24th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. SPEAKER (lion. Sir John McLeay) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– Mr. Speaker, I need hardly advise honorable members, except perhaps in point of form, of the loss we have sustained through the death of Lady De L’Isle, the wife of our Governor-General. Honorable members, or many of them, had the opportunity this morning to attend a memorial service for the late Lady De L’Isle, while her husband, the Governor-General, has gone to England, there to attend the last funeral service for his wife. She was, as many of us knew - and as very many more would have known in the course of time - a woman of great charm and character and courage. Not for nothing was she the daughter of a great soldier and the wife of one. Everybody in this place feels deeply for him and for the members of his family.
It therefore occurred to me as being proper that, apart from the funeral service this morning, I should say - I have no doubt I will be supported in this by my colleagues - how very deeply every person in this Parliament feels for the Governor-General and for the family, and how profoundly we respect the memory of Lady De L’Isle.
– Mr. Speaker, the Opposition shares the feelings of the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and supports his words. Lady De L’Isle was born into a great family; she married into a great family. She was carefully trained for a life of service to family, community and nation and she faithfully fulfilled the high obligations of her environment and her heritage. Lady De L’Isle lived in Australia for only a year. The citizens of Canberra and members of the Parliament had therefore already had a better opportunity than most of their fellow citizens of knowing how splendid a first lady she was. She was a gracious, cultured and vivacious woman. She was an outstanding companion and example to her daughters. To them, to Philip Sidney, her son, and to her husband, who was never more gallant and more dutiful than at this time, the people of Australia and we, their representatives, offer our heartfelt sympathy.
– Mr. Speaker, I and my colleagues of the Australian Country Party wish to join in the sentiments expressed by the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam). We, with all other Australians, feel very deeply the death of Lady De L’Isle. We extend our profound sympathy to the Governor-General and to the family. We recognize that we have not had as full an opportunity as we had hoped to have of getting to know this very gallant and very gracious lady. We do know, Sir, her character and her qualities. We do know that her gallantry and stoicism will make perhaps as deep an impression upon the Australian people as if we had had the opportunity to know her better.
– I desire to inform the House that on the day of the death of Lady De L’Isle I, as Speaker, conveyed the sympathy of the House to His Excellency.
– I wish to inform the House that the Minister for External Affairs and Attorney-General (Sir Garfield Barwick) is away from Australia on a short visit to Pakistan, India and Laos. During his absence, I am acting as Minister for External Affairs and the Minister for the Interior and Minister for Works (Mr. Freeth) is acting as Attorney-General.
– I ask the Minister for the Interior: Has he received extensive and continuing representations from the Australian Capital Territory Rural Lessees Association regarding the terms of the leases under which they hold their land? Have members of the association expressed disappointment with the result of their approach to the Minister on this subject?
Would the Minister consider asking the Joint Committee for the Australian Capital Territory to conduct an inquiry into the usage and tenure of land within the Australian Capital Territory, particularly the rural lands of the area? Specifically, would the Minister ask that committee whether it would recommend to him a change in the terms and conditions of leases that would give the farmers of this community more secure tenure of their land - tenure against which they could approach a bank for finance for the development of the land?
– Some time ago, the Government did receive a request from the Rural Lessees Association that a clause in rural leases be deleted. This clause is commonly known as the withdrawal clause and gives the Commonwealth the right to resume land should it be required for Commonwealth purposes. The Government agreed to delete the clause at the wish of any rural lessee, subject to the term of the lease and the rental being re-examined. Since that condition was offered, I have had no correspondence from the rural lessees, but I will look at the honorable member’s request.
– I direct my question to the Prime Minister. On 17th May, he said that the United States was to build a radio station in Western Australia. On 28th August, in reply to a question I asked, he said that he would give the House full details, as soon as possible, in a manner that would permit debate. Is the Prime Minister aware that there are numerous reports, from people who have actually been on the spot, that work has already started? In view of these circumstances, can he say why he was not in a position to supply the House with any information on 15th November when he replied to a question without notice asked by the Leader of the Opposition? Is it true-
– Order! The honorable member is now making his question too long.
– I now ask: Can the Prime Minister now say whether the construction of this radio station has been commenced?
When will he be able to inform the House of any details? Will the House be given an opportunity to debate this matter? If so, when?
– As the honorable member knows, I do not administer the department that is concerned in this matter. But I will find out what the present position is and if it is possible to provide an opportunity for exposing the subject to debate, I will be delighted to do so.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Social Services. During the recent debate on the Loan (Housing) Bill, was I correct in stating that the amount of grants-
– Order! The Minister is not responsible for the honorable member’s statement.
– Then I ask the Minister: Is it a fact that the amount of grants made by this Government under the Aged Persons Homes Act has now reached £14,800,000?
– I imagine that the honorable member is referring to information 1 gave him during a debate in the House, when I referred to the total expenditure under the Aged Persons Homes Act. The information I gave him then was, to the best of my knowledge and belief, correct in every way on the day the information was given. From that time onward, and from week to week the figures are constantly changing, and grants approved by the Government under the Aged Persons Homes Act have now exceeded £15,250,000. I am happy to say that in the first three months of this financial year expenditure under that act reached record proportions, and that trend is continuing.
– I desire to ask the Minister for Immigration a question. In view of public interest that has been shown in the matter, especially among the Italian community, will the Minister give reasons for his department’s refusal to allow Miss Fontana of Italy to emigrate to Australia?
– The honorable member refers to one of the rather unhappy and unfortunate cases that come before me from time to time. I have informed one or two honorable members, by way of a confidential letter, of the reasons why Miss Angela Fontana was not allowed to come here. There are very substantial health reasons why she should not be allowed to come. These reasons apply also in the case of two of her brothers who are still in Italy. I would ask the honorable member not to press me to tell him and the House publicly what the reasons are, out of respect for the feelings of the young woman concerned and her family.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Trade. Is there any evidence to support the statement made by the honorable member for Scullin, when speaking recently on the tariff legislation, that large emporiums in Australia are keeping goods of Australian manufacture under the counter while they push the sale of imported goods? If there is any such evidence, will the Minister make a full investigation of all the circumstances?
– I have never heard such a suggestion made by anyone other than the honorable member for Scullin in the speech referred to. I would be astonished if Australians of great repute, who have given excellent service to this country, were giving priority to imported goods over Australian-made goods. In tho absence of any information to suggest that this is so, I do not believe that it is so.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Immigration. Is he aware of demonstrations recently held by Spanish immigrants at the Northam immigrant centre as a result of their having been brought to this country when work was not available for them? Is it a fact that this shortage of employment opportunities has caused some of these immigrants to be transferred to the Minister’s own State, South Australia? Is it not a fact that these immigrants, who, I understand, are 500 in number - and another 500 are on the way - have been brought to this country before full employment was available for them?
– No, Sir, I do not think the honorable member is entitled to draw that conclusion. It is true that there has been some little delay in the placing of some, but by no means all, of the Spanish migrants who have been brought to Northam. It is a mistake, however, to exaggerate these things. It is quite true, as the honorable member has said, that a minor demonstration was held; but it was not, I understand, in any way vicious. This demonstration was in protest about some delay in finding work for these people. It is not to be thought that work was not offered them. As I understand it, work at fairly lucrative wages was offered to these Spanish immigrants, but they decided that it was not to their liking and therefore rejected it. The situation now is that most of these people have been transferred at the Commonwealth’s expense to other States, and I am quite sure that it is only a matter of a comparatively short time before they will be quite comfortably absorbed into the economic life of the community.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Shipping and Transport. I refer to the recent vandalism which has been responsible for serious damage to the unmanned lighthouse at Cape Liptrap. I ask the Minister what positive steps his department proposes to take to prevent a recurrence of this type of vandalism.
– This matter was brought to my attention just before the week-end. It was a deplorable action which might have caused loss of life because the damage was done to an unmanned lighthouse. I have called for a report on the damage. I must say that this lighthouse is in a very isolated position and much trouble and effort must have been taken by those concerned to get there. Because of this isolation it will not be very easy to afford the lighthouse any protection, except that which can come from the public generally, who perhaps will observe people going there. As I say, I have called for a report and, if there is anything that can be done to prevent this type of damage, I can assure the honorable member that the department will take the necessary action.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Supply. Will the Minister give the House details of the reported sale of FN rifles and ammunition to India? Is the Minister in a position to state to what extent it will be necessary to increase production of FN rifles to meet the order and to satisfy Australia’s defence requirements?
– In answer to the honorable member I can indicate my own view. Because these are war supplies going to a nation which has some border difficulties, quite obviously I cannot say what quantities of arms are being sent because, unfortunately, their enemy can also read the newspapers. I must tell the honorable gentleman that, for the moment, there is no call for an increase in the staff of the Lithgow small arms factory.
– I address my question to the Minister for Repatriation and refer to a previous question and to discussions I have had with him since, concerning Australian military personnel serving in Viet Nam. I ask: Will the benefits of repatriation be made available to these men?
– I appreciate the concern that the honorable member has shown in this matter. I know that he has asked about this previously in the House, and also on a couple of occasions outside. I can assure him that a considerable amount of work has been done in relation to this matter. I cannot at the moment state exactly what decision will be made, but I expect by to-morrow to be able to give him some definite information.
– My question is addressed to the Prime Minister. In view of the wide interest that has been displayed in the White Paper on education presented by the right honorable gentleman to this Parliament, will he ensure that an opportunity is given to this House for the matter to be fully debated?
– I am certainly hoping to do this; I would value such a debate.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Defence and is supplementary to that asked by the honorable member for Reid. Is the Minister aware that the overwhelming majority of people in Western Australia strongly favour the establishment by the United States of a communications station in Western Australia? Does he realize that the people of Western Australia would appreciate every effort that the Government could make to hasten the establishment of such a station?
– I agree with the honorable member that a substantial majority of people in Western Australia are fully cognisant of the importance of this United States signal station. They are wholeheartedly behind the Government in encouraging the Americans to build it.
– My question is addressed to the Postmaster-General. I have in my hand a stamp which has been issued to commemorate the British Empire and Commonwealth Games in Perth in 1962. Is the honorable gentleman aware that, according to the inscription on the selvage of these stamps, they are printed by Harrison and Sons Limited, London? Is this not a grave reflection on Australian industry and Australian artists? Is not the printing overseas of what is, after all, only a very mediocre stamp in particularly bad taste at a time when Australians are demonstrating some of their other capacities in Western Australia?
– I think that the honorable member’s statement that this is a rather mediocre stamp would not find much support from members on either side of the chamber. As I hear an honorable member interject, it is a very good stamp. It represents a departure from the department’s procedure in previous years. We have available to us here only such processes as enable us to print more or less in one colour. We intend to undertake the production of stamps in more than one colour, and we believe that these will prove to be generally acceptable. I have received many complimentary messages about this stamp. In addition, stamps which have been produced in Australia under the old process stand very high in the estimation of those people in the philatelic world who know what they are talking about.
– My question is addressed to the Treasurer in his capacity of Leader of the House. In view of the inadequate time provided recently to debate the Government’s three-year defence programme - a discussion which was merged with the debate on the defence estimates - will the Treasurer give an undertaking that an opportunity will be afforded early in the next session of Parliament for a further debate on defence?
– I shall be glad to discuss this subject with my colleagues of the Cabinet with a view to meeting the request put to me by the honorable gentleman.
– I wish to ask the Prime Minister the following question: - In view of the general concern shown at the lack of opportunities for apprentices, and in view of the statement by the New South Wales Premier, the Honorable R. J. Heffron, recently, that he would take the necessary action to increase the number of young people apprenticed in the Public Service, will the Prime Minister follow the lead given by the New South Wales State Premier and take the necessary steps to increase the number of apprentices in the Commonwealth Public Service, thus creating greater opportunities for young people who are about to leave school?
– I shall be happy to discuss this matter with my colleague, the Minister for Labour and National Service, who is, to-day, in what is non-technically called “ another place “, to wit, the International Labour Conference.
– Has the Minister for Territories seen a report in a recent issue of the “Pacific Islands Monthly” that the Nauruan people will be making a request to the Australian Government to assist them to settle on Fraser Island? Is the Minister able to say whether this report is correct, and whether such a request has been made to the Australian Government?
– No formal request of that kind has been made; nor does occasion arise for a formal request to be made. For some time past, I have personally been having discussions with the leaders of the Nauruan people in order to assist them in reaching an opinion on the re-settling of their people and the selection of a future home. In conjunction with those discussions, representatives of the Nauruan people, under arrangements made in co-operation with the Queensland Government, inspected various places on the Queensland coast. I am sure that the honorable gentleman, as a member from Queensland, will be flattered to know that the Nauruan representatives considered that the Queensland coast was some of the most desirable country in Australia. Whether or not a future home is to be found there depends on very many other matters which will be the subject of discussions between the leaders of the Nauruan people and this Government.
– In directing a question to the Minister for Trade, I refer to the recent visit to Ghana of a flour survey mission. I ask: Is the Minister in a position to inform the House how much flour is consumed in Ghana annually? Does Australia enjoy any of that market at the present time?
– I am not in a position to answer the honorable member with figures. I know that there is a trade in flour with Ghana. That is why we sent a mission there eighteen months or two years ago and why we have sent another one recently. I shall obtain the figures in which the honorable gentleman is interested and other relevant information which I shall be glad to let him have, because I know of his interest in this matter.
– I ask the Minister for Immigration a question about rejected intending migrants like the one mentioned by the honorable member for Darebin. In those cases in which most of the members of a large family have migrated to Australia, where all or most of them have very good earning capacity, and they wish to bring to Australia another member of the family - perhaps the only one still in the country of origin - who suffers in no way from any contagious or infectious health condition, but who nevertheless has been rejected, will the Minister consider a change of attitude?
– I do not think that the expression “a change of attitude “ represents the right choice of words by the honorable gentleman. In my own time, I have always tried to exercise my discretion as Minister, in truly compassionate cases, in favour of the family and family reunion, because, as the honorable gentleman knows, family migration and family union, for years, under successive Minister-, have been the foundation of the Government’s immigration policy. But, in cases in which medical reports and the Department of Health strongly advise the Minister of the day not to permit entry of a person, and in which, at the same time, there are other members of the intending migrant’s family in the country of origin - it may be brothers or sisters, but, at any rate, close relatives - the Minister should, I think, be guided by the experts and by the health authorities who are stationed in the country of recruitment.
So I think it is incumbent on me to draw the line between cases in which, on the one hand, overwhelming compassionate circumstances exist and cases in which, on the other hand, the compassionate circumstances are not nearly so strong and no great injury to the family group or the person concerned would be occasioned by refusing entry to this country. I should like to emphasize, since the honorable gentleman has raised this point, that, year by year, many hundreds of these cases come to me and are given great thought and are con sidered with great deliberation. Whenever I can, I try to throw the balance in favour of the applicant
– My question, which is directed to the Minister for Primary Industry, concerns the deficiency payments on lamb made by the United Kingdom Government under the fifteen years meat agreement. I ask: What is the present position with regard to these deficiency payments? Are they being made on lambs exported to the United Kingdom at present and, if so, are they expected to continue throughout the export season?
– Because it seemed likely that deficiency payments would have to be made to Australia, the Australian Meat Board gave a guarantee of ls. 6d. per lb. for spring lamb delivered in September, October and November, and ls. 41/2d. per lb. for spring lamb delivered in the succeeding three months. However, my information is that prices in the United Kingdom have remained sufficiently high to make it unnecessary for the present to meet any payments under the guarantee. I shall see whether there is any further information that I can obtain for the honorable member.
– I direct my question to the Minister for Trade. Is it a fact that 54 per cent, of all fish eaten in Australia is imported? If this is a fact, is the Minister aware of the effect of these importations of cheap fish on the Australian fishing industry?
– There always has been a substantial importation of fish, particularly canned fish, and in more recent years, frozen fish. If the fishing industry feels that it is being harmed by importations and needs protection it has a right to appeal, as has any other Australian industry, for tariff protection. The organized fishing industry knows that. However, the honorable member should realize that an appeal for protection must come from a substantially representative section of the Australian industry and not merely from one individual or from one locality.
– When appointing the panel to conduct an inquiry into the Australian economy will the Prime Minister do his utmost to ensure that as well as choosing men with academic qualifications he will select men with practical experience and knowledge of Australia’s great primary industries?
– I can assure the honorable member that in approaching this task, which we must bring to finality pretty soon, all these considerations will be kept in mind. We want nothing which is purely academic. The panel must include people who are accustomed to studying statistics and so on, but we aim at an inquiry of such all-round independence, experience and judgment as will provide valuable results for the Government and for the people of Australia.
– I address my question to the Treasurer. In August, 1961, when tabling the report of the committee on taxation presided over by Mr. Justice Ligertwood, which recommended certain amendments of the law to prevent a continuance of tax evasion amounting to approximately £14,500,000 a year, did the Treasurer announce that it was intended to introduce legislation to give effect to the committee’s recommendations and that such legislation would be made retrospective to the date when the report was presented to Parliament? Will the Treasurer state his reasons for not fulfilling his undertaking? From what quarter were the representations made which induced him to change his mind about retrospective legislation? When does the Treasurer expect the Government to conclude its consideration of the committee’s report? Can he predict to the nearest year when legislation arising from the committee’s recommendations will be introduced?
– I have made two formal statements to the House and have replied to a number of questions on this matter. The first statement was not in the broad terms that the honorable gentleman has indicated. I invite honorable members to study it because I think that to regard it in the manner in which it has been presented now could be misleading. The second statement gave reasons why, on further consideration, it was not practicable to proceed immediately. Indeed at that point of time some modification of approach was found to be desirable. Since then, Sir, there has been a great deal of work done on these matters by the Commissioner of Taxation and by officers of the Treasury. The report on the matter by the Commissioner himself is of even greater dimension than the report submitted to me by the committee of inquiry. These are, as I have explained earlier, highly technical matters. They really encompass the whole range of our income tax legislation at one point or another, and they therefore are not capable of speedy resolution, dealing as they do with legislation which has been built up literally over decades in this parliament.
– But what about your undertaking?
– Order! The honorable member has asked his question.
– I refer the honorable member to the terms of what I said in the House at the time, and as subsequently modified. I just want to say that any delay that has occurred in this matter has in no part been due to representations which I have received from any particular source. It is a direct product of the complexity and the difficulty of these matters in a period when the Government, frankly, has had to attach a higher order of priority to other major matters coming before it.
– I ask the Treasurer: Is it a fact that the Commonwealth Government now faces a cash deficit of less than one half of the deficit of £118,000,000 budgeted for in August? If so, can the Treasurer say whether this is likely to affect the economic objectives of the Government as set out in the Budget speech?
– It is too early to try to assess what the end result will be in the Government’s accounts but, thanks to the buoyancy in the loan market in particular, the present indications are that, in the absence of any substantial expenditures additional to the Budget programme, we can finish this financial year with a deficit significantly smaller than that estimated when the Budget was introduced. As the honorable member will be aware, we had an oversubscription of some £30,000,000 in the first domestic loan of this year’s programme. Rather better prospects for overseas borrowing have opened up than seemed likely at Budget time. We do make from time to time a review of the way in which the economy is faring, and I expect that we shall, as has become customary over recent years, be looking at the programmes of the State governments, particularly in the new year. Although the degree of deficit financing is somewhat less than was estimated at Budget time, the rate of economic expansion, the degree of activity in the economy and the confident expectations of my colleague, the Minister for Labour and National Service, that the economy will absorb with reasonable comfort the addition to the workforce of people leaving school - these are indications that no special action is necessary beyond that envisaged when the Budget was introduced. I can perhaps refer in passing to such indicators of buoyancy as record motor car sales, an increase during each of the last four months in building approvals, and a variety of matters of that kind all pointing to a buoyant economy. So, 1 repeat, in those circumstances it would not appear that any special action is necessary.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Primary Industry. Does the Government intend to bring down wool marketing legislation this week - and, incidentally, give the Opposition sufficient time to study the bill before it is debated - or will the wool growers have to wait until April next year for the Government to make up its mind as to where it is going in this vital and important wool marketing problem?
– It is hoped to bring down legislation on the wool industry this week.
– I direct a question to the Prime Minister. Can he say whether the British Minister for Commonwealth Relations is seeking to give a lead in mediating between Pakistan and India during his present visit to those countries? If no lead has been given by Mr. Sandys, could consideration be given to the Australian Minister for External Affairs undertaking such a mission during his visit to India?
– I do not think it would be appropriate for me to speculate about what might be in the mind of the Secretary of State for Commonwealth Relations, although I am sure the honorable member is not far out in thinking that the problems, as they exist between Pakistan and India, would be well in his mind. They have been very much in my own mind for a long time, and I know they are very much in the mind of my colleague on his present journey.
– I ask the Minister for Defence: Is he aware that last Friday 64 employees at Cockatoo dockyard were dismissed and there is a possibility of more dismissals due to the lack of naval shipbuilding orders? Also, is the Minister aware that due to lack of orders shipbuilding in Australia is facing a serious decline? If the Government can find £50,000,000 to be spent over the next three years in purchasing naval ships which are to be built overseas, is it not a reasonable request that the Government should find a sum of approximately £8,000,000 to be spent in Australia on naval needs, and thereby ensure the retention of skilled artisans and labour at both Cockatoo dockyard and Williamstown dockyard for the next three years?
– I was not aware of the dismissals last week to which the honorable member has referred. I remind him and the House that we have done a tremendous amount for the Cockatoo dockyard. We made an arrangement with the Government of the United Kingdom, for instance, to refit one British submarine a year; and that work has been given to the Cockatoo dockyard. We also increased the capacity of the Garden Island dockyard. So we are fully alive to the importance of keeping the dockyards as busy as we can.
– I direct a question to the Minister representing the Minister for Health. Is it a fact that the Government has studied recently a review of the activities of the national fitness organization? What is the significance of the decision to increase the grant under the National Fitness Act, which action has been requested for quite a number of years?
– There have been discussions between the representatives of the National Fitness Council in all States, the State governments and the Commonwealth in relation to this matter. I am pleased to inform the honorable member that the annual grant from the Commonwealth to the National Fitness Council in each State was previously ?72,500 and the grant has been increased, this financial year, to ?27,500. Together with the allocations from other sources - from the States and from sources outside - it will give an increased allocation to the National Fitness Council this year of about ?64,454. I think that will considerably assist the great national work that these people are undertaking.
– I ask the Minister for Air: Is it a fact that Australian teachers attached to the Royal Australian Air Force base at Penang have expressed strong dissatisfaction concerning their transference from hotel accommodation to inferior accommodation involving less privacy? Is it also true that their meal allowance has been substantially reduced?
– When the Royal Australian Air Force base at Penang was established early in 1959 about the only reasonable accommodation available was a large and fairly expensive hotel. As a result, the single teachers were put into that hotel. It has now been decided that they should be moved, for two reasons: First, the management of the hotel has asked whether we can find other accommodation. Perhaps the management felt that travellers might spend more money in the hotel than the teachers do. It has also been discovered that a saving of something like ?20,000 a year can be achieved if these teachers are put into other reasonable accommodation which is available. This consists of service flats or chalets. They have been used by the R.A.A.F. officers for some time and have been found quite suitable.
So far as the reduction of the allowance for meals is concerned, all that the R.A.A.F. has done in regard to the teachers is that it has paid the full amount for three meals a day for them. If they were moved into the chalets they would be charged less there, although I am assured that the meals are very reasonable. However, in view of the representations that have been made to me both by the teachers concerned and by the teachers’ federation, I have decided to suspend action until’ a report is received from the commanding officer at Butterworth and from the headmaster there. When that report is received I will study it closely and see what can be done.
- Mr. Speaker, I wish to make a correction in the information I gave in reply to the question asked me by the honorable member for Swan. I indicated that the Commonwealth allocation to the national fitness organizations on a Commonwealthwide basis had been increased to ?27,500, whereas I should have said that the allocation had been increased by that amount. Thus the total Commonwealth allocation to these organizations is now ?100,000 a year.
- Mr. Speaker, I have been misrepresented and ask for leave to make a personal explanation. Only minutes before the House adjourned on Thursday, 15th November, my attention was directed to a report appearing in the Melbourne “ Age “ of 12fh November, with reference to the dispute between two members of this Parliament and the Sydney firm of Goodwins Limited. The newspaper report, referring to the managing director of the company, stated -
Mr. Goodwin said his company would cooperate with Dr. Louat in his investigation.
He added that Mr. Fraser’s brother, Mr. Jim Fraser (Lab., A.C.T.) had written to him stating that he did not wish to be associated with the allegations as his own investigations did not support the charges.
I claim that that statement was untrue, misleading and damaging. In fact I had written to Mr. Goodwin a month before that date in the course of my duties and in reply to a letter I had received from him, with enclosures, relating to the dispute with the two honorable members of this Parliament. In that letter I wrote -
I make no comment on the matters referred to by Mr. Allan Fraser and Mr. Fred Daly, both colleagues of mine in the Labor Party and one my brother. I am sure their views were sincerely held and sincerely expressed.
The letter went on to refer to express appreciation of the assistance I had received from the local representatives of the company on cases I had taken to them on behalf of constituents. It made no other reference to the matter under dispute between the two honorable members and the manager of this company.
The Melbourne “ Age “ several days later published in part a correction I had sent to it. On 16th November I wrote to Mr. Goodwin drawing his attention to this matter and stating that I intended to take the first opportunity to correct it. I have had no further word from Mr. Goodwin. I have taken no part in the controversy between Mr. Goodwin and the two honorable members in this House. That is the only statement that I made.
– I claim to have been misrepresented and desire to make a personal explanation. On Thursday, 15th November, the honorable member for Warringah spoke during the adjournment debate on a matter which I had previously raised about a ship called the “ Vasse “ and the Papuan seamen aboard it. The honorable member said, referring to what I had said -
This fact can only lead me to believe that the honorable member had never visited the vessel and that he gave this House information that he had gathered by remote control. Obviously, the information was supplied to him by Mr. Barney Smith, the notorious . . . Communist who is secretary of the Sydney branch of the Seamen’s Union.
I desire to inform the House that I visited the “ Vasse “ at its berth at East Balmain on the morning of Sunday, 21st October. I was accompanied by my son and a Mr. Jack Benson. I made the visit at Mr. Benson’s request. Mr. Benson is an organizer of the Seamen’s Union and is a member of a branch of the Australian Labour Party in my electorate. I have never met or communicated with Mr. Barney Smith in my life.
The honorable member for Warringah also said that I should have gone to the captain of the ship with the complaint. I simply point out that the captain was not aboard at the time of my visit. That the Papuan seamen did not admit to the visit appears to indicate that they may have been fearful of the consequences of doing so.
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
Assent to the following bills reported: -
Appropriation Bill 1962-63.
Appropriation (Works and Services) Bill 1962-63.
Stevedoring Industry Bill 1962.
Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Bill 1962.
States Grants (Special Assistance) Bill 1962.
Removal of Prisoners (Territories) Bill 1962.
Loan (Housing) Bill (No. 2) 1962.
.- I present the following reports of the Public Accounts Committee: -
Fifty-ninth Report - Index to the First to the Fifty-eighth Reports of the Committee.
Sixtieth Report - Expenditure from Advance to the Treasurer, Commonwealth Consolidated Revenue Fund for the year 1961-62.
Honorable members will recall that an index of the first 41 reports of your committee was presented as our forty-fifth report on 3rd December, 1959. The fiftyninth report has revised that index and it now covers the 58 reports issued by the first four committees in the period of nine years up to 25th October, 1961.
The sixtieth report presents the results of your committee’s investigations into the financial administration of departments and their use of the Advance to the Treasurer in the financial year ended 30th June, 1962. Our inquiry has been a very lengthy one and our comments on the votes which were the subject of public hearings are appended to each separate item reported on in chapter III. We list also the large number of additional items which were considered and for which written explanations were obtained from departments. Your committee found that the standard of departmental performances in 1961-62 was generally satisfactory. The exceptions have been commented on, where appropriate, in chapter III. of the report.
Ordered to be printed.
Motion (by Mr. Harold Holt) - by leave - agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act relating to an agreement between the Commonwealth and the State of Western Australia with respect to jetty works at Derby.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
– by leave - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this bill is to obtain the approval of Parliament to an agreement between the Commonwealth and the State of Western Australia providing for financial assistance to the State towards the cost of construction of a new jetty at the port of Derby. This is one of the State developmental works to which I referred in my Budget speech as being projects in connexion with which the Commonwealth had undertaken to provide State governments with special financial assistance as a means of furthering the important national objectives of the stimulation of increased export earnings and the development of northern areas of Australia.
For some years the Commonwealth has been actively participating in the financing of developmental projects in the north of Western Australia. Under the provisions of the Western Australia Grant (Northern Development) Act 1958-1959, the Commonwealth undertook to provide up to £5,000,000 towards the cost of developmental projects undertaken by the State in the area north of the twentieth parallel of latitude during the five years commencing 1st July, 1958. Expenditure under the act to 30th June last amounted to £3,568,000 and a further £1,432,000 is being provided this financial year, to bring the total Commonwealth payments to £5,000,000.
The projects assisted under the act include the Ord River diversion dam and certain port improvements and investigations. In addition to the £5,000,000 grant, the Commonwealth is also providing substantial sums for expenditure on cattle roads in the area.
Subject to the ratification of this Parliament, an agreement has been made between the Commonwealth and Western Australian Governments under which the Commonwealth undertakes to provide special financial assistance to the State of Western Australia of up to £800,000, of which up to £300,000 is to be provided in 1962-63, towards the cost of replacement of the Derby jetty. The text of the agreement is set out in the schedule to the bill.
Derby is the major port at present serving the West Kimberley region for the shipping of live cattle to the abattoirs at Fremantle and for discharge of supplies and materials. Its importance as a supply centre for the region will no doubt increase with the development of agriculture and the pastoral industry in the area.
The existing jetty at Derby is old and extremely costly to maintain. Its design and condition are such that it cannot meet the present-day requirements of shipping. The State Government plans to erect on the south side of the existing jetty a composite steel and concrete single-berth jetty with modern cattle loading and cargo handling facilities which, it is hoped, will go far to eliminate present maintenance and port operating difficulties. The works are estimated to cost approximately £800,000 and to be completed within two years.
The Commonwealth’s decision to assist this project followed a request from the Government of Western Australia for financial assistance to enable these important works to be commenced in 1962-63 and carried through to speedy completion. The maintenance and development of ports is, of course, a matter that comes within the province of the States and the Commonwealth has no intention of intruding into State rights arid responsibilities in respect of port facilities. Nevertheless, in view of the important contribution which the new jetty is expected to make to the development of the Kimberley region, with particular reference to the beef cattle industry, the Government decided that special Commonwealth financial assistance for the construction of the new jetty should be provided. The terms and conditions under which the financial assistance will be made available to Western Australia are set out in the agreement between the State and the Commonwealth, the text of which is, as I have said, set out in the schedule to the bill.
Under clause 3 of the agreement, the Commonwealth undertakes to provide to the State amounts not exceeding ?800,000 towards meeting the cost of the jetty works, of which up to ?300,000 is to be provided in 1962-63. The State undertakes, in accordance with clause 6, to repay to the Commonwealth one-half of the total amount advanced by means of payments spread over fifteen years. The balance of the amount to be advanced is not repayable to the Commonwealth. Repayments do not commence until December, 1964, by which time the Western Australian authorities expect the works to be completed. Interest is to be paid on the repayable advances at the long-term bond rate applying when each advance is made.
The requirement for the State to repay one half of total Commonwealth advances under the agreement arises from the consideration that the new jetty will be a revenue-earning State asset, coupled with the fact that the provision of the new jetty will result in substantial savings to the State on maintenance expenditure.
The State has undertaken to ensure that the works are carried out in conformity with sound engineering and financial practices and as expeditiously as possible. Provision is made for the variation of the works described in the schedule to the agreement, if circumstances so require. The agreement also contains appropriate provisions relating to the furnishing of estimates, the supply of information, audit and the giving of notices. All of these provisions are similar to those in other comparable Commonwealth-State agreements relating to special developmental projects in the States.
In conclusion, I should like to point out that, in agreeing to make available this financial assistance, the Commonwealth Government is providing a further indication in a practical way of its desire to promote the development of our northern areas and of the potential of those areas from the viewpoint of increased export earnings. We believe that the provision of improved jetty facilities at Derby will make a significant contribution to the achievement of those aims in relation to the west Kimberley region. I commend the bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Beazley) adjourned.
– by leave - I move -
That, in accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1913-1960, the following proposed work be referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works for investigation and report: - Launceston Airport - Lengthening and strengthening of runway and development of taxiways and hardstanding area.
This work, which is estimated to cost ?900,000, forms part of a proposal for the development of Launceston airport. It covers the development of taxiways and hardstanding and lengthening and strengthening of the existing runway. The remaining portion of the overall proposal involves the erection of a new terminal building, a new operations building and a maintenance workshop, stores and administrative accommodation and development of roads, car parks and engineering services in the building area. This work will be the subject of a separate submission, which it is expected will be made early next year when planning has been sufficiently advanced.
I table a preliminary plan showing the extent of the proposed runway, taxiway and hardstanding works.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Mr. Swartz) - by leave - agreed to -
That leave be given to bring in a bill for an act to amend the National Health Act 1953-1961.
Bill presented, and read a first time.
Mr. SWARTZ Parting Downs (Minister for Repatriation) [3.33]. - by leave - I move -
That the bill be now read a second time.
The main purpose of this bill is to introduce a number of amendments to the hospital benefits provisions of the act. These amendments are being proposed following a comprehensive review of the hospital benefits arrangements which was undertaken by the Government earlier this year. As a result of this review, the Government considers that the development of the hospital benefits scheme has been extraordinarily successful.
It was in January, 1952, that the Government first embarked on the policy of providing additional hospital benefits for patients who were insured with hospital insurance funds. The object of this policy was to encourage people to undertake voluntary insurance which would enable them, by their own efforts, to build up entitlements to hospital benefits, to be availed of when they or their families needed hospital treatment.
The record shows how outstandingly successful this policy has been in practice. In June, 1952, there were 1,052,000 contributors to hospital insurance funds throughout Australia. By June, 1962, the number of contributors had increased to 3,130,000. Over the same period the number of persons covered by hospital insurance contributions increased from 2,154,000 to 7,738,000. The proportion of the population covered for hospital insurance benefits had risen from 25 per cent, to 73 per cent. Of those who are not now insured, a big proportion receive free hospital treatment as pensioners or repatriation patients or under some other free treatment arrangement. The proportion of people who are liable for hospital charges and who are not insured is now quite small.
These facts and figures indicate in most striking fashion the extent to which the government-assisted hospital benefits insurance scheme has met with public acceptance and support. It is quite apparent that this system is the very best means of arranging for the assistance of patients to meet the cost of their hospital treatment and for assisting hospitals to secure an adequate income to meet their inevitably heavy commitments. At the same time it safeguards the rights of every citizen to exercise freedom of choice of hospital according to his medical needs.
It is sometimes claimed that the finance made available for hospital expenses through the insurance scheme is not adequate. I want to inform the House that the facts simply do not support this claim. In the year ended June, 1952, a total amount of £7,500,000 was paid from Commonwealth and hospital insurance fund sources towards hospital expenses. The amounts paid from these sources in the year ended 30th June, 1962, totalled £35,700,000. The estimated payments for this year are more than £40,000,000, comprising more than £25,000,000 Commonwealth benefits and £15,000,000 fund benefits. These are the overall figures.
As regards individual patients, the position is that for a weekly payment of ls. 6d. in the ease of single persons, or 3s. for families, contributors and their dependants are entitled to receive benefits totalling £19 12s. a week for hospital treatment in every recognized hospital in Australia and for any hospital treatment that they may require when they are absent from Australia overseas. The payment of £19 12s. a week covers, or virtually covers, and in some States considerably exceeds, the present hospital charges for treatment in public wards. For patients who wish to insure for higher rates of benefit, there are tables of 5s. a week which entitle the family contributor to £28 a week in benefits, which are sufficient to meet the greater part of private ward charges in most of our hospitals. A few insurance organizations provide even higher tables.
I have given all these particulars so that it may be clear to all that the hospital benefits scheme is being developed in a most valuable fashion both in the overall sense and from the viewpoint of individual contributors, and that it is sufficiently flexible to meet the requirements of patients in all hospitals throughout Australia. There are, however, some aspects of the scheme in regard to which it appears to the Government that improvements can and should be made. In a scheme of this magnitude it is inevitable that anomalies and difficulties arise and it is to effect adjustments in these respects that this bill is brought forward.
One aspect which has been a cause of some misunderstanding and difficulty has been the payment of the Commonwealth benefit for insured patients in two separate stages. The arrangement has been that a benefit of 8s. a day has been deducted from the patient’s hospital account and an additional benefit of 12s. a day has been paid to the patient by his insurance organization with his fund benefit. In future it is proposed that insured patients will receive the whole of their Commonwealth benefit of £1 a day in a single payment from their insurance organization. This amalgamation of the two separate benefits into a single benefit of £1 a day for insured patients will be a considerable step forward in simplifying the scheme and making the arrangements better understood by patients generally.
In cases where patients pay their accounts to the hospital in the first place and then claim their benefits from their insurance organization, the Commonwealth benefit of £1 a day will in future be included in the cheque sent to the patient by the insurance organization. Some patients may prefer to arrange with their insurance organization for the payment of their Commonwealth and fund benefits direct to the hospital. This will be a matter for arrangement between individual patients, hospitals and insurance funds. The Commonwealth Department of Health will co-operate to the full in any such arrangements which are made, Government policy being that every facility should be provided to enable hospitals as well as patients to receive full and prompt payment of the benefits provided by the legislation.
Another matter to which the Government has given attention has been the development of a tendency for pensioners to be required to pay hospital insurance contributions to meet charges for hospital treatment. The traditional practice of public hospitals in most parts of Australia has been to treat pensioners free of charge in the public wards. The Commonwealth recognizes that the continuance or otherwise of this practice is a matter entirely for the State governments concerned, and we would certainly not wish to interfere with the State governments’ rights in this matter. The majority of pensioners and their dependants are provided with a free general practitioner medical service and pharmaceutical benefits at Commonwealth expense and we believe that the provision of free hospital treatment for these pensioners is a most valuable social service. We accordingly decided that we should offer a special benefit to hospitals who treat pensioners free of charge in order to assist them to continue this service.
At a recent conference with State Health Ministers the Commonwealth Minister for Health (Senator Wade) undertook that the Government would introduce legislation to provide a benefit at the rate of 36s. a day for the hospital treatment of pensioners and their dependants who are entitled to the pensioner medical service, this benefit to be paid in cases where public hospitals provide free treatment for all such pensioners who are classified as public ward patients. In the discussions with the State Ministers it was generally acknowledged that this will represent a considerable advance on the present system, which is that the only special benefit provided for the treatment of pensioners is a benefit of 12s. a day for uninsured pensioners. In general terms, therefore, the proposal is for a threefold increase in the rate of this benefit.
The Government hopes that public hospitals will, with the aid of this benefit, follow a policy of providing free treatment for pensioners and their dependants who are entitled to the pensioner medical service. I repeat that there will be no compulsion on any State to accept this proposal; nor, of course, is there any objection whatsoever on the part of this Government to individual pensioners enrolling in hospital insurance, or continuing in hospital insurance, if they individually prefer to do so. Some pensioners may, for example, wish to retain their insurance in order to provide for benefits which would enable them to have intermediate or private ward treatment. There will be absolutely no interference in their freedom of choice in this matter. What this proposed legislation will do will be to provide a special benefit of 36s. a day to public hospitals whose practice is to provide free treatment for pensioners and their dependants entitled to the pensioner medical service. Its implementation will be a big step forward in completing the medical coverage of the 815,000 pensioners and their dependants already provided by this Government in the form of the pensioner medical service and the provision free of charge of pharmaceutical benefits.
There is one other group of patients in regard to which the existing arrangements have not been operating satisfactorily, and that is the patients in convalescent and rest homes and in the infirmary sections of State benevolent homes and State and private homes for the aged. Because many patients in these homes are pensioners and because they very often remain in the homes for long periods of time, the Government has decided that they should not be obliged to join an insurance fund to qualify for Commonwealth benefits. It is therefore proposed that patients in these institutions will receive a Commonwealth benefit of £1 a day, which will be deducted from their accounts by the institution, regardless of whether they are insured with a hospital insurance fund. The institutions to which this arrangement will apply are institutions which in the past have been treated as “ unrecognized hospitals “ in the hospital benefits legislation. In future it is proposed that patients in these institutions will be classified as nursing home patients, and the legislation provides that the Commonwealth benefit of £1 a day will be payable for “ nursing home care “ in these nursing homes. This benefit will be paid from the first day of their admission to the nursing home and will continue without limitation as long as they are patients there.
I believe that this amendment will be welcomed by the patients of these homes. They will be saved the expense and inconvenience of paying weekly contributions to an insurance fund and their benefits will be automatically deducted from their accounts. Remembering that these patients, by and large, are elderly and that many of them are not in good financial circumstances, it should be a considerable advantage to them to be eligible for Commonwealth benefits without insurance requirements.
The Government has not overlooked the fact that some nursing home patients, after discontinuing their insurance payments, may find that they need hospital treatment. To meet this position the bill provides that, upon admission to an approved hospital within eight weeks of their discharge from a nursing home, these patients may enrol in an insurance fund and be eligible for hospital benefits from the date of enrolment, instead of having to wait the eight weeks customarily required of new contributor?
The amendments I have referred to are the most important changes in substance being made by this bill. They involve a complete recasting of the hospital benefits provisions of the act. Consequently, Part V. of the act, which contains those provisions, is being repealed and a series of new provisions inserted in place of the existing ones. I will be pleased to supply honorable members with detailed explanations of the clauses in the bill when we are in the committee stage.
There is one other matter in regard to hospital benefits which I should make clear at this stage; that is, that the present hospital benefit of 8s. a day will continue to be deducted from the hospital accounts of patients who are not insured. It has been advocated in some quarters that there should be an increase in this benefit for uninsured patients. This bill provides for a large increase in benefit for uninsured patients who are pensioner medical service pensioners. It does not provide for any increase in benefit for uninsured patients who are not pensioners, because the very best means of help in these cases is selfhelp, that is, by joining a hospital insurance fund. An increase in benefit for uninsured patients might discourage people from joining or continuing in insurance funds, and that would be a great disservice to the hospitals and to the people themselves.
So far as uninsured patients generally are concerned, the only change proposed by this bill is a machinery one under which the benefit of 8s. a day will be paid by the Commonwealth Department of Health direct to the hospitals which make the deductions from the patients’ accounts, instead of, as in the past, through the State Treasuries. This will facilitate a simplification of existing procedures and enable the payment of the benefits to the hospitals with a minimum of delay. This arrangement for direct payment to hospitals instead of to State treasuries will also apply to the new hospital benefits being introduced for hospitals which treat pensioners free of charge.
There is a further series of machinery amendments in this bill arising from the formation earlier this year of the Australian Medical Association to carry out the functions previously carried out by the British
Medical Association in Australia. The existing act provides for an agreement between the Government and the British Medical Association in Australia regarding the provision of the pensioner medical service. It also provides for the nomination of members of various committees under the act by the federal council of the British Medical Association in Australia. The bill provides for all these references to the British Medical Association in Australia to be changed to the Australian Medical Association in order to provide proper authority for the Government to deal with this new body.
I am sure that we have a very good hospital benefits scheme in Australia. What this bill is doing is to make that good scheme a better scheme. The amendments are all designed for the simplification and better public understanding of the scheme by the removal of difficulties and anomalies. I am certain that the new arrangements will be more satisfactory to patients, to insurance organizations and to hospitals. The total cost of the proposals will be £3,200,000 per annum and the new benefits will be of very great value to the people for whom they are provided, especially pensioners and nursing home patients. I commend the bill to honorable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Allan Fraser) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 15th November (vide page 2535), on motion by Mr. Freeth -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Upon which Mr. Luchetti had moved by way of amendment -
That all words after “That” be omitted with a view to inserting the following words in place thereof: - “the bill be withdrawn and redrafted to provide for the members of the authority to be chosen by a method which will give the consumers a majority representation and allow the members of the Australian Capital Territory Branch of the Electrical Trades Union to be represented.”
.- This bill proposes the establishment of an authority to take over in the Australian Capital Territory the generation, supply and reticulation of electric power. The bill proposes that the authority shall consist of three members, one to be a chairman appointed by the GovernorGeneral, the second a member of the Australian Capital Territory Advisory Council who will be elected by the members of that council, and the third a representative of the Department of the Interior. The amendment moved by the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Luchetti), which I strongly support, is designed to ensure that consumers will have a majority on the authority which is to be established, and that there will be representation on the authority of the employees through the Canberra branch of the Electrical Trades Union of Australia.
I think it is appropriate, at this time, to say something about the history of the supply of electricity in the Australian Capital Territory. During the period of approximately 40 years in which that supply has been in existence it has always been under departmental or semi-departmental control. In the course of its history, it has been controlled by the Department of Home Affairs, by the Department of Works and Railways, by the Federal Capital Commission from 1925 to 1930 and, subsequently, by the Department of Works and the Department of the Interior. In those years the electricity supply was a section of the department concerned, and the administrative and executive officers have been the chief electrical engineers.
The electricity supply authority in the Australian Capital Territory has always been fortunate in the personnel entrusted with its management, and in the personnel who have made up its office and outdoor staff. I should like to refer particularly to some of those who have given very great service to the people of the Australian Capital Territory through their employment with the electricity supply authority. At the moment, I refer particularly to the late Mr. W. E. Gray, who was an employee of the electricity supply from 1927 until his retirement in 1951. In the last six years of his service he was the chief electrical engineer of the authority. It was during his term as chief electrical engineer that rural extensions were undertaken in this Territory. I am sure it is appropriate to refer to that accomplishment as a monument to the zeal and enthusiasm of the late Mr. W. E. Gray. It was his great ambition to have the electricity supply taken to all portions of the rural areas of the Australian Capital Territory. It is pleasing to know that, after a period in which there were no further extensions, that aim will now be achieved. The late Mr. Gray had a son who is still with the Canberra Electric Supply. I am sure that in the field in which he is entrusted with responsibility he carries on the fine tradition of his late father.
The present engineer-manager of the Canberra Electric Supply, Mr. Speaker, is a man of most outstanding ability and extensive experience. I refer, of course, to Mr. Alan Jones, who came to Canberra in 1928 as a cadet with the Federal Capital Commission. He has been engineermanager of the Canberra Electric Supply since its formation as a separate unit, still under departmental control, some years ago.
The authority, whatever its form of establishment, will have, I believe, great potential for success if the Government retains as chairman or chief executive its present engineer-manager, Mr. Alan Jones, who, as I have said, is a man of outstanding ability and most extensive experience, and one who has the ability to deal with men. I think he should sometimes be referred to as an employees’ representative because he has the complete trust of the employees of the Canberra Electric Supply. I do not know what the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Freeth) has in mind and it would not be appropriate, of course, for him to mention the name of the appointee at this time, but I hope that Mr. Jones will be retained in the chief executive position with the new authority.
The Canberra Electric Supply has amongst its employees many of long service and many who have become stalwarts in this community, going back to the years when Canberra was little more than a small construction settlement on these limestone plains. I refer to men such as Mr. Murdoch McGregor, who now is known as the installation superintendent of the Canberra Electric Supply, and who has been connected with the supply of electricity in the Australian Capital Territory since 1923. He is a man who has taken a great part in our community activities and who has a great knowledge of the reticulation and installation problems that can be encountered. We have on the staff also Mr. Dave Lamond, who has been with the electric supply authoriity here since 1924 and is now maintenance superintendent for the Canberra Electric Supply. I mention these men because I believe that credit must go not only to those who have held the executive positions but also to those who, in the outdoor field, the workshops and elsewhere have contributed to what has become a very efficient organization.
I believe, with the honorable member for Macquarie and the Opposition, that the proposed authority should be widened so as to provide a real opportunity for greater local representation in this field. The Minister for the Interior, in his secondreading speech, said -
Another aspect of this bill with which I would like to deal is that it establishes in Canberra another authority in the field of local administration. Until now the undertaking has been part of the Department of the Interior and it has been easy to arrange liaison with other branches and sections of the department The presence on the authority of an officer of the department will preserve the means for this liaison to be continued. The relationship and co-operation established to date by the Canberra Electric Supply with the National Capital Development Commission and with the Department of Works will of course continue.
The “ Canberra Times “, which, I believe, speaks for this district and speaks for it very effectively, described the establishment of the authority proposed by this bill as a first step in local government. It stated -
This is not just another local administrative authority comparable in all respects with existing government agencies. It represents the first step in granting to residents of the Territory active participation of a significant public utility.
The Canberra electricity undertaking has grown to a point at which it exceeds in size many County Councils in New South Wales which form part of the local government pattern. The difficulties of transplanting municipal government as it is understood in Australia to Federal Capital administration are well enough understood, but not to the extent that some form of municipal government cannot one day have a place in Canberra or that the way to some form of municipal government should not be taken step by step. The Canberra electricity undertaking presents a favourable starting point in that it controls an essential public utility which affects every resident as well as every government activity. The initial composition of the new authority is thus justifiably representative of both Government and the citizen. In addition to the responsibilities of running the electricity undertaking, the new authority will have to cope with growth problems for which there is no exact parallel in Australia. Thus, its members will be actively engaged in providing services in newly developing areas with a much higher rate of capital expenditure than any other electricity undertaking has to manage. Thus, this is not a simple problem of buying and selling power and of managing an undertaking economically and efficiently for the Commonwealth which provides the capital and the consumers who will provide the revenue. This is the type of activity in which participation by an elected member will significantly pilot the way to other responsibilities being given in due course to the residents of the Territory.
We are merely suggesting, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that the Government might have taken the opportunity, in presenting this bill, to give much wider representation to the citizens of the Australian Capital Territory. True, the authority as proposed in the bill will number among its three members one elected by the Australian Capital Territory Advisory Council, which, itself, of course, is not a completely elected body. It consists of eight elected members and four nominated members. It may well be that the people of this community are prepared to stand for election to the Advisory Council to serve the community on that body, but it may not be fitting to suggest that a person who is prepared to take on that responsibility in the community should by inference place himself in the position of being required to take on additional duties as well. I would think - we may have an opportunity to expand this at the committee stage - that the proposed authority could well have been enlarged to include a majority of elected representatives as well as a representative of the Electrical Trades Union of Australia. As the honorable member for Macquarie said when he opened the debate on this measure for the Opposition, plenty of precedents exist in Commonwealth legislation and Commonwealth authorities for employee representation. These are only a few of the authorities and boards established by the Commonwealth on which there is employee representation as well, of course, as consumer representation and producer representation: Australian Apple and Pear Board, Australian Egg Board, Australian Meat Board, Australian Wheat Board, Australian Dairy Produce Board. So I suggest that the Government could well have taken the opportunity to entrust the people of the Australian Capital Territory with some measure of self-government by giving them an authority with a majority of elected representatives and proper employee representation.
Mr. Deputy Speaker, there are a number of matters which I believe that the proposed authority will have to take into consideration when it is established, and it is necessary to refer to those matters to consider properly the powers that are proposed to be given to the authority under the terms of this bill. Those powers are delineated in clause 17, which reads -
The functions of the Authority are -
to supply electricity in the Territory;
to promote the use of electricity in the
such functions in relation to matters affect ing or connected with the supply or use of electricity in the Territory as are conferred on the Authority by the laws of the Territory.
Clause 18 goes on to amplify those powers to some extent. I hope that the authority will be given the wide power that is necessary to enable it to act fully according to the terms of clause 17. The headings of the powers set out there are wide enough to permit the authority a very extensive field of action.
Under the heading of promoting the use of electricity in the Territory, I hope that the authority will really come out into the field and endeavour to persuade people that electricity is the most efficient means of heating, cooking, lighting and so on. I hope, too, that the authority will come out into the appliance-selling field in competition with the private-enterprise firms which sell or hire electrical appliances such as stoves, bath heaters and sink heaters. All electrical appliances of this kind could be sold by an authority such as is now proposed on terms advantageous to the authority but not onerous to the purchaser, and this would introduce some real competition with the firms already engaged in this kind of business. I should like to see the authority go out into the field of advertising and seek to sell its product and to sell or hire the appliances by which its product is consumed. The authority, I believe, should take every available opportunity to put the consumer in the position in which he can use increasing quantities of electricity.
The proposed authority will start its work, of course, in the face of some competition already provided by the very government which creates the authority itself, because this Government, in its wisdom, has given a franchise to a firm supplying bottled gas or gas in bulk for heating and cooking in one housing settlement in this Territory. The authority will encounter that form of competition in the private field as well, so I hope that the Government will not restrict the authority in any way in its duty of promoting the use of electricity in the Territory.
To carry out its duties efficiently the authority will have to attract employees of the calibre required to undertake the very considerable extensions of supply and the very extensive installations proposed. In this respect it might well be thought fitting that the authority should be given some assurance that housing will be provided for its employees. If we are to attract into the Australian Capital Territory the competent, capable, trained workmen whom we require - this does not apply only to the field of electricity supply but to many other fields as well - we must be able to hold out some benefit to them. I do not think we will attract employees here if they know that when they arrive they must put their name on the housing list and live for three and one-half years in whatever accommodation they can find until a house is provided for them. If the authority is to go ahead with the vast work which it must undertake on behalf of the Government and of the community, it should be able to attract competent trained staff to Canberra. One means of doing this is to promise that housing v/ill be provided. As the Minister knows, this has been done already by the Canberra Electric Supply in relation to linemen who were brought to Canberra and housed in the prefabricated area of Narrabundah. I do not suggest that that type of housing will be adequate for the kind of tradesmen that we require.
The Minister has given an assurance, and the bill so provides, that the rights and entitlements of Commonwealth public servants and Commonwealth employees who will be transferred from the Canberra Electric Supply to the new authority will be safeguarded. The’ act specifically mentions the provisions of the Commonwealth
Employees Compensation Act but I suggest to the Minister that there will be a need to have the new Canberra electricity supply authority designated an authority of the Commonwealth for the purposes of the Commonwealth Employees Furlough Act so that its employees - there are some 300 members of the Electrical Trades Union employed by the supply authority at present - will have their entitlement to long service leave carried over into their new employment.
As the Minister has said, the authority will face great tasks in this rapidly developing city where the population is increasing by 6,000 or 7,000 a year, where whole new suburbs are being constructed and where whole new areas of administration are being developed. The authority will rely on this Parliament for its capital funds. I hope that the Minister and the Government will ensure that the funds to be provided will be adequate. They will be more than would be required if this were an authority being established in a settled community. Here we have a rapidly developing community requiring the undertaking of a vast amount of capital expenditure which obviously cannot be met by revenue from the sale of electricity within the area. There will need to be subvention for capital funds. The bill does not make the position quite clear to me. It stipulates that the funds of the authority shall consist of the assets as delineated in the bill, but there will need to be a very substantial provision of capital funds to meet the cost of the work to be undertaken.
It is my hope, and the hope of many people in the community, that the authority will be provided with sufficient money to enable it to do at long last what was planned when this city was first established, that is, to eliminate the use of street poles to carry electricity and telephone wires. This was to be a. city in which the streets would not be disfigured by such poles. However, with the exigencies and the pressures which have followed the development of this city, we have seen, unfortunately, a very considerable use in various parts of the city of overhead wires carried on wooden poles, and it is to be hoped that the new authority will have the funds, as it has the desire, to see that supply lines are placed underground wherever possible and that if poles are necessary they will be situated at the backs of houses so that they will not disfigure the streets. We are not seeking anything that is not available in other communities, because in other communities local government authorities have the power to make arrangements of that kind for their own electricity supply. By precedent and by custom they can arrange with the PostmasterGeneral’s Department for the lines to be placed underground.
I do not propose to go into detail in relation to the tariffs which will be charged. Clause 19 (1.), which is in the following terms, gives the authority certain powers: -
The Authority may, from time to time, make determinations fixing or varying the charges that are, subject to this section, to be payable to the Authority for or in connexion with the supply of electricity.
Sub-clause 7 of this clause states -
In determining charges under this section, the Authority shall take into consideration the financial position of the Authority and the future requirements of the undertaking of the Authority, with a view to making those charges as low as practicable having regard to the revenue required for the maintenance of the affairs of the Authority on a sound commercial basis.
I have taken out the figures comparing the tariffs of various State and county authorities with the tariffs already chargeable in Canberra. I hope that the authority will honour the undertaking which the bill requires of it to keep its charges as low as is practicable.
The Canberra Electric Supply has an excellent record in reticulation, repair and maintenance, quite often in the face of great difficulties caused by the type of equipment which was supplied by tender to consumers through government agencies. Frequently we received very inferior equipment, particularly stoves, because of the requirement that the lowest tender should be accepted. The Minister and his predecessors know something of this. In the face of all those difficulties the Canberra Electric Supply has maintained an excellent record of service to the people. I hope that the wider authority envisaged by the bill, and the much wider authority envisaged by the amendment, will be able to carry on those traditions to the benefit of the community. I hope that the
Parliament will see fit to direct that the authority shall be so formed that it will have a majority of elected representatives and proper representation of its employees. If that is done I am sure there will be nothing to halt the progress of this authority provided that it retains and seeks the appropriate personnel in all categories to carry on this very important undertaking.
– in reply - I rise to speak only briefly and to satisfy the curiosity of honorable members opposite as to whether we propose to accept their amendment. Let me say at the outset that we do not find the amendment acceptable. I do not want to engage in long debate on this matter. I hasten to say that the form of the proposed electricity supply authority is not necessarily the final form for all time. We are in a transitional stage where it is felt that an authority freed from departmental procedures will function more efficiently and more in keeping with the present requirements of the Australian Capital Territory. Without doubt, ideas in regard to the degree of local self-government will change as the community grows, and more opportunities will be available for different kinds of representation by local consumers or by local ratepayers or whatever finally may be decided. But I hasten to correct one impression which may have arisen from something that the honorable member for Macquarie said. He accused me of attacking the present electricity supply authority. That, of course, was quite incorrect. I made no attack on the authority. In fact, I join with the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory (Mr. J. R. Fraser) in commending the efficiency of the authority. I am delighted that the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory has paid a tribute to the work done by the Canberra Electricity Supply under quite substantial difficulties, not the least of which is the fact that the authority is tied to fully departmental procedures both in relation to staff recruiting and accounting, and also in relation to all the other things which are commonly known as government red tape.
The amendment proposed by honorable members opposite would, if agreed to, represent a drastic experiment in a local authority of this type - so drastic that none of the present State authorities have embarked on it to anything like the degree proposed here. In fact, in all the States the central electricity supply authority is appointed by the State Government. The numbers of members vary and the procedures vary. Some States provide that the government must appoint representatives of certain organizations or interests, but those representatives are actually appointed by the government concerned. The only cases in which the members of an electricity supply authority may be said to be wholly elected by the consumers are those in which a local government authority also runs the local electricity supply. I think that honorable members opposite would be the first to agree that the Australian Capital Territory Advisory Council, which is the closest approach we have here to a local authority, is hardly equipped, in its present state of development, to run the electricity supply for the Australian Capital Territory.
In the States there are varying degrees of centralized or decentralized electricity authorities, and this, I think, caused some confusion in the mind of the honorable member for Macquarie, because he did not seem quite clear whether, in alluding to a decentralized authority, he was alluding to one that was governed by the consumers or one that was governed by the responsible government of the State. In discussing this point I referred to the various types of centralized and decentralized authorities. In some cases the whole or almost the whole of the electricity supply of a State is provided by one authority set up by the State government, whilst in other cases there is a central authority, and various other authorities which are either subsidiary or independent or are something in between, supply electricity to different parts of the State. But in all those cases the authority is either appointed by the government or consists of the local government authority itself, which is elected. I do not think that any one would suggest that in the present stage of the Australian Capital Territory’s development we should approach the proposition with the idea that control should be decentralized and that we should have more than one authority. I think that it would be laughable to suggest that we have developed here to the point where we could sustain separate electricity supply authorities for different parts of the Australian Capital Territory.
The honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory raised several matters connected with the rights of employees of the Canberra Electric Supply. I want to say that it is the firm intention of the Government to see that the employees are not penalized in any way by transferring to employment with an independent authority instead of remaining in the employment of a government department.
The honorable member also mentioned housing. Of course, where it is necessary, employees would be granted the same kind of priority in housing as we find it necessary to accord to the employees of other departments when there is difficulty in obtaining recruits without giving some special priority in housing. That is not to say that they will get any special privileges or be put in any stronger position than the employees of other government departments in relation to housing, a matter in which there is quite strong competition in the Australian Capital Territory. But at any rate they will be no worse off.
Part of the Opposition’s amendment suggests that the employees should have direct representation on the authority. In only one State is this provided, and that is in Western Australia, where there is a commission consisting of nine members, some of whom are representatives of consumers - and are appointed by the government concerned - and one of whom is a representative of the employees of the commission. He is not a representative of one trade union. If he were the principle applied would in one sense be far wider, because a union would embrace people who were not necessarily employed by the authority. In another sense it would be far narrower in that he would not represent members of other unions who might be employed by the authority. But, in any event, even in Western Australia the representative of the employees of the State electricity commission is a person who is selected from a panel of names submitted by the State executive of the Australian Labour Party. Here we take the view that the employees are adequately protected by the conditions of their employment, by the tribunals and awards which are available to them and by all the machinery and procedures of the arbitration system which enable them to have any dispute or demand promptly settled. We do not believe that they can make a really substantial contribution to the major purpose of this authority, which is really an administrative and business organization for the supply of electricity in the Australian Capital Territory. We have always maintained that there is conflict of interest if you put employees on the board of management of any company.
– You do not believe in their participation in management?
– We do, in certain circumstances, but where you have themin control, or partly in control, we believe that there is a conflict of interest. We believe that quite adequate provision is made to protect the interests of the employees, and we hope and expect that they will take an interest in the efficient functioning of the organization. For all those reasons, and without going into the matter in greater length, I must inform honorable members that we cannot accept the amendment.
Thatthe words proposed to be omitted (Mr. Luchetti’s amendment) stand part of the question.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Sir John McLeay.)
Majority . . . . 1
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question resolved in the affimative.
Bill read a second time.
.- The Opposition is keenly disappointed that the Government has not accepted this opportunity to establish a greater measure of local self-government for the National Capital. Here was an excellent opportunity for the Commonwealth of Australia to indicate to the people of this nation thai the ministerial control of the National Capital was disappearing and that in its place there was growing up a strong, healthy measure of local self-government. It is a keen disappointment. It seems to me that the Government feels that the people of the National Capital are less capable of controlling their own affairs than are the people of most other centres in Australia. It has been pointed out on numerous occasions, with respect to electricity reticulation, that in the whole of
New South Wales distribution is in the hands of elected people - the local people. This trend is in evidence in Queensland, to a lesser extent in Victoria and to some extent in South Australia.
The National Parliament of Australia should accept this unique opportunity to provide for a majority of members of this authority to be elected. The Opposition has no fault to find with the establishment of an authority. It is the type of authority that concerns the Opposition. The Minister has said that this is not final for all time. If it is not final for all time, surely some basis should be provided for a reasonable period so that we will have an effective authority for some years to come. I wonder just how far the National Capital is proceeding towards self-government. It seems to me that a Papuan village council would possess more effective power to deal with its own intimate and urgent problems than would the people of the National Capital of Australia. The Government still regards the National Capital as a ministerial preserve where the Minister shall be supreme and will control the affairs of the National Capital.
What must this city do to prove to the Minister and to the Government that it has reached the maturity needed to control its own affairs? The Opposition continues to feel bitter about this matter. We are extremely disappointed that the majority of members of the authority will not be elected by the people. We appreciate the view of the Government that great sums of money are spent from the public purse here, but we also believe that the people have reached such maturity that they should be able to elect the majority of members of this authority. We have not argued, nor do we argue now, that the chairman should not be appointed by the Government.
The Minister has said that what we propose is a drastic experiment. I am surprised to learn that bringing self-government to the National Capital is a drastic experiment. After all, this is the first city of the nation. What size must this city reach before it is considered to have the maturity needed for self-government? Mr. Chairman, you are aware of the effective roles played by the county councils in New South
Wales. You know of the important role of the Shortland County Council in Newcastle. This council controls the reticulation of electricity for the whole of the Newcastle area and the adjoining shires and local government areas. In addition to providing electricity for domestic consumers, commercial users and heavy industries, it also provides electricity for rural development. If this can be done effectively in an area like Newcastle, it seems to me that here in the National Capital there is very little pioneering work to be done and we ought to be able to accept the principle that local self-government ought to be supreme.
A public authority without an elected majority seems to me to be a retrograde step. We ought to be going forward. The Opposition is not content with the snail-like pace of the Government in this matter. The whole of the affairs of the National Capital seem to be controlled by ministerial direction and are subject to ministerial patronage. That is a most unhealthy development, and at times I fear that in the National Capital, as in certain other Territories, there will develop a belief that the all-powerful central government is right and that local self-government has no place, that Father Christmas, the Minister, is always right. There will develop a belief that the Minister will give his bounties, and the people will accept them instead of being self-reliant and prepared to accept their responsibilities in local affairs.
I should like to move in committee, if I may do so, that the clause be amended to provide for an elected majority and that a representative of the Canberra branch of the Electrical Trades Union be included.
Order! If the honorable member wants to move an amendment, he must relate it to a specific clause in the bill.
– That was the proposal moved previously and I thought it would be opportune to test the committee now. As the Chair has so ruled, I do not intend at this stage to press the amendment. I have expressed the view of the Opposition that the Government’s proposal is not satisfactory. It does not safeguard the consumers of the National Capital. It does not protect those people engaged in the growth of local government in this area. It denies to the people of this great city an opportunity to control an important undertaking. For that reason, the Opposition believes that it cannot accept this clause of the bill which falls so far short of the requirements of the Australian Labour Party.
– I speak on the provisions of clause 6 of the bill. I believe that the authority to be established under the terms of the bill will not give any form of self-government to the people of the Australian Capital Territory, although that claim was made for the bill by the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Freeth) in his second-reading speech. It is true that one of the three members of the authority shall be a member of the Australian Capital Territory Advisory Council elected by the members of that council. The council itself is not a fully elected body. It is partly elected and partly nominated. It has eight elected members and four members nominated by the Government to represent certain departments concerned with the administration of the Territory.
I can see no reason why the bill should not make provision for the people of the Australian Capital Territory to elect a majority of members of what will, after all, be a board administering this supply undertaking. Governments in the past have seen fit - this Government has not changed the arrangement - to entrust the management and the control of a huge undertaking like the Canberra Community Hospital to a board which has a majority of elected members, it has five elected members. The Electricity Authority is not a major authority. Although the bill gives it power to generate electricity, it will not be generating electricity, at least not in the foreseeable future, and, I should think, even less in the dim future. At the present time the Canberra Electric Supply undertaking purchases all its electricity either from the inter-connected system in New South Wales or from the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Authority. Its position is in no way different from that of the Sydney County Council or other county councils or supply authorities or reticulation authorities throughout the States of Victoria and Queensland, which simply purchase in bulk and distribute to the community in the areas they serve.
Here we have a community in which the very business of government is carried on, and in which a great proportion of the population is engaged in the very business of government. Those in the higher brackets of the Public Service, in fact, advise the national government on national policies. Yet we say to them, “We cannot entrust you with the task of running an electric supply authority.” It is ridiculous. Why should not the people of the Australian Capital Territory be given the opportunity to elect a majority of members of this authority? Let there be tha three appointed members; let there be a chairman appointed by the GovernorGeneral; let there be a representative of the Department of the Interior; let tha Government, if it wishes, appoint an employees’ representative from a panel of names submitted by the unions or associations concerned; but let the people of tha Territory elect four representatives to that body, so that they would represent an elected majority. Then the people would really have an opportunity of running an organization for themselves.
A lot of flapdoodle is talked about extending self-government to the people of the Territory, but nothing is ever done about it. There has been talk of widening the field of authority of the Australian Capital Territory Advisory Council, but I think it is talk and nothing more. Hers is an opportunity, if ever there was one, to give the people of the Australian Capital Territory some say in deciding the way in which a public authority should ba managed and conducted, but the opportunity is not to be given.
– They are frightened to give it.
– I do not know that they are exactly frightened, but I think they are reluctant to give up any authority, and the fault may be with the department itself. It may be that the department does not want to relinquish the authority that it now has. The Minister for the Interior (Mr. Freeth), of course, is now presiding over a department that is gradually being whittled away from underneath him. He has been losing sections of the department, and now he is to lose another section of it. I can see no reason why the suggestion that has been made should not be given effect to in this measure.
There is something else lacking in this measure, to which reference is made in the encompassing section, from which it appears that the authority will not be given any power in the matter of licensing of electrical contractors. I would like to direct the committee’s attention to the fact that quite recently, within the last twelve or eighteen months, a meeting was held of representatives of the Electrical Trades Union, the Electrical Contractors’ Association and the Apprenticeship Board of the Australian Capital Territory. The meeting made recommendations to the Government concerning the licensing of electrical tradesmen in the Australian Capital Territory. It suggested that there should be a board representative of the Electrical Trades Union, the Electrical Contractors’ Association, the Canberra Electric Supply and the Apprenticeship Board, with a chairman appointed by the Minister. It recommended that the board should have power to license electrical tradesmen in the Australian Capital Territory, to cancel or suspend licences, to examine or set up examining boards, to call any licensee for the purpose of extracting prima facie evidence of a complaint, and to hear appeals of tradesmen who might have had their licences cancelled or suspended.
The licensing of tradesmen in the Australian Capital Territory at the present time is far from satisfactory. There are not adequate provisions to ensure that electrical installations are always made by men who are properly trained and qualified in this field. I admit that there is no specific section in the legislation referring to this matter, but there is a section in the bill which provides that such powers, normally exercised by an authority of this kind, shall be exercised through the laws of the Territory, the ordinances and regulations and so on.
I do not propose to speak at any greater length on this matter. I repeat that there is no reason why the section should not have been widened to give the people of the Australian Capital Territory an opportunity to participate in the management of a local authority of this kind. What a slur it is on the people of the Territory to say to them, “ Oh, yes, you can advise the Government on external affairs, you can advise it on defence, you can advise it on development and on repatriation and on all the other affairs of government, but, so help me, you cannot run an electricity supply undertaking in your own back-yard “.
.- The Opposition feels so keenly about this matter that it is not prepared to vote for the acceptance of clause 6 of the bill, which violates the very principles underlying our presence here in the Parliament. We are the elected representatives of the people, and, naturally, we have a bounden duty, a sacred trust and obligation, to try to extend the electoral rights of the people and the authority of elected persons wherever we get the opportunity to do so. We do not argue to any extent the merits of the measure with respect to quite a number of matters dealt with by it. However, I do agree with the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory (Mr. J. R. Fraser) that the failure of the Minister to make provision for the licensing of tradesmen, and to keep a more diligent watch on safety precautions, is of great importance. If this authority is to be established, it should have powers with respect to all the matters that such an authority is normally expected to deal with.
This seems to me to be a piecemeal measure, demonstrating the Micawber-like attitude of those who have drafted it. It pays no regard to the building of a permanent organization capable of meeting the requirements of the national capital to-day, to-morrow, or for the next five years or ten years. The Minister is merely tinkering with this important matter. Clause 6 in particular fails dismally to meet the requirements. The fact is that in the national capital there are people who have the capacity to discharge their duties effectively as elected representatives of an authority of this kind.
To suggest that the National Capital lacks the kind of people who could control such an authority or assist in the management of it is to show a lack of confidence in the leaders of this community. Consider the people who live here. There are those whose work is connected with the Australian National University and with the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. There are the officers of the Parliament and the various government departments. There are the members of the “ Hansard “ staff, and there are leaders in the business and industrial fields. Surely amongst all these people can be found some with the capacity to run an undertaking such as that which is proposed.
I am reminded that in my own electorate the Hartley County Council opened a new building at the week-end, and that the chairman of that county council is Alderman Heffernan, an engineer at the Small Arms Factory at Lithgow. This gentleman was selected as a member of a Duke of Edinburgh study group, the first group to go overseas. He is a man of outstanding capacity, and he occupies an elected position in the county council. If in the Hartley community, which includes the Blaxland and Rylstone shires and the city of Lithgow, the right kind of people can be found for election to an authority of this kind, surely here in the national capital it would be a violation of our sense of what is right and proper to say that there should not be a majority of elected members on this authority. Because of the failure of the Government to accept the responsibilities of having a majority of elected members it is the intention of the Opposition to vote against clause 6, and we will be obliged to do so by voting against the bill.
Question put -
That the bill be agreed to.
The committee divided. (The Chairman- Mr. P. E. Lucock.)
Majority . . . . Nil
– The result of the division is “ Ayes “, 55; “ Noes “, 55. The numbers being equal, I give my casting vote for the “Ayes”.
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
Debate resumed from 9th May (vide page 2080), on motion by Mr. Hasluck -
That the bill be now read a second time.
.- Mr. Speaker, this is a bill for an act relating to the powers, privileges and immunities of the Legislative Council for the Northern Territory. Any bill which would expand the powers of the Legislative Council for the Northern Territory is welcome. The Legislative Council for the Territory is the least representative and most subordinate legislature in any British community. Its composition is stated by the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) in a paper entitled “ The Position of Official Members of a Territorial Legislative Council “ which he laid on the table of the Library in May, 1959. In that paper the Minister said -
The Legislative Council for the Territory is subordinate to the Commonwealth Parliament, which created it and can abolish it. The Ordinances agreed to by the Councils can be disallowed by the Governor-General on the recommendation of a Minister responsible to the Commonwealth Parliament but not answerable in any degree to the Legislative Council. The Ordinances to which assent has been given have to be laid before the Commonwealth Parliament and presumably could be annulled by the Commonwealth Parliament. The Territory Legislative Councils, at the present stage of their growth, are part-representative but not yet responsible legislatures. The responsibility in regard to the Northern Territory still resides in the Commonwealth Parliament. The government of the Territory is still confided to a Government which is responsible to the Commonwealth Parliament and not to the Legislative Council for the Territory.
The extent, Sir, to which this council is unrepresentative appears from section 4 of the principal act, which says that it shall consist of the administrator, six official members, three non-official members and eight elected members. Sir, in about six months time, during the next sessional period, this Parliament will legislate for the Legislative Council for the Territory of Papua and New Guinea to have a majority of elected members. It is a pity that the Minister for Territories has not taken the opportunity to provide in this bill, which has been before the Parliament for six months, that this subordinate legislature - this unrepresentative legislature - shall be made a more representative one.
The extent to which the legislature is subordinate is shown by sections 4v, 4w, 4x, 4y and 4z of the principal act. From these sections, Sir, it will appear that any bill for an ordinance which the council passes need not be assented to by the Administrator, or, if it is reserved for the Governor-General’s pleasure, by the Governor-General but, if either of them assents to it, it can be disallowed by this Parliament. In all these cases, except in the case of a disallowance by the Governor-General, there is no time limit whatever. No ordinance may become law unless the Administrator assents to it. The Administrator does not have to assent. He can withhold assent or refer the matter to the Governor-General. In some specified cases, he has to refer the matter to the Governor-General. If a matter is referred to the Governor-General because it has to be referred to him, or because the Administrator chooses to refer it to him, the Governor-General, in turn, can give or withhold his assent. Where an ordinance is assented to by the Administrator or the Governor-General, or where assent is withheld by the Administrator or the Governor-General, it has to be tabled in this Parliament. Members here may disallow the ordinance or decide that the ordinance shall have effect. Thus, Sir, the Legislative Council for the Northern Territory is subject to three powers of superintendence. It is supervised by the Administrator, who is a public servant and has to do what the Minister tells him.
– He is not a public servant.
– That is true. He can be a temporary public servant.
– He holds a statutory office.
– In exercising the powers of that statutory office he is subject to direction by the Minister for Territories. The first superintendence over the Legislative Council is exercised by the Administrator. No ordinance of the Territory becomes law until the Administrator has assented to it. There is no time limit within which the Administrator has to assent. I have a question on the noticepaper seeking information about how long the Administrator has taken on occasion to make up his mind or receive instructions whether he will assent. If he withholds assent, no notice to that effect is published in the “Commonwealth of Australia Gazette” or even, as must happen where the Governor-General assents to or disallows an ordinance, in the “ Government Gazette” of the Northern Territory. I think that, in this chamber, only the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson) and the Minister for Territories receive copies of the gazette of the Northern Territory.
– Mr. Speaker, I rise to order. I do not want to interrupt the Deputy Leader of the Opposition unduly, but this bill proposes to amend one section of the principal act. I ask for your ruling on whether the whole of the principal act now comes under discussion.
– Speaking to the point of order, Mr. Speaker, I point out that this is a bill for an act relating to the powers, privileges and immunities of the Legislative Council for the Northern Territory. I have been dealing with those matters. It may be true, as the Minister says, that the bill, in fact, amends only one’ section. I think it amends two. Let us assume that it amends only two sections of the principal act: That does not preclude me from dealing with any matter which comes within the long title. I am not limited to a debate on those matters which are dealt with in the bill. I am limited to a debate on these matters which fall within the scope of the long title. ‘
– What does the long title mean, otherwise?
– Exactly. Nothing I have said so far fails to fall within the description of “ powers, privileges and immunities of the Legislative Council”.
– This is a most difficult matter to decide. I think that there are two points before the Chair. I suggest that the point taken by the Minister is correct. I do not think that we can have a wide, general discussion on this measure. I know how difficult it is to keep in view the two points before the Chair, but I ask the Deputy Leader of the! Opposition to assist by co-operating with us.
– Well, Sir, perhaps we can assist each other. I shall just finish this preparatory subject. To conclude, I say that the Legislative Council is subject to three forms of superintendence. First it is subject to superintendence by the Administrator, who does what the Minister tells him. Secondly, it is subject to the “superintendence of the Governor-General, who alone has to assent to matters which have to be reserved for his assent, but who, in fact, can disallow any other matters to which the Administrator has already assented. The Governor-General, of course, acts on the direction of the Government.
– On the advice, not the direction, of the Government.
– I did not mean to be disrespectful to the holder of that office. “Advice” is the technical term. But a Governor-General would not last for 24 hours if he did not take his government’s advice. He would be leaving on the next Boeing. The third form of superintendence to which the legislature of the Northern Territory is subject is that this Parliament or either House of it can disallow any ordinance, even if the Administrator or the Governor-General has assented to it. So there are three ways in which this Legislative Council is supervised. I therefore conclude this prefatory subject by reasserting that the Legislative Council for the Northern Territory is the least representative and the most subordinate legislature in any British community.
Now, Sir, I come to the limited subjects dealt with, not in the long title, but within the clauses themselves. They, Sir, concern, as you will notice, the powers (other than legislative powers), privileges and immunities of the Legislative Council. You will notice, Sir, that the clauses expressly deal with a more limited range of subjects than the long title. Quite clearly those words in parenthesis, “ other than legislative powers “, were put in the clause because otherwise it would permit the council to deal with a greater variety of subjects than the Government intended it to deal with. But the irony of this bill in its limited sense is that it will empower the Legislative Council to pass laws on a subject on which the Constitution has empowered this Parliament to pass laws for the last 61 years, and in respect of which the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) has promised for at least six years to introduce laws. This is the general subject-matter of what is referred to, in the limited sense, as “privileges and immunities of the legislature “.
The position of the Legislative Council for the Northern Territory at present is that its members do not have immunities which other legislators in British communities have and it has not the powers, in the restricted sense related to privilege, which attach to other legislatures in British communities. It was found that if the Legislative Council established a select committee - it has appointed select committees on many occasions - the select committee had no power to compel witnesses to attend or to produce documents and no power of discipline over persons who declined to attend or to produce documents. The Legislative Council (Privileges and Powers) Ordinance 1960 dealt, first, with the immunities of the members of the Council and, secondly, with powers over persons who were summoned to give evidence or to produce documents to it or its select committees. The ordinance was disallowed because it went beyond what were conceived to be the legislative powers of the Legislative Council. You will notice, Sir, that I use the words “legislative powers “. In the following year, the Legislative Council passed the Legislative Council (Privileges) Ordinance 1961. You will notice, Sir, that the word “powers” was left out of the title of the 1961 ordinance, although that word had been included in the title of the 1960 ordinance. The 1961 ordinance is in the same terms as is the 1960 ordinance, except for certain clauses the nature of which I can best indicate by reading the marginal notes to particular clauses, in the 1960 ordinance. They are as follows: -
Stay of proceedings in court when the matter concerns privilege. Offences.
Members not to receive compensation for opposition to bills, &c Recovery of penalties.
No member to vote on matters in which he has a direct pecuniary interest.
Power of Council to order attendance of witnesses and production of documents.
Attendance to be notified by summons.
Examination of witnesses upon oath.
Exemption from answering questions or producing documents.
Copy of proceedings of the Council admissible as evidence.
Those were the subjects of clauses in the 1960 ordinance which were the basis of the disallowance of that ordinance. If the bill now before us is passed by our Parliament, the Legislative Council for the Northern Territory will be able to pass an ordinance which deals with all those subjects. It is perfectly proper that the Council should be able to pass an ordinance dealing with those subjects and, for that reason, the Opposition does not oppose this bill. Indeed, we will not oppose any bill which will make the Legislative Council for the Northern Territory or for any other Territory more responsible and less subordinate.
May I conclude with a reference to the anomalous and ironical situation in which the Legislative Council for the Northern Territory will be compared with the position in which this Parliament is placed. The Legislative Council has never been able, up till now, to pass a bill concerning its powers under the headings of those marginal notes which I have read. This Parliament has always been able to do so, ever since the United Kingdom Parliament passed the act which gave us our Constitution. But the Legislative Council passed such an ordinance two and one-half years ago and that ordinance was disallowed on the ground that the Council did not have the power to pass it. Almost seven and one-half years ago, this Parliament had a privilege case before it and there have since been several suggestions or promises by the Government that-
– On a point of order, again: Is the honorable gentleman in order in discussing the powers and immunities of this Parliament in the debate on a bill dealing with the powers and immunities of the Legislative Council for the Northern Territory?
– I think that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition is getting a little wide of the bill before the House. He is making a comparison in relation to the question of privileges. I ask him still for his co-operation.
– I felt that this was a very illuminating comparison, Sir. The only point which I wish to make is that if the Legislative Council is to have the power to pass such ordinances - and it, in fact, purported to do so two and one-half years ago - a fortiori, this Parliament ought to exercise the power which it has possessed for more than 61 years and which the Prime Minister has promised for the last seven and one-half years to exercise. I need only refer to a question which I put to the right honorable gentleman and the reply which he gave.
– Was it a question regarding the Legislative Council for the Northern Territory?
– Order! The Deputy Leader of the Opposition is getting a little wide of the bill now.
– The question concerned the powers other than legislative powers, privileges and immunities of this Parliament and, therefore, is cognate to the powers other than legislative powers, privileges and immunities of the Legislative Council for the Northern Territory, which are the subject of the bill now before us. On 18th March, 1959, I asked the Prime Minister this question -
The Prime Minister will probably have learned that in mid-1956, Sir Arthur Fadden, while acting in his stead, told the House that the right honorable gentleman had given consideration to bringing down legislation to declare parliamentary privilege and to revise the procedure for dealing with breaches of privilege, and that Sir Arthur promised to bring the matter to the right honorable gentleman’s notice when he returned. The Prime Minister will also recall that he was asked a year ago, upon notice, whether he had given further consideration to the question and that he replied in April, 1958, “Not yet “. I now ask him whether he has yet given this further consideration to matters which the Constitution leaves to the Parliament and which are once more before this House.
The right honorable gentleman replied -
Quite frankly, I have not, but I think it is a matter to which our attention should be directed quite soon. I am indebted to the honorable member for giving me a reminder on that point.
May I now congratulate the Minister for Territories on having acted after two and a half years on behalf of the Legislative Council for the Northern Territory on a matter in which his leader, after seven and a half years, has not shown similar initiative in this Parliament.
The Opposition does not oppose the bill.
– Mr. Speaker, the Minister for Territories (Mr. Hasluck) seeks by means of this bill to amend in particular a certain section of the Northern Territory (Administration) Act 1910-1961. It is remarkable that of all the things in that act that cry out for amendment the Minister has selected only one - that dealing with the powers, privileges and immunities of the Legislative Council for the Northern Territory. I do not think that the Minister will deny - indeed, I think that everybody will agree - that the members of the Legislative Council have been crying out time and time again for amendments, not only of the section now to be amended, but also of other sections of the principal act. I could recite a dozen or more instances were it not for a ruling just given by you, Sir, which confines me to the limits of this bill - limits to which attention was directed by the Minister himself. It seems that he is being mighty touchy. On an occasion like this, when we have an opportunity to air quite a few of our grievances concerning the Northern Territory (Administration) Act, we are to be prevented from doing so as a result of an objection taken by the Minister.
The Opposition does not oppose the bill but we do argue that it is not right to give privileges to nominated members of the Legislative Council. We are concerned with the expanding privileges of the council and if for a short period nominated as well as elected members come within the scope of the proposal we shall not raise any objection, but a case can be made for objecting to granting such powers to nominated members. One must remember that the Legislative Council is dominated by nominated and not elected members.
In his second-reading speech the Minister, when referring to the origin of the bill, stated -
It is the result of a resolution passed by the Legislative Council last year, requesting me to promote and carry in the Commonwealth Parliament legislation to establish the powers of the Legislative Council to compel the attendance of witnesses, their submission to examination, the production of documents, etc., before the council or committees of the council.
I commend the Minister for the haste with which he has taken note of this resolution of the Legislative Council and I remind the House of the benefits which the bill will confer in giving the council the power to compel the attendance of witnesses, their submission to examination and the production of documents. This has always been a problem because in the past certain Commonwealth departments have refused at times to permit their officers to produce evidence and to submit to examination before committees. We know that such departments as the Department of Health, the Department of Works, Postmaster-General’s Department and Attorney-General’s Department are independent of the Northern Territory Administration and are therefore outside the scope of the Legislative Council. It is true that a member of the AttorneyGeneral’s Department is a member of the Legislative Council but the other departments are not represented in any way. At one time the Department of Health was represented and on another occasion the Department of Works was represented but those departments now have no representation. Apparently they felt that departmental interests would conflict at times with the functions of the Legislative Council so they withdrew from it. If the council receives the privileges and powers which this bill seeks to give it T hope that Commonwealth departmental officers will be compelled to produce documents, to submit to examination and otherwise to assist the Legislative Council.
Another matter I want to raise is this: What will happen when select committees arrive at decisions by virtue of the powers which will be conferred on them by this bill? Often reports of such committees are thrown in the wastepaper basket. If these reports are still to be disregarded the granting of powers and privileges by this bill is nothing but a waste of time. I should like the Minister to tell us how many reports of select committees of the Legislative Council have been acted upon.
As my deputy leader has stated, we do not oppose the bill because we are glad that the powers and scope of the Legislative Council are to be extended even in such a small measure. We hoped to have an opportunity to debate more fully the functions of the Legislative Council and to refer to those matters which impinge upon the council’s privileges and powers but we have been prevented from doing so. I have nothing further to add beyond repeating that the bill will give the council a greater degree of power than it has at present.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
.- I move -
That the following new clause be added to the bill:- “ 4. The principal act is amended by omitting section 4y.”
If this amendment is carried it will remove the most odious and otiose section of the principal act by which the GovernorGeneral may disallow an ordinance to which the Administrator has already assented. This is the irony of the position: The Administrator only assents to a bill for an ordinance of the Legislative Council if the Minister agrees to it. Under section 4y of the principal act the Governor-General, on the advice of the Ministry, can overrule something which the Minister has already approved.
Order! I rule that the amendment moved by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition is out of order as it is not within the title of the bill or related to the subject-matter of the bill.
– Will you hear me on this, Mr. Chairman, or shall I move dissent from your ruling forthwith?
– The Deputy Leader of the Opposition may state his reasons and then if I still rule against him he may move dissent from my ruling.
– I submit that the amendment I have moved falls within the long title of the bill, which is in these terms -
A bill for an act relating to the powers, privileges and immunities of the Legislative Council for the Northern Territory.
The word “ powers “ in the long title clearly covers the subject-matter of section 4y of the principal act which I have proposed should be deleted.
– Does section 4y not relate to the powers of the Governor-General?
– Yes, but if the GovernorGeneral did not have those powers the Legislative Council would have more power.
Power has been taken away from the Legislative Council. Any superintendence over the Legislative Council affects the council’s powers.
I have submitted, Mr. Chairman, that the amendment which I have moved falls within the long title of the bill. It concerns the powers of the Legislative Council because, if my amendment were carried, the powers of the Legislative Council would be augmented. Now, Sir, I imagine that you have in mind the phrase which occurs in clause 2, which inserts a new section 4sa into the principal act which would give the Legislative Council power to make ordinances - declaring the powers (other than legislative powers), privileges and immunities of the Legislative Council.
That is, Sir, you are contending for a meaning in the long title which would make these parenthetic words “ other than legislative powers” pure surplusage. To put it in another way, if the word “ powers “ has the restricted meaning which you are disposed to give it there is no need to cut the meaning of the word down by putting in parenthesis “ other than legislative powers “. If the powers do not include legislative powers then you do not have to say that the word “ powers “ means “ other than legislative powers”.
This is a perfect illustration of a legal principle which is so well established as to be trite. It is expressio unius, exclusio alterius. I would agree that the amendment does not come within the new section 4sa to be inserted by clause 2; but I do contend that it comes within the long title. The word “powers” in the long title includes “ any other legislative powers “ given to this Parliament or any others given to the Legislative Council, and I submit that my amendment is in order because it falls within the scope of the long title. It is for that reason that those parenthetic words are contained in the clause.
– In regard to what the Deputy Leader of the Opposition has said, with the use of many legal phrases, I would say that much confusion is sometimes caused by legal phraseology. I would not agree with him that the words in parenthesis here are not necessary. I would say that in determining whether or not an amendment is within the title of the bill the Chair has to decide the meaning and scope of the words in the title. The key words in the title, to my mind, are “Powers, Privileges and Immunities “. I am of opinion that the words must be taken together and that they have, and can only have, the limited meaning which exactly similar words have in section 49 of the Constitution providing for the privileges of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The legislative powers of the Commonwealth Parliament are expressly stated in section 51 of the Constitution. In this case clause 2 of the bill makes it quite clear that the bill does not relate in any way to legislative powers, which are specifically excluded. The word “powers” cannot be divorced from the whole and considered as haying a separate definition which would allow an amendment outside the limited title of the bill to be moved. I have ruled that the proposed amendment is not admissible.
– Then I move-
That the ruling be dissented from. (Mr. Whitlam having submitted his objection to the ruling in writing) -
Question put. The committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. P. E. Lucock.)
Majority .. .. 1
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Mr. Harold Holt) agreed to-
That the question be now put
Question put -
That new clause proposed to be added (Mr. Whitlam’s amendment) be so added.
The committee divided. (The Chairman - Mr. P. E. Lucock.)
Majority . . . . Nil
Question resolved in the negative.
Bill agreed to.
Bill reported without amendment; report adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
Debate resumed from 4th October (vide page 1155), on motion by Mr. Opperman - That the bill be now read a second time.
.- The first bill I handled in this House on behalf of the Australian Labour Party was for the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission Act 1956, which the present bill amends. I am delighted to see that the bill’s significant amendment is to improve the borrowing limits available to the commission, which I said six years ago would be necessary. The commission operates a highly efficient and profitable socialist enterprise. I propose to give some examples of its efficiency and its profitability.
First, the cost per ton of cargo it carries has fallen from £2 14s. 5d. in 1958 to £20s.11d. in 1962, a fall of 25 per cent. This cost could fall even further with fleet improvements and greater access to funds. These reductions which have already taken place occurred in a period of heavy competition from other forms of transport - improved surface transport between Australian ports by rail, road and air. Secondly, apart from an upward adjustment following the basic wage decision of 1958, there has been no general rise in freight rates charged. In some cases, it has been possible for the Australian National Line, which is the operating instrumentality of the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission, to reduce its charges.
– It is the only one that has.
– Indeed it is. On the roll-on roll-off vessels, there has been an average reduction of at least 20 per cent. in freight rates. Private enterprise was subsidized to the extent of £200,000 a year on the Melbourne to Devonport run. The Australian National Line operates as a commercial proposition on this run without any subsidy and in addition it has reduced freights on this run. The commission’s last report showed that there had also been a reduction in the cost of forwarding goods on pallets or in containers to Darwin and for shipment of copper from Rockhampton to Port Kembla.
Thirdly, the net profit of the commission after tax in the last financial year was almost £1,400,000. This represented a return on capital of over 8 per cent. Not only is it the cheapest line on the Australian coast, it is also the most profitable line. In the five and a half years of its operations, the line has made profits of £12,600,000.
– That is a change - a change from Labour administration.
– It is in keeping with all Commonwealth enterprises since the last war, most of them established by the Labour Government. Public enterprise in which the Commonwealth has participated since the war has been invariably profitable. These profits are not bad for a shipping line which the Government wanted to sell and which no private enterprise wanted to buy. The line, of course, was not established in 1956, but during the war. The act was passed in 1956.
Fourthly, the line has the only modern and efficient fleet on the Australian coast. At the end of last year, the average age of vessels belonging to the line was eight years; the average age of other vessels on the Australian coast was double that. The expansion of the line has been financed entirely from retained profits and reserves without any calls being made upon the Commonwealth Treasury for additional funds. The value of the fleet has increased from £16,800,000 in June, 1957, to £26,900,000 at the end of last June.
The outstanding record of the Australian National Line and its achievements, which I have just touched on, have been all the more remarkable in view of two facts. The first is that its operations are tied to those of its competitors. The public operator, the Australian National Line, has been fettered in all its ancillary operations. Competition by the line is not fostered but curbed. It is the only operator on the Australian coast which is not free to accept bookings of passengers or cargo. It is unable to undertake stevedoring operations and it is the only operator which is unable to pick up and deliver goods at the warehouse or factory itself. All these operations of the Australian National Line are placed in the hands of its competitors.
The second fact is that its access to funds has been much too restricted, as the present amending bill demonstrates. In 1956, the Opposition pointed out that a maximum overdraft of £1,000,000 was inadequate. I said on that occasion -
The legislation provides a limit of £1,000,000 on the temporary overdraft which it may secure.
It is not enough for the commission to carry out any of its obligations in a satisfactory manner.
The Minister has given convincing reasons why the overdraft limit should be raised from £1,000,000 to £5,000,000 and convincing reasons why that would have enabled the line to carry on its operations with greater initiative and greater responsibility since 1956.
The line is at present engaged regularly in voyages between the States. But it is not allowed to engage in all such voyages. A clear case at present in the mind of the Australian public is that of coastal tankers. In the last ten years, the Menzies Government has by-passed the industrial safeguards in the Navigation Act by granting exemptions to all tankers on the Australian coast. The Constitution gives this Parliament the power to make laws with respect to trade between the States, and this Parliament has passed the Navigation Act which requires that the crews of vessels operating in the coasting trade be paid Australian award rates. This is not a matter of racial prejudice but of industrial safeguard. It does not matter of what race the crews are; it is important that they should all operate under Australian award conditions.
The number of exemptions from the Navigation Act has scandalously increased in the last ten years, since oil refineries were established in Australia. The scale of this scandal is revealed in replies to questions on notice which the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Opperman) has given me in the last few weeks. He has told me that no continuing permits had been granted to tankers in 1951 but eleven continuing permits were granted in 1961. He has also told me that single voyage permits rose from 48 to 134 in those ten years. In answer to a question I put to him without notice, the Minister refused to undertake that he would grant no more continuing permits or single voyage permits exempting tankers from Australian award conditions. He also , refused to take steps to ensure that in the I near future all tankers in the Australian coasting trade, wherever built, should operate under conditions laid down in the Navigation Act for the last generation and more.
It is true that the Commonwealth Parliament cannot make private shipping companies build tankers for the Australian coasting trade. I am not suggesting that it is desirable or necessary that the Commonwealth Parliament or the Commonwealth Government should try to make private shipping companies build tankers to engage in the Australian coasting trade. The Government could, with more justification, require the oil companies, all of which import crude oil to Australia and refine it in refineries on the Australian coast, and ship it around the Australian coast in foreign tankers, to operate Australian ships, to build and charter Australian ships, or at least operate their ships under Australian award conditions. In fact, they would all have to do so if this Government had not exempted every tanker on the coast from the operations of the law of the land.
The Government is empowered, under the act which the Parliament passed in 1956, to build tankers, to charter tankers, to operate tankers. Does anybody suggest that the tanker fleet is not a profitable one? Does anybody suggest that the tanker fleet will not be required during the foreseeable future, and that Australia will not require more and more fuel of all varieties? Australia can build every such ship. The law requires every tanker to operate under Australian award conditions, but the Minister has exempted every such tanker until now. There is no need for him to continue such exemptions. There is every opportunity for him under the present act, and there is every industrial and economic justification, to see that the Australian National Line goes into tanker operation and construction.
I wish to pass now from the operations of the Australian National Line on the Australian coast to its operations overseas. It is not generally realized that under sections 15 and 16 of the principal act of 1956, the commission, through the Australian National Line, can operate in international trade. It does so spasmodically, I am suggesting that it should do so regularly.
– And could it do so profitably?
– I would think so, depending, of course, on how profitability is measured. Qantas does. The Australian National Line has operated completely profitably in its coastal operations, despite its handicaps.
– You exempt the overseas people who operate tankers on the Australian coast. There is no protection, when it comes to these costs, as regards the Australian National Line. That line has in fact competed thoroughly satisfactorily on every route on which other lines are prepared to operate. It has provided a service on some routes on which nobody else is prepared to operate, particularly around the northern coast of this continent. It has pioneered routes and methods of conveyance, to Tasmania, for instance, which no other company had the initiative to consider or to introduce. Why should we fear that the Australian National Line would not operate effectively overseas? It has been a thoroughly successful organization in all traditional operations, and in all those operations which it has been allowed to pioneer.
Now, Sir, I propose to pass to some of the arguments for an Australian overseas line. I do not have to call in aid politicians on this subject. I do not have to quote persons in this Parliament, on either side, or their supporters. I can go to disinterested or even academic persons who are interested in Australia’s economy, and particularly in its trade. It will be remem bered by honorable members that Sir John Crawford, a former head of the Department of Trade, said recently at Sydney University -
We may need to recast our shipping policies.
He was speaking in the context of overseas trade, and he spoke particularly of the effect of the European Common Market upon our traditional avenues of trade and means of conveyance for that trade. The former First Assistant Secretary of the Department of Trade, Mr. Eric McClintock, who resigned at about the same time as Sir John Crawford resigned his post, said in the June issue of the “Australian Quarterly” -
It cost too much to deliver our products to Asian markets. Australian manufacturers face a herculean task if they are to be expected to manufacture at a price which will carry freights which are often 60 per cent, higher than the freights paid by their Japanese competitors.
Those are two statements by persons who, by their positions in academic and commercial and Public Service circles, command respect for their opinions.
The cost of our overseas freights is becoming more and more important in a period such as that which we have passed through in the last ten years, when our balance-of-payments position has been deteriorating. We have paid our way, of course, in the last decade only because of the inflow of capital or, more particularly, because overseas investors have not repatriated their dividends. We have been using capital moneys to pay our current expenses. Over the last ten years our current account in our balance of payments has been £1,600,000,000 to Australia’s disadvantage. The freight costs have represented a very large proportion of this. In 1960-61 our transport costs, solely on imports, were £157,000,000. Last year they were £154,000,000. Some of this, of course, is recouped by overseas ships purchasing goods in Australian ports.
– How much?
– Of course any ships which trade to Australia purchase some goods in Australian ports, whether they are Australian-owned or foreign-owned ships. So the local purchases would not affect the position if that overseas shipping were to be replaced by Australian-owned shipping.
But the cost to our balance of payments represented by the transport costs on our imports is only half the story. Australia also had to forgo similar amounts before earning export income. We get less for our exports because we have to pay foreign shipping to carry those exports. Australia’s position is unique in the world. We have the largest navigable coastline of any country. We are one of the very few countries whose trade must go wholly by sea. Britain, Japan and New Zealand are in that position, but how many other countries depend entirely on sea transport for all their trade? Again, Australia can build, or could have built, every ship which operates in overseas trade to and from Australia. Whatever the size and whatever the type of ship, it could have been built in Australia. The facilities of Australian shipyards would permit the building of 40,000-ton ships without any extension of those facilities, and without any new skills being required.
– At what capital cost?
– The honorable member is singularly helpful. He has been feeding these matters to me which otherwise I thought may have been out of order. The argument that is very often used against an Australian overseas line is that which has been put by the honorable member’s leader, the Minister for Trade, and Leader of the Country Party (Mr. McEwen), who relies on extreme propositions. He computes the number of ships trading to and from Australia at present, and the tonnage that they represent, and he then puts two propositions. He says, “ What would it cost to build all these ships now, and, secondly, what would it cost for Australians to operate all these ships now? “ No trading country has all its own trade in its own hands. It is true that the converse applies to Australia because Australia is the only country in the world which has all its trade in foreigners’ hands. There is no country in the world which has all its trade in its own hands. The ideal position is a balance where every country carries half its imports and half its exports.
Again, no line is completely built at one time. This is a gradual process, but a steady process which we advocate. We say that Australian shipyards, which are not fully engaged at the moment, many of which, in fact, have no orders at the moment, and most of the remainder of which have only their current orders, could, with their present men, machines and installations, build a very great number of ships which would be suitable for our overseas trade.
– We have subsidized civil aviation by £150,000,000 in the last ten years and there is no complaint about that.
– Internally, there is no doubt that that is so; but externally we have never had to subsidize civil aviation.
– You can speak later.
– I thank the honorable member for McPherson for having given me the opportunity to deal with the objection that to build an Australian overseas fleet would cost a lot of money. It is an argument which his leader always brings in at the drop of a hat.
Let me quote from some of the reports which are made to us by the primary industry bodies. Incidentally, every export marketing authority established since the war in Australia was established by a Labour government. I hope that that will not be held to their discredit by honorable members of the Country Party; but let me recall to them some of the reports that those bodies have made to this Parliament within the last few months concerning our freight costs overseas. The report of the Australian Meat Board for the last financial year stated that to ship canned meat to the United Kingdom from Australia cost 224s. 8d. per ton, but that from New Zealand the charge was 162s. 6d. The distance to the market is the same, but the Australian product is charged 50 per cent, more!
– At the same rate of exchange?
– I gave those figures, as I will give all others, as comparable figures. If the honorable member for Gippsland read the export marketing reports he would find out these things for himself.
– I read them.
– I accept that the honorable member reads them; apparently he has forgotten what they contain. The reason for the difference in the freight rate is that New Zealand has some ships of its own flag trading between New Zealand and the United Kingdom. New Zealand award conditions are as high as Australia’s, but the freight from New Zealand to the United Kingdom is only 66 per cent, of that charged on Australia’s products taken to the same market over the same distance under comparable award conditions. Let me quote from the annual report of the Australian Dried Fruits Control Board for the last financial year. The Board said that as the Australian people were so dependent on export income for their living standards, the time had come when Australia as a whole must accept the responsibility for industry freights. The chairman of the board, at the export convention held at Canberra in May, 1960, said it is essential to subsidize freights. Honorable members will recall how the Dried Fruits Control Board quoted the increase on freights for its products carried to the United Kingdom in the same season when freights from California to the United Kingdom had dropped. The reason is, of course, that America operates its own merchant marine, which is the largest in the world.
– At a terrific loss.
– It is subsidized heavily too.
– On the contrary; a great number of American seamen and ships operate under the flags of Panama, Liberia, Honduras and Costa Rica. Those seamen are paid American award rates and the shipping companies are not subsidized by any of those flag countries nor by America. The ships operate quite profitably around the world. They operate under the flags of those other countries because, by so doing, they do not have to pay as much taxation as they would if registered in America. But America pays award rates to its seamen and officers which are four times as high as those paid on Australian ships. It is astounding to hear these arguments about award rates. The Minister for Trade makes comparisons between the United Kingdom and Australia or Japan and Australia. When it comes to award conditions, admittedly it costs much less in wages to operate a Japanese or British ship than it would cost to operate an Australian ship. We need not go into all the reasons why this is so, but we have frequently complained in this country, and in this Parliament, that Britain, by its cheap food policy, at our expense, and Japan, by its cheap wages policy, at our expense, have operated unfairly against us. Surely they are not the examples we should take when we want to compute the practicability, profitability or utility of an Australian overseas shipping line. If one compares Australian award rates with those of France or any of the Common Market countries, or with the Scandinavian countries, one finds that there is not much difference in the rates for seamen. In fact, some Australians are paid less than their opposite numbers in the ships of Common Market or Scandinavian countries.
Let me return to the report of the Australian Canned Fruits Board for the last financial year. The report further stated -
For general cargo between Australia and the United Kingdom and Continent . . . a 5 per cent, increase is to operate shortly. This has been made more unpalatable with the recent announcement that Californian canners will have the benefit of a 20 per cent, reduction in freight rates on principal varieties of canned fruits shipped to the United Kingdom after the 23rd July this year.
How is it that the freight goes up 5 per cent, here and goes down 20 per cent, between our chief competitor and our principal market? I have referred to three of the export marketing board reports which are made to this Parliament. These have all been made within the. last few months, but honorable members will find that for years past, and in the case of every export marketing board, the theme has been the same, namely, that the rise in freights between Australia and London has been greater than between any other supplier and London. All roads lead to London, so far as Australian trade is concerned, but the toll rise is more rapid and greater on the road from Australia to London than on the road from anywhere else to London.
I turn now to industrial exports and speak, first, of steel. Australia produces the cheapest steel in the world. Australia is situated in the midst of a great arc of countries which all import steel and which all have to pay more for steel in the countries whence they import it than they have to pay for Australian steel in Australia. The difference lies in the freight they have to pay between Australia and their ports compared with the freight they have to pay between other suppliers, three times as far away, and their ports. Honorable members will recall that last year, when speaking, I think, to the Estimates, I quoted figures given by Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, showing that the freight on steel between Europe and Singapore was 130s. Australian per ton, and between Australia and Singapore, from 140s. to 145s. per ton - a greater amount for a third of the distance. Again, the freight on steel between the United Kingdom and Europe and the west coast of America was £A.6 6s. per ton, but between Australia and the west coast of America, a shorter distance, it was £A.7 lis. 6d. per ton.
On many occasions, I have heard the Minister for Trade abuse the British Government for its trading practices. But I have yet to hear him offer a word of criticism of the British shipping companies which have failed the Australian exporters, primary, industrial and mineral. It is not just the British Government which is to blame; it is the British companies, still more. The great trouble with our overseas shipping services up till now, as we are realizing in the aftermath of Britain’s application to join the European Common Market in July of last year and its approaches to the Common Market a year before that, is that our existing shipping arrangements tie us to the declining markets of Europe. Shipping services should bs complementary to export promotion. They should assist, not hinder, our export drive. At present, shipping places us at an initial competitive disadvantage.
It may have been justifiable for us to have been dependent on British shipping, credit and insurance as long as Britain took over 50 per cent, of our exports, as she did before the war when all roads led to London. It is sheer stupidity for us to rely on British shippers when we export less than 20 per cent, of our exports to Great Britain. There are no other countries in the world which depend entirely oil foreign shippers for their overseas trade, as I have pointed out, and there are very few countries in the world, as I have also pointed out, which depend entirely on shipping for their foreign trade. I know that there are arguments against an overseas shipping line conducted by Australia. I have anticipated some of them. I do not know whether people are timid in their economics or deficient in their patriotism in this regard. Listening to his answers, one would think that the Minister for Trade would rather have Australian ships fail in overseas trade than have his pet theories upset and have the practice of a long ministerial life exposed. On one occasion he said -
I cannot think of any more devastating situation for Australian export industries . . . than to have it demonstrated that our own line was costing more … to carry goods than an overseas line was proposing to charge.
What an assumption to make! Tasmanians will not believe such an assumption when it comes to shipping in the hands of the Australian Government. The people in the northern part of this continent are not going to make such an assumption. Australians who travel by air by Qantas, as they mostly do, know that such an assumption is not valid. But the Minister for Trade is clearly determined that a governmentowned shipping line should not succeed. He is still more determined not to run the risk of its succeeding. The Government so realizes the weakness of its position that it is prepared to use public servants in order to provide Government members with a case to bolster their support of the present shipping arrangements. In all fairness, I must say that the Minister to-day gave the honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison) and, a couple of hours ago, also gave me, this publication which I have here. I have not been able to look through it fully.
– Neither have Government supporters. They did not get it any earlier. I promised you that, and I carried out my promise.
– I thank the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Opperman) for that information. I do not think that he previously said that Government supporters had not received this any earlier. If he did make that clear I apologize for misrepresenting him. Questions based on newspaper reports were asked of the Minister as to whether he would make this publication available to us. He said that he would, and he has. It appears to be a very much more factual and reasonable document than one would expect from the argument put by the Minister for Trade on this subject. There is information here which will be useful to us all.
I want to make it clear, as I said in answer to the interjections of the honorable member for Mcpherson (Mr. Barnes), that the Australian Labour Party does not envisage a large and spectacular expansion of overseas shipping operations, but a steady increase as opportunities present themselves and as needs arise. Even a small overseas line and the threat of expansion would have a most beneficial effect. The Australian Labour Party says that Australia should participate in international shipping, including the chartering of ships. The Labour Party says that Australia should now do what in the last generation every other trading country in the world learned that it must do. Everybody is in step on this matter except Australia. The expansion of overseas shipping would assist our shipyards. Here again, the Labour Party does not envisage an unlimited or excessive shipyard programme, but a sufficient programme to maintain our shipyards at their most efficient level of production. They are well below that level at present, and successive Tariff Board reports have demonstrated that to the Parliament.
I regret that many of the recommendations of the Tariff Board have not been carried out. Honorable members will recollect that a couple of years ago the Tariff Board recommended that the Government should confer with New Zealand, which does not build ships, concerning the building of ships, and the repair and servicing of ships under the New Zealand flag, in Australian shipyards. It further suggested, at a time when both the “ Wanganella “ and the “ Monowa “ were still operating, that the Government should consider operating a trans-Tasman shipping line in association with New Zealand. The Government abandoned that project. So the only Tasman shipping now is either New Zealand or foreign. There is clearly a case for our establishing and operating an Anzac shipping line across the Tasman.
The Australian National Line is prepared to engage in overseas trade, and does so from time to time. Many ships are idle at present. With excess capacity, the line sometimes finds it more profitable to engage in overseas trade than to lay up ships. Its annual reports since 1957 show that certain overseas operations have proved profitable. In 1957, the line reported -
Subsequent reports have shown that despite low tramp freights the line has been able to participate in overseas trade from time to time - sugar from Queensland to New Zealand, sleepers from the eastern States to India, pig iron from Australia to Japan - post-war, I hasten to assure honorable members - and minerals from New Caledonia to Australia. In present circumstances, the line does not find it unprofitable to participate in some overseas operations. It made 25 overseas voyages last financial year, but they are spasmodic, not regular.
The Government provides all sorts of export aids such as trade commissioners, advertising, promotion, and tax incentives, yet it refuses to face up to the greatest handicap to our export trade - the lack of an overseas shipping line in Australian hands. Overseas shippers have seized on the tax incentive to exporters to raise their shipping freights and so deprive exporters of the benefit which the tax incentive was designed to give. The problem of exploitation by overseas shipping companies is a nettle which has to be grasped. It will not be grasped by faint-hearted and defeatist Government supporters. The existing act already recognizes the need for the Australian National Line to assist in noneconomic developmental runs in the Australian coastal trade. It must recognize a similar need in international trade. The “ Petroleum Gazette “, in its issue for September, 1962, stated -
Australia is one of the few maritime countries in which shipowners do not enjoy some form of subsidy or taxation concession to help to bridge the gap between original purchase price and eventual replacement cost of ships. Representations for such concessions have recently been made to the Government by Australian shipowners.
We do not know the result yet. Other countries subsidize their overseas shipping companies. The United States of America is the chief example. Many countries subsidize by means of generous depreciation and taxation concessions. The Australian National Line has not participated greatly in international trade, however, because it is engaged in commercial operations and must pay dividends and taxes. The taxes have amounted to £11,000,000 in the last 5i years. Many of our primary products are subsidized in one form or another - some directly and some indirectly. It is likely that with Britain’s entry into the European Common Market some will have to be subsidized even more. A subsidy on overseas shipping to reduce freights and to service new markets would be a better economic proposition for Australia and our export industries than direct subsidies to individual industries which were affected.
Are Australian wages really so high that we cannot participate in overseas trade? I have already pointed out that American seamen’s wages are four times as high as ours and that wages in western Europe are much the same as ours yet these countries operate overseas ships. Despite our allegedly high wages there has been very little increase - indeed, there has been some decrease - in freight rates on the Australian coast in the last six years. Further, wages represent only one-quarter of the costs. The Government estimates that payment of the 39 seamen on the “ P. J. Adams “ at Australian rates would involve a subsidy of only £40,000 a year. Such a subsidy for the bridging of the gap between the “highcost “ Australian labour and the “ low-cost “ foreign labour which is being employed does not seem particularly large.
Australia’s stevedoring costs also are no higher than are those of other countries. On this point, I quote Mr. Syme, the chairman of directors of the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited, who has said -
Although we are not aware of actual stevedoring costs in the United Kingdom and Europe we doubt whether they are less than those applying at the Newcastle Steelworks wharf or at the Port Kembla Inner Harbour products berth. Also we are of the opinion that our loading rates at these points would compare favorably with those in U.K./Europe.
This Government believed that the Australian National Line, operating on the Australian coast, would not pay, and en deavoured to sell it. The Government’s judgment of the efficiency and profitability of the line was badly astray. Its judgment about venturing into international trade may be quite as bad. The only other international transport field in which the Commonwealth can operate is aviation. In particularly difficult years, Qantas Empire Airways Limited has proved to be outstandingly successful in world competition without a subsidy. It has had no loss in any year. The costs of the Australian National Line are falling rapidly - 25 per cent, in four years. With improved port facilities in Australia and with some rationalization of the wharf facilities provided by three dozen different harbour authorities in this country, stevedoring costs would fall by a similar proportion.
It is quite clear, Sir, that the arguments for an Australian overseas shipping line and greater use of chartered ships have been unanswerable for years. The pleas and the comments by all our export industries and all our export marketing boards have made this plain to all honorable members and to all interested members of the public for years past. The trading position in which we are likely to find ourselves in the next few years of the present decade as a result of Britain’s probable membership of the European Common Market will make it all the more necessary that we have our own ships to service our own exports.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Mr. Deputy Speaker, I am glad that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) has supported this bill and has paid tribute to the efficiency of the Australian National Line, particularly the efficiency that it has demonstrated since 1956. The line has done an extraordinarily good job. The feature that is of most interest is that the line, since it was put on a competitive basis and compelled to endure proper competition and to pay taxes and contribute profits to the Treasury, has succeeded. How often when a national shipping line was operated by labour governments were losses made? Hardly ever has a national shipping line operated by a Labour government been able to make a profit. Only because the present line has been made to compete, to pay taxes and to earn profits has it been successful. The events of the last three or four years have demonstrated the considerable success of the Australian National Line.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition also said that he was pleased that in 1956 he foreshadowed an increase in the demand for working capital for the line. He may seem just at the moment to have been right. But it is interesting to note that the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Opperman), in his second-reading speech, made it quite clear that the increase in overdraft limit proposed is to provide the normal facility of access to funds to meet temporary peak demands only. So it looks as if there will be only a temporary increase in the overdraft limit. In a few years’ time, the limit will probably be back again to the present level and the forecast made in 1956 by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition will be proved to have been wrong.
The honorable gentleman also said that Qantas Empire Airways Limited has been very efficient, and he mentioned the way in which this Government has shown that it can conduct an airline more efficiently than an Australian Labour Party government could do. I wonder how profitable Qantas would be to-day if it were forced to use aircraft built in Australia. What would its costs be and what subsidies would be required? We know that if we ask the Australian National Line to use ships built in Australia we have to subsidize the construction of the vessels by 33i per cent.
Since the Deputy Leader of the Opposition has raised wider issues, let us have a look at some of them. Before I turn to them, however, I want to say that I commend the bill because it demonstrates again the way in which the Australian National Line, put on a competitive basis, is operating profitably. At this point, let me take the Deputy Leader of the Opposition up on a matter that he raised. Early in his speech, he said that he was pleased that the line was making profits, but towards the end of his speech he suggested that the Government should be paying a subsidy to enable the line to undertake unprofitable ventures. Which does he want - profits or subsidies? 1 believe that this line, rightly, is required to make profits. When it is required to make profits, it is successful. If we start paying subsidies and try to make the line uncompetitive, so that it will have no interest in costs, we shall get back to the same sort of situation that we had when the Australian Labour Party was in office and tried to run the line with increasing losses.
Why does the Opposition want the Australian National Line to operate on overseas routes? Let us consider this matter as if each of us was a shareholder in the line. Let us consider it from the standpoint of the Australian taxpayer, because we, the people who pay the taxes, surely must have regard for the costs that would be incurred in overseas operations. Let us consider the matter from the standpoint of, say, the chairman of the board of directors of the line. Quite rightly, as the Deputy Leader of the Opposition has said, the Australian National Line has operated overseas, and has done so profitably. What is more, it is not fettered in any way in undertaking any venture so long as at the end of the year it earns a profit. It is not fettered in entering into the tanker business, as the Deputy Leader of the Opposition indicated that it should do. If it believes that it can earn profits in tankers, it may enter that field. The Government does not stop it from doing so. The Government hopes that the line will find avenues for profit anywhere in the world. The line has looked overseas successfully at certain times. I call to mind the time immediately after the Suez crisis when charter rates were high. The line earned profits by carrying railway sleepers from Eden to India because at that time it had a ship of the right size available to enter the port of Eden.
Now let us look at some of the ways in which the Australian National Line has tried to compete but has failed to obtain an order. One would think that the line would be particularly successful in handling bulk cargoes or anything for which a general purpose cargo non-refrigerated ship could be used, but let us look at two recent instances. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition mentioned the carriage of bulk sugar from Australia to New Zealand and from Queensland to Europe. Recently we tried to get an order for the carriage of 10,000 tons of bulk sugar to Europe. Overseas competitors quoted a freight rate of £5 Australian a ton so the freight would amount to £50,000. On the basis of Australian rates the cost of taking the sugar to Europe would be £57,330, a loss of £7,330 on that one voyage. If no return cargo were available there would be a further loss of £30,000 for the return trip, in all a loss on that one voyage of £37,000. Another case mentioned related to the carriage of 50,000 live sheep from Victoria to Kuwait. The cost of transporting this cargo on an Australian ship would have been £337,500 whereas the cost on an overseas ship was £127,500.
With such differences in costs can we really expect the Australian taxpayer to bear the burden of a subsidy? I believe that the important thing is to ask the line to compete where it can do so profitably. That raises this question: Should we do a job ourselves when we can get some one else to do it much more cheaply? Would it not be better to use the proposed subsidy in other industries where the return would be greater? In my speech during the Budget debate in August this year I pointed out that for an investment of £35,000,000 in coal ports in New South Wales and Queensland we could increase our coal exports by £10,000,000 a year. A similar investment in Australian-built ships for an overseas line would produce a balance-of-payments savings of £2,000,000. Surely it is better for the Government to invest in the most economical way rather than in the most uneconomical way which has been proposed by the Opposition.
Even if we granted subsidies to the amount that I have mentioned we still would succeed only in reducing our freights to existing overseas rates. The proposed subsidies would have to be even greater if we were to reduce our freights below overseas rates, which apparently is the Opposition’s objective. What is the reason for entering into the overseas shipping business unprofitably? Is it to reduce freights? Is it to save foreign exchange? Is it to employ more Australian seamen? Is it to help our defence needs? Or is it merely for reasons of prestige and patriotism? If, as was foreshadowed by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, it is a matter of prestige or patriotism, I ask each member of the Opposition to state how much the Australian taxpayer should be asked to pay to engage in a patriotic venture. There is no prestige for Australia in doing a job badly and un- economically, as is likely to be the case. The only real prestige lies in doing a job properly and profitably. There is no point in doing a job for any other reason.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition mentioned certain overseas costs so let me refer to them. Are our overseas freights exorbitant? The Deputy Leader of the Opposition referred to Australian canned fruits and canned meats. He compared the cost of transporting meat to London from Australia and from New Zealand. I have taken out some figures relating to costs between Melbourne and London, Wellington and London, Buenos Aires and London and Cape Town and London. 1 have based the figures on the cost in sterling for each 100 miles of the voyage. Let me deal with apples first. It costs 1.316 pence sterling to transport one case of apples for each 100 miles of the voyage from Melbourne to London. From Wellington to London the cost is 1.140 pence, from Buenos Aires to London the cost is 1.940 pence and from Cape Town to London the cost is 1.710 pence. The average of those costs is 1.542 pence a case, so the Australian charge is well below the average.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition referred to the carriage of meat. It costs 0216 pence per lb. to transport frozen meat from Australia to London whereas the cost from New Zealand is almost identical at .0212 pence. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition claimed that because New Zealand has an overseas shipping line her international freight rates are lower than ours, but the cost of transporting frozen meat is almost identical.
– Are these your own figures which you have worked out or did you obtain them from some source which can be checked?
– These figures are available to every honorable member in the Australian “ Year-Book “ and from the Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics. The cost of transporting frozen meat from the Argentine to London is 0336 pence per lb. compared with the Australian cost of .0216 pence and the South African cost of .0276 pence. In this case also the average cost is much higher than the Australian rate.
Turning to wool, it costs .0292 pence a lb. to transport wool from Australia to London whereas the cost is .0293 pence from New Zealand and .0230 pence from the Argentine. Again in this instance the Australian and New Zealand costs are almost identical, so again the claim of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition that because New Zealand has an overseas line her freight rates are lower than ours is not supported. If he considers our bulk cargoes such as wool, meat and apples - our big exports - he will see how his claims have been disproved.
He mentioned also the cost of steel and in doing so read from a speech that he made last year, but he did not bother to check his statements because he said that the cost of transporting steel from Great Britain to Singapore was 145s. Australian. He was wrong. The cost is 145s. sterling. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition would be wise always to check his facts. A fortnight ago, when participating in the debate on housing, he cited certain figures in such a way that, if they were not intended to deceive, they certainly got very close to deceiving. I wish the honorable gentleman would have a look at the comparative costs of carrying steel to the Far East from Australia and from Great Britain. The freight on 1 ton of steel sent from Australia to Hong Kong is 110s. Australian; the freight from Great Britain to Hong Kong is 181s. Australian. What is more, I point out that already 35,000 tons of steel have been taken from Australia to Hong Kong at these costs. So let the honorable gentleman be quite certain that he is giving today’s costs when he is dealing with this matter and not quoting from figures that he got, partly erroneously, six months ago.
The next point is whether there is a shortage of shipping to carry our goods overseas. No such shortage has yet been demonstrated.
– Do you think that the present freights are too high?
– I am saying that our freights are comparable to the freights charged shippers in other countries. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition said that our freights were higher than anybody else’s. In fact, they are below the average charged to other countries shipping goods to Great Britain. He tried to make out that our costs were higher because we did not have an overseas shipping line of our own, but, I repeat, our costs are lower than average. Honorable gentlemen opposite should be quite certain that they have understood the argument of their own Deputy Leader before they try to disprove my argument.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition did not try to suggest that Australia should make an attempt to carry all its cargoes overseas. I know that the figures in relation to this point have been given before, but I think they should be repeated. The requirement, if we tried to carry all our own cargoes overseas, would be 500 ships costing at least a total of £1,000,000,000.
– I repeat, if we wished to carry all our overseas cargoes ourselves we would need 500 ships to do it.
– He did not suggest that at all.
– I did not say that he suggested it, but I think that honorable members opposite should realize where their arguments lead. Honorable members opposite have suggested in the past that Australia should carry all its own cargo. However, if we could not do the whole job let us assume that we did part of it and got the necessary ships. Let us have some figures on this, because if the Australian taxpayers are going to be asked to carry the burden they are entitled to know what cost will be involved. Let us assume that we carried 5 per cent, of our overseas trade in our own ships and served particularly our trade with Japan, South-East Asia and the United States of America. The requirement would be 28 ships of varying tonnages, between, say, 3,000 and 10,000 tons. A number of those ships would have to be refrigerated, because we have to take refrigerated cargo in order to be able to compete in those markets. The cost of building those ships would be £95,000,000 and would involve a subsidy of £31,500,000 paid by the taxpayers. At the present rate of building in our own shipyards it would take twenty years to build those ships. Now let us compare the cost of operating a ship, say of 10,000 tons, with costs overseas. Here again let me point out that an Australian 10,000-tonner needs a crew of 37 and costs £718 a day to run. This makes an annual cost of £262,000. A United Kingdom ship of the same size needs a crew of only 26 and costs £508 a day to run, or an annual cost of £185,000. A Greek ship costs only £490 a day to run compared with £508 for a United Kingdom ship and £718 for the Australian ship - and other nations can operate ships even more cheaply.
So, even comparing the Australian ship with a United Kingdom ship manned by a European crew, our charges are 41 per cent, higher. To operate those 28 vessels, which would have involved an investment of £95,000,000, would cost £11,700,000 a year. The cost of operating 28 comparable United Kingdom ships is only £8,313,000, so that we would have to provide a subsidy of £3,500,000 a year. Are we to ask the Australian taxpayer to do this? How can we ask him to meet an annual subsidy of £3,500.000?
If we had those ships we would save in foreign exchange £6,400,000, but we would have no saving in freights, because I am assuming that we would have the same freights to meet as those against which we are competing at present. In order to lower freights the subsidy would have to be increased. In a nutshell, a saving of £6,400,000 would be made in foreign exchange, but the taxpayer would have to meet a cost of £3,500,000 a year on an investment, made with his money, of nearly £100,000,000. Surely such a drain on our national resources would offset all the other benefits foreshadowed by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. Can we really, just for some sort of national prestige, expect the Australian taxpayer to meet these high costs?
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition alluded to the way in which the national lines of other countries operate. He mentioned particularly national ships in America. Let honorable members consider for a moment how many American national line ships are laid up at present. It is no use building ships for prestige reasons if they are going to sit alongside the wharfs unable to operate. I suggest that it is time that the Opposition adopted a more constructive approach to the whole matter of shipping.
In the very near future there will be a tremendous revolution in the types of ships used and in the methods of operating ships. The day of the completely automatic ship is not far distant. In some cases it is only 20 or 30 years away. There are certainly many forms of automation now coming into use in ships which will reduce crew numbers. The high cost of Australian shipping comes mostly from the high scale of manning. As I have said, an Australian 10,000- tonner needs a crew of 37 compared with a crew of 26 required for a similar British vessel. If the aim of the Opposition is saving of exchange and a reduction of freight costs, then I put it to honorable members opposite that they should cooperate with the Government in reducing shipping costs by encouraging the use of automation in ships and encouraging a reduction in crew numbers when automatic devices are part of the equipment of a new ship. That has already been done to an extent in the case of the “ Princess of Tasmania “ and I am glad that there has been an improvement; but there can be a great deal more improvement and even the “ Princess of Tasmania “ could do the job with fewer men than is the case at present. I put it to the House that if Australia is to compete with overseas countries in this industry she will have to do so by means of ships fitted with automatic devices and requiring smaller crews. There is one other way in which the Opposition should look at this problem. There is an interesting paragraph in “ The Times “, of London, of 30th July last. It states-
It is in the liner trade, though, that the greatest gains can be made. An item of general cargo passes through a succession of physical and financial frontiers on its way to its destination; the lorry, owned by a private haulier, the dock, operated by an independent trust and manned by private stevedores, the ship, owned by any one of half a dozen shipowners, and so on. The separate physical and financial structure of each section of what should be a unified process makes correlation almost impossible except in the most haphazard fashion. It must be a prime task of the new partnership to look at throughtransportation as a coordinated process. From this, the new initiatives in each section must spring.
I suggest that the greatest reduction in freights and the greatest saving in exchange, together with the greatest increase in efficiency in this industry can be obtained through materials handling, looking at the goods as taken horn door to door and not just their carriage in the ship itself. To an extent this has been done in the “ Princess of Tasmania “ and in certain new ships in the Australian trade which are developing this door-to-door service. But a great deal more must be done, and it needs the co-operation of all bodies concerned. As I said in my speech on the estimates of the Department of National Development, it must be done by looking at the whole movement of goods - in the case of wool, from the time it leaves the shearing shed until it gets into the mills of various countries; or in the case of meat, from the time it leaves the abattoir until it gets into the supermarkets. Shipping must be regarded as only one part of the process. I believe honorable members opposite must look at the question of examining automatic devices in ships and, if they are installed, must be agreeable to a reduction in the size of crews provided the safety factors are fully considered. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition spoke about increasing efficiency, but there are many ways in which this can be done. I think my suggestion is a much more constructive way of looking at the question than just to hammer away at the uneconomic National Line operating overseas. If the Opposition could approach this matter along the lines I have suggested I think we could start a new era in the shipping industry. If we go on as the Opposition suggests we will simply be prolonging the end of the old era.
– I congratulate the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) on a very fine speech. He spoke as one who knows quite a bit about his subject. I listened to the remarks of the honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Howson) and I cannot agree with much of what he said, because a lot of his figures do not ring true. Talking about the number of crew for a 5,000-ton or 10,000-ton cargo ship he said that in an Australian ship a crew of 43 would be required whilst 26 would be required in a British ship. That is not right, because 50 Australian seamen would be required and 40 British. I do not know where the honorable member got his figures, but I think he may have got them from Captain Williams, because, when speaking during the Budget debate he quoted figures given to him by Captain Williams.
– No, I did not.
– I thought you spoke about figures given to you by Captain Williams.
– They were figures read by Captain Williams to an economic society meeting and they are available to honorable1 members in the Library.
– That is the source of the honorable member’s figures in respect of wages and the costs of running an overseas line. The honorable member asked why we want an overseas line. We want it because we want to stand on our own feet as other nations do. We want to have our say on what ships come to Australia, what cargoes they shall carry and what freight rates Australia shall pay. At present Australian freight rates and the shipping to and from Australia are controlled by the Overseas Shipping Representatives’ Association. They are the people who say what will be done and what will not be done. People from Norway, New York, Germany, the United Kingdom and all parts of the world have a say in what Australia will pay, but Australians do not. We, on this side of the House, believe it is time Australia had a say. I was glad to hear the Deputy Leader of the Opposition put forward his case so strongly. In his second-reading speech the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Opperman) said -
Apart from vessels already on order by the Commisison, I recently announced the acquisition by the Commission of the first of the 21,400-ton vessels, to be known as the Musgrave Range currently building at the shipyards of the Broken Hill Proprietary Co, Ltd., at Whyalla.
I am glad that Australia, through the Government, is building these ships. I congratulate the Government on the fact that we are now building ships capable of carrying huge bulk cargoes, in line with those carried by the ships of the leading nations of the world. Vessels of this class, although primarily intended for the carriage of ironstone around the Australian coast, could easily be used in the overseas trade, especially in the carriage of bulk cereals and phosphate rock. Honorable members know that Australia does no have vessels trading overseas but relies mainly on the other nations of the world to do her fetching and carrying. Nations such as the Scandinavian countries, which are much smaller than Australia, find it very profitable to do this work. The argument that it is too costly to use Australian ships manned by Australian seamen, because their wages are said to be the highest in the world, is unsound. The Scandinavian countries now pay wages and offer conditions comparable with those applying in Australia and, in some cases, higher. Of the bigger nations, America, as the Deputy Leader of the Opposition said, finds it profitable to trade to Australia and at the same time pay wages higher than those paid to Australian seamen.
The advent of the Musgrave Range type of ship could be the beginning of a plan to trade overseas. I hope the Government will give consideration to this venture, because surely, holding the title of the eighth trading nation of the world, we should act accordingly and have our own ships, as other nations have. It is a national calamity that the Australian flag is not seen on trading ships overseas. The flag of a nation, seen often enough overseas, is something to be respected and generally shows that the ship showing that flag is capable in its own right of meeting the vessels of other nations in the trade. I hope it will not be long before we see this happening in the case of Australian ships. If that comes about it will be a good thing for this country, especially in view of the probable entry of Britain into the Common Market. I wish to repeat what I said when speaking on the defence estimates. From the defence point of view, it is most important that Australia has commercial ships and ships that could be used in an emergency. Adequate Australian merchant ships can be a new and potent implement for the provision of national gain. We should start now and build our own merchant ships and fighting fleets to a standard required by a nation that enjoys the status that we have.
We should immediately break into the migrant-carrying trade. We could start in a small way, as the Deputy Leader of the Opposition said. The honorable member for Fawkner said that we would need SOO ships. Of course we would need SOO ships if we intended to carry all our goods, but no nation has sufficient ships to carry all the goods it exports. Let us make a start by getting into the migrant trade.
– How many ships?
– I say six, and I will tell honorable members why I select this figure. At present, Britain is operating on the Australian run the “ Strathmore, “ Stratheden “, “ Canberra “, “ Iberia “, “ Arcadia “, “ Himalaya “, “ Oriana ‘ “, “ Orsova “, “ Orcades”, ‘ “ Oronsay’ “ and “ Orion “. We do not operate any vessels. Italy has the “ Australia “, “ Neptunia “, “ Oceania “, “Fairsky”, “Fairsea”, “ Castel Felice”, “Flavia”, “Aurelia”, “Roma” and “ Sydney “. Greece has two ships, the “ Bretagne “ and the “ Patrix “. The Dutch have, the “Oranje”, “Wilhelm Ruys’ “Zider Kruis”, “Grootebeer” and the “ J.V.O.”.
– We are pretty well served.
– But at what cost? They are well served. We are not.
The ships I have mentioned are supplemented by four other ships, making a total in all of some 33 ships operating in the migrant trade to Australia. I believe that we should have six Australian ships in this trade. That is starting in a conservative way, as the Deputy Leader of the Opposition said. We could easily break into the trade without any financial loss to the country. The ships would be assured of migrants, because they would surely have priority over other ships. The benefit of these ships in time of war has already been explained in the debate on the defence estimates.
If merchant ships are vital to a country in time of peace, how much more does a country depend on them in time of war? This is a lesson we do not seem to understand, and I hope that the Minister will keep this in mind and will build a sufficient number of ships. Should the need ever arise, we will then be prepared and we will not have to cry overseas to get some other nation to come to our aid. We should keep in mind that during a war, ships are very had to get. If a nation’s commercial ships are of sufficient value in time of war to warrant their support and protection, it is surely necessary that some provision be made for them in time of peace. In order to prosper in peace and to ensure adequate defence in war, a nation must maintain two distinct fleets - a merchant fleet and a fighting fleet. These fleets are complementary, one to the other.
It is useless and wastful to build up naval forces and at the same time to disregard merchant ships. Most nations subsidize their merchant fleets. I would like the Government to understand this, because the honorable member for Fawkner had quite a lot to say about subsidies. Britain as far back as 1839 subsidized Samuel Cunard so that he could remain in the trans-Atlantic service, and the Cunard line has been subsidized ever since. But when this country is asked to give aid to shipping, there is an outcry from the Government side of the House. It is all right for Britain and for other countries to pay a subsidy, but Australia is not allowed to do so. America, Holland and Japan in various ways have subsidized their shipping, and we in Australia have done so to a very small extent. The Minister will know that we paid £150,000 to a service between Sydney and New Guinea, but that is about all we have done.
I would like to direct the Minister’s attention to an article that appeared in the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ of 9th November, 1962, under the heading “ Fenwick Fleet Replacement “. It stated -
Under Federal Government legislation, the importation of vessels under 500-ton gross is prohibited and when vessels of this tonnage are built in Australia, no subsidy is granted. In fairness to owners of smaller vessels this position calls for some action, directors state.
I hope the Government will look into this matter and will give the necessary financial encouragement to the owners of small vessels. Tug-owners are just as entitled to a subsidy as are the owners of vessels such as the “ P. J. Adams “, but the owners of small ships get nothing. “Hansard” of 2nd October, 1962, reports that in response to a question asked by the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Hansen), the Minister revealed that between 27th October, 1961, and 9th April, 1962, he gave permission for seven vessels under 500 tons to enter Australia. The vessels came from Holland, the United States, Norway and New Guinea. This seems very unfair. Small ship owners, such as the owners of tugs, are not allowed to import vessels, but they do not receive any subsidy for building in Australia. On the other hand, the Government is pleased to do business with Ampol Petroleum Limited by granting a subsidy of over £1,000,000 for the building of the tanker “P. J. Adams” at Whyalla, with the proviso that the ship should be registered outside Australia and that Asiatics should be employed as crew members. I hope the Government has by now realized the seriousness of this decision and will in the future provide that the ship be manned by Australians.
The Minister in his report dated 30th June, 1960, dealing with Australian Shipping and Shipbuilding Statistics, said -
Although various dry cargo vessels are under construction for the coastal trade it is notable that the only tanker on order in Australia is for use in overseas trade, despite a complete absence of any Australian owned tankers engaged in coastal trading. Refined petroleum products are the second largest individual item carried between coastal ports being exceeded only by the ironstone lift. If suitable tankers were build in Australia and engaged in distributing the produce of our oil refineries it would be a great stimulus to both the shipping and shipbuilding industries. Although local shipyards, particularly the B.H.P. yard at Whyalla, have orders on hand there is adequate capacity at the main yards to build over the next few years all the tankers that would be required to cater for the local refined petroleum product lift.
Since this report, no tankers other than the “ P. J. Adams “ have been built in Australia and the Government does not intend to build any. I ask the Minister whether he will consider having some tankers built in Australia. I know that the Minister represents the electorate of Corio, and that he would, therefore, have a lot to do with tankers. I am sure that he can look at this matter again, forgetting all about the Shell company, and provide for us to build something for Australia, because it is badly needed.
Much has been said about foreign tankers coming to Australia. Many of these vessels come to Geelong, which is in the Minister’s own electorate. I suggest that when a tanker arrives at its port of destination on its marks, or, as happens in some cases, over its marks, it is obvious that it must have been overloaded when it left its loading port. If a ship arrives at its port of destination on its marks after having been at sea from eighteen to 24 days, it is reasonable to asume that it was pretty deep when it left its loading port. I would like to see more attention paid to this matter, because it has been argued that these overseas ships can be run more cheaply than Australian ships. The fact is that they are not carrying out the safety precautions that Australian vessels are required to carry out. I hope the Minister will give the appropriate instructions, in order to ensure that those precautions are observed.
I am sorry to see so many foreign ships being allowed to trade around our coast, and I want to say something about the very bad practice that is growing of allowing these ships to trade around our coast without being required to comply with the manning scale and safety precautions laid down for Australian ships. Obviously these vessels can be run more cheaply when they are allowed to disregard the regulations that must be followed by Australian ships. There are certain international rules laid down for the safety of ships, and when overseas vessels, carrying flags of convenience, are allowed to come here and get away with flouting the rules, it is obvious that they can operate more cheaply than Australian vessels.
I hope the Department of Shipping and Transport will do something about this matter. At the present time a small Japanese tanker, the “Shotuku Maru”, is operating on the Australian coast, having been licensed by the Commonwealth Government to carry molasses. This vessel has a permit which is not due to expire until 3rd April, 1963. The Navigation Act says that ships may engage in the coasting trade only after securing a licence or a permit from the appropriate department of the Commonwealth Government. Part VI. of that act provides that if no Australian ship is available, the Minister may, in the public interest, grant permits to other ships, subject to such conditions as he thinks fit to impose. A permit may be issued for a single voyage or for a continuing period. In the case I have mentioned, it seems that no Australian ship is available, although I do not know why this is so, and so we have a Japanese ship operating in Australian coastal waters. The Minister is evidently issuing these permits because no Australian ships are available to perform the required tasks. The Minister could easily overcome this problem by seeing that tankers are built in Australia, and I earnestly ask him to do so.
I now wish to say something about the various Commonwealth countries that have nationally owned ships. First, I want to say something about the British tanker company. This company, which carries the products of the British Petroleum organization, is controlled by the British Government, which has 51 per cent, of the shares in the company, the remaining 49 per cent, being privately owned. The company is the biggest shipping company in the world. It has 155 vessels, of which 134 trade overseas. It is all right for Britain to trade overseas with a national line, but Australia is not allowed to do so. We are not allowed to stand on our own feet.. This British tanker company has ships of 32,000 tons. Australia has no ships at all. When the Australian Government sold out the Commonwealth Oil Refineries Limited, the purchaser was the British Petroleum organization. We could not have that oil company, but Britain could. There are many other Commonwealth countries that have nationally owned vessels. The Indian Government owns 69 ships, 53 of which trade overseas. The South African Government owns 61 vessels, eighteen :>f which trade overseas. Little Nigeria has 22 vessels, nine of them trading overseas.
Some three years ago the Australian Government fitted out a Swedish ship called “ Milos “ as a trade ship and sent this vessel to the near east. It went to the Philippines and Hong Kong. I protested at the time, not about the fact of a trading ship going overseas, but because it was not an Australian ship. I hope the Government will consider providing a permanent trading ship, an Australian vessel manned by Australians and carrying Australian goods for display overseas. I was glad to read recently that a Mr. George Ellis, commercial manager of the James N. Kirby organization, shares my view. Mr. Kirby was a member of the recent 45-man trade mission to Latin America, and this is what he said -
The Federal Government could greatly assist Australia’s export drive by outfitting a permanent trade ship.
A permanent trade ship could be specially set up for the display of our manufactured products and space could be let to interested exporters for scheduled tours abroad.
On 7th November in this House I asked what subsidies were being paid to the newly formed and so-called Australian Boomerang line, which trades between Australia and South America. Having such a name as the Australian Boomerang line, it would be natural to assume that this line is purely Australian. It is not. It is a Swedish line, and the Minister has said that the Government has subsidized the line to the extent of £100,000 per annum. The Minister also said that another Scandinavian line, serving the southern part of South America, was being subsidized to the extent of £175,000. I feel that the Government’s action in granting these subsidies is wrong, it is un-Australian, unpatriotic and unnecessary. I agree that it is necessary to trade, but Australian ships should be trading, they should be manned by Australians and we should be very proud of them.
The bill before the House proposes to increase the overdraft limit from £1,000,000 to £5,000,000. Ours is the eighth trading nation in the world, and I believe that the amount to be provided is not enough. To give the House an idea of what is happening in overseas countries, let me tell honorable members that last month the Italian Parliament passed two acts, the first designed to encourage the mothballing of outdated and uneconomical ships and to provide for the building of new ships. Under this measure an additional amount of £A17,142,587 will be added to the £A74,285,714 previously allocated for this purpose. This shows what Italy is doing on a national basis. Compare it with the paltry effort that we are making in Australia in raising the overdraft limit to £5,000,000. The other act passed by the Italian Parliament was designed to enable Italy to compete more favourably with world shipping. It provides for financial aid to the extent of £A142,857,143 for the building of new ships. That is in one year, while we are making provision for £5,000,000. I say that it is not enough.
I hope the Government will look further into this matter. We must trade overseas. That is obvious. It has also been pointed out that for defence considerations we should have our own ships. At present we have not a ship capable of carrying refrigerated stores overseas. I say that it is wrong to put large sums of money on the Estimates for defence but to make no provision for merchant ships. It is all very well to have guns, but you must be able to feed the people who are to fire the guns. It is a waste of money to depart from the equation. From the little that I know of mathematics I believe that anything that appears on one side of an equation must appear also on the other side; but we are not doing that. Australia is getting destroyers from overseas and is buying this and that, but is making no provision whatever for maintaining those ships. This is a wonderful opportunity for us to build our own tankers and our own merchant ships. For trade overseas we could have six ships, each of 15,000 tons and capable of 30 knots. They could be used for bringing migrants to Australia, and if ever the sad day arose when we had to use them for purposes of war we would have them. At present we do not have them and I am sorry to see that our Australian merchant fleet is so depleted. Mr. Speaker, the remedy is in the hands of the Government, and I hope that it will do something. I know that when we become the Government this matter will be given high priority because it is most urgent.
.- Mr. Speaker, the main feature of this bill is to increase the Australian National Line’s bank limit from £1,000,000 to £5,000,000. I believe that this is a very reasonable request, because the capital expenditure envisaged to 30th June, 1964, is £6,500,000. I think these figures indicate a very successful business venture on the part of the Commonwealth Government. It is a very remarkable venture when one considers the excursions into national shipping by the Labour Party when it was in government. Honorable members have heard a lot to-night of plans and suggestions from members of the Opposition for what they consider to he, as the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Benson) said, a first priority when and if Labour gets into office. It would be unfortunate for this country if that ever happened. A Labour government should be the last to consider a national shipping line in view of Labour’s record of failure in this field. Our first venture into national ownership of ships was during the 1914-18 war.
– You know nothing about it.
– I know a lot about the history of this because I am a primary producer. I hope that primary producers who are represented by Labour members will take notice of the remarks made to-night, because this is a very important question for primary producers.
I agree that during the 1914-18 war we were desperately short of shipping because of the inroads made upon it by the U-boats. For this reason we undertook ownership of vessels, but when the war was over and the world’s shipping line came back to a degree of normalcy we lost millions of pounds because we could not hope to compete.
– You gave them away.
– We lost £10,000,000, up to 1927. The honorable member for Stirling should look at history before advocating this sort of venture. We ended up getting rid of national shipping to save tremendous losses. During the 1939-45 war the Labour Government embarked again on national shipping. That project was in such a desperate mess and was losing so much money when this Government came into power that no one would buy it. We tried to sell it, but no one would buy it. So, being a government of responsible people and representing responsible people, we set to work to build up a business-like shipping line. We did so not by going into the general cargo trade or passenger trade around the Australian coast; we went into the bulk cargo trade, which is entirely different from passenger shipping or general cargo shipping. We went into the most profitable of cargo trades, the carriage of bulk cargo, which has been a success around the Australian coast line.
Honorable members opposite have mentioned the cost of shipping and have suggested that we should build up a national shipping line to carry on our overseas trade. They should consider the disastrous fate of our coastal shipping lines. An Australian overseas shipping line would follow the same course. Before the 1939-45 war Australia had eleven passenger ships in the coastal service. To-day we have none, because we cannot afford them with our wage rates, stevedoring charges and all the rest of it. In 1939 it cost 22s. a ton to transport cargo from Sydney to Melbourne; to-day it costs £9 15s. That is why motor transport has come in, taken up the lag and given us a chance to have reasonable transport charges.
Much has been said by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) about freight costs. He mentioned that in 1960- 61 we paid £150,000,000 in overseas freights. He said that that was a drain on our overseas balances. He claimed that in 1961-62 the amount was £154,000,000. But he did not mention that overseas shipping lines spent more than £90,000,000 in Australian ports in servicing their ships. That is another picture altogether. When I asked the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, by interjection, what would be the capital cost of establishing an Australian overseas shipping line, he avoided my interjection altogether. It would have been very disastrous to have answered it. The honorable member for Batman, who I understand is a seafaring man, appeared to know all the names of the ships.
– You are all at sea, too.
– I will show you how the honorable member for Batman was at sea. He mentioned the “ Oriana “, the “ Canberra “, the “ Himalaya “ and goodness knows what else, but he did not disclose that the “Oriana” and the “Canberra” had each cost £19,000,000. Honorable members opposite would have us own a shipping line, but how many millions of pounds would this cost?
– He wanted only six ships.
– The honorable member for Batman wanted only six ships, but the Deputy Leader of the Opposition wanted considerably more. If we put this capital investment into overseas shipping, what on earth will we do about our tremendous need for capital development in Australia? Do not forget this: If we had an overseas shipping line it would be an uneconomic investment. It would have to be a subsidized investment. Both honorable members said that there was very little difference between the wage scales of Australian crews’ and those of overseas countries. I shall give some figures on that subject.
– Make it short.
– I shall make it short and sweet. These are the comparative operating costs, excluding depreciation, of a 10,000-ton motor ship sailing under British and Australian flags. For the British ship, the crew’s wages cost £stg.83 per day, arid for the Australian ship £193. The cost of provisions is £15 and £21 per day respectively. Stores cost £18 per day for the British ships and £23 per day for the Australian ship. Insurance costs £29 per day in both cases. Service and maintenance costs are £58 per day for the British ship and £110 per day for the Australian. Those figures give a total of £205 per day for the British ship, as against £388 per day for the Australian ship.
What hope in the world have we of competing on those terms? Should we ask our taxpayers to pay the extra costs in which we would be involved? Are we expecting our primary producers to pay these extra amounts in order to have an Australian shipping line?
There is also the defence aspect of this matter to be considered. We needed a considerable amount of shipping in the last war and, for that matter, in the First World War. During the last war there were 150,000 officers and men in the British merchant marine service, of whom 50,000 lost their lives. In that war, 11,000,000 gross tons of British merchant shipping was lost. Are we going to encourage the United Kingdom to keep her flag flying or should we take the risk of building up something that we would have to subsidize? An honorable member stated that we should build up our tanker fleet. I remind him that in 1960-61 we imported 21,000,000 tons of freight, 13,000,000 tons of which was crude oil. From memory, £120,000,000 worth of our imports of crude oil went into our refineries, which this Government has encouraged. All the refineries in Australia have been constructed since the present Government came to power. Of the £120,000,000 worth of crude oil that I have mentioned, we exported £20,000,000 worth in refined products. If we used our own tanker fleet to carry the oil, which accounts for about 70 per cent, of our import tonnage, and if we charged freights comparable with other Australian charges, we should go out of business as a private enterprise country. Oil is essential to our primary and secondary industries.
I think the Deputy Leader of the Opposition suggested that we could compete successfully overseas. How does he account for the fact that the rate quoted on the Baltic Exchange, which fixes freight and charter rates all over the world, is practically half the rate that any Australian ship could be chartered for? The Deputy Leader of the Opposition and the honorable member for Batman both mentioned that we had made successful export ventures overseas. I agree that this is so in respect of specialized cargoes - timber, pig iron and a few other commodities. But, in July, 1961, there were over 2,000,000 tons of tanker shipping idle. To-day, 10 per cent, of the world’s shipping is idle. If we dug up the capital to establish a shipping line to take all our exports and to serve all our shipping needs we should have a tremendous investment tied up. This would be something which we should have to subsidize and on which we should not earn a penny. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition mentioned the success of the Tasmanian service. That has been brought about by eliminating labour. Roll-on, roll-off ships are being used. We have also developed the packaged cargo system, which has cut down costs. These are the methods by which we can make a success of that trade.
The honorable member instanced the United States of America, which subsidizes its shipping, but he did not mention the tremendous losses that are incurred there. United States shipping subsidies are really tremendous. Many United States shipping companies have registered their ships in the Republic of Panama and other republics where taxation does not apply. They escape charges on their shipping in that way. That is the only way in which they can exist. Years ago, when I was in the United States of America, I saw in some of the harbours thousands of tons of shipping which was tied up - kept in mothballs. It had been used during the First World War in times of stress, when there was a great demand for shipping and when shipping was desperately scarce, but when conditions of competition came back other nations just pushed the Americans right out of the shipping picture. I believe that if honorable members opposite would study the American position, they would, if they were honest, take a completely different view of an Australian shipping line. The Americans have vast resources available to them and it is amazing what they can achieve. There is great rivalry on the Atlantic crossing between New York and the United Kingdom. The blue riband of the Atlantic was held at different times by the “ Queen Elizabeth “ and the “ Queen Mary”, and then the Americans subsidized the liner “ United States “ to the extent of £50,000,000 so that they could have the prestige of holding the blue riband. I gather that that is the sort of thing which honorable members opposite are suggesting that we should do. Not one honorable member opposite has yet laid any basis for bis argument. Opposition members have made wild statements and appealed to our emotions. An Australian shipping line sounds very nice, but all I can say is -
– You have not said much yet.
– This is very important. If we judged the argument of the Opposition in favour of a national shipping line on the basis of the Opposition’s achievements, I think no Australian would ever accept it.
.- Mr. Deputy Speaker, I always have the greatest respect for the honorable member for Mcpherson (Mr. Barnes) as a racehorse breeder. In that capacity he has quite a deal of achievement to his credit. His views on shipbuilding and the steel industry demonstrate that he should stick to horsebreeding. The honorable member spoke of the excellent job that the Australian National Line has done over recent years and of what the present Government has been able to achieve by the business-like manner in which it has discharged its responsibilities concerning that line. He said that the River class ships were sold because they were uneconomic to operate and said that this Government was responsible for the Australian National Line entering the bulk trade.
Let us look at the facts. The River class ships were built during the war at a time when the design to which they were built was the standard design for the kind of trade in which they were to be engaged. This Government looks on the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited as the bulwark of private enterprise, as the glowing example of efficiency in industry. That company constructed vessels of a class almost identical with the River class ships. If any one wants the names of all these vessels, they can be found in the statistical bulletin entitled “Australian Shipping and Shipbuilding Statistics “, which is published twice a year by the Department of Shipping and Transport. I shall name only two ships. The “Iron Duke” and the “Iron Monarch”, of 8,030 dead-weight tons each, were built by B.H.P. in 1943. At about the same time, the “River Fitzroy”, the “River Loddon” and numerous other River class ships were built for the Commonwealth shipping line Each of those vessels had a deadweight of 8,500 tons. We know now that ships of that type are uneconomic in comparison with the bulk ships now being used on the Australian coast. Likewise, the ships at present in use on the Australian coast are outdated compared with overseas shipping.
When one compares the achievements of one government with another or of one era in the development of this nation with another, one has to look at all the facts and not just mention those which suit ones own argument, as the honorable member for Mcpherson did. He cited figures which suited him but which did not present a correct analysis of the real position. The fact is that the River class ships are uneconomic to-day. They were built for wartime trade on the Australian coast, as were the “Iron Duke”, the “Iron Monarch” and similar vessels built for the Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited. New methods have now made those ships out of date. That is something that the honorable member for McPherson ignored.
I want to discuss the failure by the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Opperman) in this bill to provide adequately for the necessary development of the Australian National Line. I believe that although the proposal to increase the line’s overdraft limit from £1,000,000 to £5,000,000 is a progressive move, the Government’s approach to the needs of the line is completely inadequate for the discharge of the responsible job of developing the line. Nobody in this chamber will deny that there is a need, in view of conditions in the world to-day, particularly in Australia’s trade, to develop this country’s maritime fleet. If one examines the published facts and figures, one will find no record of the ownership of any ships engaged in the Australian trade.
There are two distinct sections of shipping - the tanker fleet and the general freight fleet of bulk carriers, refrigerator vessels, passenger ships and the like. I want to deal first with tankers in relation to Australian trade. Ampol Petroleum recently had two ships built overseas and one constructed in Australia. In recent months, there has been a great to-do over the manning of the tanker built in Australia. I do not intend to discuss that matter in any detail, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I shall say only that this company is prepared to accept the profits and advantages of operations in a high-wage nation such as Australia but, at the same time, wishes to use the cheap labour obtainable in other countries. This company advertises that its operations are based on the principle, “ Buy Australian, be Australian “. Why is it not a little more Australian in outlook itself? Why does it not have its ships built in Australia and have them manned by Australian seamen? The additional cost of manning the tanker in question with Australian seamen is only some £40,000 a year. As the last balance-sheet of the company disclosed, in the last twelve months its profits have increased by more than £300,000 compared with the previous year. As I have said before, I believe that any company or enterprise that is prepared to accept the advantages of trading in a high-wage country with a high standard of living, and advertises that it works on the principle, “ Buy Australian, be Australian “, should employ Australian labour.
This brings me to the need for an Australian tanker fleet. In 1961, full-time permits were granted to eleven overseas-owned ships to trade exclusively and completely on the Australian coast. They are named in the issue of “Australian Shipping and Ship.building Statistics” which states the position as at 30th June of this year. This bulletin clearly sets out that these ships have been given permission to trade on the Australian coast. In addition permits were given to 134 tankers to make single voyages to Australia for the transport of crude oil to this country for refining here.
This Government has taken great credit for the establishment of oil refineries in Australia during its term of office. Is the Government honest, sincere and fair dinkum when it claims that it was responsible for the establishment of those refineries or have changed circumstances in the oil-producing world brought about the establishment of refineries in Australia? Are the oil companies afraid to establish oil refineries in the new nations? Are they prepared to invest money in those new nations for the establishment of oil refineries? To my way of thinking, Mr. Deputy Speaker, the oil companies are not prepared to take the risk. They realize that their assets are safe in Australia and therefore they have decided to establish refineries here. Is it coincidental that, at the same time as oil refineries are established in Australia, we find this growth of nationalism in the oil-producing countries? I think that the answer is quite obvious. The oil refineries were not established here because of the efforts of this Government. They were established here because the oil companies wished to protect their assets and were afraid of what could happen to those assets if the refineries were established in other countries.
Why have we not a tanker fleet in Australia? Why have we not tankers owned and controlled in Australia, manned by Australian seamen working under Australian conditions and rates of pay in the Australian trade? That is the question that I ask the Minister and other Government speakers to answer in this debate. On 13th January, 1961, the chairman of directors of Ampol Petroleum Limited, presenting the annual report of the company to the shareholders, said -
As the Directors’ Report states, our Tankers have been continuously employed transporting our requirements of crude oil from Indonesia to the Refinery at Kurnell.
I emphasize that sentence, Mr. Deputy Speaker. The tankers owned by Ampol Petroleum Limited have been fully employed in transporting crude oil from Indonesia to Australia, not in some other trade such as that which it is suggested that the “ P. J. Adams “ will engage in. The chairman referred to the fact that the “P. J. Adams “ would be coming into service soon, and he went on to say that it would - make us less dependent on charter tankers wherewith to transport our requirements which are already exceeding 100,000 t.p.a.
So far as Ampol is concerned, when the “ P. J. Adams “ goes into service and which, incidentally, will replace charter tankers, its three tankers will be employed entirely on the transport of crude oil for the Australian trade. That is another reason why I believe that if these people intend to transport goods exclusively to Australia, it must be done by Australian seamen under Australian conditions. Ships must be built and operated by Australia. If private industry is not prepared to do that, the Minister should use the powers that have been conferred upon him by the act to ensure the establishment of a government-owned and controlled tanker fleet which could operate in conjunction with the Australian National Line. Section 15 of the act provides for the establishment of an overseas shipping line. The power is there. Why does not the Government do something about the matter?
We all know the position regarding freights and the charge that they represent on the national export income. We are aware that in the last five years freights have cost this country £748,000,000. That figure relates only to freight on the transport of goods to this country. Yet the Government does nothing about the matter. It speaks of building up overseas reserves and the like. Freights are a charge against our export income, but the Government is not prepared to take the necessary action to establish an Australian-owned tanker fleet.
As I pointed out in reply to the honorable member for McPherson, new methods have been introduced into the shipping section of the transport industry. Just as new methods have been introduced in rail and road transport, so have new methods been introduced in the shipping industry to enable it to compete with competition from those other forms of transport. We now have roll-on roll-off type ships. There are container ships, and pallets are used to expedite the loading and unloading of ships. Certain new methods have been introduced in the steel industry to handle cargo and to make it much easier and cheaper to deal with the goods that it produces.
The honorable member for Fawkner (Mr. Howson) said earlier that the Labour Party would oppose new ideas in the shipping industry. I personally am prepared to support new methods and new ideas in shipping, but I say to the House that the people in the industry are entitled to their share of any reduction of costs that results from those new methods. Similarly, they are entitled to their share of any increase in productivity that results, or benefits which flow from increased efficiency leading to greater profits. The workers in the industry should receive their share. If we are to stick to the old ideas, as suggested by the honorable member for Fawkner, and if we think that there are no new methods to be introduced, obviously we shall go back to 44 hours or even 48 hours a week. The trade union movement and the Australian Labour Party support new ideas, provided there is a commensurate reduction in working hours or an increase in wages, and also commensurate increases in long service leave, annual leave and so on.
One of the tragedies of the Australian National Line is its failure to move into the freighter field. In the last annual report, the following statement appears: -
Throughout the 12 months, every possible effort has been made to obtain overseas business for ships of the Fleet, with the result that 25 voyages were undertaken to various parts of the world, representing the carriage of 184,688 tons as compared to 44,283 tons during the preceding year.
Unhappily, no recovery in the world tramp market has occurred, the reverse in fact, and on rare occasions only has it been possible to show a profit from overseas voyaging. On the other hand, losses overall were less than those involved had ships been laid up. . . .
The position is that the Australian National Line has only been able to obtain cargoes overseas. It has not been possible to negotiate for backloading of overseas cargo.
When I suggest that an overseas freighter line should be established, I do not mean a freight line which would transport only one way - that is, away from Australia. I believe that the Australian National Line must be given every opportunity to expand its activities If necessary, its overdraft should be doubled, trebled or increased even more than that, in order to permit the development of the line overseas, so that we might enter into the freighting industry on an organized basis. Let us consider the places to which Australian exports go and those from which our imports come. The figures that I am about to give are taken from the Department of Trade bulletin which is published every month, and are those as at 30th June this year. They disclose that shipping lines operating between Australia and Europe, via the Suez Canal, to Commonwealth countries, carry £298,000,000 worth of goods to Australia and £246,000,000 worth of goods from Australia. The total for all Commonwealth and non-Commonwealth countries is £478,000,000 worth of goods to Australia and £487,000,000 from Australia. Shipping lines that operate via the Cape of Good Hope include in their operations many African countries. The figures disclose that £12,200,000 worth of goods are brought to Australia and £14,100,000 worth taken away from Australia. Ships travelling between the United States of America, Canada, New Zealand and Australia, take away from this country goods worth £201,000,000 and bring here imports worth £226,000,000. For ships trading between Australia and Japan, Asia and the Philippines, the exports from Australia amount to £253,000,000 and the imports to £70,000,000. Of course, to those figures we can add £65,000,000 worth of exports from Australia to Communist China and £4,000,000 worth of imports from that country.
Does the Minister mean to tell me that our Australian National Line is unable to arrange for the transport from Australia of exports and the transport to this country of imports in sufficient volume to warrant the establishment of a Commonwealthowned overseas shipping line? I am not suggesting for one moment that we would insist on everything that left Australia or came to this country being transported in Australian-owned and controlled ships. I believe that that would be unreasonable and impracticable of implementation. Nevertheless, I am convinced that we can and must work out a system whereby at least 50 per cent, of our exports and 50 per cent, of our imports are transported in Australian-owned and controlled ships. That is the only way in which we could operate an Australianowned and controlled shipping line.
We know that much of the trouble in the shipping industry to-day has been brought about because countries which have attained their independence of recent years have moved into the shipping industry. Ghana, Nigeria, Indonesia, India, Pakistan and Ceylon, to mention only a few such countries, have established their own nationally-owned shipping lines. None of those countries is as big a trader as is Australia. If they can establish their own national lines, why cannot we do so?
The honorable member for Fawkner referred to subsidies. He came into the House and told us that on a capital expenditure of £100,000,000, which is what he said it would cost to establish an Australian-owned and controlled shipping line, it would be necessary to provide subsidies to the tune of £3,500,000 a year. I am neither accepting nor disagreeing with his figures; I am merely stating them. The honorable member appeared to be appalled by the thought that there would have to be a subsidy of £3,500,000 a year. Let us look at some of the subsidies we already pay to industries in Australia. I asked a question on this matter some time ago, and it was answered on 10th May. The information given shows that a subsidy of £13,500,000 per annum is paid to the dairying industry, which is considerably more than the £3,500,000 which the honorable member for Fawkner suggested would be necessary for the shipping industry. We pay a subsidy of £2,700,000 for petroleum research; £660,000 for goldmining; £1,056,000 for the production of sulphuric acid; £931,000 for the construction of tractors and £11,906,132 to the wheat industry. We do not hear the honorable member for McPherson, the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull) or other Country Party members complaining about the £13,500,000 butter subsidy. If it is necessary to subsidize any industry obviously it is necessary to subsidize the shipping industry if by so doing we can provide competition with overseas lines. At present the Australian steel export industry is in jeopardy because of the freights which are being charged by overseas shipping conferences. They are pricing Australian steel out of the New Zealand and adjoining Asian markets. A complaint was made recently by a gentleman in the fertilizer industry that high freights blocked sales to Asia. I could mention numerous examples of Australian industries being affected seriously by freights.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition stated that New Zealand beef is being transported to Europe at a cheaper rate than is Australian beef although New Zealand beef has to travel 1,000 miles more than Australian beef. There are many obvious examples of the overseas shipping conferences exploiting the Australian primary producers and those who complain about our suggestion that an overseas shipping line should be established. The United States of America realizes what is taking place. It has ruled that at least 50 per cent, of goods provided under the overseas aid programme must be transported in American-owned and manned ships. If America, that great bastion of free enterprise, is prepared to take such action why does not this Government take similar action and establish an overseas shipping line in Australia?
As I pointed out earlier, the trend among the new nations is to establish their own shipping lines. British shipping lines are complaining like the devil about this - and so they should, because their export income has fallen from £221,000,000 in 1952 to £138,000,000 in 1958 and to £72,000,000 in 1960. That is the effect of the competition which has been provided by the new shipping lines. That is why there are many tramp ships tied up to-day. The independent nations are on the move and are determined to be no longer subject to the price fixing which the conference lines have indulged in for years. They will no longer pay the high freight rates which have been charged, and they have established their own shipping lines to provide very necessary competition.
We have asked the Minister on numerous occasions to expand and develop the Australian National Line to permit Australian ships to trade overseas. If you examine the profits which have been made in recent years by the Australian National Line you will see that it is a profitable undertaking. After paying taxation, as any ordinary company does, the Australian National Line has been able to accumulate profits from 1958 to 1962 amounting to £7,265,000. That is a clear indication that it can be and is being operated efficiently. I repeat my request to the Minister to extend the facilities of the Australian National Line so that it can com pete with overseas lines. What if it is necessary - I do not claim that it is - to subsidize the Australian National Line? I have shown already that we subsidize numerous other Australian industries to enable them to compete overseas. We know that overseas shipping lines are subsidized by way of depreciation allowances, taxation concessions and so on. If it is necessary for overseas countries to do that why can we not also move into this field?
The present shipping lines are not providing the service which is required of them. I have a cutting from the “ Newcastle Morning Herald” of 6th October, 1962, which contains a report of a meeting of the Newcastle Chamber of Commerce. A Newcastle company representative complained of the lack of service being given to various organizations in that city by the overseas shipping companies. Numerous speakers have mentioned the laying-up of overseas vessels. The honorable member for Mcpherson claims that we cannot enter the shipping business because so many ships are tied up overseas already. But the tying up of these ships has not resulted in a better service. The conferences have used the fact that they have a monopoly of the Australian shipping business to say that they will do, in effect, what they like. This supports our claim that competition must be provided, and only a government-controlled shipping line can do so.
Honorable members opposite should not claim that Australia cannot compete overseas. We have only to consider Qantas. Last year Qantas was one of the few international airlines which was able to earn a profit. Nearly all of them had a bad year and lost millions of pounds but Qantas, after paying taxes and meeting all commitments, still earned a profit of £480,000. Why can we not establish a shipping line to work like Qantas? I have spoken to numerous business men, and our party committee recently interviewed a person in the textile industry. He knows that he is being exploited by foreign companies and he advocated the establishment of a shipping line, Australian-owned and controlled like Qantas. So not only the Opposition, but also producers and manufacturers want Australia to compete with overseas lines. The manufacturers want it because they know how private enterprise operates.
At present we subsidize shipbuilding, where necessary, to the extent of 33 per cent. From my own experience I know that although all yards at present have a ship on their slips there is no continuity of employment. Recently the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Benson) asked a question of the Minister for Defence (Mr. Townley) about the two destroyers being built overseas for Australia. In his reply the Minister stated -
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.
That is a complete untruth. I will not say that it is a lie, because if I did so, Mr. Speaker, you would make me withdraw the statement, but it is a complete untruth. Any one who has had anything to do with naval shipbuilding knows the Navy can never make up its mind about what it wants. It dithers around. It has a bunch of ditherers who are responsible for its. shipbuilding programme. I can describe them in no other way. I have worked on the construction of naval ships. You put in a bulkhead or some other part and the naval supervisor comes along and wants it somewhere else. If the Navy prepared plans and specifications, gave them to the shipyards and said, “ This is what we want “, the shipyards would be able to go ahead and build the ships. If the shipyard workers know that they have continuity of employment they can produce ships just as well as overseas shipyard workers can. In America, where the two destroyers are being built, the shipyards have continuity of orders so they can build ships much cheaper than would be the case if they were building one ship at a time. We should now plan the construction in Australia of an overseas shipping line.
– Orderl The honorable member’s time has expired.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Bury) adjourned.
The following bills were returned from the Senate: -
Without amendment -
Audit Bill 1962.
Repatriation Bill 1962.
Without requests -
Customs Tariff Bill (No. 5) 1962.
Customs Tariff (New Zealand Preference) Bill (No. 4) 1962.
Excise Tariff Bill 1962.
Motion (by Mr. Opperman) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
Motion (by Mr. Opperman) put -
That the question be now put.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Sir John McLeay.)
Majority . . . . 1
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 10.36 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
son asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -
In what manner are ballots conducted under the registered rules of this union considered to be
Is it possible in the conduct of a general postal ballot as decided by the Commonwealth Electoral Officer that irregularities can occur - (a) in the printery where the ballot-papers are printed;
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
The rules of this union are not easy to follow and the following are the best answers I can give: -
I am, of course, not in a position to know to what extent there is compliance with these rules in the conduct of elections by the union.
s asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Trade with Communist China.
n asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - 1 and 2. The degree of prominence of mainland China as an importer from Australia is indicated by the fact that in value of total trade it has ranked fifteenth, ninth and sixth over the years 1959-60, 1960-61 and 1961-62 respectively.
Coal and OH.
s asked the Minister representing the Minister for National Development, upon notice -
– The Minister for National Development has supplied the following information: -
n asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -
Wales and Queensland are considered to be reaching a stage where they will become actuarily unsound if they continue to operate on the present system of contributions from employer and employee?
– The answer to honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
n asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– In answer to the honorable member’s questions, I have been informed by the Australian National University as follows: -
b asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Has he given further consideration to the plan submitted by the Northern Rehabilitation Committee, providing that, for a period of twenty years, wages should be free of tax and company profits should be 60 per cent, tax free, with the remaining 40 per cent, also free of tax provided it is re-invested north of the twenty-sixth parallel?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
Further consideration was given to the proposals submitted by the Northern Rehabilitation Committee when the last Commonwealth budget was being prepared. In view of the prospective deficit, estimated at over £118,000,000, the Government decided that it would not be appropriate to grant further taxation concessions at that time. However, the Government has recently adopted a number of measures specifically directed to the development of the north of Australia. These measures include increased provisions for beef cattle roads in Queensland, Western Australia and the Northern Territory, assistance for the financing of a scheme for development of the brigalow lands in central Queensland and provision of finance for the construction of a new jetty at Derby.
b asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
d asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - 1, 2 and 3. In registering applicants for employment and referring them to prospective employers for placement, the Commonwealth Employment Service does not discriminate between registrants on the grounds of race, and no statistics are maintained of aborigines or those of any other race registered with the employment offices of the Commonwealth Employment Service. Aborigines and part aborigines would register from time to time with the employment offices at Kalgoorlie and Geraldton and any who could not be placed would be entitled to unemployment benefit in accordance with the provisions of the Social Services Act.
d asked the Attorney-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
n asked the Attorney-General, upon notice -
Would Britain’s entry into the European Common Market affect the right of Australians to have recourse to the Privy Council on matters of law?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
The question is speculative and hypothetical. So far as it can be answered at the present time, the answer is that I am unable to see why such appeals should be affected.
h asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
– The Minister for Civil Aviation has supplied the following information: -
Land Settlement of Ex-servicemen.
n asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice -
– In. answering the question placed on the notice-paper by the honorable member, I feel some explanatory information is desirable.
First, the war service land settlement scheme on Kangaroo Island embraces the development of large tracts of virgin land and also several partially developed single unit farms which have been acquired.
Secondly, the total cost of the “ scheme “ on Kangaroo Island would include the cost of: (a) acquisition of land; (b) development of land and the provision of buildings, fencing and water supply; (c) actual advances made to individual settlers; (d) living allowances paid to individual settlers during the first year; (e) remissions of rentals and interest to each settler during the assistance period; (f) administration arising out of the making of advances to settlers; and (g) State and Commonwealth general administration.
Information regarding (c), (d) and (e) is not recorded by the Commonwealth against individual projects but, by research, could be obtained from records maintained by the State, (f) and (g) would require an arbitrary apportionment.
On the assumption the honorable member is interested in the cost of providing farms by the development of virgin land on Kangaroo Island, the following answers are provided: -
n asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - 1- The volume of exports of eggs and egg products from Australia in 1961-62, is set out on pages 7 and 8 of the fifteenth annual report of the Australian Egg Board which was tabled in the House of Representatives on 8th November, 1962.
d asked the Minister representing the Minister for Customs and Excise, upon notice -
– The Minister for Customs and Excise has furnished the following answers to the honorable member’s questions: - 1 and 2. Separate records of importations of tuna fish meat are kept only in respect of canned tuna. The quantities imported and the countries of origin are -
d asked the Minister representing the Minister for Customs and Excise, upon notice -
What was the (a) amount and (b) value of exports of tuna fish meat from each State for each of the years 1959-60, 1960-61 and 1961-62?
– The Minister for Customs and Excise has furnished the following answer to the honorable member’s question: -
During the years 1959-62, exports of tuna fish meat were recorded separately from other fish meats only in respect of canned tuna exported from 1st July, 1961. Canned tuna exported during 1961-62-
As the totals involved are very smalt, details of exports from each State were not recorded.
s asked the Minister for
Territories, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows:-
d asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - 1 and 2. In the course of the preparation of statistics of new capital raisings, some information about “bonus issues” is derived incidentally by the Commonwealth Statistician. This information relates ‘ to share issues described as bonus issues by the reporting companies. In general, the particulars would relate to issues made by established companies, usually in the course of capitalization of reserves, but would not include any bonus elements in the initial issues by companies which are incorporated in the course of a reconstruction. The figures of “bonus issues” by Australian companies listed on stock exchanges, as reported by the companies, are as follows: -
No figures have been collected for years prior to 1954-55.
s asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
s asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Population aged 21 years and over (exclusive of full-blood aboriginals) as at census taken on 30th June, 1961-
b asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The Minister for Health has furnished the following reply: -
In the case of a widow or single pensioner - £2 per week. In the case of a married couple -
Where both are pensioners - £4 per week. Where only one is a pensioner - £5 per week.
n asked the Minister for Trade, upon notice -
What was the value of (a) our export trade with Indonesia, and (b) Indonesian export trade with Australia, during each of the past ten years?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
The value of Australia’s exports to and imports from Indonesia during each of the past ten years, as recorded by the Commonwealth Statistician, is shown in the following table: -
n asked the Minister for Trade, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
s asked the Minister for Air, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
r asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - 1 and 2. The following table shows the total net official gold and foreign exchange holdings at the dates specified. The total sterling content of foreign exchange holdings is not published separately and is not, therefore, shown in the table. Sterling, however, constituted the bulk of the foreign exchange held throughout the period in question.
4 and S. In the determination of the distribution of Australia’s international reserves many complex factors are involved, some of them arising from particular circumstances. Broadly, however, they include such factors as considerations relevant to Australia’s membership of the sterling area and its financial relations with the United Kingdom, the extent to which particular currencies are normally used m the financing of Australia’s external transactions, the convertibility of holdings in different currencies and the possible earnings thereon. Such factors would continue to be relevant in determining the distribution of our international reserves whether or not Britain joined the European Economic Community but their implications would not necessarily be the same in both cases.
s asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 27 November 1962, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1962/19621127_reps_24_hor37/>.