25th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. Sir John McLeay) took the chair at 2.30 p.m. and read prayers.
– I have received from His Excellency the Governor-General the following reply by Her Majesty The Queen to the Joint Address presented on the occasion of the birth of a son: -
I have received with much pleasure the joint address from the Members of the Senate and the House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Australia assembled in Parliament. Please convey to them the sincere thanks of my husband end myself for their congratulat ons on the birth of our third son and for the assurance of their loyalty.
DEATH OF GENERAL DOUGLAS MacARTHUR.
– Mr. Speaker, I am sure it would be the wish of all honorable members that I should refer to the death of General Douglas MacArthur on the 5th of this month. He was very well known to every one in Australia by name, by sight, by achievement, but years have gone by since the war and, therefore, it may be desirable to place on record in this House some account of his life and of his work. This I shall do briefly, but I hope not too briefly.
The general was born in 1880. He graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1903 and served in the United States forces in Europe in the First World War as a divisional commander. He was twice wounded and was decorated for bravery. After the First World War he returned to the United States Military Academy as its commandant. In 1931 he became Chief of Staff of the United States Army, the youngest man ever appointed to that post. He remained chief of staff until 1935. In that year he became Director of Organization of National Defence for the Government of the Philippines. In 1937 he retired from the United States Army, but returned to active duty in 1941 when President Roosevelt named him . Commanding General of the Far East Command.
As I have said, his career thereafter is well known to the somewhat older generations of Australians. After the fall of the Philippines he became Supreme Commender of the Allied Forces in the South West Pacific Area. In 1942 he set up his head-quarters in Australia. Most honorable members will remember the dramatic and bold circumstances of that time. He remained in or about Australia as Commander-in-Chief for some time, and he continued as CommanderinChief of the United States, Forces in what is called the Far East until 1951. He was responsible for the most brilliant series of manoeuvres, attacks and victories that had ever been thought of, certainly in this part of the world and perhaps anywhere in the world. He became supreme commander of the allied powers in the defeated Japan. I think the last time I saw him was in 1950 in Tokyo, during the period when he acted as supreme commander of allied forces.
When the North Korean Communists invaded the Republic of Korea in June 1950, General MacArthur was placed in charge of the United States forces in that area. In April, 1951, President Truman relieved General MacArthur of his command because, as many of us remember, there was an acute difference of view over the strategy to be adopted in meeting Chinese Communist intervention in North Korea. At that stage General MacArthur retired from military service for the second time and returned to the United States.
This very simple narrative indicates that I am speaking about a most remarkable man, a man of great attainments and great achievements in the service of his country, a man who retired in due course, was recalled and then had the most remarkable achievements of a very remarkable military career. He was received in this Parliament in 1942, Sir, and sat there beside the Speaker’s chair. All members of the Parliament welcomed him and honoured him. He was, I suppose, in himself, almost an enigma. He had this astonishing talent, this magnificent drive and this dramatic sense - a dramatic sense which transferred itself to other people - and yet at the same time he was, personally, almost unknown to most people in Australia. He worked quietly, he thought quietly, but he expressed himself in action with all the vehemence in the world and with all the command and skill in the world. We in Australia are very greatly indebted to him. I believe that the friendship and the spirit of co-operation which developed between him and John Curtin, who was then Prime Minister, meant a great deal to this country.
Whatever our political views may be, we have no mixture of views about Douglas MacArthur. We all think he was a great man, a great soldier, a tremendous friend to this country, one of those people who served mightily to protect this country and its interests and to push back the enemy. That is why I ventured to say the other day, on behalf, I am sure, of all of you, that he has not only an assured place in the history of bis own country but also an assured and brilliant place in the history of Australia.
– Twice within the past three months this House has had imposed upon it by death the sad duty of paying its tribute to the memory of a great American citizen. The first occasion arose from the terrible assassination in November last of a young, gifted and already famous President, the late John Fitzgerald Kennedy. To-day our sad duty is to place on record our profound regret at the passing of the man who commanded the allied war effort in the South-West Pacific from 1942 until 1945, when victory was finally won under his inspired and brilliant leadership. It is not possible for the Australian Parliament or the American Congress to express the thoughts of those who held with such great fervour their esteem and admiration for General MacArthur.
General of the Army, Douglas Arthur MacArthur was already a legendary figure when he came among us in March, 1942, at the command of President Roosevelt and at the earnest solicitation of Australia’s great war-time Prime Minister, the late John Curtin. What followed is history. It is a story of continuous victories and, of course, of sad and inevitable losses of young lives. From the battles on the Kokoda Trail, at Milne Bay, in the Coral Sea, and at Guadalcanal, until the surrender of the bomb-shattered Japanese homeland and its isolated famished outposts - some of which were perilously close to our shores - MacArthur was the conqueror of the Pacific in a campaign that lasted three years and in which there were no defeats but only victories.
If I might be permitted to hazard an opinion-one which is not contrary to the opinions of many great British and American soldiers - MacArthur established himself by what he did, with what he had - and that was not always sufficient - as the greatest general in World War II. on any side. History may easily establish him as the greatest general in American history. Perhaps my thoughts are coloured by the deep sense of gratitude which I feel and which I think all Australians feel for what General MacArthur and those he commanded - the three-quarters of a million men and women, brave young Australians and Americans, did to save this country from invasion and capture by the Japanese.
It is literally true to say that there were few trained soldiers and very little equipment in Australia when MacArthur arrived. The Sixth, Seventh and Ninth Australian infantry divisions, our only battle-trained troops, were still in North Africa; our Air Force and Navy were serving outside our shores, and the ill-fated Eighth Division had been forced to surrender at Singapore. Our plight at that time was grim and foreboding, but the tide of battle began to turn once the great American general arrived. He had only a small staff and some units of American troops already in this country with which to start to roll back the tide. The invasion estimated to occur within three or four weeks of his arrival never eventuated.
With the powerful aid of the Sixth and Seventh Australian Infantry Divisions and the militia division, and his own American troops, General MacArthur took the war into New Guinea and into the Solomons. The Japanese soon lost the initiative and never regained it. Not only did MacArthur never lose a battle, but he himself never hesitated to go into any engagement whether the attacking forces were Americans or Australians; he always went in with the first supporting wave of troops. His great contribution to victory and his tremendous influence on the morale of all those who were associated with him in the Australian War Cabinet and in the administration of this nation or on the battlefield not only established his indomitable figure as a part of our legend, but made it always so obvious that his genius was indisputable.
In his retirement, twice within six months he was visited by Presidents of his own great nation. The first was President Kennedy who was destined to die tragically so soon thereafter. The second was President Johnson. Each President thanked him for bis services to the cause of freedom. Singularly enough, both Presidents had served in the United States Navy in the Pacific where MacArthur triumphed.
The words that General MacArthur spoke in this parliament building on 17th March, 1944, may well serve as his epitaph. He said on that occasion -
On such an occasion as this, my thoughts go back to those men who went on their last crusade in the jungle thickness to the North, where they made the fight that saved this continent. With faith in their hearts, and hope on their lips, they passed beyond the mists that blind us here. Their yesteryear makes possible our to-morrow. They came from the four quarters of the globe, but whatever the land that gave them binh, under their stark white crosses they belong to Australia.
Now he is dead. There is neither rank nor station nor prerogative in the democracy of the dead or the republic of the grave. For us, however, Douglas Arthur MacArthur belongs to the immortal dead. But he belongs forever in the hearts and history of the Australian people- In the words of the poet, this country, as does his own, owes him “ the debt immense of endless gratitude “.
– I wish to direct a question to the Prime Minister. Has a water filtration unit been installed at the Prime Minister’s Lodge? If so, does this mean that the Prime Minister considers Canberra’s water to be unfit for human consumption? If he does, will he ensure that filtration units are automatically installed in all government homes built in Canberra?
– Do not ask me for my opinion of the Canberra water after heavy rain, because it is really quite unprintable. But I must come clean on this matter. This is a frightful piece of extravagance. Having decided that a little clean water would not go amiss, I got into the habit of going to a little filter - quite a cheap one - that exists in my ante-room and getting a few bottles - if I may say this confidentially, empty gin bottles - and taking home a few bottles of filtered water. The filter is not a filtration plant; it is a little thing about a foot high. One night recently I said to my wife: “This is jolly silly. Is there no filter of this kind here? “ She said, “No”. I said, “Well, we will jolly well get one “, and I am glad we did.
– I should like to direct a question to the Minister for Labour and National Service concerning the industrial troubles at C1G (Victoria) Proprietary Limited, an industrial gases firm in Victoria. How do the general conditions of employment in CIG compare with the average conditions in similar industries in Australia? Is there any particular reason why this dispute is confined to Victoria or is it likely to spread to other CIG factories in Australia? Is there not a danger that this dispute will affect the well-being of a very large number of people employed in the engineering trade throughout Victoria, who are dependent on receiving supplies of the essential materials involved? Is it not unfortunate that the present state of full employment in Victoria is being jeopardized by the action of a few people in this dispute? Can any further action be taken to bring this dispute to a speedy settlement?
– It is generally conceded that the pay and conditions of work at the CIG establishment in Victoria are up in the highest brackets applying in that State. This is conceded by many of the trade unions involved. It is difficult to sort out the reasons for the dispute, because there has been a series of rolling strikes going from one trade union to another, culminating, I believe yesterday or to-day, in a strike by the Federated Engine Drivers and Firemen’s Association of Australia. As to whether the dispute is localized in Victoria: Yes, it is. If the strike continues, of necessity other industries will be compelled to lay off their employees because they will not be able to obtain industrial gases. As to what can be done, I should like to say that there must be some responsibility in the higher echelons of the trade union movement. As we have a very high level of employment, and as average wages are high and are rising rapidly, the upper echelons must ensure that responsibility is observed all the way down from the various federal executives to the lower levels. This strike need not have taken place. There is no genuine industrial issue involved. This matter is largely political. I hope that within the next few days some action will be taken at the highest level to attempt to stop these strikes.
– I ask a question of the Prime Minister. Can he tell the House whether it is true that the Government has asked, or is contemplating asking, him or the Minister for External Affairs to accept the appointment soon to be made to fill the vacancy in the office of Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia caused by the resignation of Sir Owen Dixon?
– The answer is, “ No “. This matter has yet to be considered and determined. Perhaps I can relieve the honorable gentleman’s mind by telling him, without making any implications about anybody else in this House or out of it, that I am not an applicant.
– My question is directed to the Minister for the Navy. Will he see whether it will be possible to make available in the Parliamentary Library a full transcript of proceedings in the inquiry into the “ Voyager “ tragedy so that honorable members who are interested in this matter can see and read the full transcript?
– It would be quite easy to have this done, but it would not be a completely full transcript because some sections are “publication prohibited”. Honorable members will realize that those parts of the transcript could not be tabled in the Library.
– I address to the PostmasterGeneral a question which relates to the trading in snares in Universal Telecasters
Queensland Limited. I should like to know whether his attention has been directed to a statement by Sir Frank Packer, chairman of Television Corporation Limited, in which he said: “I bought the Brisbane shares but, unfortunately owing to some slip-ups by my team of skilled operatives under the generalship of Sir Ian Potter, I got only 600,000 of the 800,000 traded. Potter will hear from me about that leakage of 200,000.” Sir Frank Packer went on to say, “Pardner, I’m talking no more. I’m riding herd on those shares.”
If the Minister has heard this, what action, if any, has he taken, or does he intend to take, to investigate this strange confession by Sir Frank Packer of his part in the battle for the control of this station, in defiance of the terms and conditions laid down by the Australian Broadcasting Control Board?
– I have asked the Australian Broadcasting Control Board to investigate certain share transactions and the share situation in relation to this company in Queensland. I think that the board, having looked at the share transfers in due course, would not find it necessary to make contact with Sir Frank Packer himself to find out the facts as I want them ascertained in relation to this matter.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Acting Minister for Trade and Industry. Can he state when it is expected that the report of the recent Tariff Board inquiry into imports of prawn meats will be received by the Government? Will he endeavour to have the decision expedited, having regard to the marketing difficulties being experienced by the Clarence River fishermen’s co-operative on the north coast of New South Wales in the disposal of processed prawns?
– The Tariff Board’s report on this matter has been received and is under discussion by the Government. It is hoped that in the near future we will be able to release the Government’s decision, and consequently an application by this company for urgent protection by the arbitrator is not necessary and we will not be taking any further action in that regard.
– I wish to ask the Prime Minister a question. Has the Government’s attention been directed to the great tragedy of the recent Dr. Benn case in Western Australia? Do estimates place the number of mentally retarded persons in Australia in need of special care as being about 100,000? Is the Government aware that, because of the grossly inadequate facilities in the community for the treatment of even the more urgent of such cases, great distress and anguish is caused to many families? Will the Prime Minister follow the example of the late President Kennedy who, in a constitutional position similar to ours, established a national committee comprised of representatives of public and private bodies to plan and organize the provision of special health, educational and employment facilities required by these unfortunate people?
– Of course, as the honorable member understands, the case of Dr. Benn is not in our hands, but in others. His question about some special investigation is one that cannot be answered without some ascertainment of what material is now available and how far this matter has gone, but I will be very happy to have a talk with my colleague, the Minister for Health, about it.
– I direct a question to the Attorney-General. It concerns a Mrs. Paine and the taking of that woman’s baby out of this country by her husband, an American citizen. By way of explanation, the honorable gentleman will recall that on Friday of last week I asked him if there were any way in which he, acting as parens patriae, could help Mrs. Paine in any custody action which might follow in the United States of America, and that, while expressing doubt as to whether he could so act, he undertook to see whether assistance could be given to Mrs. Paine. Can he now say whether it would be possible for assistance to be given? Finally, will he and his officers look at the possibility of seeking an international convention to govern the conditions of entry of infants into countries on a parent’s travel document? These baby abduction cases may not occur very often, but when they do they cause great anxiety and distress.
– The honorable gentleman rang me last Friday, and at that time I told him that I was confident that any investigation I made would reveal that I would have no standing whatever in terms of appearing in a custody suit in the United States jurisdiction. Out of deference to the honorable gentleman’s anxiety, and to ensure that no possibility of assisting the lady was left unexamined, I did undertake to re-examine the question of assistance. I have now come to the firm conclusion - I reaffirm what I said to the honorable gentleman previously - that there is no way in which I can offer assistance. I think that I ought, however, to direct the attention of the House to the fact that this Parliament has legislated, under the Immigration Act - in section 63, if my recollection is correct - to make it an offence for a person to take a child out of Australia without the consent of the person in whose possession custody of the child resides. It is also an offence for a carrier of passengers to take that child out of the country; but of course this can operate only to prevent the child being taken out, and has no effect once the child is outside the country. I think we in Australia share the general practice of other countries: That is, that once a child is in a jurisdiction it is subject to the courts of the country in which it resides for the time being. I have made inquiries, and I understand that there have been suggestions on a very informal basis at some time in the past that there should be an international convention in relation to this matter but, as far as I am able to ascertain, a formal proposition has never been put forward. I will pursue the matter with my colleague, the Minister for External Affairs, because I believe that it is a matter more properly for him to handle, as it involves a question of an international convention.
– Is the Prime Minister aware of the statement by the Minister for National Development that companies operating oil refineries in Australia have agreed to buy the output of the Moonie oilfield in Queensland for the next fifteen months on terms the same as those recently agreed to between the Shell Company of Australia Limited and Union Kern - A.O.G.? If so, does the right honorable gentleman believe that agreements to purchase crude oil over periods as short as fifteen months are sufficient guarantees to enable the oil industry in Australia to be established on a firm basis? When does the Prime Minister intend to take a firm stand on this very important matter and tell the representatives of the oil octopus that they are expected to give wholehearted cooperation in the establishment of the oil industry in Austrialia?
– My colleague, the Minister for National Development, has been extremely active in this matter and on one or two occasions has taken the opportunity to discuss it with the Cabinet. My understanding of the position is that he has played a major part in bringing about agreement on this matter that is satisfactory both to the seller and to the buyer. As to the details of the agreement, I am not at present furnished with them, but 1 would be very pleased to ask my colleague to give me information which will cover all of the ground dealt with by the honorable member.
– I ask a question of the Minister for Supply regarding the British TSR-2 bomber. With the obvious advantages that Australia has of space and security for testing rockets and jet aircraft, is there any possibility of inducing the British authorities to test the TSR-2 in this country and so add yet another factor to our “security and defence image as well as our preparedness?
– I do not know whether it would be necessary to induce the United Kingdom Government to test the TSR-2 in Australia, but already some preliminary suggestions have been made that the tropical climate, the range of terrain types and instrumentation already available in Australia will be of advantage when the time comes to test this quite advanced aircraft. The British Aircraft Corporation is aware of Australia’s interest in this matter. I think it goes without saying that should the British authorities approach us for our assistance, we would certainly do whatever we could to assist in the tests.
– Some time ago I addressed to the Treasurer a question on notice in which I asked what the value was of Australian properties, including real estate, owned by overseas interests. The reply was to the effect that the Government did not have the slightest idea. Prompted by the sale of the Chevron Hotel in Sydney to overseas interests - a sale typical of the increasing sales of Australian property to foreign interests - I now ask: If ownership of Australian property by foreign interests is desirable, would it not be a good thing to know whether the volume of such sales is reasonably extensive or whether action should be taken to increase such sales? If ownership overseas of Australian properties is not good, would it not be desirable to know whether the incidence of sales of Australian properties to overseas interests is so great as to justify discouragement of them? Will the Government have details of the ownership of properties and real estate in Australia published periodically by the Bureau of Census and Statistics?
– I do not think I should canvass the more controversial or argumentative aspects of the honorable gentleman’s question but the technical aspect - whether it is practical for the Bureau of Census and Statistics to secure statistics of overseas ownership of real property in Australia - is a matter that I could explore with the Commonwealth Statistician to see what information I could pass on to the honorable gentleman.
– Does the Minister for the Interior know that, under the Commonwealth Electoral Act, when three commissioners are appointed to make a redistribution and one of them becomes ill and is unable to attend meetings, as the quorum is two the remaining commissioners appoint a chairman and proceed with the redistribution? Is the Minister aware that under those circumstances the chairman alone - having a casting vote as well as a deliberative vote - may make very important decisions? Will the Minister make investigations with the object, at the appropriate time, of keeping the number of operative commissioners up to three, even if that should require a further immediate appointment and a change in the quorum?
– Since I have become Minister for the Interior I have received many suggestions and much advice about amendments to the Commonwealth Electoral Act and how a redistribution should be carried out. This suggestion has been offered to me; so I know a little about it. What the honorable member for Mallee says is quite true. If one of the commissioners is absent the other two constitute a quorum and one of them can be appointed as an acting chairman, in which capacity he has a casting vote in the event of disagreement. The safeguard is that if there is a disagreement between the two commissioners, the commissioner who is not appointed acting chairman has the right to put in a minority report, and when the reports eventually are presented to the Parliament it has the right to decide whether it will accept or reject the acting chairman’s proposal.
– Can the Minister for Territories make a statement to the House on what accommodation, staff and entitlements are to be provided for undersecretaries appointed from the elected members of the Papua and New Guinea Parliament? Can he make a general statement on the entitlements to be provided for members of that Parliament? Will he make such statements at an early date?
– So far this matter has not been considered; but I have no doubt that it will be considered in the next few weeks. At present I have no material on which I could make such a statement.
– I ask the PostmasterGeneral a question which is supplementary to that asked by the honorable member for Grayndler. What action does he propose to take to prevent further trafficking in television shares on Australian stock exchanges? If it is discovered that Mr. R. M. Ansett - and not Sir Frank Packer - was responsible for last week’s operations in regard to the shares of Universal Telecasters Queensland Limited of Brisbane, what action does he propose to take to prevent Mr. Ansett flouting the Australian Broadcasting Control Board, which rejected his application for the third commercial licence in Brisbane, and to prevent him making a further mockery of declared government policy on television?
– In reply to the Leader of the Opposition I say, first, that what has taken place in the trading of these shares is quite legitimate. I have asked for an investigation by the Australian Broadcasting Control Board because one of the conditions of the issue of this licence is nhat the Government shall be satisfied abOut the shareholding. I indicated quite clearly to Universal Telecasters Queensland Limited, through the Broadcasting Control Board, that the licence would be given subject to our being satisfied about three things - first, the memorandum and articles of association; secondly, the directors; and thirdly, the shareholding.
Pressure was brought to bear on the company by the Stock Exchange, which desired listing at an early date because it had been indicated to the Stock Exchange that there was likely to be considerable trading in these shares, privately, outside the exchange. I indicated to the company that I was satisfied with the memorandum and articles of associ Hon, so the company made a request to the Stock Exchange for listing. The Stock Exchange acceded to this request and trading commenced immediately.
After trading haJ commenced, but before I had given any approval in relation to directors or shareholdings and, of course, before the issue of the licence, these considerable share transactions took place. I believed it was my duty to ask that the share listing be brought up to date, having regard to the new transactions which had taken place. I have asked the Australian Broadcasting Control Board to conduct an investigation into the matter so that our information on the shareholding will relate to the current position at the time of the investigation and not to the position at the date of application. This investigation will take place within the next day or two, so I do not feel that I should make any further statement at this time.
– Can the Minister for Labour and National Service state whether there is a shortage of labour in the building industry? If there is a shortage, does he consider that this will constitute a serious threat to the industry’s stability at a time when there is an increasing demand for building development? What steps are being taken by his department to meet the labour deficiency?
– There is now a shortage - indeed, a growing shortage - of both skilled and fit unskilled labour in the building industry. I have no doubt that if this state of affairs continues for long, prices in the building industry will rise. Unfortunately, to-day the wholesale price index indicates that the prices of raw materials are already rising. That is something which the Government regrets.
As to the last part of the honorable gentleman’s question relating to what is being done to meet the position, I should mention that the Commonwealth has few powers in relation to the building industry because most unions in the industry are under State, not Federal awards. Nonetheless, we have called together leaders of the trade unions and the building industry, and some agreement has been reached on a reduction in the time of apprenticeship from five years to four years in some cases, and to four and one-half years in other cases. We have persuaded the parties to accept what is called group apprenticeship - that is, instead of an individual builder or producer taking an apprentice the organization responsible for the industry will conduct the apprenticeship.
The only other matter that I can mention, although dozens of things have been done, is that to-day, or to-morrow at the latest, representatives of the building industry will submit to me proposals designed to achieve greater efficiency within the industry.
– Was the Minister for Territories reported correctly as having stated that he would consider sympathetically representations from the Northern Territory Pastoral Lessees Association for the conversion of present leasehold titles to freehold titles, on the basis that this would encourage investment in the Territory? If he was correctly reported, is it not a fact that no new land is available in the Northern Territory for pastoral development? Is it not a fact also that the few leases which have been thrown open for application have met with such a response that balloting has been necessary to determine the successful applicant? Has the existing leasehold title system prevented large American and Chinese investment in the industry over the last four or five years? Does not the Minister consider that the only effect of granting freehold titles to some 100,000 square miles will be to prevent more intensive development in the area and to tie up this land for all time in the interests, chiefly, of large Australian and overseas companies?
– Yes, I was correctly reported on the lines suggested by the honorable member. The matters that he has raised will be investigated. All kinds of matters have to be considered when converting land from leasehold title to freehold title. The Government is most anxious to stimulate development in northern Australia, and obviously whatever decision is arrived at will be in the best interests of the people of the Northern Territory.
– Has the Minister for the Interior seen the report of his statement when opening the annual conference of the Institute of Parks Administration recently in which he made some interesting observations about Canberra’s cold weather, Canberra’s parks and the heavenly atmosphere in which young lovers can spoon away the hours? I understand that he then made some statistical reference to Canberra’s population. Does the Minister recall receiving a letter from me on behalf of a constituent who lodged a complaint about the proximity of the caravan park at Canberra to a rubbish dump with its associated fly menace? Will the Minister inspect this caravan park in the daylight to see whether it can be brought up to standard?
– I have asked for an investigation to be conducted of the camping reserve. As to the first part of the honorable gentleman’s question, it is true that yesterday in Canberra I opened a conference of the Institute of Parks Administration. I am learning that when an honorable member becomes a Minister he should not try to make a few humorous sideswipes, because the newspapers generally take them in the wrong way. The most noticeable thing about Canberra’s weather is that when winter comes most honorable members get out of Canberra.
– My question to the Minister for the Interior refers to a report from the Joint Committee on the Australian Capital Territory which, in November, 1959, recommended the expenditure of Commonwealth funds on the construction of a road linking Canberra with Tumut by way of Brindabella. I now ask the Minister: Has he been informed that the two councils concerned-the Tumut Shire Council and Yarrowlumla Shire Council - have agreed that the route through Brindabella is the one to be preferred for the development of this area? Has he been informed also that the New South Wales Forestry Commission is now extending its road system, built to highway standard, to within eight miles of the bridge over the Goodradigbee River at Brindabella? Is any discussion taking place at present on Commonwealth responsibility or power to grant funds in concert with the State Government for the development of this road?
– These matters have not yet been brought to my notice. They are largely matters of policy and there will need to be discussion between the New South Wales Government and the Commonwealth.
– Has the Minister for Labour and National Service had an opportunity to make inquiries into the employment situation in the Illawarra and south coast industrial area?
– This is a Dorothy Dix-er.
– On the contrary. As the honorable member for Macarthur will remember, some weeks ago another honorable member asked me a question in the House about the employment position on the south coast. I was a little surprised at the large number of young women who, he said, had applied for jobs in two retail stores, one in Port Kembla and the other a little to the south of Port Kembla. I have made inquiries and have learned that because of the upsurge in business and the growth in the Wollongong and Port Kembla areas these two stores were increasing their store capacity and consequently intended to employ a number of young women in their retail selling sections. When I asked the firms concerned about the 300 young women who were supposed to have applied I was told that most of them thought that a bargain sale line was being formed, and that if a bargain sale was being held they had better get into the line as quickly as possible. I believe they got the surprise of their lives when they found that they might be recruited for employment. The fact of the matter is that 45 young women or thereabouts were wanted for the jobs, but it was not possible to recruit 45 of the types required in those retail stores. The firms concerned have now been obliged to come to my department, or to the Commonwealth Employment Service - not to me personally - to see whether the Commonwealth Employment Service itself can find young women of appropriate talents to fit into these jobs.
– My question is addressed to the Minister representing the Minister for National Development. Is it a fact that Sir Edward Warren, the chairman of the New South Wales Colliery Proprietors’ Association, has sent a letter to the Minister’s Cabinet colleague directing attention to certain deficiences in relation to competition experienced by the Australian coal industry and the protective ability of that industry? Was it suggested in that letter that excise duty and tariff duty should be imposed and that there should be associated subsidies for the coal industry? Is it a fact that these suggestions form only part of an overall pattern emerging from reports over the last ten years of the Joint Coal Board and from agitation and representations by the Miners’ Federation and associated trade unions? Further, is it a fact that Australia to-day has no national fuel policy and in this respect differs from other major industrialized countries? Will the Minister say what proposals, if any, the Government intends to make to rectify this situation?
– I shall convey the honorable member’s speech to our colleague in another place and see that the honorable member is given a suitable reply.
NATIONAL SERVICE. Sir WILFRID KENT HUGHES. - I direct a question to the Minister for Labour and National Service. What is the national service that the Minister administers? Is the machinery for reinstituting national service training being kept well-oiled in case the Government realizes that we cannot discharge our responsibilities in South-East Asia without it?
– I ignore the last part of the honorable gentlemen’s question, concerning conditions in South-East Asia. The Government has retained the term “ national service “ because the relevant act is still in force. I can say that if it were necessary to implement the provisions of the act my department would be able to do so quickly.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Shipping and Transport. In view of the importance of linking Adelaide with Sydney and Brisbane by the shortest possible standard-gauge railway system, will the Minister confer with the South Australian Government with a view to linking Adelaide with Peterborough via Terowie by having a third rail laid on the existing 5 ft. 3 in. gauge line?
– This matter is already being considered by the Government in connexion with the proposal to standardize the gauge of the line between Port Pirie and Broken Hill.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Primary Industry. Having in mind the fact that a great majority of dried vine fruits growers voted in favour of the stabilization plan for their industry submitted by the Minister, I ask whether a bill will be introduced in this House during this sessional period to give legislative authority for this plan.
– I am sure that the honorable member is as appreciative as I am of the fact that 93 per cent, of growers voted in favour of the scheme that the Government offered to the dried vine fruits industry. It was a very good vote indeed. The draft legislation is well on the way to completion, and we hope that it will be possible to introduce the legislation in this sessional period.
– Pursuant to Section 11 of the Public Works Committee Act, I lay on the table the following paper: -
Public Works Committee A:t - Twenty-eighth General Report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works.
Debate resumed from 5th March (vide page 292), on motion by Mr. Harold Holt-
That the bill bc now read a second time.
.- The Australian Labour Party is pledged to a policy of vigorous national development. We believe in planned, balanced development based on our natural resources and our economic needs. Balanced development must, therefore, be concerned with the use of resources on a national pattern and with the effective occupation and population of all of Australia. The Opposition welcomes this bill and will give it a speedy passage. We believe that there has been too much delay in undertaking national planning. In this case I am obliged, in all charity, to say that this piece of legislation seems to be more concerned with election planning than with national planning. It follows a statement made towards the close of the last Parliament by the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies), who was then concerned with obtaining numbers in this place. It is not strange that numerous promises which were made at election time are now coming before the Parliament to be honoured by legislative enactment, despite the fact that the Prime Minister and members of his party previously disagreed concerning the matters in question.
Time is an important factor in the development of Australia. It is imporant for the State of Tasmania and it is particularly important in relation to the matter with which this legislation is concerned. In an excellent statement submitted by the distinguished Commissioner of the HydroElectric Commission of Tasmania this point was made abundantly clear. In the course of his well-documented statement the commissioner emphasized the urgent need to take action and called for immediate support of certain proposals made by him. These proposals deserve the support of this Parliament because they are reasonable, they are feasible, they are based on the requirements of Tasmania’s development and they fit in with a plan for the balanced development of that State and of the nation. In his statement, Mr. Knight, the commissioner, bad this to say -
Based on the latest information on consumption trends and industrial expansion, a forecast has been prepared which shows that the load on the system is expected to exceed capacity by 1973. This forecast is conservative in that it assumes a lower rate of increase in power loading than in the past, and it does not provide for the introduction of any new large power consuming industry.
This, Mr. Speaker, is an important aspect of the matters with which this bill is concerned. The statement emphasizes the urgent need to do something to expand the production of hydro-electric power in Tasmania.
The bill has for its purpose the construction of a road of 50 miles from Maydena to the Gordon River. The road will penetrate a rugged mountainous region which will help to provide the water resources required for the expansion of hydro-electric power in Tasmania. The project will open up a new area. This mountain fastness may be rich in minerals. It will certainly provide new tourist attractions in Tasmania and will be welcomed in that respect, not only by honorable members but by the Australian community and by visitors from all over the world. If it does no more in the initial stage than help to stimulate Tasmania’s important tourist industry it certainly will be of very great value to that State.
However, that is not the chief purpose of the bill. Its chief purpose is to provide for a road to the Gordon River so that men of the Hydro-Electric Commission of Tasmania may take their equipment into that area and carry out the testing necessary to establish there a major hydro-electric power station or stations. The valuable forests of the region can also be utilized. All these matters will give great satisfaction to our Tasmanian friends and particularly to my colleagues who are so deeply interested in Tasmania’s development and who have such a close knowledge of the importance of this undertaking.
Under the terms of the bill the Commonwealth is to find £2,500,000 over four years for the construction of the road. As required, the Commonwealth will make progress payments and advance payments to the State so that the work can be carried out. It may be of interest to honorable members to hear that for the past ten years the Hydro-Electric Commission of Tasmania has conducted tests in the Gordon River area, including the gauging of the river flow. For this work the commission is entitled to the gratitude of the Tasmanian people and of progressive people throughout Australia. Construction of the road will allow the experimental work already conducted to be augmented. It will also allow the necessary equipment to be taken into the area so that the work to be undertaken there may be carried out with the utmost expedition.
The Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) emphasized in his second-reading speech the importance of the work and made what I thought to be an admission which calls for some explanation. He said’ -
I would like to say in conclusion that the Commonwealth sees in this grant an opportunity to promote economic development on a national scale of the resources of a region which might otherwise remain isolated and virtually unexplored for a Jong time to come.
Members of the Opposition regard those words as very important. The Treasurer, on behalf of the Government, admits frankly that one of Australia’s oldest known areas could remain unexplored if it were not for the fact that the Commonwealth Government is finding the money. The word “ unexplored “ is quite incorrect because the Hydro-Electric Commission has gone into the area and over a period of ten years has carried out certain tests there. The important aspect, Mr. Deputy Speaker, is that action is required on a national basis to develop such areas.
It seems to me that the Commonwealth Government, through the Minister for National Development (Senator Spooner), has adopted the attitude that developmental works such as this should be invariably left to private enterprise. The Minister has expressed that view on numerous occasions. But that is not the thinking on this side of the House. When a measure providing Commonwealth money to harness our natural resources is brought to the Parliament it is welcomed by the Labour Party because we believe in balanced development of all of Australia. It is our view that we cannot have balanced development unless all of Australia is developed. We have long talked about northern Australia, yet done little or nothing about it. Our eyes rarely turn south and it is refreshing indeed to know that something is being done for Tasmania at this stage.
The Gordon River project is an outstandingly good one. Mr. Knight, Commissioner of the Hydro-Electric Commission of Tasmania, seems to have supplied rich information to the Tasmanian Government and to the Commonwealth in his statement. He has set out the great potentialities of the Gordon River area. The fact that the Commonwealth will be called upon to find only £2,500,000 for the construction of the road should give tremendous pleasure to honorable members. When it is realized that the construction of power stations in the area could cost £150,000,000, it will be seen that the Commonwealth’s investment in the scheme is quite a small one. We should not have been so slow to come to the support of the Tasmanian Government in this matter.
I should like to say a word in praise of the Tasmanian Government. It has adopted a policy in regard to hydro-electric power which undoubtedly deserves the gratitude of the Australian people. We are all aware that until 1934 Tasmania seemed to be an exporter of people. People left Tasmania because no jobs were available there. After 1934 a transformation occurred due to the courageous policy of the late Albert
Ogilvie, who as Premier of Tasmania took to the people his bold and imaginative plan to harness the rivers in order to provide cheap hydro-electric power. It is good to know that his leadership and example were followed by Mr. Robert Cosgrove, who succeeded him as Premier, and later still by the present Premier, Mr. Eric Reece. Mr. Reece’s submissions to the Commonwealth Government - so ably documented and supported by Mr. Knight - are the basis of the proposals now before the Parliament. The planning and foresight of the Tasmanian Government are to be commended. The State’s great traditions in this work’ are to be applauded and this means of boosting the enonomy of Tasmania will be quickly appreciated. Tasmania produces the cheapest hydro power in Australia. The cost is just over .55 pence per unit. This has helped to stimulate the economy of Tasmania and to attract important industries to that State. Amongst the industries attracted to Tasmania are the Electrolytic Zinc Company of Australasia Limited and Comalco Aluminium (Bell Bay) Limited. The Commonwealth Government has vacated the field of aluminium production and has allowed its share of the company at Bell Bay to revert to private enterprise. Other industries are Tasmanian Electro Metallurgical Company Proprietary Limited, Australian Commonwealth Carbide Company Limited, Australian Newsprint Mills Limited and Associated Pulp and Paper Mills Limited. These important industries are of vital concern not only to Tasmania but to the whole of Australia.
I had the privilege of visiting the area so ably represented here by the honorable member for Braddon (Mr. Davies). There I visited a number of important industries from the very small ones to the major undertakings. These are all deriving power from the inter-connected system and are helping to build the economy of the State of Tasmania. The economy of Tasmania will be further strengthened as a result of this bill. The Tasmanian Government will be able to go out and seek the development of new enterprises in the State. Therefore, I believe that the measure is of the utmost importance. Too often such measures as this are considered to be very small and perhaps unimportant, but I believe that this bill is one of the most important bills to come before the Parliament. We are all happy with the magnitude of the Snowy Mountains project, but we have only to look at the report of Mr. Knight of the Hydro-Electric Commission of Tasmania to learn of the magnificent concept involved in these plans. This project will fit in with major plans for the development of electricity in Tasmania.
The report said -
It may bc noted that in 1973, the output capacity of the Tasmanian system will exceed the ultimate output of the completed Snowy scheme, which is stated to be 5,500 million kilowatt-hours per annum.
The report also pointed out that development is growing in many ways and it may be possible by submarine cable to provide electrical energy to Victoria. Victoria could come into the picture and a national pattern could emerge from the proposal now before the Parliament. The report went on to say -
The Cordon and King catchment areas total 2,000 sq. miles and make up most of the Southwest part of the State . . . This extensive region of high rainfall has virtually no development of any sort and there is no road access within SO miles of the Middle Gordon area, i.e., the vicinity of the junction of the Gordon River and its important tributary the Serpentine River. Here lies the largest potential of all the water schemes in the island.
The Gordon River is now known to have a water yield 2.6 times greater than that of the Derwent River. Several large storages would bc created on the Gordon and King Rivers and on their tributaries, the largest of which would have an area of approximately 120 square miles and an active storage of 3,200,000 acre feet. (Compare Lake Eucumbene, 56 square miles and 3,500,000 acre feet.)
These are important facts concerning the proposal of the Tasmanian Government for expansion of the production of electrical energy in that State. The report continued -
It has been estimated that in the Gordon and King River areas a total of about 550,000 kilowatts (continuous) could be produced, equivalent to an annual energy output of 4,800 million units (compare the complete Snowy scheme, 5,500 million units), and at an average cost below 0.5 pence per unit. The tremendous storages available will not only result in great reliability of power but will make it possible for the Commission to supply large quantities of peak power for the future needs of Tasmania and possibly also for some of the needs of the mainland of Australia if a Bass Strait submarine cable should materialise.
Here the stability of supply is important. We all know that hydro power fluctuates according to seasons. Prolonged droughts have an adverse effect on the availability of water, but this vast untapped supply of water can ensure stability of the hydro power. A supply of electrical energy can be maintained to industry and other users, giving them confidence in the future. The Tasmanian Government has acted wisely in going ahead with this proposal and this Government has undoubtedly adopted the right course in supporting the Tasmanian Government. The report went on to say -
As an example, the Middle Gordon power station with an average output of 175,000 kilowatts might be built with an installed capacity of 750,000 kilowatts to provide large quantities of peak power.
The complete development of the Gordon and King River areas will involve the State in capital expenditure of at least £150 million . . .
This is a substantial sum for the State of Tasmania and because of that this Government has a responsibility to act with sympathy and understanding. What does the provision of £2,500,000 for the road mean in the long run? Perhaps it is no more than a return to Tasmania of some of the petrol tax money which hitherto has been held by the Commonwealth in Consolidated Revenue. What better way is there of making available petrol tax money than to use it for triggering off development of this kind? The great work of development of Tasmania deserves to go forward and I believe that the proposals made by the Tasmanian Government in this proposition are entitled to the support of every honorable member, particularly when it is known that Tasmania has already invested £117,000,000 in hydro power. This undoubtedly is a tremendous amount of money for a State of the size of Tasmania to make available for development. We should remember that Tasmania is one State of the Commonwealth that has a very favorable balance of payments. It sells more than it imports and this is very importan to the national economy. When we remember the great responsibilities of Tasmania in providing these services, we can appreciate the responsibility that the Commonwealth must accept.
Let me deal with costs. According to an authority that I have here, the capital charges of making available hydro power in Tasmania account for 56.7 per cent, of the total cost, the operation charges 35.3 per cent, and other charges 8 per cent. It will be seen that in Tasmania the great burden of the capital cost of this developmental work rests mainly on the State. The Commonwealth Government has, in the past, made grants to Queensland for various reasons, and has assisted in the Ord River project in the north-west of Western Australia, and here is its opportunity to do something of a practical nature to help a State which has been to the fore in helping itself.
The growth of the load on the Tasmanian electricity system is most interesting. In 1922 it was 89,700,000 kilowatt hours; in 1932, 332,800,000 kilowatt hours; in 1942, 661,800,000 kilowatt hours; in 1952, 1,086,000,000 kilowatt hours; and in 1962, 2,675,400,000 kilowatt hours. This is an important indication of the ‘development of electrical energy in Tasmania. It indicates quite clearly the great work which is taking place there.
The areas of future power potential are set out in a document that I have before me, and it is of particular interest to refer to the proposals in regard to the Gordon River. The upper Gordon River has an approximate continuous capacity of 20,000 kilowatts, the middle Gordon 175,000 kilo, watts, and the lower Gordon 180,000 kilowatts. The charges are somewhat lower than elsewhere in Australia. For instance, the charge in the upper Gordon area is .55 pence per kilowatt hour; in the middle Gordon, .44 pence; and in the lower Gordon 44 pence. It is really little wonder that Tasmania is in such an excellent position to make available cheap power to heavy industry, and to encourage industry to go there for the purpose of development.
I myself, as a mainlander, welcome the development that is taking place in Tasmania. I believe that it is of the utmost importance to this nation. The Australian Labour Party welcomes proposals of this kind which are indicative of the development of the nation. We wish the Tasmanian Government well. We can only hope that it will continue with projects of this kind in the advancement of the State and so play an important part in developing the nation as a whole. It will give opportunities to the people of Tasmania and will advance Australia fair. We are delighted to support the measure.
.- This bill provides for a grant of up to £2,500,000 to Tasmania to assist the State in financing the construction of a development road into the Gordon River region of the south-west. Because I am interested in the history of the west and south-west of Tasmania, I did some research into the early history of this part of Tasmania. I am bound to say that some of it, while very interesting, is also very gruesome. The Gordon River district was named after James Gordon, who was a police magistrate in the town of Sorell, which is in the Franklin electorate. The history of the white penetration of the Gordon River area begins with a settlement of about 200 convicts at a place called Sarah Island in Macquarie Harbour in 1821. It is interesting to note that where once the convicts cut Huon pine logs and floated them down the Gordon River to pit saws on Sarah Island, electric power is now used.
I said that the history of this part of Tasmania was gruesome. I remind honorable members that this area was the scene of much of Marcus Clarke’s book, “ For the Term of His Natural Life “. The character known in that book as Matt Gabbett was based on a convict who, early in the nineteenth century, had been imprisoned on Sarah Island. I can do no better than quote from a mazagine article by Adam Smith which gives some idea of the gruesomeness of the early history of this part of the southwest of Tasmania. The article states -
Breakfast consisted of cold flour and water. The only other meal of the day was the evening meal of salt meat and bread. This was eaten with the fingers because of a ban on cutlery and crockery.
Men lay dying of scurvy on the stone floors of the prison. The incorrigibles were sent into the bush in gangs to cut the great forests of Huon pine.
In the wet rain-forest, where the trees were so thick the sun could not be seen overhead at midday, the gangs toiled, rolling logs down into the Gordon River. There they formed them into rafts to float down to Sarah Island, in the harbour.
On Sarah Island the convicts worked in icy, mountain water up to the waist, hauling logs from the harbour up to pitsaws to be sawn into boat timber, for which the settlement later became famous.
Convicts in the chain gangs rose or lay down as one man. The 60 who formed each gang were fastened to a chain 60 ft. long.
In the first year of the settlement 7,000 lashes were given to 169 of the 182 prisoners. Pierce-
That is Gabbett - reasoned he had little to lose, and planned an escape. It was no trouble to enlist companions.
He chose four men and headed north along the coast. There was little natural game in the area and the convicts had scant food. When their supplies ran out, Pierce killed his comrades and alc them.
All in all, that is not a very pleasant early history of the Gordon River area of the south-west of Tasmania.
Now I want to turn to what is the really interesting feature of the south-west. That is its magnificent natural beauty. It has, I believe, one of the greatest tourist potentials of any part of Australia. 1 have been in the area myself. I have flown over it, and 1 have sailed down the south-west coast in years gone by. As a matter of interest, at the present time there is a substantial motor tourist boat plying up the Gordon River. This journey is extremely popular. I believe that the access road to bc developed will make this journey a much more popular pastime than it was previously.
I have, for quite a while in this Parliament, urged the development of the southwest of Tasmania because I believe it has immense potential, but there is one warning that I would like to give here and now. Great care should be exercised not to disfigure the magnificent countryside in the opening-up process. Particular care should be taken to prevent destruction by fire and the denudation of forests, lt has been regrettable and unfortunate, in our experience of opening up some areas, that fires, accidentally or otherwise, have been started and have literally destroyed immense areas of good timber land and also the wonderful scenery. I do not propose to dwell on the tourist potential, although I have a great interest in it, because I think that my colleague, the honorable member for Denison (Mr. Gibson), will speak on that matter.
I join issue with the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Luchetti), who suggested that the grant provided for in this bill was announced just before the election for political purposes. He himself quoted from the report by the Hydro-Electric Commissioner, Mr. Knight. The honorable member knows that this matter was submitted by the State Government a considerable time before the election was announced or took place, and it was quite coincidental, as the commissioner would tell him if he asked, that the announcement was made not long before the election. 1 am bound to say that there were very strong rumours that the Premier of Tasmania did not favour the plan. The reason put forward was that this plan was formulated at a time when non-repayable grants were being made to other States. Up to that time, the Tasmanian Government had not submitted to the Commonwealth Government any plan which was acceptable under the conditions imposed on nonrepayable grants. Every other State government - whether Liberal or Labour - had been able to submit plans which were acceptable to the Commonwealth, and excellent developments have resulted from those nonrepayable grants. I propose now to quote some parts of this very fine report by Mr. Knight. The honorable member for Macquarie quoted almost the entire report, leaving little for me to refer to. However, on the first page of the report the commissioner says -
The proposed access road will in the first place facilitate ground investigations into a region hitherto surveyed only from the air.
The honorable member for Macquarie said that it ought not to be referred to as an unexplored region, but the point is that it has, as yet, been explored only from the air. The report continues -
It will provide a supply route from the Slate’s main centre of population and principal port when construction of new power developments is in progress. It will permanently open up a hitherto inaccessible area of notable scenic value and great potentiality as a national tourist attraction, and the possibility of new mineral discoveries and further development of forest resources should not be overlooked.
I want to emphasize that I believe that this area has a great potential in mineral resources. I know that some companies have carried out quite extensive aerial surveys of the area. I know that miners of many years’ experience on the west coast, and with a knowledge of this area, are confident that it holds quite rich mineral resources, and I therefore submit that this proposal is potentially of immense value. At page 5 the report states -
It has been estimated that in the Gordon and King River areas a total ot about 550,000 kilowatts (continuous) could be produced, equivalent to an annual energy output of 4,800 million units (compare the complete Snowy scheme, 5,500 million units), and at an average cost below 0.5 pence per unit.
That gives some idea of the value of the project. Later in the report Mr. Knight refers to the urgency of the need to construct a main access road to the middle Gordon area and says -
Because of its favorable features, low cost and ample storage and power, the Commission considers that detailed investigation of the Middle Gordon area should proceed as a matter of urgency. Three years is a very short time in which to prepare a project of this magnitude for Parliamentary approval and early implemention
The investigations and associated activities include the provision of all weather camps, access tracks and cable ways; topographical surveys; geological drilling at dam sites and tunnel lines; subsurface exploration by adits and test pits; and further hydrological studies.
It is proposed at the outset to employ the small helicopters available in Australia for the transport of personnel and light equipment until such time as a main access road into the area is completed. The steady advance of the road will gradually reduce the length of helicopter travel and so speed up the investigations and reduce the costs.
As a matter of detail the report, referring to the access road, reads as follows: -
It is planned that the main access road will have a minimum width of 22 feet and its length is approximately 50 miles from the road connexion near Maydena to the junction of the Gordon and Serpentine Rivers. The road can be advanced from one end only and by prevision of substantial construction resources a rate of ab.ut two miles per month is envisaged. On this basis two years will be required to build the 50 mile length, and if funds were available road construction could commence about November, 1963, with a target date for completion of November, 1965.
Any estimate without a detailed survey and design is necessarily an approximation. Based on its own experience on road construction over the past fifteen years and on the recent experience of the State’s P.W.D. in its 36 mile highway connexion between Rosebery and Guildford in somewhat similar country, the Commission estimates that the cost will average £50,000 per mile or a total of £2i million.
In conclusion the Commissioner says -
The desirability of continued supplies of lowcost electrical energy in large quantities needs no emphasis and it is the opinion of the Commissi ja that the Gordon-King area offers the most eco nomically attractive potential in the Commonwealth. The Hydro-Electric Commission, up to June, 1963, has invested some £117 million in the development of the water power resources of the State. The essential prerequisite to the formulation of a new scheme is the provision of road access, and it is the object of this statement to support a request for the necessary funds for the purpose, amounting to £2,500,000.
Without wearying the House further on this matter, because of the detailed speech of the honorable member for Macquarie, who preceded me, I say that I have pleasure in supporting the measure, as it will mean the opening up of an area which can be developed only by these means. This area has great potential in the production of hydro-electric power, tourism and mineral resources. I commend the bill to the House.
.- The House is debating a measure known as the Tasmania Grant (Gordon River Road) Bill, under which the Commonwealth is to advance £2,500,000 for this road project. The honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Falkinder) joined issue with the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Luchetti) on the question of whether the announcement of the proposed introduction of this measure was election propaganda. I do not know whether it was or not, and I would not like to bring politics into the debate on this measure, as such; but I think the Premier of Tasmania was rather shabbily treated in regard to the announcing of this measure. We all recall that the honorable member for Franklin, at 2.40 p.m. on the afternoon of a Wednesday in October, asked in this House what is commonly known as a Dorothy Dix question. It was obviously so, because until then no one but members of the Government knew anything about the measure. Later that day, at 4.30 p.m., when I had occasion to speak to the Premier of Tasmania by telephone, the Premier was amazed at the announcement which had been made. He had not heard it made because on that Wednesday the proceedings of this chamber were not being broadcast.
The Premier of Tasmania was on that day an official guest at the Hobart Show, and had no way of knowing of the announcement that the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) had made in this chamber. He was amazed that, after all the efforts that the Government of Tasmania had made in preparing cases for submission to the Commonwealth for non-repayable grants to stimulate employment, this announcement should have been made as it was, One would have thought that the normal course for this Government to take - I have no desire to join issue with the honorable member for Franklin on this matter - would have been that, having received the request from the Premier of Tasmania, the Government would have seen fit to advise him first that the application had been approved by the Commonwealth, rather than that the announcement should be made in this House and the Premier of Tasmania given the information in a roundabout way in an answer to a question asked in this chamber. At all events, we consider the help offered is but little, and possibly too little too late, because here, again, the Premier of Tasmania has put up to this Government other proposals which the honorable member for Franklin referred to as having been unacceptable. I point out, however, that the Tasmanian Government had put forward still other proposals which had the backing of various organizations in that State before they were put up and when they were put up. But again it was for- the people who control the administration of the nation’s finances to decide, and in this case it was for the Prime Minister to say whether the proposals were acceptable to this Government or not. In every case the proposals were apparently unacceptable, until along came this proposition which was so ably prepared - suitable recognition has been given to this point - in the form of this wonderful report made by the Hydro-Electric Commissioner, Mr. Knight. The Tasmanian Government forwarded that and other data to the Commonwealth. The Prime Minister accepted the proposal and so to-day we are debating this bill.
I wish to refer briefly, as did the honorable member for Franklin, to the road which will be built with this grant, because that road is of importance to my electorate. According to the report of the Tasmanian Government it is planned to give the main access road a minimum width pf 22 feet and a length of approximately 50 miles from the road connexion near Maydena to the junction of the Gordon and the Serpentine rivers. It is important to note that the road can be advanced only from one end. By providing substantial construction resources it is envisaged that two miles of road will be completed each month. At this rate it will take two years to build the 50 miles of road. The official report stresses that in the absence of any detailed survey and design any estimate is necessarily approximate. The Tasmanian Government estimated the cost of the road at £2,500,000, based on its experience in road construction over the past fifteen years. I know that honorable members from Tasmania, no matter on which side of the House they sit, will pay a tribute to the Tasmanian Hydro-Electric Commission for the very excellent network of roads extending over a distance of 200 miles which the commission has built. As I have said, the Tasmanian Government based its estimate of the cost of the Gordon River road on its experience in the past fifteen years together with recent experience of the Tasmanian Department of Public Works, which has built 36 miles of roadway in my electorate between Rosebery and Guildford. That road runs through country similar to the Gordon River country. I must agree with the honorable member for Franklin that the areas in which new roads have been built recently are magnificent country. The road from Rosebery to Guilford runs through country of great beauty. I have no doubt that the road from Maydena to the junction of the Gordon and Serpentine rivers also will run through beautiful country which will have a very great tourist attraction.
The Tasmanian Hydro-Electric Commission is required by the act under which it functions to meet from its own revenue the cost of investigation work. Normally only £250,000 a year is made available for this purpose. That sum is the minimum necessary for routine river gauging and investigation work carried out each year on new projects. I have visited some of the works being undertaken on the Pieman River, the King River and the Gordon River. When one observes the nature of the work being undertaken and the conditions under which it is carried out one can easily appreciate the fact that routine investigation work associated with new projects costs £250,000 a year. It is not financially practical for the commission to undertake the construction of a major access road. In this case the Commonwealth is putting up the money - for the very good reason that Tasmania cannot put up £2,500,000. Already Tasmania devotes a greater proportion of available funds to the construction of important roads and bridges than does any other State. The high cost of road works in Tasmania is brought about by the mountainous nature of so much of the country in that State. In the course of its developmental works and from its own resources the Hydro-Electric Commission has built 200 miles of roads, the greater portion of which has now been incorporated in the State’s highway system. The proposed road to the Gordon River area will not be of immediate use as a State highway although it will have value as a tourist road. The road could not be properly included in the normal works programme and the Tasmanian Government could not finance construction of the road in the time required by the Hydro-Electric Commission. The cost of constructing the road is beyond the resources of the commission, whose resources are fully extended in carrying out an investigation and construction programme to meet the demands for power in the near future.
Special circumstances surround this bill. The south-western region of Tasmania is empty and hitherto has been undeveloped. The State must have assistance to open up this country. The amount required to build the Gordon River road is £2,500,000. The State Government and the Hydro-Electric Commission will accept responsibility for providing in the usual manner out of loan funds the capital necessary for proposed hydro-electric projects. As I have stated, construction of this road is beyond the resources of the. Hydro-Electric Commission. To justify that statement it is important to stress the urgency of the matter and to refer to the financial structure of the commission. The greater part of the funds required by the commission for capital works is allocated through the State Treasury and does not come from revenues obtained from State taxes. The situation that exists in Tasmania is different from that which exists in relation to the Snowy Mountains scheme. The revenue of the Hydro-Electric Commission is made available to the State by the Australian Loan Council. That revenue carries interest at the average rate and the amounts are repaid by sinking fund contributions. Each year since 1952 the commission has been authorized to raise loans on the semigovernmental market. Each year from 1961 about £10,000,000 of new money was raised in that way. The commission is the greatest industrial undertaking in Tasmania and its well-being is of supreme importance to the economy of the State.
The commission provides continuous employment for thousands of people. No fewer than 1,869 people are at present employed on its staff and it employs 2,816 award workers - a total force of 4,685. Over the last three years the average annual wages bill of the Commission has been about £6,000,000. The average total income tax paid by workers employed by the commission in each of the past three years has been £675,000. The commission has paid in the past three years an average of £140,000 in pay-roll tax. Total taxes paid by the commission to the Commonwealth Government have amounted to £815,000 a year. So, by this grant of £2,500,000 Tasmania is getting back only what it has paid in taxes every three years from the Hydro-Electric Commission.
It is of interest to note that more than 98 per cent, of all Tasmanian homes and farms are now supplied with electric power. This high degree of domestic electrification cannot be equalled anywhere else in the world under comparable circumstances. Tasmania alone among Australian States enjoys a uniform tariff for the supply of electricity to retail consumers. Tariff rates are the same in town and country. A consumer suffers no price disadvantage by being situated at a distance from the main centres of population. The average rates for electricity in Tasmania are lower than anywhere else in Australia. Let me mention the average price of electrical energy used by residential consumers. These figures are taken from the statistics for the year ended 30th June, 1962, supplied by the Electricity Supply Association of Australia. The price of domestic power in Tasmania is 1.71d. a unit; in South Australia is it 2.24d. a unit; in Victoria it is 2.37d. a unit; in New South Wales it is 2.52d. a unit; and in Western Australia it is 3.14d. a unit. The price in Queensland is not quoted. Those figures show that Tasmanians are paying only about half of the price that Western Australians pay for domestic power. Tasmanians certainly pay far less for domestic power than do people in any other State.
Electricity for light industries is supplied at rates which vary according to circumstances. In case anybody is interested in establishing light industry in Tasmania, I shall quote an example of the rates. For high voltage supply of SOO kilowatts and more an industry pays £31 7s. per annum per kilowatt of maximum demand, and that is payable quarterly. For major industrial undertakings which require larger blocks of power for continuous processes, the HydroElectric Commission and the Tasmanian Government are prepared to make available high voltage supply direct from a substation on the main transmission network. Such supply is provided under long-term contracts and at rates which are more favorable than the retail tariff because they do not carry the cost component associated with low voltage reticulation.
These favorable rates have encouraged many people to establish industries in Tasmania. The special report of the Hydro-Electric Commission, which has been referred to in this debate, mentions several such industries. The report states that the average price of industrial power in Tasmania is .55d. per kilowatt-hour. The next lowest price is in South Australia where the figure is 1.97d. per kilowatt-hour, or three times as high as the Tasmanian price. The Victorian price of 2.19d. per kilowatt-hour is the next lowest. Honorable members will see that there is a great incentive for industrial undertakings to be established in Tasmania. As a result of great planning by the famous men who have held the position of commissioner of the HydroElectric Commission and the wise planning of the Tasmanian Government over the years, the State has been able to proceed with hydro-electric schemes and, although they are financed from taxation revenue, it is able to supply industrial and domestic power at cheaper rates than those applying in any other State.
Tasmania has many industrial undertakings of national importance. For example, the Electrolytic Zinc Company of Australasia Limited has an annual output of between 130,000 and 140,000 tons of electrolytic zinc. It also manufactures ammonium sulphate, superphosphate and sulphuric acid. In 1961-62 the company exported 71,452 tons of zinc with a value of about £6,500,000. Comalco Aluminium (Bell Bay) Limited has an annual output of 50,000 tons, which exceeds the Australian demand for aluminium. I refer also to the Tasmanian Electro Metallurgical Company Proprietary Limited and the Australian Commonwealth Carbide Company Limited. For 45 years the latter company has been the sole supplier of calcium carbide for Australia. Australian Newsprint Mills Limited has an annual output of 80,000 tons, which meets one-third of Australia’s present demand for newsprint. Associated Pulp and Paper Mills Limited, which has its factory in the town of Burnie in my electorate, has an annual output of 100,000 tons. It is now selling paper overseas and is assisting to accumulate overseas balances.
Because of the foresight of Tasmanian Labour governments over the past 30 years, the State has been able to build up secondary industries which use hydro-electric power. To-day secondary industry is by far the greatest force in Tasmania’s economy. That is indicated clearly by the 1961 census figures which reveal that more than 23 per cent, of the Tasmanian work force of 131,000 persons was employed in manufacturing industries, compared with 16 per cent, employed in commerce and 13 per cent, employed in primary industries. The proportion of the total population employed in manufacturing industries rose from 7 per cent, in 1951 to 8.4 per cent, in 1961. That rate of industrialization was not exceeded by any other State in that period. The number of people employed in manufacturing industries rose from 13,102 in 1939 to 30,158 in 1961. In 1961- this is very important and very illuminating-
– It has nothing to do with the bill.
– The honorable member does not like this because he is one of the people who have always criticized the great work done by State Labour governments in respect of the supply of hydro-electricity in Tasmania. In 1961 - the last year for which figures are available - one-fifth of all the electrical energy used in Australian manufacturing industries was produced and used in Tasmania, which has only onethirtieth of the Australian population. There are ten major bulk consumers of power in Tasmania. One of them - Comalco Aluminium (Bell Bay) Limited - consumes as much power as is consumed in the whole of Western Australia. Surely that in itself is a tribute to the Tasmanian people.
I have in my hand a graph which indicates that the demand for power practically doubles every seven to ten years. A programme of works is being planned at the present time to meet that demand. The Poatina scheme will come into operation in April this year. The lower Derwent scheme and the Mersey-Forth scheme will follow. The total cost of those three projects is £90,000,000. They will take us up to 1973. The Hydro-Electric Commission, in its report, directed attention to consumption trends. Its forecast of the position in 1974 emphasizes the need for action now. Based on the latest information on consumption trends and industrial expansion, a forecast has been prepared which shows that the load on the system will exceed the capacity by 1973. That forecast is conservative in that it assumes a lower rate of increase in power loading than has occurred in the past, and it does not provide for the introduction of any new large power-consuming industries. Therefore, it will be necessary to have a new power development ready to enter service very soon after the completion of the Mersey-Forth scheme - that is, not later than 1974.
Experience has shown that from the date of the sanctioning of a new hydro-electric power development by the Parliament, assuming the existence of reasonable access to the area, at least seven years should be allowed for the construction of roads, camps and base villages, and for the building of the permanent works. That calls for the submission of the next project to Parliament by the end of 1966, to enable work to commence early in 1967. Before the Tasmanian Parliament can approve a new power development, the Hydro-Electric Commission is required to present a detailed report and estimates of the capital and operating costs. As the commission has pointed out, only three years remain, during which sufficient investigation and design must be carried out to establish a firm lay-out and to enable estimates of costs to be prepared. Thus, if the industrial and economic life of Tasmania is to remain stable, money must be found from somewhere to build the road to the Gordon River. I have shown how impossible it is for the State Government and for the HydroElectric Commission to find the amount required. After all, the Commonwealth’s grant is not only justified but is also essential.
This road will provide access to a catchment area covering 2,000 square miles. It has the greatest potential of all water schemes in the island. River flows are larger than anywhere else and sites for dams have been located already. As the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Luchetti) has said, the Gordon River in this area has a water flow two and one-half times as great as that of the Derwent River. The importance of this flow can be appreciated fully when one considers that the flow in the Derwent River is equal in volume to the whole of Australia’s needs. The flow in the Gordon River, then, is two and one-half times more than that needed to meet this nation’s requirements.
The honorable member then referred to the several large storages which have been planned, the largest being more than twice the area of Lake Eucumbene. The proposed Gordon River storage will be 120 square miles whereas that of Lake Eucumbene is only 56 square miles. The scheme envisaged will be almost the size of the completed Snowy Mountains scheme and will produce an annual energy output of 4,800,000,000 units. Although the Snowy Mountains scheme when completed will produce 5,500,000,000 units, the Gordon River scheme will produce its output at an average cost below .5 pence a unit. The tremendous storages available will make it possible for the commission to supply large quantities of peak power to meet Tasmania’s future needs, and possibly the mainland’s future needs if the Bass Strait submarine cable ever becomes a reality. The completed scheme will cost £150,000,000 spread over twelve years. This cost will be met by the people of Tasmania by way of taxation and by various grants from the Commonwealth. The construction of this road is justified, even apart from its value in opening fresh areas for hydro-electric development.
Let me refer briefly now to tourism. As in other schemes, other roads will be built. I understand that a road will be built from Queenstown on the west coast to the lower reaches of the Gordon River. Any one who has been to Monty Stubbs’ famous hotel at Strahan, where very fine accommodation well known throughout the Commonwealth is available, and has the next morning taken the launch trip conducted by Reg Morrison or Jack Legarde down Macquarie harbour and up the Gordon will know the great beauty in this area. It is world famous, not only for its fishing but also for its scenery and its history, as was mentioned by the honorable member for Franklin. You pass Sarah Island which housed what the honorable member called the infamous convict settlement. The whole area is rich in history. I understand that the Scenery Preservation Board has declared it a reserve and that certain repairs are being effected to make it more attractive for tourists.
If the road which I understand is to be built from Queenstown to the lower reaches of the Gordon River is completed, tourists will be able to travel by coach for about 30 miles to the lower Gordon, transfer to the launch and then go up Macquarie Harbour to Strahan. The tourists who have taken the trip in the morning will be able to join the launch, transfer to the coach and complete their journey by road. It will be a magnificent round trip. This road will be of great benefit to the west coast of the island. Later the Commonwealth Government will possibly consider making a grant to Tasmania to enable the State to complete that part of the developmental project now under consideration. I sincerely hope that it will.
We know also that there are vast forest resources in the lower reaches of the Gordon and Franklin Rivers. The access roads which always follow new hydroelectric development will open up these new stands of timber for us. Provision of access roads could also lead to new mineral discoveries. I have spoken on previous occasions in this chamber about Queenstown and its copper mine and of the dependence of the 4,000 people in Queenstown and the neighbouring towns of Strahan and Gormanston on the well-being of the Mount
Lyell copper mine. But this mine cannot last forever so we who love the west coast and its people - I spent five years there - are always hoping for fresh discoveries. The life of the open cut mine at Queenstown is estimated to be from ten to twelve years, and the estimated life of the underground mine is twenty years. If the company can devise economical methods of underground mining the estimated life of the Mount Lyell copper mine, which means so much to this part of Tasmania and is in fact its life blood, will be not more than 30 years. I pay tribute to the Mount Lyell company because only recently it sent experts to Sweden, Canada, the United States of America and other leading mining countries to find some economical means of mining underground ore. If these means can be found, the mine’s life may be extended for an additional twenty years.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- The purpose of this bill is to grant Tasmania £2,500,000 to assist the State to finance the construction of a development road into the Gordon River area. The proposed road will accord with Tasmania’s standards. It will have a minimum width of 22 feet and will extend for approximately 50 miles from the existing road connexion through to the junction of the Gordon and Serpentine rivers. As has been pointed out by previous speakers, an excellent case for the road was prepared, not by any member of the Tasmanian Government but by the Commissioner of the Tasmanian Hydro-electric Commission, who stated that based on experience gained by the Public Works Department and the commission the estimated cost of this road is £50,000 a mile and that it will take approximately two years to build.
Under the heading of “ Synopsis “ the Commissioner at the commencement of his report referred to the use of nuclear or thermal power as an alternative to hydroelectric power. He said -
Ample water resources remain to be developed, and it is confidently estimated that they could produce power at costs lower than those of orthodox thermal or nuclear generation.
Later in the report under the heading “ Alternative Sources of Power Considered “
Mr. Knight, the Commissioner, stated that studies by the commission’s engineers, which have been confirmed by authoritative external advice, have indicated that neither orthodox thermal nor nuclear power is yet competitive in cost with power derived from water resources in Tasmania although it is recognized that the situation may change in the future. Mr. Knight therefore recognizes the possibility that there might be a change in the situation. This is a scientific approach, as one would expect from a man of Mr. Knight’s standing. To June, 1963, the commission had expended, or invested as Mr. Knight terms it, some £117,000,000 in the development of the water power resources of our State. Despite this, he states that the complete development of the Gordon and King rivers will involve the State in a capital expenditure of at least £150,000,000 spread over twelve years.
At this stage I would sound, not a note of discouragement - because like all Tasmanians and all honorable members I welcome this bill as a step forward - but a note of warning as to whether the expenditure of £150,000,000 over twelve years in the future to develop the Gordon River area is a wise move when one remembers that the total expenditure to date has been only £117,000,000. It is to be hoped that if this proposal is implemented there will be no repetition of the 15 per cent. industrial power cut that was experienced in November last year. One must be fair in these matters, and I admit that last year was a very dry one in Tasmania but, being equally fair, I must say that we had experienced years of low rainfall previously, such as 1933-34 and 1949-50.
– But your load has become heavier.
– As the honorable member for Macquarie says, the load has become heavier, but I would remind him of his own statement made earlier to-day that our power output doubles about every ten years. The honorable member produced figures in this connexion.
Influenced, no doubt, by the fact that there will be a State election in Tasmania in the very near future, both the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Luchetti) and the honorable member for Braddon (Mr. Davies) have stressed the way in which cheap power has attracted industry to Tasmania. They have read passages from the report of Mr. Knight in connexion with this aspect of the situation. At page 2 of the statement Mr. Knight said -
Tasmanian industrial undertakings of national importance include the following: -
Electrolytic Zinc Co. of Australasia Ltd.
Comalco Aluminium (Bell Bay) Ltd.
Tasmanian Electro Metallurgical Company Pty. Ltd.
Australian Commonwealth Carbide Co. Ltd
Australian Newsprint Mills Ltd.
Associated Pulp & Paper Mills Ltd.
Members of this Parliament know what kinds of industries these are. The Tasmanian Government has based its industrial hopes on cheap and plentiful power, but Tasmania finds itself in a position of spending millions of pounds - £117,000,000 up to date - on developing cheap power to develop the basic materials for highemployment industries in other parts of Australia, and I will ask the honorable member for Macquarie and the honorable member for Braddon this question: Have these increases in power output meant commensurate increases in employment opportunities? I think the people of Tasmania might consider this question when the State election comes around.
As has been mentioned by my colleague, the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Falkinder), I propose to discuss the importance of this grant to Tasmania mainly from the viewpoint of tourism. In my maiden speech in this House I emphasized the importance to Australia, and to my own State of Tasmania, of the tourist industry. I regret that the Tasmanian Government has seen fit to put the cart before the horse. I do not like to see the tourist potential of the Gordon River area* being opened up simply as an afterthought to further development of our very good hydroelectric system. I would agree with earlier speakers who suggested that this grant for an access road could be justified on its importance to the tourist industry alone. I would also agree with earlier speakers that the opening up of this area is of great importance to the timber industry, but I have nothing further to add in connexion with that industry other than to say that when the area is opened up the use that is made of it will depend on private enterprise and government assistance. The opportunity is being taken, as a result of this Commonwealth grant, to open up the area, but what happens in the future in that area is up to Tasmania.
I was fortunate enough to fly down to the Gordon River area in an aero club aircraft in early 1950. The aircraft landed at Lake Pedder and 1 spent about three weeks walking in the area. In fact 1 might claim to have a closer knowledge of the Gordon River than most honorable members because I fell off a flying fox when crossing the upper Gordon River during my three week’s tramp in the area. Like the honorable member for Braddon, I have also had the opportunity of making a launch trip up the beautiful Gordon River. I remind honorable members that although the tourist potential of the area has not been touched by the State Government, having mind what the future holds, there are available aero club charter flights into the rugged south-west area. If weather conditions permit, one may land on the shores of Lake Pedder, and if one is intrepid enough, or perhaps foolhardy enough, one can spend weeks walking in the area. If one does not choose to remain any time on the ground, one may fly and look at the scenery. Now, due to the intervention of the Commonwealth Government by making this grant available, people will, in the future, be able to drive into the area. With regard to the idea of extending the road at a later date through the Franklin River area to meet the Lyell Highway, I agree with the honorable member for Braddon that the proposition is feasible, although I would emphasize that at present it is only a possibility because the area has not been surveyed.
It has been suggested that we will have available a nice round-trip drive for tourists because the Franklin River area will be opened up by a further access road which will join the access road to be built as a result of this grant, and there will then be a road right through to the Lyell Highway. As a Tasmanian, and one particularly interested in our tourist industry, I would like to see this come about, but let us not be premature, because the immense cost of building roads in this area might very well make the scheme so prohibitive that the Hydro-Electric Commission or the State Government would be unable to undertake a project of such magnitude. I remind honorable members that it is only because of the Commonwealth Government’s grant that we will get the access road covered by the legislation now before us.
One point has been ignored by previous speakers, particularly honorable members opposite, who have referred to the money made available for roads. The money made available under this grant will not be taken into account for the purposes of section 6 of the Commonwealth Aid Roads Act 1959. Tasmania will get this grant without any encroachment being made on moneys being given to us under that act.
In my maiden speech I welcomed this Gordon River access road legislation because, as I said, one can look at the Snowy Mountains scheme and see the tourist activity which followed the development of that scheme. Other speakers have gone into the tourist possibilities of this Gordon River area. All Tasmanians are proud of their natural assets. Other speakers have extolled the natural beauty of the Gordon River area. I join with my colleague, the honorable member for Franklin, in suggesting that the Hydro-Electric Commission and the State Government, in going ahead with this project, should exercise the utmost care to preserve our natural assets. Already the Hydro-Electric Commission has destroyed our Shannon Rise. Again being fair, I must say that it was argued that fishermen are only a very small minority in Tasmania and that although the Shannon Rise was of world-wide importance, minority interests have to go before the interests of the community as a whole. If it is in the interests of Tasmania’s hydroelectric development that a good fishing spot, where the caddis moth breeds and where fishermen could get their bags of larger-than-usual trout more readily than they could at other places, should go, then it must be agreed that the interests of progress are paramount. I do not quibble at that but, as the honorable member for Franklin has pointed out, there is a possibility of much of the area being covered up by water, and I suggest that wherever possible the utmost care should be exercised by the State Government when it goes ahead with the development of the middle Gordon River area.
I commend the bill and I join with earlier speakers on this side of the House in welcoming it, but, as honorable members will have gained from the arguments I have advanced, I welcome the bill for reasons that are probably different from those of honorable members opposite.
.- I hate to have to say this, but had there not been an election in November of last year we would not be discussing this bill to-day. Why should we quibble about such a statement as that? The Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) was playing politics as hard as he could when, following a question by the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Falkinder), he so unexpectedly announced the Government’s decision in October last year. Honorable members on this side of the House were so surprised that we were not sure whether it was a joke, so suddenly did it come upon the scene. I am glad that the measure is now before us, but let us be quite frank about how it came into being. In spite of the remarkable case presented by Mr. Knight, the Government waited for quite a long time before the Prime Minister took the opportunity presented by the approach of the general election last November to promise this assistance to the Tasmanian people. I am absolutely positive that we would not have seen this measure for another six months or twelve months had it not been for the election.
I realize that the Prime Minister had to do something for Tasmania because for the last thirteen or fourteen years he has shamefully neglected Tasmania’s development. I am not so unkind as not to recognize what has been done for Tasmania in the field of shipping. We have very fine passenger and cargo shipping services. We have the “ Princess of Tasmania “ and the “ Bass Trader “, and the “ Empress of Australia “ is on the way. These shipping facilities are very good and have helped us tremendously but they cannot be regarded as national development. National development is an entirely different subject. Since 1951 not a penny has been spent by this Government on development in Tasmania. Now, Government supporters praise the Government now for its plan to spend £2,500,000, but what is that amount compared with the £366,000,000 that the Commonwealth Government has given as non-repayable grants or has made available as loans to the other State? That figure cannot be challenged because it is compiled from official documents through which I searched, without success, for a record of a grant to Tasmania for its development since 1951. It has been argued that we have not advanced any worthwhile scheme. That is utterly ridiculous.
– What about the thermal power station?
– I am coming to that. The Premier of Tasmania has suggested several projects to this Government but they have been arrogantly rejected.
The project proposed in this bill is the construction of 50 miles of road to open up a new area. The amount of £2,500,000 is to be spent over four years, although the road will take only about two years to build. We are grateful for the legislation which will enable the construction of this road into virgin territory. A lot of wonderful things will result from the construction of this road. First, a road gives access to vehicular traffic. Secondly, it gives access to pioneers in the fields of farming, grazing, timber-getting and mineral search and to tourists. Such avenues are opened whenever a road is built into a new area. In this case access is also provided for power development on a scale so gigantic that it will surprise anybody interested in this subject. The honorable member for Denison (Mr. Gibson) mentioned £173,000.000 as the cost of completing the formidable Gordon River power scheme. This means that the scheme approaches the size and capacity of the Snowy Mountains scheme. Apart from the proposed road, the only means of getting to the area is by helicopter and obviously development on the scale envisaged could not be carried out by that means. A road can tame a jungle and some of the growth in the Gordon River area certainly is jungle. The road will make known the unknown and will be a tremendous asset to the State.
In Tasmania the hydro-electric power facilities link 98 per cent, of the island. Only a few pockets of farmers in country districts are left without power. The honorable member for Franklin and I have large country electorates which contain small pockets of farmers who do not have power facilities because the cost of providing them is too great for the few people involved. I am hopeful that the financial restrictions will be lifted to enable these isolated folk to get power. After all, the power facilities were built for them just as much as for those people in the city who have electricity connected to their new homes immediately they are completed. These small pockets of farmers in Tasmania are just as important to Australia as are home builders in Launceston and Hobart. Those are my views and I do not care who knows them. Country people deserve to have power facilities and should not have to pay such high guarantees to obtain them, particularly when we are spending such an enormous amount of money on power development for industry in the State.
The Hydro-Electric Commission of Tasmania is largely a law unto itself. It is a tremendous organization which employs thousands of workers. May I say to the honorable member for Denison that die Tasmanian people appreciate only too well the employment capacity of our hydroelectric schemes. Employment is made available for almost the whole range of workers. However, trouble will come when we finish building the big dams. Although a lot of workers are used in constructing dams to supply hydro-electric power, very few workers are required to run the power stations. The reverse is true of thermal power. Not many men are required to build thermal power stations but many men are required to run them and mine coal for them. In that sense, a thermal power station is a better employer of labour in the long run than is a hydro-electric power scheme.
My criticism of this Government is that it delayed for so long before giving Tasmania a small slice of federal money for national development. It is appreciated that the money made available through this measure will not affect grants made under the Commonwealth Aid Roads Act; in other words, it is to be a road grant over and above all other road grants, as was stated by the honorable member for Denison. We are grateful for that exemption. However, the Government has had a chance to help Tasmania by providing funds for the construction of a thermal power station as it has done in New South
Wales and in other States with oustanding success. The honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Luchetti) can correct me if I am wrong in my figures, but I believe that the new Vale’s Point thermal power station, erected at a cost of about £40,000,000 on Lake Macquarie, will provide power at a cost of .45d. per unit. A hydro-electric power station would have to be built very cheaply to provide power at that price. All the talk about a thermal power station being too expensive to erect is eyewash when one considers the available figures on thermal power development. The Government has refused point-blank to help us in the construction of a thermal power station in the Fingal valley in my electorate although the Premier of Tasmania has sought this project. In that area in about seven years the number of coal miners has been reduced from 250 to 90 and some mines have been closed because of the competition from oil as fuel.
We put to the Government that a thermal station would be a supplementary source of power. Only a country with no vision would dare to say that you must not have a supplementary source of power alongside hydro power. Tasmania is the only country that I know with a strong hydro-electric development that does not have a supplementary source of power. Japan, Switzerland, Canada and the United States of America all have thermal and hydro-electric stations. Recently, as the honorable member for Denison said, industry in Tasmania was cut by 15 per cent, because of water shortages in the Great Lake area. Our capacity was down to 38 per cent. We cannot control nature. Man has done an awful lot in this world, but he cannot control nature yet. He cannot say when the rain will come and when it will not come. Maybe this is a very good thing, because one group of persons would want rain when another group did not. Man will never control nature, thank God. But we have to do what we can and Tasmania had to cut hydro power to industry by 15 per cent, because of the fear that water storages would become less and less through the drought of the last several years.
Mr. Knight is a very clever man, but he is not clever enough to overcome the problem created by variable seasons. Tasmania needs a thermal power station to supply power during dry periods and to feed into our grid electricity produced by coal instead of water. I do not say that Mr. Knight is opposed to a thermal power station, but he has not given us much support in our requests for one. He is hydro-power mad. Of course he is; he is the big man in the hydro story. But the true story of thermal power has not been told, even to the committee that met two years ago in Tasmania. The cost of hydro-electricity given to the committee was based on the present Meadowbank scheme in the Derwent Valley. It was estimated that the power stations there would be built for .48 pence a unit. With this these three stations, in the Lower Derwent about a dozen stations will ba using the same water, just as the power stations in the Tennessee Valley scheme in America use the same water.
The new scheme commenced on the Forth and Mersey Rivers in the western part of my electorate will cost £60,000,000. The cost will be .58 pence per unit. This was not mentioned at the time the committee met two years ago to consider the provision of thermal power in the Fingal valley. The true story of thermal power has not been told. It has been found on the mainland that a thermal power station can be built at a cost of .48 pence a unit. Thermal costs are being reduced as hydro costs increase.
– What about maintenance costs? There is a big difference between the two systems.
– Not necessarily. There are big maintenance costs in the production of electricity. We asked the Commonwealth Government to provide £10,000,000 for a thermal power station and our request was refused. When the Government sold the Bell Bay plant to Comalco Aluminium (Bell Bay) Limited, it received £10,000,000 and we asked that this amount be re-invested in Tasmania in a thermal power station in the Fingal valley.
– Why did you not ask for £100,000,000?
– Because we are very modest. Now we will spend a quarter of this amount on a road. Admittedly it will open up a hydro-power development, but it seems stupid to me to throw overboard a proposal for a thermal power station which would give permanent employment to 125 coal-miners and provide supplementary power during dry winters and in times of drought. The refusal to build a thermal power station is most shortsighted. The Commonwealth Government at the moment will not come to the party on this proposal, but we will continue to press for a thermal station.
In a most instructive speech this afternoon, the honorable member for Braddon (Mr. Davies) stressed the value of hydropower to industry in Tasmania. In this respect, I would like to mention the Poatina scheme which has been almost completed about 45 miles south of Launceston on the western side of the Western Tiers at a cost of about £27,000,000. Mr. Knight’s knowledge of hydro power, in my opinion, is unequalled in Australia and he is reported in a newspaper of 6th March as having said -
The first generating unit at the new Poatina power station is producing sufficient power to meet the needs of all the paper-making plants in Tasmania and the ferro-manganese plant at Bell Bay.
When the second and third units come into commission soon the power output of the State will exceed 1,000,000 h.p.
Mr. Knight said this when the first unit went into operation at Poatina. The newspaper report continued - . . this machine alone would be capable of meeting the total demand of Tasmania’s entire paper-making industry in the plants at Boyer, Burnie, Wesley Vale, and Geeveston, together with the demand of the ferro-manganese plant at Bell Bay.
The report also stated -
Poatina power station was notable for the very high head of water, 2,730 ft., under which the turbines operated.
That is the flow from the Great Lake down the pipelines, through tunnels in the Western Tiers and down to the underground station. This underground station in fact is bigger than TI on the Snowy Mountains scheme. The head of water at Poatina is 2,730 feet high. This is easily the highest head in Australia and is among the highest in the world. The newspaper report continued: -
The Great Lake Power Development was approved by Parliament-
That is the Tasmanian Parliament - in 1957 at an estimated cost of £27,350,000.
Construction work was near its end and the development would be completed within the estimate, in spite of the marked increases in the costs of wages and materials that had occurred during the construction period.
The underground power station would ultimately house six generating sets, with a total rated output of 300,000 kilowatts. Five sets were being installed in the first instance.
The water of the tailrace, after use through the Poatina turbines, flowed by the Lake and South Esk rivers, to increase the electrical output of the Trevallyn power station at Launceston.
This power station is providing most of the power for Bell Bay. The report went on -
With the commissioning of the third Poatina machine the State’s generating system would pass the 1,000,000 h.p. mark. When in full operation Poatina power station would increase the system’s annual output of electricity by more than 25 px.
The station will be in full operation within the next eighteen months.
This is a wonderful performance for a small island like ours and one must pay tribute to the State Labour Government for its continued faith in hydro-power for industry and for the faith displayed by private enterprise in coming to Tasmania to enjoy the cheapest power available in Australia. When an election is imminent, our opponents say that the power in Tasmania is not the cheapest in Australia, that industry can get cheaper power on the mainland. I could repeat the figures, but the honorable member for Braddon gave the lie direct to that statement when this afternoon he gave the costs of power to industry throughout Australia. He showed that Tasmania has by far the cheapest power. That is why so many big industries with operations throughout Australia have come to Tasmania. We know that more industries want to come to Tasmania, and we must give them assurance. I say quite definitely that our power supplies must be continuous and IS per cent, cuts should not be imposed from time to time. We have to have a thermal power station if we are to provide continuous supplies of power. I do not care who knows it: That is my firm belief. I shall keep fighting until a Labour government sits on the benches opposite, for a Labour government will see that a thermal power station is built in Tasmania. That is a firm promise and will remain a firm promise.
The honorable member for Braddon quoted domestic power charges. The annual statistics of the Electricity Supply Associa tion of Australia for the year ended 30th June, 1962, show the following charges: - Tasmania, 1.71d. per unit; South Australia, 2.2d.; Victoria, 2.37d.; New South Wales, 2.52d.; Western Australia, 3.14d. Queensland was not quoted at that time. When we consider those figures, there is no doubt that domestic charges in Tasmania are lowest. The average price paid for industrial power in Tasmania is .55d. for a kilowatt hour. The next lowest is the South Australian charge of 1.97d., followed by the Victorian rate of 2.19d. The honorable member for Braddon mentioned six formidable industries that are producing for export. They are well established in Tasmania and are obtaining cheaper power there.
– How about dealing with the road?
– Before I conclude I would just like to mention the Gordon River road. I have already mentioned it three or four times. I have not had the privilege of seeing this new area that is to be opened up. It is in the part of my electorate where Gabbett made a meal of his companions, and I have not had any desire to go there. Gabbett started his wanderings in the electorate of Braddon. He got hungrier and hungrier as he got into the Wilmot electorate, and he ended up in Hobart at the end of a rope, which was very unfortunate for him. He wandered through all the territory that will be opened up by this road, and was probably the first man to walk through this virgin country. Now, I mention the road for the fifth time, for the benefit of the honorable member for Denison. If he reads this speech afterwards he will see that I have referred to this road many times. It is to start at a place called Kallista in my electorate, near Maydena, which is the home of our champion axeman, Doug. Youd, who has just performed so well at the Sydney Royal Easter Show. The road will go down to the junction of the Gordon and Serpentine Rivers, SO miles to the south. I am not really sure whether at that stage it will enter the Franklin electorate. If it will, it will cross only a small part of it.
Electric power provided by the three Gordon River power stations will be distributed in three electorates which meet at the river junction. Those are the electorates of Braddon, Wilmot and Franklin. So we all shall be interested in this project from the electoral point of view. We shall be visiting the men down there, I suppose, when the power project gets under way. I shall doubtless see the honorable member for Denison, the honorable member for Franklin and the honorable member for Braddon down there looking up their electors, and I shall probably be down there looking up my electors. We shall have a lot of electoral work to do there when this great scheme really gets under way.
– You will go in on this access road.
– We shall use this access road.
In conclusion, there are one or two points that should be mentioned in respect of the cost to the Hydro-Electric Commission of finding the money for this great and wonderful power project. The commission has floated loans from time to time and has paid fairly high rates of interest for the money borrowed, although the loans are provided out of taxes to which Tasmania contributes. I have often said that the Commonwealth method of raising money in taxes and giving it back in loans at considerable interest makes Ned Kelly look like a Sunday school teacher.
– Enough of that.
– You happen to have the same name, but I do not think you are related.
When the Commonwealth lends money for this sort of hydro-electrical development that is being undertaken in Tasmania, it charges high rates of interest on money that we have partly contributed ourselves. In Tasmania, we are spending nearly £3,000,000 a year on interest charges on money that we have borrowed from this so-called beneficent and benevolent Federal Government that lends back the money that it took from us originally and charges us 3 per cent, or 4 per cent, interest. That shows the kind of generosity extended by this Commonwealth Government. This system is one-sided. It imposes a very heavy burden on States which have to find so much to meet the interest on loan moneys ^provided by the Commonwealth.
I fully commend the expenditure of this money. I hope that with the co-operation of the State Government - which I am sure will still be a Labour government after 2nd May - and of the Hydro-Electric Commission and the Commonwealth, we shall have a scheme worthy of great praise in the future.
.- As the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie) said at the outset, it seems a pity to introduce politics into the discussion on a measure such as this one, which will bring progress to the State of Tasmania. He said that the announcement of the expenditure of £2,500,000 on the Gordon River road project was made in the closing stages of the last Parliament just before the election. The Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt), in his second-reading speech, pointed out that the decision resulted from a request by the Tasmanian Government for assistance in implementing further stages of the hydro-electric undertaking. Does the honorable member for Wilmot think that if an election - and elections come along every three years or perhaps at more frequent intervals - had not been approaching almost immediately, the Federal Government would have refused the application by the Tasmanian Government? If he thinks that the grant of this money was an election stunt, how does he view the action of the Labour Government in 1949 when the first sod, and only the first sod, of the Snowy Mountains Hydroelectric Scheme was turned? Does the honorable member think that these are only election stunts? I am not arguing for or against any proposal, but if the present one was an election stunt, the other, in 1949 in the closing stages of the Labour Government, must also have been an election stunt. By that time, the people had many other things on which to vote, and they voted according to the way they wanted the Government to run this country in the future.
I do not care whether this road starts in the electorate of Braddon, Wilmot or Franklin, because anything of a progressive nature that happens in Australia benefits every part of the country. As you know, I, as an Australian Country Party member, represent an electorate in the mainland State of Victoria, and I view this scheme most favorably, as do all my Country Party colleagues in this Parliament. It is the Country Party’s policy that we have these roads opened up so that they will bring greater progress to Australia. No matter in what part of Australia a road is, the whole of Australia must reap some benefit from it indirectly because it promotes development.
I am not acquainted with the Gordon River region. Therefore, I listened most attentively and with great interest this afternoon to what was said about this road. I also note that the Tasmanian Government advised that the road would cost £2,500,000. That is the amount provided for in this measure and therefore the Commonwealth is providing the total sum required for the construction of this road, which I believe will do much to develop a number of schemes. It will give experts full opportunity of making the further investigations mentioned in the Hydro-Electric Commission’s report, which has been quoted by many honorable members and referred to by the Minister.
In supporting this measure I am not in any way claiming any knowledge of the project, but I am taking notice of the responsible members who have spoken during the debate. I believe this measure is in the best interests not only of Tasmania but of the whole Commonwealth. I listened with great interest to the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Falkinder) who described the condition of the convicts who worked in this area many years ago. We are going to put a road through to a certain part of the Gordon River. I have in my possession a letter dated 1807 and signed by Governor Collins of Tasmania. In it he describes how men forced their way through to the Derwent River; so it appears that, in trying to open up the country in Tasmania, men had to force their way through the scrub and forests to the rivers as far back as 1808. As the greatgrandson of the man who, in 1852 was the main advocate in the Tasmanian Legislative Council - the colonial parliament - of the discontinuance of the transportation of convicts, I have a great interest in the condition of the convicts in those days.
My great-grandfather, Dr. Adam Turnbull, in the Tasmanian Parliament persistently sought to bring about the discontinuance of the transportation of con victs. His advocacy was successful, but it brought about the displeasure of Sir William Denison, then Governor of Tasmania, and, under instructions from Downing-street, the members chiefly concerned were dismissed. Transportation ceased, however. Many honorable members in this Parliament, who represent Tasmania, do not know these things - they do not know, for instance, that the whole of the Tasmanian Parliament was once dismissed in the circumstances I have mentioned. I have therefore a certain interest in what has been said during this afternoon’s debate. The Australian Country Party stands firm as the advocate, at every opportunity, of any move to construct new roads and open up new country and new industries in any part of Australia, because we know that these projects mean so much not only to the area immediately concerned but also to the whole of the Commonwealth.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.
Leave granted for the third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr. Swartz) read a third time.
– The first bill to be considered by the committee is the Customs Tariff Bill 1964.
Customs Tariff Bill 1964.
.- As the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly) has signified his intention not to speak to this schedule-
– Unless I am provoked.
– That provokes me, in the absence of any remarks from the honorable member for Wakefield, to indicate simply that the Opposition, because in the main such proposals provide additional tariff protection for an Australian industry, supports this measure. There is no need for me to say very much other than that. The tariff proposals before the committee deal with pillowslips, safflower and a wide variety of other subject-matters. As a rule these measures are not recommended without long and deep research by members of the Tariff Board or those sections of authority associated with the board which are charged with the responsibility of examining these matters. It is indeed rare for the Opposition to dissent from the recommendations of the Tariff Board, though that is not to say that there are not occasions when we express dissatisfaction. The recommendations with which we are dissatisfied invariably either recommend that no action be taken or, on the contrary, recommend that the tariff protection for Australian products be reduced. In this legislation there are, in most instances, minor increases provided for and, in other cases, important increases, and the Opposition is prepared to let the matter go at that.
Schedule agreed to.
.- I want to address myself to this provision for duty on timber, which springs from a recent Tariff Board report. The best thing that can be said about the report in which the new duties are recommended is that it recommends the removal of quantitative restrictions imposed by the Special Advisory Authority or in accordance with his report. It is worth noting that the Special Advisory Authority has had power, for almost two years now, to impose quantitative restrictions, and I think the Tariff Board has had that power for about eighteen months. It is worth noticing, also, that there is not one quantitative restriction now in operation which was imposed to protect an industry in the ordinary way and recommended either by the Special Advisory Authority or the Tariff Board.
One would expect these people - because they are experts on this question - to use the methods of protection which they think are wisest. Because they have not used this method, one would assume they do not think it is effective. It is also worth noticing that no economists have recommended quantitative restrictions in the usual way of protection. The reason for this is not hard to find and I will give a specific illustration based on timber. When quantitative restrictions were imposed on timber at the end of June, 1962, as the result of the report of the Special Advisory Authority, a constituent of mine, who is a sawmiller and builder, was caught wilh only a small import quota for Oregon timber and, after his quota was used up, had to buy from merchants who had bigger quotas. The timber he obtained under his own quota cost him 114s. per hundred super, feet at the ship’s side. Timber he bought from a merchant and which came out of the same ship - he picked up the timber in the same place in both instances - cost him 159s. per hundred super, feet. Allowing the usual merchants’ margin of 1 6s. per hundred super, feet he was paying, at the very lowest, an extra 29s. per hundred super, feet, not for the timber but for the right to buy from the merchant who had the quota; and, more than that, he was forced to take timber of very inferior quality. Quantitative restrictions, to have any protective effect, must limit supplies. If the supply of goods is limited they become scarce and if they become scarce they become dearer. There are two ways by which to make quantitative restrictions work. You can have prices control to stop prices from rising or you can have a religious revival to alter the character of the people so that they do not want to make as much money as possible. Unless you accept either or both of those solutions you must accept the proposition that quantitative restrictions are hopelessly inefficient as a method of protecting industry.
There is another problem associated with quantitative restrictions in addition to the temptation for licence holders to take unreasonable profits. In the case of timber, quotas were fixed on the position that existed in June, 1962, when the Special Advisory Authority made his report. The quotas then fixed were a measure of the usage of timber at that time. But things change. The present position is not the same as the position that existed when Sir Frank Meere made his report. We are building more houses to-day than we were building in 1962. In South Australia we are forced to build them on land that cracks more than the land on which we used to build our houses. Because of this we have to use more brick veneer construction. This means that we are using more timber. Mousing authorities in South Australia have told me that the only thing standing in the way of a grim shortage of timber in the State is a shortage of labour to use the timber. Even with this limiting factor, a shortage of timber may not be avoided in the near future because of the length of time that has elapsed since the restrictions were imposed. If quantitative restrictions are to be used they must be revised at least annually, otherwise changed circumstances will make them out of date.
To use quantitative restrictions as a protective device is the same as recommending an annual change of tariff. What kind of stability would you get with that set-up? How big would the Tariff Board need to be to do that kind of job? It would need to have 20 or 30 members. If the Tariff Board cannot handle the task it will have to be done by the Department of Trade and Industry. If that happens what becomes of the principle that the level of protection should be fixed by the Tariff Board and not by the Department of Trade and Industry? Does the Labour Party still advocate selective quantitative restrictions as a method of protecting industry? The Labour Party is not sure why it advocates selective quantitative restrictions, except that the phrase sounds impressive. There is no difference between selective quantitative restrictions and import licensing. Quantitative restrictions are always selective and an import licence is itself another name for a quantitative restriction. If the Labour Party continues to advocate this method of protection it should tell us why. After all, it is still the alternative government. I understand that shortly before the last elections it expected to be the government. If the Labour Party had been returned to power and if we may believe its spokesmen, we would now be saddled with import licensing once again, not to protect our trade balances as was the case in the past, but to protect industry. The Labour Party should tell us why it recommends quantitative restrictions. It should tell us why it thinks the economists are wrong. I commend this exer cise to the honorable member for Scullin (Mr. Peters), who is usually accepted as Labour’s spokesman on trade matters. To make import licensing or quantitative restrictions work we will have to have prices control again or a religious revival. Which docs the honorable member for Scullin advocate? Now would be a good time for the honorable member to state his party’s policy.
Having got quantitative restrictions off my chest, as the Tariff Board did, let me look closer at the board’s report and see what its recommendations mean. The board raised the duty on building oregon from 6s. to 9s. for the common flitch sizes - 6 in. by 12 in. The duty on this size is still quite small. It works out at about 12 per cent, ad valorem. But if the Oregon comes in in smaller sizes the new duty rises quite rapidly. The idea is to bring the timber into Australia in as large a size as possible and so encourage more sawing to be done here. This sounds sensible, but there are two disadvantages. At present there is usually about a 10 per cent, wastage in sawdust if these big flitches are cut up here. If we encourage the sawing into small sizes in Australia we must realize that we are paying freight on sawdust, which does not seem particularly sensible to me. Further, the original timber is graded for strength on the assumption that the large piece will be used as a beam. When resawn to smaller sizes neither the quality nor the strength of the smaller sizes has any relation to the original grading. Shrinkage plus waste necessitates that resawn sections are about 20 per cent. less than their nominal size.
The. second disadvantage lies more in the future, but it seems serious to me. It is almost certain that large size Oregon will be much harder to buy in the near future as the large trees become harder to obtain. The Tariff Board recognized this fact in its report. It recognized that oregon and hemlock in North America will be harder to obtain in large sizes. The board expressed surprise that oregon cut into small sizes was often cheaper than Oregon in the large flitch size. But it did not bring the two facts together and did not recognize that large size oregon is getting dearer because it is getting scarce, and so small size oregon is becoming comparatively cheaper. The new duty on large size Oregon will not affect building costs very much for the present, but the future will have to be watched with great care. The increased duties on joinery or second fixing timbers are very serious as far as South Australia is concerned. Because of the scarcity of such timbers from Tasmania and because the Tasmanian sawmillers are unwilling to produce enough of the larger sizes required due to increased kiln drying costs, it looks as though the new duties on these timbers will do nothing except to make house building and furniture construction more expensive, at least in South Australia. The increased duties may help sawmillers in Western Australia and Tasmania but at the present rate of house building in those States it is very likely that there will be a shortage of these timbers anyhow. If this happens the duties will do nothing but increase the cost of house building and furniture making.
Looking at the matter in a detached way, it seems a bit queer to be discouraging the importation of timber from other countries when it is obvious that there will be a shortage in those countries in ten years1 time because they are over-cutting their supplies now. At the same time we in Australia are over-cutting our supplies and in ten years’ time we will experience a shortage of Australian timber. The opinion of the Tariff Board and all technical advice confirm that view. It is odd that the two ten-year periods will coincide and that we will be short of timber in Australia at a time when overseas suppliers will have great difficulty in supplying our needs. It is difficult for the Tariff Board or for the Government to take a disinterested view. If one takes the short-term view of the wellbeing of the industry it appears that the Tariff Board report is, in general terms, sound, although it bears rather harder on South Australia than on other States.
.- On occasions I have had the temerity to suggest in this chamber that protective tariffs are not sufficient to protect our industries and that occasionally quantitative restrictions are not only desirable but also essential. The honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly) considers that anybody who suggests that quantitative restrictions should be applied in any section of our trade is doing a disservice to the nation and to its industries. However, the United States of America, as a settled policy, applies quantitative restrictions in connexion with quite a number of its industries.
For instance, if at any time more than 5 per cent, of the textiles necessary to supply the market of the United States is imported, it immediately applies quantitative restrictions. It has refused to allow goods to be imported if they will destroy its industries. Other countries also apply practices in addition to tariffs in order not merely to protect their industries but sometimes to enable their industries to compete unfairly with the industries of other countries, even though the other countries have tariffs operating for the protection of what are called efficient and economic industries.
I quote the Board of Trade in the United Kingdom as an example. That board has put this practice into operation in regard to not one industry but quite a number of industries. It has said to the retailers of a particular commodity: “You shall be permitted to sell within the United Kingdom at such-and-such a price, such-and-such a percentage of the goods that you have for disposal.” That price is such that it enables the United Kingdom to sell a residual amount of its goods overseas at prices lower than the cost of production. Tactics like that are adopted in order to prevent the adequate operation of tariffs for the protection of industries in other countries.
The honorable member for Wakefield, who attacks my limited support of the proposition that quantitative restrictions are essential for the protection of our industries on some occasions, time and time again has stood in his place and said: “ There is a basic and fundamental principle that must be observed in connexion with the operation of tariffs, and I am its exponent in this chamber. That principle is that tariffs should be applied only to industries that are efficient and economic.” But he has never attempted to explain to us what is an efficient and economic industry. He cannot explain it. The definition of efficient and economic competition by goods from a country such as Japan, where standards of living are much lower than those in Australia, is different from the definition in connexion with an industry operating in
Great Britain or the United States of America. The term “ efficient and economic industry “ is a general one which means whatever the man who uses it intends it to mean at the time.
I have not the slightest hesitation in saying that whether it be the timber industry or any other industry, I advocate maximum local production by Australian operatives. Of course, in saying that, I am not even speaking contrary to the principles that are enunciated by the Government. This Government has said that it is essential that the production of our import replacement industries be increased. It has said that we have to export vastly more than we export at present, or create import replacement industries which will enable us to import less.
That was made clear at an export convention held in Canberra, I think in 1957. It was attended by many leaders of industry whose object was to increase Australia’s exports by £250,000,000 a year within a short period, or to reduce our imports, or to do both. Only recently Sir John Crawford, who was once Secretary of the Department of Trade, said that it is essential that within the next ten years we increase our exports by £400,000,000 a year, or that we reduce our imports, or that we do both to a limited extent.
– Order! I point out to the honorable member for Scullin that the Chair has been reasonably tolerant. In the consideration of the schedules in committee, the discussion is limited to the matters set out in the schedules. This is not a general debate on tariffs and tariff policy. I think the honorable member has had sufficient time in which to elaborate the point that he made.
– -That is right, Mr. Chairman. I agree wholeheartedly with you. All I was endeavouring to do was to defend ray political integrity against the irrational attack that was made on it by the honorable member for Wakefield.
Schedule agreed to.
Sitting suspended from 5.50 to 8 p.m.
Debate resumed from 19th March (vide page 731), on motion by Mr. Adermann -
That the bill be now read a second time.
– There being no objection, that course will be followed.
.- Before the Parliament adjourned for the Easter recess the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) introduced the Meat Industry Bill into this House. This is a comprehensive bill, a bill of major magnitude and the only measure of a comprehensive nature dealing with meat to be introduced into this Parliament since I, as the Minister of the day, presented the 1946 legislation. Small amending bills have been presented in the meantime.
While figures are wearying in a discussion on a measure of this kind, I think, I should cite at least some figures to indicate the importance of the meat industry to the people of the Commonwealth of Australia, and in particular the importance of the meat industry from the point of view of export revenue. Last year our beef, mutton and lamb exports returned to the Commonwealth £96,000,000. The major portion of our meat exports went to the United States of America. In 1963 our cattle population was 18,500,000 and our sheep and lamb population was 158,000,000. While it is true that to some extent sheep and lambs can be divided into two categories inasmuch as sheep of certain kinds - the merino, for instance - are raised for their wool, the wool sheep eventually find their way to the slaughterhouse, to the cannery, to America, to Great Britain and to the Australian consumers. Our overall meat exports in 1963 totalled 368,000 tons whereas our total meat production in that year was 1,614,000 tons. This means that the Australian people consumed the colossal amount of 1,246,000 tons of meat. I emphasize the local consumption, first, because of its major importance generally, and secondly, because it has some particular importance due, the Minister will agree, to certain provisions in the measure now before the House.
An additional interesting fact is that whereas last year the United States consumed about 98 lb. of beef per head of population we in Australia consumed about 92 lb. per head of population. The United States has a cattle population of 103,000,000 and a human population of 180,000,000; so, as a matter of comparison, the people of the United States have a cattle ownership of about 5/9ths of a beast per head whereas we in Australia, with a cattle population of 18,500,000, have a cattle ownership of 1-7/llths of a beast per head. If you regard those figures with mature consideration you probably will come to the conclusion that they indicate that we should be sure of a continuing market of a profitable character in the United States. We have more cattle per head of population than has the United States but it must not be forgotten that America adds to her meat consumption by an enormous quantity of pig meats, poultry, turkeys and so on. Between 1939 and 1963 consumption of meat in Australia per head of population fell by approximately 22 lb. This aspect is covered by certain provisions in the bill which I shall discuss later.
Dealing with the kinds of meat exported, in 1963 we exported 250,000 tons. of beef and veal, 87,000 tons of mutton and lamb and 31,000 tons of other kinds of meat such as pigmeats, canned meats and so on. That indicates the magnitude of the importance of this industry to Australia and the necessity to ensure that as production continues to increase - we hope that it will increase rapidly - and as our population continues to increase at a fairly satisfactory rate, thus providing an expanding home market for our increased production, we have available to us ample export markets.
I have -stated briefly the set-up of the industry. Let us look now at the industry generally. I would say that it is probably the most difficult industry in Australia to manage. On the one hand you have the primary producer on the farm or on the station producing sheep, mutton or pig livestock; on the other hand you have the avenues of disposal of tha live-stock. In general terms, the producer sells in the paddocks to meat export works or to a dealer or else he transports by rail or motor traffic his sheep, cattle and pigs to the nearest, or any, auction market of his choice. For as long as I can remember in Australia, and I suppose in any other country where live-stock is sold by auction, the producer of this valuable stock is confronted with the hazards of the auction market, where his stock is sold on an appearance basis. He has to rely on the decision of the limited number of buyers who happen to attend the auction. He has to face the fact that when auction sales are held - and this applies in respect of sales of many different products - purchasers who are in a position to do so will, despite legislative or other protective devices, combine to reduce the competition. This frequently happens. The price received by a producer for a fat bullock or fat sheep in an auction sale to-day may be widely different from that received by the producer of a similar beast at an auction sale tomorrow, even though the price for the meat remains the same on both home market and export market. We have a haphazard, hopeless, no-end device for disposing of these products. Until now the primary producers have not organized themselves strongly enough to assume greater control of the disposal of their products. To my mind a more satisfactory system would undoubtedly be the weightandgrade system, which I understand i3 in operation in some parts of the. world, but even that system does not finally remove all the hazards of this kind of marketing.
It is true that from time to time State governments have passed anti-lot-splitting legislation. I personally have sold stock and had returns sent to me showing that 1 had sold a certain number of sheep to. one bidder, only to find that those sheep were sent to three different meat processing works. It was obvious that one man had bid on behalf of the three different works. This is the kind of practice that is indulged in from time to time in auction markets where stock is sold.
There is another practice that is frequently indulged in. At a certain auction, representatives of three different exporting firms may be present to judge the stock available and make their bids. There is not the slightest doubt that on one day of the auction the representative of meat export works A gets the wink from his colleagues representing works B and C that this is his field day. The two other representatives may make some slight display of bidding, but they finally stand out of the bidding and allow the stock to be knocked down to their supposed competitor. The next day it is the turn of one of the other representatives. So the game goes on merrily and the primary producer gets what is left.
I sec that my friend, the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull), is very interested in this. He is an auctioneer, and I am quite sure that he agrees wholeheartedly with everything I have said.- We know that export demand varies, but we should also know that the people who control export buying in Australia have very powerful affiliates, a great number of them with interests in other parts of the world. In Australia the organization known as the Angliss meat company is the property of the great world meat operating concern known as Vestey’s. We should know that the Angliss organization controls a vast number of works in Australia. Let me enumerate them. There is the Riverstone meat company, which also has works at Tenterfield. There is the Queensland Meat Export Company at Ross River and the Central Queensland Meat Exporting Company at Rockhampton, and there are the meat works at Footscray in Victoria, Darwin in the Northern Territory and Daroobalgie in New South Wales. As everybody knows, the Vestey group operates in many parts of the world. It is active, for instance, in the Argentine and in Uruguay. It owns ships and controls freight charges and plays a very large part in determining just what the Australian meat producer will receive for his product on the export market.
Then we come to Thomas Borthwick and Sons, with works at Brooklyn in Victoria, Portland in Victoria, Yahl in South Australia, Moreton in Queensland, Bowen in Queensland and Albany in Western Australia. That organization has six works in all and it is not without some international operating arrangements. I note from the report of the Australian Meat Board that this firm has an office in Canada. However, I think it is very largely locally controlled.
Then we come to Swift Australian Meat Company. We know that the Swift organization is an international firm. In Australia this company has works at South Brisbane in Queensland, Newport in Victoria, Alligator Creek in Queensland and Gladstone in Queensland. I am reminded that it also has works at Maryborough, making five in all.
Then we come to Tancred Brothers, with works at Bourke in New South Wales, Pentland in Queensland and Beaudesert in Queensland. The Wyndham Freezing and Canning and Meat Export Works has its works in Wyndham in Western Australia, and there is also the very large works of Smorgon and Company at Brooklyn in Victoria. I have listed a total of 22 large export works, all with facilities for treating, chilling, canning and exporting meat to the markets of the world. There is no doubt that from time to time these large organizations determine what the primary producer in Australia will get for his products.
I have given one side of the picture. Who is prepared to try to devise a more satisfactory method of dealing with the meat marketing situation? I am quite sure this Government will make no attempt to do so. Although the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) is a member of the Australian Country Party, and although the leader of his party in Victoria is pleading most vigorously for an inquiry into the whole system of meat marketing and management, I am sure that this Government will do nothing about it. So the man at the producing end will suffer.
Let us now look at the legislation before us, which represents to some extent the Government’s proposal for dealing with the meat situation in a more satisfactory manner than that in which it is dealt with at the moment. Existing legislation covering this subject includes the Meat Export Control Act 1935-1960, which controls the export of all Australian meat to the markets of the world. It controls the export activities of all export works in Australia. These works are required by the Meat Board to have licensed premises before they can treat, kill, store or transport meat for export. The number of works that the Meat Board licenses in this way is about 150, having complete facilities, and probably there are many more that have simply storage and other facilities.
Then there are associated acts, of which we have had some recital to-night. There is the Cattle Slaughter Levy Collection Act 1960-1961, the Meat Export Charge Act 1935-1954, the Cattle and Beef Research Act 1961, the Meat Agreement (Deficiency Payments) Act 1955-1956 and the Meat Export (Additional Charges) Act 1956. All of these acts operate in association with one another. The Cattle Slaughter Levy Collection Act raises the necessary levy from beef producers for the provision of funds for research and the encouragement of beef production generally. The Meat Export Charge Act provides for a levy on export meat to cover the costs of the board and certain other responsibilities which the board has to assume.
I think something should be said about the existing board. I believe that this board of twelve members has, during the period it has operated with its limited charter, done a reasonably good job. I think that the country has been fortunate to have for the board so capable a chairman as Mr. Shute and such capable personnel as members. At present twelve members constitute the board. The chairman is appointed by the Government; seven members represent producers of various types of meat, two members represent meat exporters, one member represents publicly-owned abattoirs and meat processing works and one member represents the employees in the industry. The seven producer representatives and the five other representatives have in my opinion done a reasonably good job for the meat producers and for the Australian people, despite the board’s somewhat limited charter. Of the seven representatives of producers, three represent lamb producers, one represents mutton producers, two represent beef producers and one represents pig producers.
Without offering any logical explanation the Minister has informed the Parliament that under the new legislation the membership of the board is to be reduced to nine. Representation of the publicly-owned meat killing and treatment works - owned by municipalities and State governments - is to be eliminated. They do not appear to count at all; their representation is nibbed out. Representation of producers is to be confined to five members and of meat exporters to two members. The chairman may be appointed only after consultation between the Minister and the Australian Meat Board Selection Committee, a committee constituted jointly by the Australian Woolgrowers and the Graziers Council and the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation on 27th February, 1964, for the purpose of recommending appointees to the Australian Meat Board. Why in the name of fortune is it necessary for the Government to consult a selection committee before a chairman may be appointed? The chairman is not even to be the Government representative. He is simply to be appointed as chairman after consultation with the selection committee. It is true that in addition a government representative is to be appointed. We have not been told how the government representative will be appointed, but I take it that he will be a high officer of the Department of Primary Industry.
The names of the five representatives of the primary producers will be supplied by the selection committee constituted jointly by members of one primary producers’ organization and members of another such organization.
– The selection committee has nine members.
– That is so. The selection committee of nine members will supply the names of the representatives of the primary producers to the Minister. Under the powers conferred by the legislation the Minister may ask for additional names. There is no provision for any other organization to have any say in the provision of names to the Minister.
The position is similar in regard to the representation of the meat exporters. The Australian Meat Exporters Federal Council will be asked to nominate two representatives. Again the Minister has the power to ask for additional names to be furnished and nobody outside the Australian Meat Exporters Federal Council will have any chance of appointment to the board. Why is there to be this change in the method of appointment to the board and why is the membership being reduced? Why has representation of the publicly-owned meat killing and treatment works been eliminated? Why, in all conscience, has it been decided to eliminate representation of the industrial union covering the employees of the industry, when provision was specifically made for such representation in 1946? The employees in the industry have been represented for eighteen years and there has not been a word of complaint by anybody. In his second-reading speech the Minister has given no reason for discarding representation of a trade union which probably has 10,000 members in Australia. It is a militant organization whose members are doing one of the most unpleasant tasks in creation. After enjoying the right of representation since 1946 the employees are being thrown into the discard. Their representatives are treated in the same brutal manner as the representatives of the publicly-owned abattoirs.
Government supporters need not talk to the Opposition about decentralization when they support legislation which eliminates the representation of publicly-owned meat killing and treatment works. I have a list of such works. In New South Wales works include those with chilling, freezing and storage facilities owned by the Gunnedah Municipal Council, the Council of the Municipality of Dubbo, the City of Maitland Abattoir Department, the City of Greater Newcastle Abattoir Department, the Goulburn City Council, the Wagga Wagga City Council and the Blayney (Abattoir) County Council. In Victoria the owners include the Victorian Inland Meat Authority which has very large works at Ballarat and Bendigo. In South Australia the Government Produce Department owns meat killing works at Port Lincoln. In Queensland the Queensland Meat Industry Board owns meat killing works at Cannon Hill and in Western Australia the State Government Department of Agriculture owns a meat killing works at Fremantle, and the Midland Junction Abattoir Board owns an abbatoir at Midland Junction.
I have also a list of municipality-owned works which have limited storage facilities, but which hold export licences. In New South Wales such works are owned by the Albury City Council and by North-West Abattoirs at Inverell. In Victoria the owners include the Shire of Shepparton and the Shire of Kyneton. In Queensland there are the Ipswich District Abattoir and the Toowoomba District Abattoir Board and in
Tasmania the owners include the King Island Abattoir Board and the Launceston City Council.
To summarize, thirteen State and municipally owned works have complete facilities and eight have limited facilities. Each works has export treatment facilities, an export licence and a number of employees. Each works is owned by the people. How can these works be denied representation on the Australian Meat Board? Originally they were represented by Mr. Healy, manager of the Victorian Inland Meat Authority. Now they are represented by Mr. Hope, but their representation is to be wiped out. Why? Obviously the Minister has conferred with meat exporting interests and they do not want the public abattoirs represented on the meat control authority. They consider such representatives to be an encumbrance. Is it thought that the public authorities might pick up secret information through their representatives on the board, and so might be placed in an advantageous position in respect of the operations of their works, their buying operations and everything else?
So it is out with the representatives of the publicly-owned abattoir authorities. They will not be allowed on the inside to pick up any useful information about new contracts, ruling prices or anything else. It is out with the trade union representative and the board will be very largely in the hands of two men representing the privatelyowned killing, chilling and storage works. What sort of a democracy is this? After all, the union representative has control of men who could paralyze the whole of the meat killing industry in Australia. The team of roughly 10,000 workers whom he represents is as important to the industry as are the meat works owners. The Opposition protests very strongly at the Government, after the policy has been established, abolishing the representation of the employees in the industry.
We take exception to the municipal and State-owned authorities not being represented on the new board because this is a blow at decentralization. The New South Wales Labour Government has spent millions of pounds on the establishment of works at Goulburn, Wagga Wagga and other country centres. It has taken the risk that the works in the country may meet very grave difficulties in competing with other works and may not be able to operate profitably. But all its efforts will have gone for nought because of the failure of this Government to recognize what has been done. We enter our most vigorous protest.
Now let us have a look at the functions of the new authority. The bill states that its objects are, first, to promote and control the export, and the sale and distribution after export, of meat from Australia. The second object is especially important, and the Opposition agrees with its inclusion. The second object is to promote trade and commerce in meat among the States, between States and Territories and within the Territories. That is to say, the board can spend money in promoting the consumption of meat in those areas. The third object is to encourage the production and consumption of meat in the Territories. We know that some work has been done in the Territories and some cattle have been sent to the islands. This is a new power and a good power.
Let us have a look at promotion and see how careful we should be. I have already paid a compliment to the Australian Meat Board. It has been engaged in promotional activities in overseas markets and has done some good work. However, I read that on one occasion the board employed the services of a consultant, as it- has power to do, to examine overseas markets and submit a report to the board. If my reading of the board’s balance sheet is correct, the firm of W. D. Scott and Company Proprietary Limited - I make no reflection on the abilities of the firm - was paid the sum of £23,000. Let us remember that on the board ore representatives of meat exporters, primary producers, the union, the public abattoirs and the Government. In its report the board referred to the report of W. D. Scott and Company Proprietary Limited. It said -
The Board subsequently released the report on a confidential basis-
It is quite obvious that every member of the board knew everything that was in the confidential report. Some of the representatives on the board are in the meat processing business and they may have gleaned some very advantageous information from the confidential report. They have no right, in my opinion, to be given advantageous information as processors or proprietors of meat works that the farmers and public abattoirs do not have. That is one of the reasons why representatives of the public abattoirs ought to be on the board. If anything is to be known, it should be known to the public abattoirs as well as to the private operators. The representatives of the board have no right to confidential information that people in the industry outside cannot obtain. The board said -
The Board subsequently released the report on a confidential basis to federally constituted industry organizations for their consideration. The Board wished to have the views of these organizations before it reached final decisions on some of the more important recommendations.
If I as a meat producer wanted a copy of the report of W. D. Scott and Company Proprietary Limited, I could not get it. This is the same game as was played by the Australian Wool Board when it employed Personnel Administration Limited and paid it £23,000 to report on wool marketing abroad. I as a wool-grower could not get a copy of the report from the Minister or from any one else; yet on the Australian Wool Board are representatives of a variety of organizations, all of which have the inside running. It is about time that this sort of activity ceased. If the Australian Meat Board with its new powers is to promote meat consumption overseas, it is incumbent on the Government to ensure that the board does not make confidential information available to a few selected people.
Let me give an example. A very active and very valuable member of the old board was Mr. F. A. Brodie. He is a representative of beef interests. The firm of F. A. Brodie and Company Proprietary Limited holds a licence to export meat. I ask the - Minister whether the F. A. Brodie who has been given a licence is the same as the F. A. Brodie who is a member of the board..”
– You will not be worried by him. He has passed on.
– I was afraid he had. ‘ Is this the principle that is applied? Was that gentleman on the one hand a representative of beef producers and on the other hand a member of the firm of F. A. Brodie and Company Proprietary Limited? I am not suggesting any corruption or improper practices, but it would be possible for him in his capacity as a member of the board to become possessed of information that would be advantageous to him as a member of the exporting company. This is a matter that the Minister should clear up. The board will have control of licensing for export and will determine the conditions that will apply to the works, sanitation, the equipment of the works, the grading of the product and all the rest of it. I see that a condition that is repeated in the new bill is that exporters will be given the licence only on condition that any primary producer has the right to send his bullocks or lambs to the works, have them treated on a weight-and-grade basis, sent overseas and sold on his behalf. He in turn will pay the licensed export works the charges for the treatment and other costs.
I come now to the finance provisions. Here a desirable provision has been made. The whole of the finance required for the board’s activities - the Minister will correct me if I am not right - will in future come from the operation of the Live-stock Slaughter Levy Act. This will not only cover the operations of the board but will also cover the operations of the committee or authority, constituted under the Cattle and Beef Research Act, which is required to do all things necessary and proper to promote beef research. So there will be one collection of finance and one authority controlling the whole financial provision. In his second-reading speech, the Minister told the Parliament that under the old Meat Export Charges Act £219,000 was provided in 1962-63 and the beef research levy produced £406,000 in the same year. That is a total of £625,000 for the last financial year. We are told, also, that it is expected that the new slaughter levy at the rate of 5s. per head for cattle and 6d. per head for sheep will raise £1,700,000. That is £1,075,000 more than was levied on the primary producers last year for the purposes of the work of the Australian Meat Board and cattle and beef research.
– That increase will be for promotion in the main.
– That is so.
– Expenditure on research will stay as it is.
– The Minister gave the figures under the present scheme. The meat export charge raised £219,000 and the beef research levy raised £406,000 in 1962-63. That is a total of £625,000. The Government estimates now that a levy of 5s. a head on cattle and 6d. a head on sheep will raise a total of £1,700,000. That is exactly £1,075,000 more than was raised in the financial year 1962-63. That is the additional sum that will be taken from the primary producers next financial year. I suggest that it is too much in one hit. The Meat Board could not possibly spend that much in one year unless it was grossly extravagant. The board is becoming as woolly-minded about promotion as the Australian Wool Board is. The situation is ridiculous.
The primary producers of this country have to pay yard dues and commission fees to one of the greatest combines in Australia, which is largely directed by Goldsbrough Mort and Company Limited, merged with Elder Smith and Company Limited, and New Zealand Loan and Mercantile Agency Company Limited, merged with Dalgety and Company Limited. By the time the producers have paid auctioneers’ charges, yard dues and freight, they have been pretty heavily soaked. When they pay another 6d. a head for sheep and 5s. a head for cattle to promote sales of meat in Australia and overseas - the Minister says that the levy is for promotion locally as well as promotion overseas - they will not be over-pleased. Whatever is the outcome of this measure, at least the Minister ought to think about these points again and confer with the people who make recommendations to him on these matters to see whether the charges can be reduced to a more reasonable level.
Now, let me pass to other provisions of the bill. I refer particularly to those that invest the board, as it has been invested under the terms of the present act, with power to require that freight and insurance on exports be at rates approved by it. The provisions in the new bill are almost exactly the same as the provisions of the existing act. We find, from the figures provided by the board, that the producers of meat are soaked in shocking fashion. Since 1955 commercial gangsters have pushed up the freight on beef by 70 per cent., the freight on lamb by 47 per cent., and the freight on mutton by 40 per cent.
All that this Government can do is again to vest the board with the power to approve the freight rates to be paid. The producer or processor has no option and must pay the approved rates. The Government gives no hint that it has any proposal to protect the producers in Australia from the ramifications of the shippers and the insurance companies. Why cannot the Government carry this insurance? Why can it not establish a Commonwealth Government authority that will carry the insurance, in the same way that the insurance on all government-owned property is carried by the Government itself instead of going out to private enterprise? Why cannot the Government carry the insurance on exports and cut down costs in that way? There is no imaginative mind among the members of the Government.
We find another strange provision in the bill. The existing act vested the board with authority to purchase and sell meat.
– And to export it.
– And to export it. That is subject to certain conditions. In this bill, there is the extraordinary provision that before the board can purchase or sell meat it has to assemble a consultative committee, composed of the chairman of the board, four members of the board and four members of the Australian Meat Exporters Federal Council. The committee, in turn, can request an increase in the number of members of the committee, and at the same time increase its own membership on the committee. The board has to get a report from that committee before it can purchase or sell meat. Imagine a situation arising where the meat exporters say that they do not want the board to purchase or sell meat, as could happen. All the exporters* representatives have to do is absent themselves entirely from a proposed meeting of the committee. If they do that, there can be no meeting, because there can be no quorum. Consequently, there will be no report to the Meat Board regarding the purchase or sale of meat. Yet a purchase or sale might be necessary in an emergency or under an international meat agreement. The Opposition will submit some amendments to this unsatisfactory measure. We approve its good features, but we regret that it is not better
– Mr. Deputy Speaker, it is rather significant that the existing Meat Export Control Act 1945-1960, which in its turn repealed the Meat Industry Encouragement Act 1924, is now being repealed by a series of bills which provide for the encouragement of the meat industry in certain respects. Before and since 1924, it was and has been the object of Commonwealth Governments to do what they could to encourage not only the production but also the marketing and export of meat. The bills now before the House have as their basis the encouragement of the export of meat from Australia. The Meat Industry Bill provides for the reshaping of the Australian Meat Board and the enlargement of its powers and functions. But the basic thinking behind the bill aims at the investigation and development of export markets so that it may be possible to market additional quantities of Australian export meat in the near future.
The Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann), in his second-reading speech, emphasized the phenomenal growth that has taken place in Australian meat exports, and he compared the figures of the 1962-63 season with those of the previous five years. In 1957-58, on a bone-in estimated weight basis, approximately 164,000 tons were exported. In 1962-63, this figure had been trebled, the total being almost 500,000 tons. That represented approximately 35 per cent, of the total production of meat in Australia. Admittedly, the 1957-58 season was not a particularly bountiful season, and was below average. Nevertheless, the increase in recent years has been most striking, and has had deep significance. The effects of this increase have been directly communicated, mainly to the beef industry and partly to the dairy industry, which have both been given a most encouraging lift.
In the beef industry, due to the increase in sales to the United States of America in the last few years, the demand for thirdgrade manufacturing meat has meant that off-condition breeders have been readily saleable. I believe that this is a most important feature in helping the Australian cattlemen in the range country where rainfall is uncertain. In the past the price for this type of beef was so low that freight and other charges often made it unprofitable to sell, and, under severe drought conditions, in my experience, stock stayed on properties to rot in the drying water-holes and to leave their bones on the open plains. The demand for third-grade meat has altered the pattern of drought management and made it possible to salvage significant sums from the wreck, when drought comes along.
In a similar way the dairy industry has benefited directly from the United States market for manufacturing meat. This has produced a financial sideline for the dairyman, which must be of great assistance. Any of us who have bad an opportunity of going round the sales of old dairy cows realize that some of the old slab-sided Ayrshire or Friesian cows bring more money than a good beef cow. We realize the importance of this development. From the viewpoint of improved breeding, the high prices for old cull bulls are a direct encouragement to increased investment in better-class young bulls. That is an anomaly, if ever there was one, because the demand is now for third-grade beef and this gives us the opportunity to improve the breeding of cattle on the ranges. It is therefore more than apparent that the availability of the United States market for this type of meat has been of immense financial benefit, particularly to the cattlemen of Australia. It has an even deeper implication. At this time, when the selfappointed experts on northern development are loudly parading to the world at large our national shortcomings in not making full use of the drought-stricken and uncertain rainfall areas of Australia, the boost which has been given to the beef cattle industry through increased prices will do far more to develop ‘the north than win all the hay-wire and impractical suggestions at present being bandied round by people who think that populating the north is just a matter of putting people there without any satisfactory or steady means of livelihood.
I think everybody connected with the industry will understand that there have been signs of storm clouds coming up over the United States market. I think a lot of the feeling behind this measure was that through political influence the United States market could become uncertain for the quantities of meat that we hope to unload in that area and that, by political action, certain restrictions would be placed on Australian meat exports to America. But in the last twelve months - as the Minister said in the second-reading speech - the whole pattern of Australian meat exports has been altered. Again, this may be only temporary, but the British market has been able to absorb a large quantity of meat which normally went to the United States. In addition, for seasonal reasons it is now unlikely that we will be able even to fulfil our quota under the new agreement with the United States. As I have said, storm clouds are appearing in the United States market, and the powerful cattle States lobbies, led by the leader of the majority party in the United States Senate - Senator Mansfield, who comes from the cattle State of Montana - have been playing an active part in trying to restrict the quotas of meat imported into the United States to a five-year period, which would bring our exports considerably below the quotas we have agreed upon in the last agreement between this Government, New Zealand and the United States of America. And although this agreement, if permitted to stand unaltered, is a valuable safeguard for Australian exporters, in fact, due to other international trade variations in the meat market, it looks extremely unlikely that Australia will have available an export surplus of meat to send to the United States anywhere near the quota figure agreed upon.
The fact remains that if our meat industry expands, and greater export surpluses become available, it would be suicide - I think every one realizes this - to attempt to over-indulge and over-exploit the United States of America market, because that would bring very smart retribution. In this atmosphere the bill is aimed at encouraging markets throughout the world, and for this purpose the newly constituted board is to be given considerably wider powers. Under the existing act - the Meat Export Control Act - the board has been almost entirely concerned with the regulation of exports and the supervision of meat grading and quality standards, and it could only trade in meat on behalf of the Commonwealth at the direction of the Minister. Provision is made in this bill for reducing the size of the board - a streamlining process with which I agree, although apparently the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) does not like it, because one or two people he thinks are very worthy were excluded from membership of the board. However, I think that anybody who gives this matter serious consideration will realize that the reduction in size of the board should lead to better and more efficient working, to the benefit of the industry as a whole.
Another point is that the sales of pork and pigmeats are removed from the context of other meats and, in any case, the export of pigmeats from Australia is almost negligible. Provision is also made in the measure for existing research arrangements to continue. Clause 31 makes general reference to the finance available from the revenue collected under the Live-stock Slaughter Levy Act 1964, which provides for a levy on the slaughter of cattle exceeding 200 lb. weight, and on sheep and on lambs. Part of the finance collected will go to the Cattle and Beef Research Fund and the remainder will be paid to the Australian Meat Board for the general purposes outlined in the bill.
I have attempted to outline the object of the legislation which, in general terms, is to maintain or improve the favorable atmosphere for the sale of Australian meat overseas and to explore the possibilities of developing new markets. In the past, the conduct of overseas meat marketing was in the hands of a number of large concerns. Apparently the honorable member for Lalor does not like large concerns: I am afraid he thinks anything big that works must be removed. I remind him that the traditional development in this type of operation has been towards increase in size, because obviously; with increased size, increased operations must lead to efficiency in processing. I think he realizes that too, although, because of his political philosophy, he dislikes anything big which is not controlled by politicians. I mentioned that in the past the conduct of overseas meat marketing was in the hands of a number of large concerns, several with international ramifications. It might be said that the central controllers of these world-wide firms were not specifically interested in the sale of Australian meat, as such, nor in promoting the sale of Australian meat in markets which could be supplied from other sources within the sphere of the firms’ operations elsewhere; but I think that that ignores one very important point - that most of these firms are staffed by good Australians who have a very direct interest in the development of their own country’s export trade. That is the feature I would like to bring out in this connexion. It could easily be said that such operators are not keen to undertake market development in areas which, in the short term, can hardly be regarded as likely prospects for the placing of a significant tonnage of meat at attractive prices. However, export operations are now being undertaken by a number of much smaller operators, and I think this has added some strength to the market, although in a way it has also required greater supervision. I believe this is the basic thinking behind the growers’ representations to the Government, which are now being given expression in this legislation through the powers conferred on the board in the definition of its functions in clause 23 and of its powers in clause 25.
I believe, however, that in arriving at these thoughts on the possible shortcomings of the normal export operators, there has been considerable misunderstanding and misrepresentation, which may be responsible for the powers being conferred on the board. We have had an opportunity to discuss certain features in this connexion with the Minister, and we are of the view that it is extremely unlikely that there will be any substantial direct trading in exports and, I hope, none internally, by the board, and that the conduct of transactions of a difficult nature for market exploration of development will be undertaken by the normal export operators at the direction or request of the board. It is important that this point should be emphasized because, with some hazy knowledge of the meat industry, I would be horrified if the grower appointees to the board were to go into the wholesale or retail meat business. We have already seen too many cases of failure through illadvised attempts to set up meat co-operatives and similar types of bodies throughout Australia, and I know the honorable member for Lalor will appreciate one or two instances that I have in mind. The one at Murtoa in the Wimmera electorate is a case in point. I am sure none of us would be over-enthusiastic about the Australian Wool Board or the International Wool Secretariat going into business as worsted or woollen spinners or even topmakers, although such activities by a governmental agency would no doubt accord with the socialist philosophy of certain members opposite, including their leader (Mr. Calwell). My point in this connexion is that the buying, treatment, transport and marketing of meat and the by-products of the meat industry are highly specialized operations, not to be undertaken or even attempted by amateurs. I trust that the provisions of clause 25, sub-clauses (2.) and (3.) which empower the consultative committee to examine critically any proposals for Meat Board trading operations, will be exercised with objective discernment and will not be just a rubber-stamp formality. This is important. Should the board have a mind to go into trading operations in big way, the consultative committee has an obligation to apply the brakes when it feels that it is advisable to do so and when it feels that the boards’ activities could cost the people providing the funds for the levy - the growers - a lot of money.
The next matter I wish to mention concerns the functions of the board as set out in clause 23 in respect of quality standards and grading of meat to be exported from Australia. This is a very necessary function and is designed to prevent any lowering of the reputation of Australian meat overseas. Two points in connexion with this are worth remembering. The first is that occasionally we have seen instances in which unscrupulous export operators will take a chance on quality in circumstances which are highly prejudicial for future transactions. Secondly, with the easily stirred antagonism of the competitive. local industry, any weakness in Australia’s export standards will bc played up and used politically to limit exports from Australia. In this general connection mandatory directions have been given recently to works engaged in killing for export, especially for the United States trade, instructing them to remodel and in cases to rebuild the whole of the killing and butchering sections of their works to conform with modern health requirements as laid down by the United States Government. I would be grateful if, at the committee stages, the Minister would give me a firm assurance that this po /cr of grading and setting standards is not intended and that no power is given to the board to apply this power in the home internal market.
This brings me to my next point. On a previous occasion when these legislative proposals were being discussed the Minister gave me to understand that the Meat Board would not be empowered to expend money from the levy for the purpose of promoting increased meat sales within Australia. I may have misunderstood the Minister. However, clause 23 quite definitely gives the board this power. As one who will be contributing directly to this levy on meat I am definitely opposed to the idea of levying the industry for expenditure on promotion ir the Australian market. I do not deny the importance of the Australian market. My reasons for my attitude are these: There is no parallel between wool and meat in this context, and it is obvious that any expansion of meat sales in Australia must almost certainly be at the expense of some other locally produced foodstuff, such as poultry or fish, on the production of which many Australians rely for a livelihood. Further, the priorities of promotion of specific types of meat must present more than a headache for the board. In this instance of rival internal promotions the only people who will benefit will be the advertising agencies. I urge the Minister to give this matter his most serious consideration. Under the old act the powers of the board in this respect were limited to export, and I believe this is sensible.
The next point that I deal with concerns the levy itself. Clause 6 of the Live-stock Slaughter Levy Bill states that the rate of levy is to be prescribed from time to time. In his second reading speech, the Minister referred to a figure of 5s. a head on cattle and 6d. a head on sheep and lambs, and he estimated that the amount of income available would be £1,700,000. This, of course, will include amounts to be devoted to research. I feel that this flat per capita rate of levy will produce some undesirable anomalies. I suggest for the Minister’s consideration that the same principle as was adopted in the case of the wool promotion charge of working on a percentage and not on a charge per bale would be more equitable. It should not involve any great difficulty. I realize that there may be certain accounting difficulties. It would not be as easy as handling it on a per capita basis. It would mean that the amounts derived from the levy may fluctuate to a certain extent with the rise or fall in meat prices, but when you work it out I think you will find that, in times of reduced killing, stock is worth more and on a percentage basis you will do better than on the basis of a levy per head.
The next point I deal with is the suggestion that the board might use the levy funds or might borrow from the Reserve Bank for the purpose of providing incentive payments for the export of meat to markets where the price factor was not sufficiently attractive for normal transactions. This use of incentives would have the object of disposing of surplus meat that could not be placed in better markets or, alternatively, the sales might be aimed at developing a future market. I feel that this type of operation has definite dangers. We have as an example the case of the activities of the New Zealand Meat Export Development Company, which has government backing and which is reported to have lost £800,000 in attempting to develop sales of export Iambs in the United States market. Obviously those losses will have to be made up by the growers. I suggest that any experiments on this scale by the Meat Board will make a large hole in the funds provided by the levy and perhaps in money borrowed from the Reserve Bank. I realize that it is not easy to assess the value of such expenditure, and in some respects this makes it impossible to direct constructive criticism about the returns being derived from the expenditure. This applies to any form of promotion. It is not easy to relate an amount of expenditure to the return that you get, but on the broad principle that a lot of money could be lost easily by an injudicious operation of this type and bearing in mind the clear example of what happened in New Zealand, I think a degree of caution will be required in this connexion.
I wish now to refer to the very difficult matter of representation on the selection committee, which at present is confined to the two older grower organizations - the Australian Woolgrowers’ and Graziers’ Council and the Australian Wool and Meat Producers’ Federation - and excludes the Australian Primary Producers’ Union and the Australian Dairy Farmers’ Association hich, in their own right, have some claim in the conduct of this legislation by virtue of the amount of meat produced for export by the dairy industry. In his second-reading speech the Minister referred to the composition of the selection committee. Whilst I appreciate that it is not intended that the new board should be directly representative of organizations and that those chosen to serve on the board should be the very best available from the industry, the fact remains and, I think, will be clearly proved, that organization politics inevitably will play a major part in the appointments. The Minister quoted the parallel of the case of the wool conference. He contended that perhaps in due course representation will be made available for the Australian Primary Producers’ Union on the wool conference and stated that the same avenue is open for representation on the selection committee which is designed to select people to serve on the board. In this way the committee obviously has some influence on the activities of the board itself. I am afraid I am not satisfied with that approach because it is too slow. The two bodies I have mentioned have strong claims to be represented on the committee. I do not know whether representation should be granted by Government action or whether the existing organizations will concede that these bodies have a claim and will accept them. I hope that wisdom will prevail and that eventually the Australian Primary Producers’ Union and the Australian Dairy Farmers’ Association will be represented on the committee.
Earlier in my speech I said that there were certain misunderstandings and misconceptions about how this legislation had been brought about. It certainly has some extremely good features. Despite what the honorable member for Lalor said, I believe that the streamlining of the size of the board /ill be of tremendous value and will assist the board in its future work. The opportunity to expand promotion and the exploration of overseas markets will be valuable. It would be wrong to say that that work should be done entirely by the board. Other speakers and I have said already that we believe that the board will encourage the existing channels of trade to do that work on behalf of the board. So private enterprise firms will be carrying on their normal activities. But Where markets are unattractive the firms will do the work not at their own expense but with financial assistance from the board.
I believe that that is a practical way to approach this matter. Whilst these bills have certain features about which I am not in any way happy, they hi- ve good features which will make them of value to the meat industry as a whole.
.- The meat industry, which is the subject of the bills before us, has undergone great changes in recent years. There has been a change in the pattern of production. Whilst the accent in the export trade has varied from Iamb and mutton to beef, the reverse can bc said of sales in Australia. There has been a change in our overseas trade. We arc less dependent now on the traditional market in Great Britain. We have a greater dependence on the newly expanded and not entirely stable market in the United States of America. How dependent we are on the latter market is indicated by the fact that last year it took 67 per cent, of our exportable surplus, which was worth about £67,000,000 out of a total figure of £100,000,000. That dependence leads to the need for diversity in our selling. We arc risking too much if we are entirely dependent on the United States market. To say the very least, a good deal of unrest is evident among the meat producers in that country. There is also a need to find new markets to absorb the steadily growing export surplus from year to year.
Recognizing the need to meet these changing circumstances, the Opposition does not oppose the passage of these bills. We recognize the need for the Australian Meat Board to have new powers to meet these changing circumstances. Of course, we differ with the Government on the details of the constitution of the new board. As the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) said, we strongly oppose the exclusion of the representatives of the publiclyowned abattoirs and of the representative of the employees from the board. I can hardly believe that a Country Party Minister could present to this House a bill which excludes, in particular, the publiclyowned abattoirs from representation on the board. There are 24 such abattoirs throughout the Commonwealth. A good percentage of them are in country areas, in places such as Bendigo, Ballarat and Kyneton in my electorate, and Goulburn and Gunnedah in New South Wales. A great many country people depend upon them for employment. They provide a stimulus for those country areas. I find it difficult to believe that members of the Country Party can sit in this chamber and accept the exclusion of such abattoirs from representation on the board.
We also protest very vigorously on behalf of the many thousands of employees who are entirely dependent on the meat industry for their livelihood and who no longer will have a voice in the control of the industry. Their interest is just as vital as that of the meat producer, because they live by the industry. We cannot agree with those provisions. We take strong objection to the method of selection of the board. There are other organizations which surely are qualified to take part in the management of this great Australian industry. I will return to that subject later.
It is apparent that the Government, after it has appointed the new Australian Meat Board to manage the affairs of the industry, will consider the board incapable of doing that. The Government is bowing to the meat export barons - Vesteys and the other people about whom the honorable member for Lalor spoke. In clause 25 of the Meat Industry Bill the Government has provided for a committee to oversee the buying and export activities of the board. No interpretation can be put on that provision other than that the Government considers that the board will not be capable of carrying out its duties.
The honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. Mackinnon) said that the committee could check - that was his word - the board. He also said that the committee could put the brakes on the board. Is that the sort of thing that will happen? Is the Government setting up a board and then, to make sure the board does not do what it wants to do, putting a brake on it? It seems to me that that is a wholly undesirable and ridiculous situation. It is totally unacceptable to the Opposition. I hope that when honorable members opposite think about that situation it will be totally unacceptable to quite a number of them. The exporters will have two representatives on the new board. Why have four other representatives sitting on a committee and overseeing the decisions and activities of the board? That provision is completely ridiculous. The
Opposition will move amendments to the unacceptable provisions at the committee stage. We will have more chance for detailed debate on them then.
It is important to remember that in one sense the meat industry is very different from other rural industries. Its production cannot be varied greatly in a short period. A sudden increase in production cannot be achieved. A substantial increase in production can come only after the investment of considerable additional capital. However, the wheat industry and the poultry industry, for example, can readily achieve marked variations from year to year in order to meet changes in marketing conditions. The lesson to be learnt from that ii that the meat industry, more than any other rural industry, needs long-term planning if its future is to be secure. The future which the reconstituted Australian Meat Board will face might seem to offer plain sailing because of prevailing conditions in the industry. But an examination of the factors that are evident now show that there are difficulties on the horizon. I believe that it is prudent to be prepared to meet those difficulties.
It seems to me that, although in some respects the different sections of the industry are dependent one upon the other, they have different problems. At this time when we are setting up a new board and new machinery, we should conduct a stocktaking and determine the situation in each section of the industry. For instance, the fat lamb industry nowadays is much less dependent, upon exports than it was only a few years ago. It is certainly much less dependent upon exports than it was in pre-war days. In 1962-63 the total lamb production was 228,000 tons and the quantity exported was 25,300 tons, or 12 per cent, of the total production. In 1961-62 the quantity exported represented only 7 per cent, of the total production. In two pre-war years - 1936-37 and 1938-39 - the average total lamb production was 117,000 tons and the average quantity exported was 71,600 tons, or 61 per cent, of the average production. So there has been a great change in that industry.
A very significant factor in the lamb industry is the great increase in domestic consumption in recent times. No doubt the increase in population has accounted for that in part; but the principal factor in the change in the pattern of consumption of the various types of meat has been the tremendous increase in sales of beef to the United States, which began in or around 1958. A vigorous demand in the United States resulted in a shortage in Australia. In turn, prices rose but the Australian people turned to mutton and lamb as an alternative. Indeed, for those on fixed and limited incomes there was no other alternative. This trend has tended to reverse slightly as beef prices have fallen to a more sensible level but it is still clear that the consumption of mutton and lamb in Australia, and the welfare of the farmers engaged in that section of the industry, as well as the dairy farmers who engage in beef sales as a sideline, are directly dependent on the maintenance of demand in the United States for that low-grade manufacturing type of beef.
The production of lamb has risen consistently in the post-war years. In 1957-58 production was 152,000 tons whereas in 1962-63 it was 228,000 tons. Because of a trend back to beef in Australia the industry would be unwise to place reliance on the domestic market to consume the inevitable additional annual increases in production. It cannot rely on an increase in the United Kingdom market. A change in Britain’s agricultural policy to control imports or import prices and the encouragement of local producers make the expansion of our British trade in lamb very doubtful. Indeed, it is debatable how long we can continue to outpoint our rivals during the November-December between-seasons shortage on the market.
A further long-term factor which could deal a blow to the industry is the possibility of Britain’s eventual acceptance into the European Common Market, a matter which is dormant for the time being but certainly not dead. I think, as I have thought before, that Britain eventually will join the European Common Market. Common Market members have shown a strong desire to exclude outside agricultural products from their markets. They are super-protectionists with little regard for the agricultural and less-developed nations. They could well heed the cry of trade not aid. Some Common Market members give precious little of that compared to their capacity and wealth.
The whole concept of the European Economic Community can never be acceptable to me while it remains too much the selfish inward-looking circle of wealthy nations too narrow to see the long-term economic and political advantages of encouraging the agricultural and underdeveloped nations. Indeed, agricultural protectionism in western industrialized nations is, as I see it, a great hurdle to the expansion of trade by the poorer nations. Farmers, including meat producers, in industrial countries are pampered with price supports, import restrictions or heavy tariffs on imports.
This agricultural protectionism limits, first, market opportunities for primary producers in the under-developed countries and, in addition, it means that they are the first and most heavily hit when market conditions change and when prices are depressed or fluctuating. Of course, their economies are less able than are others to withstand these fluctuations. I hope that the talks now taking place in Geneva will bring forth a better deal for the nations producing primary commodities such as the lamb, beef and other products of our meat industry which we are discussing tonight. A little give and less take by the wealthy industrial nations would mean a greater opportunity for the poorer nations to develop and to give their people a higher standard of living, and so reduce the tension and the turmoil in this troubled world.
I believe that international commodity agreements giving the under-developed nations a chance to make their own way in the world are essential not only for economic reasons but also because they can assist to bring about greater political stability in a world where new nations struggling to survive will react favorably to those who give them a chance to live. I believe, too, that the industrialized nations have an obligation to the developing countries and to those whose economies are almost wholly dependent on the sale df bulk commodities at satisfactory prices.
The disabilities or potential difficulties facing the meat industry, to which I have referred, lead to the inescapable conclusion that there is an urgent necessity, first, for a vigorous search for new markets, secondly, for a great effort towards the expansion of present markets wherever possible and, thirdly, for arresting the backward drift in meat consumption in Australia in recent years. The pre-war average consumption of meat in Australia per head of population was 253 lb. In 1962 it fell to 23 H lb. In recent years it has been at or about that figure. This represents a difference of about 21 lb. per person. Perhaps that does not seem much on an individual basis, but taken overall on our population of 11,000,000 people it represents a substantia] reduction in consumption in Australia.
Every other business or industry seeking to increase sales and to create a greater demand for its goods engages in an advertising or a promotional campaign. If we are to compete on markets which I think will tighten as time goes by, we must be prepared to spend money on the promotion of the meat industry’s products. As I recall, the meat industry has always stood on its own feet, unlike some other primary industries. It has never had a government subsidy. This bill provides for a promotional levy to be paid by livestock producers, again without aid from government sources. Past and present prices, and the level of trade, should enable the meat producer to shoulder some small burden without great difficulty. The levies of 5s. a head for cattle and 6d. a head for sheep which have been suggested by the Government, but not fixed as yet, in addition to the other charges of freight, commission and everything else that is associated with raising, selling and killing livestock, could become a heavy burden on producers, so I suggest that the Government and the board think twice before fixing the levies at the levels which have been proposed.
At present the producer apparently is prepared to help himself. However, if prices fall and if other difficulties appear imminent then, as with other industries, I believe it is the Government’s function to join in a partnership to promote the industry. In these favorable times the need for such a course may seem remote, but agricultural pursuits in many countries are propped up by government support. If, for instance, by virtue of Britain’s entry into the European Common Market, or for any other reason, the need for assistance arises, there should be no hesitation on the Government’s part, especially in promoting markets overseas and in endeavouring to ensure that our surplus production is sold overseas, if possible at a satisfactory price. By assisting the industry the Commonwealth would be benefiting not only the meat producers but also the entire community.
The beef industry has undergone a remarkable change, almost a revolution, in recent years. The predilection of the average United States citizen for the humble hamburger has resulted in United States imports of boneless beef from all sources rising nine-fold in the last five years. In 1957 America imported 40,000 tons of boneless beef from all sources. In 1962 her total imports were 366,000 tons. Much of this tremendous increase came from Australia. We satisfy, now, more than onehalf of the United States boneless meat market. The United States has indeed replaced United Kingdom as our main market for beef. The United Kingdom market has dropped away so that it is now only one-quarter of our market in the United States. The other markets are a long way behind.
The Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann), in giving reasons for the reconstitution of the board, for the new powers and for the new promotional levy, mentioned the great need for diversification of our meat markets. To use a term more in keeping with the poultry industry, one could say that the meat industry, or the beef section of it, has put all its eggs in one basket - a Yankee basket. Top prices for second-grade beef have been irresistible to commerical interests. But a look at the statistics reveals a very disturbing situation. The beef bonanza in the United States market started a stampede from other markets, and other competitor nations have filled the vacuum left by our departure to the United States market. The story is clear if we compare exports of beef and veal in 1956-.T, before the United States bonanza started, with those in 1961-62. In 1956-57 we exported beef and veal to the tune of 115,400 tons to the United Kingdom. In 1961-62 the was down to 35,500 tons. This was a little more than one-third of the total in 1956-57. The United States took 1,340 tons in 1956- 57, and 145,800 tons in 1961-62. It would seem that there has been a transfer of our beef e.:ports from the United Kingdom to the United States, and this is substantially correct. It has been a natural result of higher prices and of the lifting of the quota system on 1st October, 1961, by the United Kingdom.
But let us consider the position further: Japan is a market of great potential. In 1956-57 we sent to Japan beef and veal amounting to 7,226 tons, while in 1961-62 we sent 3,703 tons, which was only about 50 per cent, of the total in 1956-57. I am aware, of course, that beef imports by Japan are c~ trolled under the foreign exchange allocation system, but I believe that this does not account for all the loss of trade over this period. Our exports to the Philippines in 1956-57 amounted to more than 4,000 tons, but in 1961-62 they had dropped to 857 tons, which was only about 20 per cent, of the amount in the earlier year. Hong Kong took 4,100 tons in 1956-57, but only 1,367 tons, or 33 per cent., in 1961-62. Singapore imported from us 4,456 tons in 1956-57, but only 2,777 tons, or 60 per cent, of the earlier amount, in 1961-62. A similar story can be seen in connexion with Egypt, Malta and Belgium, despite the fact that in some cases total imports by those countries have increased. I understand that there has been a welcome expansion of our trade to Japan this year, but I have no figures to substantiate this.
The figures I have given show clearly that our export markets in the United Kingdom and in Asian countries, such as Japan, the Philippines and Hong Kong, have been unfortunately neglected. Continuity of supply is always a factor influencing customer nations, and we may have left in recent times an impression of unreliability which could react against us in these important alternative markets. This neglect by commercial interests of valuable, although perhaps, less lucrative markets, will, I hope, provide an opportunity for the new board, under section 25 of the Meat Industry Bill, to purchase meat and resell it for export in these markets. The board will have power under section 25 of the bill to do this, but of course, it will be restricted if this provision for checking or putting on the brakes by a committee which would oversee the activities of the board is included in the legislation.
As far as I can find out, promotion of sales of our meat in Asia has been attempted only on a small scale, and there is room for great expansion of these promotional activities proposed in the legislation. It is true that some Australian meat firms have participated in the Tokyo International Trade Fair. It is true, also, that the board recently appointed a full-time representative to promote the meat trade in Asia, particularly in Japan. But it seems that it may be only playing with the problem to appoint one full-time representative in Asia, where there are hundreds of millions of people wl must surely be starting to create a greater demand for our meat. In Japan, particularly, where increased westernization and industrialization has meant continually improved living standards, the people must be getting around to demanding our meat. Japan certainly has £ capacity to pay. I would urge the Government to try to extend the principle embodied in the growth clause in the Australia-United States agreement to the Japanese Trade Treaty. I think that a guaranteed share in the market provided by increased meat consumption in Japan would be of great benefit to the industry.
I know that the Australian Meat Board has had surveys conducted to ascertain, first, the potential for increased meat sales in Australia. That covers the domestic market, lt has also had a survey conducted of the various world markets for meat with particular reference to the American market. I think this will give the new board, when it is constituted, a businesslike basis on which to go about the job of promoting meat sales.
I have outlined a number of difficulties that we could face. There is the fact that our production at home is going up annually and that we will have a surplus of meat which would, in the normal course, in this year and the next few years, go to America. This will be a short-term problem which we will have to overcome because of the quantitative restrictions in the Australia-United States meat agreement.
– But this year we will not have enough meat to fill the quota.
– That may be so this year, but it may not be so in the next year or the year after, and it is then that we could have this short-term problem. In relation to the Australia-United States agreement, some aspects of United States trade policy adversely affect Australia. 1 refer to the tariff of about 124 per cent, on our wool, and to quantitative restrictions on our lead and so on. But the agreement itself seems satisfactory. There has been a great storm about it in the United States, where the Government has even gone to the length of buying beef in an endeavour to overcome the problems that have arisen in that country and which affect domestic producers there. I think these problems can be overcome, but whatever happens the industry in Australia should guard against killing the goose that lays the golden eggs. It would be very foolish for us to disrupt the American market. It would cost not only the American producer a good deal, but also the Australian producer and the Australian community. We should continue to avoid competing with top-quality United States home-produced beef.
The new board, as reconstituted, will have new powers - powers of which the Opposition approves. It will have powers to buy and to sell, to promote sales and to overcome its problems in changing circumstances. The bill reduces the board membership from twelve to nine. It eliminates representation of publiclyowned killing works. I am not sure whether co-operatives will have an opportunity to be represented on the board. If not, this is a bad thing and I am very surprised at it. Representation of employees in the meat industry is eliminated and the Opposition strongly disapproves of this change. Under this bill the government representative cannot be the chairman of the board. The measure proposes the elimination of provision for the nomination of primary producers other than those who are members of the primary producers organizations which constitute the selection committee. The choice of meat exporter representatives is confined to nominations of the Australian Meat Exporters’ Federal Council. The board’s power to purchase and sell meat is restricted by the right of the committee to oversee its activities.
The Opposition will endeavour to amend these provisions. I suggest to members of the Country Party that they should look at our amendments. We have not considered them lightly and T think honorable members will find a great deal of worth in them.
.- As I represent an electorate which contains a number of meat producers I wish to be associated with the bill and to put their views before the House. At the same time I hope that I can bring to bear a national point of view on this very important bill. A number of figures, all of considerable interest, have been given tonight to demonstrate the importance of the meat industry but I did not hear a great deal of emphasis placed on the total meat production. Most remarks have been directed to the export of meat.
I do not wish to weary the House but 1 shall cite production figures to illustrate the development of the meat industry since the last war. The figures are most revealing and indicate a change which has been readily apparent to anybody who travels in the country. In the immediate post-war period, in the three years ending 1948-49, beef and veal production averaged about 542,000 tons. Last year our production rose to 904,380 tons. I have not worked out the increase as a percentage, but it is apparent that the production of beef and veal has nearly doubled in fifteen years. In mutton and lamb production an even more dramatic increase has occurred. Production rose from an average of 306,083 tons in the three years ending 1948-49 to 594,002 tons last year. A number of factors contributed to this rise. One, strangely, was the increase in the price of wool in the early 1950’s which allowed mixed farmers to improve the quality of their stock. This improvement was readily apparent to any one travelling around the country. The increased amount of money available was reflected in production figures. Contrary to the belief of a lot of people, the big influx of money in the immediate post-war years was not all spent on new motor cars and on trips to the cities. A lot of it was spent on paint, on fences and on better water supplies. We are all aware of the terrific pasture improvements in Australia. Another factor contributing to the rising production figures has been the run of good seasons we have experienced. In highly improved country the tendency has been to divert slightly from the production of wool to the production of meat. Each of these factors has contributed to the dramatic increase in tonnages produced.
Looking at the Australian Meat Board from the point of view of the producer, I ask whether there is a need to change the existing board. As a farmer in the post-war period I became aware that the Australian Meat Board did not enjoy the full confidence of the meat producers. As a member of Parliament, deputations and letters from producers have increased my awareness of their feeling that the board had faults and of their desire for a new board. Dissatisfaction in my electorate has been expressed mainly by the fat lamb producers from whom I have received deputations and quite a lot of letters.
I join with the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) in saying that I have no direct criticism of any individual representatives of the old board. Undoubtedly good men have served on it and it has done a remarkable job under the existing circumstances. But there is a feeling now, particularly in the industry, that with the change in the food situation throughout the world it is time for a change in the constitution of the board. In the Minister’s second-reading speech he drew attention to the need to provide a more compact and workable board. He said that the old board was too large and too diverse in its representation. This is not criticism of any one man but a criticism of the composition of the board. The Minister also referred to the need of the board in the past to resort to the committee system to get through its work. I have heard the Minister at times refer to the board as being too cumbersome. Let me impress upon honorable members that again this is not direct criticism of any particular member of the board.
The purpose of the measure is to give effect to changes to comply with the proposals of the industry for the reconstitution of the board. The proposed changes comply with the wishes of the producers of beef and veal and mutton and lamb, but the pig producers do not wish to be included in the new meat scheme. The bill is the result of a joint proposal by the Australian Woolgrowers’ and Graziers’ Council and the Australian Wool and Meat Producers’ Federation. It has been approved by the Australian Agricultural Council and the Australian Meat Exporters’ Federal Council. I repeat that information in order to draw attention to the fact that this is copybook government policy in dealing with an industry. The measure is introduced at the request of the industry so that the industry may be assisted to sell its produce in the way it suggests.
The membership of the board is to be reduced to three-quarters of its former size - from twelve to nine. The producers lose their two representatives, the public utilities lose their representative and the meat industry employees also lose their representative. The membership is thus reduced to eight, but is increased to nine as the Government representative - formerly also the chairman - is to be a separate appointment after consultation with the Australian Meat Board Selection Committee.
In general, the retention of the two meat exporter representatives will be welcomed by the industry. In their present position they act as a link between the producers and the buyers in established overseas markets. It is a very important link which should be an attraction to the producers. We already have a working link and the producers’ representatives can contribute very significantly to the future activities of the board. There is a feeling - I choose my words carefully - among some producers that in the past some exporters representatives on the board have been too closely allied with overseas interests. I have heard this as I have travelled around the electorate and I put it forward as a view I must represent as coming from my electorate. It has been pointed out that these members of the board could be mainly concerned with the purchase of cheap meat.
There is also a feeling amongst the people I represent - this is not a strong feeling - that as the producers provide all the funds that will be used in the working of the board it should be totally a producer board, on the lines of the New Zealand board. This view is put forward by a section of the people I represent, but they do not stand fast on it. I have advertised this proposal. I have spoken over the radio on it and I have issued press releases on it since the Minister made his second-reading speech. The people claim that if the exporters are to be represented on the board we should choose representatives who will, above all else, look after Australia’s interests. I hope that the composition of the Australian Meat Board Selection Committee, with its power to add, will enable this to be done.
Let me mention the public utilities here. Under the new legislation, they will lose their representative on the board. I have passed to the Minister representations made by killing centres and I know the feeling on this matter. In his second-reading speech, the Minister pointed out that these works are not associated with the actual marketing of meat, and I think that is a good point. It can be said that without their good work, without their putting forward the meat in good condition, there will not be a good presentation of the meat on the markets. We can go right back to the time the meat leaves the hands of the producer, the man who takes the beast to the sale, the knocking about that the beast receives in the sale, the transport from the yard to the abattoirs and the transport of the finished article in freezers to the seaboard. If any one breaks down along the line, the presentation of the meat will be spoilt when it ultimately reaches the market. But there is no suggestion that the transport operator, the railways or the shipping companies should be represented on the board in the same way as the other link in the chain, the killing works, is. In addition, the costs of the board’s operations will be met entirely from the contributions of the producers, and I think that is a very good answer.
I will deal now with the meat industry employees’ representative. I am more concerned with this representative than I am with the others. Whilst watching the interests of the producers whom I represent, I have four meat works in my electorate and I am very sensitive to the welfare of the men employed at the meat works and all who depend on them for their living. Let me draw attention to a body that does not receive much publicity. I refer to the Meat Industry Conference. This is not a statutory body and probably not a great deal is heard about it. It meets at six-monthly intervals - I think in February and August. It is presided over by the chairman of the Australian Meat Board, Mr. Shute. It consists of members of the board with some clerical and secretarial assistance. Also represented are the producer organizations and the transport organizations, particularly the railways. I think every railway system in the Commonwealth is invited to go along to the meetings. The exporters are represented, as are the public utilities, the Australasian Meat Industry Employees Union, the waterside workers and the shipowners. The conference provides a forum for discussions between the employers, the meat producers, and the employees. This conference and the arbitration system provide the means of looking after the interests of the employees in the meat industry.
The conference studies such matters as seasonal conditions prevailing around the Commonwealth and the employment situation, not only on the basis of information provided by the exporters but also on the basis of views put forward by the union. It studies matters relating to the health of the workers, particularly some of the diseases that affect meat workers. I have in mind undulant fever. I have given some thought to this matter and I am quite convinced that the interests of the meat industry employees would not be adversely affected if they were not represented on the marketing board. I am certain that it is rather in their interests to have a smaller, more compact, tidier board. This would lead to a more efficient board which would sell more meat, and consequently make more work available and provide better conditions for the employees.
Let me refer now to marketing. This raises the question of supply and demand. We have already referred to-night to the meat agreement with the United States of America. This agreement must be very good for Australia if we can judge by the reaction in the meat producing areas in the United States. Althought the agreement means a preliminary reduction of exports from this country, it provides a growth factor which will be of material benefit for the future of the meat industry in this country. A French meat mission has visited Australia and gone on to New Zealand. I do not know the result of its activities but we know that if a meat mission travels around it wants meat, and this means that there is a demand. The Australian Meat Board has recently sent a mission to Japan. We do not know the results of this yet. Our sales of meat in Japan were at first in the luxury trade. We sold to those people who could afford to buy meat. However, the improved standard of living in that country is now providing new openings for our meat. Although there may not be a dramatic change, there is a terrific potential in Japan. Another five refrigerated ships have been put on the United Kingdom run. We are well aware of the growing activity in Europe, undoubtedly brought about by improved living standards there, with particular emphasis on Greece and Italy. The demand and the potential are there.
The objective in marketing is quite clear. The first requirement is to retain existing markets and the second requirement is to develop new markets. We need to ensure against the loss of any existing markets and to provide for the expansion of the industry in the future, lt can be reasonably expected that the private meat exporter will stick to the commercially attractive markets. That is one of the facts of economic life, lt will be left largely to the Australian Meat Board to exploit markets in the under-developed countries, particularly in Asia. As I. understand it, it is not visualized that the board will do the selling but rather that it will employ agents. The power of the board to buy and sell meat arises only after consultation with the Australian Meat Exporters’ Federal Council and, to facilitate this consultation, the bill sets up a consultative committee. For those who think that private industry is not being looked after on the board, I think that there is a fine safeguard for private enterprise in this committee.
As far as I can determine, the meat exporters welcome the activities of the Australian Meat Board in underdeveloped markets. One reason is that this greatly assists the smaller shipper. The small shipper cannot at present compete overseas, but small consignments add up when they are brought into some central organization such as the Australian Meat Board on an into-the-freezer basis. I think that if you help the small shippers you do a great deal for the industry. If you help them, they are more active in the stock markets. More active stock markets means more competition, and more competition means, at least, firmer prices, if not increased prices. The shipping operators themselves welcome the expansion of the meat trade. They welcome not only the expanded trade but also the steady trade.
In dealing with trade, I speak about Japan. We know that New Zealand and the Argentine are putting pressure on that country in the way of organization. Already, New Zealand is well established. As Japan is a country with a large population, a great responsibility is thrown on those who have to provide for the feeding of its people. Above everything else, they insist on steady supplies, and the Australian Meat Board comes in on the regulating of supply. The board can help here by smoothing out the peaks and troughs of export operations. We know that a private operator will always tend to make for the high-priced markets; he will go where the high prices are to be found. Consequently, you are likely to lose steadiness of flow of supplies. This is where the Meat Board’s operations can be effective.
I would recommend to the incoming board two things to be looked at. These are just two proposals that I have in mind. The first is an investigation of the export-price averaging system. The second applies particularly to Japan, which wants a steady flow of meat imports. This is the provision of on-shore refrigeration facilities, which, I think, will make quite a difference to the steadiness of the flow of meat imports by Japan.
Finally, I want to deal with research. I can say here that quite strong representations are coming from producers in my electorate on this subject. The proposals put forward by the industry provide for research into beef, mutton and lamb. The pig industry is endeavouring to look after itself. The Australian Agricultural Council has - to use the words of the Minister for Primary Industry - expressed certain reservations. Consequently, the Government has decided to continue with beef research, but has deferred research into other types of meat. I emphasize that it is still the Government’s stated intention to introduce a research scheme for mutton and lamb at a later date. That was mentioned in the Minister’s second-reading speech, and I have been busy passing that information on to the people concerned. All of this work is to be administered by the reconstituted meat board.
T pause to wonder what these reservations of trie Australian Agricultural Council might be. I wonder whether they are due just to fears that the States may lose another sphere of influence. Or do the States fear that one of their constitutional responsibilities will be taken from them? I would like to emphasize here that any talk of further research is not a criticism of what has been going on under the guidance of a very grand group of men, whom many producers have come to know very well. The State Departments of Agriculture in general have done a particularly good job with the resources at their disposal in meat research. So has the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. Those bodies are to be commended.
The hope that I see behind this bill is that the additional moneys raised by levies will be used to augment the funds which are already being put into research. I know that that will assist greatly in enabling the Meat Board to come in, not so much as an overall authority, but as a guiding central group which would direct research along certain lines. The Minister knows what he is doing in this regard. I can assure him that the primary producers whom I know are fully awake to the need of research and to the need to build up all extension services which will get the results of that research out to the points where it will be of the greatest use to industry. I see terrific interest in research in my area. The producers call for research into killing methods, into the whole problem of transportation, and into the preservation of meat. All these are subjects which require further research. The effects of feeding on the texture of meat and on the flavour and keeping qualities should be studied. I see, overall, a great need for co-ordination in this whole problem of research to cut out the duplication which could occur.
In conclusion, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I say that I have studied this measure with a view to safeguarding the interests of the producers in my area, of those connected with the industry generally, and also those of the many meat producers and meat workers throughout the Commonwealth. Having studied the bill in that way, I support it.
.- Mr. Deputy Speaker, this bill will repeal the existing Meat Export Control Act and also the
Meat Industry Control Act, and will replace those two acts with an act which will have the very simple title of the Meat Industry Act. Under this new act the Australian Meat Board, which has authority under the Meat Export Control Act, will be retained in name, but the actual membership of the board will be changed, both in numbers and in representation. Also, the functions and powers of the board will be extended.
Under the existing act the board consists of twelve members, three representing the lamb producers, two representing the beef producers, one representing the mutton producers, one representing pig growers, two representing meat exporting companies, one representing the employees who are engaged in the slaughter and preparation of meat for export - which, incidentally, is a very important function - one representing the publicly-owned abattoirs, and one representing the Government, who is also the chairman. Under this bill, however, the board will be reduced to nine members, and the representation will be, firstly, the chairman, then five members representing the meat producers, two representing the meat exporters, and one representing the Government. Public Abattoirs and employees will no longer be represented.
With regard to the five meat producers’ representatives, there is nothing in the bill whereby the three classes of meat producers, if I can term them as such - that is the lamb, beef and mutton producers - can be certain of having on the board even one representative of their own particular section of the industry. Every one of the producer representatives could be a producer of one particular type of meat. In fact, under the existing Meat Export Control Act, each meat producer representative must be a producer of the type of meat produced by the section of the industry that he actually represents. Under this bill, the representative can come from any walk of life at all. He may be full of theory but need not have any practical knowledge of the meat industry.
I now turn to the Government’s decision to exclude from the new board a representative of the public utilities and also a representative of the employees. We would have expected the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) to devote at least a few minutes of his second-reading speech to explaining to the House exactly why representation of these interests, which have, apparently, been represented very ably, and which have surely played their parts over a number of years, is now to be dispensed with. The Minister was not short of time. He spoke only for approximately 25 minutes altogether on all these bills. So, if he had wished to do so, he had ample time to give us some explanation on this very important issue. The Minister’s reference to the exclusion of the public utilities representative was so brief that it took up only eight lines of “ Hansard “. The only reason that he gave was stated in exactly two lines. The reason was remarkable. The Minister said that public utility abattoirs are not actually associated with the marketing of meat. He stated that he recognized the importance of the meat works, and then he simply added that the essential point was that these works were not associated with the actual marketing of meat, and so the Government had decided not to provide for their representation on the board.
This point which, according to the Minister, is so essential, raises an important question as to whether each and every representative to be appointed to the board shall, before appointment, have been personally associated with the actual marketing of meat or at least come from an organization associated with the actual marketing side of the industry. If this is so, as the point raised by the Minister suggests, is it the intention of the Government that those members who are to be appointed to the board as representatives of the meat producers will be selected only from among persons with qualifications which could be ‘expected to be found only in persons associated with the actual marketing of meat? And does this, in turn,, mean that the meat producers themselves.. - this large body of people who actually produce the meat, whether it be lamb, mutton or beef - cannot be expected to be represented on the board by anyone whose only qualifications are those of an experienced and successful meat producer, because I have ‘ pointed out that there is nothing in the legislation to say that the producers’ representatives, or any one of them, must have been an actual meat producer? And if the essential point in relation to public utilities is the actual marketing knowledge, I would be very interested to hear whether this point is to apply generally.
I would like to see producers themselves on the board. I would like to see on the board experienced producers with ability, because I think one man with practical knowledge is worth a paddock full of men with theory only. I realize that all the organizations associated with the meat industry cannot be represented on the board, but 1 cannot appreciate why any of them should be excluded simply on the ground that they are not associated with the. actual marketing of meat, and particularly so if these organizations are at present represented under the act and also when the functions of the board are to be extended to include the promoting of local sales and consumption. Surely the role played by those associated with meat works, in the preparation, grading and packing of meat, must be a very important feature, and when carried out in a proper manner must be a big factor in assisting both sales and consumption. In this avenue we have the employees, who play their part and who were also represented under the old act. But the Minister did not even pay the representative of the employees the courtesy of mention, let alone explain to the House why it was decided that the employees should be excluded.
The public utilities and employees’ representatives played a valuable role under the existing act, and there does not seem to be any reason why they should not continue to do so under this legislation. If they had no value previously it would be pertinent to ask the Minister why the Government allowed this position to continue for so long– why something has not ban done about it before this. I have always been of the opinion that the board, with its limitations, has played a very important part in the export of meat from Australia. I always thought that each and every one of the members of the board had applied himself properly to the job he was asked to do. There may have been certain restrictions, or ministerial or governmental intervention may have retarded their progress, but I have never heard it said that any of the organizations or representatives had failed to pull its or his weight on the board. As the new act will - not necessarily, but possibly - terminate the services of members of the existing board, and will certainly terminate the services of some of them, I should have expected the Minister to take this opportunity of placing on record some expression of gratitude to these people.
It is significant that the Minister made no mention of the good work carried out by the board. He paid it no tribute whatever. But he did say it was too large and diverse in its representation for efficient operation, so we can only draw the conclusion that if, in the view of the Minister, the board was not properly efficient then, in his view also it must have been rather inefficient. We are left to guess whether he meant that to apply to all the members of the board, or only to a few of them, or to none. I think it is significant that the Minister did not go to any trouble to, or see the necessity to, pay tribute to these people on the board who, apparently, will soon be removed from it. Perhaps he has. done this in a more personal manner, and I hope he has done so, but I feel that this would have been an opportunity for him to place on record the gratitude of the Government and the Parliament of this country to those people for the job they have done. The Australian Primary Producers Union applied for, but was refused, representation on the board, and is not even represented on the selection committee. Referring to its application the Minister said the Government was not prepared to agree to any direct representation whatever. He said that the members of the board should be selected on ability and experience from the best men available and yet, in the case of the producers, the act will allow the appointment of people who may have no knowledge of the production side.
The Minister went on to say that the Government accepts the approach whereby the producer organizations decide the composition of the selection body. He further said that the Government considers it appropriate, and even urges, that the representative organizations should also be included in the board selection committee. These latter remarks were apparently directed towards organizations such as the Australian Primary Producers Union, but it is not sufficient for the Minister simply to suggest or recommend these things. If he and the
Government are of the opinion that this would be the proper and wise course to take - for these people also to be on the board - the Minister should not just make the suggestion, but should take steps to ensure that they are on the board. The selection committee, set up at the end of last Feburary, consists of nine members. Four of them are representatives of the Australian Woolgrowers and Graziers Council and four are representatives of the Australian Wool and Meat Producers Federation, and there is an independent chairman. The Australian Primary Producers Union has a very large membership and claims that almost 20,000 of its members are engaged in beef production and are responsible for approximately one-fifth of all the beef produced. This body is very keen to have representation on the selection committee but it would appear - or so I am informed - that organizations such as the Australian Primary Producers Union which are now outside the present committee, may well find it difficult to be included on the committee unless the chairman or some member organization is prepared to move for their inclusion.
If this is so, surely bodies such as the Australian Primary Producers Union which are so vitally interested in meat sales and consumption, as well as in production, should not be subjected to such treatment and should not have their inclusion placed at the whim of the present members of the committee. The Government should not simply suggest that these things should be done, but should take the necessary steps to ensure that these bodies are represented. While beef, mutton, veal and lamb are produced over a very large area of Australia, which makes the effect of this bill an important issue generally, there is also a particular area of Australia which is at this stage - and I think it will be for many years to come - practically, if not entirely, dependent on the cattle industry. I refer to the northern portion of Western Australia and parts of Queensland, as well as most of the Northern Territory. I am quite certain that all honorable members will agree - or at least those who have any knowledge of the conditions and potentials will agree - that we must ensure an orderly but more rapid progress in the cattle industry in those parts of Australia. Not only are those parts of the Commonwealth mainly suitable for cattle production at this stage, but it must also be borne in mind that it is those parts of the Commonwealth which are so sparsely settled and which could be, and almost certainly are, the envy of countries close by whose populations are growing to the extent of overflowing. While we hope, and are fairly confident, that in the not too distant future we will witness a substantial growth of population in the north, as the result of mineral production and water conservation, this is not completely certain. But at least we are certain that, with an orderly and continuing market, the cattle industry will thrive and expand.
It is clear that the Government must give much more attention than it has in the past to the needs of the northern part of Australia, both by way of encouraging growth of the cattle industry and by ensuring a firm and continuing market for the industry. Markets of short duration have some value but it is the long-term market which counts and which must be pursued, particularly so far as the beef industry is concerned1, because you cannot produce a decent bullock in a couple of years. The honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Beaton) made that point when drawing a distinction between poultry and beef. If we can develop a market which will give a reasonable return to the producer, not just for the immediate future but in the long term, one of the biggest problems confronting the cattle industry will disappear.
We are in the very fortunate position of being able to guarantee immediate and future supplies to overseas markets, because even under existing conditions our cattle numbers are increasing. There can be no doubt that in the northern parts of Australia alone a very considerable increase will take place provided proper encouragement is given to the producers. The encouragement must be positive and must be provided with more speed than it has been provided in the past. I refer mainly to the building of new roads, the improvement of existing roads and the conservation of water, which at present is allowed to run to waste. All of those projects must be given a very high priority as far as finance is concerned because they are of vital importance to the north generally and to the cattle industry in particular. Without them it will be much more difficult to develop a market which will return a price sufficient to meet the costs of production under existing conditions.
Still dealing with conditions in the north, in our efforts to develop stable overseas markets for our beef we are bound to give very serious consideration to what is required not only to increase cattle numbers and subsequent slaughterings but also to enable producers to supply the beef at a cost in keeping with the price that can be obtained and maintained on overseas markets. One function, if not the main function, of the Meat Board will be to encourage, assist and promote the export of meat from Australia and also the consumption, both in Australia and overseas, of Australian meat. Our position at present in relation to meat export markets cannot be described as satisfactory by any stretch of imagination. The Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen) in a recent statement referring to the new meat agreement with America said that uncertainty had been replaced by security. Nothing could be further from the truth because 85 per cent, of our export meat last year went to the United States of America and the attitude now being adopted by certain people and organizations in that country could never be described as encouraging for our future markets in that country. The Minister for Trade and Industry has admitted that the Australian meat industry is extremely dependent on the continuation of its sales in America at something like present levels. That being so, how can he also say that our position is secure?
In his second-reading speech, the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) said that the new agreement assures us of stable market opportunities for an important proportion of our meat export surplus. How can this be? Would anybody suggest at this stage that there is any certainty that our agreement with America will be retained for very long in its present form? While the new agreement does provide for a review every three years, this does not necessarily mean that it will be renewed. The agreement may not last three years for the simple reason that included in it is an escape clause which allows the United States to terminate the agreement on giving six months’ notice of intention to do so. Whilst the Minister for Trade and Industry has said, no doubt quite correctly, that all previous agreements have contained a similar provision, this does not alter the fact that the agreement may be terminated before the expiration of three years; cor does t alter the fact that there is definitely a move afoot in the United States of America to have the agreement terminated or amended. I suggest that our future meat market in that country may unfortunately be better described as precarious rather than secure.
It would be extremely foolish and irresponsible if this Parliament were to accept the recent agreement with the United States of America as being in any way sound and secure because it has become clear that American meat producers, particularly producers of beef, and at least some members of the United States legislature, do not intend to sit back and accept the agreement as something that is with them for all time or for any length of time. These people are definitely out to upset the agreement. If they can foster sufficient local criticism and action there must be a likelihood that the escape clause will be employed. The feelings and attitudes of many important people in America are amply illustrated in articles that have appeared in “ Musler “, which, as all honorable members know, is the journal of the Graziers’ Association of New South Wales. Articles appeared in the issues of 26th February, 18th March and 1st April this year. Each article refers to happenings and comments in America subsequent to and as a result of the recent meat agreement. The articles show quite clearly that we cannot take American moods and expressions of resentment in any lighthearted manner. They could be very serious and must be treated seriously. I ask for leave to incorporate in “ Hansard “ the articles to which I have referred.
– Is leave granted?
– No. We do not know what is in the articles.
– Leave is not granted.
– I expected the Minister to refuse leave to incorporate the articles in “ Hansard “. The Minister should know what is in the articles. I know he would not like them because they show clearly what the true position is.
The article of 26th February tells of a summit meeting of United States beef pro- ducers to prepare a campaign of protest against the new plan. It states that two days after the agreement was announced arrangements were being made for a meeting between six State governors to convince the United States Administration that it had let beef imports get out of control. Governor Anderson is quoted as saying that governors of six States had already agreed that the agreement was only a token gesture. He said also that to be realistic the quota would have to be set on an average of the past five years and not the past three years. He claimed also that imports of beef cut the value of domestic beef on the United States market by 4,000,000,000 dollars. The issue of 18th March reports that a State governor and two United States senators had joined forces to urge stricter control over American imports of beef, veal and mutton. The governor claimed that the impact of imports had struck a crippling blow at the livestock industry. Senator Dominick said import restrictions were so necessary that they warranted rapid and favorable action to prevent further economic catastrophe from striking the American meat industry. The Colorado governor is reported as saying that the calculatedloss to his State’s economy in 1963 was about 50,000,000 dollars. Senator Dominick said that in 1964 the loss would be even more disastrous. Senator Jack Millar said that Australia, New Zealand and Ireland were being greedy, selfish and unreasonable in increasing their exports by 162 per cent. over the past three years. The recent issue of 1st April reports that one of the leaders in the United States Senate has sponsored a proposal to upset the recent agreement with Australia and has asked the United States Senate Finance (Committee to cut back meat imports to the 1959-63 average, which is 30 per cent. below the 1963 level.
There seems to be a mixed view as to whether the meat agreement will succeed. My friend the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie) has just told me that according to to-night’s news the agreement legislation has been passed. But, surely, nobody suggests that the comments and expressions of hostility to which I have referred give us any reason to be satisfied with our future markets in America. How can anybody suggest that the agreement is secure. It could be perhaps better described as a precarious document. I gain the impression that those people in America who are critical of the agreement are becoming fearful not so much about the present rate of imports as about what they can see in the future if the present trend continues. They relize that beef production in Australia over recent years has increased considerably. They realize also that given proper encouragement and opportunity, the increase will be much more rapid in the future. It is interesting to note that from 1954 up to and including 1962 there was an average increase of about 287,000 head of cattle a year, which was almost double the increase in the years 1944 to 1954. During the past couple of years there has been an increase of about 1,000,000 head. It is realized also that as America is importing more than 80 per cent. of our beef and veal exports, our markets outside America must be very significant. This, of course, is the position and 1963 figures are a very good guide. In 1963 we exported 49,216 tons more beef and veal than we did in 1962, but to the United States our exports increased by 57,615 tons, so in fact the increase in our exports to America last year was more than our total export increase. That shows that our exports to some other countries must have fallen off quite considerably.
The members of the Meat Board will need to concentrate their efforts largely on sales to countries outside America, for it seems quite certain that the sooner we can prove to America that we have other markets, and that they are not simply for the present but will expand substantially in the future, the sooner will the fears being expressed in America subside. We could then finish up with a very firm agreement with America and would not be placed in a position similar to that which we look like being placed in now. I have no doubt that if she can possibly do so America will retain the agreement with Australia, but even so there still have to be found other long-term markets to absorb the increase in Australian production year by year. Under the terms of the agreement we would this year export to America 15,000 tons less than last year. In 1965 we would be down 6,000 tons on 1963, and in 1966 we would be up 3,000 tons. But on the experience of recent years we should be able to look forward to a production increase each year of some 50,000 to 60,000 tons. That being so, by 1966 we could need markets outside America for some 200,000 tons beyond what was exported last year. That means that our exports to countries other than America, using 1963 as a yardstick, will have to increase by approximately four times by the end of the 1966 season, assuming, of course, that the agreement with America still stands.
Our increased exports to America over the past three years have been very acceptable, particularly as the United Kingdom has reduced her imports quite substantially, but, as things are now, we must wonder whether perhaps too much emphasis has been placed on America and too little on countries outside. Whether that be so or not, there can be no doubt now that we are forced into a position where we must expand our markets if we -are not only to quit our present production but also to make provision for the increases that we should have in future years. If America finally adopted what the chairman of the United States Governors’ Conference has suggested is the proper method of arriving at a quota - that is, an average taken over five years instead of three years - we could find ourselves at very short notice with a meat market in America for some 100,000 tons less per year than is provided for under the agreement. Last year we exported only about 45,000 tons to places other than America, so we can imagine bow tough it will be if we are forced into a position where we not only have to find a market for the additional 200,000 tons that I just spoke of hut also to find a market for some 100,000 tons which America was expecting to take. Last year our exports to countries outside of America decreased by 10,500 tons. That is not a very big amount, measured against our total exports of 254,000 tons or compared with the 57,500 tons increase in exports to the United States, but the point is that if we cannot maintain even the small tonnages we are exporting to countries outside America, how will we fare if we have, as we expect, to dispose of an increased production from the cattle industry?
Debate (on motion by Dr. Gibbs) adjourned.
House adjourned at 10.34 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated: -
n asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
– The Minister for Civil Aviation has supplied the following information: -
b asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Trade with the United States of America. (Question No. 10.)
b asked the Minister for Trade and Industry, upon notice -
– The Acting Minister for Trade and Industry has supplied the following answers: -
In the case of metals, the United States imposed import quotas on unmanufactured lead and zinc as from 1st October, 1958. These quotas were imposed as an emergency measure to protect the United States domestic mining and smelting industries. Despite repeated requests by Australia and the other major lead and zinc producing countries the United States Government has not felt able to remove these quotas. However, I am advised that President Johnson has now referred the matter to the United States Tariff Commission for advice on the probable economic effects of a change in the quotas.
y asked the Minister represent ing the Minister for Customs and Excise, upon notice -
– The Minister for Customs and Excise has furnished the attached table of information in answer to the honorable member’s questions -
n asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
What percentage relation has capital expenditure borne to total expenditure during each of the past fifteen years?
– The percentages of capital expenditure to gross national expenditure for each of the past fifteen years are as follows: -
rns asked the Minister representing the Minister for Customs and Excise, upon notice -
– The Minister for Customs and Excise has furnished the following answers to the honorable member’s questions: -
y asked the Minister for the Navy, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
In addition there are 271 Subordinate Officers undergoing training.
son asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
What contributions have been made by the Commonwealth in the past towards the expenses of Australian Olympic teams which have participated in Olympics in Australia and overseas?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
Commonwealth contributions towards the expenses of Australian Olympic teams since 1920 have been as follows. (Records are not readily available in respect of contributions, if any, prior to that date.)
n asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Has Australia given any military or economic aid to India in recent times?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
Australian economic aid to India has been extended on a continuing oasis, principally under the Colombo Plan and through the specialized agencies of the United Nations. Aid to India under the Colombo Plan has totalled £14,182,600 since 1950. This has included the provision of scholarships, experts, research and scientific equipment, and capital aid items such as railway carriages and earthmoving equipment. In addition, Australia has agreed to provide a total of £6,900,000 towards the Indus Basin Development Fund which will enable execution of the Indus Water Treaty between India and Pakistan. Of this amount £2,594,000 has been called up so far. Following the Communist Chinese attack on India in November, 1962, Australia offered India military assistance totalling approximately £2,000,000 towards meeting the China threat. Most items under this programme have been delivered. They include .303 inch and 7.62 mm. calibre rifles, spare parts and ammunition, clothing and blankets.
n asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
n asked the Minister for Supply, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Loss of H.M.A.S. “Voyager”.
t. - On 26th February the honorable member for Port Adelaide (Mr. Birrell) asked a question without notice as to whether the Government intends to use the provisions of the Commonwealth Employees’ Compensation Act to compel the parents of unmarried naval personnel who died in the “ Voyager “ disaster to prove dependency in order to gain entitlement to the lump sum payment of £3,000 for dependants of deceased employees, as specified in the act.
In answering the honorable member’s question, it seems necessary to observe that the Commonwealth Employees’ Compensation Act is basically designed to provide monetary benefits to offset the costs of medical treatment incurred by employees for compensable conditions and to provide financial relief for loss of earnings during incapacitation.
Likewise, in the case of death, benefits are designed to give monetary relief to persons wholly dependent upon the earnings of the deceased employee and, where there are no persons fully dependent, to those partially dependent upon the earnings of the deceased.
Provided there are no other persons fully dependent upon unmarried personnel, parents who were fully dependent upon their earnings will receive the maximum benefit payable under the act, but where a serviceman has not left any dependants wholly dependent upon his earnings the act stipulates that the compensation payable will be such sum, not exceeding the maximum amount prescribed, proportionate to the loss to the respective dependants resulting from the cessation of the earnings of the employee. Such payments will depend upon the number of partial dependants in each case and their degree of dependency. To determine entitlements it will therefore be necessary for all partial dependants to furnish information on the degree of their dependency.
d asked the Minister for Social Services, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
d asked the Minister for Social Services, upon notice -
What would have been the estimated additional cost for each of the past four years had unemployment benefit been granted to unemployed persons under the age of sixteen years at the same rate as is paid to those in the sixteen to seventeen year old group?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
No information is available as to the number of unemployed persons under the age of sixteen years.
d asked the Minister for Social Services, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
d asked the Minister for Social Services, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
son asked the Minister for Social Services, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Similar information in respect of widow’s pension is not available. Over the same period, 317 wives were granted widows’ pensions for which they became eligible because their husbands had been admitted to mental hospitals.
n asked the Minister for Social Services, upon notice -
Will he make a public statement advising recipients of the proposed increases in child endowment that they may exercise a choice of receiving payment by order book at their local post office or by cheque through the mail?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows: -
The proposed increases in the rates of child endowment will not affect existing arrangements under which endowees have a choice of receiving payment by credit to a bank account or by orders cashable at a post office. The cheque method of payment is at present confined to endowees who do not select payment by bank credit and whose entitlement exceeds £11 per four-weekly period. These arrangements are well known to endowees and I do not consider it necessary to make a public statement on the matter. I have already informed the House that the new payment of child endowment in respect of full-time students between the ages of 16 and 21 years will be paid by cheque twelve-weekly in arrear.
y asked the Minister for Social Services, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows: -
Schemes of this nature vary widely in scope and method of finance, and those in overseas countries have been closely studied by my department. The Government is of the opinion that the present system best meets the needs of this country, consequently no estimate has been made of the costs of the very wide range of alternatives. I am able to say, however, that any such scheme would involve an immediate and very substantial addition to the present costs of health and social services, which are expected to reach approximately £420,000,000 in this financial year.
y asked the Minister for Social Services, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
n asked the Minister for Social Services, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows: -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 7 April 1964, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1964/19640407_reps_25_hor41/>.