24th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hoo. Sir John McLeay) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– It is my intention to issue a writ on Tuesday, 16th April next, for the election of a member to serve for the electoral division of Grey, in the State of South Australia, in the place of Edgar Hughes Deg Russell, Esquire, deceased. The dates in connexion with the election will be fixed as follows: - Date of nomination, Friday, 3rd May, 1963; date of polling, Saturday, 1st June, 1963; date of return of writ, on or before Friday, 5th July, 1963.
Mr. KILLEN presented a petition from certain citizens of the Commonwealth praying that the Commonwealth Government remove section 127 and the words discriminating against aborigines in section 51 of the Commonwealth Constitution, by the holding of a referendum at an early date.
Mr. L. R. JOHNSON presented a petition from certain electors of New South Wales praying that the Government take urgent and immediate action to -
Mr. FULLER presented a petition in the same terms from certain electors of New South Wales.
– I desire to ask the acting Prime Minister and the acting leader of the Liberal Party, in the absence of the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister for External Affairs, a question without notice. Will he consider the matter of a loan of anything up to £500,000 to the Government of Indonesia, on the most favorable terms possible, for the relief of distress caused to the inhabitants of the island of Bali by the recent eruption of a volcano there?
– I am quite certain that all sections of the House join in the expression of sympathy which the Government has already conveyed to the Government and people of Indonesia in relation to the disastrous experiences the people of Bali have had in recent times. We were prompt to make financial assistance available, as the honorable member will, I think, appreciate. However, I shall have the suggestion now made by the honorable gentleman conveyed to the appropriate quarter for consideration.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Labour and National Service. It relates to the Conciliation and Arbitration Bill. I ask the Minister, first, whether he will consider ensuring that the debate on the legislation will be deferred to give all honorable members adequate time to consider its provisions. Secondly, will he consider extending the exclusion clauses contained in the bill so that the legislation will not apply to the claim of the Association of Professional Engineers, Australia, before the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, which is known as the A.P.E.A. second case?
– I have already had discussions with the president of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, Mr. Monk, and also with the Sydney secretary of the Association of Professional Engineers, Australia, and I assured them - these are the exact words used - that the bill would not be rushed through. I also assured them that adequate time would be given them so that they could make representations to me on any clauses of the bill that they cared to discuss.
– I have a sheaf of telegrams for you.
– I know that; so have I. As to the final question asked by the honorable member, I have already raised with my department the question of extending the provisions of clause 4, sub-clause 3, of the amending bill, so that they may apply to the second engineers case as well as to the first one.
– I desire to ask the Treasurer a question. Why is the Government raising a loan in New York at more than 5 per cent, interest when the amount of this loan could be raised in Australia at a little over 4 per cent? As our overseas funds do not need to be supplemented and are in a very healthy condition, what is the specific purpose of this New York loan?
– It is not easy to give a short and simple answer to the question asked by the honorable member for Scullin.
– I know that.
– If the honorable member knew that, I do not know why he did not put the question on the noticepaper. However, I shall do my best to satisfy his curiosity. In the first place, may I point out to him that the terms and conditions of Australian loan raisings are decided by the Australian Loan Council, on which the six State governments are represented. The representatives of those governments confer with me, as chairman of the council, and discuss whether we should raise a loan at a particular time and in a particular place, and also the conditions on which the loan should be offered. They joined in this decision to raise a loan in New York.
One can immediately refer to certain obvious considerations. There seems to be an impression in some quarters - this impression is obviously held by the honorable gentleman - that a government can enter one of the very few international money markets and take a loan just when it feels like doing so and upon terms that it chooses. I assure the House that that is not so. A good deal of careful cultivation is needed to create a situation in which the loans of a country are well received in one of the few remaining international money markets. London and New York are the two principal markets. Occasionally a loan can be raised in Switzerland or one of the other countries of Europe, but that is a comparatively rare experience. The first point I make is that Australia, having established entree to the New York market, and having established a regularity of approach, would normally be reluctant to interrupt that regularity. There is a great advantage in having investors on the bond market of New York come to regard an Australian issue as a matter of regularity and to include some part of that issue in their portfolio of investments.
Another consideration is that, whilst it is true that currently our overseas reserves are high, we must take a long-term view. Our reserves are strengthened in this process. Finally the economic effect of raising loan money overseas is rather different from the effect of raising loan money on the Australian market. All these factors were taken into account by the Australian Loan Council in coming to its decision to go ahead with the loan in New York.
– My question is directed to the Treasurer in his capacity as acting Prime Minister. I refer to the fact that a conference is being held between the Minister for Trade and the New Zealand Prime Minister and his Cabinet regarding the increase of trade between Australia and New Zealand, and I point out that a member of the New Zealand Parliament has just suggested closer links between us in matters going beyond trade. What progress is being made in these matters? What can the Minister do to encourage further progress? Would it not be desirable for this House to give these matters serious and immediate attention?
– We are all very conscious in this House of the relationship between Australia and New Zealand - a relationship made closer by our associations in the Commonwealth of Nations, by the closeness of our trade ties and even more strongly perhaps, by the comradeship established through two world wars. The honorable gentleman need have no fear that my colleague, the Minister for Trade and Deputy Prime Minister, will not be pressing Australia’s views in the intimate discussions that are currently taking place in New Zealand.
It was thought some time ago that there should be regular contact between the appropriate Ministers of our two countries and, preceding the visit of the Minister for Trade, discussions were held between officials on a variety of trade matters. These discussions are not confined solely to matters immediately of concern to the two countries in their trade relationships; they also deal with common interests we have in forthcoming discussions in London and at the ministerial conference of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. Australia could not be better represented in discussions of this sort than by our own Minister for Trade. I am quite certain that his attention will be directed not only to the narrow trade matters that are embraced by his portfolio but also to those larger matters with which he would normally deal as Deputy Prime Minister.
– I ask the Postmaster-
General whether it is correct that the television station proposed to be situated in the central agricultural area of Western Australia is not expected to come into operation before 1966 or 1967. Also, is it correct that, until such time as that station has proved the extent of the area it will serve satisfactorily, no determination will be made of the means or methods to be used to extend television into areas such as Kalgoorlie and Geraldton? Finally, if those statements are correct, do they in turn mean that under the Government’s present plans it is most unlikely that television will be extended to either Kalgoorlie or Geraldton before 1970?
– I certainly would not subscribe to the statement contained in the last part of the honorable member’s question, namely, that there will be no television service in Kalgoorlie or Geraldton until 1970. I will be able to give him further details of the plans. I have mentioned them two or three times, but I have not them all in my mind at the moment. We are quite conscious of the need to extend television and other services to places like Kalgoorlie. Other honorable members, particularly on this side of the House, have been representing that necessity to me and it is being kept properly in mind.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Primary Industry. As wheatgrowers and wheat-grower organizations are anxiously awaiting a decision in relation to a renewed wheat stabilization plan, is the Minister in a position to inform the House what stage has been reached in the necessary discussions between the Commonwealth, the States and the various wheatgrower organizations on this urgent matter?
– The Division of Agricultural Economics conducted a survey and the figures from that survey are now available. At the beginning of March I asked the index committee, which normally surveys these figures after calculation by the division, to have a look at them. Unfortunately, there has been a delay because illness has prevented the growers’ representative from attending meetings of the committee. Consequently, I approached the president of the Australian Wheatgrowers Federation. Representatives of the federation happen to be in Canberra to-day on this very matter, so the index committee is now having a look at the figures. When that has been done, I intend to have a discussion with the federation. I have already had a preliminary discussion with the State Ministers for Agriculture. At this stage that is about as much as I can say. I will have a preliminary discussion with the federation and then take the matter to the Government for consideration.
– I direct a question to the Minister at the table, the acting Prime Minister-
– Order! The Minister’s correct title is “The Treasurer”.
– I direct a question to the Treasurer. Has the Federal Government made any protest to President de Gaulle about the nuclear tests that are about to be undertaken at Tahiti? Is it a fact that the bomb to be exploded is reported to be an experimental dirty bomb and that the fall-out will be devastating and prolonged? With the prevailing northeasterly winds of the Pacific Ocean blowing continuously towards Australia, is there not grave danger to Sydney, Newcastle, Wollongong and other cities on the Australian seaboard which could be blanketed with atomic fall-out for some years as a result of this utterly senseless experiment? Can the Treasurer tell me why all these experiments are taking place in the Pacific area without protest from the Australian Government, in view of the fact that recent naval reports indicate that the Monte Bello Islands are still declared hot - that is, fully radio-active - despite the fact that the tests were conducted there as far back as 1954?
– The honorable gentleman has imported a degree of debatable comment into his question. He has also covered various developments going beyond that which opened the question that he addressed to me. I shall see that such information as is available to the Commonwealth Government and as can reasonably be supplied is supplied as promptly as possible.
– I ask the Treasurer whether he is aware of a statement made by the Labour Premier of New South Wales that on his forthcoming visit overseas he will try to sell this country to the Americans and convince them that Australia is the safest place for investment to-day. As the Labour Party in this Parliament has lately increased its opposition to the attraction of overseas capital, does not this further conflict within the Labour Party tend to harm our interests in this vital matter?
– I have not seen the statement referred to by the honorable member but it is, of course, consistent with statements made by other members of the New South Wales Government, in particular the Treasurer of that Government, who concluded some time ago a very extensive journey abroad in search of fresh investment and industry for New South Wales.
It is a fact that the attitude thus publicly expressed by Labour spokesmen, not only in New South Wales but also in other States, seems to be directly in conflict with the views expressed on this subject so vehemently in this place by Labour spokesmen.
State Premiers and their Ministers, who are able to see rather more clearly than can honorable members opposite the benefits that accrue to their States from the introduction of new techniques, new skills, additional capital development and added employment opportunities, realize the value for a growing Australia of investment from overseas. I have previously pointed out in this place that the burden of that investment as a proportion of our total national effort and the charge on our export income required to service these commitments - its percentage of our gross national product - are smaller in degree, on my study of the subject, than they were when we took office from our Labour predecessors. I believe that the State spokesmen on this matter are showing a great deal more realism and patriotism than are honorable gentlemen opposite.
– Is the Postmaster-General aware that shire and municipal councils insert the names and addresses of their service officers in telephone directories only for the convenience of the general public and State and Federal instrumentalities, including the Postmaster-General’s Department itself? Why does the department place municipal and shire councils in the same category as businesses conducted for private profit-making purposes by imposing an additional charge of £3 5s. for each listing of a council officer in a directory?
– This matter has been brought to my attention by quite a number of people both in this House and outside. There is a perfectly logical explanation for the practice. I have sent written copies of that explanation to certain honorable members. I shall have one conveyed also to the honorable member for St. George.
– I ask a question of the Minister for Shipping and Transport. In view of the need to lessen the cost of transport and to encourage tourist traffic, will the Minister request the Australian National Line to consider establishing a roll-on roll-off service between Port Adelaide and ports of Tasmania and the eastern States which already have this excellent service?
– The Australian National Line is constantly endeavouring to provide an efficient and satisfactory service between various ports. The development of the roll-on roll-off cargo trade between Melbourne and Brisbane is evidence of the good service that is given by the Australian National Line. I shall, ask the Australian National Line to investigate this source of trade and to consider whether a service similar to that which the honorable member has mentioned can be operated between Port Adelaide and Tasmania.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Shipping and Transport. Will the Government consider extending the present shipbuilding subsidy to vessels under SOO tons in order to assist the construction of vessels such as the “ King Islander” which was launched recently, and at the same time to provide a stimulus for the shipbuilding industry at such small but very efficient shipyards as the one at Devonport on the north-west coast of Tasmania?
– I understand that the question of a subsidy for ships under 500 tons is already the subject of inquiry by the Tariff Board. Obviously the board’s recommendation, when received, will be considered by the Government as a matter of policy. I am unable to give the honorable member any additional information.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Social Services. I ask: How many of the aboriginal natives of our country qualify for social service benefits under the Social Services Act? How many does the act exclude from such benefits? What action does the Minister propose to take to remove the discrimination against those in the latter category?
– Social service benefits are made available to Australian citizens, and no record is taken of the ethnic origin of the people who qualify for them.
– I preface my question to the Treasurer by referring to his statement on decimal currency and on the need to maintain an Australian flavour in the naming of the units. Was the decision to introduce decimal currency prompted by the Government’s failure to put value back into the £1, as it promised to do in 1949? Will the Treasurer consider naming the major decimal unit the “ Ming “ as a permanent reminder of the reduction in the value of our currency since this Government came to office? If the Treasurer really desires to retain an Australian flavour in the new currency, as well as to keep the Prime Minister in the news-
– Order! The honorable member is now making comment, and his question is far too long.
– Will the Treasurer consider calling coins in the new currency treys, zacks, deeners and bobs7
– The honorable gentleman has asked whether the proposed change to decimal currency has some relation to a prior undertaking that this Government would aim to put value back into the £1. Having inherited a situation in which inflation was running at the rate of 10 per cent, per annum, and having then been compelled to contend with a decline in Australia’s terms of trade which, under any other government, might have had disastrous effects on the living standards in this country, the Government can feel reasonable satisfaction at having succeeded in stabilizing Australia’s currency and in maintaining the level of the consumer price index. That is an achievement which, I suggest, has not been surpassed by any other country in the world.
While it is propitious that a change of this kind should occur in a period of relatively stable currency values, that is not the overriding consideration. The Government has given long and very careful thought to the question of changing from our present system to a decimal currency system. It has had expert advice. It has been able to study the effects of the recent change in South Africa. It has been in consultation with the Government of the United Kingdom and the Government of New Zealand. Finally, after all this thought and consideration, it has come to the view that a change to a decimal currency system would be in the best interests of the Australian people.
As to the names of the coins, I think all sections of the House will agree that Australia has reached a maturity which warrants our having a major unit of currency possessing some Australian quality. Most countries have this quality in the most popular or major unit of their currency. I hope that, as we grow in financial and economic significance and strength, the Australian monetary unit not only will become more widely known and respected but also will be a source of continuing pride to the Australian people.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Primary Industry. Can he say when he will be in a position to announce the names of the chairman and the four non-grower members of the Australian Wool Board so that this important body can get on with its work?
– I hope to be in a position to announce the personnel of the new wool board and, concurrent with that, proclaim the act instituting that body in the very near future. There have been discussions between the conference executive and me. In fact, we have had two meetings. I emphasized to it that I hoped we could get the best personnel possible for the board rather than rush any decision thereon. As a consequence, the conference executive is doing its work as thoroughly as possible and I will meet it again in a few days’ time.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Immigration. Is there any truth in the reported suggestion that further consideration has been given to the Fontana case? If further consideration has been given to it, will he advise me whether there has been any change in the department’s attitude, which has been to refuse to give any but stereotyped reasons for its stand in the matter?
– The situation with regard to what the honorable member calls the Fontana case is this: As he may know - I think I have told him this before - this matter has been the subject of repeated representations over many years, and, indeed, long before my time as Minister. However, in order to see that justice is done, I have asked that three members of the Fontana family now in Italy be re-examined to see whether their health is so improved that they can possibly be considered for admission to Australia. I have also asked that that re-examination be done by an Australian doctor so as to avoid involving the members of the Fontana family in Italy in expense. When the medical reports are given to me, it will then be possible for me to consider whether these people are suitable for migration or not.
– Can the
Minister representing the Acting Minister for Trade tell the House whether the United Kingdom Government is at present considering fundamental changes in the United Kingdom farm support programmes? More specifically, is the United Kingdom Government considering modifying its farm support programmes so that they will fall into line with agricultural protection policies followed by the European Common Market countries? If this is so, is the Australian exporters’ open access to the United Kingdom market for primary produce likely to end, as it already has for butter?
– It is a fact, Mr. Speaker, that the United Kingdom Government has announced its intention to change the present system of farm support, principally because of the cost to the Exchequer. I understand that about three years ago the total amount of the subsidy paid in a year was approximately £263,000,000 sterling, and that it is estimated that, without a change in the system, the subsidy in 1963-64 will rise to about £364,000,000 sterling. The United Kingdom Government has announced that it intends to change the system of farm support, but at present there is no indication of the changes that will be made. The United Kingdom Government has stated that it will consult with Austrafia in the near future regarding this matter. In answer to the last part of the question, I can say only that, in view of the circumstances, we cannot indicate what the trend of the market will be.
– I ask the Minister acting for the Prime Minister a question without notice. Is it a fact that the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Trade, when addressing an Australian Country Party conference recently and referring to overseas investment in Australia, said that we are selling our heritage to overseas countries?
– I do not have the advantage of the full text of the speech by my colleague referred to by the honorable member for Watson. However, as a member of the Cabinet and of one of the Government parties I have from time to time had an opportunity to hear the views quite fully expressed by my colleague. He, of course, joins with all members of the Government in supporting the policy we are at present pursuing.
– Can the Minister representing the Acting Minister for Trade give the House the reasons for the protracted nature of the discussions which are taking place in connexion with the renewal or an extension of the Australian-Japanese trade treaty?
– The whole history of negotiations relating to trade agreements reveals that of necessity such negotiations are lengthy. There is no exception to that in the case of the negotiations now taking place between representatives of Australia and Japan in relation to this agreement. As the House will recall, the negotiations preceding the signing of the agreement in 1957 continued for over two years. The present talks commenced last November, and are still continuing. I cannot give any indication of when they will be completed. The reason for that is obvious. Because of the importance of the agreement to the Australian economy and also to the
Japanese economy, there are many issues to be discussed, the most important of which are the effect of Japanese imports on Australian industry and access to Japan for our products. Those matters will have to be discussed very thoroughly before any agreement on new conditions can be reached.
It is interesting to note that the value of Australian exports to Japan rose last year to £187,000,000, compared with £86,000,000 in 1955-56, the year before the treaty was signed. Japan is rapidly becoming our best customer. I can assure the honorable member that consideration is being given to the time factor in the negotiations. There is no undue delay. In the meantime, the present Australian-Japanese trade agreement continues in operation.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Labour and National Service. I ask whether it is a fact that there has been, and is, a continuing rapid development of mechanization, electronic devices and automation in virtually every kind of industry in the Australian economy. Is it true that, as a result of this development, many thousands of wage-earners have been deprived of their normal employment and that many thousands more are faced with the certainty of loss of employment in the future? Finally, I ask: To what extent does the Minister believe this condition will continue and to what extent have the new techniques contributed to the present disgracefully high level of unemployment? What action, if any, is being taken by the Government to re-train displaced workers to enable them to take up gainful employment in alternative occupations?
– The honorable gentleman will realize that this is a very big problem and that the several questions which he has asked are difficult to answer in a question-and-answer session in this House. Ever since 1954, the Department of Labour and National Service has been interested in this problem of automation or technological change, and has been negotiating with representatives of commerce and of industry in efforts to minimize the effect of this kind of change as much as it can.
The honorable gentleman has asked two questions - one concerning the extent to which automation or the gradual encroachment of technological change has affected wages, and the other concerning the prospect of alternative employment in industry. As I have said previously in this House - I repeat it now for the benefit of the honorable gentleman - we see the employment position improving steadily and surely. Frankly, we cannot see any evidence to-day that this kind of development is a cause of long-term unemployment in this country. On the contrary, Australia has ten to twenty years of progress in front of it. If we want to achieve the maximum of which we are capable, it is essential that we help rather than hinder technological development in this country.
As to the last part of the honorable gentleman’s question, I recently have had further discussions with the department about what we can do to improve the recruitment of apprentices. I think the honorable member will know that already the Government has taken action, which normally should have been taken by the State governments, both to step up the rate of apprenticeship and to help those who are in country areas. We are now, in co-operation with the Australian Council of Trade Unions, looking into the question of apprenticeship in the building trades, and we hope to be able to introduce very soon a scheme which will step up the rate of apprenticeship in these trades and so help to overcome this very big problem of automation, or, if you like, technological development.
– I wish to ask the Minister for Repatriation a question. I refer to his announcement that repatriation pensions and allowances will be paid on the day before Anzac Day, and I ask whether it is necessary to make any special arrangements to cover the Easter period.
– This matter has already been considered, because it is appreciated that if the normal fortnightly payment of repatriation pensions and allowances which fdls at the end of this week were not made until after the Easter period, hardship would be imposed on many ex- servicemen. I am pleased to be able to inform the honorable member that arrangements have now been made for the payment of repatriation pensions due on this occasion to be made before Easter.
– I direct a question to the Treasurer. Is it a fact that the substantial deficit provided for in the last Budget was designed to assist the recovery of a flagging economy? Has the Government failed to give the economy the stimulus provided for in the Budget by not incurring the deficit as planned? Does the Treasurer deny the claim made by the Australia and New Zealand Bank Limited, in its quarterly survey, that public lack of confidence in spending to stimulate employment, production and incomes is due to the Government’s failure to implement its deficit Budget?
-Nothing would give me greater satisfaction than to debate the Government’s economic policies with honorable gentlemen opposite. We were able to do so in a cursory way last week, and I would have thought that they would not have been in any hurry to repeat the dose. What the honorable member really is not willing to face up to is the accumulating evidence all round Australia of steady progress and expanding prosperity which give opportunities for employment in an environment that provides better living standards for our people. He can have all the argument he wants about some of the details of the way in which a budget works out.
I point out to the House that, when it came to estimating revenue and expenditure for the last Budget, we were very close to the mark- within 1 per cent, of our revenue estimates and about one-half of 1 per cent, of our expenditure estimates. What we had not banked on was the abnormally strong support which we have received for loans, and also the additional loans becoming available overseas. As I have sought to point out elsewhere, this has not meant any reduction in the total Government programmes, which, in the case of both the Commonwealth and the States, were very much larger than those of last financial year. These have undoubtedly had some stimulatory effect on the economy. I believe that we are now moving steadily forward and that the improving conditions will continue.
– My question is addressed to the Postmaster-General. As the direct line to be always available between President Kennedy and Premier Khrushchev figured largely in news items at the weekend, I ask: Are channels available for the Prime Minister of Australia to have immediate communication with other world leaders should it become urgently necessary?
– There are not as yet direct channels which would be available for the purpose mentioned by the honorable member. He knows, 1 think, that the Postmaster-General’s Department is proceeding, particularly through the Overseas Telecommunications Commission, with the development of vastly improved telecommunication services between Australia and especially our kindred nations - Canada, New Zealand and England - and Europe. By the end of this year, the submarine telephone cable across the Pacific Ocean will have reached Vancouver. This will make it possible to use the line across Canada and the cable across the Atlantic Ocean, which is known commonly as Cantat, for direct communication between Australia and many of the American and European countries.
– I should like to amplify a reply which I gave to the Leader of the Opposition earlier regarding assistance to the island of Bali.
– To Indonesia.
– To Indonesia, then. The honorable gentleman put the matter in terms of a specific recommendation. I have since been told - and this is evidence of the sympathetic and practical assistance which Australia seeks to give 10 those affected by this disaster - that a Royal Australian Air Force Hercules plane will fly direct to Den Pasar, on the island of Bali, leaving to-morrow. It will carry ten tons of clothing and food, chiefly powdered milk and rice, and a Holden utility. Food and clothing will be distributed on the island by this utility. This help has been provided as part of the assistance of £25,000 earlier announced. I mention that, but it does not detract from what I said in my earlier answer, when I stated that we would consider the specific suggestion that the Leader of the Opposition had made.
– by leave - I have asked for leave to make this statement because it has come to my knowledge that a good deal of misleading information is being passed around concerning the effect on the life of the aborigines of the Gove Peninsula of the granting of mining leases over bauxite deposits, with a requirement for the early commencement of mining and the eventual development of an alumina plant. Members on both sides of this House have been good enough to direct my attention to statements made on this matter and have suggested that an official rebuttal is needed.
We all deeply respect the motives and the warmth of sympathy of most of those Australians who have the welfare of the aborigines at heart, and I do not question for a moment the genuine concern of such persons. We would be blind however, if we did not also recognize that the Communist Party has also seized on this issue, and is assiduous in trying to misrepresent what has happened.
The bauxite deposits are on Gove Peninsula on the north-eastern tip of the Arnhem Land Reserve. The Arnhem Land Reserve for aborigines totals 35,000 square miles. It was created in 1931 at a time when official policy for those aborigines who were still tribal nomads was to protect them from contact with other Australians by keeping them apart on inviolable reserves. On these isolated reserves, Christian missions were established to bring the Christian religion to the people and to minister to their physical needs. One such mission was established by the Methodist Church at Yirrkala on Gove Peninsula.
In the present generation considerable changes have taken place. Under the policy of assimilation the intention is that the aboriginal people should have the opportunity of living without any limit on the exercise of their Australian citizenship, and on equal terms with all other Australians. For the sake of their advancement, more purposeful measures in health, education, housing and occupational training have been commenced. On Government settlements as well as on the missions, facilities and staff have been increased and the Government has helped finance the missions both with capital assistance and with subsidies for staff so as to improve schools and promote industry. With these changes in the manner of living, and with the increase in aboriginal population that has taken pace as a result of them, one of the emerging problems on all settlements and missions to-day is how best to help the transition from a sheltered life on a mission to a full life in the general Australian community at the normal Australian standards. At the heart of this task is the difficulty of providing gainful occupations. I am sure honorable members will appreciate that if there is nothing profitable to do at home, the up-and-coming educated younger generation will either leave home too early and make a mess of their lives, or they will stay at home and rot in disappointment. In gardening, fishing, cattle-raising, forestry, production of aboriginal artefacts for sale and similar enterprises, we have been trying to foster home industries at all missions in Arnhem Land side by side with measures for the advancement of the people. In these circumstances the coming of industry to Eastern Arnhem Land can represent a valuable opportunity for an advancing people and need not be a source of any harm.
In negotiating the terms of the mining leases in the Gove Peninsula we have kept in mind several different interests of the aborigines. Basically we have tried to ensure that no social evils will have a harmful effect on the aborigines either as individuals or as a community, and that the work of the Yirrkala mission, in sheltering, guiding and inspiring them, can continue undisturbed for the benefit of the community centred on the mission. We have also been conscious, on the one hand, of the need for ensuring that those of the older generation, for whom the ancient traditions are strongest, shall not lose access to their totemic sites or spirit centres; and, on the other hand, that those of the younger generation shall obtain the greatest possible benefit from any new opportunities of employment and training that may be created by the establishment of the industry.
In the negotiations of the leases and agreements for mining development we have relied on the Director of Welfare and his officers in the Northern Territory, who are in close touch with the aboriginal people themselves, to advise us on what conditions should be imposed to serve the interests of the aborigines. I want to assure the House that there is not a single condition that the Director of Welfare thought necessary that has not been obtained and written into the leases and agreements. We have also been in close consultation with the mission authorities, who are perhaps in even closer touch with the people. I have personally had discussions with the General Secretary of the Methodist Board of Missions, tha Reverend C. F. Gribble, and with the Superintendent in the Northern Territory, the Reverend G. J. Symons, about the details of the leases, and on my last visit to the Yirrkala mission also discussed the prospective situation with the missionary in charge. Before the leases were concluded arrangements were made for representatives of Gove Bauxite Limited, the prospective lessee, to meet the members of the Methodist Board of Missions in Sydney to discuss all problems.
The Methodist Board of Missions has agreed to a statement of measures safeguarding the interests of the aborigines. It is of public interest to know that the General Secretary of the Methodist Board of Missions, a gentleman who, both personally and with his family, has had a long and compassionate interest in this field of work, in informing me that the board had accepted this statement, wrote as follows: -
We feel that there are going to be many problems, some of them perhaps grievous ones, arising in our work with the aborigines in this area. However, we believe that your department and the mining company have taken all possible care to safeguard the interests of the people. We trust that if difficult situations arise from time to time as the venture proceeds we will be able to reach amicable agreement on the best course to follow for the welfare of the aborigines.
In the same spirit I can give an assurance on behalf of the Government that the care we have shown over native welfare at the inception will be applied at every stage of the development and in the handling of any difficulties that may arise. I should add that the representatives of the mining companies, both Australian and French, showed throughout our discussions an appreciation of the principles that both the mission and the Government will apply, and a readiness to co-operate in finding the most practical way of applying these principles.
I turn now to describe what has been done to protect the interest of the aborigines.
First, an area of 140 square miles - that is, 140 out of 35,000 - has been excised from the Arnhem Land Reserve. Excision was regarded as the most practical way of handling the administrative arrangements to be made both in respect of the mining venture and the welfare of the aborigines.
The mining leases, which have been granted over a defined area, with strictly limited boundaries, contain provisions, inter alia -
The lease documents also provide that if, at a later stage, it is considered desirable to move and re-establish the mission the whole cost of removal and re-establishment will be borne by the lessee.
A collateral letter accompanying the lease contains agreed provisions designed to ensure that the aborigines and the mission shall participate in the benefits of employment and the benefits of supplying requirements to the mining operation. These provisions include the training of aborigines for skilled labour. If the lessee employs aboriginal wards it will accept in principle the preservation as far as practicable of the family unit so that employees will either live on the mission while work ing for the lessee or be provided by the lessee with suitable housing units of a standard laid down by law. The mission authorities will in the latter case continue to have full access to the wards and their families for spiritual, physical and social welfare purposes. On the request of, and after discussion with the Administrator of the Northern Territory, the lessee will make available to the mission arable areas or areas of religious significance to aborigines within the boundaries of the special mineral leases, and if required will surrender such areas from the mineral leases.
The special authorization of the Administrator will be required before the lessee can conduct mining inside the mission boundary fence or within a mile of the mission, whichever distance is the greater, and if there is any loss of developed land the lessee will either pay compensation or provide equivalent improvements on other land. The lessee will, in consultation with the Administrator and the mission, make rules for the conduct of its employees towards the aborigines.
It will be seen that exceptional measures have been taken to protect the welfare of the aborigines and to give them a full opportunity to share in the benefits of the development. Our belief is that they will gain considerably in the coming years from the establishment of an industry close to them and that the younger generation, who are now receiving an efficient schooling on the Australian pattern, will find new and unexpected opportunities in the years ahead of them.
In addition, under an act of this Parliament resulting from a bill which I had the privilege of introducing in 1952, the royalty on all minerals mined at Gove will be double the usual royalty and the whole of this double royalty will be paid into a trust fund for the sole benefit of aboriginal wards of the Northern Territory. At a conservative estimate, if the full plans for the Gove development are realized, this trust fund might well reach a total of £4,000,000 for the benefit of aborigines.
In the immediate present, as an earnest of the good intentions of the Government and the mining company towards the aborigines, our officers are entering into consultation with the leaders in the native community at Yirrkala to provide some tangible form of compensation, probably in the form of a series of cottages to be built for them. This comparatively small act - small compared with the ultimate benefit they will receive - is intended to be a witness to the older men, who themselves may not share in the full future benefits of the venture, that the development is intended to be for the good of their people.
When talking of compensation I think that in the interests of accuracy it should be stated that the creation of an aboriginal reserve in 1931 did not create any legal title either to the land or resources of that reserve for those living on it. Reserves were created as an act of policy in years gone by in furthering what was considered to be the welfare of aborigines in isolating them from the mass of the population. Our aim, to-day, however, is to ensure that any development of reserves takes place in such a way as to promote their welfare. For example, in other parts of the Territory we are embarking on planned forestry development on reserves so as to provide a future industry for the local population and, in yet other places, directions have been given that land with agricultural potential is to be held on the reserves so that when a coming generation seeks opportunity in farming there will be land available for application by them. In the same interpretation of the nature of a reserve, the double royalty to which I have referred is to be levied on minerals and the royalty, instead of going into consolidated revenue like other royalties do, will be paid into a trust fund for aboriginal wards.
There will be those in Australia who would argue that a new industry in the Northern Territory with a potential investment of say, £45,000,000 and a great export potential is worth having for itself, and that this advantage outweighs other considerations. I do not myself argue in that way. I trust that all Australian citizens will also agree, after considering the statement I have made, that in grasping this prize we have also been not merely considerate but scrupulously careful of the interests of the 450 aborigines who will be directly affected by this major national development at Gove. There will be a continuing need for care but it should be noted that the development will take place progressively over the years and that the full impact of change will not be felt at Yirrkala for at least seven years to come so that the younger generation of the people will be growing up with the Gove project. I assure the House that we recognize that the impact of change can be harsh for any group of people and we will take the utmost care for the protection and advancement of these people in the changing circumstances.
I lay on the table the following paper: -
Welfare of the Aborigines of Gove Peninsula, Northern Territory - Ministerial Statement, and move -
That the paper be printed.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Beazley) adjourned.
Ministerial Statement - Report
– by leave - On 8th March, 1962, I announced that the Government had invited applications for the grant of a licence for a third commercial television station in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide, and for a second commercial station in Perth. A total of 30 applications was received for the licences as follows: -
Sydney - nine applications.
Melbourne - six applications.
Brisbane - four applications.
Adelaide - six applications.
Perth - five applications.
Pursuant to the provisions of the Broadcasting and Television Act 1942-1960, the applications were referred to the Australian Broadcasting Control Board for public inquiry and report to me. The board subsequently conducted inquiries into the applications received in respect of Sydney and Melbourne and has submitted to me its report and recommendations thereon. I might here say that because of its commitments in respect of other inquiries relating to the grant of licences in country areas, the Board has not yet been able to deal with the remaining capital cities.
Following consideration of the board’s report, the Government has authorized me to grant the licences as follows: -
For the Sydney area - United Telecasters Sydney Limited.
For the Melbourne area - Austarama Television Proprietary Limited.
The constitution of these companies, as well as those of the other applicants, is set out in the board’s report.
The licences will not be granted until I am satisfied as to the directors and shareholdings of the two companies and as to their compliance with the provisions of the act. As provided in the act, the licences will be granted for an initial period of five years.
It is perhaps opportune that I should say that the board has now almost completed its inquiries into applications for licences in thirteen country areas and will submit its recommendations to me as soon as possible. It anticipates being in a position to commence inquiries into the applications received for the Brisbane area about midMay, to be followed by those for the Adelaide and Perth areas. I lay on the table the following papers: -
Commercial Licences - Ministerial Statement, 9th April, 1963;
Australian Broadcasting Control Board -
Report and recommendations to the PostmasterGeneral on applications for a licence for a commercial television station in the Sydney area and in the Melbourne area, and move -
That the papers be printed.
– I do not intend that the debate should be adjourned. I want to say something about this situation. I do not suppose that the PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Davidson) could have given the House less information on this question than he has given it.
– He has given it to the newspapers.
– He has not given it to the newspapers, either. There have been many happenings concerning television in recent times and about which the House has been told nothing. There is the matter of the Australian Broadcasting Commission station at Newcastle. The manager has said that the station will not go on the air immediately because, if it did so, the commercial station would be disadvantaged. The A.B.C. station could have a programme relayed from Sydney, but there is no relay provision for the commercial station. I do not want to enter into that argument, but that is one situation which has arisen and about which the House ought to be informed.
– The Government is very accommodating.
– I do not know whether it is accommodating, or whether it is on the defensive. There is a High Court action proceeding, too, and I think that the House should be advised about it.
The Minister has told us that there were four applications for a licence in Brisbane, six in Adelaide and five in Perth. I speak only for myself, but I do not think that Brisbane could carry three television licences - and many other people are of the same opinion - even if the two licences that are operated in Brisbane to-day are owned by newspaper interests. Similarly, I do not think that Adelaide could carry three licences, even if the two licences which are held to-day are owned by newspaper interests. I am certain that Perth cannot carry two licences, even if the one licence which is held there is owned by a newspaper company. For our part, we would not have any newspapers owning television licences, because in some cities of Australia the newspaper interests own the newspapers, the radio licences and also the television licences. They own and control the whole of the media of propaganda and dissemination of news. That is not good in the national interest, nor is it good for democracy. It is something that ought to be avoided.
The Minister has said little or nothing about that. In the most euphemistic fashion possible he has told us that, in Sydney, United Telecasters Sydney Limited received the approbation of the Cabinet and got the licence. In Melbourne, Austarama Television Proprietary Limited got the licence. The name “ Austarama “ reminds me of the title which the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) has coined for the proposed new decimal currency unit. He intends to call it the “ Auster “, perhaps because it reminds him of the austerity that he has forced on the nation. The word “ Austarama “ seems to be designed to disguise a lot of things that have been happening in Melbourne. The grant of the licence to Austarama Television Proprietary
Limited is, in reality, a grant to Ansett Transport Industries Limited.
– Ansett has been a good friend to the Government.
– Of course he has. But the grant of that licence has occasioned a good deal of criticism in Victoria. It has occasioned, too, a good deal of bitter and cynical criticism all over Australia.
The statement by Mr. R. M. Ansett that he knew nothing about the grant of the licence until Saturday morning is not believed by anybody, because Mr. Ansett himself let it be known eight weeks ago that he was to get the licence. He let it be known sufficiently widely in Australia to affect the shares of his company on the stock exchange so much that they rose from 5s. 4d. to 6s. 7d. each. That did not happen by accident. He knew all the time that he was to get the licence. He said that he was going to get it. Let us have a look at his balance-sheet. Who is this man who gets all the benefits from this Government? Let us have a look at the position of Ansett Transport Industries Limited. I know that the honorable member for Macarthur (Mr. Jeff Bate), who is trying to interject, hates Trans-Australia Airlines to such an extent that he will never travel on its aircraft.
– That is untrue. I have gone right round Australia on its planes.
– Ansett Transport Industries Limited has £6,000,000 worth of assets of dubious value, and liabilities amounting to £32,000,000. This is the company which has received a television licence from the Government.
How does Mr. Ansett propose to finance the station? He will obtain a bank overdraft of £500,000, and he will go on the market and raise £800,000 in notes at 8 per cent, interest from those who are prepared to give it to him. In every newspaper throughout Australia he is advertising for money at 8 per cent, to 8i per cent, interest. In to-day’s press he has announced that he is getting £500,000 from two big insurance companies to help him to reorganize and re-furnish the Queen’s Hotel at Townsville and the Hotel Wellington at Canberra. Yet, to all intents and purposes the man is broke. Anybody who has seen his balance-sheet wonders how ha carries on. He carries on only because he has the backing and support of this Government. He is the only man who has borrowed money at 8 per cent, and 8) per cent, around Australia and been able to survive. Korman has crashed, Hooker has crashed, Latec has crashed, Reid Murray has crashed and Testro has crashed. The companies which have crashed have involved investors who were foolish enough to invest their money in them because they wanted to chase a high rate of interest; and the amount involved to date, without Testro, has been at least £63,000,000. Ansett is the only one so far who has escaped.
Mr. Ansett, having got his licence, having got his gold-mine, could sell out in twelve months’ time at a profit of £1,000,000. Other people have done so. He could sell out to newspaper interests from Sydney, from Melbourne, from Adelaide or from somewhere else. He could sell out to other interests. All that needs to happen is for the PostmasterGeneral to give his approval. Of course, it was not easy for the Postmaster-General to persuade the Cabinet to adopt the recommendation of the board. An honorable member opposite, who is quite new to this Parliament, relatively speaking, asks how I know that. He forgets that a long time ago I used to be the Minister for Information.
– You did not give licences; you took them away.
– I took them away for good purposes, but I did not give them to racketeers. I know what happened in the Cabinet. The three top men - the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies), the Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen) and the Treasurer - opposed the grant of these licences.
– You are wrong.
– I am not wrong. The campaign for Ansett was spear-headed by the Western Australian Ministers -
– I’ll bet it was.
– Headed by the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Paltridge) and supported by the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) and all the other New South Wales Ministers.
– You are wrong again. You are lying again.
– I am not wrong. My information is completely right. It comes from the highest and most impeccable Liberal Party sources.
– Again you are lying.
– What did you say?
– I said, “ Again you are lying “.
– Mr. Speaker, the Minister said that I am lying.
– Order! The Minister will withdraw that remark.
– I withdraw the statement.
– I ask the Minister not to interject and to set an example. The Leader of the Opposition has the call.
– There is nobody in the Ansett group who knows anything about television - not one of them - but that group was helped by the technical advisers of the Broadcasting Control Board in the preparation of its case, and the Director-General of Civil Aviation gave Mr. Ansett a recommendation saying that he had always maintained good relationships with government departments. That may or may not have had sinister implications; but every body else who was associated with every other application was entitled to a similar recommendation from some body in a government department if his relationships were very good, too. That would probably have helped other people.
– Are you going to nationalize television?
– No, I do not want to nationalize television; but I would do what the Conservative Government in the United Kingdom did, namely, set up an independent television authority. Under that system the Government owns the instrumentality and invites private enterprise to tender for the programmes. Under that system at least you get a clean, decent deal and there are no smellful conditions surrounding the granting of licences, as people at least imagine there are to-day in Australia. There is a lot about this matter that many people are a good deal worried about. There are many good people in various places who feel that their claims were not properly considered. There is a provision in the relevant act or at least there is a convention that these licences shall be granted to companies which are broadly based, in which the representation is widely spread and which can command resources that can give the community cultural and educational entertainment, advice and assistance as well as the same sort of programmes that they generally get. But in respect of Melbourne, at any rate, having looked at the directorates and the resources of the unsuccessful applicant companies, I am satisfied that practically every one of them had a better case than the case put forward by the Ansett group. The Government has a lot to answer for. What the Director-General of Civil Aviation, Mr. Anderson, did by his recommendation was prejudice the case in favour of Ansett Transport Industries Limited. As I said, the Cabinet was divided on the issue. The Cabinet took a long time to make up its mind. The leading Ministers who opposed the granting of the licence to Ansett Transport Industries Limited did so because they realized how much political dynamite there was in the issue. They knew what was contained in it and what was happening. And they were right. The public does not like what has happened. The public resents it - bitterly resents it. As far as the public is concerned, the whole business is surrounded by a smellful aroma. If there are to be private enterprise controlled stations, the companies operating them should be broadly based and widely representative, as I have said; but it would be far better, if we are going to have private enterprise stations associated with national stations, to have the British system, which was introduced by a Conservative government, rather than this system under which the granting of television licences, like kissing, goes by favour.
In Sydney there is objection to the granting of the licence to the company that obtained it because at one time Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Limited and Email Limited sold out their shares in
ATN to John Fairfax and Sons Proprietary Limited. Those companies paid £207,000 for their shares, but sold them for £1,246,000. They made profit of about £800,000. Now, those and other interests have been granted a new licence.
In Melbourne, Sir Arthur Warner’s company, Electronic Industries Limited, having sold out its interest in GTV to the Pye company in England, had to surrender its licence because of a very proper provision that overseas interests cannot hold more than 15 per cent, of the shareholding in any television company. Sir Frank Packer in Sydney complained that he was robbed by Sir Arthur Warner because of the price that he had to pay. There were others who were prepared to pay an even greater price. There were people in Melbourne who were prepared to defy the Broadcasting and Television Act by forming a company that would have evaded the law and so that the Melbourne “Herald” could have been associated with the operation of a third television licence.
These licences are gold-mines. They are very valuable things to have. Seemingly, the Government referred this matter to the Broadcasting Control Board and then, when the report came along and it wanted to adopt the report, it did so. On a previous occasion when licences were being granted in Brisbane and Adelaide, the board said: “We recommend none of the three applicants because all of them are unsuitable. In any case, we recommend that one licence only be granted, but that new applications be called.” The Government said: “ Never mind about whether any of them are unsuitable or not. You give us a recommendation so that we can allot two licences among the three applicants that you think are unsuitable.” As honorable members can find in the parliamentary records, the Government then gave the licences to two of the companies in Brisbane that the board said were unsuitable and two of the companies in Adelaide that the board said were unsuitable.
I leave the matter there. The whole situation in regard to the allocation of television licences in Australia ‘rs unsatisfactory. It can be worse than unsatisfactory. This experience is such that in the eyes of the Australian people it is the most unsavoury of all up to date.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Howson) adjourned.
– For the information of honorable members, I lay on the table of the House the reports of the Australian Government, employers’ and workers’ delegates to the 46th session of the International Labour Conference held at Geneva in June, 1962. Following established practice, the House will bc informed at a later date of the action taken or proposed to be taken in respect of the convention and recommendation adopted by this conference.
– Are you going to move that the reports be printed?
– No. I will see that copies are distributed to any one who wants them, including yourself.
– Will there be no opportunity to debate them?
– I will be making a statement. You may debate the statement when I bring it forward.
.- In accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act, 1913-1960, I present the report of the Standing Committee on Public Works relating to the following proposed work: -
Launceston Airport - Lengthening and strengthening of runway and development of taxiways and hardstanding area.
The committee found that there is a need to extend the runway at the Launceston airport; that to cope with increasing traffic there it is necessary to install a parallel taxiway; and that to provide adequate parking space for aircraft a new hardstanding area should be constructed. The committee directs the attention of the House to the evidence given by the domestic aircraft companies relating to the servicing of the airport by both Boeing 727 aircraft and aircraft of the type of the British Aircraft
Corporation’s One-Eleven. The committee has recommended that in order to permit all aircraft up to the Boeing 727 specification to operate direct between Launceston and Sydney a runway 6,500 feet long with the existing section strengthened and the extension equally strong is necessary. A temporary strip, capable of use by DC3, DC4 and Friendship aircraft, will need to be in use for six to nine months. There could be some disruption to air services due to weather while the runway is closed, but the cost of an all-weather temporary strip cannot be justified in the opinion of the committee. The estimated cost of the work proposed is £1,025,000.
Ordered to be printed.
– I have received a letter from the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Allan Fraser) proposing that a definite matter of urgent public importance be submitted to the House for discussion, namely -
The failure of the Menzies Government to provide finance for hospital maintenance on the basis established by the Chifley Government.
I call upon those members who approve of the proposed discussion to rise in their places. (More than the number of members required by the Standing Orders having risen in their places) -
– Mr. Speaker, the fact to-day is that the Federal Government has refused to meet its allotted share of hospital costs in this country. The Federal Government has walked out of its hospital responsibilities and, by doing so, has left the States and the patients to bear that share of payments which is the proper obligation of the Federal Government. Hospital patients to-day are carrying heavier financial burdens simply because the Federal Government has walked out of its own responsibility in this matter. The increased hospital fees imposed in New South Wales the other day are the direct result of the Federal Government’s refusal any longer to pay its proper share of hospital costs.
The Commonwealth is responsible for one-third of the daily cost of maintaining each hospital patient. It has an obligation to pay one-third of the cost of maintaining each hospital patient. That cost to-day averages about £6 a day throughout Australia. This Government should now, therefore, be paying £2 a day for each patient. Instead it is paying 8s. a day for soma patients, which is one-fifth of the Commonwealth’s allotted share. The Commonwealth is paying 20s. a day for some other patients, that is, half of its allotted share. It is paying 36s. a day for some - not all - pensioners, but even that is less than its proper share. For uninsured patients it pays 8s. a day, which is 7 per cent, of the cost of maintaining those patients, instead of 33 per cent., which is its proper share. It pays 20s. a day for insured patients, which is exactly 16 per cent, of cost instead of the 33 per cent, it is properly required to pay.
– Required by whom?
– It is paying 36s. a day, not for all pensioners but only for those who hold entitlement cards and even this is not one-third of the cost as accepted under the agreement.
– By what agreement?
– Some honorable members have inquired how this basis arose. This was established seventeen years ago and followed two happenings. The first is the transfer to the Commonwealth under the uniform taxation law of complete power to raise revenue in the income taxation field and the second was the passage of the social services referendum in 1946. By those two happenings a completely new position was established. The Commonwealth was now ‘able, constitutionally, to take a direct responsibility in this field and the States were deprived of their former power to raise money by income taxation. Thus, in 1946, this new basis was established whereby the Commonwealth agreed to pay one-third of the cost of maintaining each occupied bed. That was the 1946 Commonwealth and States hospital agreement.
Pursuant to that agreement, but before it was signed, the cost of maintaining each bed was established by careful inquiry to be 18s. a day. The Commonwealth thereupon agreed to pay 6s. a day, which was then one-third. That was put into a solemn agreement between the Commonwealth and the States and the Commonwealth of Australia put its signature to that agreement, accepting its responsibility as being the sole source of direct income taxation revenue and as having a newly-obtained constitutional power in this field.
The Chifley Government continued to honour that agreement and to pay one-third of the cost of hospitalization of each patient right up to the time it was defeated. For example, in 1948 it was established that costs had risen to 26s. a day. This was proved to the satisfaction of the Commonwealth, which accordingly increased its payment to 8s. a day. The present Government inherited that position and undertook to carry on the agreement. Before its election in 1949 it said not one word to indicate that it proposed to repudiate this undertaking to the States, but the fact is that the Commonwealth continued this agreement only until it became due for renewal. Ever since the Commonwealth has refused to renew the agreement, and instead of paying one-third of the cost it is still paying only 8s. a day as the basic payment. There is no merit in that figure, except that it happened to be one-third of the cost of maintaining a hospital patient in 1948 before the Menzies inflation. But the Commonwealth sticks to that figure of 8s. a day as a basic payment - 7 per cent, instead of 33 per cent, of the cost, or, in other words, one-fourteenth instead of onethird of the cost.
The Commonwealth and States hospital agreement in 1946, as varied in 1948, provided rial treatment in public wards of hospitals would bc free to every one and that ‘.he;e would be no means test. This was a light established for the richest as well as the i’901 est person in the community. A person paid taxation according o his ability to pay, and enjoyed in return this ry.i to f:ce ti ea:ment in a public ward. *Yr.h ra written i:.to the Commonwealth an-J S!».’.:v, hospitals agreement to which the signature oi the Commonwealth Governr.:?at el Australia was duly placed. “His Menzies Government destroyed that a.V,. it ordered the States to charge fees Li pui llc wards In fact, it held a gun at their heads. It said that additional Commonwealth assistance would not be provided unless the States charged fees in public wards. Only one State was able to resist that ultimatum. That was Queensland, which was governed by a Labour government. Every other State government, Liberal and Labour alike, faced with the tremendously rapidly rising cost of hospital treatment through the Menzies inflation, was forced to agree to impose fees as demanded by the Commonwealth as the price of necessary assistance, even to keep the hospital doors open.
There is no doubt about these facts, because the Commonwealth provided that th additional payment of 12s. a day would be made only where a charge was imposed against a patient and that the hospital could not obtain the additional Commonwealth benefit of 12s. a day unless it imposed charges in public wards.
In addition, instead of the hospitals being financed by progressive taxation, each person paying according to his ability to pay, the Commonwealth at the same time introduced the system of flat-rate contributions through the voluntary hospital benefits organization, to which, however, it was compulsory to belong if you wanted to obtain the Commonwealth benefit. So, for the first time, the poorest man in the community was required to pay as much as the richest, on a flat-rate basis, towards the cost of financing his hospital treatment.
Those are the changes that have been made since the days of the Chifley Government. Then the Commonwealth paid onethird of the cost of hospital treatment, based on the established cost of each occupied bed. Everybody was treated free in a public ward without application of a means test. Hospitalization was financed by a system of progressive taxation based on ability to pay. The whole of that advance along the path of progress has been destroyed by the present Government. This Government has refused any longer to pay one-third of the cost of hospital treatment. It pays an amount as low as 7 per cent, of the cost, rising to 16 per cent, of the cost in the case of insured patients, and even less than one-third of the cost for some pensioners only. And it has established a system of flat-rate taxation through contributions for the purpose of financing hospitals.
Now I refer briefly to the claim of the Minister for Health (Senator Wade) that the Commonwealth has established for the first time free hospitalization for pensioners.
– That is not true.
– I agree. It is absolutely untrue. It is a complete and utter falsehood. In Australia, right up until the day the Chifley Government was defeated, not only pensioners but everybody was entitled to free hospital treatment. Ever since then, speaking only of the State I come from, every pensioner in New South Wales has been entitled to free hospital treatment. What the Commonwealth Government has done now has been to restrict the assistance which it gives, so that as far as it is concerned free hospitalization in the future will be provided only to one category of pensioners - those who hold an entitlement card. If the Commonwealth has its way and forces the States to accept its proposals, pensioners in every other category will be compelled to pay hospital fees. What is the confirmation of that claim? The confirmation is what happens in the Government’s own hospital in Canberra. Here the Commonwealth has unlimited finance for hospitals. It has complete control of the Canberra hospital but, by ministerial directive, in this capital alone a fee must be charged in the public ward to every pensioner who does not hold a medical entitlement card. In addition, the Government is now claiming that the New South Wales Government is responsible for fees being increased in that State, but on 27th August last year the Commonwealth Minister for Health said -
New South Wales hospital fees are too low and the remedy lies in their own hands. They should increase the fees.
In that same month the New South Wales Government, in conjunction with every other State government, submitted proposals for a new Commonwealth and States hospitals agreement based on the Commonwealth again accepting its responsibility for onethird of the cost of maintenance of ordinary patients and SO per cent, of the cost of maintenance of pensioner patients; but the Commonwealth flatly refused to accept the proposal and introduced its new proposals.
In other words, the Commonwealth has used its control of finance to bludgeon the States into acceptance of its proposals. The States’ proposals were made in August, 1962. On 22nd October, 1962, the Commonwealth summoned a conference. It was a conference in name only because, without discussion, the States’ proposals were flatly rejected and the new Commonwealth scheme was introduced. What has been the result? The public hospitals of New South Wales faced a deficit of £3,600,000 by next June. If the Commonwealth had paid its share, and no more, that deficit would not have existed. The deficit existed only because the Commonwealth refused any longer to pay its share and flatly rejected the representations of every State Premier. The Commonwealth Government has therefore transferred its responsibility to the patients themselves. The States have no independent source of income taxation. They cannot raise tha money in the way the Commonwealth can and does raise it. They have no alternative to increasing fees.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– Tha honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Allan Fraser) based his entire case on a claim that the Commonwealth had accepted a responsibility for one-third of the cost of hospital maintenance in the States. As no such agreement was ever made and does not exist, the whole of his case falls down. The hospital benefits agreement to which the honorable member referred joined the Commonwealth and each State. In substance the agreement provided that the Commonwealth would pay 8s. a day each for all patients provided the State deducted this amount from any charge made by the hospital. The original condition laid down by the Chifley Government in making that provision was that for patients in public wards no further charge would be made.
It is also interesting to note that a former Premier of New South Wales, speaking at a Premiers’ Conference in 1944 and referring to a scheme proposed at the time, which eventually was incorporated in the original agreement, said -
Should this proposed scheme come into operation, many persons who now contribute to hospital benefit funds would discontinue their payments, so that the Commonwealth Government’s payment of 6s. a day would merely be substituted for the 6s. a day now received from other sources. The view of New South Wales is that the proposed scheme would substantially interfere with the voluntary contributions towards hospitals.
That was an indication that there was a lack of unanimity at the time in the Labour Party.
The honorable member for EdenMonaro claimed that a Minister had stated that under the new scheme for the first time free hospitalization for pensioners would be introduced. In fact, I was the Minister who made the statement in this House a few months ago in relation to the changed system. For the benefit of honorable members I think I should refer again to my exact words. I said this -
Another matter to which the Government has liven 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.
Again, I think this indicates that the premise on which the case as stated by the honorable member for Eden-Monaro is based is entirely incorrect.
– With respect, I was quoting Senator Wade.
– That is a part of a statement of Government policy which I made on his behalf in this House.
– He made a subsequent statement.
– If a subsequent statement was made, it may have been incor rectly reported. Members of the Opposition by their action to-day in raising this matter for discussion as a matter of urgency have shown that they have not only to obey their 36 masters on the federal executive of the Australian Labour Party but that they must also take instructions from the executive in New South Wales. By raising this matter in this way they have shown how far Labour thinking is from the realities of our present National Health Scheme. Perhaps their New South Wales masters have forgotten that all Australian States are vitally interested in national health. The approach to this matter in most other States has been responsible and honest. I suppose that this matter has been raised now because the New South Wales Labour Government saw fit, a few days ago, to raise hospital fees in that State to approximately the level of those in other States except Queensland, where hospitalization in public wards is free and charges are made only in intermediate and private wards. I should like to take this opportunity to pay a tribute to the Queensland Government for the maintenance of a splendid hospital service in that State.
The Opposition has suggested that the Commonwealth’s contribution to hospitals should be greater. This suggestion does not come very well from a party which, in its last year of office as a government, provided only £6,000,000 for the whole of the national health services, whilst the present Government, in this financial year, is providing over £100,000,000 for the national health scheme. I leave that thought to be considered. There is no doubt that, as hospital costs increase, one would expect the States to increase hospital charges. It has always been a principle of the national health schemes that Commonwealth assistance should go to the patient, to enable him to meet the cost of hospital and medical treatment. For example, in the case of the hospital benefits scheme adequate cover is provided for current public, intermediate and private ward charges. The cover could be increased if the States found it necessary further to increase their hospital charges.
I suppose that the case put forward by the honorable member for Eden-Monaro was based on the position in New South Wales. The interesting fact is that, in that
State, for a modest weekly hospital benefit insurance contribution of 3s. a family can obtain a cover of £2 16s. per day, although the public ward charges in that State up to last week have been only £2 4s. a day. Insured patients who went into public wards in New South Wales, in the words of Mr. Sheahan, the New South Wales Minister for Health, were obtaining an unwarranted profit. I quote from the Sydney “Daily Telegraph” of 29th June, 1962, as follows: -
PATIENTS MAKING A PROFIT
“Tha N.S.W. Hospitals Contribution Fund allowed many patients to make a profit by staying in hospital,” the Minister for Health (Mr. Sheahan) said yesterday. “The Hospitals Contribution Funds returned up to 160 per cent.,” he said.
Another statement attributed to the New South Wales Minister for Health in the “Sydney Morning Herald” of 30th June, 1962, was as follows: -
Mr. Sheahan said some of the anomalies were: Public-ward contributors to hospital funds could make a profit of 182 per cent, a week from their sickness.
The case put forward by the honorable member for Eden-Monaro to-day is in almost complete contradiction to the position as stated by Mr. Sheahan on those two occasions on which I have quoted him. From figures which I have had taken out for the year 1961-62 it would appear that a profit of £717,237 was made by New South Wales contributors to Blue Cross organizations. That is the money they would have in hand after paying hospital charges. The Blue Cross organizations cover only 72 per cent, of the people insured in New South Wales. It has been estimated that a total profit of £750,000 was made in New South Wales alone, due to the low charges which have been made by hospitals. It has also been estimated that the cost of this practice to the Government of New South Wales was between £800,000 and £1,000,000 in that year. So it is the height of absurdity for members of the Opposition to criticize the reluctance of this Government to make an additional contribution - which would come from the taxpayers of all States - to cover, principally, the State of New South Wales, so that the Minister for Health there could, perhaps, gain a little more popularity.
At this stage, let me re-emphasize - it is very necessary to do so in view of the argu ments of the honorable member for EdenMonaro - that, with the exception of hospitals in the Australian territories, repatriation hospitals and some other institutions, the responsibility for the provision and maintenance of the hospital system is the responsibility of the State governments. The Commonwealth’s role in this field under the national health scheme is to assist patients to pay hospital expenses. This helps the hospitals by allowing them to charge reasonable fees. The States were never led to believe, nor has the Commonwealth ever accepted, that the Commonwealth was responsible for maintenance costs of hospitals in the States or that the Commonwealth was making any contribution towards such costs.
The object of the original agreements was to provide a limited form of free public hospitalization. The Commonwealth benefit of 6s. per day, which was fixed in 1946, was fixed with no relation to the average bed costs then obtaining. Commonwealth benefits have never been equated with bed costs. The 1946 benefit rate of 6s. was calculated on the basis of the average fees previously received by hospitals from public ward patients. The agreements did not originate from pressure by the State governments for Commonwealth assistance in meeting hospital costs. The 1948 increase in the rate of benefit from 6s. to 8s. per day did not relate to any rise in bed costs. The increase was made following representations by State governments to the effect that the generally higher level of income would enable the States to collect 8s. per day from patients in lieu of the 6s. then being collected.
It is a fact that the limited hospitals scheme which was introduced by the Labour Government in 1946 brought the hospitals to the verge of bankruptcy. The great national health scheme introduced by this Government brought a new era of progress and expansion in the State hospital systems? So universally has this schema been accepted that, to-day, over 90 per cent, of the Australian population are covered by the national health scheme or by some other Commonwealth scheme of assistance. Even the small remaining proportion of the population is entitled to the minimum Commonwealth benefit of 8s. per day. The Government rejects outright this attempt by the Opposition to mislead the House and cover up the bungling, in some cases, of the State Government of New South Wales, which is the home State of the honorable member for Eden-Monaro.
Our Government has a proud record in the national health field. Some indication of the emphasis we place on this form of human service may be gained from the fact that during its last year of office the Labour government, as I said before, devoted only £6,000,000 to these services, whereas this year we will be spending over £100,000,000. The Opposition has conveniently overlooked the amount of hospital benefits which is now being paid each year. Last year, the total of Commonwealth payments and fund benefits paid by the various funds in each State was approximately £36,250,000 and the figure estimated for this year is over £40,500,000. Of the total, over £15,000,000 was paid to the New South Wales Government last year. This is an enormous increase over recent years.
It is interesting to compare the records on hospital maintenance alone. In New Wales, the contributions from the Commonwealth, from fund benefits and from other direct benefits provide for 38.6 per cent, of the total maintenance costs of the State’s hospitals. A similar position obtains throughout most of the other States. The Opposition has also been misleading in its reference to the basic figure of 8s., because it knows that over 80 per cent, of the population is receiving some form of benefit and that in addition to the 8s. there is the additional benefit which is now combined to make the total £1 for all who are insured under the national health scheme. Last December, the Commonwealth took further steps which had the effect of assisting State hospitals. It undertook to pay 36s. a day instead of 12s. a day, which had been paid since 1952, towards the cost of giving free treatment to pensioners in public wards. These decisions have been of vital assistance to the States. It has become apparent that the Opposition’s criticism of the Government at this time is only a political gesture because, in fact, in one field alone the Commonwealth has increased the assistance from 12s. a day to 36s. a day to cover all uninsured pensioners who obtain hospital service in public wards.
In general terms it is apparent that the hospital insurance fund system, due to a combination of Commonwealth financial support and almost universal public acceptance, is working most efficiently and is making a most notable contribution, both directly and indirectly, towards the cost of maintaining hospitals in all States. It is firm Government policy that future Commonwealth assistance should be directed towards assisting the individual patient to meet his hospital expenses rather than that it should take the form of direct assistance to the States. Last year £82,400,000 was devoted to national health. This year an estimated £92,700,000 will be expended from the National Welfare Fund, and the te lal Commonwealth expenditure on all health services will be over £100,000,000. We feel sure that this splendid human service is fully appreciated by all thinking people in the community.
.- I wonder for how long members of the Cabinet will continue talking to themselves in an effort to convince themselves, by a rather unrelated series of facts, that they are doing a good job in the field of social services. Surely the facts are apparent to every person in the community. Hospital costs have increased but the Commonwealth contribution has remained stationary. This is creating increasing hardship on hospital patients but the Commonwealth is avoiding the responsibility which was placed on it by the popular vote of the people of Australia.
The Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Swartz) when speaking to the subject which was proposed for discussion by the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Allan Fraser) asked, “ What is the basis of this agreement? “ The vote of the Australian people demanded that the Commonwealth step into the field of social services, and if one reads the reports of the relevant debate at the time, one will see that this Parliament almost unanimously supported that vote. There was a fair amount of agreement on the general principles. The principles which were established then should not be disregarded.
In fact, there should be a policy of continual expansion.
The Minister shirked every argument which was advanced. This debate relates to the failure of the Menzies Government to provide finance for hospital maintenance on the basis established by the Chifley Government. What was that basis? First of all, some general principles in the hospitals benefit scheme were established at that time. The seventh interim report of the Joint Committee on Social Security which was tabled in this House on 15th February, 1944, mentions some of the principles which were discussed then. The honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly), then the honorable member for Martin, and the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) were active and influential members of the committee. Their work was mentioned with some degree of approval even by the Prime Minister in a subsequent debate. An examination of the records reveals that a number of things were apparent. The honorable member for Eden-Monaro to-day was slightly conservative in his estimate that the Commonwealth contribution was one-third of hospital charges. Paragraph 27 on page 6 of the report is in these terms -
For the Commonwealth to contribute 50 per cent, of the cost of public beds would involve a subsidy at the rate of 6s. 9d. per occupied bed per day.
In other words, 6s. was pretty close to the 50 per cent, contribution. This is an important fact. Even in the couple of years which elapsed between the time when that report was presented and the act was finally implemented hospital charges increased so the 6s. was pretty close to the estimate of the Commonwealth contribution as one-third of hospital charges.
Several principles were embodied in the legislation which was introduced. First of all there was the measure of Commonwealth participation. This was sanctioned by the people of Australia in a referendum in 1946. The degree of participation was accepted generally at that time. The general principles which this Government has applied to other fields of legislation should be applied in the field of social services. If the Commonwealth can step into the field of university education and gradually become almost the principal mainstay of universities, surely it could make a similar approach to hospitalization. One of the facts of Australian political development is that the Commonwealth is bearing an increasing responsibility in the provision of finance. A majority of the people in a majority of the States conferred upon the Commonwealth the responsibility for providing social service benefits which include every form of hospitalization. The legislation at that time proposed to reduce the hardship on hospital patients and also to abolish the means test. During that debate the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) said -
This side of the Parliament has for a very long time stood for the abolition of the means test when the scheme itself is on a contributory basis.
Every Australian contributes to the national revenue according to his means and his ability to pay. The flat rate system of charges is against the general principle which the Labour Party supports in relation to taxation.
Other points related to increased Commonwealth and State co-operation and a readiness to meet increasing costs. In his second-reading speech on the Hospital Benefits Bill 1945, the then Minister for Home Security, Mr. Lazzarini, stated -
If, on the other hand, the total amount of benefit paid under the method just outlined is inadequate to meet both the amount representing the public ward fees foregone, and any loss of charitable donations, the Commonwealth will make up the deficiency.
In other words, the Government was establishing the principle that the Commonwealth would step into the field and, if circumstances changed, then it would change its contribution. So there was a readiness to accept a continual and increasing burden. The other important point to which I have referred relates to increasing co-operation between the Commonwealth and the States. In 1945 there was the suggestion that a Common? wealth and State hospitals council would be established to organize this co-operation. The Opposition claims that the Government has departed from all the principles which were established at that time. It has refused to increase its contribution proportionately to the needs of the hospitals.
It has not done anything about co-operation with the States and has not reduced the hardship suffered by hospital patients. Instead it has delivered a serious blow at the community’s morale by the abolition of the means test. The Government always avoids carrying its true burden.
I have not sufficient time in this debate to refer to all States so I shall deal only with Victoria. Hospital charges have increased. Reports indicate that in 1945 the cost of maintaining a hospital bed was between 12s. and lis. a day. In 1951 the cost increased to about £1 and in 1956 to £4 8s. 7d. The report covering 1961, the latest available, indicates that the cost has risen to £5 19s. 6d. a day. How can any one possibly say that the Commonwealth is accepting its share of the burden? The Commonwealth contribution is falling in relation to hospital costs. The report of the Bureau of Census and Statistics indicates that the Commonwealth’s contribution to hospital costs in Victoria in 1956-57 represented 28.8 per cent, of the total cost. In 1957-58 the contribution fell to 28.3 per cent. It remained unchanged in 1958-59 but fell again in 1959-60 to 28 per cent. The fall continued in 1960-61, when the Commonwealth’s contribution was 27.1 per cent, of total hospital costs, and the contribution fell again to 26.8 per cent, in 1961- 62. That graph is applicable to the position in almost every State. You may quote your inflationary spiral as much as you like; you may add ad infinitum to the Chifley Government’s figures, but the facts are as I stated a moment ago.
– That is misleading.
– Then you had better write to the Bureau of Census and Statistics. What is misleading about it? Here I am quoting from an official document which has the imprimatur of your own Government. It is the only thing which the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) has produced which is misleading, of course! But that in fact, is what it says. You may be able to produce more figures later to show that what I am quoting is wrong, that I have misinterpreted the document or that I cannot read. This document contains the facts. It has been typed, no doubt, by a very efficient Commonwealth typist, and it has been pro duced - perhaps for my benefit in particular - by the bureau. Here we find what the Commonwealth does in connexion with its own activities. The Minister himself has produced a report which discloses that his own department is paying £5 14s. 2d. a day for patients in its own hospitals, but if it sends a patient to the Northcote Community Hospital, for instance, it pays only £3 10s. a day. The Minister says: “Oh, but that is reasonable enough. That is what they charge everybody else “. They only charge everybody else that amount because the community accepts the idea that the community will help people in times of hardship and sickness. But surely the Commonwealth itself ought to pay, in respect of its own patients in these hospitals, the actual bed cost of patients in repatriation hospitals. This action on the part of the Government is imposing a serious burden on the hospitals I know in Victoria.
– The department pays the normal charge.
– That is the point I am making. The department pays only the normal charge, but the normal charge to a citizen is based upon a contribution from the State, charitable support and the general idea that hospitals will do something for the sick. But surely to goodness the Commonwealth’s view ought to be that as the Commonwealth’s repatriation or pensioner patient is costing £5 19s. 2d., or £6 0s. 2d., a day - the records are there - that is what the Commonwealth ought to pay. So from this side of the House I think we can make the position quite clear to the community in general. We have no need to go any further than the 1956 report of the Hospitals and Charities Commission for ample evidence to support what we say. So far as I can determine, there has been no significant change in the commission’s attitude since that time. In its 1956 report, the commission said -
Strong representations have been made for Commonwealth Government assistance in maintaining our hospitals generally-
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- A cynic once remarked that speech was given to man to enable him to conceal the truth.
I think the truth of that cynic’s statement has been exemplified this afternoon. Listening to the speeches of honorable members opposite, one might think that the Commonwealth Government was paying the States less towards their hospital costs than it has done in the past. The truth, of course, so far as New South Wales alone is concerned, is that the Commonwealth is paying that State £1,000,000 more towards the cost of its hospitals to-day. It is true that the States have claimed a great deal more than they expected to get: but that is quite a familiar happening. It is also true, of course, that, having to do something unpopular, the State of New South Wales has proceeded to blame the Commonwealth. This, too, is a familiar gambit and nobody will be surprised at it.
I pass on first of all to clear up a misunderstanding about the agreement between the Commonwealth and the States, upon which this discussion is based. The subject is -
The failure of the Menzies Government to provide finance for hospital maintenance on the basis established by the Chifley Government.
As the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) rightly said, this matter started with the seventh interim report of the Joint Committee on Social Security which was tabled in this House on 15th February, 1944. That report is to be found amongst Parliamentary Papers in the parliamentary library. The Joint Committee on Social Security discussed three possible ways by which the Commonwealth could subsidize State public hospitals. The first was a rate based on the average amount received from patients!’ fees; the second was a per capita grant on the basis of the population of the various States; and the third was a contribution of approximately 50 per cent, of the bed cost per day. Having discussed those three possible bases, the committee rejected the last two and accepted the first - a rate based on the average amount received from public ward patients’ fees. That report was followed by the introduction into this House of the Hospital Benefits Bill 1945. In the course of his second-reading speech, the then Minister, Mr. Lazzarini, is reported on page 5299 of volume 184 of “ Hansard “ of 12th December, 1945, as having said -
The Commonwealth proposals involve the States foregoing revenue from public ward patients’ payments and this revenue will be made up to the States by means of Commonwealth grants.
In other words, the payment to be made by the Commonwealth to the States was based on the fees that had been previously paid by public ward patients and that would now be lost to the hospitals due to the fact that public ward patients were to receive free treatment. There was no word in either the committee’s report or in the bill about payments from the Commonwealth to the States being based on the cost of maintaining beds.
I have in my hand a copy of the agreement made between the Commonwealth of Australia and the State of New South Wales on the 1st day of July, 1946. It was signed on behalf of the Commonwealth by J. B. Chifley, and on behalf of the State of New South Wales by W. J. McKell. There is not one word in it about a subsidy being based on the cost of maintaining beds. So much for the statement that has been made on the other side of the House that the agreement between the Commonwealth and the States is based upon a subsidy that results from the cost of maintaining beds. I regard this as mere political polemics.
The cost of maintaining beds in hospitals has gradually increased over the past ten or twelve years. It is true that this has happened partly on account of inflation, but the important point is that it has happened largely on account of the much more expensive methods of diagnosis and treatment to-day and on account of the increasing age of the population. In fact, the cost has risen from 24s. a day in 1948 to £C to-day. The sources of income for hospitals consist of subsidies from the States, subsidies from the Commonwealth and the fees of patients. Obviously more money is required to-day than was required in 1948. In dealing with Commonwealth subsidies to hospitals, I want to distinguish between subsidies in respect of patients generally, whether in private, intermediate or public wards, and subsidies in respect of pensioners. As to subsidies for patients generally, the amount paid in 1948 was 8s. per bed-day. That was all that the Commonwealth ever paid under a Labour government. As I have mentioned, the subsidy was based on the amount of fees lost in public wards.
In 1950, this Government came into office and it continued the payment of 8s. per bed per day. Under its insurance scheme, it also paid an average of an additional 12s. per bed-day, and in respect of members of the public who joined insurance benefit funds and became patients, an average of a further 32s. was provided from these funds. So the total amount received by the hospitals was 8s., plus 12s., plus 32s. or 52s. a day. That was the Commonwealth’s total subsidy to hospitals, both direct and indirect, apart from payments in respect of tuberculosis patients, pharmaceutical payments to hospitals and the blood transfusion subsidy. The indirect method of subsidizing hospitals was to induce people to join medical benefits funds and this provided the additional 32s. a day, making the total daily payment to the hospital of 52s. per bed per day. If we multiply 52s. by three we get a total of £7 16s. whereas the actual cost per bed per day at present is £6. It will be seen, therefore, that the amount provided both directly and indirectly is in excess of one third of the actual daily cost of maintaining beds. Therefore, even if we accept the Opposition’s argument - which I do not - as to the basis on which the Commonwealth subsidy is paid, it is perfectly plain that the Commonwealth has more than played its part. I have here a number of details with regard to pensioner patients, but as my time is running out I will have to summarize them briefly.
Pensioners are divided into two classes - those who have medical entitlement cards and those who have not. Pensioners who have these cards will be treated free in public wards, the Commonwealth providing 36s. per bed-day for the cost of their treatment. Pensioners who have not medical entitlement cards will be expected to join an insurance scheme. But a pensioner couple would need a total income - including pension and other income - exceeding £14 10s. a week before they would be expected to join an insurance scheme. It would cost them 3s. a week to be members of the scheme. I am not saying that this does not bear hardly on those pensioners, but there has been great exaggeration in regard to this matter.
If you revert to the Labour Party’s view, that this is regressive taxation because a couple on no more than £14 10s. a week would have to pay as much as a couple with £40 10s. a week, and that the whole of the Commonwealth hospital subsidy should be paid out of Consolidated Revenue, taxpayers contributing according to ability to pay for the benefit of the poor, what, in fact, would be the result? I ask you, Sir, as a reasonable and sensible person: If you raise additional revenue to the extent necessary to provide for the additional cost of hospitalization, while all departments in Canberra, like crows sitting on a fence, are looking for additional sums of money raised by taxation, do you think the Department of Health and the hospitals will get the money? Of course they will not! The insurance system at present operated is the only way in which people can be certain that what they contribute for hospital benefits will be used for their hospitalization.
.- Mr. Deputy Speaker, from what has been said by honorable members opposite, one could get the ‘ impression that this matter has been raised at the behest of the New South Wales Labour Government. Quite the contrary! As far back as three years ago the annual report of the Department of Health in Western Australia stated -
Because of the continuing upward trend in the costs of maintaining hospitals in the absence of increased Commonwealth hospital benefits the department was forced to follow the lead of other States by increasing patients’ fees as from 1st June, 1960.
This situation is identical with that in the other States, which continue to press the Commonwealth to increase the base rate of 8s. per day payable under the National Health Act. So far the Commonwealth has not been responsive to the States’ request.
We say that, regardless of whether there is a constitutional obligation, the Commonwealth has a moral obligation to play at least the same part in hospitalization as falls upon the States. We say the Commonwealth has a special responsibility to do something in respect of pensioners and people in receipt of unemployment and sickness benefits provided by the Commonwealth. For these people, numbering something like 1,000,000, in Australia to-day, the Commonwealth does no more than provide a paltry 8s. a day. One would get the impression that this request to the Commonwealth to bear its responsibilities was made by the Government of New South Wales alone. But, in fact, at the meeting of State Premiers and Ministers for Health, last October, the States, without exception - four of them had LiberalCountry Party governments - asked the Commonwealth Government to bear its proper responsibility and to provide half the bed costs of persons on the pensioner medical service and to pay at least £2 per day of the average bed cost of £6 per day in respect of all other persons. The Commonwealth did increase, from 12s. to 36s. a day, the provision for pensioners on the pensioner medical service, but it did absolutely nothing about the vast majority of people who receive 8s. per day if uninsured or a maximum of £1 per day if they happen to be insured.
It is all very well for the honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Turner) to say that the Commonwealth provides £1 a day for some pensioners and that they then attract another 32s. from some benefit fund, giving a total of 52s. a day. Is the Commonwealth laying claim now to contributions made by people who insure themselves? Is it to stoop to that in order to justify the iniquity in which it has involved itself? Not only does the Government claim that the patient should have to pay the taxation which provides the Commonwealth with the money for the paltry contribution it makes, but it is also laying claim to payments made by people to private business organizations in order to make up a respectable portion of the total fee. The Hospitals and Charities Commission in Victoria went to some pains to point out, in its latest report, that Victoria has to find 51 per cent, of the total amount needed for the maintenance of its hospitals. The Commonwealth provides only 13 per cent, and the patient is left to provide 32 per cent.
I think it is demonstrable that this Government has insisted on the removal of the welfare state provisions which were brought in by a Labour government. This is only part of a much bigger regression from the welfare state which was introduced by Labour in Australia and which exists in all progressive countries in the world. This Government has allowed child endowment to become static. It has wiped out free treatment in the public wards of our hos pitals. Even its provision for scholarships has remained practically frozen over the last three years, and there has been very little change in it in the last twelve years.
The Government has abolished rent rebates to pensioners, unemployed and people in receipt of the sickness benefit who live in housing commission premises. It has introduced a means test in relation to the pensioner medical service, which did not exist before. I could go on and on with this recital. Even the income provisions for pensioners have been unchanged since 1955. This is just another move by the Government of its campaign to wipe out the generous provisions of the welfare state, under which Labour said that the welfare of the sick, the education of our people and so on are a community responsibility. This Government is not imbued with that kind of spirit and it is no surprise to us that the Liberals in New South Wales, adopting a hypocritical attitude, criticize the Labour Government for increasing hospital fees, while this Commonwealth Government has insisted that they be increased. This is evidence of the hypocritical position that we have reached.
The honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Allan Fraser) rightly pointed out that the Commonwealth is still providing for hospitalization only 8s. per bed-day - which was provided back in 1948. It is all very well to say that the people can insure, and between 72 per cent, and 73 per cent, of them do so. Others are covered by repatriation benefits or social service or national health benefits. But there is still - conservatively - 10 per cent, of the Australian population that is not covered by those schemes. When you examine the position, you find that they comprise 100,000 pensioners - not to mention their dependants - who are not eligible under the means test introduced in 1955. There are 100,000 pensioners, plus dependants, who do not get benefits under the pensioner medical service. Many of those who are paying rent, board, instalments on a house, rates and so on are not able to pay into a contributory fund. There are about 90,000 people, according to the Government’s own records, out of work in this country. Their dependants would bring the number to 150,000 or 200,000 people. This number includes migrants whom the Commonwealth has brought to this country and who are not used to this kind of insurance scheme. Many of them would be unable to insure even if they wanted to or if they knew about it. So they also are beyond the pale. The aborigines constitute yet another class of people responsibility for whom falls heavily upon the States.
The Commonwealth makes a contribution of only 8s. for each bed day, which costs the State £6. In New South Wales the Commonwealth’s contribution is equal to only 7 per cent, of the cost, and in Western Australia to only 5.6 per cent. Does that not shock the consciences of honorable members opposite? These 1,000,000 people to whom I have referred are those most in need of help; they cannot pay their way. In New South Wales this year uncollected hospital fees will amount to more than £2,000,000. We eve be dead sure that the New South Wales Government and the Hospitals Commission have done their very best to get the people who owe that money to pay their way and have even prosecuted a number of them. These people constitute a hard core and the New South Wales Government realizes that it just cannot do anything about the matter because they simply cannot pay.
To these 1,000,000 people who need help most the Government denies anything more than 8s. a day, yet under legislation passed a few months ago it now provides £1 a day for people who go into a rest home without having been insured and without applying a means test. Does not that strike supporters of the Government as being extraordinarily inconsistent? I repeat that the Government gives £1 a day in respect of people who enter an institution that is not fit to be registered as a hospital, but which is called a rest home or a convalescent home. I reiterate, too, that the Government does not oblige those people to subscribe to any fund or to submit to any means test. Does not that show just how ridiculous is everything that the Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Swartz) said about a sense of responsibility, about people insuring themselves and about the need for a means test? Why should the Government expect people who receive a small amount of superannuation in addition to their pension to insure when it does not demand the same of people who enter these private institutions to which I have just referred? Presumably the Government knows as well as we do that most of these private hospitals are owned by doctors. Those who seem to get most help from this Government are the doctors as opposed to the patients and the Ansett interests as opposed to the Australian public. It is no wonder that the New South Wales Labour Government has had the conscience to bring this matter out into the open. The New South Wales Minister for Health deserves to be complimented for directing the attention of the public to the inroads made by this Government into the welfare state and the sinister campaign it is waging.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- The honorable member for Barton (Mr. Reynolds) let the cat out of the bag when he congratulated the New South Wales Minister for Health for bringing this matter out into the open. It has been very obvious that this debate has become a contest between New South Wales and the Commonwealth. Two members from New South Wales have spoken in support of the Opposition’s views on this matter. The third Opposition speaker, who comes from Victoria, did not make any representations on behalf of his State. I ask the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie), who is interjecting, to be quiet. He will have plenty of time to listen to what I have to say and will enjoy it.
The subject now before us has been raised as a matter of urgency. It is interesting to note that we in this place are more tolerant than are our friends in New South Wales. The Opposition in the New South Wales Parliament has raised this same matter on two occasions. It did so during a debate on an adjournment motion but received no response. It did so again on another occasion as a matter of urgency. It was held that it was not a matter of urgency, that any complaint which had been lodged could be said to have been of quite long standing. It will be seen, therefore, as I said earlier, that we in this Parliament are more tolerant than is the New South Wales Government. I fail to see any urgency in the proposal we are debating. The matter is one of long standing. It dates back to an agreement which was signed in 1946. The most outstanding aspect of this debate, in my opinion, has been the gross misrepresentation of the basic facts. The Minister for Repatriation (Mr. Swartz) has answered that part of the Opposition’s case very thoroughly.
The honorable member for EdenMonaro (Mr. Allan Fraser) based his attack on the charge that the Commonwealth Government refuses to meet its proper share of hospital costs. Having been provoked by way of interjection to indicate his basis for that charge, he referred later to Commonwealth responsibility for paying one-third of hospital costs and back-dated it seventeen years to the 1946 Commonwealth and States hospital agreement. The honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Turner) produced a copy of the signed agreement which gave the lie direct to that statement. For the benefit of honorable members who have not had an opportunity to get a copy of the agreement I should like to refer to the First Schedule to the Hospital Benefits Act 1945-1948. It will be noted that in clause 13 of the schedule the following passage appears: - “the Commonwealth Hospital Benefit Rate for Non-public Wards” means Six shillings or such other rate as is, from time to time, agreed upon between the Commonwealth and the State;
There is no reference in any document that can be produced to any relation between the rate paid by the Commonwealth Government and the cost of maintenance of hospitals. On the contrary, the payment is entirely dependent upon the charges made or the fees received.
The honorable member for Bradfield referred also to the seventh interim report from the Joint Committee on Social Security, which was presented in 1944. I should like to quote the following passage from the report: -
Any proposal for a Commonwealth hospital benefit scheme is complicated, firstly, by the fact that control of health is vested chiefly in the States and only to a very minor degree in the Commonwealth . . .
That is the reason why the Commonwealth does not accept any responsibility in regard to costs. This Government does not intend to have a cost-plus arrangement. We know what would happen under such an arrangement. We have seen the result of cost-plus arrangements, particularly in regard to some of the public works that have been carried out in New South Wales. The report of the Joint Committee on Social Security contained this further passage -
Reference has already been made to the fact that the presumed object of a Commonwealth hospital benefit scheme is to confer a direct financial benefit on hospital patients themselves, thus ensuring to them relief from part or all of their actual hospital expenses.
The honorable member for Wilmot would find the report well worth reading. He would discover that three alternative methods for conferring these benefits were considered by the committee. The first was - a flat rate subsidy per daily occupied bed, based upon the average amount now received from patients’ fees.
He would also find a suggestion about a per capita grant. That was considered to consist of so many anomalies that it was not reasonable. The third was - a contribution to the States approximating SO per cent, of the present bed cost per day of hospital public bed accommodation.
In that respect the committee reported as follows -
Such a payment would be a recognition by the Commonwealth - in the absence of Commonwealth health powers - of a joint responsibility with the States for hospitalization, as a major portion of health services, by sharing equally the maintenance cost of public beds.
So it did not recommend that proposal.
– By whom was the report signed?
– The chairman was Mr. H. C. Barnard. It was a joint committee of members from both sides of the House of Representatives and the Senate. The contents of the report are on record as a rejection of the argument that has been advanced by the honorable member for Eden-Monaro about Commonwealth responsibility being upon the basis of a sharing of the cost of hospital maintenance. That has never been the basis; the basis has always been one of fees charged by hospitals.
The honorable member for Bradfield read parts of the original legislation. I should like to read very quickly the following portion of the second-reading speech delivered by Mr. Lazzarini, the Minister who introduced the bill. He said -
In order to ensure free treatment in the public wards of public hospitals -
Let honorable members bear in mind that that was a condition - the agreement provides for the States to abolish the means test and to cease charging fees to patients admitted to public wards and for the Commonwealth to pay to the States a rate of benefit to cover the revenue thus forgone.
They were Mr. Lazzarinis own words. If any one wants further proof that the basis of the scheme was that the States would cease to make charges to patients and that the Commonwealth would recompense them for the amount that they were thus prepared to forgo, let me remind him that at that time 35 per cent, of hospital revenue was derived from fees and 5 per cent, from donations, the balance coming from grants by State governments. Why is the suggestion made that at this late stage of the scheme the Commonwealth should alter the incidence of payments and accept a responsibility that it has never had before?
The first I heard of this problem was when I received a letter from a country district hospital. I will read only a part of the letter, but the whole of it is available to any honorable member who wishes to see it. The letter reads -
Prior to the introduction of the new scheme for Commonwealth hospital benefits we received a monthly subsidy of £1,425 from the Hospitals Commission of New South Wales, but we are now advised that from February 1st, 1963, the subsidy will be reduced by £360 per month, the amount to be forwarded in future being only £1,065.
The “ new scheme “ referred to in the hospital’s letter is the scheme introduced about last October, at the last conference. When the Commonwealth decided to pay its contributions direct to the hospitals instead of to the patients or State governments, the State governments were quite entitled to reduce the amounts they paid to the hospitals by similar amounts. That is fair enough, but we maintain that the State governments reduced the amounts they paid to the hospitals by the amounts that the hospitals were receiving as a result of the increase of the pensioner allowance to 36s.
– That is not right.
– If that is not right, will you explain why this hospital had its subsidy reduced by £360 a month? The letter continues -
In effect this means that to recoup £360 per month we have to rely entirely on the claim made to the Commonwealth Government for pensioners at 36s. per day and 8s. per day for uninsured qualified patients.
What the New South Wales State Government did was deliberate. Having reduced its payment to an individual hospital by the 8s. a day which was paid direct to the hospital, it reduced the subsidy still further. The State Government said, “ You are now getting 36s. as a result of this pensioner arrangement, instead of the 12s. which you received before”. That is what has provoked the argument here - the argument which has been so effectively dealt with by the Minister, the honorable member for Bradfield and, perhaps, by myself.
– I wish to make a personal explanation.
– Does the honorable member for Eden-Monaro claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. I have been misrepresented - unintentionally I am sure - by the honorable member for Lawson and by the two previous speakers on the Government side. They have attributed to me the statement that the obligation upon the Commonwealth to pay one-third of the cost of each hospital bed was embedded in the Commonwealth and State hospitals agreement. I did not say that. I said that in the terms of that agreement the Commonwealth Government of that day accepted the obligation to pay one-third of the cost of hospital treatment - 6s. out of 18s. and 8s. out of 26s. - and proceeded to to so until it was defeated.
Debate resumed from 28th March (vide page 165), on motion by Mr. Adermann -
That the bill be now read a second time.
March, this bill and the other two wool tax bills are complementary. It would no doubt suit the convenience of the House if honorable members were permitted to make reference to all three measures. I suggest, therefore, that you permit the subject-matter of the three bills to be discussed in this debate.
– Is it the wish of the House to debate the subject-matter of the three measures together, as suggested by the Minister? There being no objection, I will allow that course to be followed.
.- The three measures to be discussed are intended to provide, and when passed will provide, for a continuation of the levy on woolgrowers. The proceeds are to be handed over to the present Australian Wool Bureau and, later, to the newly constituted Australian Wool Board. The Opposition is not opposing the measures. The levy is imposed at the rate of 10s. on every bale of wool grown in Australia. Taking the wool clip at something over 6,000,000 bales, this levy will raise over £3,000,000 per annum.
The Minister in his second-reading speech said that this proposal has the support of the wool-growers’ organizations in Australia, as did the last wool tax measures. He said that it. has the support of and was recommended by the recently constituted Wool Industry Conference. May I point out to the Minister that whilst it may be true that the proposal had the support of the wool conference, that conference represented only two of the major woolproducing organizations in Australia. No reference was made in the Minister’s speech to any support from the other organizations.
– The AJP.P.U.
– You can refer to it in that way if you like. Call it what you like. I have heard various titles given to it from time to time. The fact is that one reasonably powerful organization has not so far spoken in favour of this proposal, or, if it has, its decision has not been conveyed to this Parliament.
– It does support the proposal.
– We have an assurance that the Australian Primary Producers Union supports the measure. But let me remind this House that considerable numbers of people growing wool in this country are not members of any of these woolgrowing organizations. Further, considerable numbers of people are members of these organizations but they do not accept the decisions of the organizations to support the imposition of this levy of 10s. a bale. If the organizations were democratically comprised and if the wool conference were democratically organized, one could hardly object to the roping in of the minority. However, 1 remind honorable members opposite that when the Labour Party proposes any form of compulsory unionism or a levy on trade unionists in order to promote the welfare of a trade union, that is called tyranny. It is not so long ago that we had the famous case in Hobart, where there was trouble on the wharfs in relation to the payment of union dues or the observance of decisions of a union. Half of this Parliament was up in arms about what happened at that time, but now honorable members opposite have no hesitation in coercing wool-growers who are not members of a wool-growers’ organization, or even members of organizations who do not want to submit to this levy.
– I have not had a single objection to it.
– The wool-growers know that it is useless to object, because this Government has the numbers. It may be that the Minister has not had an objection, but no doubt I could find some objectors if I set out to find them. There are fairly large numbers of wool-growers in opposition - probably foolishly - to the imposition of this levy. What is more important, there are considerable numbers of wool-growers who object to the imposition of this levy in the absence of a satisfactory marketing organization. They would willingly pay 10s. a bale if a satisfactory marketing organization was in existence. Imagine to-day the man with a 50-bale clip. He is not a big wool-grower. He is called upon to pay £25 at a moment in our history when the woolbuyers of the world can offer him anything they like fox his wool. There is no organization available to say “ No “. He is not very pleased about this sort of thing, and it is understandable.
However, I am prepared to accept the majority decision. I am prepared to allow organizations that are in the hands of primary producers to promote the welfare, first of all, selfishly - we are all more or less selfish - of primary producers, and secondly to promote the welfare of the nation. After all, in the case of wool there is no more important export product in this country. It earns 35 per cent, of our export income to-day. There was a time when it earned 50 per cent, of our export income. Surely all the measures that can possibly be taken should be taken to promote the welfare of wool, and particularly to see that a reasonable price is received by the grower for the product he has grown for his own benefit, and indirectly for the benefit of the nation.
The marketing end of the wool industry has not yet been sewn up, due to the negligence and procrastination of the Government. I am probably being a prophet when I say that when the new wool board is set up and commences to investigate marketing, another five years will elapse before a marketing scheme of a protective nature comes into operation. I hope that my prophecy is wrong.
– We have given the board the machinery.
– Why did not the Government act itself? It made an attempt back in 1951. It handed out a plan. The Minister for Trade (Mr. McEwen), as he now is, was then the Minister for Commerce and Agriculture. He published a beautiful little pamphlet. The Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) spoke in great praise of the plan, but between the lot of them, all they did was to deduct 7i per cent, to bring the proposed scheme into operation and, as they claimed, prevent inflation. Then the Government promptly spent the money. It did not put it in an old cak chest, or a trust fund, as money that was similarly collected in New Zealand was invested. This Government spent it. It poured into revenue 20 per cent, of the gross wool cheque in 1952. and inflation continued merrily on its way.
– The way the honorable member put that, he is suggesting that the government confiscated the money. That is not true. It was the growers’ money.
– Of course the Government confiscated it. As a result of objections raised on this side of the Parliament, the Government ran away from the scheme the following year. We frightened it. The honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. Mackinnon) worked out a table on that occasion. He told us that if a man had r. £3,000 cheque or a £6,000 cheque coming to him he would lose the use of his money for a period of twelve months. He said that that would mean only the loss of £30 to him. The wool industry was the only section of the community which was attacked. The Government did not do anything about the motor industry, one section of which was waxing rich and fat at that time. It was only the wool-growers who were attacked. The Treasurer on that occasion said that the Government was looking at other aspects of industry that ought to be tapped to contribute to anti-inflationary measures. Having irritated the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull), I will leave it at that.
– The simple reason was that the wool-grower would never have paid his tax without that arrangement.
– The honorable member knows that everybody else in the community received his income tax assessment and paid it, but the wool-grower received his assessment twelve months ahead.
– Oh, no.
– Yes, he did. Do not let us go over it again. Why did the honorable member for Corangamite explain that the money that was collected in advance by the Commissioner of Taxation would represent a loss of only £30 to the average wool-grower? Are the honorable member for Mallee and the honorable member for Corangamite in conflict on this issue? If the honorable member for Mallee looks at “ Hansard “ he will find what the honorable member for Corangamite said. I shall leave that little dissertation at that.
Whilst the Opposition is supporting the measure we know it will be used-
– We have always supported these things! The honorable member for McMillan says, “ Ah! “ If he looks at the record he will find that the first wool tax bill was introduced into this Parliament in 1936. I think the tax was 6d. a bale. Ultimately it went up to 2s. a bale. In 1945 the tax was bringing in £300,000 per annum. It was the Labour Government of the day, for the first time in the history of this Commonwealth, which, on a £1 for £1 basis, backed the tax and gave to the industry the sum of £600,000. Does that interest the honorable member?
– Why does not the Labour Party back this proposal in the same manner?
– The honorable gentleman knows that on the occasion when the legislation was introduced into the Parliament to create the new wool board the Opposition moved an amendment that the bill be withdrawn and redrafted in order to make provision for the payment of 10s. a bale towards wool promotion, that is a payment of 10s. by the Commonwealth and 10s. by the grower. I know, and every sensible man knows, that under the social system in which we live advertising is the order of the day if you want to sell anything. Unfortunately, over television, the radio and in the press more lies are told in advertising than in other media of communication. A great deal of rubbish is offered for the health and welfare of the people.
It is justifiable and necessary that the wool industry should advertise its product. I am very doubtful whether the advertising that is proposed, and which actually has been indulged in, is as effective as some people claim it to be. Only recently I was reminded that within the last twelve months or so there has been some increase in the price of wool. I understand that the average price of last year’s wool clip was 54d., and that this year it is 56d. Some people would claim that this is due to the work of the International Wool Secretariat and the expenditure of the money that the Australian wool-grower has helped to contribute.
– Surely those factors have a bearing on the matter.
– That might be a justifiable claim; but it might also be said that the increase in the price of wool has been due to the combined use of wool and orion, nylon and other fibres, particularly in the United States, and also to the severity of the winter in Europe. It might also be that in response to the dangers of the cold war some people have come to the conclusion that they ought to buy more wool. The increase in price might be due to a combination of all those reasons; but the result is that an increase in the price of wool has taken place. That is logical enough. Nevertheless, we cannot afford to take a risk and drop advertising. So the wool-growers have decided to contribute a levy of 10s. a bale, which represents, as far as the primary industries of this country are concerned, the highest contribution of any primary industry towards publicizing the promotion of its product. We know that there is a levy on butter to promote the scientific advancement of the dairy industry and that there is a levy on wheat. But the proceeds of those levies are devoted more to research and the like.
The wool industry is the most important industry in Australia, though at present it is not an exceedingly prosperous one, and it has come up with a proposal to continue a levy of 10s. a bale. If the promotional work that this levy will make possible is successful, and does what is claimed it will do, Commonwealth revenue will be increased. In these circumstances, the Opposition says that this Parliament ought to do something more for the wool industry than is already being done. Those in the industry say: “We are prepared to be generous and to submit to this levy. Why does not the Commonwealth match the levy £1 for £1? “ When the Wool Industry Bill 1962 was being considered on 5th December last, the Opposition suggested that the levy then proposed be matched by the Commonwealth £1 for £1, and, in an attempt to bring that about, I proposed at the second-reading stage an amendment in these terms -
That all words after “That” be omitted with a view to inserting the following words in place thereof: - “ this House, having in mind the great impact of the wool industry on the Australian economy, is of opinion that wool-growers should not be called on to provide tha whole of the funds required for the purposes of tho bill and that a matching contribution of not less than ten shillings per bale should be made by the Commonwealth “.
That amendment was rejected in this chamber.
The measure at present before us deals solely with the imposition of a levy, and the Government and its supporters in this House have not yet seen fit to accept the Opposition’s suggestion. Therefore, we shall propose an amendment to the Wool Tax Assessment Bill 1963, which is the first of a group of bills now being debated together. We shall propose that amendment with a full sense of our responsibilities. I want to explain to honorable members now why the amendment will make no mention of the sum of 10s. a bale. The reason is that I understand - and I have sought advice on the point - that if the sum of 10s. were mentioned, there would be a possibility of the amendment being ruled out of order under Standing Order No. 166, which prohibits the proposing of a question or amendment which is the same in substance as one which, during the same session, has been resolved in the affirmative or the negative. So honorable members will understand that the forthcoming amendment is intended to convey that the Opposition believes that the Commonwealth should match the levy of 10s. a bale by a Commonwealth contribution of 10s. a bale.
Honorable members will see that, in this amendment, I do not propose that the second-reading stage and the other processes required to put the bill through this House and place it on the statute-book be abandoned or rejected. What I suggest is that the Parliament, being interested in this great industry, should support our expression of opinion by accepting the amendment. I am sure that if the amendment were accepted the Minister for Primary Industry, in his wisdom, would afterwards persuade the Government to accept the idea. Indeed, we hope that even if the Government does not accept the idea now, the Opposition’s proposal will have sufficient influence to induce the Government to jump on the band-wagon by the time the next general election comes along and beat us to the punch by including a proposal such as this in its election policy. All we are concerned about now is benefiting the wool industry. But we want the
Government’s help. So the responsibility rests on it.
I am sure that honorable members would not expect me to speak for so long on these measures as I did on the series of bills dealing with the wool industry last December, when there was a prolonged debate that lasted until the early hours of the morning. I leave the matter there in the hope that the amendment will be supported. Accordingly, I move -
That all words after “That” be omitted with a view to inserting the following words in place thereof: - “ this House, while not declining to give the bill a second reading at this time, is of opinion that moneys available for the promotion of wool should, to an appropriate extent, be derived in part from the Australian economy which is so dependent on the wool industry and should not be the responsibility of the wool-growers alone “.
– Is the amendment seconded?
– I second it.
– Mr. Speaker, the bills now being debated are concerned with the further extension for one year of the existing levy of 10s. a bale, with corresponding amounts for smaller parcels, paid by wool-growers in Australia, to provide funds for the promotional activities of the International Wool Secretariat, a body composed of representatives of Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. That organization is associated with, but not directly affiliated with, the American Sheep Producers Council in the United States of America. I think it is quite unnecessary for anybody in this House to emphasize the importance of preserving the interests of the great Australian wool industry and the important part that the industry plays in our economy. When I mention briefly the fact that almost £400,000,000 worth, or about 37 per cent., of our total exports of merchandise last financial year was derived from wool, honorable members will realize the tremendous impact of this great industry on the national welfare and the national economy.
The honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) mentioned the wool sales deduction legislation of 1950. I answer his remarks on that matter briefly by saying that I believed at the time when that legislation was enacted that it was in the interests of the growers, unpalatable though the deduction may have been. It was unpopular at the time. In effect, the deduction amounted to the pre-payment of contributions for income tax, and it saved many Australian growers from the consequences of their own folly. In the years since the enactment of that legislation, I have been told by many people: “We did not like it at the time. We thought it was unjust. But, in the light of after events, we firmly believe that it saved not only ourselves but also many of our friends from over-spending when income arrived unexpectedly and when we completely failed to appreciate what the scale of taxation was.”
I fully agree with the honorable member for Lalor about the organizational arrangements under this new legislation. I am unhappy about the lack of representation of the Australian Primary Producers Union in the general arrangements. I hope that in the next year or so some provision can be made for representation of this great organization, which has an established membership of some 20,000 wool-growers throughout Australia, so that this body may share in the determination of the future of the great wool industry.
I turn now to the advocacy by the honorable member for Lalor on behalf of the wool industry which culminated in the amendment that he has just proposed. I believe it ill becomes the honorable member to pose as the great champion of the Australian farmers. The memory of the farmers is very short indeed if they fail to recall that he was an active member of a government which, for party political purposes, went out of its way to sell wheat on concessional terms to New Zealand prior to the 1949 general election in that country. This was done in order to support the New Zealand Labour Party. But it was done at the cost of the wheat-growers of Australia. With this in mind, I suggest that we now have before us a trick amendment. That is the only way in which to describe it, as the honorable member knows full well. He has had much experience in this House and he knows its forms. He appreciates that the amendment now before us is really only a bit of window dressing designed to enable him to pose once again as the champion of the wool-growers. He also knows that the Government cannot possibly accept an amendment on this basis at this stage. What will happen in the future remains to be seen.
With the reconstruction of the administration of the wool industry in Australia, which was introduced by legislation in this place last year, following the recommendations of the Philp report, it might be thought that the future of the industry should now become the responsibility of the Australian Wool Board and the Australian Wool Industry Conference. The establishment of those two bodies is in the process of completion now. There are, nevertheless, still some matters of great importance yet to be decided. One of them, the question of marketing, can be decided only by the direct verdict of the Australian growers. As the question of willingness to pay the levy, which has been mentioned by the honorable member for Lalor, has from time to time been tangled up with a demand for a change in Australia’s method of wool marketing, it is not inappropriate to make some reference to this other subject.
The main topic of this legislation is the activities of the International Wool Secretariat, in particular, the direction and scope of its wool promotion policies and, without delving too far into the past, it is necessary to recapitulate to some extent the events in the chain that have led to the present position. In November, 1960, the Australian Wool Bureau and its partners in the International Wool Secretariat, namely New Zealand and South Africa, adopted a plan to re-organize the secretariat and expand its wool promotion activities throughout the world. The chief features of this plan were the reconstruction of the secretariat, giving Australia, as the largest contributor, seven members. Our contribution is 62 per cent, of the funds provided for the secretariat. New Zealand, which contributes 24 per cent, of the funds, has three members, and South Africa, which contributes 14 per cent., also has three members. The decisions of the secretariat were to be carried out by the executive committee of six members, generally comprising the chairman and one other member of the board from each constituent country.
In addition to the money provided from grower sources, there are also substantial contributions from wool textile manufacturers and traders for joint promotional campaigns. This is quite significant and is a valuable contribution. These campaigns were carried out particularly in France and Japan. It is interesting to note that the increase in promotional advertising has been very substantial. The greater part of th: funds for promotion is contributed by growers, although, in addition, there are contributions, as I have mentioned, from the textile industry. The Government does not contribute to promotion. At present, the levy of 10s. a bale yields about £2,500,000. Rental from wool stores, which is available for promotion under the administration of the Wool Bureau, amounts to about £300,000 a year. Interest on investments last financial year was approximately £90,000. In recent years the bureau’s expenditure has exceeded its income and it has needed to draw on reserves. The reserves available for promotion approximated £2,800,000 at 30th June last year, but are expected to be reduced to £2,200,000 by 30th June this year. In other words, the bureau, in its extended campaign on promotion and other expenses, is eating into its reserves.
Growers in New Zealand and South Africa contribute to promotional activities on a higher scale than do those in Australia. New Zealand growers recently agreed to increase their contributions from 5s. New Zealand to 7s. 6d. New Zealand a bale. The New Zealand Wool Commission also makes an equivalent contribution, making the total 15s. New Zealand a bale, or 18s 9d. Australian. This contribution from the New Zealand Wool Commission is paid out of income earned on the commission’s reserves of wool growers’ funds. South African growers pay a levy of six cents per lb., which is approximately £1 2s. 6d. Australian a bale. Both New Zealand and South Africa have indicated their willingness to provide increased funds for wool promotion if Australia does likewise.
The head office of the secretariat is in London and there are branches in fourteen countries. In addition, promotional activities are undertaken in two other countries, making a total of sixteen countries in which there is activity along these lines. The present policy is to move away from the generalized type of promotion, by which I mean putting up posters with a caption such as, “Wool is the best thing for you to wear”, and concentrating more on merchandizing specific products. Considerable emphasis has been given recently to popularizing and encouraging new processes and better and novel finishes, which expand wool’s performance and attractiveness.
At a conference in Melbourne in October last year, the justification for the levy for promotion and the operation of the promotion plan were explained to a joint conference of the national executives of the Australian Woolgrowers Council and the Wool and Meat Producers Federation by Mr. Vines, managing director of the secretariat. As there have been from time to time indications that a section of Australia’s wool-growers are suspicious that the money being levied for the operation of the secretariat and, in particular, its expenditure on promotion, are not being used to the best advantage, there have been requests for far more details of expenditure, particularly on promotion. All of us who have taken the trouble to read correspondence in stock journals and other publications connected with the wool industry will know that that note has been struck by many people who have written complaining letters about promotional activities. However, I suggest that the time occupied in a perusal of the report of the conference that has been published by the Wool Bureau will be well spent. I believe that the report might well be circulated to all growers.
Mr. Vines told the meeting that it was the responsibility of the International Wool Secretariat to establish the most favorable atmosphere for the selling of wool and for expanding its use although, unlike the promoters of the main competitive fibre, the secretariat did not own its commodity and was promoting something that was the property of the persons who contributed its funds. This involved the secretariat in the task of making profits for its many thousands of wool-grower contributors - I hope substantial profits. Also, the secretariat had the responsibility of ensuring that the wool textile and carpet industries of the world continued to use wool profitably, so that they did not stray into the fields of man-made fibres. The activities of promotion and publicity commanded by far the greatest funds available to the secretariat.
Mr. Vines also discussed the question of blends. He pointed out that as the secretariat at present had insufficient funds available to promote wool, it was not in a position, nor was it its policy, to promote blends. This question, however, was constantly under review and if the promotion of blends were considered to be in the best interests of wool, the secretariat was prepared to engage in it.
Much attention has been given to promoting wool usage in the United States of America, which is the most extensive market available in the world to-day. This is quite understandable in the light of the spending power at the command of the enormous population of the United States, its high standard of living and its high clothing expenditure in particular. This market is one in which a small increase would have a vast effect on wool consumption, particularly on the consumption of the wool that we hope to sell there. It is rather interesting to note that United States mill consumption of wool rose in 1961-62 by 15 per cent, and that exports from the three International Wool Secretariat countries to the United States in the first eight months of 1962 rose by 37 per cent.
It would appear - and this is only my guess - that the recent severe winter in the northern hemisphere must accelerate the consumption of wool, not only by mills, but also through retailers. One important point made by Mr. Vines was that the International Wool Secretariat board had approved a substantial increase in the present world wool promotion budget for the year commencing 1st July, 1963, but that it was not the policy to reveal details of this expenditure and expose methods to the scrutiny of competitors in the production of artificial fibres. I think this is important. It would be fantastically foolish, ridiculous and stupid to lay all your cards on the table and say how you are going to use your money in advertising, in promotion, in research processes and so on. It would be ridiculous to make all this information available to your direct competitors so that they could cap your expenditure if they thought it necessary to do so. J suggest that those who are inclined to demand that this information be made available should approach the matter with a more realistic outlook.
Mr. Vines also pointed out that anything could be sold if price was no consideration, but that the International Wool Secretariat was determined to expand its present efforts to increase world demand for wool products and to endeavour to improve the price of wool for the growers so that their investment in promotion activities would return the dividends to which they were entitled. This objective also involves the world-wide employment and propagation of methods to place wool in the “ easy care “ category. By this I mean that woollen articles would require less looking after in the way of laundering and cleaning. These methods include the many sironize processes made available through research by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, and other processes emanating from various other research institutions.
There are two significant aspects of the submissions from the managing director, Mr. Vines, which may be unpalatable to some of the wiseacres in the industry who, with a complete absence of advertising or promotion experience, are prepared to wax dogmatic on the subject. I would suggest that this is an extremely specialized operation, which is far outside the normal grower’s understanding. Furthermore, the idea of itemizing all avenues of expenditure to satisfy the curiosity of the suspicious is quite fantastic in relation to harm that could be done by the revelation of our wool industry’s advertising and other promotion expenditure to its highly centralized competitors.
The other matter of interest arising from this question has been mentioned in this place and outside by many persons. I think the honorable member for Lalor made some mention of it in a previous debate, and he mentioned it again in passing this afternoon. I refer to the argument that all the wool produced in Australia and the other member countries was going into consumption, and that there was no stockpile of unsold wool, so that it was unreasonable to expect that a successful promotion campaign could result in an increase of prices. This argument has been used by a number of the advocates of alteration of the present auction system of selling by the introduction of a reserve price plan. However, it would be most unwise to justify a reserve price plan on this basis because it is an elementary principle of the law of supply and demand that if demand is strengthened without a corresponding increase in supply prices must rise. I repeat, if demand is increased without a corresponding increase in supply prices must rise.
– You do not want any plan.
– If the honorable member will wait for a moment, Mr. Speaker, I will give him my views on this subject. A general price rise can be brought about in many ways, by the upgrading of wools for better grade purposes, by the concentration of a wider range of types into the more profitable lines of demand and generally creating an atmosphere in which a firm demand for certain types, with corresponding price rise, is reflected throughout the whole range of types. This has happened in the past, and it will happen again in the future. I believe it is a practicable proposition.
Let me refer now to marketing, which is, perhaps, outside the scope of this legislation, but which I would like to mention for the benefit of the honorable member who is interjecting. I am not prepared to say at this stage whether I am in favour of the scheme or not. I was in favour of the previous scheme because the conditions were favorable at that time for it. Conditions are not quite the same now. I am not going to be dogmatic about this question, as have been many other people with less knowledge of the subject than I. I believe it is a matter so important to Australia that it is not to be tackled without the most thorough inquiry, and it will be one of the functions of the new board to set up its own marketing committee.
I, personally, would be very loath to initiate or to support the requests or demands that have been made by certain vociferous growers, many of whom are what can only be described as part-time woolgrowers, whose ability to express themselves pontifically about the wool industry, production, marketing and consumption varies in inverse ratio to their experience and knowledge. Australia’s wool industry is far too big a part of the national economy to be jeopardized by the inexperienced attitudes of so-called experts or by ambitious organization aspirants. Any change that is to be made must be determined only after the closest examination of all the relevant facts, and not on the rather hysterical background of a suspicion that the growers are the victims of a world-wide conspiracy which has controlled sales and forced prices down or restrained them below their relative economic value. I have been unimpressed by the outbursts of people on the subject of wool marketing. Some of those people definitely have a long and traditional association with the industry, but far too many of them have been in wool-growing for only a short time, and their judgment, if they have any, is influenced entirely by their own personal balance-sheets from high-cost areas.
Mr. Speaker, I support this legislation. I believe that what is proposed is an essential part of the present set-up, at least until we have a wool board working full-time on these matters. I hope that the board will be fully operational in a very short while. In conclusion, I hope that it will be possible, in the next year or so, to make the board more representative by giving wider representation to various organizations that are al present ignored.
Sitting suspended from 5.58 to 8 p.m.
.- The days of complacency in the wool industry are over. The honeymoon it has been enjoying has ended. It is now fighting for its life against a powerful, highly efficient, persistent and wealthy rival - the great synthetic industry. The legislation now before the House proposes to continue the payment by growers of a levy of 10s. a bale until 30th June, 1964. This will provide a weapon to be used by the Australian Wool Board in its efforts to keep wool consumption predominant throughout the world. Before the suspension of the sitting, the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard), our authority on agricultural matters, moved an amendment in the following terms: -
That . . . this House, while not declining to give the bill a second reading at this time, is of opinion that moneys available for the promotion of wool should, to an appropriate extent-
By that we mean 10s. - be derived in part from the Australian economy which is so dependent on the wool industry and should not be the responsibility of the woolgrowers alone.
At present, the Government does not provide any assistance to the promotion of wool. The only money for this purpose comes from the growers, who pay 10s. a bale. This provides an amount of about £3,000,000 a year for promotion. The Government contributes 4s. a bale and the growers contribute 2s. a bale towards research in the wool industry, which is the other very important leg in the campaign to give wool its proper place in the world markets. But our amendment goes much further. It means that a Labour government would contribute 10s. a bale for promotion to match the growers’ contribution of 10s. a bale. This would provide a further £3,000,000 for promotion, making a total of £6,000,000 a year, which could be used for this very important work.
I emphasize that so far the Government has given nothing to help with promotion. In our amendment, we propose that the Government - that is, the economy as a whole - should contribute 10s. a bale to match the growers’ contribution of 10s. a bale. We put forward this suggestion because no other primary industry assists our economy as much as the wool industry does. As a matter of fact, 40 per cent. of our export income is earned by wool. If anything happens to wool prices, here or overseas, the effect is immediately felt through the whole of the Australian economy. We are not wholly dependent upon wool; but 40 per cent. of our export income comes from wool. We believe, therefore, that the Australian economy should do something to help the wool industry in its promotion drive, so that wool may hold its place against the inroads of synthetics. This is a reasonable suggestion. The dairy industry receives a subsidy of £13,000,000 a year, but the Government has not given a penny for the promotion of wool.
If our suggestion were adopted, an amount of £6,000,000 per annum would be available for promotion and this would be a tremendous help to Mr. W. J. Vines, who is the managing director of the International Wool Secretariat and a very able man. We have a very high respect for his business ability. We believe that he needs money and plenty of it in his fight in other countries to defeat the challenge of synthetics. This was in the Opposition’s mind when it proposed the amendment this afternoon. We will implement this proposal when we become the Government after the next election.
I spoke of complacency in the industry. I believe that some wool-growers still have a feeling of complacency and perhaps business people also believe that wool will always be predominant in the world’s markets. But that is not the view of Mr. Vines. Last November, he is reported as having said -
In the next few years wool would move into the most critical period in its history.
That is why I said the honeymoon of this industry is over. The report continued -
Ten to fifteen years ago there were alternatives to wool but no real substitutes.
To-day there were both.
In the ten years between 1950 and 1960 wool production had increased by 40 per cent.
But textile manufacture had increased to such an extent that, even with this increase in wool production, wool’s share of the textile industry had fallen from 64 per cent. to 54 per cent.
The report went on to say -
Mr. Vines said that wool’s answer to synthetics was to create a quality image in the public eye.
To achieve this the I.W.S. had moved into the sphere of international trade marks.
It would buy a mark which would guarantee quality.
This was why it had evolved the five-year plan of promotion, he said. “The alternative is the loss of markets at prices at which the woolgrower can afford to operate,” he said.
Mr. Vines stressed that he believed that the wool industry need not have any apprehension about the future of the industry if it handled its problems in a sensible, economic manner. “The industry has its problems, but so have our competitors,” he said. “We must have efficiency to win. “ On the whole producers such as yourselves-
He was speaking to wool-growers - are efficient. “With the I.W.S. run as an efficient business we will make an efficient team.”
The report continued -
Consumers must be given something from wool that they cannot expect from other fibres.
That, I think, is the key to the success of any promotion scheme. Our proposal to subsidize the wool promotion campaign to the extent of 10s. a bale, in addition to the growers’ contribution of 10s. a bale, was supported last November by the General Council of the Graziers Association of New South Wales. The council said that it would seek a subsidy for wool promotion. This was the first time that this suggestion had been made by the association. A report from “ Muster “, of 14th November, 1962, stated-
It will ask for a subsidy of a pound for pound from the Federal Government.
At that time, we thought the levy may have been £1 a bale. The report continued -
The decision was made at last week’s meeting of the General Council.
Mr. Ian Hunter moving the motion said wool had terrific importance in Australia’s overseas earnings.
Mr. G. Kirby seconded the motion. “ Seeing the wool industry is the subsidizing secondary industry through tariffs and duties, Why should not the Government aid wool promotion? “ Mr. Kirby asked.
Mr. G. Ashley pointed out the Government got much out of the wool industry in many ways. “ I believe if strong representation to the Government were made, we would have a very good chance of getting the subsidy,” he said. “ The I.W.S. was going to be looking for more money for promotion. “ It is up to us to create a favourable atmosphere,” he said.
The motion was carried.
This suggestion from the industry is interesting. Labour included the idea of a subsidy in its policy speech eighteen months ago, and it was the first party to do so. Later the growers, through this council, interested themselves in the subsidy idea. It shows how concerned they are to boost promotion when they are prepared to ask the Government for a matching contribution.
In studying the overseas position in respect of wool consumption, I find some very interesting figures in “The Wool Situation “, which was published last year by the Division of Agricultural Economics here in Canberra. It says that world wool consumption in 1961 amounted to 3,292,000,000 lb. compared with 3,282,000,000 lb. in 1960. In the first quarter of 1962 total consumption in nine of the main consuming countries was 1 per cent, higher than in the first quarter of 1961. Increases occurred in the United
States of America, Japan, France, Sweden and the Netherlands. Those increases were offset to some extent by declines in wool consumption in the United Kingdom, Italy, West Germany and Belgium.
Further on this very important analytical document says that Japan’s wool consumption in 1961 rose by 15 per cent, to a record level. Japan is still buying and consuming more and more wool. In West Germany total raw wool consumption in 1961 was the same as in 1960, although the rate of consumption fell towards the end of the year. So wool consumption is declining gradually in West Germany. In Italy wool consumption fell by 6 per cent, in 1961. This document says that consumption has also declined in the Netherlands. The consumption of raw wool in Australia in 1961 fell by 12 per cent, on the figure for the previous year. Although there was an increase in the quantity of wool consumed in the first quarter of 1962, the daily rate was less than in the previous quarter. So, in half of the overseas wool-consuming countries wool consumption has declined, and in only the other half has there been a slight increase.
That is another reason why promotion must be put on a completely efficient basis throughout all overseas countries. The battle with synthetics is on in no mean manner. I want to give the House some statistics from this document to prove that statement. On page 22 it says that the world production of man-made fibres - they are the rival of wool- in 1961 amounted to 7,768,000,000 lb., or 6 per cent, more than in 1960. The world capacity to produce man-made fibres is estimated to have been 10,315,000,000 lb. in March, 1962, and is expected to be 11,169,000,000 lb. in December, 1963. On page 23 the document says -
Most countries are planning to increase their capacity to produce synthetic fibres in the next two years. It is estimated that by December, 1963, the world’s productive capacity will be 3,366,000,000 lb., or 25 per cent, higher than in March, 1962.
That means that at the end of this year the world will be able to produce 25 per cent, more synthetic fibres than it was able to produce in March, 1962. These are very challenging figures for the wool industry. On page 25 this document says -
According to the estimate of the Textile Economic Bureau there will be 305 plants in the world at the end of 1963 producing non-cellulosic fibres; of which 99 will be in Western Europe, 69 in Africa, Australia and Asia (except Mainland China and Korea), 81 in North America, 30 in South America and 26 in Eastern Europe (excluding U.S.S.R.) and Mainland China. Of the total number of plants 111 are for nylon production, 56 for olefin fibres, 42 for acrylics and 39 for polyesters.
They are the various types of fibres that are coming into the field. There is not only nylon; several other dangerous competitive fibres are coming on to the market. We believe that £3,000,000 a year from the growers only is not sufficient to arm Mr. Vines and his committee with sufficient financial power to cope with this tremendous increase in the production of manmade fibres throughout the world. I believe that at the next election this part of our policy will be accepted very well by all the wool-growers of this Commonwealth.
Whether wool declines or advances as a commodity depends on whether or not the promotional work is accelerated. We know that it is being promoted in many ways throughout the world. In Australia it is being promoted by films. Some excellent films have been produced by the Australian Wool Bureau. Some that I have seen are among the best documentaries that have ever been produced in Australia. They are very helpful indeed. If we had colour television those films would have an even bigger impact. Television is being used to promote wool in this country; but overseas is where the attack must be made. Mr. Vines is of that opinion. He gave it to my friend, the honorable member for Lalor, in an interview last year. Personal representations overseas, or personal salesmanship, is what is required - not just a blanket or general advertisement in newspapers, over television or radio, or on big hoardings. That is not sufficient. It has to be a mantoman, personal campaign. We need salesmen working in the same way as the salesmen who sell Singer sewing machines, motor cars, insurance and many other things in this country. The only way that the sales of wool can be increased is by personal “evangelism”, if you like to put it that way; or by personal contact or man-to-man interviews. If we are to promote wool as a commodity that should go into the making of clothes - where it is mostly used - the promotion has to be on that sort of level of salesmanship. Mr. Vines will have to have a very select team doing this work. Highly trained salesmanship is what is required.
I wish to make one other point before I conclude, Mr. Speaker. Who decides what people will wear? The manufacturer does. If he decides to produce a nylon garment, as opposed to a woollen garment, his salesmanship is along that line. He has his men going throughout the country selling his nylon product to retailers. Whether his product is half nylon and half wool or cotton and wool, he is the man who determines the types of garments that people will wear. In our promotion overseas we have to have top-line men interviewing the manufacturers of garments in the United States of America, Japan, West Germany, Italy, France, South-East Asia, South America and Africa, where the clothes are manufactured. Those men have to be able to convince the manufacturers that wool is superior to any synthetic fibre that they might like to put forward.
– A salesman can do that as long as he is a good salesman.
– Of course, he can. He should not wear nylon shirts and socks, as members of the Country Party here do, when he goes to the manufacturers. Members of the Country Party claim to represent the farmer but those with varicose veins wear nylon socks.
– Why don’t you write your own speech?
– My speech is not written. This is important legislation, but to extend the term of the levy for a further twelve months is an answer to only part of the problem. We want to see the levy extended beyond twelve months because the fight against synthetics is being waged day and night. The fight will continue for the next twenty years or more. Once synthetics get the upper hand overseas our sales of wool will decline and so, too, will our economy. The wool industry and Australia’s economy are bound together. The Government should again consider making a matching grant of 10s., thereby increasing the fund for promotional purposes from £3,000,000 to £6,000,000. Mr. Vines and the other gentlemen from the graziers association, whom I have already mentioned, are well aware that finance is important when thinking of wool promotion. We have everything else - the ability and the know-how - and we must have the sinews of this war, which are more and more finance. I hope that members of the Country Party, who are loud in their claims to support country interests, will support our amendment and obtain from the Government a matching grant of 10s. The three leaders of the Country Party in Australia - the federal president, the federal treasurer and the federal secretary - do not live at Timarook. Woop Woop or Yap Yap Junction. They live in the best suburbs of Sydney.
– They are suburban farmers.
– There is no doubt about that. I do not know how long it is since they did any real farming. They are city dwellers.
– That is not correct.
– I trust that the honorable member for Gippsland will exhibit some statesmanship and support our amendment which, if carried, will benefit the promotion all over the world of our greatest product - wool.
.- Mr. Speaker, there would seem to be little of consequence in these bills to invoke the amount of controversy, light-hearted though it may have been, on the part of the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) and the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie). In their attempt to confuse the issue on these bills, the honorable members referred to such things as compulsory unionism and compulsory levies. They referred, also, to the Opposition’s proposed amendment to the legislation. I think it is well known to everybody, including the honorable members to whom I have referred, that the Opposition’s amendment is unacceptable to the Government at this stage. The honorable member for Wilmot said that the amendment was being proposed because the Opposition has an appreciation of the importance of this industry to the Australian economy. Do honorable members opposite imagine for one moment that they are alone in this view? Do they consider that they are the only people who are aware of the import ance of the wool industry to the Australian economy? Let us get down to tin-tacks and determine the real reason for the Opposition’s amendment. Let us say that it may be purely politics - an attempt on the part of Opposition members, perhaps, to ingratiate themselves with the woolgrowers, particularly after the spectacle of the last couple of weeks. I do not believe that the wool-growers will be deluded by this attempt.
The purpose of these bills is simply to authorize the collection of the levy of 10s. a bale for promotional purposes until 30th June, 1964. It is understood that by that time the Wool Industry Conference and the Australian Wool Board will be sufficiently established and will be able to make recommendations both as to the maximum rate of levy and the operative rate in each year. However, inasmuch as these bills authorize the collection of about £2,500,000 of growers’ money from the production of about 5,000,000 bales of wool annually, I propose to mention three points. I have heard that it is the considered view of some organizations, including, I believe, the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation, that more serious consideration should be given to a levy being determined on a percentage basis rather than a straight bale levy in which quality or value is largely ignored. At first glance that may seem to be a more equitable system, but not yet having seen an infallible argument put forward in its support I am inclined to the view that the important consideration is not so much whether cheaper wool should contribute less by way of this levy but rather the increased selling potential as a result of the use of the promotion levy. I emphasize at this stage that the growers’ own organization - the Wool Industry Conference - will be in a far better position to influence directly the manner and the nature of such promotional activities.
The second point I want to mention concerns the age-old argument of whether wool-growers’ promotion funds should be used for the promotion of blended materials. I refer to the use of artificial fibres in conjunction in various proportions with wool. I think that the International Wool Secretariat, which has been referred to often to-night and this afternoon, is of the opinion that these funds should not be used in this fashion. One might doubt the sense of promoting the product of a competitor when one can well imagine that at the rate at which wool textiles are being improved to meet the present-day demand it may not be long before wool textiles standing alone have all the advantages that are at present claimed for artificial fibres. I believe that as growers and as a government we should not contribute to the buildup of a competitive industry when every effort is needed to maintain and to hold the steady 10 per cent, of the total textile market that is at present enjoyed by wool. I do not believe that we should contribute towards the promotion of artificial fibres. Apparently even the director of such a well-known menswear organization as Michaels-Stern - Mr. Sackville - has some doubts on the matter. A report of an interview with Mr. Sackville appears in the “Farmers Weekly” of 28th March last and reads - “When they were made entirely of wool they were not as readily acceptable as we would have liked as they had a tendency to lose their shape “, he said. “This weakness was corrected by the addition of a percentage of man-made fibre.”
He added, however, that future research into wool could result in the development of lightweight woollen cloth which would not benefit by synthetic admixture.
I say that synthetics, as a result of advances in their own industry or failings in the wool industry, may replace wool but no substitute has yet been found for it.
In the blending of fibres for wearing apparel it must be remembered that while the synthetics have certain advantages in their own right one of the major purposes of blending is to take advantage of the qualities which wool itself gives to the blended material, and not necessarily vice versa. There is no justification for having an inferiority complex, such as the honorable member for Wilmot mentioned, and perhaps morale is as important an item in this war of the fibres as it is in any other war. Surely it is necessary for those in the wool industry to adopt the enthusiastic, the optimistic and the attacking line to assert wool’s supremacy.
Now let me refer to the principle of or the justification for promotion. I do not believe that the need for wool promotion is seriously disputed in this country. 1 am sure that this view is shared by honorable members on both sides of the House. But if there is any doubt let me read the following statement which appeared in “World Wool Digest “ of 7th March, 1963:–
Any upward pressure which declining stocks might have been expected to exert on prices has been more than offset by significant changes in other factors influencing demand for wool. Continued increases in world population and income since the end of the war have resulted in a rising trend in aggregate consumption of wool, but changes in- clothing habits and displacement by other fibres have contributed to a slight decline in wool’s share of the total fibre market. That is to say that wider availability of synthetics and the fashion trend towards casual clothing, with easy care and washability. have reacted against wool and to some extent offset the tendency to increased demand generated by rises in populations and incomes.
That statement adds further justification for promotion. Let me direct attention to the reference in the “ World Wool Digest “ to changes in clothing habits as a result of rises in populations and incomes. In a recent debate an honorable member opposite ridiculed Government spokesmen for even suggesting that there was a change in habits, in the use of primary products, as a result of increased prosperity and rising incomes. That trend is borne out by the article to which I have referred.
I have no doubt that the Australian Wool Bureau is well aware that even in Australia the field for promotion has not been fully covered and that there are probably a great many avenues yet to be explored. One of these might well be in our schools. As I have noted, in some schools little preference is shown for the use of wool in uniforms. The choice is not infrequently made by parent organizations. This lack of preference indicates to me a lack of awareness on the part of some parents at least, first, that Australia’s prosperity, which means their own prosperity, is almost synonymous with a greater use of wool, and secondly, for purely practical purposes, bearing in mind the treatment that these uniforms receive, there is probably no better material for the purpose than wool. When one considers that the school population in Australia is about 2,250,000, of which 1,600,000 are in primary classes, to which my comments mainly refer, this aspect assumes considerable importance. Presumably it is an aspect to which the proposed wool board and conference will give some attention
This leads me to wonder whether at times there is not too great a preoccupation with high fashion and too little attention to the far larger consuming public which requires wool for strictly utilitarian purposes. I wonder also whether, despite the fashion consciousness of people and their changed clothing habits, the small decrease from 10 to 9 per cent, in the proportion of wool fibre used in the last year may not be due to this very fact. I find confirmation again in Mr. Sackville to whom I referred earlier. When speaking about promotion he said -
Large scale textile promotion to-day is too often associated with the extreme style of high fashion, which has little appeal to the buying public at large.
This approach may help to raise the prestige of the textiles concerned - -whether they be natural or man-made fibres - but it is not always aligned with the objectives of clothing manufacturers.
Most users of Australian fabrics have no desire to present the consumer with clothes he will not wear.
For this reason the men’s wear industry is unwilling to subsidize costly promotional programmes which link textiles with unacceptable fashion.
To sum up, I believe that promotion is well justified and, therefore, these bills are justified, particularly as they come before us on the recommendation of the Wool Industry Conference. Let me refer to recent wool trade with the United States with particular reference to the eight months ended February, 1963, when there was an increase in the sale of both greasy and scoured wool amounting to £5,000,000 more than in the corresponding period last year. The Department of Trade has commented that these increased purchases appear to be related to the International Wool Secretariat’s expanding promotion plan. Therefore, it is apparent that these bills are well justified, particularly if the present promotional activities instil in the minds of consumers, in the minds of manufacturers and even perhaps in the minds of the growers the conviction that despite strong competition from synthetics and artificial fibres wool is still the supreme fibre.
I have pleasure in supporting the bill.
.- The bills before the House seek to extend until 30th June, 1964, the present wool promo tion levy of 10s. a bale, with proportionate rates for smaller quantities. As other Opposition members have stated, we support the legislation and urge the adoption of the amendment proposed by the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard), which provides for a matching contribution by the Commonwealth Government towards the cost of promotion. As usual, Labour’s approach to these rural matters, and indeed to other matters, has been misrepresented by Government supporters. They have criticized our proposed amendment and have said, in effect, that we are playing politics. I remind them, and the honorable member for Canning (Mr. McNeill) in particular, that sixteen years ago the Chifley Labour Government made a contribution towards wool promotion. I remind them, too, that late last year “ Muster “ carried a statement by the General Council of Graziers Associations in the following terms: -
The General Council of the Graziers Associations of New South Wales will seek a subsidy for wool promotion. It will ask the Federal Government for a subsidy of £1 for £1.
Are we to assume that government supporters regard the proposal by the graziers’ associations as unworthy? In essence it is similar to Labour’s proposal and the Opposition recommends its adoption by the Parliament.
Before proceeding further let me repeat my contention of last December that the 30.000 Australian wool-growers, who have no say in the election of the controllers of their industry, should be given a voice in the industry’s affairs at the earliest opportunity. In effect, they are being taxed without representation. Promotion is serving the industry well. The proposed Australian Wool Board which will administer these activities should be answerable to all woolgrowers. Expressed as a percentage of Australia’s total export income, wool exports have shown a continual decline which has kept pace with the ever-decreasing prices being received by wool-growers. In 1960- 61 wool exports comprised only 39.4 per cent, of our total export income, the lowest percentage then for fourteen years. In the last financial year, 1961-62, the figure was 37.1 per cent., the lowest since 1944-45, when it was 33.8 per cent. In the first eight months of this financial year Australia’s balance of payments showed a deficit of something like £15,000,000 and but for loans raised overseas and the inflow of foreign investment capital in the last ten years the nation would have been bankrupt. We know that the Liberal-Country Party Government has presided over trading losses totalling £1,600,000,000 in the last decade. Stemming from these circumstances it is obvious that there is a great need for additional export income in order that we may pay our way and maintain our national solvency and standard of living.
Another factor necessitating a lift in wool prices is the position of the individual wool-grower. Until recent months returns to the wool-growers had fallen away disastrously. In fact they were at their lowest level in post-war years. In contrast to that, of course, were the high land prices, interest rates, the cost of plant and machinery and all the other high 1963 costs of production with which wool-growers have to contend on what are virtually the equivalent of the immediate post-war prices in the 1945-46 era. At page 45 of the Division of Agricultural Economics production, “The Wool Outlook”, you will find that wool prices, deflated by the index of costs paid by wool-growers, have been lower in the last four years than in 1946-47. I shall give examples. In 1961-62 wool brought 20.43d. per lb.; in 1957-58, 25.28d., in 1952-53, 37.87d. In 1946-47 the price was 24.49d. Those are the prices deflated - not actually received - by the cost paid by the farmers. Costs, in the time of the Labour Government in 1946, 1947, 1948 and 1949, were only a fraction of those encountered by the producers now, under this Government. So for two important reasons - the securing of a reasonable return to wool-growers and an increase in the export income of the nation - it is urgently necessary to create a most vigorous demand for our major primary commodity, wool.
Any businessman, company or commercial venture engaged in sales, as the wool industry is, knows that without an advertising or promotional campaign, sales will dwindle away. To create a greater demand for his product the hard-headed businessman hammers his message home to every householder. Every television viewer will bear witness to the fact that just at the critical moment when Perry Mason, for the thousandth time, is going to prove how ridiculous the district attorney or Lieutenant Tragg is, there comes the message, “Keep your clothes or your hands clean with Swerl “, or he is exhorted to follow the pug marks to some foolproof petrol. Even though some viewers may dislike that sort of thing, it has an impact. Advertising pays, and so does wool promotion.
The promotion of wool covers the need not only to keep the word “ wool “ before the consumer, but also to engage directly in assisting in the introduction of new processes and to intensify product development and influence the people who can direct public attention to our product - the manufacturer and the managements and buyers of retail stores both at home and abroad. Promotional activities by the International Wool Secretariat, in Europe, India, America and other lands, indicate that these aims are being pursued. No doubt more finance would enable a more vigorous approach in all aspects of promotion.
One of the difficulties facing promotion is that no one can point with any surety to facts and figures which indicate the benefits of a promotional campaign. Indeed, no one can say that, having witnessed a lift in demand and consequently in the price for wool, some factor or factors other than promotion were not responsible - factors like the deep freeze in Europe, the stockpiling of wool and the like. Conversely, after experiencing a fall in the demand for wool, no one can say that money spent in the promotional field was spent unwisely, unnecessarily or wastefully. Other factors such as private selling, the activities of pies or new and extended activities by synthetic interests and others could have nullified its effect. It may be that without promotional activity in such circumstances the price would have fallen even lower. As I have said previously, this virtual impossibility of assessing the results of promotional spending tends to give some producers the idea that the results do not justify the expenditure. Without concrete evidence of success a producer is wary of contributing.
Of course, promotion does pay. Any commercial concern will vouch for that. One of the major quandaries confronting the International Wool Secretariat and the new Australian Wool Board is the problem of whether to promote wool alone or to accept the old adage “ If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em “ and to promote the use of wool blended with synthetics. So far, the wool promotion authorities have preferred to go it alone. I leave the decision to them, for certainly the experts in the field of promotion have greater qualifications for reaching a decision than I have. Although wool is in direct competition with manmade fibres in world markets, there are fields in which a blend of both provides what the consumer considers to be a superior fabric. It does not matter how much we may dislike the fact - a visit to any large retail store will bear this out. If one asks for a woollen tie or shirt or socks the answer is that the shop has the article made of wool combined with nylon, rayon or something like that. Leading from that comes the conclusion that synthetics are not necessarily or wholly a substitute for wool but a supplement, for when blends of both produce a top-grade fabric that grading could not be obtained without the properties which wool lends the fabric. As research into wool uncovers new processes such as anti-shrink properties, permanent creases and so on these fields of dependence of wool and synthetics on one another may narrow down, but I do not think they will disappear altogether. This will certainly be one of the major problems confronting the promotional activities of the new Australian Wool Board.
Under the existing legislation Australian wool-growers are contributing 10s. per bale for promotion and an additional 2s. per bale for research activities. Together these contributions raised almost £3,000,000 per year. I believe these imposts have taxed the growers to the limit in the present circumstances. To contribute further would add an unwelcome and unbearable burden to the small wool-grower. However, the need for increased returns from wool to both the wool-grower and the nation is so great, and the competitive pressure from man-made fibres is so persistent, that it is time the Commonwealth realized its worth as an investment and made a contribution to promotion. After all, it is a good business proposition and it could return greater dividends to the Commonwealth than export incentives and subsidies. A Commonwealth investment of 10s. a bale, as proposed in the amendment of my colleague, the honorable member for Lalor, could materially assist, not only in lifting rural incomes and, by doing so, stimulating the economy but could also lift our lagging export trade. Any lift in rural incomes would result in a return to the Government by additional revenue from taxation. In effect, the Government could get back its own investment, an investment of approximately £2,500,000. Expressed as a percentage of national income, that is very minute indeed. There is a precedent for Commonwealth participation in wool promotion. In 1947 the Chifley Labour Government contributed towards both research and promotion, and the time is ripe for similar action by this Government.
I support the amendment moved by the honorable member for Lalor and recommend it to the Parliament for adoption.
– The honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Beaton) clearly stated that he believed that the meaning of the Australian Labour Party’s proposed amendment is that the Government shall contribute 10s. a bale to match the levy of 10s. a bale paid by the wool-growers. I have looked at the amendment moved by the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard). I do not understand what the honorable member for Bendigo means. There is no mention in it of any particular sum of money. I feel he is attempting a political trick to fool some of the wool-growers, but I know he will fail in this.
The purpose of this bill is to continue the levy of 10s. a bale until 30th June, 1964, through the final stages of the existence of the Australian Wool Bureau and until the Australian Wool Board is proclaimed. The 10s. levy will give the Australian Wool Board an annual income of approximately £2,500,000. In the past, the income from this levy has been devoted to the activities of the International Wool Secretariat in promotion overseas. Wool promotion inside Australia is provided for, as many honorable members will know, by the rentals obtained from wool stores. Unfortunately, in my electorate, and no doubt in many other electorates, many wool-growers believe that the promotion of wool is sponsored and financed by the wool-growers only. This is not the fact. There are many joint promotion schemes between the International Wool Secretariat and manufacturers and retailers of overseas countries. France is an example. There the International Wool Secretariat has joined with French manufacturing companies to promote the “ Pure Laine Peignee “ label, or pure comb wool label. This promotion has been so successful that in the first year of activity 3,500,000 labels have been sold. This shows clearly the value of promotion.
We are all familiar with the American free and easy way of life. The International Wool Secretariat panders to this way of life by promoting the Sironized process which enables easy care of garments. Combined with the promotion of shrink resistant machine washable blankets, which are very good, this has created an increase of 17,000,000 lb. in sales of wool to America during a period of economic recession there. This is another demonstration of the value of promotion.
I turn to the world’s biggest wool customer - Japan. The Japanese Wool Spinners Association is joining with the International Wool Secretariat in promoting wool in Japan in competition with the man-made fibres, cotton and silk. This wool promotion is making a strong impact on that nation. There has been no largescale promotional activity in the United Kingdom, but local industries have joined in local promotion, with the result that the United Kingdom has entered into agreements with the United States.
Wool consumption and wool production have increased. In 1954, 2,565,000,000 lb. of wool were sold in Australia. The estimate of sales for 1962 is 3,350,000,000 lb. Together with the increased production and consumption of wool there has been a marked increase in the price of wool. For the 1960-61 season the price of greasy wool was 52.06d. per lb. throughout Australia. For the first eight months of the 1962-63 season the price of greasy wool has been 58.21d. per lb., an increase of 10 per cent, over the 1960-61 price. There has been no world crisis to create a sudden demand for wool and there has been no world shortage. Despite tremendous competition from the cotton industry and the silk industry, there has been a continued demand for wool and an increase in the price of wool. Logically, promotion must have assisted to obtain this increase in price.
Along with the promotion of wool, one of the most important developments for the average grower is research into wool. Here again the Labour Party’s amendment endeavours to convince the wool-grower that this Government does not support the industry. We support the wool industry heavily, including its research side. This Government has contributed 4s. a bale, which, along with the 2s. a bale levy paid by the grower, provides a total of £1,500,000 for research. The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization has done a lot of work on the biological side and also on the wool textile side of the industry. I realize that time is limited, Mr. Speaker, but I wish to mention briefly some of the advances made. Some years ago the agencies of myxomatosis and the poison 1080 were exploited to rid Australia of rabbits and I am amazed to learn that the C.S.I.R.O. is engaged on a programme to breed better rabbits. I wrote to the Minister in charge of the C.S.I.R.O. (Senator Gorton) on this subject and received this reply -
The short answer to this inquiry as to whether the C.S.I.R.O. is endeavouring to breed better rabbits is yes.
The Minister went on to explain that the New Zealand white rabbit is being crossed with the Rex rabbit. I do not know whether that programme is continuing, but I am sure that officers of the C.S.I.R.O. could better apply themselves to some other aspect of research. We do not need better rabbits. We have enough rabbits in Australia now, some of them being on the opposite side of the House.
The C.S.I.R.O. has turned its attention to parasites in sheep, drenches, trace elements in soils, cobalt pellets, pasture improvement, and has even started a breeding programme to assist that side of the industry. On the wool textile side we find the SI-RO-MARK branding fluid. This is not new, but it is interesting to list the things the C.S.I.R.O. has done. That organization has produced an improved carbonizing method by introducing a wetting agent.
Another development is jet solvent scarring, which is not widely accepted throughout the industry but is a big step forward. There are improvements in fellmongering - the removal of wool from the pieces of skin that sometimes get into the bale. We also have SI-RO-SET, a method of permanent pleating. There is no doubt that permanent pleating must be of great assistance to, say, the sales of ladies’ golf skirts. Then we have the C.S.I.R.O. process for the shrink-proofing of blankets and the SIRONIZED easy-care process for garments that I have mentioned before. In the magazine, “Rural Research in C.S.I.R.O.”, No. 42, there is an article about the recent development of a vacuum press for the pressing of wool. In the process wool is pressed into polythene bags instead of jute bales. This will remove the cause of some of the criticisms overseas about fragments of jute becoming mixed with the wool.
All these processes assist in maintaining good relations between the textile industry and the wool-growers themselves. The manufacturers know that the wool-growers and the Government take this industry very seriously. The wool industry contributed £355,800,000 in the financial year 1960-61 and £372,800,000 in 1961-62 to the national economy. So I urge that every honorable member in this House think wool, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I do not mean “ think woolly”, though that is the way some honorable members opposite think. I mean that we must think wool, talk wool and wear wool. I support the measures before the House.
.- Mr. Deputy Speaker, I support the amendment proposed by the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard). That amendment, in effect, will provide £6,000,000 in a year for the promotion of wool advertising and other activities that are bound up with this most important Australian industry. I am greatly disappointed to find that only the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) and the honorable member for Gippsland (Mr. Nixon) from the Government side of the chamber have contributed to this debate. Apparently, members of tha Australian Country Party are leaving it to honorable members on this side of the House to discuss this most important legislation and perhaps to go even a little further than the Minister was prepared to go when he made his second-reading speeches on the three measures that we are now considering. I am very much disappointed at finding that so many members of the Country Party have not been prepared to discuss these most important measures. I am reminded by my Whip, the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie), that seventeen of the Australian Labour Party members who sit in this place represent wool-growing electorates. That is wiry the members of the Labour Party have been most enthusiastic about the proposals now before the House and why they have been somewhat disappointed that the Minister did not go even a little further than he went in submitting his proposals.
We all know, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that for many years wool has been the principal exportable commodity produced in Australia. Even to-day, the value of wool exported is greater than the value of any other of this country’s exports, although the principal markets for our wool exports are changing. Japan is now the principal buyer of wool produced in Australia.
I have no doubt that honorable members are wondering why I, as the representative of a city constituency, the centre of which is Woolloongabba, am speaking on a matter such as this. I am an Australian with an Australian outlook, and I want to speak on this matter, which affects me very closely. For a long time, I have tried to be a consumer of wool by buying woollen clothing. But I find it very difficult to get what I want from the Australian manufacturers. I insist on having woollen goods produced by Australian manufacturers. I do not want to turn to manufacturers overseas for woollen goods that I find suited to my needs. I have had very great difficulty in obtaining good woollen socks of Australian manufacture. I speak very feelingly on this important issue of the consumption of wool, with particular emphasis on woollen socks. I have tried shop after shop in Brisbane over a long time in my efforts to obtain good Australian-made woollen socks. I do not want woollen socks of the kind worn by members of the Australian Country Party, who wear socks made in other countries. I want to wear socks that are made in Australia from Australian wool, but I have had very great difficulty in buying such socks in Brisbane.
I have found one or two shops in Brisbane that are prepared to sell me Australian-made socks, but I am very disappointed at the colours of the socks that they sell. I am now wearing a pair of woollen socks of Australian manufacture. At present, they are very comfortable socks. The colours are primrose, dark brown, light brown and blue. These colours may not particularly please a reasonable man, but at least these socks so far are comfortable. The tragedy of the situation is that the wool industry organization has not yet found a means by which it can prevent the shrinking of woollen socks, and the person who wears Australian-made woollen socks finds that after a short period of wear the socks shrink to uncomfortable proportions. I believe that there is on the producers of wool in Australia an onus to find, through the agency of the Australian Wool Board and the International Wool Secretariat, whose activities we propose to finance by means of the levy provided for in these measures, a means of preventing shrinking of woollen goods, and particularly socks.
I recently visited the ‘current Brisbane Exhibition, the finest show in the Commonwealth. There, I saw the display of woollen goods arranged by the Australian Wool Board. I must say that it is an excellent display. The models who show the clothes are a delight for any man to view. Howeyer, the only appeal is in the beauty of the female body, for the woollen garments displayed are unfortunately the usual kind that one sees in the shops and they do not have the qualities that the user requires. This is the reason for the criticism that I am now voicing. It is all very well to have beautiful girls displaying woollen garments. But the onus is on the woolgrowers and the Australian Wool Board to ensure that we in Australia produce the kind of commodity that the Australian people require. One of the great problems, as I have mentioned before, is the shrinkage of woollen materials. The honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Beaton) a short time ago spoke about the reduced usage of Australian woollen materials. The reason for this reduced usage is that the manufacturers are not producing goods of a quality which meets the requirements of the Australian consumer.
The requirements of the consumer must be considered in this very important matter. As a consumer, I emphasize that the consumers do not want to buy an Australianmade commodity which is inferior to the synthetic article now on the market which can be bought so readily. I think that you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, will agree with me that it is much easier these days to buy an article made of a combination of wool and synthetic fibres than it is to buy a garment made of pure wool. This is a shocking state of affairs in Australia, and it has been brought about because the wool industry - not necessarily the producers of wool, but the manufacturers of wool - is not producing a commodity that meets the requirements of the Australian consumer. Many millions of people in Australia would be delighted to buy goods made of woollen materials. We in this country are rightly proud of the fact that we produce the best wool in the world, but we cannot be proud of the fact that the consumption of wool in Australia is decreasing. The reason for the decline is the unsatisfactory quality of the materials available to the Australian consumer.
The proposition advanced by the honorable member for Lalor is that the levy on wool be matched £1 for £1 by the Commonwealth so that the Australian Wool Board will have more funds out of which to finance promotion activities. As a Queenslander I have no objection. I do not take a narrow State view on this very important issue. I know that New South Wales is the greatest producer of wool of all the States. I know that very shortly in my own State of Queensland sugar will become the principal primary product, but I do not intend to say, in a year or two’s time, that because we happen to be producing sugar of a greater value than the wool that we will be producing in Queensland the wool-growing industry should not be asked to pay a contribution such as it is being asked to pay to-day with, of course, the Commonwealth making a great contribution. I realize the importance of wool in the national set-up, Mr. Deputy Speaker, and consequently I support this very important amendment, moved by the honorable member for Lalor, to provide that the Commonwealth make an increased grant to assist in wool promotion.
There is one observation that I wish to make, and in this connexion I regret that you happen to be in the chair, Mr. Deputy Speaker. It is not that I fear my position here, because I know that you are fairness personified, but I want to make an observation concerning Mr. Speaker himself. There is one thing that annoys me every time I look at Mr. Speaker occupying the chair; he is wearing a wig that is not made of wool. I would like to see him wearing a wig fashioned from wool. It disturbs me to see Mr. Speaker sitting in that august place and to notice that the third row of ringlets on the left-hand side of his wig is completely out of place. I am sure that if the wig were made of the best kind of Australian merino wool it would be perfect and a complete delight to those who enjoy the spectacle of Mr. Speaker’s sartorial splendour.
– Dr. Evatt presented a wig to the then Speaker at one time.
– That may be so, but at the time Dr. Evatt presented it perhaps the wool industry had not found a means of presenting to the public wool satisfactory for the making of wigs. I am sure that the manufacturers of wool in Australia today can produce something that would be worth while. I know that in England the Lord Chancellor, aware of the fact that in days long gone by the prosperity of England depended on the wool industry, sits on the Woolsack. It is a tragedy that in this country to-day Mr. Speaker, when he sits in the House of Representatives, does not wear a wig made of Australian wool.
I am aware, Sir, that my friend and colleague, the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) made an observation in this place some years ago to the effect that Sabrina, a well-known English model who visited this country, always wore wool. I would suggest that this should be an example for all people in Australia to follow.
– I suppose I could say without any fear of contradiction that the most informative speech made so far in this debate was the second-reading speech of the Minister. I want to quote very briefly from that speech. The Minister said -
The Government decided to extend the operation of the rate of levy after the Australian Wool Industry Conference informed me that, at its inaugural meeting in February, it had resolved that the rate of wool promotion levy for the year 1st July, 1963, to 30th June, 1964, should be 10s. a bale.
Then, towards the end of his speech, he said -
The extension of the current rates of levy for wool promotion meets the wishes of the industry. The continuation of the rate will enable the Australian Wool Bureau and, of course, the Australian Wool Board later, to carry on uninterrupted its vital wool promotion activities both in Australia and, through the International Wool Secretariat, in overseas countries
From what the Minister has said it appears that the industry has asked for this extension of the 10s. a bale levy. From what I have heard in the House it seems that every member is in favour of it and, as I strongly support the bill, there is not much more to be said. However, certain members of the Opposition have made statements that must be rebutted. Not all of them made these statements, but the honorable member for Griffith (Mr. Coutts), who spoke last, made certain statements, and I notice that he is not waiting until I reply to him. I think that it is best on occasions to reply to the member who spoke last, because his remarks are fresh in the memory of those who listened to him. As members of the Labour Party are prone to do, the honorable member commenced by making an attack on the Australian Country Party. I wonder why it is that the Labour Party fears the Country Party so much, and why it always tries to make an attack on the Country Party. I can understand the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie) doing this, because the Country Party is moving into Tasmania and is forming many good branches in the honorable member’s electorate. But it is more difficult to understand why the honorable member for Griffith, in Queensland, makes these attacks. But yes, I am suddenly reminded that there is a reason. There is a Country Party Premier in Queensland. I had forgotten that fact. That is probably what brought the honorable member for Griffith on the scene attacking the Country Party.
But let me get on with the job. The honorable member said that members of the Country Party are not willing to speak on these bills.
– That is right.
– I am ahead of my turn in the debate. I would not be speaking yet if every speaker rose in his turn. Members of the Country Party have taken their turn so far in this debate and they are prepared to continue to do so. We always speak on matters of importance to primary producers. We always support the men on the land, as every member of the Opposition knows.
The honorable member for Griffith went on to say, “ I suppose the Country Party wonders why I am speaking on these bills “. Of course, the honorable member represents a Brisbane suburban electorate. I remind the House of a remark made by the honorable member a little earlier, to the effect that there are seventeen Labour members representing wool-growing electorates. Is it not natural that we should be surprised that a representative of a metropolitan electorate should speak on this legislation, when all but two of those seventeen to whom the honorable member referred have not spoken at all, and in fact are not even in the chamber. Of course we would be surprised, and every thinking man, woman and child in Australia would share our surprise at the fact that all but two of the seventeen so-called, great rural electorate representatives on the Labour side, or all but three - I remember that the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Beaton) has also spoken - have failed to say anything about this legislation. Where are these people? Why do they allow the honorable member for Griffith to speak for them? It is only natural that we should wonder about these things.
The honorable member for Bendigo puts forward a pretty reasoned case as a rule, and he made a mighty profound statement to-night, with which I thoroughly agreed.
– That is unusual
– But the point was that he did not realize what he was saying. He said that but for the loans raised overseas this country would now be bankrupt.
What he meant, of course, was that those loans have served to build up our overseas balances, but that is not the real point. But for the loans raised overseas it would not have been possible to import the great earthmoving equipment required for projects like the Snowy Mountains scheme, for road-building and for all those other tasks that have made this a progressive nation. If we had not raised these loans overseas we would not, I think, have been bankrupt, but we would not have enjoyed the great progress that we have enjoyed since this Government came to office. Unaware of what he was suggesting, the honorable member said that people all over this nation should realize - I say they do realize it - what has been happening. If we can get from the Opposition a statement of wisdom, even though delivered unwittingly, I, for one, appreciate it.
The important man in this debate on the Labour side was, as is usual in matters of this kind, the honorable member for Lalor. He referred in his speech to the Government’s provision years ago for a 20 per cent, deduction in respect of wool sales. He criticized that provision. I addressed a meeting a good while ago in my electorate at a time when I had been going around expressing my support of this provision for a 20 per cent, deduction. About twelve months later, I went around the electorate again. I could not get any one to ask me a question or to speak on this subject. I said, “Are there any questions about the wool sales deduction? “ One man stood up and said, “ I am not asking a question, but I want to make a very short statement “. I said, “ Very well, make your statement “. He said: “ I think this is one of the best things that ever happened to the wool-grower. I only wish it had been 40 per cent.” What is the story? This was all a matter of provisional taxation. In 1949-50, the year before the price of wool rose, wool averaged 63.77d. per lb. on the market, but the average for 1950-51 was 144.19d. The provisional tax of the wool-growers for 1950-51 was based on the previous year when they had low incomes. The following year, as usual, provisional tax was based on the previous year, a year of high income. However, the price of wool had receded to 72.42d., and the Government, which was holding the amount obtained by the collection of the 20 per cent., then credited the sum against the growers’ tax. This was of great assistance to them.
– What has this to do with the bill?
– If the honorable member for Bendigo wants to know, I am answering the honorable member for Lalor. The wool-growers could not have paid their taxes if the Government had not been holding the money for them. I went to the town of Sea Lake when people were objecting to the collection of 20 per cent., and I made a speech on the subject. When I came out of the hall, a man who was waiting outside said, “All you have said may be true and probably is true, but I cannot pay my taxes “. I said, “ Why can you not pay your taxes? What have you done with the money? Taxation is only a percentage of your earnings.” He said: “ I cannot pay my taxes because I bought a farm for my son out of the money. Has he not a right to go on the land? “ I said, “ I suppose he has, provided you have the money to pay for it, but you cannot buy land out of money that you should be paying in taxes “. That is the reason he could not pay his taxes.
The honorable member for Lalor said that 35 per cent, of our export income is earned by wool and he added that there was a time when the export income from wool was 50 per cent, of our export earnings. He would lead the people to believe that the output of wool in Australia is shrinking. But let us remember that wool earned a larger part of our export income when the price was 144.19d. The honorable member was dealing with value. I have noticed that when Labour wants to do so, it deals with value, but when this argument does not suit it, it deals with quantity. That is a very clever move.
Money collected in the wool sales deduction was credited against the growers’ taxes and any money not needed to pay taxes was returned to the growers. The point that has not been mentioned by the honorable member for Lalor is that the money collected in this way was used by the Government to pay war gratuities. The Labour Government had said that it had provided for this payment, but the only provision it had made was on paper. Collections from the wool sales deduction were used to pay war gratuities and this collection also helped the wool-growers. The legislation became known as a great piece of legislation for the man on the land. It saved many men from bankruptcy at that time.
The honorable member for Lalor referred to some new method of marketing. The Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) interjected across the table and said, “ We have given you the machinery “. He meant the Australian Wool Board. The honorable member for Lalor said, “ Why did you not do it yourself? “ The Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies), a long time ago said -
There will be no change in the method of wool marketing until we are satisfied that a majority of growers desire it
I want to deal with the honorable member’s question, “ Why did you not do it yourself? “ An honorable member in interjecting referred to the sale of wheat to New Zealand. At every meeting I have attended and in debate in this House I have made clear that the honorable member for Lalor was not the Minister responsible for this sale. Some people have contradicted me, but I know that what I have said is true. If anything is needed in politics it is fair play, and I will not stand to one side and hear the honorable member for Lalor blamed for this sale.
– I do not mind in the slightest.
– The honorable member for Lalor is not being very fair. If I were condemning him, he would jump up and ask, “ Why do you condemn me? “ I am trying now to make his position clear when others condemn him. The sale of wheat to New Zealand was a sale made by the Government without any reference to the Australian Wheat Board or to any one associated with wheat-growing. Any action by the Minister, or any one else, to adopt the suggestion of the honorable member for Lalor that he should introduce some marketing scheme himself would be akin to the sale of wheat to New Zealand. What the Government says is that the product - that is, the wool or wheat - belongs to the producer. That is where we differ from Labour. Labour says the product belongs to the Government and acts accordingly.
That has happened on countless occasions. In saying, “Why do you not do it yourself? “ the honorable member for Lalor is suggesting that if he were the Minister he would do so. But the Ministers in this Government have said on many occasions that there will be no stabilization schemes or any new marketing schemes until such schemes have been approved by a majority of growers at a ballot. Surely that attitude is fair enough.
I do not propose to speak at length because other honorable members want to speak and the House must deal with other matters, and we are sitting for only two days this week. However, I must comment on the fact that Labour has come forward now as the great champion of the woolgrowers. The amendment moved by the honorable member for Lalor seeks to have the Government match the growers’ contribution of 10s. a bale. Surely the woolgrowers will not fall for this suggestion. We should remember that Labour has not said that if it becomes the government it will make such a payment, because the men who would have control of Labour in government are not in this House during this debate. Secondly, if Labour paid 10s. a bale to match the contribution of the growers, where would the growers be? If Labour gave the wool-growers 10s. a bale in this way, as a bait, it would, for each 10s. of its proposed taxation programme, take £20 or £30 away from the grower.
Some of the new members of the House may not know that the honorable member for Yarra (Mr. Cairns) has said that if the value of land - broad acres - increases because government amenities become available in the area, the increase in value should go to the Government. The honorable member for Scullin (Mr. Peters) has said, “ Take the land away from the woolgrowers”. Any one who knows anything about the production of wool knows that a wool-grower must have broad acres on which to run sheep. On every count, Labour stands condemned for its attitude to wool-growers. Labour does not hold very many electorates which have a large number of primary producers amongst the electors.
– You took land away from the lady of Ripponlea.
– I do not know what the honorable member for Lalor is saying, but I want to say that wool-growers should not take any notice of this amendment. It is moved only to achieve some political purpose. It is for the purpose of party politics. The Labour Party, if returned to office, of course, would tax the woolgrowers tremendously heavily. How often have we heard honorable members opposite say, “ Make those who can pay, pay “? How often have we heard about the woolgrowers in their Jaguar and Rolls-Royce cars and other disparaging comments about these great producers of our greatest product. That is happening all the time. The Country Party has been fighting the Labour Party on this matter for years.
One or two honorable members opposite who came into this Parliament recently have been interjecting. They know nothing of what happened in 1946, 1947 and 1948. They have no education or experience of what happened when Labour was in office. They are prepared to follow blindly some statements that have been made by other Labour men. I believe that in the future they will come to understand that this Parliament is divided very clearly into those who support primary producers, who are on the Government side of the chamber, and those who only use primary producers to their own advantage when they get an opportunity to do so.
– Mr. Speaker, I wish to say only a few words on this important bill. I repeat that the purpose of it is to continue the right to deduct the levy of 10s. a bale and to ensure that the Australian Wool Board, which will supersede the present Australian Wool Bureau as soon as the relevant act that was passed in the last sessional period is proclaimed, will have the right to carry on the functions of the bureau. In reply to the honorable member for Griffith (Mr. Coutts), I do not think there is any need for me to say very much more than stress the purpose of the bill. The honorable member elaborated on the type of garments he wears. He mentioned the pretty girls in mannequin parades and talked about the shrinkage of garments. I think the honorable member was shrinking a bit when he, as a bachelor, did not go near the pretty girls.
Let us get down to facts. The levy of 10s. a bale represents £2,500,000 a year. Of course, the fund has other income, including the rent of wool sheds and interest-
– And the £7,000,000 which we provided and which you criticized so adversely.
– That is not this fund. The honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) is referring to the Wool Research Trust Fund. There is more than £2,800,000 in the promotion fund now. Because the bureau is budgetting for expenditure in excess of the estimated revenue for this year, it is expected that the fund will be reduced to £2,200,000 at the end of this financial year.
I point out to the House that the amendment moved by the honorable member for Lalor does not commit the Government to any expenditure from the Consolidated Revenue Fund. It is merely an expression of a political opinion and would have no commitment in it, even if it were carried. That is the extent of the honorable member’s amendment. The Government’s policy will be determined from year to year in co-operation with the wool-growers. We have established the machinery. When I interjected and said that the machinery was provided, the honorable member for Lalor said to me, “ Why did you not do it yourself? “, referring to the establishment of a marketing authority. The honorable member knows, if he will face the facts on this issue, that had a vote been taken on the matter at that time, because the industry was divided right down the middle the proposal could not possibly have been carried. The final state of the industry would have been worse than the first. The practical method of getting- -
– That is pure supposition. You are dodging the issue.
– Order! The honorable member for Lalor has already spoken. I ask him not to interject.
– We have adopted a practical method of getting the industry, as a united body, to determine its policy.
– It is not united.
– It is pretty united. The industry will determine its policy even on marketing. Tie Government will consider the policy with the industry. In respect of promotion, the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Beaton) said - I do not know whether he meant to say it, but he did - that in 1947 the Labour Government provided 2s. a bale for promotion and research. That is not correct. No previous government has provided any money for promotion.
– Wait a minute. Have a look for yourself. An amount of 2s. a bale was provided by the Labour Government.
– Funds have been provided for research. I am not taking the credit for that away from you. In 1957 this Government increased that amount to 4s. a bale, provided that the industry put in 2s. a bale. That money has all gone to the Wool Research Trust Fund about which the honorable member for Lalor has just intersected. That fund has a substantial credit balance.
– In 1945, an amount of £300,000 was appropriated from the Consolidated Revenue Fund for research and promotion.
– Order! The honorable member for Lalor has already spoken. He must not interject.
– The honorable member said that in 1947 the Labour Government provided 2s. a bale for promotion. That is not so. The Labour Government did provide 2s. a bale for research. This Government has assisted the industry through research. Research is not far removed from promotion.
The honorable member for Lalor referred to the increased price for wool this year compared with last year. Honorable members have heard me say probably more than once that one of the reasons for the increased price is a reduction of stocks in the various consuming countries. That reduction of stocks is due - this cannot be denied - to increased promotion and increased sales. That has been the position. In this debate figures on the increase in consumption have been given. The International Wool Secretariat has been reorganized and the Australian Wool Bureau - that is its present name - has really set out on an international promotion campaign. We can see the good effects of that campaign. We can look to even better things in that regard. I do not think there is any dispute about, or any opposition by any honorable member to, that approach.
There is an established machinery. Australia provides 62 per cent. of the present administration and promotion fund of the International Wool Secretariat. New Zealand provides 24 per cent. and South Africa provides 14 per cent. Those three nations are involved in the International Wool Secretariat for which those funds are provided. I am sure that the secretariat has been using them to good effect and will continue to use them to good effect. As well as providing those moneys, this financial year we have provided £1,000,000 direct to the wool industry for research. In addition, a substantial amount of the provision of £8,500,000 for the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization will be used to assist in research in relation to the wool industry. We have provided £60,000 for the Australian Wool Testing Authority. That is another practical help to the industry.
This Government will make up its mind on policy as the industry is prepared to progress further along the line. We will discuss policy with the representatives of the industry. Since the amendment is an expression of political opinion, and nothing more than that, the Government cannot possibly accept it.
Question put -
That the words proposed to be omitted (Mr. Pollard’s amendment) stand part of the question.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker- Hon. Sir John McLeay.)
Majority . . 2
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and reported from committee without amendment or debate. Report adopted.
Bill - by leave - read a third time!
Motion (by Mr. Adermann) - by leave - agreed to -
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent Orders of the Day Nos. 2 and 3 for the resumption of the debate on the second reading of bills relating to wool tax being read together and a motion being moved that the bills be now passed.
WOOL TAX BILL (No. 1) 1963. Second Reading.
Consideration resumed from 28th March, 1963 (vide page 165), on motion by Mr. Adermann -
That the bill be now read a second time.
WOOL TAX BILL (No. 2) 1963. Second Reading.
Consideration resumed from 28th March, 1963 (vide page 166), on motion by Mr. Adermann -
That the bill be now read a second time.
Bills (on motion by Mr. Adermann) passed.
Transport of Members of Parliament - Migrant Hostel, Maroubra - Overseas Investment in Australia - Commonwealth Railways.
Motion (by Mr. Adermann) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- Mr. Speaker, about two weeks ago there was a discussion in this House about the use of Commonwealth motor cars by honorable members and subsequently there were further discussions. Because of some confusion about the time of the adjournment debate on those occasions, to-night is the first opportunity that I have had to deal with this matter. I very rarely discuss the transport arrangements for honorable members. I believe that the motor car has come to stay. I think that the rights of honorable members to travel should be much wider than they are but when the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Freeth) attempts to take advantage of an honorable member who has raised a matter, such as was raised by the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) in relation to privileges, I think the Government has become incredibly smug. For a Minister to say that the honorable member’s wife used a motor car in order to go home and change her frock is about the lowest and most incredible thing that I have heard in this House.
For those reasons I have investigated this matter of transport for honorable members. On the subject of transport the Government has a shocking record, and so have its supporters. I have a warrant book that anybody may examine. It is the original book issued to me but I know that that great protagonist of all things extraordinary in this House, the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth), is a best seller. I understand that he is in his twentieth edition - that he has gone through twenty warrant books. Nevertheless, he sits behind the Minister for the Interior cheering when a gibe is made about the ordinary facilities available on special occasions to the wives of honorable members. For that reason I think the Government and the Minister adopted an extremely smug attitude in relation to a matter about which they themselves are extremely vulnerable. This matter of the use of motor cars should be resolved logically and rationally. What does the Minister for the Interior want us to do - have a shuttle service of camels on special occasions? Or is there to be some appreciation of the fact that part of the work an honorable member does involves the use of transport?
The use of aircraft is another amenity available to honorable members. I do not think it is abused very often, but I say here and now that some Ministers, particularly those in the Senate, have availed themselves of means of transport not made available to members of Parliament in the normal course.
If we are to have a show-down let us get all the facts. I refer first to Senator Sir William Spooner. On Friday, 15 th March last, the honorable senator, who has every transport facility available to him - he has a motor car to drive him to his assignment and he has the use of ordinary airline transport - had a Royal Australian Air Force Dakota lift him at Canberra and take him to Dubbo. On State business? Not at all! He was there to attend a miserable little Liberal Party function - the meanest party political show you could put on. He attended a dinner and then addressed some members of the Liberal Party at a hotel in Dubbo. That is not a good use of the Air Force. Who encourages or authorizes these trips by Ministers in Air Force planes? The mis-use of motor cars shrinks into insignificance beside these things. The case against the senator lies in the fact that he went on this low-grade party political jaunt and used the Air Force to get there. Who approves such travel? Does the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) approve it? Does the Minister for Air (Mr. Fairbairn) approve it? Or does Sir William Spooner have some special privilege? We talk about the mis-use of transport. Surely the use of the Air Force for party political organizations is about the last straw.
On Friday, 15th March - it was a memorable occasion! I think it was the night the Prime Minister got the thistle - the Senator flew at 6 o’clock in a R.A.A.F. Dakota from Canberra to Dubbo. On arrival there he was driven in a Commonwealth car to the Hotel Amaroo, where nine persons attended a social function. Afterwards he went to a Liberal Party meeting and showed some films on national development. Then he flew back from Dubbo, arriving here at midnight, and a waiting car drove him from the aerodrome to his room at the Hotel Canberra. Is that a reasonable thing? Is the Air Force to be used as a taxi service for Ministers? Will we receive an explanation of this? Something may be said for the Prime Minister flying to Western Australia, as he did the other day, also in an Air Force plane. But if there is to be an argument about transport and the means by which members of Parliament and Ministers travel, surely some answer should be forthcoming to the charge I now make about the use of Air Force planes for political trips. Will these planes be used lor this purpose as a general practice? The leader of the nation may have some warrant for using Air Force planes on occasions of high importance, but to use them as taxis is shocking. The Minister should make some explanation of the abuse to which I have directed attention.
Whenever the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward) or any other Opposition member asks for an explanation of the use of transport, the Minister for the Interior will not answer him. Instead recently he made a rather cheap gibe about something that the honorable member’s wife did on a certain occasion. That lady only took advantage of the facilities provided and the Minister sank to a pretty low level when he made his interjection. That has brought me to the table of the House to raise more serious matters. Beneath the surface, is there racketeering in the use of Air Force planes? Are these aircraft often used for parliamentary and party political business?
I have mentioned Sir William Spooner’s case because it is the most outrageous. We know that the seat of Lawson is in the balance. We believe that at the next election the Labour Party will wrest is from the Government. Great pressure will be applied to this electorate from all sides. But when, with great power and glory, a Minister arrives in the electorate in a Dakota aircraft, with two or three members of the Air Force as crew, to have a very low-grade political night out, it is time to lodge a protest. There is no need to elaborate on the matter. Curiously enough, the whole story is contained in the “ Dubbo Liberal” of 18th March, 1963, which states -
Sir William Spooner, Minister for National Development, was the guest speaker at a social evening organized by Dubbo women’s branch of the Liberal Party of Australia. He set out from Canberra in a specially-chartered R.A.A.F. Dakota on Friday afternoon and arrived at Dubbo in time for a dinner party for nine people at the Amaroo Hotel.
Sir William returned to Canberra after addressing the meeting. It is interesting to note that the Amaroo Hotel is owned by the State Liberal member in whose electorate Dubbo is situated. That honorable member has his own private aeroplane. The newspaper report is evidence of complete misuse of our Air Force planes and some explanation of this should be forthcoming from the Minister.
.- I want to direct attention to an article which appeared in the “ Sunday Mirror “ of 7th April, 1963. It is in these terms -
M.P. Blasts Govt Hostel.
A Federal Labour politician has condemned the Bunnerong migrant centre as a “ national disgrace “. “Conditions are too horrible and shocking for any family,” he said. “ Migrants arc offered food and accommodation which few Australians would tolerate and which nobody should be asked to accept.” The outspoken member is Mr. Dan Curtin, M.H.R., Kingsford-Smith, who also criticized the hostel in Parliament last week.
What did the honorable member say In Parliament last week? On 28th March, 1963, the honorable member directed the following question to the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Downer): -
I ask the Minister for Immigration whether he will institute an inquiry into the overcrowded conditions prevailing at Bunnerong British
Obviously Maroubra is in the honorable gentleman’s electorate. He charged that there was overcrowding at the hostel, so last Sunday afternoon I decided to visit Bunnerong and see for myself the dreadful conditions to which the honorable member had referred. After very close investigation and inquiry I came to the conclusion that my Sydney friend, the honorable member for Kingsford-Smith, had made grossly irresponsible charges. His blatant criticism was without justification and represents propaganda of the lowest order. Unfortunately, Opposition members resort to such propaganda to gain some political advantage.
The honorable member’s unfounded attack obviously was intended to discredit the Government and - this is the aspect that I do not like - to indict dedicated officers of the department associated with hostels. It was intended also to mislead the public, to create unwarranted emotionalism and to blacken our reputation overseas, particularly in the United Kingdom. He said that conditions at the hostel were a national disgrace. Obviously that kind of criticism will go all over the world. I found that instead of the allegation about overcrowded conditions being substantiated there is in fact ample space in the hostel. It contains 751 rooms and each room ranges between 130 and 140 square feet in size. In other words, each room is about 12 feet by 12 feet, which is a good living area. The hostel management has a rule that only two people shall occupy each room. This hostel will accommodate 1,500 people but its present occupants comprise 1,113 British and 51 non-British migrants. Obviously the honorable member could not sustain the charge of overcrowding in the hostel, and it is completely ridiculous to talk in terms of holding an inquiry. If an inquiry were held, what a fool the honorable member would look in the light of the information that I have adduced!
I learned from the management of the hostel that the honorable member for Kingsford-Smith had not, to the manage ment’s knowledge, visited the hostel during the past two and one-half years.
– It is true. If in fact he has been there during the last two and onehalf years, obviously he has been there as a snooper.
Just to show that the honorable member’s propaganda is not worth a crumpet, let me point out that I saw no depressing conditions at the hostel. In fact, the contrary was the case. The accommodation was excellent. I have visited many hostels in Australia since my elevation to this Parliament, so I speak from personal knowledge. The rooms are most airy, are comfortably furnished and the floors are covered with vinyl tiles. I guarantee that the honorable member for Kingsford-Smith does not know that there are vinyl tiles on the floors. The standard of living is particularly high. The people in the hostel are enjoying a good standard of living. I find that 50 per cent, of them own motor cars and over 75 per cent, have television. In my opinion that indicates a° good standard of living, although honorable members opposite say it is bad. Half of the womenfolk are able to work. Either they have no family ties or they can take their children to the child minding centre and leave them there from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. at a cost of 12s. a week.
I think that if the honorable member were honest and had a look at the dining rooms he would find that they are adequately lighted and ventilated and have excellent furnishings. There is no congestion, and families have their own tables. The food is of the highest quality. A typical menu offers -
Vegetable broth, grilled steak, mutton and potato pie, boiled potatoes, cabbage, shredded swede, jam tart and custard, semolina snow and jam sauce. Diets, grilled steak. Babies, minced steak. Bread, jam, tea.
That is a very good type of menu. I think the variety is as good as we have in the parliamentary dining rooms. So the position is quite contrary to that described in the damning statement made by the honorable member for Kingsford-Smith (Mr. Curtin). The menu is excellent. I had occasion to speak to some of the residents of the hostel and found that there were one or two who were unhappy.
– I would like you to take note of what I am about to say. One told me she was unhappy because she had a kiddy with club feet and found that the attention that could be given to the child was not as good as she could receive in Belfast. I said “ The member for the area you are living in is a very kindly gentleman and if you get in touch with him I am sure he will see what can be done”. I hope the honorable member for Kingsford-Smith will go to the hostel and ask for Mrs. Nesbit and see what he can do for the club-footed child. That is something which the honorable member can do.
With regard to its location the hostel is surrounded by plenty of open spaces and the Waverly council, to which the honorable member no doubt bears some allegiance, has taken over an adjacent area for a park.
– No, Randwick. You want to go out and have a look around.
– I have here photographs taken by a reporter in the last fortnight. They show water lying in an alleyway and a young lady walking through it. The caption is -
Margaret Beattie (16), member of a migrant family, paddles through water which lay on the road at the hostel for several days after a storm
In fact there is a footpath, and the young lady had no need at all to walk through the water. The charges made by the honorable member for Kingsford-Smith bring him no credit whatever because they were simply blatant propaganda, without any foundation.
– Mr. Speaker, I have been misrepresented.
– Order! Has the honorable member been misrepresented in such a way that he wants to make a personal explanation.
– Yes, Mr. Speaker.
– The honorable member cannot debate the matter.
– I am sorry to see that the honorable member for Warringah is upset by the statement I made in this House last week when I asked for an inquiry. I am a very tolerant young fellow and it is not my practice to ask for inquiries unless I see something which should be inquired into. The manager of the hostel refused me permission to look through it some time ago. I believe he is so keen on cleanliness and the whole disposition of this migrant hostel that in the last seven or eight days he has refused the press the right to take photographs of it. I do not know how the honorable member came from the other side of the Harbour to the wonderful-
-Order! The honorable member can only clear his name. He is not allowed to debate the subject.
– In answer to you, Sir, I say that my name has never been besmirched.
– Then the honorable member is out of order and must resume his seat.
– But to-night the honorable member for Warringah has made wilful misrepresentation in regard to my charges. On my arrival in Canberra this morning I received a letter regarding the migrant hostel at Bunnerong.
– Order! The honorable member is now out of order, as he is introducing some fresh subject-matter.
– I have met different deputations from the migrant hostel in my rooms every Monday and they have complained bitterly of the conditions in the hostel.
-Order! The honorable member is now out of order and I ask him to resume his seat.
.- Mr. Speaker, the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) consistently and continually tells this House that there should be no restrictions, either as to quality or quantity, on the inflow of overseas capital into Australia. Further, when any one on this side of the House suggests that the inflow of foreign capital means the selling of Australia bit by bit, the Treasurer implies that he lacks patriotism and is making statements prejudicial to the development of Australia. He further alleges that the Government is absolutely united on this issue. It is because of this that I take the opportunity to read from a speech delivered by the Right Honorable J. McEwen, M.P., Deputy Prime Minister,
Minister for Trade and Leader of the Australian Country Party, at the annual conference of the Victorian Country Party at Lakes Entrance on Tuesday, 2nd April, 1.961. The Minister said -
There has been an increasing tendency for capital to flow into Australia, not to establish some new and highly complicated technical activity but to come in to buy out an Australian flourmill or an Australian bakery or an Australian dairy factory, sometimes a co-operative. I make it quite clear that I can’t welcome the transference of ownership to overseas people of these simple food processing activities which have been actually established by Australians and in many cases successfully operated by Australians for more than half a century.
He continued -
We in this room are mostly established farmers. If we earn enough annual income we can live comfortably. If we don’t we could still live comfortably by selling a bit of the farm every year, and that is very much the Australian situation - we are not earning enough and we are selling a bit of our heritage every year. I am not satisfied, and we in tha Country Party will not be satisfied until this is no longer a necessity.
– Who said that?
– The Minister for Trade. The point I desire to make is that this Government talks with two voices. The Department of the Treasury has its methods of dealing with the trading and financial operations of this country overseas, but the Department of Trade is in conflict with the Treasury ideas. The Minister for Trade has made clear his attitude that we are selling a bit of our heritage every year. If that is not a damning indictment of this Government, I do not know what is. Further, Mr. Speaker, if it is not thought that that is support for and endorsement of statements continually made from this side of the House in almost the same words, I ask honorable members to look up “ Hansard “ and see the speeches made by myself which have been bitterly attacked by the Treasurer. Speeches by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) have pointed out that, bit by bit, Australia’s heritage is being sold in order to pay our current expenses, to pay the nation’s grocery bills. The day of reckoning must inevitably come.
What I desire to emphasize is the disunity In the Government’s ranks upon this particularly important issue. If, while the Minister for Trade is in some other part of the world, the Department of the Treasury seeks, at the instigation of the Treasurer, to bring in more and more overseas funds in order that overseas investors may buy up more and more of the industries that have been established by Australians, the result will be that this money is not being used for the real development of this country. The Deputy Prime Minister was very moderate in his comments in confining himself to the buying out of an Australian flour mill, bakery or dairy factory - sometimes a co-operative. He could have pointed out that Australian clothing factories and Australian electrical equipment factories have been bought out, as have all kinds of industries in this country which are engaged in manufacturing and were being conducted by Australians, having been established by Australians. Such purchases tend to. improve the development of this country no more than the purchases of the factories mentioned by the Deputy Prime Minister. We on this side of the House say to the Minister for Trade, through the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann), the honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. Brimblecombe) and other members of the Country Party, that we will not be satisfied until it is no longer necessary to sell our heritage bit by bit, whether it be manufacturing industries or industries engaged in the processing of primary products. We will continue to point out to the Treasurer that on this issue he does not see eye to eye with the Deputy Prime Minister; that in reality his statements and the actions of his department are in conflict with the advocacy of the Deputy Prime Minister and the Department of Trade that he controls.
– A few moments ago the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Haylen) made a personal reference to me which happens to be entirely false. The amount of travel I do is to some extent due to the fact that I have been active in a number of fields. During the last recess, for example, on almost every occasion when I was using my book I was accompanied by a member of the Labour Party. As a matter of fact, I was serving on a Government-appointed committee on which that Labour Party member was also serving, and I believe we were doing thoroughly good and proper work. If I am more active perhaps than some other members, that is no reason why I should be subjected to this kind of attack. What the honorable member said is false in fact. I know very well the motive which impelled him to make that false statement. Ever since I have been in the House there have been certain members on the other side who have taken the pro-Communist line, and, because they were doing that, they have singled me out for this type of attack, which is based on falsity and has no substance whatsoever.
– Mr. Speaker, I resent the remarks made tonight by the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Cockle), directed to my question on the Bunnerong migrant camp. The honorable member for Warringah said he visited that camp last Sunday. He had no right to be in my electorate without letting me know. I resent the tactics pf honorable members opposite in snooping round an electorate which is looked after so well as the electorate of Kingsford-Smith.
The Bunnerong hostel is situated in Heffron Park and is a converted Navy store. The store was set up during war-time by the Government of that day. Later it was converted for use in the migration programme. The result is a slap-dash job, with all sorts of rooms and cabins. Plywood is used for partitions and a person living in one room can hear a person breathing in the next room. The honorable member for Warringah said that he met and interviewed the people inside the migrant hostel. I hope that the Minister concerned will instruct the manager to give similar facilities in future to the member for the district, instead of barring that member from addressing residents who desire to hear him.
In order to demonstrate how hollow is the honorable member’s argument, I would like to read a letter dated 8th April, 1963, which I received this morning. It is as follows: -
Will you please excuse me for writing to you on what may seem to you a trivial matter but to myself and family it is a crisis.
Due to domestic strife, my wife and I are voluntarily separating. At the moment my wife and five children are in “ Bunnerong Hostel “. Although I have not seen my wife to speak to word has come to me that she will not take me back whilst she is in the hostel.
I am not in a position to buy or rent a private house, but I am in a position to purchase a commission house-
The Labour Government in New South Wales makes Housing Commission dwellings available to the people of that State on a deposit of £50 with repayments over 45 years - and as I dearly want to be back with my wife and children I thought perhaps you could arrange for me to see Mr. Landa of the N.S.W. housing commission.
My children (the eldest goes to “Sydney Boys High School “) I believe, are an asset to this country-
I fully believe that all people of British stock are an asset to this country and that families of British stock, mother, father and children included, should get the treatment which is their right - and if I don’t find a home soon, I don’t know what will happen. I don’t want to take them back to England . . .
I have asserted in this House often that many migrants from Britain and other countries are returning to the countries of their origin simply because they cannot w:t decent accommodation in Australia. If the honorable member for Warringah thinks that a hostel is a fit and proper place for any person to be accommodated in, I do not know what kind of mind he has. The letter continues -
That is a tribute paid by this man to Australia - not to the hostel. All that he wants is decent accommodation, which is the right of every man, whether he be a Britisher or anything else.
– What do they say is wrong with the hostel?
– This man says that he wants a home, and his wife says that she will not make a home in the hostel. The letter speaks for itself, and I resent the honorable member’s trivial remarks.
I suggest that any honorable member opposite who wants to look through the hostel make his arrangements through the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon). Let him go through the hostel with me and I will point out the cooking facilities and tell him of the place of origin of the cooks. If foreign cooks can prepare the right food for British migrants, I have another think coming. Foreign cooks have not the right ideas on food to accord with the wishes of British people. The British migrants in this hostel are most dissatisfied. Numbers of them - not just one, two, three, four or five - come to me as members of deputations every Monday and say: “ Mr. Curtin, cannot you make the Minister see the light? Cannot you make the Minister come out and make a personal investigation?” I know that the Minister is a busy man. All I ask is that an inquiry be held. I repeat my appeal to the Minister to institute an inquiry into not only the Bunnerong hostel but all migrant hostels in Australia to investigate the poorness of the accommodation and the inferior quality of the food and the cooking. The food itself may not be so bad, but it is not cooked in accordance with the wishes of British people. All the British migrants in this hostel want the right kind of food to sustain them, and the men want to be able to go to work and keep their wives and children in reasonable circumstances.
Mr. Speaker, I appeal to the Minister again to consider deeply the wishes of these people. We know that it is lovely to read in the press that thousands of British migrants are coming out here. But we never read in the press that thousands are returning to their homeland. The Minister never tells us that thousands of British migrants and migrants from various European countries are leaving Australia simply because they cannot get proper accommodation here. This argument has cropped up, and I am happy about that, because I wanted this matter to be raised. I ask the Minister: Who gave the instructions that representatives of the daily press or the Sunday newspapers-
– Or Dan Curtin!
– There is no need for me to be photographed at Bunnerong hostel. My photograph appears about my electorate day after day. I put my own image about the electorate and I use my own photographs. I want to know who issued the instructions that representatives of the daily press were to be prevented from taking photographs. If the accommodation and everything else are as they should be, and all is above board, why was there issued an instruction that representatives of the daily press were not to be admitted and that no photographs were to be taken in the hostel? My information is that such an instruction was given last week and that representatives of the press were prevented from entering the hostel to see the big, airy rooms and the other fine accommodation that is available - at a fair price, too - to these British migrants! I am very much concerned about this. All I want is a proper investigation. I do not want the sort of clap-trap that we hear from the honorable member for Warringah, who goes by in a motor car, has a quick look at the outside of the hostel and asks somebody what happens there. Let him have a proper look at the inside of the hostel and listen to the views of the people concerned.
In conclusion, Mr. Speaker, I ask the Minister to have an inquiry made, and to have it made as quickly as possible.
.- Mr. Speaker, the matter that I wish to raise this evening involves the Commonwealth Railways and therefore is the concern of the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Opperman). This matter relates to an employee of the Commonwealth Railways who, to my mind, has received a pretty rough sort of deal. I shall refer to this chap simply as “ Jones “, although that is not his correct name. I feel sure that honorable members will agree, on the basis of the correspondence to which I shall refer and the facts as I shall outline them, that I fairly represented this matter to the Department of Shipping and Transport and the Minister. I am sure, also, that honorable members will agree that the attitude adopted by the Minister and the department is nothing for them to be proud of.
Mr. Jones owned a motor car when he accepted employment with the Commonwealth Railways as a fettler on the South Australian portion of the Trans-Australian Railway. He was told by a railway official at Port Augusta that, if he railed his car to the place of his employment, the Commonwealth would refund half the freight, provided that Jones remained on the job for six months and gave satisfactory service. Let me say at this stage, Mr. Speaker, that I am not interested simply in the treatment of Mr. Jones. I am very much interested also in the concern of other employees of the Commonwealth Railways that satisfactory service apparently is a required qualification for any entitlement that they should receive.
Jones, as a result of the advice that he had received, railed his car to the place where he was to be employed. He commenced work on 6th October, 1961, and left of his own accord on 14th June, 1962. So he actually completed eight months’ service. I direct the attention of honorable members particularly to the fact that he left the job of his own accord. He was not dismissed. When Jones applied for a refund of half the freight on his motor car, his application was refused on the grounds that his service “ was not satisfactory “. He brought the matter to my attention. Noting that he had been employed for eight months and had left of his own accord, I naturally believed that a mistake had been made, and I simply wrote to the chief civil engineer and asked him to make an investigation and to let me know as soon as possible what the position was. I received from him the following reply: -
Receipt is acknowledged of your letter of the 4th August, 1962 concerning the complaints received from the above in connection with freight charges of a motor car.
Departmental regulations provide that freight concession in respect of the conveyance of their motor vehicles will be granted to employees after completion of six months’ satisfactory service and Mr. Jones was so advised in this office.
For your information the application made by Fettler Jones for a refund of freight charges was refused because his services were not satisfactory.
I simply point out to honorable members that the concession is available, as is indicated by that letter, and that to qualify for it an employee has to complete six months satisfactory service. I then wrote again and said -
Mr. Jones informs me that he terminated his employment with your department of his own accord and only after more than six months service. If this is correct, I would appreciate your advice as to why Mr. Jones’s service was not satisfactory, and also why, in such circumstances, he was retained in the service of your department.
It is very hard to accept that your department would continue to employ Mr. Jones if the service he gave was unsatisfactory.
I received this reply from the secretary -
Departmental regulations provide that half the amount of freight paid for transport over this System of a motor car owned by an appointee to the Service is refunded on completion of six months satisfactory service. Refund was refused to Jones because his services were not satisfactory.
He was warned verbally on several occasions by his ganger for being slow, and when he resigned his papers were marked, “Not suitable for reemployment “.
Mr. Jones’s date of commencement and date of termination of service were then set out. Apparently his service was considered unsatisfactory only because it was suggested that he was a slow worker. Nothing else was mentioned, and no reason was given why his services were retained for so long. I then wrote to the Minister and asked him to make inquiries and arrange for a review of the decision that had been made, because I believed it was quite wrong. My letter to the Minister was dated 1st November, 1962. The Minister acknowledged my letter on 6th November, 1962, but nothing further happened, and three months later, on 30th January, I wrote to the Minister “and directed attention to the fact that I was. still awaiting his decision.
– Three months!
– Yes, three months. Then on 11th February the Minister replied, giving me the information that I had received previously, and stating that the Commissioner was not prepared to alter his decision.
I suggest that this is a very interesting case and that it calls for some explanation. Is the fact that a man is considered a slow worker sufficient ground for saying that his service was so unsatisfactory as to deny him certain entitlements? Surely you cannot say, just because you think a man is a slow worker, that he is completely unsatisfactory. Again, when did his work become unsatisfactory? Was it so right from the start? Was it after a couple of months service, or was it just before or after he had completed six months’ satisfactory service? Did it become unsatisfactory during the last few days he was on the job? Again, we ask: If he was unsatisfactory from the start, why was he retained in’ his job? If it was only during the last month or so that he was considered unsatisfactory, why was he not given some notice of dismissal? If his work did not become unsatisfactory until after he had completed six months’ service, why was he not given the refund?
Further, we ask: If he was unsatisfactory for some time, what exactly was the reason for his being retained? Was it because the Commonwealth Railways cannot procure labour? If so, why is it difficult fo obtain labour? Is it because of the very poor conditions and wages that are offering?
Finally, we ask: Does the retention of unsatisfactory labour mean loss of safety factors in the running of the railway itself? I may add that Jones went into a job in Kalgoorlie immediately after leaving the Commonwealth Railways and that he is still in the same job. Evidently his services have been considered satisfactory by his present employer. I hope the Minister will tell us about the conditions of employment of this man and other employees of Commonwealth Railways, and also give us some information regarding what is considered satisfactory service.
.- Mr. Speaker-
Motion (by Mr. Cramer) put -
That the question be now put.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Sir John McLeay.)
Majority … . . 3
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 10.41 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
d asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows: - 1, 2 and 3. The information requested by the honorable member relating to all advisory bodies appointed by the Government during the past thirteen years is not readily available and a great deal of time, expense and effort would be required to obtain it from all Commonwealth departments and authorities. If the honorable member is interested in advisory bodies appointed in any particular field of activity,, I shall endeavour to arrange for the information to be supplied to him.
d asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
d asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
ment has not placed any time limit on the committee.
d asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows: -
b asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
m asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Why is it not possible to table the reports of the Reserve Bank, the Commonwealth Grants Commission and the Tariff Board before the Budget debate commences?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
Because of the nature of each of the reports referred to by the honorable member, a great deal of work is involved in their preparation. Much of this work cannot be commenced until the end of the financial year when the necessary information on which the reports are based becomes available. Time is then required for consideration of the draft reports by the authorities concerned and for their printing. Although it has not been possible to have these reports available before the usual time for the commencement of the budget debate, every effort will be made to have them available to honorable members as early as practicable.
r asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
d asked the Minister for Territories, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
d asked the Acting Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows: - 1, 2 and 3. I refer the honorable member to the answer which the Minister for External Affairs gave the honorable member for Perth on the same subject (see “Hansard”, 27th March, 1963, page 130) and also the statement which the Minister for External Affairs made in the House on 28th March, 1963 (“ Hansard “, page 196).
Book on Australian Defence.
d asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows: -
Considerable progress has been made. As the project covers the history of defence policy since federation, it is a lengthy task involving much research. The writer has been devoting his full time to it since his retirement in 1958, without remuneration. It is not possible to indicate a date of publication.
d asked the Acting Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
d asked the Acting Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows: -
I refer the honorable member to the parliamentary statement on Malaysia by the Minister for External Affairs on 28th March, 1963. I have nothing to add to that statement.
Australian Representation in Ireland.
d asked the Acting Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows: -
The question raised by the honorable member is on similar lines to others which have been put on previous occasions. I would refer him to the answer given by the Minister for External Affairs on the last occasion on which he asked a question on this subject, namely, on 30th August, 1962. (“Hansard” p. 976.)
m asked the Acting Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
What countries have ratified or acceded to (a) the 1948 International Convention for the Protection of Literary, Scientific and Artistic Works, (b) the 1952 Universal Copyright Convention and the three protocols annexed to it and (c) the 1961 International Convention for the Protection of Performers, Producers of Phonograms and Broadcasting Organizations?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows -
d asked the Acting Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows: -
The International Labour Conference in June last year decided that an international instrument concerning termination of employment at the initiative of the employer should be adopted. In accordance with usual International Labour Organization procedure this question will be placed on the agenda of this year’s conference with a view to the adoption of a recommendation. Details of the conference decision and of the views expressed by Australian representatives will be found in the triparite report of the Australian delegation to the conference which the Minister for Labour and National Service proposes to table in the very near future.
d asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Is it an accepted parliamentary practice that where the expenditure of public money is involved, either directly by a government department or indirectly by a semi-governmental authority, information in respect of the expenditure is made available to honorable members through the medium of a parliamentary question and answer?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
The manner in which, and the extent to which, information about expenditure by an authority of the Commonwealth is made available to the Parliament depends upon the nature of the legislation under which the Parliament has established a particular authority. This is, of course, also subject to the Standing Orders.
Committees of the Cabinet.
d asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows: - 1 to 4. It is not my practice to discuss the composition or duties of committees of the Cabinet.
m asked the Acting Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
What were the dates and conditions on which Australia accepted the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
Australia’s current acceptance of the compulsory jurisdiction of the International Court is dated 6th February, 1954, and is printed in the Australian Treaty Series, 1954, No. 8, which is available in the Parliamentary Library.
d asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
What was the cost (a) immediately before and (b) subsequent to the introduction of the Elsa scheme, to make a three minute call to Perth from each of the following centres: - Mingenew, Dongarra, Geraldton, Northampton, Yuna, Mullewa, Morawa, Meekatharra, Cue, Mount Magnet, Wiluna, Leonora, Menzies, Kalgoorlie, Norseman, Esperance, Carnarvon?
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows: -
The cost of a three-minute telephone call from Perth to the centres listed below -
immediately before the introduction of the Elsa scheme, and,
subsequent to the introduction of the Elsa scheme, is as follows: - Perth to Mingenew (A) 6s., (B) 10s.; Dongarra (A) 6s., (B) 10s.; Geraldton (A) 10s., (B) 10s.; Northampton (A) 10s., (B) 10s.; Yuna (A) 10s., (B) 10s.; Mullewa (A) 10s., (B) 10s.; Morawa (A) 6s., (B) 6s.; Meekatharra (A) 15.s., (B) 15s.; Cue (A) 12s., (B) 10s; Mount Magnet (A) 10s., (B) 10s; Wiluna (A) 15s., (B) 15s.; Leonora (A) 12s., (B) 12s.; Menzies (A) 12s., (B) 12s.; Kalgoorlie (A) 12s., (B) 12s.; Norseman (A) 12s., (B) 12s.; Esperance (A) 12s., (B) 12s.; Carnarvon (A) 15s., (B) 15s.
d asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
s asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
s asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
As 25th April, 1965, will be the fiftieth anniversary of the events at Anzac, will the Government give special consideration to the striking of a special medal to commemorate the occasion?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
This matter has been considered recently by the Government, but it is felt that the issue of a medal to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Anzac Day would not be of a significance commensurate with the relatively large expenditure that would be involved. Consideration is, however, being given to some fitting way of celebrating this very special anniversary.
d asked the Minister for Territories, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: - 1 and 2.-
The Native Women’s Protection Ordinance (Repeal) Ordinance, which repeals the Native Women’s Protection Ordinance. The repealed ordinance made it an offence for a non-native to be in certain villages or areas inhabited solely by native persons between the hours of 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. without the consent of a district officer, or to cause or permit a native female unaccompanied by her husband, parent or guardian to be on any premises occupied by a person other than a native between those hours without the consent of the district commissioner. One effect of this restriction was that it prevented native women attending, unless with official permission, social functions and gatherings which it was proper and desirable that they should attend. Previously other legislation had been repealed so that to-day there is no distinction on grounds of race in any laws concerning offences against women.
Mining (Papua) Ordinance, Mining (New Guinea) Ordinance, Petroleum (Prospecting and Mining) Ordinance, Mines and Works Regulation (New Guinea) Ordinance: These ordinances remove a number of minor discriminatory provisions in the principal ordinances, in particular, provisions relating to the employment of native persons and other non-Europeans. Originally these provisions were safety measures, designed to ensure safe conditions of work by prohibiting the employment of illiterate and unskilled labour in certain circumstances. These have been replaced by provisions applicable to all races.
Emergency Provisions Ordinance, which amends the principal ordinance to make it plain that the ordinance does not distinguish between employees on racial grounds, but on types of employment.
Native Offenders Exclusion Ordinance (Repeal) Ordinance: This repeals the Native Offenders Exclusion Ordinance of the Territory of Papua, which provided that “ no native convicted of any offence of an indecent nature against a white woman or girl shall upon discharge from custody come or remain within the boundaries of any town “.
Explosives Ordinance: The principal ordinance placed restrictions on possession of explosives by native people. These restrictions are removed, and natives and non-natives placed on the same footing.
Poisons and Dangerous Substances Ordinance and Sale of Meat Ordinance: These removed minor discriminatory provisions in the principal ordinances.
Fire Service Ordinance: This repealed a number of earlier ordinances relating to fire services and prevention of fires. These ordinances contained minor discriminatory provisions.
Native Regulation Ordinance, Native Administration Ordinance: These removed the power of courts for native matters and courts for native affairs to order corporal punishment of native juveniles convicted of offences before them.
Criminal Code Amendment (Papua) Ordinance: This repealed those provisions in the Criminal Code which provide for the deportation to a specified part of the Territory of a native person who is convicted of an indictable offence. At the same time a Criminal Law (Restriction of Movement) Bill was introduced which gives a general power to order deportation to a specified part of the Territory or, in the case of a person not born in the Territory, from the Territory, in respect of any person where the court considers this desirable.
Liquor (Temporary Provisions) Ordinance: This enabled native persons to consume beer on or off licensed premises and other intoxicating liquor on licensed premises.
Land Ordinance: Land Titles Commission Ordinance and related Ordinances: This legislation amalgamated the law of the ‘wo Territories relating to land and provided inter alia for an individualized guaranteed title to land at present held under native custom.
d asked the Minister for the Army, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
.- On 27th March, the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen) asked whether the Government could table the documents describing the communications between Australia and the United States over the retention by the United States of Manus Island as a security base after the 1939-1945 war.
I find that this matter was raised previously in September, 1954, and on that occasion the Government’s attitude was that the documents referred to could not be published without disclosing secret communications from other governments, and in the circumstances it would not be reasonable to expect those governments to concur in publication. I have looked into this matter again, but I must confirm my earlier statement that it would not be appropriate to table the documents.
However, I would refer the honorable member to the debate on the Security Treaty (Australia, New Zealand and the United States of America) Bill 1952 in which there was considerable debate about Manus Island.
d asked the Minister representing the Minister in Charge Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, upon notice -
– The Minister in Charge Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization has supplied the following information: -
d asked the Minister representing th: Minister for Health, upon notice -
Mr. Swartz__ The Minister for Health has furnished the following reply: - 1 and 2. At the last meeting of the National Health and Medical Research Council, the State Directors-General of Health undertook to continue inquiries in order to ascertain whether further cases of congenital abnormalities due to thalidomide had occurred but had not been notified. Their reports will be considered at the forthcoming meeting of the National Health and Medical Research Council on 30th May, 1963.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -
z. - The Minister for Health has furnished the following reply: -
n asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The Minister for Health has supplied the following information: - 1 and 2. There is no provision under the National Health Act whereby payment may be made for drugs and medicinal preparations not listed as pharmaceutical benefits. Additions to the list of benefits may only be made on the recommendation of the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee. The question of including oxygen in the list of pharmaceutical benefits has been considered by the committee on various occasions but it has not seen fit to recommend the inclusion of oxygen in the list of benefits.
b asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The Minister for Health has supplied the following information: -
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.
b asked the Minister representing the Minister in Charge Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, upon notice -
– The Minister in Charge Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization has supplied the following information: -
m asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
What beef cattle roads has the Government of Queensland proposed for grants from the Commonwealth other than the roads described in the First Schedule to the Queensland Beef Cattle Roads Agreement of 30th November, 1962?
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows: -
The Queensland Government has not proposed any variation under clause 10 (2) of the Queensland Beef Cattle Roads Agreement 1962, to the roads listed in the first schedule to the agreement. These same roads had previously been proposed by the Queensland Government and approved by me under the provisions of section 4 of the Queensland Grant (Beef Cattle Roads) Act 1961. The effect of the 1962 agreement was to provide additional funds for the sealing of these roads.
d asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
d asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
d asked the Minister represent’ ing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
– The Minister for Civil Aviation has supplied the following information: -
Australian National Airways Proprietary Limited (trading as Ansett-A.N.A.)
Queensland Airlines Proprietary Limited
Airlines of New South Wales Proprietary Limited
Ansett Flying Boat Services Proprietary Limited
Airlines of South Australia Proprietary Limited.
d asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
– The Minister for Civil Aviation has supplied the following information: -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 9 April 1963, viewed 6 July 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1963/19630409_reps_24_hor38/>.