I think it would be unfair if I did not pay some tribute to the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Downer). I do not know whether good administrative officers make a good Minister or a good Minister makes good administrative officers, or whether it is a mixture of the two. From the time when the present Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) was the first important Minister, and perhaps the first full-time Minister for Immigration, we have had Ministers in charge of this department who have had a fairly humane understanding of the problems that have to be faced by the department. The Minister for Immigration deals with human beings, not with battleships, tanks, jet aircraft or other material matters that are the responsibility of other Ministers. The Minister for Immigration deals with the lives of people. It is most important, therefore, that he should have a humane understanding of what people crave. Above all else, they crave the love of their family, to be united with the family, and if one leaves one’s own country to go to another, one wants to be able to maintain a family there and to have the family reunited in the new country without undue difficulty.
I cannot help but pay tribute once again to the Minister and to his officers. I do not trouble the Minister a great deal, as he knows. I do not have to do so. I can usually get complete satisfaction from the heads of the department, provided I do not ask them to do something that is contrary to the policy laid down by the Minister. Where I have had to ask the Minister to alter the policy in particular cases, I am pleased to say that only in a very few instances has he ever refused to unbend. In my view, this is the sign of good administration. I do not think that a strong Minister is one who says: “1 have spoken. I am the oracle I shall not alter my views because if I do so it will be a sign that I am weak or a sign that I was perhaps wrong in the first instance.” A really strong Minister is one who readily admits that there may have been an error or, if not admitting that there may have been an error, is ready at all times to give the benefit of the doubt to a person who is merely asking for some humane consideration.
I want to pay another tribute to the Minister and to the officers of the department. Every honorable member on this side of the chamber will agree with me when I say that it is refreshing to see a Minister in the chamber during the whole of the time that the estimates for his department are being debated and to see the head of the department and other officers here.
– This is a very busy department, too.
– Yes. They are sitting here ready to answer questions not only from Government supporters, as some people seem to think, but also from Opposition members. We all have equal access, subject to questions of policy, to the heads of the department. To see them sitting here is very good, and this is in striking contrast to the attitude of the Department of Labour and National Service, the estimates for which we are discussing jointly with the estimates of the Department of Immigration. There is no sign of hide or hair of the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon).
– There could not be much sign of hair.
– After all, we are all going bald slowly and, if we stay here long enough, the time may come when these unkind comments are made about us. There is also no sign of the head of the Department of Labour and National Service. I do not say anything about him. He probably has other work to do and I know that he would be here if the Minister were only to say, “ I want you here “. I think the Minister should do at least that much.
In the few minutes at my disposal, I want to refer to a matter that needs attention, and the Minister for Immigration has already recognized this need. He and his charming wife took the trouble to go overseas recently to try to meet the great need to which I am about to refer - the need, to rectify the unbalance of the sexes. I often think that, if the Minister, with his great charm and personality, is not able to succeed in this, who is there that can, unless, perhaps, one or two members from this side of the chamber? The Minister is perfectly correct in trying to solve this problem. I would offer him a suggestion, for what it is worth. It is my own personal view of what ought to be done. I am one who has paid a great deal of attention to migrants from southern Europe, because I have in my electorate more migrants from southern Europe than from other parts of the world. One way to help rectify the unbalance of the sexes - I know it would involve a good deal of money, but I think it would be worth it - would be to offer the assisted passage scheme to women from southern Europe who are nominated by men in Australia to be their wives or to marry them here in Australia.
I think this ought to be done. If it is good enough to extend the assisted passage scheme to British migrants - men, women and children - it ought to be extended at least to the prospective wives of men living in Australia who wish to nominate them. It costs these men a tremendous amount to pay the full fares of their future wives, and some of them just have not enough money. They cannot find the money to pay a deposit on a house and also the fare of their bride.
Even if this proposal were adopted, I am satisfied it would not solve the problem completely. In fact, it would do little more than scratch the surface. The parents of these women, particularly in Italy, are not always happy about their unmarried daughters leaving home to go to another country, even though they have a promise of marriage from a man in that country. Far too often, when the women arrive here they do not like the look of their prospective husbands and decide to marry some one else. They may say, “ I will not marry this monster”. The man may look like a monster to one woman but to another he may look like Ramon Novarro. There is a song about there being a boy for every girl, and I think that is very largely true. It is only when the girl sees the boy that she knows whether she likes him or not.
The assisted passage scheme should be extended in the way I have suggested. In addition, the department should say to a migrant returning to any of the southern European countries, “ If on your return you marry a woman in that country and bring her back to Australia, the Government will still pay something towards the cost of the fare “. I think those two suggestions should be adopted. Finally, I would like the Minister to examine the policy - I know it is based on an historical characteristic of the Australian way of life - of rejecting migrants because they are more than 25 per cent. non-European in appearance. This is a difficult rule to apply.
For a long time now I have been putting to the Minister the case of a person in South Australia who has nominated his wife’s sister as a migrant. For years the department would not let her come to Australia because it said that her appearance was more than 25 per cent. nonEuropean. The final decision in this case is an instance of the Minister’s flexible approach, for which I paid tribute to him a moment ago. Permission has been granted for her to come to Australia and she is now on her way here. The wife of the nominator now has her only blood relation coming to Australia; but I do not think this trouble should have arisen in the first place.
Once the Minister lays down a policy edict of this kind I do not know by what rule his officers in Italy or some other country implement it or by what formula they apply it. I think the Minister ought to have a good look at this question of applying a prohibition on migrants who wish to come to Australia, merely because their appearance is more than 25 per cent. nonEuropean. I hope that when replying to the debate the Minister will deal with this question, even at the risk of having to talk off the cuff about this matter which is so important to the few people who are affected. Some of the intending migrants who are classified as being more than 25 per cent. nonEuropean in appearance are not as dark as some of the women one sees at Bondi, Coogee or other beaches in Australia in the middle of summer. Some of them are much lighter in appearance. I know a lot of Australians who go out of their way to assume this non-European appearance. They buy Sun Tan and all sorts of expensive lotions in order to become nonEuropean in appearance.
I should like the Minister to adopt a different attitude towards those seeking naturalization. I do not think any person should be penalized for his political views or for holding views different from those of the Government. I do not think any person who is subversive or who has a criminal record or who is a danger to this country should be naturalized. He should be deported. If a person has not committed some overt act which would justify deportation, if he has observed the laws of this country and if he has committed no greater crime than that of holding political views different from those of the Government, he should not be refused the right of naturalization. The Government very properly decides that very old people, even though they cannot speak any English, can, in certain circumstances, be granted naturalization. That is a humane and proper attitude. But there are people who are not so old, but who have been here for a long time - ten or twelve years, if you like - and notwithstanding the fact that their English is not good or that they cannot speak the language at all, I think they should in certain circumstances be granted the right to be naturalized. I have in mind a case about which I have written to the Minister, and I will be surprised if it does not receive sympathetic consideration. It relates to a woman who has been with her husband in this country for twelve years. She has cancer and cannot live very long. Her husband is not receiving the basic wage. She has applied for an invalid pension, but cannot get it because she is not naturalized. Neither she nor her husband can speak English properly.
Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– Mr. Temporary Chairman, this debate has spread, intermittently, over three days. I wish to express to the committee my appreciation of the calm, objective and, on the whole, deliberative way in which honorable members on both sides of the chamber have addressed themselves to this large, intricate and humane problem - migration - which is so tremendously important to the future of Australia. I appreciate also the gracious speech of the honorable member for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron). Unfortunately, time will not permit me to reply individually to the various observations - and some criticisms - which have come from both sides of the chamber.
Before passing on to other matters I wish briefly to touch on two main points which have been raised by several speakers. I refer to the question of naturalization and that of migrant hostels. But before doing so, may I say that the honorable member for Hindmarsh, who invited my views on two matters he raised a few moments ago, was quite right in pointing out, by implication, the arbitrariness of the rule relating to migrants of more than 25 per cent. non-European appearance. As with all these things, you come to the dividing line, and invariably hardship and difficulty result in border-line cases. This leads one to the genius of this policy which has been prescribed by Parliament for successive Ministers for Immigration, endowing the Minister for Immigration of the day with such a tremendous degree of discretion. It is incumbent on whoever holds my portfolio at a given time to exercise that discretion - in the light of the circumstances as he sees them - in what he conceives to be the national interest.
I listened with interest to what the honorable member for Hindmarsh said in his plea for further assistance for the fiancees of migrants. I noticed that he, like so many other honorable members of this House and in another place, has a very real, humane and emotional interest in this fascinating subject of femininity. I shall certainly bear in mind what the honorable member said, and I promise to give it careful and sympathetic consideration, to see whether we can make any advance on what we are now doing.
The honorable member for Phillip (Mr. Einfeld) and the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Cope) adverted, one or two days ago, to the question of naturalization and migrant hostels.
I believe the honorable member for Phillip - with perfect genuineness, I am sure - misconstrued my attitude in an answer which I gave in reply to a question asked me in the House last week. I said that it was a matter of real satisfaction that we had, in the last statistical year, achieved an all-time record in the rate of naturalization. In the course of that reply, if I remember rightly, I did not claim complacency over that result or say that I felt it represented the last word. Indeed, my attitude is quite the contrary. Honorable members may recall that in respect of this very difficult question I have from time to time pointed out that you can never really be satisfied because, however hard you try, you never feel you are truly doing enough.
In defence of the Government, I must say that in recent years we have had our eyes always searching the horizons for new ways of inducing people to acquire Australian citizenship in a completely voluntary way. We have always emphasized the voluntary approach to this matter. Honorable members may recall that in 1960 I introduced legislation, which the Parliament accepted, to streamline the procedure to be followed by applicants for naturalization, I think I can say that this has worked out really beyond our expectations. Then again, honorable gentlemen may recall that in 1958 it fell to my lot to bring before the Parliament quite important amendments to the Nationality and Citizenship Act by which we removed the hitherto existing discrimination between first and second class citizens. I think that our action overcame many of the objections of the European communities here. Then I remind the committee that in 1959 - though this is only a small matter - we abolished the fee in order to make naturalization more popular. It is true that this was only a small capitation charge, but nevertheless we felt that it was a minor obstacle. But we are not satisfied. I hope that year by year the rate will improve. We on our part - the Government, myself and the department - will be trying always to find new ways of enlarging the group of foreign-born citizens in our midst and making them fully fledged British subjects and Australian citizens.
Let me now refer to some of the criticisms which have been made about migrant hostels. I do not think it can be emphasized too strongly that from the start the object of these hostels was not the provision of permanent residences. By definition, they are something which fulfil only a temporary purpose. This is proved by the fact that the average length of stay of migrants in these hostels has been ten months for European and fifteen months for British settlers. The committee may be interested to know that from 1948 until 13 th October this year nearly 269,000 people have passed through these hostels. The overwhelming majority of these 269,000 people have proceeded either to flats or to the acquisition of their own homes. In spite of all the criticisms, that is not a bad record. In spite of what honorable gentlemen may say, that shows 1 that in substance the hostels are fulfilling their purpose as transient residences for newcomers to this country. May I also remind the committee, because I think the honorable member for Hughes (Mr. L. R. Johnson) yesterday made some animadversions about the tariff in the hostels, that the estimates upon which we are now deliberating provide for a subsidy of not less than £1,500,000 for hostel rates. That, I think the committee will agree, is a pretty considerable sum.
Following my custom of previous years, I should like to take the opportunity afforded by this debate to inform the committee, and through it the Parliament, of some details of the Government’s immigration programme for the financial year 1962- 63. First of all we propose to bring in 55,000 assisted migrants and secondly - taking the long-term and permanent figure, about which I shall say something more in a moment - we propose to bring in 70,000 people full-fare making a total, as my colleague the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) announced in his Budget speech, of 1 25.000. Of the assisted migrants, we propose that 34,000 will come from the United Kingdom; another 2,000 will also be British, coming from Ireland and other British countries under our general assisted-passage scheme; 1,000 will come from Malta; and 2,000 will be brought from other countries under the general assisted-passage scheme. We hope to attract 3,500 Germans with assisted passages; 4,000 Dutch; 2,000 Italians; 1,000 Austrians; 1,500 Greeks; 2,000 Spaniards; 1,000 refugees and 1,000 Belgians.
In case I may be misunderstood, I repeat that in this instance I am speaking purely about those who come here on assisted passages. The programme may be subject to some variation. I think that instead of 1,000 Maltese we are much more likely to get 1,500, and I know that the committee will be pleased when I state that, according to recent information that I have received, we now have the opportunity to obtain more skilled workers from Malta. It seems almost certain that our intake of Spanish migrants, of which the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Cleaver) spoke so appreciatively, will exceed quite considerably the 2,000 target that we have set. As I have said, these are not hard and fast figures.
Indeed, they could not be at this stage of the financial year.
Turning to the other part of the immigration programme, relating to those who come here paying their own fare, we expect that there will be 15,000 Italians, 5,000 Greeks, 1,500 Maltese, 13,500 other European nationalities, and of course 35,000 British. But, as the committee by now will realize, this last figure includes returning Australians. It is difficult to gauge accurately the actual settler intake so early in the financial year, but my tentative opinion is that we shall do better in 1962-63 than we did in 1961-62, when we had a settler intake of 85,808. For reasons which shortly I shall give, I now think that we can expect between 90,000 and 95,000 migrant settlers in the current financial year; but that is subject to these provisos: That the buoyant tendencies of the economy continue; that there is no major war; and that the interest of intending British and European settlers remains at the level of recent months.
What are the reasons for this comparatively hopeful forecast? First, the Government’s measures for stimulating the economy and reducing unemployment undoubtedly are succeeding. This means that there will be a general increase over the whole range of migrant categories. Secondly, despite the present moves for European economic unity and despite the unprecedented prosperity of western Europe, which honorable members who have been overseas in the last parliamentary recess will have noticed, the number of applications by people interested in coming to Australia is flourishing, especially in the United Kingdom. The committee may be interested in the figures which I shall cite because they are very revealing. In the first quarter of this financial year, that is to say, from July to September inclusive, nearly 26,000 people in Great Britain applied for assisted passages to Australia. In July 6,683 applied, in August 10,060, in September 9,141, and I have just now received progressive figures for this month of October. In the first three weeks of this month nearly 8,000 people in the United Kingdom applied to come here, and if this rate continues throughout October we expect to get, in round figures, 11,000 applicants for this month alone.
– That is marvellous!
– As the honorable member says, it is marvellous, because these figures of applications from the United Kingdom represent a record for the time of the year. Let me take the month of August as an example. Out of the 10,060 men, women and children who applied to come here, approximately 1,000 are skilled workers, and 700 of them - and this will satisfy my friend from Hindmarsh - were single women.
The significance of this enhanced application rate can best be appreciated by comparing it with the figures for the two previous years. In the first quarter - that is, the comparable period - of 1961-62, 9,148 people in Great Britain applied. In the year before, 1960-61, 13,506 applied. Therefore, the rate for the first quarter of this financial year is nearly double that of two years ago. I suggest to the committee that these are really significant, really important, figures when one considers the great political and economic movements that are taking place in the United Kingdom and Europe as we sit and deliberate here this afternoon.
My third reason for confidence that we will achieve our target this year is that in the last twelve months the Government has opened three new migration offices abroad, one in Madrid in June, another in Paris in July, and a third in Cairo last August. Honorable members will, I hope, be glad to know that our Spanish venture has begun well. I am personally convinced, from the warm and friendly discussions I had when I visited Spain last June, that a long stream of really worthwhile Spaniards will be coming to Australia in the future. In the last financial year we brought here 1,831 of them, and, as I said earlier, I personally believe that, on the present rate of applications, arrivals from Spain this year will greatly exceed the estimate.
Now let me refer to the Paris office. For more than two years the French Government has approved of the operation of our general assisted passage scheme, but since last June there has been such an upsurge of inquiries at the Australian Embassy in Paris that we found it necessary to open a separate immigration office. I do not want to sound too optimistic at this stage about our French prospects, and it is certainly too early to say this year how many French people we are likely to receive, but I am quite hopeful that what we are doing now is laying the foundations of a scheme that will result in the regular flow of people from France in the years to come.
Our third new migration office was opened in August in Cairo. Many honorable members will recall, from their representations to me over the years, that there are quite large colonies in Egypt of Italians, Greeks and Armenians, people of good education, frequently speaking a variety of languages, and with quite valuable talents. It is to facilitate the applications of these people and assist their entry, to avoid their having to go to Athens for interview and processing, or to wait for long periods for visiting Australian missions to come from Greece to interview them, that we have opened this office in Cairo.
Another reason why I think we shall do much better this year than we did last year is that there is a distinct possibility that we shall exceed the figure of 1,000 that the Government has set down for refugees. Some honorable members may recall my announcement three weeks ago of the arrival of anything up to 1,000 White Russians from the Three Rivers province in northern China. This is a development that has come about since these estimates were framed, and it now seems that the total number of refugees coming here may be several hundred greater than we contemplated when the estimates were drawn up.
I am also hoping, Mr. Chairman, that the extra amount provided for publicity in these estimates will give good results. The vote for publicity, as the committee is aware, has been increased by £91,000, making a total for publicity for the department of £286,000 for the year. In a world in which the inducements for people to remain at home are obviously far more compelling than they were in the mid-1950’s, publicity is the last field in which a government bent upon an imaginative immigration policy can afford to economize. I would like to direct the attention of members of the committee to the way in which the publicity vote for this department has expanded during the last five years. Between 1957 and 1958 we spent £80,000 on publicity. Publicity was not nearly so necessary then as it is now, because immigrants were very much easier to attract in the 1950’s. In 1958-59 we raised the amount to £120,000. In 1959-60 it was again increased to £150,000. Then for the two years from 1960 to 1962 it was increased to £195,000, and for this year, as I said a moment ago, it has gone up to £286,000. This, I suggest, is another earnest of the Government’s real determination, its enthusiastic determination, to develop Australia by bringing more people here.
The last reason, Sir, that I will give for confidence in the success of our programme this year is the great goodwill towards Australia that I encountered in every country that I visited recently - not only the United States of America and the United Kingdom, but also the countries of western Europe. This goodwill was particularly marked in West Germany and Holland, although it was quite pronounced everywhere. The economies of those two countries are booming, as honorable members realize. They are suffering an acute shortage of labour, and consequently, hope as we must, I am afraid that for the next year or so we cannot expect as many immigrants from Germany and Holland as we received in the years of thelast decade. Nonetheless, there is a lively appreciation on the part of the governments of those nations of what we in Australia are trying to do. There is a wide appreciation in those countries, especially amongst officials, of our rising place in the world, and of our position as a vigorous partner of British and European civilization in the Pacific.
I have the impression, as I go about my business in the world, that there is an increasing realization amongst European statesmen that in the future Australia will be a country of added importance to Europe. They also know that without more people - meaning, of course, their people - we in Australia cannot succeed in fulfilling our own dreams, dreams in which the statesmen of Europe are now beginning to share.
.- Mr. Chairman-
Motion (by Mr. Hasluck) agreed to -
That the question be now put.
Proposed votes agreed to.
– by leave - The defence programme which I announced in 1959 was satisfactorily completed on 30th June last. In this statement on the defence estimates for 1962-63 I shall inform the House of the Government’s decisions regarding the new three years’ programme commencing this financial year.
Our defence preparations are achieved through a series of programmes each of three years’ duration. These are designed to give progressive effect to the objectives of defence policy approved by the Government. The three-year period of the present programme should, therefore, be viewed, not in isolation, but as part of a continuing and progressive pattern of development related to a forward look at situations that might confront us in future years.
The last programme was prepared to meet an assessment of continuing instability in the areas of strategic concern to us. This called for the progressive development of highly trained forces of all three services, equipped with modern, conventional weapons and as self-contained as possible. These would be readily available to work either together or with allied forces in situations that might pose a threat to our security, wherever they might develop. Australia’s geographic circumstances, with the great areas and distances in our region of strategic interest, require that the highest emphasis be placed on forces which are mobile and able to move quickly to any threatened area. The current review has fully vindicated the wisdom of this policy. It will be continued and expanded in the new programme.
During the three years of the last programme defence expenditure totalled £193,500,000 in 1959-60, £198,000,000 in 1960-61 and £203,000,000 last financial year - an increase, it will be seen, of some £10,000,000 in the three-year period. The funds voted by the Parliament in each of these years were fully spent on approved objectives.
The new three-year programme will require substantial increases in the annual level of our defence expenditure. An amount of £210,000,000 was included in the Estimates for this financial year, the first year of the new programme. As stated in the Budget speech on 7th August, this was a tentative figure pending completion of inquiries into actual outgoings under the programme in the current financial year. It is now estimated that actual expenditure this year will be of the order of £ 212,700,000. The additional moneys required will be sought in due course in Additional Estimates.
As the programme develops, the proposals which have been approved for increased strengths of the services, purchases of new equipment and other new projects will require increasing financial provision. It is at present estimated that the cost in 1963- 64, the second year of the programme, will rise to some £218,000,000 and in 1964- 65 to about £220,000,000. These costs for the second and third years of the programme are planning figures, and the actual amounts required will be sought in the Estimates at the beginning of each financial year. It can be seen that on the basis of present planning there will have been an increase of nearly £30,000,000 during the last programme and the one now commencing.
It is worth reminding honorable members of the procedures followed in the formulation of the defence programme, and to emphasize them, as the point is so often overlooked, or even forgotten. A comprehensive review must be made of all the complex considerations involved in modern defence, embracing not only strategic and military, but also scientific and technological, external affairs, financial and economic factors. Cabinet has the benefit of uptodate expert advice from its professional advisers in all these fields. In addition, the arrangements we have for the exchange of views and informationat all levels with our allies, and for joint planning with them, give us access to a much wider range of data on which to base our preparations and to ensure that they fit most effectively into the allied pattern.
The processes followed are simply stated but they are worth repeating. As mentioned, they often tend to be forgotten. First, there is a strategic appreciation. This takes into account -
Future trends in the international situation, including the likelihood of war.
The assessment of possible threats to our own security.
This is based on the great range of information which is available to us from our own and allied intelligence sources. The assessment not only covers the situation for to-day and the period of the programme but is projected forward as far as one can reasonably foresee. I pause here to make a point. There are many men who, in the past, have rendered most distinguished service to the nation in the armed forces and who now hold their own views - strong views sometimes - on what is required for the defence of the country. I often receive letters and resolutions from individuals and organizations interested in these matters Their suggestions are always considered, and I welcome their interest. It should be remembered, however, that they do not have the advantage of the intelligence information which is available to the Government through its military advisers. Now to the next element in policy formulation, namely -
The plans developed in conjunction with our allies. For obvious reasons, these are matters which cannot be discussed publicly but they are at the very heart and core of our defence planning and programming.
It is in the light of these factors that the programme is formulated. It is this that determines the defence policy objectives, the priorities of defence effort, the roles and organization of the forces, their equipment and support backing.
Turning to the strategic basis of policy, there clearly remains a continuing risk of limited war in areas of tension throughout the world. Current events in Cuba and the north-east of India give added cause for grave concern. There are many areas in South-East Asia, which are of primary strategic importance to Australia, where there have been increasing Communist pressures.
This strategic situation requires that Australia’s Navy, Army and Air Force must be as efficient as we can make them. It is equally evident that, in the conditions of the modern world, no country can ensure its security in isolation. The pressures of aggressive international communism, which constitute the main threat in the world to-day, can only be countered by the enhanced strength which comes from collective security. For this reason, Australia pursues a policy of active association with allies in mutual security arrangements such as Anzus, Seato and the British Commonwealth for defence co-operation. In this way, we make a worth-while contribution to the security and stability of our more exposed friends. In turn, we attract the support of allies should we be threatened. The Government attaches the highest value to these treaty arrangements with our great allies, and to the obligations of mutual assistance in the event of attack. These were re-affirmed at the Anzus council meeting in Canberra last May, attended by the United States Secretary of State, Mr. Dean Rusk, as the final communique shows.
The current review of the strategic basis of defence policy has indicated, in short, that the requirement is for continued development of the armed forces on the pattern established in the last programme. On the basis of forward-looking assessments, this gave first priority to flexible, mobile, and readily available forces. As I have stated, the present programme provides for the progressive expansion of our defence effort on these lines, to increase further the level of Australian military capability and preparedness.
I come now to the three services and shall deal, first, with the Navy. Honorable members will recall that approval was given in the last programme for the initiation of a number of important new projects designed to further the continuing process of modernization of the Royal Australian Navy. Progress with these projects is well advanced, as will be seen from the following: -
The two guided missile destroyers of the “ Charles F. Adams “ class, which are being built in the United States, will be delivered during 1965. As I said at question time to-day, one will be delivered in the first half of the year and the other in the second half. These powerful, modern, all-purpose warships will considerably enhance the strength of the Royal Australian Navy.
Delivery has commenced of 27 Westland Wessex Mark 31 helicopters, which will be used to equip H.M.A.S. “ Melbourne “ in its new role of antisubmarine helicopter carrier in 1963. A fleet requirements unit of fixed-wing fighter aircraft will be retained.
The six “ Ton “ class minesweepers purchased from the United Kingdom have been commissioned and are on their way to Australia. I should mention that these units are the most modern of their type available. They are equipped to deal with magnetic, acoustic and the normal moored mines. Two of the vessels will be specially fitted to operate as minehunters.
The former aircraft carrier H.M.A.S. “ Sydney “ has been converted to its new role of fast transport and is in commission. This has improved immeasurably the strategic mobility of the Australian forces.
The further two Type 12 anti-submarine frigates, “Stuart” and “Derwent”, which are being built in Australia, are due for completion in the latter part of next year. These will be equipped with the Seacat short-range air defence missile, which will later be fitted to other units of the fleet. Two ships of this type, “ Parramatta “ and “ Yarra “, are already in commission. These Type 12’s are fast antisubmarine frigates, and incorporate the most advanced equipment for detecting and destroying submarines.
The new specialized survey ship, which is being built in Australia, will be completed during 1963.
The fast fleet replenishment tanker, H.M.A.S. “Supply”, has been commissioned and is on her way to Australia. This unit will add considerably to the mobility of the Royal Australian Navy.
At the end of the programme period, the operational fleet of the Royal Australian Navy will comprise the following major units: -
An anti-submarine helicopter aircraft carrier; three “ Daring “ class destroyers; four new Type 12 anti-submarine frigates; and two Battle class destroyers.
In addition, there will be the fast transport, H.M.A.S. “Sydney”, the fleet tanker, the flotilla of minesweepers and a substantial number of support units, including ships for training, oceanographic and hydrographic survey, coast watching and various miscellaneous duties. There are also destroyers, frigates and other ships held in reserve. These, of course, can be brought into service to meet any need for expansion in an emergency.
By arrangements made with the United Kingdom, three modern Royal Navy T-class submarines will be based on the Australian station for some years, and this satisfactorily meets present requirements for the anti-submarine training of the Royal Australian Navy and the maritime reconnaissance squadrons of the R.A.A.F. The major refits of these submarines are now undertaken in Australia, thereby providing work and experience for Australian dockyards. Their presence on this station also provides the opportunity for R.A.N. personnel to gain experience in submarine operations.
The Navy requires additional personnel to man fully all operational ships and to provide essential shore backing. Provision has therefore been made in the present programme to increase the strength of the permanent naval forces from the present total of approximately 11,100 to 12,500. Provision has also been made for the modernization of units at present in service, as necessary.
The ships and men of the Royal Australian Navy are kept at the highest state of readiness by constant exercises in all aspects of naval warfare. Two destroyers or frigates serve with British and New Zealand ships in the British Commonwealth Strategic Reserve, and the aircraft carrier joins this force for a period each year. Our naval forces participate regularly in large-scale multi-national maritime exercises with other Seato and Commonwealth navies. These provide most valuable experience for our own units and are of the utmost importance in ensuring that the forces of the various allied nations learn to work and operate together.
The operational fleet of the Royal Australian Navy, backed by its reserves and essential shore establishments, is a modern and effective naval force at ready availability. With its special emphasis on antisubmarine capability, it is well constituted to discharge its strategic role - the defence of sea communications and co-operation with allies and sister services in general operations of war.
Expenditure on the Navy last financial year totalled £47,700,000. £48,890,000 is being provided in this year’s Estimates and this will rise to £49,400,000 under the programme approved since the presentation of the Budget.
I deal next with the Army. For the last three-year programme beginning in 1959, the Government approved a major re-organization of the Army. This involved an increase in the strength of the permanent operational forces, reductions in administrative, maintenance and training units, and a fully volunteer Citizen Military Force available for service anywhere. There was also increased and substantial provision for the purchase of modern equipment. I would like to emphasize that this was a very considerable task of re-organization, and it is to the credit of the Army that it has been successfully carried through in the last three years. The Army is now established on a basis which is closely adapted to the tasks it might have to carry out in cold or limited war situations, and is in a position where it can be further strengthened to perform its allotted role.
The Army has the following main operational units: -
A battalion group of the permanent Army in Malaya in the Commonwealth Strategic Reserve.
Two battle groups of the permanent Army in Australia.
Three C.M.F. battle groups which, with the two permanent battle groups, make up the first Australian division; and a further five C.M.F. battle groups to make up a second Australian division.
I shall deal first with the permanent forces. The total strength of 21,000 which was approved in the last programme has been achieved and, in fact, exceeded in recent months. The battalion group in Malaya is at its full peace-time strength and has just completed a tour of duty in security operations against the Communist terrorists in the northern border areas of Malaya. The two regular battle groups in Australia are stationed at Enoggera, in Queensland, and at Holsworthy, in New South Wales. They are at their planned strength and regularly carry out largescale exercises. For example, over a threeweek period beginning this week, more than 8,000 troops will carry out the most extensive Army exercise yet held in Australia. During this period, the two battle groups and logistic support forces will engage in mobile operations resembling as closely as possible those which might be necessary in an overseas theatre. All members of the Regular Army field force receive continual training in tropical warfare. Over one-third of these personnel have had experience in these conditions in Malaya, through service in the Australian component of the strategic reserve.
The Government attaches particular importance to having the permanent field force, including its combat and logistic support units, at a high state of operational readiness. Experience gained since the introduction of the pentropic organization, together with the conduct of realistic exercises, and close study of the operational concepts which could govern the employment of our forces, have indicated the lines along which the Regular Army could be strengthened to give it maximum effectiveness. The Government has accordingly decided that during the next three years the Australian Regular Army shall be progressively expanded from the figure of 21,000 approved for the last programme to reach a new strength of 24,500 by June, 1965. This is an increase of 3,500 men, or some 17 per cent. In addition to providing first reinforcements, the increased strength will be distributed throughout various combat, logistic support and training and administrative units. The effect of this Army expansion will be to bring the regular field force to a higher state of training and combat readiness, and give it a greater logistic capability to sustain itself in a theatre of war. This will certainly be the most effective force ever established in Australia in peace-time.
During the last three-year programme the Government emphasized its desire to have strong and efficient Citizen Military Forces, over and above the permanent forces, for rapid follow-up of the regular field force and as a basis for expansion in war. It accordingly approved volunteer citizen forces of 30,000. This strength has been slightly exceeded - a very satisfactory result which belies some gloomy forecasts made three years ago. The transition from a national service scheme to fully volunteer citizen forces has required a period of settling down, but there is no doubt that the citizen forces are developing into effective forces for the performance of their allotted role. The scheme for integrated training of C.M.F. units with Regular Army forces, wherever practicable, and with new weapons, has greatly added to the interest and realism of C.M.F. training. Citizen units will participate in the major Army exercise beginning this week. An increase of some 2,500 in the Citizen Military Force is required to achieve a proper balance between the strengths of the several supporting arms and services. The Government has therefore decided to increase the total strength to 32,500 during the programme period. For the reason I have indicated, the increases will be distributed between existing units rather than allocated to the raising of new units.
In the last programme the strength of the school cadets was increased from 33,000 to 38,000. There is a growing enthusiasm within the School Cadet Corps, and the Government has decided on a further increase of 2,000 to a new figure of 40,000 during the new programme. The increase will be devoted mainly to the formation of cadet units at new schools, or at schools which to date have not raised units and now desire to do so.
One of the main purposes of the last programme was to free funds for the purchase of increased quantities of capital equipment for the Army, and some £30,000,000 was made available over the three years. Priority was given to the equipment modernization programme and reserves of war materiel for the regular field force, but with some modern types of equipment, such as the FN rifle, to go to the Citizen Military Force. Re-equipment is a continuous cycle, with old equipment being phased out and new equipment becoming available as a result of research and development both overseas and in Australia. The Government is again providing an amount of £30,000,000 for new equipment purchases over the next three years. Items to be procured include landing craft, weapons, ammunition, radio and radar equipment, J tracked and load-carrying vehicles, clothing and general, technical and engineering j stores. There will be continued emphasis on air portability and lightweight weapons ; and equipment to ease the logistic load, which has already led to the introduction of ; items such as the 105 mm. pack howitzer, and air-portable vehicles. The new range of lightweight personal equipment, which was designed and developed in Australia to meet the special requirements of the soldier in tropical areas, has received the most favorable comment both here and overseas.
Some of the equipment to be purchased from the general provision of £30,000,000 will be for the Citizen Military Force. Over and above this, and having regard to the Government’s view on the need for strong and efficient citizen forces, an additional allocation of £2,700,000 has been made in the new programme specifically for the purchase of equipment for the priority C.M.F. battle groups. Action is already in hand to provide adequate scales of the new range of personal combat equipment for the C.M.F. Other modern weapons and equipment will be bought with the aim of gradually standardizing basic items with those held by regular units.
Apart from the provision of £32,700,000 for equipment, which I have already mentioned, the Government has allocated an additional £1,000,000 for the expansion of the army light aircraft squadron in order to improve further the mobility of the Army in operations. Other major aircraft purchases to improve the mobility of the Army will be referred to when I deal with the Air Force programme.
The various measures for the Army which I have outlined in the new programme will provide combat forces capable of making a prompt, effective and sustained contribution to whatever operations they may be called upon to undertake. An amount of £67,300,000 was included in Army estimates for 1962-63 and the actual cost is now expected to be £68,5.00,000. It is provisionally estimated that the Army will require £71,300,000 in 1963-64, and £75,300,000 in 1964-65.
Turning now to the Air Force, I shall give honorable members a brief review of progress in major projects approved in the last programme, and of the measures proposed for expansion in the present programme. It will be recalled that the Dassault Mirage III. jet fighter aircraft was selected to replace the Sabres, after the most exhaustive examination of all available types, as the most suitable aircraft to meet the needs of the Royal Australian Air Force. Approval was given for an initial order of 30 Mirage fighters. These are being procured under an arrangement with the principal French manufacturers by which much of the airframe and engine will be manufactured in Australia by the Government aircraft factory and Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation Proprietary Limited. Deliveries of these aircraft are expected to commence next year. Approval has been given in the new programme for the placing of an order for an additional 30 Mirage aircraft. These will permit the re-equipping of a second Sabre squadron, and provide a reserve against possible loss or damage. This further order will also facilitate continuity of local production and deliveries.
The twelve P2V7 maritime reconnaissance aircraft, approved in the last programme to replace the obsolete Lincolns of No. 10 Squadron, were delivered to the Royal Australian Air Force earlier this year. The aircraft are based at Townsville in north Queensland, and have already shown their effectiveness in the anti-submarine exercises in which they have taken part. Although based at Townsville, it must be remembered that these aircraft, like those of the other maritime reconnaissance squadron based in New South Wales, can be flown anywhere on our coasts in a few hours if a submarine threat should develop.
The delivery and installation at Williamtown of the Bristol Mark I. Bloodhound surface-to-air missile system is nearing completion and will be operative early next year. A special squadron has been formed to operate the system, which is largely automatic and will have a capability to intercept aircraft at a considerable range in all weather conditions, by day and night.
The re-arming of the Sabres with the Sidewinder air-to-air missile has proceeded, and it is now the primary air-to-air armament in our Sabre aircraft. This has added greatly to the operational capability of the Sabre squadrons, whose pilots have regular practice in the use of the missile and have developed great confidence in it.
The Bell HUIB Iroquois helicopters ordered in the last programme, to meet an air force requirement for search and rescue and Army requirements for liaison and casualty evacuation, are being delivered. No. 9 (SAR) Squadron has been formed to operate these aircraft.
The requirements for tactical air transport support for the Australian armed forces have been the subject of close examination in the new programme. An effective strategic airlift capability is provided by the squadron of Hercules C.130 transport aircraft, which could be augmented in emergency by civil aircraft, but these could not meet the requirement for tactical air transport within the theatre of operations, such as Army logistic support, Army tactical mobility within the combat zone and the Air Force requirement for support and search and rescue. These needs are accentuated by the difficult terrain and meteorological conditions and the inadequacy of communications in areas in which our forces may be called upon to operate.
In order to develop further the mobility of the forces for operations in such conditions, approval has been given for the following new projects in the Air Force programme: -
The purchase of eight additional Bell HUIB Iroquois helicopters, which are eminently suitable for use as utility helicopters to assist the Army in its field tasks. These will be delivered during the latter part of 1963.
The purchase of eight heavy-lift helicopters, primarily for Army support, with a capability for transport of Army equipment and troops in the operational area. The Air Force is evaluating the various types available to select the most suitable for this role.
The ordering, at a later stage in the programme period, of twelve fixed wing transport aircraft with a short take-off and landing capability, of a type still to be selected, to meet Army and Air Force support requirements.
An active programme of airfield works and development has been proceeding. The new 11,000-ft. runway at Darwin, and its associated taxiways and hardstanding area, will be completed in the next few months. Major airfield reconstruction and extensions have been undertaken at Amberley in Queensland, Williamtown in New South Wales, and East Sale in Victoria. Provision has been made in the new programme for the construction of certain new buildings and works at the Townsville base, and for commencement of an additional airfield in the Darwin area previously authorized. Work on this has been delayed pending completion of detailed surveys to determine the most suitable site.
The Order of Battle of the Royal Australian Air Force comprises the following operational units: -
Three bomber squadrons - one in the Strategic Reserve in Malaya and two at Amberley in Queensland.
Four fighter squadrons - two in the Strategic Reserve in Malaya and two at Williamtown in New South Wales - and a contingent of fighter aircraft at Ubon in Thailand.
Two maritime reconnaissance squadrons - one at Townsville, Queensland, and one at Richmond, New South Wales.
Three transport squadrons.
One surface-to-air missile squadron.
One search and rescue squadron of helicopters.
Three control and reporting units.
Provision has been made in the new programme for an increase in the strength of the Air Force by 200 to 16,440. The expenditure on the Air Force last financial year was £65,200,000. The amount of £66,300.000 has been tentatively provided in this year’s estimates, but this figure will rise to £67,200,000 under the programme proposals, with a planned expansion to over £70,000,000 in each of the second and third years of the programme.
The programme provides for the progressive development of the defence production and research and development organizations which so effectively back the needs of the services. Time does not allow a detailed treatment of these aspects of our defence effort, but I commend to the attention of honorable members the excellent brochure circulated by the Minister for Supply (Mr. Fairhall). This presents a picture of the wide range of activities which is being undertaken so successfully in these fields.
The new programme will provide for the continued expansion of production capacity to meet current service needs, and the progressive modernization of government munitions factories to ensure that they can cope with any emergency. Attention is also paid to the maintenance of capacity for defence production in private industry.
In the field of defence research and development, Australia, in partnership with Britain, continues to play an important role in the testing of guided missiles at the Weapons Research Establishment at Salisbury and Woomera. A task which has been recently added to this establishment is Australia’s participation in the European Launcher Development Organization, which plans to launch satellites from Woomera during the next couple of years. Other important defence research projects are being undertaken, including the development, with every evidence of success, of a powerful anti-submarine guided missile system, for which the United States is providing substantial financial assistance.
Australia is associated with the United States in many space and defence projects, large and small, on the Australian mainland. An example of these is the satellite tracking system at Muchea, in Western Australia, and at Woomera, which played such an important part in Project Mercury. An amount of £22,800,000 is provided in the estimates of the Department of Supply for this financial year. This provision will rise to £23,000,000 under the programme proposals.
The major item in the programme for the Defence Department is the provision for the electronic data processing proving and training centre. The building to house this organization, at Russell Hill, Canberra, has now been completed and the first computers have been installed. This centre will train personnel and develop E.D.P. systems for each of the services in turn, commencing with the Air Force in 1964.
There are a couple of other activities which, though little publicized, are worth mentioning, as they are leading to most satisfactory economies and improvements in efficiency. I refer to the work which is proceeding in the co-ordination of inspection activities of the services, and the standardization of items of equipment used by the armed forces. Both activities are carried on in close liaison with private industry which, from its own point of view, has been equally pleased with the results achieved.
There is one matter to which I should like to refer briefly before I close, because it is so often the subject of discussion. That is the defence of the northern areas of Australia. The defence preparations necessary to ensure the security of these areas are made against the background of the overall plan for the defence of Australia and its Territories. As I have indicated earlier in this speech, this is related to the threat and to the system of collective security and allied strategy upon which our defence policy is formulated. The defence of this area in present strategic circumstances is provided by the nucleus forces stationed there, the maintenance of strategic bases, and the mobility of our forces, which could be moved quickly to reinforce the area in the event of emergency and, indeed, to any other area where a threat might develop.
Improved mobility was a major objective of the last programme, as it is of the current programme. It has been progressively achieved by the series of projects whch I have mentioned. Regular mobility exercises conducted by all three services amply demonstrate and effectively increase this capability.
Many millions of pounds have been spent on the development of defence preparations in the north, from the re-activation of Learmonth airfield in the north-west, round to the re-equipment with the latest antisubmarine aircraft of the maritime reconnaissance squadron at Townsville, in the north-east.
In conclusion, the new programme proposals will involve a substantial increase in the level of defence expenditure. This will rise from £193,000,000 in the first year of the last programme, £203,000,000 last financial year, to over £212.000,000 this year, with a planned increase to the order of £220,000,000 in 1964-65 - the final year of the present programme.
The Government realizes that the greatest wisdom and judgment must be brought to bear on defence expenditure in these days. Many extravagant views are canvassed. From many points come demands for larger expenditure. From other quarters there are demands for reduction in defence spending. The Government believes that significant expansion of defence spending is essential in the present state of international affairs, which demands a policy of unceasing and effective defence preparedness.
I emphasize again that the programme has been formulated on the basis of strategic requirements and up-to-date intelligence assessments of the threat. The projects are designed to further the progressive development and build-up of the forces. They are realistic and capable of achievement.
My closing words are these - they are most important and I direct the attention of the House to them: Nevertheless, the programme is not static, and flexibility will be maintained in planning and programming. The Government will keep the situation under constant review, and will not hesitate to make any adjustments that might be desirable in the light of developments.
In Committee of Supply: Consideration resumed (vide page 1877).
Department of National Development. proposed Vote, £11,607,000.
Proposed Vote, £9,382,000.
– I move -
That the amount of the vote - “ Department of National Development, £11,607,000” - be reduced by £1-
As an instruction to the Government -
To appoint a Minister for Northern Australia who will sponsor an Australian Conservation Authority like the Snowy Mountains Authority with power to investigate, plan and, where found practicable, carry out conservation and development works in the Northern Territory and, with their consent, in Queensland and Western Australia.
I move this amendment because I consider that a different approach to national development is needed, and is indeed long overdue, in relation to the resources which remain locked in the northern half of the Australian continent. At present, this development is being tackled only in a piecemeal and half-hearted manner. When I first came to this Parliament in 1949, 1 advocated the separation of the ministerial administration of the Department of the Interior, which until that time had the responsibility of administering the Northern Territory, and the setting up of a department to deal solely with the affairs of the Northern Territory. The then Minister for the Interior vigorously opposed the separation, but apparently the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) was convinced of the need for a change and the present Department of Territories was established to control all Commonwealth territories with the exception of the Australian Capital Territory.
Even at that time I thought there was an urgent need to concentrate the sole attention of a Minister on the problems of developing the north. I believe it is more urgent now than it ever was to make a further change in the existing ministerial arrangements. The territories other than the Northern Territory, which is part of the Australian continent, I believe should be administered by the Department of External Affairs or some other department set up for the purpose. With Papua and New Guinea, the aim is for eventual nationhood, whereas the aim is eventually to make the Northern Territory the seventh State of Australia. I still believe that the north of Australia should be developed and that nothing less than the full-time attention of a Minister is required for the task. Of all the urgent and pressing needs, no project anywhere to-day transcends in importance the task of developing the north.
Let a department such as I have suggested be created and let it then set up an authority on the lines of the development authority that has had such outstanding success in bringing into being the Snowy Mountains hydro-electric scheme. It has been demonstrated beyond any doubt that such an authority is the only type of authority capable of doing the job quickly and efficiently on a national scale. It is not subject to the same political and Public Service controls that hamper and hinder work undertaken by ordinary departmental authorities. Let us set to work immediately. Let us concentrate on the actual work of development. I remind the committee that work on the great Snowy Mountains scheme is now tapering off. Instead of allowing the technical officers, selected with great care over many years of operation, to disperse gradually and in many instances to be lost to Australia, they should be transferred to projects requiring attention here in Australia.
Let us turn to the type of work to which such a commission would apply itself. First, its field of operations would be concerned with the whole of the northern portion of Australia, embracing all the Northern Territory and such parts of the States of Queensland and Western Australia as would be determined after consultation and agreement with these States. The projects themselves within the two States would be projects of a national character which the States would not normally, because of their restricted financial means, be able to finance themselves. Although I am not able to be specific on all the projects, it could be said in general terms that they would apply to mineral and agricultural development, water conservation, transport and to some other matters which other honorable members who will follow me in this debate will define.
I shall deal with some of the items as I see them. The first is railways. The need in the Northern Territory is to standardize the existing lines and to complete the north to south line, for which the Commonwealth is already committed to South Australia, and to complete the Darwin to Queensland link. To develop any country anywhere, there must be means whereby goods for development can be brought in and the produce of the country can be taken out for marketing.
Time will not permit me to elaborate, beyond saying that any railway construction must be based on the standard gauge. We have an example of the benefits of standardization and dieselization in that section of the Central Australia Railway from Port Augusta to Marree, where freight rates on the carriage of coal have been reduced from 34s. a ton when the section was of narrow-gauge construction to the existing rate of lis. 4d. a ton, with the section now converted to standard gauge.
The profit over working expenses on the line is £500,000. Then we have the example of the Albury to Melbourne line. There is no need for me to state the revolution in freight movements and costs that has taken place as the result of the conversion of that line to standard gauge. Too little attention is being paid by this Government to railway construction, although for some political reasons it has assisted in the construction of standardgauge lines from Kalgoorlie to Perth and Albury to Melbourne. Roads, strategically located, also play a major part in development, and care must be taken, when locating them, to see that the requirements of mining are taken into consideration. I feel that roads can never compete with railways for long haulage of freights. We should not consider the construction of railways to supplement the roads. This question should be viewed the other way round, because roads should be built to supplement railways.
I wish, next, to refer to the need to exploit the land available in the Northern Territory for agricultural use. In order to remove any doubt which might exist in the minds of honorable members, as to whether any agricultural land of worth-while nature exists for development in the Territory, I will quote from an address entitled “ The Future Revolution in Agriculture in Northern Australia”, by Mr. C. S. Christian, a foremost authority in his own line and one of the chiefs of that remarkable organization, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. In the course of his address Mr. Christian said -
In consequence of these things, the postwar period has seen an intensive scientific effort directed towards learning more about the region and its potential. The information gained now far surpasses that available for most agricultural regions in Australia prior to their development. It is now possible to speak with some confidence of the future development of several very large and very different areas of Northern Australia, which collectively could mean a substantial increase in population and a very significant contribution to national wealth.
Later in his address Mr. Christian dealt with the type and extent of land available for agriculture. He pointed out that lands with arable soils suitable for dry-land agriculture total 9,630 square miles. Lands seasonally flooded, which may be suitable for rice if hydrological control is exercised, total 1,000 square miles and grazing lands of various types total 49,000-odd square miles. So we have over 10,000 square miles of agricultural land as well as 49,000 square miles of pastoral land which could become available if we set about developing that area. This is not all the land available for such purposes in the Northern Territory, but that which is readily available for development. On portion of it we can grow rice, which finds a ready export market, because we grow the type of rice that Asia wants. We can grow peanuts to produce oil both for local consumption and export. We can grow grain sorghum, maize and millet, all of which are required on the Australian market. We can grow cotton of a quality far better than that grown in Queensland, and cotton is in short supply in Australia. We can also grow oil crops, such as safflower and linseed, which are required on the local market. Some of this land is suitable also for mixed farming, which ties in with the cattle industry.
I come now to the question of water conservation, without which development of an agricultural or industrial nature anywhere in Australia would, to say the least of it, be negligible indeed. It will interest and may stagger honorable members to know that the volume of water that flows from the northern rivers - ranging from the Gulf of Carpentaria to the Kimberleys in Western Australia - info the sea, where it is lost, is of such an order as to form a major part of Australia’s total water resources. Yet only in the Ord River scheme do we at present see any attempt being made to harness it. Again I quote from Mr. Christian’s address, as follows: -
The table compares the two main northern drainage systems, the Carpentaria and the Timor, wilh the Murray River drainage system (east of the Darling River) and the drainage of the south east of the continent (Glenelg to Tweed).
The Glenelg River is on the border between Victoria and South Australia and the Tweed River on the border between New South Wales and Queensland. The address continues -
The drainages to the Timor Sea and Gulf of Carpentaria each exceed the combined flow of the Murray Valley (above the Darling River) and the whole of the south east slopes of the continent. The total of the two northern catchments is almost three times that of the two southern ones.
So we see the extent of the water which is available for exploitation in the north of Australia. No area can be developed without water. With water even a desert will bloom. The north has water which only requires harnessing. Water is the keystone of development. Even poor land can be built up by the application of fertilizer if water is available. The Government stands condemned for its lack of interest in the development of water conservation in the northern part of Australia. This, in itself, is a task which an authority such as I have suggested could get its teeth into straight away.
Already we have in the north of Australia bauxite deposits the extent of which is not equalled in any other part of the world. The Weipa and Gove deposits are equal to any others in the world, but at present we are letting them be developed by interests from outside Australia. Even if we cannot refine the aluminium we should at least establish plants to reduce the bauxite to alumina. That would require the investment of many millions of pounds, ensure considerable development and lead to a substantial increase in the population of that part of Australia. In the Northern Territory we also have copper, iron ore, tin, silver-lead, zinc, mica and uranium. Mining cries out for development but it must have transport facilities such as roads, ports and railways. Mining can be established relatively quickly and as an example of its development we have only to see what has been done at places such as Mount Isa and Tennant Creek where, before the advent of mining, there was almost no population.
I come next to the pastoral industry, which can be made even more prosperous. The Commonwealth must play a substantial part in the development of all these industries. The Government can assist development also by making taxation concessions not only to investors in the north but also to people who earn their living in those areas. Much work has to be done and an authority of the type I have suggested could do it quickly, efficiently and cheaply. It has to be done. If we want further examples, from outside Australia, of what such an authority can do, we can turn to the Tennesee Valley Authority in the
United States of America. Events are occurring in our north which make it more than ever imperative that we stop shuffling along and start striding. The Australian taxpayer will get economic returns and will draw handsome dividends for his investment in the form of added national security. Let me give warning, however, that if we expect people to go to these parts of Australia we must treat them as being politically responsible-
Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Mr. Chairman, in speaking on these estimates I would like, time permitting, to comment on the amendment moved by the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson). However, it is my intention to address myself to the estimates for the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization and in particular to that portion of it which concerns itself with rural industries. I therefore refer to the estimates which disclose that apart from industry funds and special grants, approximately £800,000 more than was expended last year will be available in this financial year. It is further disclosed that staff increases, apart from staff reclassifications, will account for most of this increased expenditure. In fact, the number will be approximately 350 persons, of whom about 100 will be appointed to investigational and research classifications. These increases, provided they can be realized, will be absorbed in the overall activities of the C.S.I.R.O. They can be well justified in view of the continuing need for expansion in investigational work. This was emphasized by Professor Underwood in an address to the Anzaas conference in Sydney recently. When speaking about future agricultural organizations he said -
Significant changes are already taking place in the size, scope and pattern of control of Australian agricultural research and extension. Many of these changes are likely to continue at an accelerated pace in the years to come- indeed they must continue if our rapidly expanding agricultural industries are to receive the technical services which they need and which they deserve.
I venture the hope that not only will funds be available in the future but also that such steps will be taken as will ensure an availability of people initially trained for this purpose.
I should like to devote a few moments to a recent decision by the C.S.I.R.O. - not by the Government - to dispose of a portion of its field station in Western Australia - the Glenlossie property at Kojonup. If one needed proof of the faith that people in the country have in this organization, this was amply demonstrated by the response which this decision received - a response which was motivated by a real sense of loss of something which had become extremely valuable to the people in those areas.
I was particularly disturbed and disappointed by what appeared to be a decision which would reduce research activities not only in that district but throughout Western Australia. However, I have been assured by the Minister and by officers of the C.S.I.R.O. that this is not so. In fact, it appears that, with the purchase and development of another field station in another area, plus the development of far better research laboratories in the metropolitan area, there will be a considerable expansion of activities in that State. Furthermore, I have been assured that the balance of the 3,000-acre property will be retained and that this will be sufficient to provide future research facilities. I hope that this will be so, because I still have some misgivings about the proposed sale to the extent that I find it hard to believe that there is insufficient justification for the retention of the complete property in an area which is typical of an enormous stretch of land in the south and south-east of Western Australia.
I might add that it is in this area and on this field station that so much investigational research was done into sub-clover disease and sheep infertility as well as into a great many other matters. As a result of the work done at Glenlossie the now fairly well established practice of set stocking was adopted. This has led to stocking at rates in excess of three sheep to the acre, giving yields of over 40 lb. of wool to the acre. It might seem inconceivable, therefore, that there will not be an adequate need for a property on which to deal with problems which possibly we have not heard of yet. I believe that the need does exist, particularly with the development of live-stock industries, for which I consider there is unequalled potential in the area.
Of course, an enormous amount of extremely valuable information has come from this and other C.S.I.R.O. establishments, but I am led to wonder about two features affecting the practical application of this information. I refer, first, to the establishment of liaison facilities which, with the growth of other institutions such as universities, research branches in State departments and private firms, are becoming more necessary to plan for future investigations, to co-ordinate respective projects, to pool background information and, very importantly, to arrange for the most effective dissemination through extension services of the findings of research and exploratory work.
Now I wish to devote a little time to an examination of these extension services and the part which I believe the C.S.I.R.O. can play. Much has been said and written in the most informed circles for some time now regarding the various aspects of agricultural extension practices. In fact, so importantly is it regarded that a national conference was held in New South Wales in May which was attended by representatives of various State institutions and other organizations. The purpose of this conference was to discuss this particular matter. I believe that the present feeling can be described quite simply as a deep concern at the relative ineffectiveness, for various reasons, of the extension services operating throughout Australia. But this is not new. It was referred to in 1956 by Mr. GurnettSmith, who said -
We have reached an opportune stage in our agricultural development for a co-operative appraisal of the problems of agricultural extension. Our basic extension policies should be defined in a written agreement setting out the part to be played by all Federal and State agricultural agencies. We are strong in technical knowledge, much of which is not being put into practice on our farms because of lack of knowledge on the skills of extension. We know what to leach but very little on how to teach.
I wish to approach this problem from two directions. The first is from the aspect of government. We have witnessed an enormous amount of research work being done, most significant advances in technology and the expenditure of huge sums in the process. But we have a situation in which only a relatively small proportion of what we have learned is being applied. Perhaps not every one can see this; certainly not the layman, because to him the
C.S.I.R.O. represents, in the main, a world of rather mystifying aims and rather remarkable if not incomprehensible results. In fact, I think one can say that not infrequently these results are of the most interest to other scientists who can use them as an aid to their own research.
My second approach to the question is from the farmer’s viewpoint. He is aware that the C.S.I.R.O. and other organizations are making great contributions towards the goal of improving the particular production in which he is engaged. But he does not know one fraction of what is being done nor does he know in many cases of the application of the organization’s achievements to his farming. Often he learns of this many years later.
This represents an enormous waste of money and effort on the part of those contributing to the knowledge gained. And this might well be the very least of it. Bearing in mind such work as that done in relation to myxomatosis and other projects, the findings very frequently yield a dividend to the nation far beyond the limits of even commercial thinking. Therefore, this wastage is so great that surely it merits more attention than it is receiving.
A great deal has been said in the last year or two about the unused resources in the economy, yet here is a resource that so far has escaped mention or even recognition. I refer to the vast amount of information which has been obtained by scientific research but which is not being put to use or, at least, effective use. This aspect was mentioned by Mr. Gurnett-Smith. There may be many reasons for this, but there can be very little doubt that the inadequacies of the extension services, either in terms of the number of officers available or the capacity of the officers to provide an effective service, warrant special mention.
I believe that there is a very close relationship between this condition and the development of the farm management clubs in which Western Australia has played a leading part. These clubs have arisen firstly and very properly as a logical stage in the development of our farming industries which recognizes the importance of the approach to the economics of production. The second reason for the development of these clubs is that the farmers themselves have recognized the need for a specialist advisory service - and extension is a specialist service.
I believe that it lies within the scope and the authority of the C.S.I.R.O. to take the lead, as Australia’s most prominent scientific organization, and to initiate investigation into the proper and effective application of extension services to Australia’s primary industries. This is borne out by a statement in the 1961-62 annual report of the C.S.I.R.O. which states the organization’s functions as “ the initiation and carrying out of scientific researches and investigations in connexion with, or for the promotion of, primary and secondary industries “. I am not unaware that there is some excellent work being carried out already on this subject by other institutions, and credit is due in particular to the Australian Institute of Agricultural Science for the attention it has directed to the subject, and also to many other organizations and individuals, including Dr. Joan Tully and Mr. John Wolfe of Queensland and the University of New England. I make it quite clear that I do not advocate that the C.S.I.R.O. should infringe upon State functions in practising extension, but in view of its unique position in Australia it has better facilities than other institutions to undertake investigational work, to conduct effective liaison with other institutions, and to co-ordinate work already in hand. Even in applied extension the C.S.I.R.O. is already playing a part and has shown, I consider, an acceptance of its role in this field. I refer to its extension leaflet, ‘* Rural Research in the C.S.I.R.O.”, which is designed to provide information on current research in a form acceptable at the practising farmer level.
There are a number of institutions in this country which are carrying out investigations into the amount of useful and valuable educational material which is being accepted, that is, being put to effective use, and “Rural Research” in the C.S.I.R.O.” gives a measure of the rate of this acceptance. It is reported by Mr. Loftus Hills, of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization Research Liaison Section, that during the ten years of its publication this document has been requested by only 5,000 individuals. Even allowing for the possibility of similar information being available elsewhere, it seems that only a very small proportion of our farming population is availing itself of the benefits of this publication.
To add real weight to my views on the importance of extension services, I quote some remarks of that most eminent gentleman to whom the honorable member for the Northern Territory referred, Mr. C. S. Christian, who is himself a member of the executive of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. In an address to the national conference of the Australian Institute of Agricultural Science, held in Canberra some months ago, he said -
In recent years, during which the gap between costs and returns has steadily narrowed, there has been a re-awakening to the need for more intensive and more effective extension activity . . . Scientific research for agriculture has achieved little until the results have been applied to agriculture. It is essential, therefore, that the resources for extension activity should be adequate to ensure that research results are applied as quickly and as fully as possible.
I cannot recall any government that has laid more stress on the provision of services designed to assist the primary producers than this Government has. Elsewhere in these estimates we find that more than £500,000 has been set aside for special extension grants to the States. However, I believe that much of the value of this will be lost until the most effective methods of extension have been fully determined and all aspects of those methods investigated. As I have said, the C.S.I.R.O. may well be in a favoured position to carry out these investigations. What better reason could there be for doing so than simply to ensure the widest and best possible application of the results of the organization’s own research?
In conclusion, I pay a tribute in the strongest possible terms to the immense contribution that the members of this organization are making to promote the welfare of thousands of people and of the industries in which they are engaged, and to the advancement of scientific and technical knowledge in so many fields, not only in Australia but throughout the world.
Sitting suspended from 5.54 to 8 p.m.
.- The honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson) has moved as an amendment -
That the amount of the vote - “Department of National Development, £11,607,000 “-be reduced by £1.
I am very honoured that at this early stage in my political career I have the opportunity to second a proposition which if carried by this Parliament will mean so much for the future of Australia and development in northern Australia and Australia generally. As a result of the acceptance of this proposition development of northern Australia will be carried out in a wellplanned and orderly manner instead of by the haphazard methods being followed at present. This in turn will mean a more rapid and proper progress in the north generally. The increase of population will be speeded up and industry will extend into these northern areas more rapidly. In addition - and this is very important - it will mean a strengthening of our defences right round the long and at present sparsely populated coastline of northern Australia. I am quite sure that the proposition will have the support of all the people in the northern areas and of Australia generally, and I hope that it will, as it certainly should, have the full support of every member of this Parliament.
It has become quite obvious that this Government is not working in close coordination with the States as it should be working on a project which means so much to Australia and its people. It has also become obvious that the Government is either barren of ideas or is not implementing a positive plan to develop the north which will bring the most practical results. I know that the Government has made substantial sums available for use in the north, but that is not sufficient. It has left the whole of the responsibility for planning and the whole of the burden of providing the technical know-how to the States concerned. The Government has completely shelved its responsibility for what should be a project of great national importance, the responsibility for which should have been accepted by the Commonwealth working in close co-operation with the States.
We say that the very first thing that should have been done was the establishment of an authority to work in with the States on determining the best methods that should be used, sites on which work should be launched, how the work should be done, what it should cost, how the money should be provided and other matters of moment. It is also important to keep this Parliament properly informed of the progress of the work and the cost of the various projects as they continue.
In case there has been any doubt as to where the responsibility in this matter lies 1 shall read to honorable members the relevant parts of an answer to a question which 1 asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development about the Ord River project in Western Australia. The Minister said -
In offering and administering the grant the Commonwealth has made it clear that prime responsibility for the development of the area continues to rest with the State. The selection, planning and execution of the projects assisted has been left to the State.
Without any assistance from the Commonwealth. The Minister went on to say -
The other matters raised in the honorable member’s question relate to the technical details of the Ord River Irrigation scheme proposal. This is a State matter. Some details of the proposal have been published by the State Department of Public Works but I suggest that the honorable member might approach the appropriate State authorities for whatever up-to-date information is available.
So, not only does the State carry the whole responsibility, but this Commonwealth Government apparently is not even interested enough to obtain the information as to how the whole project is continuing. Surely nobody will suggest that the Minister had this information in his possession and would not supply it to an honorable member who Had asked for it.
Anybody of average intelligence who knows anything about the north of Australia knows full well that water is one of the great problems there. There are millions of acres of good, fertile country in the north capable of growing practically anything, and millions of acres suitable for stock grazing. We are quite certain, also, that there are many minerals of considerable value in those areas to be exploited. But, before we can reach the stage of actual worth-while production, we must have a plentiful and permanent water supply, good communications and power supplies. I do not need to explain to honorable members why we need these things, because to realize why we need them is only a matter of exercising common sense. We know that when these things are made available people and industries will quickly follow.
I appreciate that all this cannot be achieved overnight, but if we want to make use of northern Australia and hold it we must get on with the job as quickly as possible. Millions of gallons of water go to waste every year in the north of Australia. Consider, for instance, how much water goes to waste every year from the Kimberley rivers in Western Australia. I have a booklet here which deals with water resources in the Kimberleys. It says -
Kimberley water resources equal the average annual flow of the Murray-Murrumbidgee-Darling River systems, whose catchment area extends over half of Victoria, two-thirds of New South Wales, and a third of Queensland.
The magnificent Kimberley Rivers slice through mountain ranges down to the sea, and they include three giants - The Ord, the Margaret and the Fitzroy - which are the fastest flowing in Australia. When in flood, each of these giants discharges volumes of water exceeding one million cubic feet per second.
In Western Australia alone there are other rivers, not only in the Kimberleys, but also in the Pilbarra and Gascoyne areas, in the north-west of Western Australia, which disgorge millions of gallons of water wastefully into the sea. Those rivers must be harnessed. We cannot afford to let this water, so urgently needed in those areas, go to waste. It can easily be brought into distant parts from the Gascoyne area. Water from the Gascoyne area will have to be piped further south to Geraldton. Even now, this water is vitally required in the town of Carnarvon for irrigation purposes. But it requires experts to make investigations to determine the cost and the most economical methods of trapping water for irrigation and stock purposes. Why should we not have experts to do the job? Experts were employed in connexion with the Snowy Mountains scheme. Is not water conservation in the north of Australia equally important as the Snowy Mountains scheme was and is? So much depends upon water in such a large part of Australia that we cannot afford to allow many of the experts we need to leave Australia. We must hold them and engage others to take the places of those who have already left Australia and to take the places of those who reach the end of their working lives. ! There are too many avenues of use for these people in Australia for us to let them go easily. The Government should establish an Australian water conservation authority to work in close co-operation with the States concerned in the development of the north. It would thereby be doing Australia a great service. If it does not establish such an authority the opposite will apply and it will be doing Australia a very great disservice.
Those of us who have been to the north know that water is the great problem there. We have other problems too. We need power supplies and good communications. All those things require expert knowledge and consideration to prevent waste of time and money. I have a very high regard for the technical men in Western Australia, but they cannot be expected to have the know.ledge that is possessed by experts who, over the years, have worked on similar projects elsewhere. We should be working in close co-operation with the States to provide them with the best brains available on all these matters. I am well aware that the States have certain rights, but that would not prevent the Commonwealth Government from setting up and putting in operation authorities to work with them on matters of such great national importance as north-west development.
If honorable members will look at the amendment that was so ably explained by the honorable member for- the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson), they will see that we are not trying to usurp the rights of the States. All we are asking for is a coordination of effort with the States. Northern development is not an issue affecting only Western Australia and Queensland; it affects and will be of great benefit to the whole of Australia. For that reason, the States should not be left to carry the whole burden. The cost should at least be shared with the Commonwealth.
Many millions of pounds will be required for this development. Eventually that money must come from the Commonwealth, because the project is of national importance. Because the bulk of the money must come from the Commonwealth, surely it is correct and proper that the Common-‘ wealth should have a complete knowledge of everything that is being done and that will be done. Yet this Government, if replies to questions are any guide, is not keeping itself informed on such matters and is leaving them entirely to the States, without giving them anything but financial assistance by way of a few pounds.
Let us look at what has happened and what could easily happen in the future, whereby money and time could be wasted. As most honorable members know, it is well recognized and accepted that a deep water port must be established in the north of Western Australia. A few weeks ago I asked the Minister a question to try to find out just what was happening in regard to this port, and this was his reply -
In March 1958 the Western Australian Government submitted for approval a project for the construction of a port at Black Rocks near Derby. This was to have been a deep-water port to serve the Western Kimberleys. The project was approved.
So in March of 1958 the Commonwealth approved of a deep water port being established in the north of Western Australia. The answer continued -
Subsequently the Western Australian Government reconsidered this project and informed the Commonwealth in November 1959-
Eighteen months later - that certain doubts had been raised on technical grounds relative to navigational hazards in King’s Sound in which the Black Rocks site was situated. The State Government said it proposed to engage a firm of consulting engineers to report on the question of the best place in the Western Kimberleys for the construction of a deep-water port.
The Commonwealth Government then withdrew its approval of the Black Rocks project and this enabled the State to submit other proposals to utilise Commonwealth funds under the Act.
The Western Australian Government has not submitted any further proposal to the Commonwealth for assistance in the construction of a deep-water port north of the 20th parallel.
The position is that four and a half years ago a Labour government of Western Australia put forward a proposal, to which this Commonwealth Government gave approval. Then there was a change of the State Government, and the new Government decided not to pursue the project. The Commonwealth then withdrew its approval, despite the fact that it must have known that the project was essential to the development of the north-west. Nothing more has been done about it. The new State Government said it would engage consulting engineers to make a report, but nothing came out of that. By the end of August of this year, the Western Australian Government still had done nothing about the matter. The Premier of Western Australia said it is essential to have a deep-water port, but his Government is still considering it, even though four years ago a Labour Government of Western Australia had come to a decision on the matter.
– A wrong decision.
– If it was a wrong decision, does not that prove that the advice of technical experts in these matters is essential? Why should money and time be wasted on these projects merely because the technical brains available in the Commonwealth have not been made available?
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Mr. Chairman, I wish to address my remarks to the estimates for the Department of National Development. Like the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson) and the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. Collard), I wish to deal with the development of Australia’s water resources. I agree with a lot of what they have said with regard to the need, but I disagree with them on the methods that should be adopted. They seek the appointment of a Minister for the Northern Territory, but I do not think that is the way to attack this problem. If we do as they suggest, this will soon be a Parliament with all chiefs and no Indians.
When I refer to the question of water conservation I refer not only to major dams but to dams of all types and sizes, right down to the weirs, excavated earth tanks, farmers’ stream ponds and so on, irrespective of who builds them. Surveys have shown that few farmers in this country have either adequate water or fodder reserves to withstand even a moderate drought.
I turn to the Estimates to see what has been done in this regard and what is being done. I note first of all the major project that is being undertaken by the Commonwealth, the Snowy Mountains scheme. May I say that the Snowy Mountains Authority deals with a programme that has surprised the world with its magnitude? The expenditure on capital works and services proposed for this project this year is £11,050,000, which is to come from the Consolidated Revenue Fund. In addition, another £13,100,000 is to come from loan funds, making a total of £24,150,000 for this scheme this year. This compares with an appropriation for the previous year of £16,560,000. Also in the Estimates we see a small amount - I mention it only because it shows that the Commonwealth is engaging in projects other than the Snowy Mountains scheme - of £2,500 towards the administrative expenses of the River Murray Commission.
The honorable member for the Northern Territory has mentioned quite a few of the problems associated with the Territory. I point out that in 1955 a Water Resources Branch was set up in that area, its function being the investigation, conservation and development of all water resources of the Territory. That branch has made considerable progress by way of the collection of data dealing with stream flow, underground water resources, irrigation possibilities and so on. The operating expenses of that branch in 1961-62 amounted to £146,065. This year the Estimates propose £135,500. The small reduction is due largely to a change in accounting procedures. Expenditure on unsuccessful drilling has been transferred to capital works and services, so the actual expenditure is about the same amount.
In addition to that work, the branch is active in its investigatory and advisory services, giving financial assistance to pastoralists who develop their own water resources. In 1961-62 £28,440 was spent on that item, and the Estimates for the coming year indicate that the expenditure will be £96,000, which is an increase of very nearly 200 per cent. The Water Resources Branch in the Territory is still active in the sinking of bores and in work on experimental farms and stockholding reserves. In 1961-62 the expenditure under this head was the very small amount of £7,192; this year £55,000 appears in the Estimates, an increase of nearly 700 per cent. That is still not what we would like to see, but it is a move in the right direction.
Bearing in mind the fact that water conservation is still recognized as being constitutionally a State responsibility, I think we can say that, by and large, the expenditure is fairly reasonable when measured against other Federal commitments. I do not want to see the responsibility for water conservation taken from the States. I am quite sure that when the chips are down they will jealously guard their rights in discharging their responsibilities in the field of water conservation. But surely the Commonwealth and the States can work together. We, at the Federal level, can make surveys, collect data, and consult and collaborate. I am sure that that will be expected in future.
It is good to recall at this stage a press statement made by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) on 12th July last. Honorable members have seen it, I am sure. It began -
A meeting of Commonwealth and State Ministers was held in Canberra today to discuss the proposal to establish a Water Resources Council.
Time is short, so I shall not read it all. The statement went on to set out, quite explicitly, I suggest, just what the functions of the council will be. It mentioned the result of the meeting of Ministers and pointed out that certain matters had been discussed and that the various Ministers had returned to the States to submit the proposals to their respective governments. We do not know yet what has been done as a consequence. Perhaps the Minister for Air (Mr. Fairbairn), who is now at the table, can give us a progress report on the establishment of the Water Resources Council before we conclude the discussion on this group of estimates.
The council is to collect data, but that is not to say that some of this work is not already being done by the States. I shall speak of one State with which I am familiar. In New South Wales, £1,000,000 has been spent on hydrographic work alone in the last eleven years. In that State, there are more than 500 gauging stations for general purposes, with a further 300 set apart for special purposes such as warning of floods and the like. The responsible Minister in New South Wales estimates that an additional 300 gauging stations are necessary if a satisfactory knowledge of the water resources of that State is to be gained. We hope that all this sort of work will be coordinated with the activities of the Water Resources Council, and we should like to know what the present position is.
If we assume that the Water Resources Council has been established, what is the next step? I should like to see something very close to what has already been foreshadowed - a representative national body to achieve certain things. First of all, we ought to have a co-ordinated national policy for water conservation and irrigation, power generation and flood mitigation. Under such a policy, priorities should be determined for work throughout the States and finance should be arranged, possibly in much the same way as is done with respect to the Snowy Mountains scheme, which has set a great example already. Honorable members will note that I am dealing with water, and water only. We need a national policy on water. Australia has limited water resources. Indeed, we do not yet know what resources we have. The work of investigation has been haphazard, and planning has been designed to meet local needs in scattered areas rather than to provide a co-ordinated, interlocking national policy.
Those who have been alongside water when it is out of control know that running water takes no heed of artificial State barriers and no notice of variations in emphasis on the part of different authorities. In the past, we have seen the results of the unwise order of priority adopted by the authorities responsible for water conservation and irrigation work, and of the unwise use of men, materials, equipment and money. Much of the work already done has not been undertaken in a businesslike manner. Plans for the construction of dams and for down-stream irrigation works and settlements have not been co-ordinated as they should be to ensure that, when a dam is completed, the water can be effectively used and a return obtained from the expenditure on the dam,
So far, we have been unable to make up our minds what we want to do with the water that we have. The Snowy Mountains scheme is taking water from the eastern side of the Great Dividing Range and diverting it to the more arid areas west of the range. Much the same thing is being contemplated under the Bradfield scheme in northern Queensland and various other schemes that have been mentioned here to-day, the purpose of those schemes being to take water from areas of favorable rainfall to drier areas. In New South Wales, we have a remarkable situation under the Fish River scheme, which is taking water from the western side of the divide, where it is being impounded by the Duckmaloi weir, to the eastern side of the range. If this is not an arch-example of the need for a common authority, I do not know what we ought to look for. We should close our ranks.
Water conservation and irrigation are essential to national development. When we speak of national development, we have to realize that we are only 10,000,000 Australians and that the hundreds of millions who are our northern neighbours demand not only racial but also political, economic and social parity with us. Compared to us, they are innumerable. They are largely poverty-stricken and they are indestructible. Those hundreds of millions are ambitious and they are looking about for areas into which they can expand. For that reason, we must become defence-minded. Defence means two things to me. In the short term, it means the availability of adequate land, air and sea forces for our protection. In the long term, defence means national development - the development of our own natural resources to meet the demands of an increasing population. But none of this development can take place unless the stone of water conservation is correctly laid in the foundations of our work of national development. That means that we must conserve all the moisture that falls on this arid land and properly utilize our water resources for the good of this country and of a large part of mankind.
.- Mr. Chairman, it has been said that where there is no vision the people perish. This Government, apparently, has matters a little tangled up and is substituting dreams and mirages for the vision. My colleagues, the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson) and the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. Collard), have very ably emphasized to the committee to-day the need to develop this country, first of all by providing adequate resources of water and power, the two main factors that we require.
The honorable member for Calare (Mr. England) has discussed the need for water, and has mentioned the conservation of water on individual farms. Water supply works of that kind are not the concern of this Parliament, Mr. Chairman. They are the province of the State governments. Before water can be conserved in the northern part of Australia, this Government must take steps to see that the water is there to be conserved. We are concerned, not with the construction of dams for individual property-owners, but with the construction of large national works on existing watercourses to dam water that at present runs to waste. At present, 99 per cent, of our water runs to waste. We have provided money for the conservation* of water in Queensland. This Government looks and sees another mirage. It sees a couple of brigalow trees and a few miles of beef roads and imagines it is developing the country and bringing about decentralization.
– You need a pair of glasses.
– With or without them you cannot see anything That is obvious. The amount of £1.750.000 which is to be spent in the brigalow country in north Queensland will contribute practically nothing to the development of th;s country. The whole of that area, which covers 57,000 square miles and is bigger than England, has a population of 21,000. The Government hopes to put another 500 people there. What sort of an effort is that in the development of a country such as Australia? If you doubled the existing population you would have only a little over 40,000, and that would be inadequate. A member of the staff of the University of Queensland who made a survey of that area estimated that it could support with ease 2,750,000 people, and the Government proposes to put an additional 500 there! Leave it to the State, the Government says! But the State Government has tried. On 28th October, 1928, a considerable time ago, the State Parliament passed a bill to authorize the building of a dam on the Nathan Gorge. So far, all we have is the bill. There is no water and no dam. The State Government did not have the money that was necessary to finance the project. Nor has this Government provided the money to do that job. My colleague, the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. Collard), has pointed out that the State Government put forward a scheme to build a port. The Commonwealth government of the day approved of it, but a subsequent government withdrew from the scheme, stating that it had not been sufficiently expertly planned. Why did the Commonwealth Government approve of it, and why did it offer the money in that case? Surely the time has come when we must look hard at the use to which money that we give away is put. At least we want to be sure that something worth while is done with it. Queensland has also been given money to build beef roads. The idea was part of a scheme to develop Australia, and Queensland in particular. But the roads run north and south. Instead of the beef going to the coast and thus helping to keep cities such as Townsville, Rockhampton and Gladstone in existence, these roads will take the beef into New South Wales and Victoria. So, their construction will have a shrinking effect on the development of Queensland.
– Are you suggesting that we are wasting money in Queensland?
– I am not suggesting that you are wasting money in Queensland. I am suggesting that you are wasting money by the manner in which you are using it.
– Did the Queensland Government build the roads?
– The Queensland Government built the roads. Like Pontius Pilate, we wash our hands and say we are not responsible. The Queensland Government will not consider building a road from Yaraka to the coast. It proposes to spend all this money on roads running north and south. I have pointed out that one way of developing this country is to decentralize not only industries but also people. You have to get people into these areas, not in hundreds or thousands, but in millions. The Government is not making any contribution whatsoever to the solution of this problem.
The member of the Australian Country Party who is interjecting should know that mechanization hits not only the city but also the country. People will leave the country areas. In Queensland, the number of dairy-farmers has decreased over the last few years by more than 6,000. The Country Party should look out for itself because not only are people decreasing in tie country but Country Party representation in this Parliament is decreasing. Members of the Country Party are a dying race. Farmers are selling out to their neighbours. In many places where dairy farms previously existed there are now grazing areas. That trend is apparent in every part of the country, but more particularly in the north. There has been a loss of 6,000 dairy-farmers and the Government proposes to settle 500 people on the land in the brigalow country! The net result will be that we shall be 5,500 down after spending £1,750,000. The provision of £1,750,000 for development is mere chicken feed. We are spending £400,000,000 on the Snowy scheme, which is a very creditable effort, and, I point out, one that was conceived and started by a Labour government. That is the scale upon which this country must be developed.
My colleague from Kalgoorlie also mentioned the water resources that are available in the northern portion of this country in the Kimberleys. Let us remember that although the Northern Territory is under our sole jurisdiction we still do next to nothing there. Unless we develop the rural areas of our country we shall eventually have no country. We cannot all live in the cities. The raw materials which are processed in the cities come from the country areas.
– Hear, hear!
– I am very pleased to know that somebody on the other side of the chamber has some sense. This is a very serious situation. If honorable members know about it, why do they not do something about it? If they know about it, there is no excuse for them. Nothing at all has been done so far. There has been an experiment on the Ord River, the scientific part of which has been carried out very capably and successfully by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. Now we are told that if anybody wants to settle there he will need £20,000. It has also been estimated that a minimum of £11,000 will be needed to go on the land in the brigalow country. Any one with £11,000 or £20,000 can get on the land anywhere he wishes to.
Give me £20,000 and I will get on the land quick and lively. Thousands of people in this country are quite willing to go on the land. There are tens of thousands of farmers’ sons and people who, through no choice of their own, live in the cities. They would go on the land if they were given an opportunity, but if this Government wants to get people on the land it will have to provide the money to put them there.
– How much?
– As much as is necessary. That is the reason why the Opposition proposes that the Government should institute a department of northern development and appoint a Minister for northern development. One of the Minister’s responsibilities would be to find out how much money is needed for this purpose. It would then be the duty of this Parliament to provide it. It has been said more often than one can count that if we do not develop and occupy the north some one else will do it. Honorable members on the other side of the chamber have said it; Opposition members have said it; and still nothing happens. I suggest that the proposition that we should have a ministry of northern development not only is sensible but also represents the only solution to the problem. One of the very first actions that will be taken by the Australian Labour Party when it becomes a government - and it will become a government - will be to establish a ministry for that purpose. Who, being an Australian and having some idea of the situation, could object to that action being taken?
– If one of your leaders announced it, it may be all right.
– We not only announced it, but we included it in our policy at the last election. I am quite satisfied that had the honorable member for Mallee read our policy speech, he would have voted for Labour; he seems to approve of this.
– I did read it, and I was amazed.
– If you do not do something about development of the north, you will be more amazed still, because you will get out of bed one morning and find that some one else has that part of your country.
– He has the tanks in his electorate to protect him.
– We will deal with that in a moment. We know about tanks, too. I want to deal with tanks of a different type - water tanks, about which the honorable member for Mallee should know something.
The amount of money being spent to develop the north is futile. If we are going to develop the north, we must develop not only the primary industries but also the secondary industries. We must realize that to-day rural areas need the support of secondary industries. The means to produce goods and to market them must be provided, without the necessity to incur very heavy transport costs. Such crops as cotton can be grown in the north. Australia produces only 10 per cent, of the cotton it consumes now.
– Under a heavy subsidy.
– Whether we continue to grow it, economically or not, should not depend on a comparison with the cost of importing it. If we adopt the attitude that we should not grow products that can be imported more cheaply, we had better stop the production of butter because that can be obtained from New Zealand much more cheaply than we can produce it. Where the dairy farmer invites protection and gets it-
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I am pleased to have an opportunity of speaking to the committee on the estimates for the Department of National Development. I would like to take a moment at the very commencement to correct the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. Collard), who a short time ago was greatly disturbed about the deep sea port proposal for Black Rocks in the north-west of Western Australia. With due respect, recognizing that this falls within the honorable member’s electorate, I want to correct him and to tell him of the actual circumstances. The original selecton of the site for a port at Black Rocks was the responsibility of the then Labour Government of Western Australia. The new Liberal Government, being extremely doubtful as to the wisdom of the site, called in consultants from London, and their report indicated that the decision of the Labour Government was unfortunate, hasty and illfounded. The report is in hand and so justified was the decision of the State Liberal Government that the Commonwealth Government has given permission for the funds to be temporarily diverted to other activities in the development of the north-west of that State. The deep sea port, of course, is a necessity, but it has to be located at the right spot.
Having corrected the honorable member, 1 want to move on to a genuine expression of thanks to the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner) and his departmental officers for the very splendid exhibit we had the privilege of seeing in King’s Hall last week. This was a worthy display.
– I cannot agree with you. It should not have been in King’s Hall.
– I consider it was a worthy display. What do you want us to do, spend thousands of pounds on a display?
– Not in King’s Hall.
– Are you worried about the damage to our floors? This was an educational display which every member of the Parliament must benefit from seeing. I want to make a proposal which I trust will be heeded by the Minister and the department. The exhibit is of such a worthy character that it should be displayed in each capital city of the Commonwealth. I hope my suggestion will be adopted.
I want to spend my time dealing particularly with Division No. 413, which provides some £5,000,000 in the current financial year for the search for oil. I direct attention to the fact that the appropriation for this enterprise last year was only £2,700,000. In his Budget speech last August, the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) said -
This year the total estimate for Commonwealth expenditure on oil exploration is £6,674,000, an increase of almost £3,000,000 on expenditure last year. The amount of £6,674,000 comprises £5,000,000 for payments under the Petroleum Search Subsidy Act and £1,674,000 for expenditure by the Department of National Development.
The Treasurer said further -
By its assistance for these particular activities and undertakings-
That is, including oil search - the Commonwealth is not concerning itself so much with development in the broad - we do that by our support for the State government works and housing programmes and by our Commonwealth Aid Roads grants. Rather, we are moving in at points where some new possibiilty has opened up or some obstacle to expansion can be overcome.
I believe there is much of which we can take note in connexion with this deliberate development by the Government in the field of oil exploration.
I would like to say a word or two about Western Australia and its general development. Being a member from Western Australia, I take some pride in referring to what has been happening in this State of the far west and what it is estimated the next ten years will bring by way of development. This next ten years, according to many who have made a sound assessment, will result in Western Australia becoming a big brother amongst the other Australian States in respect of exports. As it is now, Western Australia provides one-sixth of Australia’s exports. The next ten years will probably see Western Australia going considerably further ahead as an export State. It is interesting to note that it is estimated that in the next ten years minerals will be worth twice as much to Western Australia’s economy as they are at the present time. Gold will presumably stay at about the same level; so the rise will come from minerals with industrial use. This is the point I want to underline: If oil were found in commercial quantities, even to-day’s optimistic forecasts would pale into insignificance.
The increased oil search subsidy to which I have referred is most encouraging to Western Australia. I deliberately take time to congratulate Queensland on its success in discovering oil at Moonie. I want to say a few words about the search for oil in my own State of Western Australia. The story of Western Australian Petroleum Proprietary Limited is to me and, I believe, to others, exciting and somewhat intriguing. It is not very many years since overseas representatives came to have a look at Western Australia and to make their own assessment of the possibility of discovering oil in the northern section of the State. After a period of general assessment in the field and of negotiation with the State
Government authorities, legislative enactment was approved in October, 1951, at the Cabinet level and Parliament adopted a revised Petroleum Act.
Western Australian Petroleum Proprietary Limited was set up as a joint operating company and at that point moved out to fix the sites for the first exploratory wells. It is an interesting aspect of the story of Wapet that the Rough Range No. 1 test well was spudded in on 5th September, 1953, and before the end of that year oil was discovered at a depth of 3,605 feet in the very first well drilled. This, as I think all honorable members are aware, led to a greatly expanded programme of exploration. The year 1954 saw the beginning of the largest oil exploration programme ever undertaken on the mainland of Australia and it is now in its seventh year of sustained operation. I will now give details of the cost to date of these activities by this one company.
Up to 30th June, 1960, payment to local contractors was in excess of £2,000,000, while £1,500,000 had been spent on the pay-roll for local employees. The total oil search expenditure exceeded £16,000,000. The oil search subsidy payments of recent years, which can be deducted to enable us to ascertain the net expenditure by the company, amount only to £313,000. The sum of £15,700,000 has come from the investing public. I note with interest that more than £5,000,000 has been brought into Australia, in the form of dollars, for this purpose.
Other statistics for Wapet over this period show that some 9,000 miles of access roads have been built and 330 miles of new permanent roads have been constructed. I stress the fact that the total number of wells drilled by this company is only 69, with some 32 other exploratory wells. The total footage drilled is only 238,000, so I am able to say that in Western Australia, as in other parts of Australia, the long drag towards success in oil search is virtually only just begun. I believe the investing public must take heart rather than be disappointed because real success has not yet been achieved. These investors should note that overseas experience dictates that there is no easy road to success in oil production. I want to sound a note of warning to members of the committee and, particularly, to the people of my own State, about the overall cost of oil discovery and eventual production. The experience of Canada can perhaps be taken as a very safe guide for Australia. Self-sufficiency in oil has such obvious advantages that any nation that thinks it can achieve this state is, of course, willing to bend every effort in that direction.
Canada found that once she started to produce her own oil her own per capita consumption leapt ahead. It has been suggested that Australia would follow a pattern similar to that of Canada and that her consumption of oil would double about every nine years. Investment capital required for oil production runs into almost terrifying figures. Apart from the cost of new towns, schools, roads, water works, hospitals and all the other amenities that the discovery of oil requires, it is always the exploration, development and production that eat into the available capital.
I note with interest that in this sector of exploration, development and production, some £2,550,000,000 has been spent in Canada since 1947. The rate actually rose from $31,000,000 in 1947 to $750,000,000 or £A3 15,000,000 in 1961. Based upon Canada’s cost of 12s. 3d. per barrel for discovery and production of oil it has been calculated that if Australia is fortunate enough to become self-sufficient in oil, she will require £766,000,000 just to cover the cost of oil which will be used in this country during the first ten years of this experience. I stress the fact that that is only part of the price, for a well-balanced oil industry, like so many other industries, must have proven reserves.
World experience tells us that the ratio of reserves should be 20 to 1 compared ^ with current annual oil production. This would call for an estimated £1,700,000,000 of additional money to be invested and to be recovered only on the sale of and payment of royalties for the oil. This means that it would be fairly certain that about £2,466,000,000 would be needed in the next ten years to put the oil business on its feet. Expenditure of £250,000,000 a year for ten years might sound frightening, but there it is. This is the challenge of oil discovery and production in this country if that good fortune comes our way. We must face up to it. Australia cannot expect to find oil and to become self-sufficient in oil easily.
Last year Canada drilled no less than 13,500,000 feet of hole, or the equivalent of 2,700 wells each 50,000 feet deep. Comparably, Australia would have to drill 2,500 wells each year to achieve production to meet her own oil requirements. We have not yet travelled very far, as a nation, in our search for oil and this is the reason why the Government subsidy is essential at this stage. I commend the Government for its broad vision in this general field of development and I hope and trust that the oil search subsidy will be further increased as a practical incentive to all those concerned in Australia in the search for oil.
.- Mr. Chairman, I rise to support the amendment moved by the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson), which reads -
That the amount of the vote - “Department of National Development, £11,607,000 “-be reduced by £1-
As an instruction to the Government -
To appoint a Minister for northern Australia who will sponsor an Australian Conservation Authority like the Snowy Mountains Authority with power to investigate, plan and, where found practicable, carry out conservation and development works in the Northern Territory and, with their consent, in Queensland and Western Australia.
In supporting the amendment, I am supporting the policy put forward by the Australian Labour Party at the last election. This part of Labour’s policy - in particular - was endorsed by the people of Queensland and I am sure if the amendment is carried it will have the support of the people - if not of the Government - of Queensland. The Labour Party has made this promise because it realizes the necessity for this work to be undertaken if we are to populate and develop the northern part of this continent which comprises 40 per cent, of the continent but supports only 4 per cent, of our population.
There is urgent need to populate and develop the north. Our near neighbours, in their millions, to the north, must wonder, as they become more enlightened, why there are still so few people in our north. The Government cannot justify its lack of interest in northern development, although I note that some supporters of the Government agree that national development is very closely connected with defence and that development is dependent upon water conservation, means of communication and power. The case for northern development has gained support from the southern States whose people believe it is not in Australia’s best interests that a Brisbane Line should exist in plans for defence or development.
I support the case which was advanced by the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. Collard) in relation to the developmental work which is necessary in Western Australia, and I support also the references by my colleague, the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Gray), to the development which is required in the rural areas of Queensland. If the proposed redistribution of electoral boundaries is accepted, Queensland’s representation in this House will be reduced by one. This is a sorry state of affairs. In my own electorate of Wide Bay, we have seen a fall in the population in the various country subdivisions. People move to the cities because of a lack of opportunity in the country areas. Some farmers are leaving the land altogether and dairy-farmers are either becoming graziers or moving to the cities and becoming labourers. They are joining the already overcrowded labour market.
Gold-mining played a very important part in the establishment of many towns and cities in Australia. The small-time prospector has vanished. Mining has become a highly mechanized industry and, irrespective of the quantity of mineral available, the development of mining fields must fall into the hands of companies. The development of many known deposits of iron, copper and so on is being retarded because monopolistic interests do not wish to exploit them yet. Their development must wait until these combines have exhausted their present supplies or until other markets have been obtained. The alternative is to sell our mineral wealth, whether it be coal, iron, copper or bauxite, to overseas interests for a mere royalty. People in the north see their hopes of industries dependent on our newly found mineral wealth gradually fade into holes in the ground.
There is a need for planned development. Our development should not merely jog along at the whim or wish of private enterprise. A responsible government should plan to place a population of at least 1,500,000 people in these open spaces in our north over a number of years. Mary Kathleen is a fine example of what can be done with water. Even in the electorate which I represent farmers and citrusgrowers are realizing the benefits to be obtained from irrigation, but with continued dry spells pumping has to be restricted. With irrigation, the fertile Burnett River basin could produce at least three times its current yield of maize, milopeanuts and citrus fruits. Farmers in this area will need to produce that quantity if development and population growth in the north is to be at all comparable with that in the southern States, and particularly in the southern capital cities.
I know that honorable members on the Government side are dedicated to a policy of private enterprise and to assisting large combines, both local and overseas, to exploit our heritage. They shun the idea of government participation in industry, whether primary or secondary, except by way of providing subsidies when the industries suffer a loss and taxation remissions when the industries earn a profit. I point out to those opponents of planned development that the best example of the benefits to be obtained from planned development is the City of Canberra. If it were not for government participation this place probably still would be a sheep run. Government expenditure has encouraged private expenditure to such an extent that last year private expenditure exceeded government expenditure despite the heavy programme being carried out at present by the National Capital Development Commission. I remind honorable members that there are no goldmines in Canberra. There has been a tremendous upsurge in population in this city. I do not decry the expenditure on Canberra, but I hope to show that what can be accomplished in Canberra by working to a plan can be accomplished throughout Australia.
Every year, except this year, shiploads of migrants called at north Queensland ports to work in the sugar industry. When this work cut out, usually by January, most of them drifted to the southern States in search of work. The population increase in the north of Western Australia and in the Northern Territory is far below the population increase in the southern cities. I know that some honorable members claim that it is the duty of the respective State governments to develop their own States. The Northern Territory is the responsibility of the Commonwealth Government. Despite their efforts to date, the Queensland and Western Australian governments have been restricted by limited funds. I am certain that they would be prepared to co-operate with the Commonwealth if a national development commission, such as is envisaged by the amendment proposed by the honorable member for the Northern Territory, were set up. I am sure that those States would co-operate with the Commonwealth Government in the same way as the southern States have co-operated with the Commonwealth Government in the Snowy Mountains scheme.
The Queensland Government has shelved such projects as the Burdekin River dam and has reduced expenditure on a super powerhouse at Callide which was designed to provide cheap power for alumina works in central Queensland and for the treatment of bauxite in Australia, thus creating employment in the area, building up the population in the area and advancing the area generally. The need for northern development is too vital to Australia to be left to a government which acts merely as the assistant of private enterprise. The Government should act by setting up an authority along the lines suggested by the honorable member for the Northern Territory so that northern development will become a reality.
.- I was rather surprised to hear the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Hansen) express his support of the amendment, which proposes a reduction of £1 in the proposed vote for the Department of National Development. After listening to him, I should have thought that he would have been in favour of increasing the vote by many hundreds of thousands of pounds. He has not been logical.
I should like to refer to one section of the Department of National Development - the Materials Handling Branch. Although this is only a small section of the department, I believe that its activities should be expanded greatly. Therefore, I am not in favour of the proposed amendment. On the contrary, I favour an increase in the vote. As we have known for many years, transport costs comprise a large proportion of our gross national product. They are a major part of our cost structure. When we talk about materials handling we have in mind all forms of transport, but the subject envelopes an even wider field than transport. When we consider that the United States estimates that 85 per cent, of its costs are related in one way or another to the cost of handling materials, we must understand that this problem is of very great importance to an industrial community like our own.
In many overseas countries, and particularly in America, a tremendous amount of money is devoted to research into ways of improving materials handling. The time has come when we in Australia should devote a much greater proportion of our research funds to applied research into this field. I do not decry to any extent the funds which are allocated to the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization because the expenditure is necessary, but we cannot predict the result of our investment in the C.S.I.R.O. We can never be certain what we will achieve when we come to the end of a certain programme of research. But when we invest money in research into materials handling we know that to a very great extent we can predict the results that will be apparent when we reach the end of our research programme. Money invested in research into materials handling is money well spent because it will show how our costs can be reduced. Therefore, as I have said, although we invest a good deal of money at the moment in fundamental research, we should invest a much larger proportion of the funds that are devoted to research, in both primary and secondary industries, in applied research.
This can be readily seen from a study of the work of the Materials Handling Branch of the Department of National Development. The work of the branch is conducted on a very small budget. I am informed that the branch has a total of seven officers and a very small amount of funds. According to the summary of activities of the department, the primary function of the branch is to provide investigation, research and advisory services to government departments, including the armed services. But we find that while the branch gave assistance to seventeen government bodies in 1961, it gave assistance also to 67 separate industries. It is providing a service not only for government departments but also for industry generally.
As is the case with the work of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, I believe that the field of activity covered by this branch cannot be left entirely to private enterprise. It is too wide a field, and in many cases there is a need to co-ordinate the work of many separate bodies. If, therefore, we believe in this need - and I am sure we do - we can appreciate that we have here another sphere of activity in which government departments and private enterprise have to work together to solve their problems, although in many cases, as I shall try to show by means of three examples, it is necessary for the Commonwealth Government to give the lead.
The first example concerns work carried out last year by this branch on the problem of standardization of containers. This is a matter that has been referred to many times by the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth). As always, the honorable member has shown himself to be ahead of the field. Not only has he succeeded in directing the attention of this Parliament to the need for improvement, but also, it is interesting to note, the head of the Materials Handling Branch, apparently as a result of what the honorable member has said on many occasions about this matter, has been a member of an international organization for standards which has been meeting in America, and which has, I gather, acknowledged that Australia is ahead of the rest of the world in this field. The need to standardize containers before the field proliferates to too great an extent is so obvious that I do not need to emphasize it. The honorable member for Mackellar has stressed it many times, and I merely want to support what he has said.
Then, leaving the question of standardization of containers, we come to the whole field of packaging for export. We must commend the way in which the Materials Handling Branch is co-operating with the Export Development Council in regard to this matter, but the need for improvement in this direction should be more strongly emphasized. It is not something that one particular firm can specialize in. What is needed is a body to survey the whole field.
Leaving that subject, I shall now make a few comments about two separate industries, the meat industry and the wool industry. In the export of meat there is a trend at the moment away from chilled beef and towards frozen beef. This has taken place because of increased demand overseas for self-service meat. Meat is now being packed in cartons here in Australia and shipped overseas, in frozen condition, in those cartons. If we are going to load meat in cartons we need to examine, first, the size of the cartons; secondly, the type of pallet on to which the cartons should be loaded; thirdly, the kind of stevedoring equipment needed to move those strapped pallets from the wharf to the ship; fourthly, the type of cold store that will be required on the wharf; fifthly, a possible new design of ship for carrying this refrigerated cargo; and, sixthly, the design of rail trucks. When there is such a wide field to be covered, we cannot expect each individual authority having control of these various aspects to effect the most efficient improvements. I believe we should have a co-ordinating authority to look at the whole field.
The other industry I wish to mention is the wool industry. I should again direct attention to the very valuable booklet that was prepared ten years ago by the Materials Handling Branch, called “ Materials Handling in the Wool Industry “. The report is ten years old, and it is interesting to see how little has been done to improve materials handling in the wool industry during those ten years. On page 1 of the report we find the following remarks: -
The cost of marketing the 1947-48 clip was estimated to exceed £61,000,000 of which about £24,000,000 went in handling. Costs are much higher today and it is safe to say that handling within Australia now costs the industry at least £30,000,000 . . .
Studies in the United States of America, in the United Kingdom, and in Australia show that handling may account for anything up to 85% of costs of production in industry generally and that improvement in handling methods is the greatest single factor in reducing costs and increasing productivity . . .
There is now ample evidence that costs of wool handling could be reduced substantially and without any considerable capital expenditure. All that is needed is study, trial and experiment as proposed herein.
I think the industry should have taken those remarks to heart, but not a great deal has been done to improve the position since that report was issued in 1952. There are various parts of this report that are worth reading to honorable members. On page 40 we find - the immediate task is to improve handling methods at terminal points such as Darling Harbour so as to obtain quicker turn round of trucks and more effective use of them.
A valuable contribution to this end would be a new standard pack. If the same amount of wool as baled today could be packed in a form occupying only half the volumetric space, rail trucks at present in use could be loaded closer to weight capacity and the quantity of wool carried per truck increased by up to 50 per cent, or more.
A new method of vacuum pressing in the baling of wool, developed by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, would go some way towards reducing the size of the wool bale without reducing the weight of it, and this would help to reduce transport costs. Then on page 41 we find the following remarks: -
The costs of handling wool at city terminals is enormous and a special study of this problem is being made in conjunction with the railway authorities.
Turning to page 42 -
There has been little opportunity so far to study the overseas shipment of wool from Australia. Approximately 3,000,000 bales of wool are shipped abroad each year and much of it is handled, by modern standards, under rather primitive conditions.
There has been little change over the years in the method of handling wool from city store to wharf and to ship. The original or dumped bale is still hand trucked to the wharf apron and hoisted by ship’s gear and sling; up to 8 bales at a time.
In view of the number of bales shipped regularly from each port it should be possible to load wool from wharf to ship mechanically and at a much faster rate than at present. Recent examination of handling methods at terminals in U.S.A. and in Europe supports this view.
Not a great deal of improvement has been made since that was written. Substantial economies can still be effected over the whole field of materials handling in this industry. But many authorities are involved, and it is not practicable to ask each authority to improve a particular aspect of the overall problem. I believe it is necessary for the Commonwealth Government, in conjunction with the authorities concerned, to study this report very much more fully than it did ten years ago, and to see to what extent substantial economies can be effected in this vital Australian industry. I believe, therefore, that it is time that the Australian Government gave the lead in this matter. It can give a lead to the wool and meat industries and many other industries in which applied research in materials handling could be of vital importance to Australia. I hope that the Government will see fit to increase the very valuable work that has already been done by the materials handling section of the Department of National Development and that possibly in the years ahead more money will be made available for this work. If it is, the whole of Australia will benefit.
.- I am pleased to have the opportunity to take part in this very important debate. I took a keen interest in the development of the north of Australia when I was a member of this Parliament previously, and I am glad to be able to repeat some of the arguments that I used then.
I have pleasure in supporting the amendment. I direct attention to the fact that it calls for the apointment of a Minister for the Northern Territory and for the establishment of an Australian conservation authority, and seeks the co-operation of Queensland and Western Australia in the establishment of this authority for the purpose of developing the whole of the north.
The Opposition has also moved that the proposed vote be reduced by £1. This is done as a form of protest against the inactivity of this Government respecting development of the north. The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Howson) queried our moving for the reduction of the vote, but surely he knows quite well that to move such a motion is merely to use the forms of the Parliament in order either to permit a debate or in order to express censure of the Government. Our motion is, in effect, a censure motion.
The honorable member for Fawkner apparently takes very little interest in the north of Australia, because he hardly mentioned it. He seems to think that what is already being expended there is sufficient. I think it is the Government’s responsibility to take over northern development in co-operation with Queensland and Western Australia. An authority similar to the
Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority is required, complete with engineers, agricultural experts and representatives of the Commonwealth Government and the two State governments concerned. Now is the time to do something about it. Many engineers and other experts are leaving the Snowy Mountains area as the work there progresses. Some are going overseas and being lost to us. We should be taking these men now for use in important developmental works required elsewhere, particularly in the north. The governments of Western Australia and Queensland should be approached immediately to see whether an agreement can be arrived at in respect of the development of the north. Those two States cannot do the job alone but with the support of this National Parliament something could be accomplished.
For years responsible people have been trying to impress upon the Government the urgency of northern development. In June, 1955, when I was previously a member of this Parliament, an all-party delegation from Western Australia submitted several proposals to the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner). Also at that time a northern rehabilitation committee was advocating similar proposals. One of those was that the north could be made a taxfree area for wage and salary-earners for twenty years. It was also proposed that in relation to companies 60 per cent, of profits would be tax-free and the remaining 40 per cent, would also be tax-free if they were re-invested in the area. But nothing has been done about that.
The slogan “ Populate or perish “ was never more important than it is now. In fact, we may have left it too late to populate our north, but it is never too late to start. We should be doing all we can in that direction. We have a coastline from Cairns to Carnarvon of 5,000 miles with hardly a military establishment on it. There are no military personnel there, there is no air power and there is very little of anything. Surprisingly enough, all our military and naval installations are on the Pacific side and the southern side of this continent where we have no fear of attack. Something should be done about the northern part of the continent in this regard.
In order to attract people to develop the north we should provide incentives, including tax incentives. Proposals for such tax incentives already put to the Government would cost about £2.000,000 a year to implement. That would be a worthwhile expenditure on attracting people to the north. The zone allowance which applies to income tax is not sufficient when one takes into account that payroll tax, sales tax and petrol tax are levied at the same rates in the north as they are in the south. If the Government really wants to do something about attracting people to the north it would be reasonable to have all fuel used up there for air transport, road transport and primary production tax-free.
A previous speaker mentioned the importance of transport in the north. Costs are high up there, and fuel tax makes them even higher. A northern development authority would have to take a close look at the transport question. We need more ports and railways, we need an increase of road building, we need proper co-ordination between railways and other transport services serving the ports which should be developed.
The honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. Collard) mentioned the Ord River development scheme. The Commonwealth is giving some assistance in this regard. It is helping with the construction of a diversion dam. But the assistance given means in effect only that five farms are being established. What way is that to tackle such a big problem? We have to spend more money up there so that the scheme may be pushed ahead as quickly as possible.
Apart from the Ord River project, there is scope for other dams in that area of almost equal size. There are many rivers that flow into the Timor Sea which could be dammed and provide for development and water conservation. The Ord River is about 60 miles from Wyndham and about 40 miles from the Northern Territory where we have the Kimberley research station which is operated jointly - in a manner similar to what we are suggesting now for northern development - by a committee representing the Commonwealth Government and the State Government, with representatives on it of the Commonwealth
Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, the Department of National Development and the Western Australian Departments of Agriculture and Public Works.
Investigations made by research stations show that crops worth many millions of pounds annually can be grown in the Kimberleys, where there are vast areas of fertile land. Among the crops which can be grown profitably there are rice, sugar, cotton, peanuts, linseed and safflower. The Kimberleys area covers about 100,000 square miles and is larger than Victoria. As the honorable member for Kalgoorlie mentioned, the water resources in the Kimberley River are equal to the combined resources in the Murrumbidgee, the Murray and the Darling. That gives some idea of the potentialities for development there.
Recent reports show that cotton crops grown on a pilot farm in the Ord River area have been most successful, the yield being 2,000 lb. an acre. In the opinion of some experts cotton will be one of the main crops used in the development of that area. Consider the position of cotton in the American economy. America has 26,000,000 acres under cotton which . produce 13,000,000 bales a year. California treats 480,000 lb. of cotton seed a year and from the by-products of cotton thousands of cattle are topped off each year. The combination of cattle and cotton could help considerably in the development of the Kimberleys and northern Australia generally.
There are many abandoned meatworks in the north. Wyndham has a modern and efficient meatworks which deals with between 30,000 and 40,000 beeves a year. The capacity of that place, however, is 80.000 beeves a year. To have the number of beeves needed to keep the works operating at full capacity it would be necessary to have 30,000 or 40,000 acres of pasture land, to provide a staging depot to enable the cattle to be fattened up after travelling long distances. That is where the Ord River scheme comes into focus. Because of that scheme, in conjunction with the pasture land, the by-products of cotton could be used to fatten the beasts so that 80,000 could be treated annually, instead of 30,000 to 40,000.
What can be done on the Ord River can be done by the damming of other rivers, such as the Baines River, the Victoria River in the Northern Territory, the Margaret River, and the Fitzroy River, which are also in the north. They are all rivers where water could be conserved. Air beef centres similar to Glen Roy could be established in that area.
Another point that I want to mention briefly is the question of minerals. Millions of acres of our north are awaiting prospecting. Resources are varied and considerable in that area, and there is no other comparable area in the world containing so many untested mineral prospects. But encouragement in the form of incentives is needed if skilled prospectors and experienced companies are to be attracted there. When the climatic conditions, isolation, high installation and operational costs are taken into account, there is justification for generous taxation concessions to those who go to that area to work and live. In the Hamersly Range, tremendous deposits of ore were discovered recently. The Japanese are taking a keen interest in that discovery. There are hundreds of millions of tons of iron there and fresh discoveries are being made all the time. That is only one section of the tremendous area of the north where unlimited wealth is awaiting discovery and something to be done about it.
The honorable member for Swan (Mr. Cleaver) said that we are only just beginning to look for oil in Western Australia. I venture to say that in the whole of Australia we are just beginning to look for oil, if we take into account experience elsewhere. There is no doubt that oil is available in many places other than just the Moonie field. We are not doing enough about this. A lot of money has been spent - if I remember the figure correctly it is about £83,000,000 - to drill comparatively few holes. So far we have sunk only 547 bores. Before oil was discovered in commercial quantities in the Sahara more than 3,000 holes were sunk. That shows that we are not doing enough in this vast area to find the oil that is there and to produce it in commercial quantities when we have found it. At present all of Australia’s supplies of oil are imported, and if supplies were interrupted this country could be in serious straits.
Marine wealth is another source of income which is adjacent to our northern shore and is there for the taking. Whales, pearl shell, fish, and turtles are available, but we do nothing about them. We import into Australia thousands of tons of fish each year. Only last week, or the week before, a Minister announced the winding up of Government attempts to establish a deepsea fishing industry in the Bight, but it would have been better if the money had been spent developing the areas in the north where we know that fishing prospects are good.
Two great essentials for the development of this area that have already been mentioned are co-ordinated transport and water supplies. Australia has the second largest area of arid land in the world, and it is the driest of all continents. Much of Australia is destined to remain empty because it is unlikely to be able to sustain life from natural foliage. The great limiting factor in respect of the future population of Australia is the unavailability of water. Once the means is found to remove salt economically from sea water, salt lakes and brackish water, it will play a vital part in increasing the population of our now sparsely populated areas. I am referring now to those areas where we have not the big rivers to which I referred previously.
Scientists have recently made progress towards harnessing thermo-nuclear power for developmental purposes. Professor Oliphant pointed out that the application of this power to the distillation of sea water is of vast significance in the future development of Australia. This will have an important bearing on the problems of the north, and may mean that the solution of our problems in that area is within reach. If we can overcome our water shortages and provide cheap and abundant atomic power, a tremendous advance could be made towards solving the problems of the north. That is why we have suggested the setting up of a conservation committee which could work in consultation with the States concerned. We want this Government to get on with the job of developing the north.
.- Mr. Chairman, I wish to deal very briefly with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. I am certain that we all appreciate the wonderful job that the C.S.I.R.O. has done since its inception in 1926. The honorable member for Rich mond (Mr. Anthony) reminds me that the C.S.I.R.O. was established by Sir Earle Page, who was a great statesman of this country and also, of course, a member of the Country Party. We have seen this organization, from a comparatively small beginning, grow into a vast and complex one which has contributed greatly to the development of both the primary and secondary industries of this country. I often feel that people do not realize the job that this organization has done for the manufacturing industries of this country. We are apt to think that it is purely a scientific research organization, but we must remember that it is also an industrial research organization.
One of the major industries which the C.S.I.R.O. has been able to assist is our great wool industry. Every one appreciates the importance of the wool industry to the export income of Australia and, consequently, to the prosperity of every one living in Australia. We know that there have been many major well-known discoveries, such as myxomatosis which, although very effective, is I understand, still presenting certain problems to the organization. Another important discovery has been the shrink-proofing process for woollen fabrics, which also has been of great assistance.
However, I should like to mention some of the less publicized inventions of the C.S.I.R.O. which have nevertheless been of great importance to the manufacturing industry and have helped considerably in the constant battle to reduce the processes necessary to convert the raw wool into yarn. The first that I mention is the Noble comb controller which, as the name implies, is used in the combing of wool. The Noble comb, an invention of C.S.I.R.O., enables the carding of wool to be automatically and continuously controlled, whereas previously it was necessary to have constant manual attention on the machine during the time it was in operation. This has resulted in a great saving of cost. This comb originated in the Division of Textile Industry of the C.S.I.R.O. I personally viewed this equipment in action on a recent visit to the Wangaratta Woollen Mills, and I can assure the committee and the C.S.I.R.O. that the manager at the Wangaratta mills possesses tremendous enthusiasm for the Noble comb controller. In fact his words were that this is the greatest single discovery, so far as the woollen textile industry is concerned, that has ever been brought to light.
The second thing that I want to mention is the sliver converter. The details of the process are confidential at present, but there are in progress negotiations with overseas manufacturers for the development of a machine. This process is expected to improve the method of spinning scoured wool into yarn.
The third matter that I should like to mention, Mr. Temporary Chairman, has already been discussed fairly fully by the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Howson). This is the recent innovation of vacuum pressing wool in polythene bags. This will save packaging costs and will prevent the contamination of wool by jute bags, in which it has been packed for many years. Jute contamination has been a constant source of complaint in the textile industry. When wool was removed from jute bags, very costly and tedious hand-picking was needed to remove the jute fibres that had adhered to the wool. As the honorable member for Fawkner said, there will be great savings in freight, also, because the new vacuumpressing process will make it possible for far more wool to be pressed into a bale of the same size. A much greater weight of wool will be carried in ships’ holds, and this will help to offset the rising freights with which the primary producer is constantly confronted.
Another feature of the activities of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization which is very helpful to primary producers is the visits by members of the staff to various parts of Australia where the type of country varies. As a result of these visits, the experts are able to advise farmers whether they are using enough fertilizer or whether they are using too much. This, sort of advice can result in a considerable increase in the income of certain primary producers.
I should like to mention particularly the work of the organization for the tobacco industry. This industry, as we all realize, is a most important dollar-saving one for Australia. One of the main tobacco diseases is blue mould, which has been causing trouble ever since the industry came into being, and has been a problem in Australia over the last 40 years. I know that the C.S.I.R.O., together with the Victorian Agricultural Department, has done great work in seeking a counter to, or a cure for, this disease. Unfortunately, so far, the efforts have not been completely successful. The task of eradicating the disease is extremely difficult and complex. However, much progress has been made in the perfecting of a remedy for the disease. This work has benefited growers in the northeast of Victoria and in Queensland by many thousands of pounds.
The last matter that I should like to mention, Mr. Temporary Chairman, is the very recent start on the establishment of a tropical pastures laboratory at Townsville. The establishment of this laboratory has not been completed yet. The C.S.I.R.O. has bought a farm near Townsville and is constructing a new research laboratory, at a cost of approximately £200,000, for the purpose of seeking new legumes and new grasses that will provide feed during the dry season in Queensland. I know, from talking to my colleagues from Queensland, and also from my own observations, that pasture improvement is probably the major need if Queensland is to increase the productivity of its primary producers. Recently, I heard a most interesting broadcast over a national radio station of an interview with a man from Scotland who had visited Brisbane to judge the AberdeenAngus cattle at the last Royal National Show there. He was asked what was, in his opinion, the most important factor in the development of the primary-producing industries in Queensland. Without hesitation, he answered that pasture improvement and the development of legumes that would put nitrogen into the soil were undoubtedly the major factor needed to ensure progress in primary production in Queensland.
In conclusion, Mr. Temporary Chairman, I say that I am certain that all honorable members say to the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization: “ Congratulations on the job that you have done so far. We are certain that you will continue to play a great part in the future development of this country.”
.- Mr. Temporary Chairman, I support the amendment proposed by my colleague, the honor- able member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson). I am particularly amazed at the Government’s attitude towards the Department of National Development, as demonstrated by the attention given by Ministers to the discussion of the estimates for the department. Not one Minister has spoken on the subject. Indeed, no Minister other than the Minister for Air (Mr. Fairbairn), who is now at the table, has been present in the chamber during this discussion.
– Another Minister is here now.
– He has just walked in.
– The Minister to whom 1 refer has been here all the time.
– He is asleep and does not know what is going on.
National development is most important to all Australians. Since I first became a member of this place, I have heard many honorable members talk of the development of northern Australia, but nothing has been done. The Government has no concrete plan and, to my knowledge, it has in mind no schemes of a national character such as we on this side of the chamber envisage. We envisage for northern Australia development schemes like the great Snowy Mountains scheme, which is a purely national one. The north of Australia is a great area which can accommodate and maintain millions of people. We should ensure that it is populated by millions of people. As I said before I ever came into this chamber, if we do not do something to populate the north, we shall lose it. We have no right to hold such valuable land unless we are prepared to do something with it. Northern Queensland, particularly, is rich in natural resources, as are the north of Western Australia and the Northern Territory. Those two areas, however, have been discussed adequately by my colleagues; so I shall confine my remarks to northern Queensland.
The Snowy Mountains scheme has been a huge success as a national project. This Government carried on a project which the Labour Government began. Indeed, I am pleased that the present Government has carried through the scheme to the present stage. Unfortunately, however, this Government has made no further plans, as it should have done, to retain the technical and scientific experts who have gained so much experience from the Snowy Mountains scheme and who could be used in a scheme for the development of the north of Australia. Wherever land has to be developed, one meets two important factors that are the responsibility of governments. These are two factors that no private enterprise would or could manage. I shall return to them in a moment.
It also amazes me to find that we spend millions of pounds to assist under-developed countries. If we could spend one-tenth of that amount on the undeveloped areas of Australia, we would be getting somewhere. We would be able to house people and to feed them in the underpopulated areas. We would be able to settle the north of Australia. We would not have unemployment problems so far as those areas were concerned. The people could be housed and kept there. I am not decrying the help that is given to under-developed countries overseas, but I am saying that we have to spend money on the undeveloped parts of our own country as well as on under-developed countries overseas.
I referred to two factors in relation to development. One is water, which is the lifeblood of a nation. The other is communications. With water goes power and irrigation. On the east coast of Queensland there are tremendous downpours of rain in the monsoonal seasons. Not only does the water run into the ocean but it takes with it, year after year, good top soil than can grow anything. The waters of such rivers as the Burdekin and the Barron - waters that run so quickly to the eastcould be conserved and made the lifeblood of the back areas.
People may ask, “ How are you going to pump the water over the dividing range? “ There is a demonstration of how that can be done in the Tinaroo Dam scheme, which has a series of syphons. These lift the water over the range and take it to the flats below. That sort of scheme could be developed through Queensland in order to run water to the arid areas. I do not believe that there is in Australia any area so arid that it is not worth something. I have seen for myself what has happened in the Middle
East with the assistance of irrigation and of technical and scientific know-how. On what we would call arid country the people there were growing citrus fruits and grapes. If that can be done there, it can be done in Australia. If we say there is land in Australia so arid that it is not worth using, we do not deserve to keep it. Land of that kind can be developed by people such as I have seen in the Middle East. It could be developed by us. We could absorb people from other countries who want to work and develop land and attain something in this country for themselves and their families.
By conserving water on the coast of Queensland and pouring it into what are called the arid areas, or the areas which require water, we could do a lot to develop those areas of Queensland which lie behind the dividing range. In the development of Australia it is necessary to take all these factors into consideration. I should like to seea network of river works from Western Australia right through to the east coast, like an electric grid system. It can be done. This is not a dream. The waters from the rivers of Western Australia could flow towards the Northern Territory, and the waters of the rivers of the Northern Territory could flow to the back areas of Queensland. The same sort of thing is done with electric power in Queensland. A grid system runs from the north of Cape York to the border of New South Wales, fully linked up in a network of power. The same sort of thing can be done, and should be done, with water.
The other major factor is communications, covering not only roads, but also telephone and wireless communications. Development in this connexion can never be undertaken by private enterprise. It must be undertaken by governments. The development of industry will follow the development of communications. We can develop many industries in northern Queensland. One industry has never been developed; it is still in the experimental or pilot stage. I refer to power alcohol. This is the dream of a man called Seymour Howe, but it has never been developed. Power alcohol can be produced. In view of the scientific knowledge that we have available from overseas, it is a possibility that power alcohol could be produced from cane sugar easily and cheaply. Power alcohol could be used by the farmers if we find ourselves in dire straits because of the United Kingdom joining the European Common Market.
It will be necessary to take all these factors into consideration in considering the development of this great north land of ours, which could and should absorb millions of people. The Government must attend to this. It cannot be done by private enterprise. Other industries would follow the establishment of a power alcohol industry. Tea could be grown in these areas. We import £39,000,000 worth of tea every year. Tea can be grown and harvested in northern Australia, around Innisfail, where there is an experimental station. Mechanical pickers are being operated in Georgia and in Asia. They could be introduced into Australia if hand picking were too costly. That is an industry that we could foster. Another is the cotton industry. To-day, we are not very much concerned about cotton, but we may be concerned about it in the near future if the United Kingdom goes into the European Common Market. We may be forced to erect our own gins and linen mills for the protection of our industry if the European Common Market countries are not taking our products from us.
We will have to conserve our industries. These tilings have been grown in the north. That area should be utilized for such production and the people who go there should be housed properly. We should lead the way for the peoples of the world who live in tropical areas. We should show them what can be achieved in cultivation. We succeeded in establishing a sugar cane industry with white labour, although it was said that that could never be done. We proved that that forecast was wrong. We can develop the tropical part of Australia and make it worth while for the millions of people who we know are willing to do so to come and work in our country. That goes for the southern part of Australia as well.
Motion (by Mr. Luchetti) agreed to -
That the question be now put.
Question put -
That the vote proposed to be reduced (Mr. Nelson’s amendment) be so reduced.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. P. E. Lucock.)
Majority . . 2
Question so resolved in the negative.
– Previous speakers in this debate have referred to the very fine and valuable work accomplished by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, in particular for the rural industries. In past years, I have at times been the only spokesman to say a word for this organization, which is of extreme value to the rural industries and which in the future will, I hope, be of even greater benefit than it has been in the past. But, because the organization is a very fine one and because its research is excellent and at least equal to world standards, it does not mean that at all times it is above criticism. Some occurrences in recent years have left the organization open to criticism. It is perhaps true that the incident to which I shall refer happened in 1953 or 1954.
The committee may remember, though I doubt it, that some days ago in the debate on the estimates for the Department of Primary Industry, I spoke of the fibroma virus and how it was being used in commercial rabbit farms in New South Wales. I said that it should not be so used. The manner in which the fibroma virus originally came into the hands of the New South Wales Government, and consequently of the New South Wales rabbit farmers, involves the C.S.I.R.O. very closely. I want to follow through with the explanation of how this virus first came into Australia, how it came into the hands of the C.S.I.R.O., and how it came into the hands of the rabbit farmers of New South Wales. I believe that if we follow its progress, we will see that there are gaps in our quarantine machinery which may in this instance, and would in the future, do grave damage to Australia.
The fibroma virus originally came into this country because an eminent professor of the Australian National University was having trouble with some of his experiments, as rabbits were dying of myxomatosis at inconvenient times. He heard about the fibroma virus, made application to the Commonwealth Department of
Health and received permission to import some of the virus so that he could protect his experimental laboratory rabbits from myxomatosis. I understand that, not wishing to produce the fibroma virus himself the professor asked the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories, under the administration of the Department of Health, to produce it for him. I do not think any of us would object to the virus being used under laboratory conditions to protect laboratory rabbits and so protect the results of possibly valuable experiments that were being undertaken. There is no argument about what happened up to that stage, but then we take the story a little further.
The Commonwealth Serum Laboratories were producing fibroma virus for an eminent professor at the Australian National University and, I am told, made it available to many other laboratories and organizations throughout Australia. One of those organizations was the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, in its laboratories in and around Sydney. One does not object to that, because the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization in and around Sydney wanted the virus for laboratory experimental purposes. But at this stage commercial rabbit farmers in New South Wales discovered that fibroma virus greatly increased their profits and protected their domestic farm rabbits against myxomatosis, thus reducing the risk of loss.
The commercial rabbit farmers made representations, through the Government of New South Wales, for the virus to be obtained for them for use on their commercial rabbit farms. That Government, or its appropriate agency, asked the C.S.I.R.O. laboratories in or around Sydney for some of the virus. Those C.S.I.R.O. laboratories made the virus available to the New South Wales authorities who, in turn, made it available to the commercial producers of such things and the virus was produced for the rabbit farmers. The point on which T take issue is that I understand that the decision to release the virus from the C.S.I.R.O. laboratories in or around Sydney to the New South Wales Government, which was going to make it available to the rabbit farmers, was taken at a fairly low level. It may have been made by the people who conduct the laboratories in
Sydney but I understand it was not made at C.S.I.R.O. Executive level or at ministerial level. I remind the committee that these unfortunate events took place in 1953 or 1954. [Quorum formed.]
Before the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) was so kind as to direct attention to the state of the committee I was taking issue on the fact that the C.S.I.R.O. laboratories in or around Sydney had made fibroma virus available, through the agency of the New South Wales Government, to commercial rabbit farmers in that State. I believe that a decision which could have severe repercussions for the whole of the pastoral and farming community in Australia should not be taken at a relatively low administrative level by perhaps one or two scientific personnel. Those officers might have been extremely conscientious in their duties and might have thought there was no particular danger in doing what was done, but a scientific officer engaged on one particular job is not necessarily aware of all the implications that could arise if something like the fibroma virus is used on a wider scale, not under laboratory conditions and possibly escapes into the wild rabbit community.
It is one thing for the Department of Health to say that a university professor can bring fibroma virus into Australia to be used under laboratory conditions to protect laboratory rabbits which are essential for research: it is quite another thing to use the same virus under open conditions, without control, on commercial rabbit farms. Quite clearly there is some merit in the use of the virus under controlled laboratory conditions, where it would probably be safe, but I do not think honorable members would agree that control of the virus on commercial rabbit farms would be worth twopence. This indicates the possibility of a complete breakdown in the quarantine system.
The Department of Health could have prevented the fibroma virus coming into Australia in the first place. It did not tlo so because it felt that it was quite safe for the virus to be used under laboratory conditions. But once the virus was in Australia it was no longer under the control of the Department of Health and it was beyond the power of the department to prevent it becoming available, through the Commonwealth
Serum Laboratories and then through the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, to commercial rabbit farmers in New South Wales. It may be that no damage has resulted from what has happened, but there are experts in this field who believe that considerable damage has already been done.
I think we need some machinery, possibly composed of officers of the Department of Health and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, to watch things such as this virus after they have come into the country. If a virus is brought into Australia for a certain purpose there should be some authority whose duty it is to make sure it will not be used for some other purpose, without any controls, in a manner which could endanger or cause heavy cost to a section of the Australian community. It is quite clear that under present conditions we have no machinery which can safeguard us in this matter. The present Minister for Health (Senator Wade), long after the damage could have been done - he was not Minister at the time when it could have been done - said that the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories could then sell fibroma virus only to scientific laboratories. But the virus is being produced and for several years has been produced by a commercial producer in New South Wales. Neither the Minister for Health nor the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization has any control over this commercial producer. [Quorum formed.] I hope that I can conclude my speech without the honorable member for East Sydney again directing attention to the state of the committee.
– I was not responsible that time.
– Then I apologize. There should be some permanent machinery to handle these matters. It is not good enough for the Department of Health, which is responsible for the application of the quarantine regulations, to allow something into this country for laboratory purposes and then to lose sight of it. You cannot rely on the judgment of people using the virus in laboratory conditions to ensure that it will not escape and cause great damage to Australia. Many people who know much more about this subject than I do believe that that possibly is what happened in relation to this particular virus.
The virus came into Australia because the Department of Health gave a university professor permission to import it for laboratory purposes. Through the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization the virus was made available to commercial rabbit farmers in New South Wales without any discussion having taken place in relation to possible effects or repercussions. Clearly, this virus should not have been made available to outside persons. The decision in this regard should have been taken at least on a ministerial level if there is not some permanent body to handle these matters. No person, committee or group of persons was concerned with what happened to the virus after it came into Australia and that is why it is being used by commercial rabbit farmers now. We face the risk of great damage being done to our pastoral and farming industries. We must learn from this lesson. We must devise some machinery within the framework of the Department of Health - perhaps in co-operation with the C.S.I.R.O. - to ensure that this kind of thing does not happen again.
.- I want to relate my remarks to that section of the estimates for the Department of National Development which refers to the proposed expenditure by the War Service Homes Division, and more particularly to deal with the amount which is now made available to purchase homes under the War Service Homes Act. This act now has been in operation for approximately 43 years and has provided 216,652 homes. In view of the fact that it is now seventeen years since the end of the last war, and in view of the fact that there are still 13,678 applications for assistance from the War Service Homes Division, the Opposition believes that insufficient funds are being made available to reduce the present waiting list. I point out to honorable members that the figures which I have cited are contained in the 1961-62 annual report of the War Service Homes Division.
Undoubtedly the war service homes scheme is a popular one. It is popular for several reasons but principally because the terms of repayments of the loans are extremely good in comparison with those of other lending institutions. As a result of this popularity the number of applications for assistance is increasing each year. There were 16,040 applications during the financial year 1960-61. This number increased to 17,049 in 1961-62, so it will be seen that the position is worsening.
The act did not intend that there should be any waiting period after an application for assistance to purchase a new or an existing home was submitted to the division. During debates on the Estimates in other years and on matters relating to war service homes generally the Opposition has stressed that the present waiting period of twenty months is far too long.
At the beginning of this year the Government decided to increase the maximum advance from £2,750 to £3,500. When that legislation was before the Parliament the Opposition took the opportunity to point out that to increase the maximum advance without increasing the annual appropriation would only tend to increase the waiting period which then applied. Of course, the Opposition was proved to be right. The waiting period has been extended. Although it may vary in some States according to the’ number of applications that are received, the waiting period for a loan to purchase an existing home generally averages twenty months.
Because the Opposition believes that the Government should correct this anomaly now, I, on behalf of the Opposition, move, as an amendment -
That the amount of the vote - “Department of National Development, £11,607,000 “-be reduced by fifteen shillings.
I do this as an indication of strong disapproval of the waiting period which still exists for advances from the War Service Homes Division to purchase existing houses and which compels eligible persons to enter into interim mortgages at exorbitant interest rates. We believe that the maximum advance of £3,500 is still too low, but we acknowledge that the Government has improved the position which existed previously. However, the fact remains that the allocation is still insufficient and is not reducing the waiting period in relation to the purchase of existing homes.
Under the act an eligible person is entitled to financial assistance to erect a dwelling house, to purchase a dwelling house, to complete a partially erected dwelling house or to enlarge an existing dwelling house. In the case of a request for assistance to erect a dwelling house or to purchase an existing new dwelling house there is no waiting period beyond the normal time required to process the application. The Opposition’s complaint relates to those homes which have been lived in previously and which are recognized by the Minister as being outside the ambit of the act.
In 1955, the Opposition moved the adjournment of the House so that we could debate the question of the waiting period for financial assistance to purchase existing dwellings. Seven years ago the Opposition pointed out that the waiting period was reacting unfavorably on applicants, but for seven years this waiting period has remained. On some occasions it has extended beyond the present twenty months. The fact remains that if an ex-serviceman has the opportunity to purchase an existing home he must make his own arrangements for financial assistance to cover the period between the time when the division approves his application and the time when the division is prepared to discharge his mortgage.
To-day applicants can secure alternative financial assistance only through other lending institutions which are prepared to cover the period until the division discharges the mortgage. Many applicants to-day are securing this assistance only at exorbitant rates of interest. In addition, they have had to meet legal expenses which would not apply in the case of those exservicemen fortunate enough to secure a group home through the division. The Opposition believes that the Government should move to remedy this situation, which has continued for more than seven years. The Government can do so only by increasing the annual appropriation for the War Service Homes Division.
It is true that there was a shortage of homes in this country in the immediate post-war period, but there should now be no shortage of homes for ex-servicemen. Every ex-serviceman who desires financial assistance from the War Service Homes Division should be able to secure that assistance and obtain a home for himself. Many exservicemen prefer to purchase existing dwellings because they have not enough money to add to the amount they could secure from the War Service Homes Division in order to procure a new home. But this Government says that unless a man is prepared to purchase a new home or to build a new home he will not be able to get assistance from the division in the same way as another man who is prepared to purchase or build a new home.
The Opposition pointed out, when amending legislation was before the Parliament at the beginning of this year, that unless the total appropriation for the division was increased the number of outstanding applications would increase. The Government had decided to increase the maximum advance by £750 to £3,500 and it was obvious, in those circumstances, that the number of applications would increase, and, accordingly, that the waiting period would be extended in the case of persons who wished to buy an existing property. The Government increased the maximum advance not because it wanted to be generous to ex-servicemen but because it realized that the ex-servicemen could no longer produce the amount required in addition to the maximum loan, as it previously stood, to enable them to purchase new homes. The annual report of the Director of War Service Homes shows that in 1961- 62 the average cost of a house and land in New South Wales was £4,240, so that an applicant was required to find £740 in addition to the maximum advance. In Victoria the average cost was £4,458, and the amount that the applicant had to find privately was £958. In South Australia the average cost of a house and land was £4,998, so that the applicant had to find £1,498. In the Australian Capital Territory, for which this Government is responsible, the average cost of a house only was £7,528, so that the ex-serviceman had to produce £4,028 in addition to the maximum advance available from the division. It is obvious that very few ex-servicemen in the Australian Capital Territory would be able to purchase a home through the division.
This Government has made no attempt to reduce the waiting period at all. The only way it can reduce it is by increasing the appropriation. It should be pointed out that although the Government tells the people it is making available £35,000,000 each year for the purchase of war service homes, it does not say that it receives back in interest payments from those who have obtained loans no less than £12,000,000 annually. The figures are given in the director’s report. Table C on page 22 shows that for the financial year 1961-62 repayments of principal amounted to £9,415,336, and interest payments were £12,054,102. It is obvious, therefore, that although the annual appropriation is £35,000,000, the Government is really providing no more than £23,000,000. This being so, the Government should be able to increase the annual appropriation. If it does not do so, the waiting period cannot be reduced.
I want to refer also to a direction that was issued by the Minister in charge of the War Service Homes Division some years ago, to the effect that no ex-serviceman could obtain assistance from the division to discharge a mortgage on an existing property in which he was then living. When the Labour Government was in office any ex-serviceman who wanted to have his mortgage transferred to the War Service Homes Division merely had to apply to the division for that to be done, and the mortgage was duly transferred, provided the property was acceptable to the division. The present Minister has now placed this restriction on applicants, and the Opposition believes that in view of the hardships suffered by the people involved, the Government should remove the restriction. I have suggested that the number of applicants at this time, seventeen years after the conclusion of the last war, is still far too great.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– During the last few years an increasing amount of development has been taking place in our northern areas. In the main, this has been a direct result of the policy of this Government, which has provided much of the money for this development. I want to compliment this Government on the policy it is pursuing in the Northern Territory and on the assistance it is providing for the governments of Western Australia and Queensland to enable them to develop the northern areas of those States. The great development that is currently taking place in the Ord River area in Western Australia is a direct result of this Government’s policy, and I give full credit to the Government of Western Australia, which is providing very generously from its meagre budget towards the cost of development in the remote areas of that State. The people of Western Australia are indeed fortunate to have such a dynamic Minister for Industrial Development and Minister for the North-West as the Honorable Charles Court.
But it is not sufficient merely to develop; we must also populate. Strangely enough, to my way of thinking, the two terms are not synonymous. I have availed myself of the opportunity to visit many of the areas being developed in Western Australia, in the Northern Territory and in Queensland. I have met and talked with some of the people who are working in these areas. What has disturbed me most is the realization that a very large proportion of them have no intention of staying in those areas for any length of time. Most of them are young men. Some of them are single, but a large number of those who are married do not have their wives and children with them. They have been attracted to the north by the comparatively high rates of pay prevailing there. These young men are doing a very good job, but a great many of them have no intention of making their homes in the north. They have gone there wholly and solely to make as much money as they can in as little time as they can, so that they can then take their savings back to their wives and families in the southern cities. Please do not misunderstand me. I am not criticizing either the amount or the quality of the work they do. I am not even criticizing their motives; but I am disturbed that these conditions prevail, because the only way in which we can develop the north on a lasting basis is to attract families who will make their homes there.
There are exceptions, of course, to this general criticism. [Quorum formed.] I have nothing but praise for what has been done for the workers and their families in places like Mount Isa and Mary Kathleen in Queensland and Rum Jungle in the Northern Territory. The companies concerned deserve every credit for the help that they have given to their employees. But there is still very little or no incentive for a man to take his wife and family to the north with the aim of settling down there. If we want people to make their homes in the north and raise their families there we must give them incentives to do so. We must provide them with as many amenities as possible. In some of the areas requiring development the climatic conditions alone are enough to depress the women without their having to put up with other conditions much more primitive than conditions in the cities.
I believe that we have to devise a scheme to provide incentives both to industry and its employees to become established in the north. The Government is providing some form of incentive by means of the income tax zone allowance, but I have been told that there may be some constitutional limits on what can be done in this direction. If we cannot give sufficient incentive by means of tax concessions perhaps we could do so by means of subsidies. I am aware that the Government already provides freight subsidies for pas.toralists in connexion with bloodstock for breeding purposes. I think it would be worth while to extend this kind of subsidy.
As I said earlier, any proposed subsidy should embrace both the employers and the employees. By their very nature some industries must be established in the north, but if we are to do more than pay mere lip service to the principle of decentralization we must try to attract other industries to those areas. In order to do that we must be able to offer them sufficient inducement to make it worth while.
Probably the best way to help the companies and other employers is to pay freight subsidies both on raw materials and stores brought into the area and on the finished products sent out of the area. Another way in which we can help industry would be to provide from the Development Bank of Australia money at low rates of interest.
Probably the greatest concern of the married man is to see that bis children receive a proper education, are properly housed and have adequate hospital and medical treatment available to them. In an endeavour to be constructive, I should like to suggest that the Government consider the provision of a number of subsidies designed to place the residents of these remote areas in a financial position somewhat comparable with that of people in the large cities. For example, the Government could examine the possibility of introducing freight subsidies on food and clothing so that the prices of those articles would be no greater than their prices in city stores. Other subsidies which could be considered are subsidies on fares for children attending secondary or technical schools or universities which are not available in remote areas, attendance at which involves travel for long distances. It could also consider subsidizing the fares paid by people who have to undergo medical or hospital treatment not available in those areas. Rent subsidies might also be provided, or at least generous assistance given to the people in those areas to buy homes. The Government could also consider paying subsidies towards the cost of building swimming pools and sports arenas.
Some people may argue that such subsidies would be costly. The actual cost would depend on the extent to which the scheme proved successful in populating the area. If the scheme achieved the results of developing and populating the north the cost would be justified.
There may be better ways of providing incentives that are necessary to get families to make their homes in the north. I have made my suggestions in the hope that they will provoke some discussion on the subject, because I believe that if we are to get full value from the development of the north it is necessary to have some new thinking.
.- I rise to support the amendment moved by the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Barnard), which is -
That the amount of the vote - “ Department of National Development, £11,607,000 “-be reduced by fifteen shillings.
This amendment was moved as an indication of the strong disapproval of the waiting period which still exists for advances from the War Service Homes Division to purchase existing houses and which compel eligible persons to enter into interim mortgages at exorbitant interest rates. At the same time, I should like to deal with certain aspects of the administration of the War Service Homes Division, which in many instances is a very rigid administration. Many of the ministerial decisions made about war service homes are rigid and circumvent the original meaning and intention of the act. For example, there is the question of the discharge of existing mortgages. Section 20 of the War “Service Homes Act provides that a loan may be granted to purchase or erect a house, to complete a partially erected house, enlarge a dwelling or discharge a mortgage already, in existence. The purposes of the act as defined in section 20 are expressions of the will of the Parliament, and although the Minister has the authority under that section to give directions on matters of general policy surely he should not deliberately circumvent the intention of the act, which provides for second mortgages.
I think that every honorable member is aware of the fact that whenever an application for a second mortgage is submitted to the division - that is, where the applicant already has a house mortgaged to some other lending institution or private individual and wishes to discharge that mortgage and transfer it to the division - that application is invariably rejected. That surely is a ministerial decision which is contrary to the original intention of the act.
There is also the matter of second loans. I should say that every honorable member who has war service homes in his electorate will have experienced instances of second loans being refused. There are many cases, and I will quote one to-night in which the individual concerned has given me permission to mention his name. I refer to a Mr. L. H. Lockwood, of Castle Hill, which is in my electorate. This man is a tradesman whose wife has been suffering from asthma. She was originally a Melbourne girl. I think every one realizes that the psychological aspect is always a contributing factor with asthma sufferers. Doctors and specialists have advised that the only way in which her condition can be improved is by her returning to Melbourne to live with her family. Mr. Lockwood is prepared to accept up to £4 a week less in wages in order to return to Melbourne to assist his wife’s condition. Surely that would be a very sound and logical case in which to grant a second loan. All these points have been submitted to the Minister and the division time and time again, but they refuse to consider the issue.
Public servants and persons in private employment have to transfer interstate or to the country, through no fault of their own, simply to retain their employment, but they are not allowed a second loan. Once a person has been granted a loan he is refused any future loan. I feel that this is a harsh application applied to decisions in the administration of that department.
In Lockwood’s case it is important to remember that he did cot want additional finance, so that basically all that is involved is a simple matter of administration on the transfer of the mortgage from one house to another. That submission has been put to the department, but it is not recognized. The excuse given is that once the mortgage is paid off the funds have to be transferred to the National Debt Sinking Fund. We know that second mortgages were approved between 1947 and 1956, but suddenly it was found that that could no longer be done because of what can only be called the mechanics of the administration of the department.
– Humanity does not come into it!
– I have given a good example of an absence of humanity. Lockwood, a man who has a sick wife, is a sound case for the grant of a second loan, but he has not been given the opportunity to avail himself of what is, in the terms of the act, the right of every ex-serviceman.
Then there is also the question of waiting periods which the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Barnard) put so forcefully to the committee. It is true that you can obtain an advance for a new house immediately - there is no waiting - but when it comes to a second-hand house a person has to wait twenty months. Some years ago the waiting period was twenty months, and to-day it is the same.
– Do you not want to encourage the building industry?
– Surely, but I suggest that the honorable member should keep it in mind that the War Service Homes
Act provides that loans shall be available for ex-servicemen for any type of home, whether it be a new home or a secondhand one, and shall be available for the discharge of an existing mortgage. The act does not confine its reference to a new home. The result of this waiting period of twenty months is that ex-servicemen are being forced into the hands of private money lenders and are charged exorbitant rates of interest.
I think we should look at the statement made by the Minister for National Development last March in which he said that he was desirous of all eligible ex-servicemen taking advantage of the benefits provided under the War Service Homes Act. I ask honorable members to keep that in mind. Early this year there was an increase in the permissible advance from £2,750 to £3,500, and the Minister invited exservicemen, in a most magnanimous manner, to apply for additional loans for extra bedrooms, additions to their homes, garages and so on. But there has not been any public announcement by the division of the administrative decisions made by the Minister in which he has refused applications for the finance for garages, for example.
I cite another example, which is one case out of many that have come to my attention. A man wanted an extra bedroom in his Home as accommodation for a nurse. His wife was a permanent invalid and it was necessary for him to have a full-time nurse in the home. Surely an additional loan should be available to that man, but it has been refused. Since 22nd August, I think, all applications for garages have been refused. I ask honorable members to keep in mind that the decisions to refuse additional loans for this purpose were given no publicity, but a great blare of publicity was given to the original decision to increase the permissible amount from £2,750 to £3,500.
I think it should also be kept in mind that, in making the decision to increase the permissible advance, the Government has not increased the total amount available for lending by the War Service Homes Division. The estimates indicate that the appropriation last year was £35,000,000 and that the expenditure was £35,000,000. The proposed vote for this year is once again £35,000,000.
– So fewer homes will be built.
– Yes, the number of homes to be built and the purchases of second-hand homes to be financed will be reduced. Despite the tacit undertaking given by the Minister in his statement last March to provide additional loans and to increase the amount of the loan to £3,500, the actual number of units being financed must, of necessity, be drastically reduced because of the decision not to increase the overall allocation.
I feel, Mr. Deputy Chairman, that it is the right of every ex-serviceman to participate in the benefits provided under the War Service Homes Act, whether the assistance he requires is to build a home, buy a house or discharge a mortgage. The test is that he is an ex-serviceman. It is wrong and unfair that there should exist to-day the anomalies that I have mentioned. I think it is also wrong and unfair that the intentions of the act are being deliberately circumvented by ministerial decision. The act provides that an ex-serviceman shall be given the right to borrow for the purpose of building a new home or to pay off an existing mortgage, and shall be given the right to borrow in order to buy a secondhand home. Those are the provisions of the act. But, because of ministerial decisions, these provisions are being circumvented.
– Who is the Minister?
– The Minister for National Development. This is important to realize and to remember. It is equally important to realize not only that are these the rights of ex-servicemen, but also that the Government is making a profit from this venture. The Government is not giving the money to these men; it is simply lending the money at a fair rate of interest. This is not a department which is running at a loss; it is not giving something to exservicemen to which they are not entitled. On the contrary, this Government should consider allowing not only ex-servicemen but also other people to borrow at lower interest rates. Everybody should be able to borrow at rates at least as low as those charged by the War Service Homes Division.
I hope, Mr. Temporary Chairman, that in the life of this Parliament the injustices that
I have outlined will be remedied. I trust that the committee will agree to the Opposition’s amendment, which takes the form of a motion that the proposed vote for the Department of National Development be reduced by 15s.
– Mr. Temporary Chairman, I do not propose to cover the same ground traversed by the honorable member for Mitchell (Mr. Armitage). I really wish to discuss other subjects. However, in passing, I want to say that every case that I have brought to the notice of the War Service Homes Division in which the owner of a home has been required, for reasons which are reasonable and inescapable, to move to another locality, has invariably been dealt with courteously and helpfully. I have cases of this kind brought to my notice from time to time. The division, quite properly, refuses to take the matter lightly. If it allowed transfers of mortgages to go through readily, trafficking in houses would occur. The applicant for a transfer must have a proper case. If he can arrange for another ex-serviceman in the same area to buy the house, invariably the transfer is expedited.
I wish to discuss national development, Sir, with particular reference to conservation and the work of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. I direct the attention of the committee to a rather extraordinary situation which has arisen, indirectly because there is only one taxing authority in Australia concerned with the major sources of tax revenue. The whole of the eastern part of Australia, particularly the area that I represent, needs lime in very great quantities, especially on the coast. The quantity required is not less than one ton, and preferably about two tons, to the acre. The cost of the lime itself, and of transportation, makes it quite impossible for landholders’ to apply lime in such quantities, although such applications would tremendously improve production throughout eastern Australia. In the Tamworth-Manilla area of my electorate, there is a perfect mountain of excellent lime, where a first-class enterprise could be developed. Crushed lime could be supplied in bulk in hopper trucks, from which it could be taken by means of suction and loaded into other trucks for distribution. Only one thing is lacking.
The policy in our sister dominion, New Zealand, used to be, and, I believe, may still be, for the Government railways to transport superphosphate and lime virtually for nothing. In the bookkeeping, there was a loss in the ultimate result. However, this policy proved to be extraordinarily profitable and it has been a major factor in enabling New Zealand to be so remarkably productive. The Government there used a sprat to catch a mackerel as it were. Having transported the materials virtually for nothing, it received a rake-off in taxes on the higher returns from increased production. In New South Wales and every other State in Australia, however, the State governments would not reap the return in taxes if they extended such assistance, and the deficits of their railways would mount even higher. The State governments would receive only some indirect return because the countryside would be more prosperous and freight traffic to country areas would therefore increase. However, the major factor - the increased return in taxes - which would balance the loss of railway revenue due to the extending of freight concessions, is absent. It should not be beyond the capacity of the advisers of both the Commonwealth and the States to rectify problems such as this. Certainly, if a government with which the party to which I belong was associated were to come into office in New South Wales, it would get to work on a plan to overcome this problem. It would approach the Commonwealth and try to reach agreement on the matter. If we are to conserve fodder, we must first ensure that sufficient fodder is grown. Adequate supplies of lime and superphosphate are therefore of first importance.
I turn now to the conservation of water. When I think of this subject, I seem to see the shades of my old friend, the late Right Honorable Sir Earle Page, who was formerly member for Cowper. I recall that, only a few months before he passed away, he brought back from the United States of America particulars of the methods by which water conservation schemes are financed there. The Federal Government in that country finds the money for the headworks and the States provide for certain subsidiary works. The major part of the administration is undertaken by local trusts. The. entire project is managed and financed in a way that enables it not only to pay for itself but also to return a big dividend.
For years, my old friend tried to persuade the New South Wales Government to play ball with the Commonwealth and to cooperate in a scheme to harness the fastflowing rivers of the rich north coast area of New South Wales and attack the problems of flood mitigation at their source. He was unable to get the State authorities to co-operate. So the years have passed and now the beds of the lower reaches of the streams are being dredged to drain off water that ought to be conserved. [Quorum formed.] The present difficulties are largely due to the attitude of the political associates of those who are now in Opposition in this Parliament.
This Government, within the limits of its constitutional powers, has done a magnificent job in trying to speed the work of national development, but it is hampered by the very Constitution which created this Parliament and which brings us here. The situation might be very different if our Constitution contained a provision like that in section 92 (10) (c) of the Canadian Constitution. That provision empowers the central government to act in matters which, paraphrased, are expressed in these terms -
Such works as, although wholly situate within the Province, are before or after their execution declared by the Parliament of Canada to be for the general advantage of Canada or for the advantage of two or more Provinces.
If our Constitution had contained such a provision we should not have had to rely on the defence power in connexion with the magnificent Snowy Mountains undertaking. With a constitutional provision such as that, there would be no need for protracted negotiations with State governments. I hope that one day our Constitution will be amended along those lines. Let nobody say that that would interfere with the rights of the States. This provision has been in the Canadian Constitution for very many years but there has been no interference by the central government with the right of the Canadian provinces. We in this country must face up to the need to amend our Constitution to make it more suitable for the swift moving age in which we live. If we did as I have suggested we might sacrifice the shadow but we should retain the substance, which is the goad government and the development of Australia.
– I want to support the protests of my colleagues about the unnecessary delay involved in satisfying applications for war service homes loans. It is interesting to know that the War Service Homes Division, which has been functioning since 1918, has built about 216,000 homes and that it has been involved in an expenditure of £435,000,000. It is also interesting to know that catering for the housing needs of exservicemen has been a most lucrative business for the various governments involved during that period. I have made inquiries of several of my colleagues to-night about the amounts that they have borrowed and the amounts that they have returned as war service homes applicants. One of my colleagues, for example, borrowed £2,750 for a period of 45 years. His payments, at the rate of £11 10s. per month, return a total of £6,210. Another colleague borrowed £2,000. He pays £7 13s. 6d. a month, which will return £4,100 for the £2,000 loaned. So this has been a most lucrative business.
This contention is substantiated by a reply given by the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Roberton) to the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) on 15th May, 1962. The effect of the reply was that an excess of £73,000,000 had been returned by ex-servicemen. This was the amount by which the interest payments of exservicemen exceeded the actual administrative costs of the division. One wonders what might have happened if a genuine revolving fund had been put into operation years ago and this money had been deployed in the interests of ex-servicemen. There would be no doubt that, as a result of the implementation of such a proposal, there would have been no need for complaint from the Opposition to-night in regard to long waiting periods, the need for second assistance and many other needs.
Insufficient money is made available to take up the lag in war service homes. The sum of £35,000,000 was allocated last year. In fact. I think that £15,000 less has been allocated for the current financial year.
In February of this year the Government raised the maximum loan to £3,500. The Opposition had contended over a number of years that that should be done, and the Government gave many reasons why it was impracticable. Finally, the Government acquiesced. But, unfortunately, in increasing the maximum loan from £2,750 to £3,500 the Government failed to raise the total allocation for war service homes. This has resulted in the type of problem which is the subject of the Opposition’s censure motion to-night. On 30th June, 1962, seventeen long years after the war, there were 13,678 unsatisfied war service homes applicants. If Government members are satisfied with such a state of affairs and have no notion as to how such an important problem can be solved, they are hardly worthy to be called Government members.
There has been a fall in the number of homes provided. In 1961-62, 12,417 homes were provided, compared with 13,007 in 1960-61. In other words, 590 fewer homes were provided in 1961-62 than in the preceding year. According to the report of the War Service Homes Division, which some honorable members opposite might do well to read, this fall is attributed to several factors. It is attributed to the increase in average loans and to the fact that additional loans have been made for various purposes such as the providing of additional accommodation in an existing house. It is also attributed to a reduction in the number of homes under construction at the beginning of the year, which is a symptom of the flagging economy - a situation brought about by the Government. These three factors to which the report of the War Service Homes Division has referred underline the inadequacy of the funds made available for this purpose.
It is interesting to know, also, that the demand for war service homes is increasing. The number of applicants has actually risen. The report contains the following statement: -
An increase in the number of applications received for assistance to build or purchase homes from 16,040 for 1960-61 to 17,049 for 1961-62.
In other words, there has been an increase of 1,009 in the number of applicants, yet no more money has been made available. It is apparent that the Minister for National
Development (Senator Spooner) failed to anticipate this trend. On 21st February, 1962, in another place, he indicated his feeling about the number of applications that would be received in the future. He said -
As a period of sixteen years has elapsed since the termination of the 1939-45 war some fall-off in applications might reasonably be expected.
In view of this, he failed to increase the allocation of funds; but how wrong he has been! This is exemplified quite dramatically by the figures which I read to honorable members. Those figures were taken from the annual report of the War Service Homes Division and indicate clearly that there has been an increase in the demand from ex-servicemen seeking war service homes.
The Opposition is concerned about the need for additional loans for extra accommodation. The number of applications received from ex-servicemen who wanted additional funds for the year 1961-62 totalled 15,899. These applicants may have borrowed £2,750 previously and now want to take advantage of the loan of £3,500 which is available. Only 4,378 of the 15,899 applications were approved. That means that 11,521 were not approved. There was that number of disappointed rejects. Here is a clear indication that the division is failing to meet the needs of ex-servicemen.
In meeting applications for loans for additional accommodation, about £1,100,000 was spent in the year 1961-62 compared with about £500,000 for the preceding year. I feel that very careful consideration should be given to the requirements of exservicemen in this regard. It is very difficult for many owners of war service homes to obtain second mortgages when they want to add to their homes. Many of these people applied for a loan a number of years ago - soon after the war ended - when they did not have a family as big as that they now have. That was a time of rationing of building materials, and to-day these people have a very real need of additional accommodation. When they apply for an additional loan they are granted only enough money to cover the barest necessaries. They may wish to add a bedroom 14 feet by 14 feet for two boys, but that room will be reduced to 10 feet by 10 feet or 10 feet by 11 feet and all cupboard space will be eliminated. The report for 1961-1962 of the Director of War Service Homes reads -
For a short period following the announcement the number of enquiries dealt with in New South Wales and Victorian Offices exceeded 1,000 a day.
Indeed, 58 additional staff were involved. Here is a bona fide need well and truly established, yet the applications of 11,521 persons for additional finance were rejected. We know that at the moment additional finance is available only for the purpose of building additional bedrooms or, in Victoria, private road-making purposes - something which, incidentally, I deplore. Finance is not available for the building of garages or carports.
Another matter to which I refer is the waiting period for existing homes. The report does not show precisely how many applications were received for loans with which to purchase existing homes. The report indicates that at 30th June, 1962, there were 6,385 outstanding applications for loans to purchase existing homes of a total of 13,678 applications on hand. There is a delay of twenty months on loans to purchase existing homes. As the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Barnard) said, many ex-servicemen have to be satisfied with an existing home because they do not have sufficient money for a deposit on a new home. The waiting period for a loan for an existing home is so long that many solicitors advise their clients against the purchase of such homes.
What happens to the people who have to wait twenty months for a loan? We do not have recent figures. The last occasion on which this matter was really investigated in any careful way was 1st September, 1960. One month- March, 1960- was under review and we were able to ascertain that many people had to obtain temporary finance at high rates of interest. We were told that in March, 1960, 70 people had to accept temporary financial accommodation at an interest rate not exceeding 5i per cent. We were told that 246 people accepted temporary finance at an interest rate exceeding 5i per cent, and not exceeding 7 per cent; 96 persons accepted loans at interest rates up to 8 per cent; 47 persons accepted loans at interest rates up to 9 per cent; 109 persons accepted loans at interest rates exceeding 9 per cent, but not exceeding 10 per cent; and four persons accepted loans at rates of interest exceeding 10 per cent. There is a situation for which this Government can be fairly and squarely indicted. I have already told the committee that the profit made by the War Service Homes Division since its inception is in the vicinity of £73,000,000 and that there is no need to subject ex-servicemen to high rates of interest. After taking a temporary loan for twenty months at a high rate of interest, an ex-serviceman has to start from taws and pay off his loan over 45 years. Like many of my colleagues, on a loan of £2,750 he will pay in the long run about £6,210. Many honorable members opposite feel that this system is necessary, but we on this side of the chamber take the view that it is not. We have submitted practical proposals to indicate how this state of affairs may be obviated.
The last matter to which I refer concerns applications for second assistance. There are many bona fide reasons why people should seek second assistance from the War Service Homes Division. Some of my colleagues have spoken about health factors. All of us have had experience in that regard. We know that doctors frequently tell a man that he must move his home to another area to safeguard his health or that of a member of his family. Other men are involved in a change of employment. A coal-miner may be forced to move from Newcastle to Wollongong because of the closure of mines in Newcastle. A waterside worker may be forced to move from Queensland to Sydney because work is scarce in Queensland ports. Many reasons could be advanced why a man may seek second assistance. If an ex-serviceman borrows £3,500-
Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I propose to mention a matter which I think is something new. I have discussed this matter with officers of the Department of National Development. It would be too much to say that the department supports my idea, but I believe that it is an idea that can be developed and brought to a successful stage within the department.
With the permission of honorable members I now propose to elaborate my idea.
Many honorable members will have noticed that when a body such as the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization does excellent work, that work sometimes fails of its purpose because there is not sufficient liaison with the person who is going to use the process developed. We tend, I think, with agricultural extension services and things of that nature, sometimes to fall down a little at the point of use. I have noticed, in travelling around Australia, that when you reach a particular place you find that local knowledge is very deficient. Suppose you go to a country town. You cannot buy in that town maps of the area. You have to obtain your maps from the capital city. Nobody in the town knows the nature of the mineral specimens in the area. As for aerial photographs, nobody has ever heard of them. This is a ridiculous situation because this information, which could be so valuable to our national development, is lying unused and to some extent useless in centralized capital reservoirs. I suggest that the department might undertake a system of decentralized information services relating to the particular areas in which they are concerned, so that if you go to a country town you will be able to obtain there the maps, the information, the aerial photographs and the other material that you require and so that the people who live in that area will be able to work there more efficiently because they will have access to the material that is at present lying in Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne or some other capital.
I suggest that we use local government centres to establish an information service and help to apply in the most useful way for all producers the knowledge that now exists. I suggest that this be done on a voluntary basis. I would not suggest that we compel anybody to do it. I would think that the department might make these services available to local bodies that want to use them. I would suggest that the department should give to a properly constituted and selected local body a small subsidy and the services of a visiting officer, who would go round and help such bodies in their work. In return for this, the local bodies should set aside a room in which the information could be made available and would arrange for one of its officers to serve as a liaison officer and help the public to utilize the information.
I would think that local bodies should have available for the public a proper selection of the maps relating to their own area. Much more important than this, they should also have available for the public, and properly indexed on the maps, a set of aerial photographs and a stereoscope. Honorable members will know from the exhibition that was in this Parliament House early last week that coverage by aerial photographs is available for most of Australia. If these photographs were available, any producer could look at an aerial photograph of his own property. If he wanted to do so, he could take the number of the photograph and buy a copy of it very quickly for his own purposes. This would be of great importance and great help in laying out the proper workings of any agricultural property and indeed in many other ways. In the siting of roads, dams, water works and small irrigation projects, the aerial photograph is an invaluable tool.
I would think that there would also be available a collection of the old mine reports from any area - these can be collected from the department - so that a person going into the area would be able to find out the history of all the mines that operated in it, and people in the area who wanted to develop it would have the information available to them. It would be desirable in any area where there are mineral prospects to have a collection of specimens of the minerals that had been found in the area so that local people would know what to look for and what would be of value. One knows, for example, of the very big surface deposits of iron ore worth tens of millions or perhaps hundreds of millions of pounds that have been lying about in Western Australia unrecognized. This is ridiculous. This state of affairs would be met very largely if we were to make available to local people specimens of the minerals that may be found in their area and that are recorded as being of economic value.
We could add to this something in the way of biological information. [Quorum formed.] I am not going into this question of biological information at great length, but I believe that a proper application of the resources of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization would help local farmers by making certain local information available. I know what is being done in this field and, as I say, I do not think this is the right place to go into details. But a great improvement could be made at comparatively small expense. We are doing these things in our centralized organizations in Canberra and the States, and we are not getting the full value for our money.
I have suggested only a basic framework. This could be a standard basic framework and its extension could be a matter for the local authorities concerned. It would vary, of course, with varying districts. I think an organization such as this would give to every district a sense of pride in its own place and in its own history. In addition, it would form a useful adjunct to the schools in the area. The suggestion I make now requires, of course, the full cooperation of the States. It would not be possible to implement it in any State without the full co-operation of the State Government concerned. It is, however, a definite suggestion which I believe, at very small cost, would raise the productive efficiency of the country quite significantly. This problem of decentralized information services is one to which I think we might well turn our attention and I hope that I shall have the chance of getting the Government to implement such a service.
.- The War Service Homes Act contains conditions that makes the act stand out amongst other housing acts throughout the Commonwealth. If this act were administered to its full extent, it would be an act that could well be followed by all governments in providing houses, whether for ex-servicemen or for the ordinary men and women in the street. Section 20 of the act provides -
Subject to this Act and to the directions of the Minister as to matters of general policy, the Director may, upon application in writing, make an advance to an eligible person on the prescribed security, for the purpose of enabling him -
to erect a dwelling-house on a holding of the applicant;
to purchase land and erect thereon a dwelling-house;
to purchase a dwelling-house, together with the land on which it is erected;
to complete a partially erected dwelling- house owned by him;
to enlarge a dwelling-house owned by him; or
to discharge any mortgage, charge, or encumbrance already existing on his holding.
There is very wide scope for the Minister under the act. However, if we look at the annual report of the Director of War Service Homes for 1961-62, at page 17 under the heading “Scope of Assistance Available under the War Service Homes Scheme”, we find the following statement: -
Under the War Service Homes Scheme, a loan of up to £3,500 may be made to an “eligible person “ as denned in the War Service Homes Act to enable him to -
erect a dwelling-house;
purchase a dwelling-house;
complete a partially erected dwelling-house; or
enlarge a dwelling-house.
The act also mentions two other purposes for which the Minister can make assistance available. Assistance is not at present being made available for these purposes by the War Service Homes Division because of the policy of this Government. The statement on page 17 of the annual report continues -
If an eligible person has already been assisted to acquire a home under the Act, an additional loan within the prescribed maximum of £3,500 may be made to him to provide additional essential accommodation or to install certain services such as water, light or sewerage.
The act itself says that the loan may be used to enlarge a dwelling-house. Under the present Administration money is made available only for a very restricted purpose. Because of the limited scope under which this act is operating many ex-servicemen are debarred from making use of it. Other speakers to-night have mentioned second mortgages, the discharge of existing mortgages and other ways in which assistance could be made available under the act but is not at present being made available.
The 1960-61 report discloses that only 16 per cent, of World War I. veterans have used the facilities of this act. Perhaps this low percentage can be explained by the fact that in the 1920’s and 1930’s conditions were rather difficult and chaotic. There was untold unemployment throughout Australia, and many ex-servicemen who otherwise would have taken advantage of the act, did not do so because they did not have the necessary money. But even allowing for the conditions that existed in the 1920’s and 1930”s, it is still difficult to explain why only 16 per cent, of eligible ex-servicemen of the First World War have availed themselves of the War Service Homes Act. I would be amazed, Mr. Chairman, if there is not a far greater proportion than 16 per cent, of World War I. veterans who do not own their own homes. Perhaps they have bought them, or are buying them, under mortgages they have obtained from banks, insurance companies and building societies. Because of the restrictions that are placed on the scope of the act they are unable to get the division to take over their mortgages.
The Director of War Service Homes discloses in his report that there are 800,000 eligible ex-servicemen from the Second World War, the Korean war and the Malayan war, who would be entitled to assistance under this act, but up to the present time only about 21 per cent, of those 800,000 ex-servicemen have availed themselves of the provisions of the act. The director estimates that in the ultimate there will be only about 240,000 eligible persons from these wars who will obtain assistance under the act. It must be admitted that since these wars we have enjoyed rather good years, and that exservicemen from the Second World War, the Korean war and the Malayan war were in a far better position to obtain a home than those from the First World War; but still only 21 per cent, of the 800,000 eligible ex-servicemen have made use of the provisions of the act. Again, one of the main reasons for this small percentage is that since the end of World War II. there has been a considerable waiting time for the purchase of existing properties. Because it has been necessary to obtain temporary finance from various sources, sometimes at exorbitant interest rates, these men have gone to building societies, insurance companies and banks to obtain their finance. Then, because the act is not being administered to its full scope they are unable to get the War Service Homes Division to take over their existing mortgages.
I feel that it is completely unfair that certain sections of ex-servicemen, because of the conditions I have mentioned, are unable to make use of this act and obtain finance at 31 per cent, over a 45-years period. Because the act is not being administered in a correct fashion they have to pay 6 per cent., 7 per cent., or an even higher rate of interest, and the War Service Homes Division will not take over that debt. I do not blame the officers of the division. I blame the Minister who administers the act. He has the authority to operate the act to its fullest scope, but he has failed to do so. I feel certain that if existing mortgages were taken over by the War Service Homes Division the 21 per cent, of eligible ex-servicemen from the Second World War who have taken advantage of the act would increase dramatically and the figure would be closer to 50 per cent.
No matter how we look at this act, we find that since its inception in 1919 it has only worked, as it were, from about a quarter to half pace. Since that year 216,652 homes have been purchased under the act which, in round figures, works out at 538 homes per year. No matter how you consider that figure it cannot be regarded as sensational or satisfactory in any way. When you consider that the interest rates and conditions that can be obtained under this act are the best that can be obtained anywhere in Australia, it is amazing that a far larger number of ex-servicemen have not availed themselves of its benefits. It is only the difficulties that have been placed in the way of exservicemen by the War Service Homes Division that have prevented a far greater number of persons from obtaining their finance through the division.
One point which 1 feel has not been stressed sufficiently to-night is that the allocation made to the division has remained at £35,000,000 for a number of years. During the whole of that time the cost of home construction has been rising. The number of applications has been running somewhere between 16,000 and 17,000 a year. At the end of each year there has always been in the vicinity of 12,000 or 15,000 applications on hand. At 30th June this year, there were 13,678 applicants waiting for assistance, and 6,385 of those will have to wait twenty months before they can obtain their finance. That cannot be regarded as a satisfactory situation in any circumstances. If the act is for the benefit of ex-servicemen then finance should be made available to them as soon as they apply. If the Government faced up to the fact that £35,000,000 is not nearly sufficient at the present time to meet the demands of the ex-servicemen applying for assistance, this act would be administered in a much more equitable and humanitarian fashion.
The figures provided by the Director of War Service Homes indicate that of the £35,000,000 allocated last year £21,500,000 was repaid. Of that amount £9,500,000 was paid into the National Debt Sinking Fund and approximately £4,500,000 was used for the complete discharge of mortgages. Of the £21,500,000 that was received by the War Service Homes Division this year, £12,000,000 went into the Consolidated Revenue Fund. The net result is that in the last financial year the Government made available to the War Service Homes Division only £14,500,000. It claims that it makes £35,000,000 available each year, but when the amount of money returned to the division is taken into account, the amount actually expended by the Government in 1961-62 was only £14,500,000.
It was suggested by the honorable member for Hughes (Mr. L. R. Johnson) that this should be a revolving fund and that the money paid in each year by those repaying loans should be used in the following year to make finance available to those desiring assistance. The War Service Homes Division has been able to operate quite successfully, although only at a snail’s rate, because of the finance made available by the Government. It has demonstrated that housing loans can be made available to the people of Australia at 31 per cent. My only regret is that this scheme is restricted to ex-servicemen. I do not complain about it being so restricted, but I believe similar interest rates should be available to all people in the community who desire to obtain finance with which to purchase homes. An interest rate of 3i per cent, is a feasible and payable pro- position, and I think all finance for home purposes should be made available at that rate.
I wish now to refer to the insurance scheme which is operated under the act. It was introduced at the same time as the war service homes legislation came into operation, and operates on lines similar to those of ordinary insurance companies. The insurance fund meets its share of the administration costs of the scheme and pays its quota to the fire brigade boards. Despite that, the premium charged is less than onequarter of the equivalent premiums charged by other insurance companies. During the 43 years of its operation, this insurance fund has been able to build up reserves of £835,562. This indicates that the premium rates charged by insurance companies generally are much too high. If the insurance scheme operated under the War Service Homes Act can operate with premiums less than one-quarter of the premiums charged by outside insurance companies, it is reasonable to assume that the premiums those companies are charging are too high. It is time the Government examined the rates charged by insurance companies for comprehensive household and other types of insurance.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Mr. Chairman, the subject of national development was taken up by the Australian Labour Party during the last general election campaign, and it put on a spectacular television programme relating to the subject. I am sure the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Cope) had something to do with that programme, because he is one of the intelligentsia on the planning side of the Australian Labour Party. That television programme showed that the Government members’ committees which went to the north of Australia to inform people of the situation there received the approval of the Australian Labour Party. Out came this magnificent television programme, with quick snaps of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell), telling of the great advances which could be made in the north in regard to mineral resources, pastoral land and so on. On behalf of all those Government members who were on those committees in 1959, I want to thank the Labour Party for putting the stamp of approval on our efforts.
– But you did not do anything about it.
– The honorable member for Phillip says we did not do anything about it. That is the sort of statement which destroys the confidence and morale of investors in Australia. This is a campaign by honorable members opposite to destroy this Government.
– It is a campaign based on truth.
– It is a campaign to destroy the Government, but in the course of that campaign honorable members opposite are destroying the confidence of people who might invest here. It is a pretty successful campaign, because there has been a tremendous effort by certain sections of the press to suppress publication of what the Government has done. We arrived at the Ord River on 1st August, 1959, and in 21 days’ time the Government had signed the Ord River agreement. In the present Budget there is provision for the payment of the last few thousand pounds of the grant made to Western Australia towards the work being done on the Ord River. The campaign by honorable members opposite continues, so it will be necessary, at this late hour, for me to give some of the truth about the Ord and Fitzroy rivers. If the honorable member for Phillip would leave the precincts of Bondi and go to other parts of Australia, he might see these things for himself.
The honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) referred to the mighty iron ore deposits, the greatest in the world, at Bulgeda, Mount Goldsworthy and Constance Range. There are also the phosphate deposits discovered just south of Rum Jungle, which can be used to take up the lag when the Nauru deposits are exhausted. These phosphate deposits are of immense importance to agricultural production in Australia, and the Government is pushing on with the development of our mineral resources. Only last year a Government members’ committee went to the Fitzroy basin, to the west of Rockhampton, in the electorate of Capricornia, where the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Gray) entertained us. I remind the committee that £1,750,000 is being expended immediately on the development of the brigalow lands there, a project which the Government was quick to take up. Beef roads have come into existence and now more than half the beef in the north - it is a rising percentage - is being carried over those roads. The beef is now arriving at its destination in good condition after a journey of about 40 hours, instead of taking three or four months to cover the distance. The Australian Labour Party might have included these things in its television programme, which was designed to show what it would do. There was no mention of what the Government had done. It is good politics for members opposite to deny that the Government has done anything, as the honorable member for Phillip tried to do.
The story of this Government’s accomplishments goes on. We went to Townsville and a few months later a site was chosen there for a research station for the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, and £11,000 is included in this year’s Estimates for that project. For fifteen years this Government has been involved with the Government of Western Australia in investigating the problems of tropical agriculture at the Kimberleys research station. Then there is the work of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization at Rodd’s Bay, where there is a good partnership between practical farmers and scientists in an endeavour to find out the value of a tropical legume, Townsville lucerne, and its effect in fattening Hereford cattle. It might have been better to include other cattle but only Herefords were used. There has also been considerable research into rice-growing at Katherine and on the Adelaide River, in the Northern Territory. There is a Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization station at Belmont, near Rockhampton, where the Australian Meat Board is working, with outstanding results, to improve beef cattle by crossing Brahmin blood with African das, shorthorns and others.
The honorable member for Mackellar said we should distribute maps. I think honorable members have received copies of a publication containing 61 maps of sedimentary basins in Australia. I think that publication should be distributed so that the electors of honorable members opposite could be shown the results of scientific research in these areas. Many people in sparsely settled areas have seen the types of formations that could contain scarce elements and result in rich finds. A few days ago in the display in King’s Hall we saw how mineral finds follow the roads. There is a line of them along the road from Mount Isa to the Queensland coast. Wherever there is a road or a track there are discoveries of minerals, showing that so far we have only scratched the surface. Honorable members opposite will be able to use this information in their television programme before the next election. The honorable member for Phillip said that nothing had been done. Recently, at a symposium in Sydney, which I think was called, “The World’s Population Surge and Food Production “, the chairman, on the pretext of introducing six distinguished overseas speakers to the conference, made an attack lasting fifteen minutes upon the Government, in which he denied that the Government had done anything in respect of the Northern Territory.
– Who was it?
– I shall come to his name in a moment. This gentleman abused his privilege as chairman of a non-political gathering, at which overseas scientists were present. There were people from India, England, France and America, who were making contributions towards solving this great problem. We are involved in it because of our sparsely settled areas. We are trying to develop food production in the face of an increase in the world’s population of 3,000,000,000 in 38 years. The gentleman to whom I have referred, in answering the question, “ What has the Government done to develop the north of Australia and to develop Australia itself? “, said: “ Of course, it has done nothing. A government like this would never do anything. It does not know anything about development.” This gentleman, who is an economist, is calling a conference at Wagga, the subject for discussion being, “ Balanced development”. Who do you think is the second speaker? It is the Honorable A. A. Calwell, M.P., Leader of the Opposition.
Opposition Members. - Hear, hear!
– Wait a moment! Listed are a number of people who are going to speak and who do not even know they have been invited. This is really a longrange Australian Labour Party meeting to fire the first shot in the next election campaign.
Opposition Members. - Hear, hear!
– The chairman is Sir Douglas Copland, an Australian economist.
– Order! If honorable members who are interjecting think back to a certain point in their careers they will probably remember that they got early marks and were allowed to go home. If the committee does not come to order, some honorable members might get a late mark and still be able to go home early.
– This conference at Wagga - called the first national conference on balanced development - is rather an extraordinary one, because, I believe, some of the local government areas in Victoria are paying good solid cash into it. This gentleman who is calling the conference and chairing it attacked the Government for not developing the north. He said that we should develop the north. But now, with the Leader of the Australian Labour Party as second speaker to himself, he is going to Wagga for a conference on balanced development. Who is paying for this one? It is not being called for the development of the north. This is a switch. This conference is in the interests of balanced development. This is to develop the areas that already have the resources to develop themselves, and they are paying in good cash. They might as well pay it straight into the electoral fund of the Australian Labour Party, because this is a well-covered attempt to start a Labour electoral campaign.
What are the objectives? It is stated that failure to stem metropolitan growth and neglect of country industries and the development of northern Australia are endangering the future of the nation. There it is - the Australian Country Party platform. The Australian Labour Party even circulated copies of the document. We all received it - like the Soviet stuff, without a stamp. These well-meaning people, who are said to be going to speak at this meeting, are really going along to help the Labour Party win the next election. Of course, this campaign is based on an untruth. It is based on the fact that the people have not been allowed to know what is actually going on in the north. This is a pretty clever one. I must say that I congratulate these people on their smartness and slickness in handling this matter with the aid of their tool, this professor who has never been able to hold down one job.
What are the facts? In the Budget speech, we heard a few of them. An amount of £250,000,000 for State loans and an amount of £105,000,000 for local government loans are to be underwritten by the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth is providing for housing expenditure -a part of development- £91,000,000; war service homes, £35,000,000; Australian Capital Territory homes, £5,900,000; aged persons homes, £3,000,000; housing for defence personnel, £1,600,000. Then certain funds for special purposes are being provided for the States. Commonwealth aid roads funds, which under the Chifley Government amounted to about £7,000,000, will amount to £54,000,000 this year. For the Mount Isa railway, an amount of £8,195,000 is being provided and for beef roads in Queensland, an amount of £1,480,000, being the balance of £5,000,000. Professor Copland will not be telling this to the Wagga conference, because there is a deal with the Labour Party. He will be the president of the new northern development commission.
– He is one of your mates.
– His foolishness as prices commissioner under the Chifley Government brought some of the dairy farmers’ representatives into the Parliament. For coal-handling facilities at Gladstone, an amount of £145,000 is being provided; for brigalow belt development, £1,750,000; for the Western Australian railway project, £4,300,000; for the development of the north-west of Western Australia, £1,432,000; for cattle roads in Western Australia, £700,000; for the Derby jetty, £300,000; for cattle roads in the Northern Territory, £1,000,000; for New South Wales coal-loading facilities, £685,000; for diesel electric locomotives and railway wagons in South Australia, £1,300,000; for oil search - probably the greatest success of all - £6,674,000.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
Question put -
That the vote proposed to be reduced (Mr. Barnard’s amendment) be so reduced.
The committee divided. (The Chairman- Mr. P. E. Lucock.)
Majority . . . . 2
Question so resolved in the negative.
Proposed votes agreed to.
House adjourned at 12.16 a.m. (Thursday).
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
s asked the Minister for Territories, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
b asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The Minister for Health has supplied the following information: -
d asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
In addition, there were nine port stoppages for which the wool-loading dispute was apparently the cause, or one of the causes, and the resultant declarations made under section 52a of the act brought about the suspension of an additional 97,656 attendance money entitlements. The Conciliation and Arbitration Commission has made no order reducing qualifying service for long service leave under section 52a of the act because of these stoppages.
Aircraft Accident in Botany Bay.
d asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
– The Minister for Civil Aviation has supplied the following information: -
The questions refer to the second part of the first recommendation made by the Board of Inquiry which reads, “. . . when thunderstorm activity is present at or in the vicinity of the airport he (the approach controller) should be responsible for determining whether a departure path designated for an aircraft is not such as to lead the aircaft into regions where severe turbulence may be encountered “. In presenting to Parliament the report of this board I said that it was the unanimous opinion of the industry that a responsibility could not reasonably be placed on air traffic control staff, or alternatively on the airline operators or the pilots, for determining that departure paths allocated to aircraft would avoid all areas of severe turbulence. This arises from the fact that there is no radar or other system presently available or in prospect which will detect all turbulence. In this connexion I refer the honorable member to my statement to the Senate, reported in “ Hansard “ for 3rd October, 1962, at pages 644-649. As I pointed out in my statement to the Senate, the Australian Federation of Air Pilots has also said that this recommendation of the board should be interpreted in another way and that it would be a practical proposal if their interpretation were the proper one. The adoption of the federation’s view would lead us to the point of accepting that the board, in its recommendation, contemplated no greater responsibility foi air traffic controllers in respect of turbulence than has been contained for many years in their operating instructions. I believe that it is proper to conclude that the board contemplated something more than this. In respect to the Government’s interpretation of the board’s recommendation, the Federation of Air Pilots agreed that such an unqualified guarantee could not be given. The fact that the federation held both these views I made quite clear to the Senate and in this connexion the honorable member is referred to “Hansard” for 11th October, 1962, at page 790.
d asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
n asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - 1 and 2. There is no legislation specifying a minimum amount of time which should be devoted to television programmes of Australian origin. However, the Broadcasting and Television Act 1942-1960 does provide that the Australian Broadcasting Commission and licensees of commercial broadcasting and television stations shall, as far as possible, use the services of Australians in the production and presentation of programmes.
d asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 24 October 1962, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1962/19621024_reps_24_hor37/>.