25th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. Sir John McLeay) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– Mr. Speaker, may I, on behalf of ail of us, say “ Welcome home “?
– 1 desire to ask the Minister for the Navy a question. Did Captain R. J. Robertson, R.A.N., submit his resignation to the Naval Board last week? Did the Naval Board recommend its acceptance to the Government? Did the Government, through the Executive Council, today accept the resignation, and is the matter now to be gazetted? Is the Minister prepared to make a statement on the matter?
– I am now in a position to announce to the House what has occurred in connection with this matter. His Excellency the Governor-General in Council has accepted the resignation of Captain Ronald John Robertson from the Royal Australian Navy to date from 28th September 1964. I am now free also to state why I refrained from announcing that Captain Robertson had tendered his resignation. My reason can be shortly stated. Captain Robertson’s resignation could have been withdrawn by him at any time up to its acceptance. Had I announced that he had tendered his resignation but that it had not yet been accepted, I would have deprived Captain Robertson of his opportunity to withdraw the resignation. I had no doubt that a disclosure by me at a time when second thoughts were available to him would have made it impossible for him to withdraw and, therefore, would in effect have terminated his service. This I certainly was not prepared to do. In my opinion, I had no right to disclose the offer of a resignation not yet accepted or, indeed, the contents of any communication by a serving officer to the Naval Board.
There is another aspect of this matter. 1 felt that some people might believe that the Government, through mc, should have taken some action about the posting of Captain Robertson to a shore appointment. A few minutes’ reflection will, I hope, make it quite clear that if I politically intervened in a posting made by the Board, directing that some officer should be sent to a particular post or should not be sent to a particular post, that would be a most dangerous proceeding. It would interfere with the proper administrative responsibility of the Service board and would create serious dissatisfaction in the Service itself. Promotions and postings must not depend upon political influence.
– I ask the Minister for the Navy a question. Can the Minister advise the House, as Minister for the Navy and as President of the Naval Board, whether Captain Robertson, from the day he stepped off the “ Melbourne” on 11th February, has at any time been asked to appear before the Naval Board, first, to discuss the accident; secondly, to give any information to the Naval Board for its report on the accident; and thirdly, to be censured by the Board. If not, why not?
– In answer to the honorable gentleman’s questions, if I can remember them - if I cannot, I will ask him to repeat them - first, there was no necessity for the Naval Board to ask Captain Robertson to appear before it.
– Why not?
– A public inquiry was being conducted by Mr. Justice Spicer to investigate all the ramifications of this accident. What was the second question?
– I asked whether Captain Robertson was requested to give any information to the Naval Board for its report on the accident.
– I do not see the point in that question. At all stages, Captain Robertson had a right to approach the Naval Board through the normal channels if he considered that he had any grievance for which he should seek redress. He did not avail himself of that opportunity.
– I direct my question to the Minister for External Affairs. Will he instruct our United Nations representatives to initiate with New Zealand and with South American States bordering the Pacific Ocean a protest within the United Nations condemning the proposed French tests of Atomic weapons?
– This matter is continually under the notice of the Government. I think it is the Government’s responsibility from time to time to take whatever procedure it regards as being most likely to achieve the objective.
– I address a question also to the Minister for External Affairs. In view of the famine still ravishing the people of India, and the attempts by Australia and other countries to overcome the immediate problem, what efforts are being made, directly or through the United Nations, to instil into the Indian people the need to become self contained? Is it correct that India, with a population of some 470 million people, has also a total of 235 million cattle- either beef cattle or buffaloes - still being fed, at times at the expense of humans?
– I cannot follow the purport of the latter part of the honorable member’s question, but I gather that the general intention of the question is to support a thesis that, as well as aid being given to India in the form of foodstuffs for the feeding of the human population, good work remains to be done by trying to improve the standards of agriculture in that country. I remind the honorable member and the House that this Government is participating in various measures that are directed towards the improvement of agriculture in India. We are participants in the Indus waters scheme. Indeed Australia’s contribution will be about £11 million. That scheme will benefit agriculture in both India and Pakistan. Under the Colombo Plan, we have undertaken various measures to assist the improvement of agriculture in India, particularly by the contribution of plant and equipment for agricultural purposes, the sending of Australian experts to that country and the training of Indians in Australia in this particular field of endeavour. In our interpretation of the Colombo Plan, we have taken the view that the greatest value of the Plan will come from measures that are of lasting benefit to a country because they lead to economic and industrial gains within that country.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Immigration. I ask: Is it a fact that all restrictions in connection with the issue of passports to travellers to mainland China and Eastern European countries have now been removed by the Department of Immigration? If this is a fact, will the Minister state when the change look place, why no statement was made at the time and whether the change was made in the interests of international goodwill or trade or at the special request of the countries concerned, some of which are now numbered among our best customers? Furthermore, will the Minister state whether the new procedure means that the undemocratic limitations and restrictions imposed on visitors from these countries to Australia in recent years will now be removed?
– The honorable member has asked quite a number of questions, which I cannot answer offhand. I shall give him an answer as soon as I have looked into the matter.
– My question is to the Minister for Trade and Industry. I remind him that on 1st December last year, due to increased efficiency in the wheatgrowing industry, the price of wheat within Australia was reduced by ls. Sd. a bushel, and that during the last few days various specious reasons have been given for increasing the price of bread in some States and in the Australian Capital Territory to record levels. Can the Minister inform the House, first, the percentage of bread baked in bakeries which are owned or substantially owned by flour mills or flour milling interests and. secondly, the extent to which overseas capital now controls the Australian flour milling industry?
– It is, of course, a publicly known fact that when the wheat stabilisation scheme was being renegotiated by my colleague, the Minister for Primary Industry, about a year ago, the lower costs of production of wheat in Australia - something which, I think, is synonymous with the increased efficiency of the wheat industry - led to a reduction in the price of wheat sold in Australia by ls. 5d. a bushel. To that extent, of course, the result should be in the direction of a downward movement in the cost of bread, not an upward movement. I know that in recent years, particularly over the last 10 years, many Australian bakeries have been taken over by flour milling interests or have become, in some way, financially associated with flour milling interests. It is true, as is also publicly known, that some of the major flour milling interests have come under overseas capital control. I am unable to give the honorable member any precise information along the lines that he seeks, but I will see whether there is available, without exhaustive study, any conclusive figures on this matter. If I am able to procure them I will let the honorable member have them.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Social Services. He will no doubt recall that some time ago a motion picture theatre company granted age and invalid pensioners the privilege of cheaper rates for admission to its theatres on certain days and at certain periods during the week. If my memory serves me aright, the charge is 2s. That was a splendid gesture by the company. The Minister will be aware that men’s haircuts now cost 7s., which is an exorbitant amount for pensioners to have to pay. Will the Minister confer with the Minister for Labour and National Service about making a request to the hairdressers’ union to grant pensioners a cheaper price for haircuts?
– Let me say that noone appreciates the concessions granted to age and invalid pensioners more than I do, and no-one would do more to encourage an extension of these concessions to cover a wide variety of other services that are necessary to these people. Whether my friend, (he Minister for Labour and National Service, could exercise his good offices in the direction suggested will best be left to his own decision. If anyone suffers from the high cost of haircutting more than the Minister for Labour and National Service, it is I.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Primary Industry. Has the Minister received requests from producer groups asking that the Australian Wheat Board be given authority to construct emergency storage if the greatly expanded Australian wheat crop should prove difficult to sell in the future? If so, can the Minister tell me whether this question has been resolved yet?
– When amendments were last being made to the Wheat Industry Stabilisation Bill the Australian Wheatgrowers Federation requested that the Australian Wheat Board be given power to erect storage facilities. As a consequence of that request the matter was discussed by the Australian Agricultural Council. The present position is that the States exercise the right to erect storage facilities. Because the States did not agree to an alteration of the present situation, the Australian Agricultural Council decided not to interfere and, therefore, the States retain control of storage.
– I ask the Prime Minister a question. Some time ago the Government set up a committee, under the chairmanship of Dr. Vernon, to inquire into the economy. In view of the serious falls in the share market last week and the inflationary pressure on the economy, I ask the Prime Minister whether he has received a report from this Committee. If not, will the right honorable gentleman call on the Committee to submit its report in the near future? When the report is received will the Prime Minister make it available to honorable members.
– I am grateful for the honorable member for conceding that there are inflationary pressures in the economy. As to the rest of his question, as he knows, the Committee was appointed. It has sat for a long time and has done an enormous amount of work. I am sure that we may expect its report towards the middle of October. There will be no avoidable delay in making its report available.
– Will the Minister for Trade and Industry say whether over the weekend he said that 1,100 branches of overseas firms have had limited franchises placed upon them in Australia by their overseas principals? As this action severely limits the possibility of export from this section of industry, will the Minister toll the House what action, if any, is contemplated or is practicable in relation to this matter? Is there a possibility that this kind of restriction could be brought within the ambit of the proposed restrictive trade practices legislation?
– Over the weekend I was an invited speaker at the Institute of Management conference in Canberra. As I recall, the subject matter on which I was invited to speak was: “ How can Australian companies investing in Asia avoid the criticisms that fall upon overseas companies investing in Australia “. One of the matters that I mentioned was restricted franchises. I said that as far as the Department of Trade and Industry was able to ascertain, a year or so ago there were some 1,100 agreements between Australian producers - some Australian owned, some overseas owned and some having a composite ownership - which did restrict the opportunity of the Australian producer to export. Speaking from memory I think those franchises covered some 700 items or some 700 companies - I forget which it was. I pointed out that this situation was undesirable. It was dealing with production in the climate established by the Government of this country. Australia and every Asian country which we were discussing had problems of earning sufficient exchange. I pointed out that if the climate of the country was. good enough to invest and produce in, this should warrant freedom for the producer in the country to export and earn exchange.
I have spoken of this matter of restricted franchise, as have the Prime Minister and, I think, the Treasurer. We have not made any rules because it is not easy to make rules, but I have, with the authority of the Government, written to very many companies on this subject, and I am able to say that in a number of instances the “ public interest “ point of view put by the Government has resulted in the termination or modification of many of these things. In short, this Government believes it is better to achieve a result by persuasion than by duress. We believe in this, but where the public interest is touched to an important extent we are not unwilling, as a last resort, to exercise some more powerful influence than sheer persuasion. Whether this would be an appropriate matter for inclusion in restrictive trade practices legislation is not for me to say at this time.
– I direct a question to the Prime Minister. Is the right honorable gentleman aware that recently a spokesman for the Australian Wheat Board stated that ample quantities of wheat were available in Australia to make a gift to India but that only the Government could take the necessary action? Has the Government considered making such a gift? Will the Prime Minister arrange for Australia to make a gift to a fellow member country of the Commonwealth to enable that country to feed its starving millions?
– I am not aware of this matter but I will find out about it. In any event this involves, of course, plainly a matter of Government policy. However, I shall certainly look into it.
– I direct a question to the Minister for the Navy. In view of his announcement of the acceptance of the resignation of Captain Robertson, will the Minister say what provision is to be made for retirement benefits to be granted to Captain Robertson?
– If an officer resigns before his scheduled retiring age he can, under the Act, receive a pension under these conditions: First, if he is retired to meet the needs of the Service; secondly, if the date of resignation is within three years of the scheduled retiring age and with the approval of the Service board he leaves to establish himself in civil employment; or, thirdly, if he should become entitled to an invalidity pension. None of these conditions has been satisfied on this occasion. Therefore the officer will receive a refund of his contributions and such payments as are due to him from accrued furlough or recreation leave.
– I ask the Minister for Immigration a question supplementary to that asked by the honorable member for Grayndler. I ask whether the Department of Immigration now issues passports which do not state that they are not valid for travel in mainland China or eastern European countries. I also ask when the Department commenced to issue passports which did not exclude travel to these countries.
– The issue of passports and the regulations under which they are issued are matters that are subject to scrutiny from time to time. As I have said to the honorable member for Grayndler, I intend to look into the matter and give a definite reply because I want to make sure of giving accurate replies to questions of this nature.
– I direct my question to the Minister representing the Minister for Customs and Excise. Does the Minister appreciate the fact that with the tremendous wave of building development in Sydney over recent years few buildings are now left which can be regarded as traditional landmarks characterised by beauty and grace and as picturesque as the Customs House at Circular Quay? Can the Minister say whether the Government intends to demolish this fine old building because of its alleged inadequacy for present needs, and replace it with one built according to the modern concept which to many Sydney folk is ugly and unimaginative?
– It is true that the Customs House in Sydney is no longer adequate for present day needs. A number of alternative courses are open. The Department of Customs and Excise could vacate the building and build another one somewhere else. It could perhaps secure the rebuilding, or modification and extension of the present building, preserving the facade as much as possible in its present free-standing position. Thirdly, of course, it could demolish the building and erect a modern one in its place. Those alternatives are being considered by the Government. The Minister for the Interior has a close interest in this matter, as also have the State and City Council authorities in New South Wales. All those interests will be consulted, and, no doubt, in due course some decision on the matter will be announced.
– I preface a question addressed to the Minister for External Affairs by stating that the Minister is doubtless aware that recently M. Pompidou, the French Prime Minister, made a stop-over in Darwin on his way to Tahiti to inspect preparations for French nuclear tests. In the light of the Government’s expressed opposition to French nuclear tests in the Pacific, why was it necessary for a representative of the Australian Government to be on hand to meet M. Pompidou?
– The answer is short. Courtesy.
– I address a question to the Prime Minister. If, as the right honorable gentleman said in Sydney last week, “ Australia had never lived in a state of greater risk “, why has the Government not already taken the necessary action to provide a defence potential commensurate with such risk? As 44.5 per cent, of the recruits for the Australian Regular Army during the last year were between the ages of 17 and 19 years, the latter being the earliest age for active service, and the total of recruits for the last three months would not even provide for wastage, when does the Government propose to re-introduce national service training involving the calling up of 14,000 a year, or some similar scheme to provide the necessary man power for the defence potential which must be built up? Does the Government intend to continue making an appeal to the pockets and not to patriotism of young Australians?
– The honorable gentleman will realise that this is a matter of policy. I do not propose to enter into a debate. Some of the statements he has made are debatable and we will shortly be engaged in an examination of a review of the defence programme. When that has been completed, no doubt the fullest possible statement will be made to the House.
– I address a question to the Minister for Immigration. Did the honorable gentleman address a meeting of Maltese yesterday? Did he inform the Maltese that it was desirable that they become naturalised as soon as practicable? Is the honorable gentleman aware that this has caused great confusion as the Maltese seem to think that they are British subjects and do not have to be naturalised?
– I thank the honorable member for Scullin for bringing this matter up. I did address a meeting of Maltese and other representatives at their celebration of the independence of Malta yesterday. I am nol quite sure whether I was misreported; I would not like to claim that I was. 1 might have said “ naturalised “, because by usage that is a word that comes more naturally to the tongue. Actually, I intended to suggest that they apply for registraiton because, after 12 months, British subjects are entitled to apply for registration as Australians. I intended to use the word “ registration “ not “ naturalisation “. I think that should clarify the matter.
– I address a question to the Minister for Primary Industry arising out of a statement by the International Wool Secretariat that a scientist, Dr. Ronald Ross, has found a new process for adding crimp to wool. It is hailed as a major break through which will make marginal wools suitable for carpets and it is believed by the International Wool Secretariat that the technique will also be of value in apparel wools. Is any further information about this discovery available through the Department of Primary Industry? In view of the great impact that this discovery could have on the wool industry and the balance between wool and meat breeds of sheep, will the Minister follow future developments closely and keep the industry informed of any progress made?
– I h..ve heard that Dr. Ross has made certain progress in adding to the crimp in some wools, especially the New Zealand types of wool, which can be used for carpets if there is a greater degree of crimp for .resilience. But much more work must be done before the process can be said to be a complete success. Of course, with the responsibility for research that is jointly borne by my Department and the Australian Wool Board, we will certainly keep ourselves informed of any developments. I will see that the Australian Wool Board makes any information available to the industry.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for the Navy. At page 1091 of “Hansard”, the Minister is reported as saying - the Admiral . . . was not on board (hut night because he had been summoned to . . .
– Order! Is the honorable member seeking information for a debate that is about to take place?
– No. I am just asking a question. The Minister may remember saying that the Admiral was in Canberra.
– Order! I think the honorable member should exercise a little care, or 1 will have to rule that his question is out of order. Does his question relate to Captain Robertson?
– No, it has nothing to do with Captain Robertson. I am seeking information. 1 ask: Who issued the summons to Admiral Becher to come to Canberra?
– Order! If the honorable member’s question relates to an occurrence on the “ Voyager “, T point out to him that such a question would bc out of order.
– I am grateful for your assistance, Sir, but I am trying to ask the Minister about a conference that was held in Canberra. He is reported in “ Hansard “ as having said that the Admiral of the Fleet was summoned to Canberra. 1 am asking who issued the summons.
– Order! I must rule the honorable member’s question out of order. I am not familiar with everything that has happened and, in the circumstances, and in the interests of everybody concerned, I think it would be proper for me to rule the question out of order. I will have a look at the question and if it is in order I will give the honorable member the first call at question time tomorrow.
– My question is addressed to the Prime Minister and relates to the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act. When, under the Act, an officer is entitled to receive a refund of his contributions, would it be true to say that he has been swindled in the sense that, owing to the impact of inflation, having paid good money into the Treasury he receives debased money in repayment? Can the right honorable gentleman say whether it is intended to rectify this patent injustice?
– Really, my friend, the honorable member for Bradfield, must realise that he is putting a question that concerns every kind of fixed obligation undertaken by the Government, including loans as well as payments under the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act. He is, therefore, raising a question which goes far beyond defence forces retirement benefits and raises the proposition that whenever a Government accepts an obligation it should meet that obligation in terms of an adjusted currency. This has been thought of many times but, so far as I know, never with favour.
– Before calling the next . honorable member I direct the attention of the honorable member for Batman to Standing Order No. 144, particularly that part which appears at the top of page 35 of the Standing Orders. I think he will feel more satisfied if he reads the Standing Order.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Territories. He is no doubt aware that much goodwill is engendered by the visits of Australian sporting bodies to Papua and New Guinea. Every year, teams representing such sports as rugby league, Australian rules and cricket visit Papua and New Guinea. It is very difficult to reach finality on the composition of the teams before the Friday afternoon, or sometimes the Friday night, and this presents difficulties in obtaining permission from Canberra for the visit. I may say here that I appreciate the assistance of departmental officers in helping the members of the teams to get to New Guinea. Will the Minister look into the possibility of giving the Sub-Collector of Customs in Cairns, who handles the problems of the Department up there, the right to grant permission for teams to visit the Territory by air from Friday to Monday morning?
– The Government grants many opportunities to sporting bodies to visit the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. We like to facilitate these visits as far as possible, but I am very doubtful whether I can accede to his request for decisions to be made locally in this matter. I will certainly look into the matter and see whether that is possible.
– I address to the Minister for Air a question which concerns the Fill A bomber which is to be introduced into the Royal Australian Air Force. Can the Minister inform me whether the Fill A bomber is referred to in the United States of America as the TFX fighter? Can we assume from this that the Fill A, under certain circumstances, can be regarded as a fighter as well as a bomber? Why have the Americans referred to the machine as being really great when Opposition members appear to consider that the TSR2 is a better proposition?
– The F111A was designed as a multi-purpose tactical aircraft, and as such is able to carry out the roles of both a fighter and a bomber. There are many other aircraft in the same category, such as the Phantom. We have found that we need this aircraft in the role of a bomber. We have adopted it for that purpose and modified it for that purpose. Regarding the second part of the question asked by the honorable member, all I can say is that the TSR2 was designed in the United Kingdom for purposes peculiarly suited to the Royal Air Force. The FI IIA has been designed to suit the needs of the American Air Force. In our own sphere of action we find that the FI IIA is more suitable at the present time for our purposes than the other aircraft, though I am sure that both are equally suitable in their respective realms.
– I direct a question to the Postmaster-General. Is it correct that the small amount of revenue expected from viewers’ licence fees is the main obstacle confronting the Government with regard to establishing and maintaining a national television station in areas of Australia with small populations, such as Geraldton and Kalgoorlie? If such is the case, has the Government given any thought to accepting advertising with a view to increasing revenue from such stations? If so. has anything along that line been determined? If no such consideration has been given, will the Postmaster-General now contemplate th:it proposition? If he will not, why nol?
– In regard to these television stations in areas with small populations, the principal consideration is not merely one of the revenue which would be received. As to accepting advertising, the policy of the Government is opposed to doing this on national stations.
– My question is directed to the Minister for the Interior. I refer to reports that Australian meteorologists are receiving weather information from the recently launched United States satellite Nimbus I. Can the Minister say whether this weather information will be of any particular benefit in the preparation of forecasts for the rural areas of northern New South Wales, where drought conditions are being experienced in some localities?
– Probably one of the greatest advances that have been made in weather forecasting has been the launching of the United States weather-watching satellites. The first group of these was the Tiros satellites, and only last week the Americans started a new group called the Nimbus satellites. The latter satellites have the special ability to take photographs of areas of about 1,000 square miles as they go around the world. They relay these photographs back to the earth. In Melbourne we have a read-out station which picks up these signals. However, that station does not pick up signals covering the whole of Australia. It is hoped that in the near future we will have another station established in Brisbane. The establishment of that station will give us more information about such things as tropical cyclones and floods, which affect Queensland and northern New South Wales. Wilh that additional information, we must achieve still better weather forecasting than we have had in the past.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister. The Australian Shareholders Association has complained of grave irregularities in connection with the sale of Commonwealth shares in the pharmaceutical firm, Schering Pty. Ltd. I ask the Prime Minister whether he will investigate complaints that the method of sale discriminated against Australian investors and favoured large bidders from overseas and that inadequate time and information were available to prospective tenderers - in fact, far less than the Companies Act would require of a private company offering shares for sale to the public.
– It is not always within the ability of this Government or of the Treasury to find out about matters of this kind. But, as I do not know about this matter myself, I certainly will find out as much as I can and advise the honorable member.
– I address a question to the Minister for Trade and Industry. As the four big car manufacturers - General Motors-Holden’s Pty. Ltd., the Ford Motor Company of Australia Pty. Ltd., Volkswagen (Australasia) Pty. Ltd. and Chrysler Australia Ltd. - are reported to have stated yesterday, in sworn evidence before the Tariff Board that they do not need protection against imports of Japanese built-up motor vehicles will the Minister assure me that no emergency action will be taken by the Government against imports of such vehicles from Japan?
– The circumstances under which the emergency tariff - the tariff introduced on the advice of the Special Advisory Authority - may be imposed are set down in the relevant statute. They have been explained to the House and arc understood by all industry. It would be completely improper for me as Minister to give to a private member or to any other person an assurance that under no circumstances would a protective tariff be applied. That question will depend entirely upon the operation of the law and the recommendations of the Special Advisory Authority set up under the law.
– Will the Minister for Housing explain why officers of the Reserve Bank of Australia are excluded from the homes savings grant of £250, although they arc paying for their homes on exactly the same terms as are officers of government and private trading and savings banks, who receive the grant? Why is this grant not made available to officers of the Reserve Bank? Will the Minister have the Homes Savings Grant Act amended to include these officers?
– These officers are not excluded from the Act.
– Supplementary to the question asked by the honorable member for Cowper, I ask the Minister for the Interior whether information received from the United States satellite Nimbus I will be of any benefit to Western Australia.
– I point out that one of the great virtues of these satellites is that they can photograph areas where there are no observation stations, such as the Great Australian Bight, the area down to the Antarctic and southern areas of the Indian Ocean. If we can get photographs showing air movements and cloud masses in those areas and incorporate them in weather maps we must be able thereby to give more reliable weather forecasts. As the weather in the Southern Hemisphere always moves from the west, which means that the weather in Western Australia comes from across the Indian Ocean, these improved maps must give Western Australia better weather forecasts.
– I have received a letter from the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) proposing that a definite matter of public importance be submitted to the House for discussion, namely -
The need for the Government to protect the living standards of the Australian people by immediately seeking ways to prevent the serious erosion of pensions, other fixed incomes and arbitration wages which results from increases o£ prices which are not subject to effective control as are these incomes.
I call upon those members who approve of the proposed discussion to rise in their places. (More than the number of members required by the Standing Orders having risen in their places) -
– The purpose which the Opposition seeks to serve in raising this matter is to make the Government, the Parliament and the public realise the very serious position in which the national economy rests at the moment, and to demand action to prevent another burst of price inflation. We pose two simple questions: First, what does the Government intend to do to prevent price increases, and how and when does it propose to act? Secondly, how does the Government propose to prevent the burden of price increases falling entirely upon the wage and salary earners and their dependants, those on fixed incomes, those in receipt of pensions and primary producers? So far as we can see the Government has no answer to these questions. So far as we know the Government will let the the economy drift until mounting pressures force another ruinous credit squeeze sometime early next year. That this possibility exists was emphasised by the Governor of the Reserve Bank, Dr. Coombs, in his 1964 report, which was presented to this Parliament within the last few weeks. He said -
Experience has shown that prolonged excesses in either demand or supply of liquid assets can create serious instability which cannot then be corrected without harsh measures.
In today’s Press Mr. Staniforth Ricketson of Melbourne, the chairman of J. B. Were & Son, the great stockbroking firm, is reported as having warned investors about a new burst of inflation. He advised these people - to watch closely for any movements in prices and costs which could precipitate further official action to curb the rate of expenditure.
Only a few minutes ago in this House, in answer to the honorable member for Kennedy (Mr. Riordan), the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) said -
I am pleased that the honorable member for Kennedy realises that inflationary pressures do exist.
We want to know .what the Government proposes to do about these matters.
The Opposition wants action now - not next year. We propose - indeed, we demand -the institution of some form of national price control right now. If the Commonwealth does not possess the necessary powers it should move to obtain them from the people by referendum or by reference of them by the States. Let us not hear from the Government any doctrinaire arguments about price control being a limitation of freedom. There is no freedom, because price control does exist. But it is a private price control system, maintained by monopolies which reach private arrangements in secret to suit themselves and without regard to the public interest. This is the system of price control that exists today. The Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission itself emphasised this point in its 1963 margins decision. The Commission said -
We are not prepared to assume that prices will necessarily move in consonance with any economic doctrine; rather, they will move in consonance with decisions of those who determine prices, although it may be that these decisions will to a varying degree be influenced by general economic considerations. We think it an oversimplification to relate the movement in prices to general economic considerations only.
As I say, there is price control, but it is private price control. What the Labour Party wants is public price control, that is, control of prices by some Commonwealth Governmental authority in the same way as wages and salaries are controlled by Government appointed arbitration authorities. The question as it affects the public is not whether there shall be price control, cither limited or extensive, but is who shall control the machinery of price fixing? Shall it be done by public control or through private manipulation?
Never let it be said that there can be no control of prices without a corresponding control of salaries and wages. The simple fact is that salaries and wages are controlled-
– They are controlled through the arbitration and conciliation systems, both Commonwealth and State. The egregious Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) says: “ Nonsense “, when I say that salaries and wages are controlled by the arbitration system. Who else controls them but the arbitration system, under which the mintmum prescribed becomes the maximum paid, unless the workers, through scarcity of labour, receive over-award payments.
Over-award payments are made throughout Australia today, and there are many people also receiving overtime payments. In the survey issued a week ago by the Minister it was shown by his department that 68 per cent, of the factories covered by the survey were working overtime and that 36 per cent, of the workers in those factories were receiving overtime payments. The only way in which the average salary and wage earner can live today in the way he wants to live is by working overtime, by getting over-award payments or by sending his wife out to work. In Australia today, 40 per cent, of the female labour force consists of married women. Let the Minister look at that one.
– What is wrong with that?
– We believe that a worker ought to receive a sufficient wage or salary to maintain himself, his wife and his children in comfort without his wife having to go to work. We do not object to wives going to work, but they should not have to do so. Under the present system, the only way in which families can meet increasing prices is by wives going to work.
The result of this one-sided control that I have described is that, while prices soar, the benefit of any wage and salary increases granted by the conciliation and arbitration tribunals is almost immediately torn away from wage and salary earners. One of the most disturbing aspects of the present situation is that there is a concerted campaign to place the blame for the inflationary situation on the trade unions. The Commonwealth aids and abets this campaign. Indeed, the Commonwealth probably inspires it. There is an attempt to suggest that the trade unions should not seek higher wages and that, by doing so, they are damaging the economy. The other argument is that, if wages and salaries were pegged, those who received them would be better off. This is just not true, because prices are always rising and wages are always lagging behind. 1 think I remember the Prime Minister making this admission himself some considerable time ago. The fact is that the craft unions and white collar unions have no alternative but to attempt to obtain for their members a fair share of rising productivity in the form of wage and salary increases through the arbitration system.
– I do not think Mr. Justice Kirby would agree that wages are lagging behind.
– T leave the judge to his own labours and his own consideration of the problem. I hope he does justice to the workers when the next application comes before him.
– The Government has allowed the judgment to be debased.
– -That is right. The Government is debasing the economy by allowing inflation to increase. Does anybody suggest that the £1 increase in the basic wage in June was unreasonable or that the £2 sought by the Australian Council of Trade Unions was unreasonable? When, the benefits of the increase of £1 have already been taken away by the price manipulators, is it unreasonable for the A.C.T.U. to seek a further adjustment early next year? In June last, the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission granted an increase of £1 in the basic wage - the first increase for three years. In the opinion of the Commission, the economy could afford such an increase without any danger of inflation. This was to be the wage earner’s share of the rising productivity for which he himself had been so largely responsible over the preceding three years. Apparently, it was intended also to enable him to meet the increase in the cost of living that had taken place in that time. But no sooner had the wage increase been granted than a cry went lip from employers, manufacturers and retailers to the effect that price increases were inevitable. The Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt), in a statement of appalling irresponsibility, agreed with these claims and virtually invited those who maintain their own private prices control to increase prices. The Melbourne “ Herald “, on 4th September, estimated that prices and charges for items affecting the average wage earner had already risen by 21s. 8id. a week in the three months since June. So the people were worse off than ever. This increase can be regarded as merely the first instalment in the new impending inflation.
In 1948, the Liberal Party of Australia succeeded in influencing the Australian people to vote against the prices referendum and to abandon the prices control mechanism that had brought the nation through the war and the difficult reconstruction period without any serious inflation. The result of the defeat of the referendum was the worst inflation in the nation’s history and almost the worst experienced by any nation in the Western world. The arguments that the Liberal Party used in the 1948 referendum campaign make interesting and quite amusing reading nowadays. The Liberal Party relied on two main arguments. One was that the working of the free market system would prevent inflation. The other was that the States were the proper authorities to control prices. The present Prime Minister painted horrific pictures of what would happen to the nation’s liberties if prices control were centralised at Canberra. I suppose that he talked then about Marx and Engels, as he did the other day when speaking about the national control of education. Now, by bitter experience, we know better. The States cannot effectively control prices, and the free market economy as depicted by enthusiastic Liberal propaganda is a myth and a delusion. Practically no branch of industry in Australia is not controlled either by one or two big firms or by trade associations whose object it is to fix prices. These interests - the Government’s friends and financial backers - take advantage of any wage increase to raise their prices. These interests make a mockery of the idea of a free market economy by their system of private prices control.
The Government’s restrictive trade practices legislation - if it ever reaches the statute book - will do very little indeed to strike at the roots of this problem. The Government has at its disposal under the present system four means by which it can tackle an inflationary situation. The Government has means (1) to force competition by breaking up the private prices control system maintained by monopolists, (2) to influence the situation by monetary policy, (3) to adopt a correct fiscal policy and (4) to institute prices control. None of the first three is likely to be particularly effective if applied by the Menzies Administration. As the leading American economist, J. K. Galbraith, has said -
Neither monetary nor fiscal policy make contact with the present form of inflation in an effective and practical way. Firms in the concentrated sector of the economy can advance their prices, and do, whenever the economy is at or even near full capacity and employment.
That is a very accurate description of our present situation. Galbraith warns that, whatever anti-trust laws can do, there is no hope for an inflation remedy in antitrust laws. He goes on -
Only one course of action remains. That is some form of public intervention in that part of the economy where full employment or an approach to full employment means inflationary price and wage increases. Economists in considerable numbers are coming to accept the need for such intervention.
That, Sir, is the policy of the Australian Labour Party - public regulation as opposed to private regulation. It is the policy, too, of the Australian Council of Trade Unions. With the concurrence of the House, I shall incorporate in “ Hansard “ the four point programme drawn up last month by the Council. It is as follows, -
I thank the House for its courtesy in allowing me to incorporate that material in the record, Sir.
The attitude of the present Government is clearly to allow matters to drift in the clamorous and haphazard way that has characterised its stop-go policies over the past decade. Unless action is taken now. an inflationary situation of frightening propor tions will develop in 1965. On behalf of wage and salary earners, pensioners, those on fixed incomes and primary producers - the people who will suffer from such inflation - we demand action now.
– Mr. Deputy Speaker, the case just put by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) shows how confused and irrational is the way in which the Opposition approaches economic and financial problems. This approach parallels its agonising and mixedup thinking on foreign affairs and today’s vital ideological issues. The proposal made to the House for discussion as a definite matter of public importance represented an attempt to show that the Australian Labour Party is interested in pensioners and people on fixed incomes. It soon became obvious, however, that the Leader of the Opposition was attempting not to express concern for those people but to take some part in the programme now being developed for an increase in the basic wage, which will result in a log of claims for an increase being made next year.
Before I move on to the proposition put by the honorable gentleman, I should like to state this Government’s policy. As a result of what has been said, I hope that the Labour Party at long last will recognise that inflation must be resisted, and that the absence of inflation provides the best conditions for the promotion of national development and the expansion of export income. This is the foundation which will permit us to boost our immigration programme and assist us to sustain long term development. I have never heard the Opposition acknowledge this proposition before.
This Government has a remarkably good record. In the last three or four years, that is, between the June quarters of 1961 and 1964, the consumer price index has risen by only 1.6 per cent. In competitive terms, that increase is better than the record of any other industrialised country in that period. I am delighted to be able to say that in the period June 1961 to June 1964, our gross national product rose from £7,266 million to £8,732 million, or an increase of about 20 per cent. These are records of which any government and any people can be proud - a 20 per cent.
Increase in the gross national product and a consumer price index rise the equivalent of 1.6 per cent.
The Opposition’s case is based on the argument that price rises should not depend upon increases in the costs of raw materials and of wages. It only has to be stated in that form to make it appear how illogical, how irrational and how foolish is the Opposition’s thinking. If rises in wages and incomes are substantial, then unless you can get a rise in productivity equal to the rise in wages and salaries, of necessity, you get an increase in prices. The Opposition obviously does not understand why the Commission in its 1964 decision recognised the fact that inflationary pressures were strong and could probably lead to price increases.
The Opposition suggests that the Government should turn away from accepted and recognised methods of influencing the economy, lt now advocates methods that Labour parties here and in other parts of the world tried so disastrously in the immediate post war years. In other words, they do not believe in persuasion and in incentives and in giving the economy an opportunity to expand and develop. Labour’s policy on all these economic problems has been that the only method is of control and coercion - of making people do what the Labour Party feels is best in the interests of the Labour Party. The methods it has recommended have failed in the past and would, of necessity, fail in the future. They deny the facts of economic life.
I move on now to the two arguments implied in the arguments by the Leader of the Opposition. There has been a campaign in recent weeks by the left wing unions to try to prove that the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission determined that there should be no increases in prices consequent upon the 20s. increase in the basic wage. This is not correct. All members of the Commission recognised that there were strong inflationary pressures existing and that the probability of inflation was there. Two members of the Commission - and their judgments should be read because they are are exceptionally good judgments– said that if you increase wages substantially then price rises will become inevitable. Before the Commission the Government argued that a moderate wage increase could probably be absorbed; a large one would undoubtedly cause inflation. Two judges accepted this point of view. Two other judges did not and, on the casting decision of the President of the Commission, the £1 increase was granted. My point is that it was then accepted by the Commission that price rises would probably occur. As the Commission saw the possibilities, and as many other people foresaw before the Commission made its decision, price rises are in fact occurring.
It is obvious from the argument of the Leader of the Opposition that he is now supporting the trade union case for an increase in the basic wage next year. It is obvious that the Australian Council of Trade Unions intends to base its case for an increase on changes in the consumer price index. I point out to the House that the Commission itself has long since abandoned the idea that changes in the basic wage - or, for that matter, margins - should depend on changes in prices. The modern concept - and one which must be recognised - is that changes in the basic wage depend upon the capacity of industry to pay. There is some ground for different interpretations of the .1964 decision of the Commission. In each of the last three years the Commission has adjourned the basic wage hearing. It decided to have a review of the basic wage each four years on the basis of capacity to pay. An application could be made to have a hearing each year to decide whether prima facie there was to be an increase in the basic wage dependent on changes in the consumer index. It is not certain that next year the hearing can bc limited to an application based solely on a rise in consumer prices. What has happened is that instead of adjourning the case, a decision was made. If there is to be an increase in the basic wage a new log of claims will have to be filed and the case as to the capacity of the economy to pay will have to be fully argued before the Commission.
I point out that in the 1961 case the Commission itself recognised three sets of circumstances in which there would not necessarily be an increase in the basic wage. They were, first, when there was a fall in our export prices or changes in our terms of trade; secondly, when the Government had taken action to reduce demand and had, as one of the measures, increased consumption taxes. Thirdly - and this is one which the House should recognise and so should all those who are now suggesting a 1965 application - the Commission has noted the argument of Professor Downing that if price increases are a consequence of wage increases then the worker himself must bear some part of the burden. So, a basic wage increase following price increases will not be automatic. The Commission will not automatically apply the consumer price index and increase wages as the consumer price index rises.
I turn now to what the Government has, in fact, achieved. The Leader of the Opposition referred to two matters. The first was the Commonwealth basic wage itself. He made the false statement that the basic wage earner and the salary earner have recourse only to the Arbitration Commission and therefore are subject to controls. I point out that the increase in the consumer price index in recent years has been 1.6 per cent. I first of all point out that the recent increase of £1 in the Commonwealth basic wage, was equivalent to a 7 per cent. rise. The preceding increase of 12s. took place in July 1961, at the outset of the three year period. The average margin - the other main component of award wages - has increased by 12 per cent, since mid-1961. No-one can say that the wage earner has not received justice - an increase of 1.6 per cent, in the consumer index over the period I have mentioned; an increase in the basic wage recently of 7 per cent.; and an increase in the margin, which brought the average marginal increase to 12 per cent, since mid-1961.
Action has been taken in the Arbitration Commission to increase the purchasing power of the wage earner. I want, in fact, to ensure that the purchasing power of the wage earner is consistently increased. The critical point is that award payments are not the only elements of average income. Overaward payments and overtime payments are now being made, and the average income of wage and salary earners is higher today than it has ever been. Look at the other element - and all of us want to see justice done to the pensioner. Surely the figures speak for them selves. Since June 1961 - the period we have under review - the total age pension payable to a married pensioner couple has increased from. £10 to £11 weekly, an increase of 10 per cent. For all other age pensioners - more than 60 per cent, of the total number of pensioners - the increase in the pension has been from £5 to £6 weekly, or 20 per cent. So, there you see action taken by the Government to protect the position of the pensioner.
I come back to the main argument of the Leader of the Opposition. I do not believe in tying up the economy with all forms of control. I believe the best way to induce industry and commerce to work efficiently are incentives and sound fiscal and monetary measures. In recent months the Reserve Bank has acted to reduce liquidity and has played a very prominent and important part in reducing inflationary and speculative tendencies. Similarly, the Government took action in the Budget to increase company tax by 6d. in the £1 and to remove the 5 per cent, rebate on personal income tax. Those actions were designed to ensure that the people most able to pay were in fact taxed the most heavily, lt will be seen that the Government has applied a monetary policy and a fiscal policy to achieve our objectives of both growth and monetary stability.
If the Labour Party were sincere and believed in keeping inflationary pressures within bounds it should have the courage to take two courses of action. First, it should go to some of its alleged left-wing supporters and induce them to take off some of the pressures now being exerted to make some industries pay more than they are capable of paying. In my speech on the Budget I made a plea for careful thought by the entrepreneur before he raised prices. I made a plea also to the left wing trade unions not to push their present powerful position too far and by this means to bring about inflationary forces that would lead in time to a sharp increase in prices. If the Opposition is sincere, let it appeal to those left wing unions not to push their fortunes too far. Let them have some sense of responsibility to the nation, particularly for the wage earner, the pensioner and the exporter.
The other element that is pushing up our costs is the irresponsible action of some sections of the left wing in pulling on strikes- without any good reason or motive but for purely political purposes or in order to exploit the very powerful position, they command in the economy today. These actions must increase prices and deprive the wage earner and the pensioner of what they have earned or been granted by the Government. This is a test of the Labour Party’s sincerity, lt wants controls. It has always lived for controls. It is unable to handle the left wing trade unions. The Labour Party, if it attempted to control the actions of the left wing unions would make a real contribution to national development and prices stability in this country in both the ways I have mentioned - a responsible attitude to over-award payments, and a responsible attitude to the means of securing this objective.
.- The verbiage and casuistry of the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) will certainly not convince the people of Australia of what is the true position. I can imagine the jeers of the persons who in retirement have just collected the value of their life assurance policy or are collecting a superannuation payment based on commitments entered into at an earlier stage in their lives. As I see the situation, we have come in this country to the end of a period of post-war inflation which is unparalleled in the so-called Western democracies. The Government has reached the point of no return. The moment of political and economic truth has arrived for the people of Australia - a moment of disenchantment with the Government and its policies. In well informed financial circles there is active speculation at the moment as to the possibility of a swingeing supplementary Budget being introduced early next year.
An inflationary situation exists in Australia today. This is admitted even by honorable members opposite. This is a situation which the Government, both by precept and example, is unable and unwilling to control. Worse, it is a situation in which its masters - the faceless financial men - have a vested interest by reason of their speculative greed and their ability to take a quick profit out of an inflationary situation. The people of Australia are weary of the specious delights of inflation. The cynicism and resentment of the fixed income groups of the nation - the recipients of award wages, the pensioners, and the recipients of superannuation - have reached the point of explosion, as the present situation in Victoria well exemplifies. The thrifty holders of trustee securities, savings bank deposits and life assurance policies watch impotently while the value of their hard earned savings is progressively eroded by a villainous inflation. Last November the electors were told that they had never had it so good. Now they know the brutal truth - they have never been had so well and by such experienced practitioners in the art of political deception.
Since the advent of this Government in 1949 financial inflation has been not merely tolerated but even facilitated by the Government’s economic ineptitude. Wages have chased prices and have never caught up with them. Today in the economic rat race wages lag further behind prices than ever before. To worsen the situation, periodic adjustments of the Federal basic wage have been long since abandoned. Now, in New South Wales, for well publicised reasons, legislation is being introduced to abandon periodic adjustments of the basic wage. I say with all the emphasis I can command that if periodic basic wage adjustments are not to be made, certain price components of the basic wage structure must be stabilised and controlled. The only economic certainty in Australia today is the continuance of control of wages and the further progressive dwindling of the purchasing power of wages, pensions, annuities, assurance policies and all forms of savings because of the defective economic controls which exist in an antiquated Federal Constitution that we have inherited from a horse and buggy age.
The instant rises in the price of commodities, goods and services which have followed and completely absorbed already the recent increase of £1 in the Federal basic wage are a national scandal. Throughout Australia housewives, trade unionists and all the other categories of fixed income recipients that I have specified are bitterly critical of uncontrolled prices and controlled wages. The criticism is directed most particularly to the increase.! in the cost of food, essential clothing and the various commodities and services that have been taken into account by the Arbitration Court in fixing the recent wage increase. The cry heard throughout Australia is: “What is the use of a £1 wage increase if the racketeers take back £1 10s. in price increases? “ It is manifestly absurd, after the Arbitration Commission has insisted on having proved to it, by the full formalities of the rules of evidence, the existence of prior price rises to justify a wage increase, to find the same wage increase being used immediately by the producers of the relevant goods and commodities to justify a still further price increase, which they award to themselves without the intervention of any court. To add further injustice, there are the inexcusable delays of a cumbrous system of wage fixation.
As the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) said, during the last war the Labour Government introduced prices control. It had the right to do so by virtue of emergency powers granted under the Constitution. Subsequent to a challenge in 1948 and it being proved that the need for wartime controls no longer existed, the Labour Government submitted the question to the people by way of referendum because Labour visualised the inflation that would follow the removal of prices control. An appeal was made to the people to give the Commonwealth power to continue to exercise price control. Almost as a reflex political action Labour’s move was opposed by the present Prime Minister and by the Liberal and Country Parties. The people were told in dulcet tones that prices control was a wartime measure and should be abandoned joyously. They were told - this is on record - that the six sovereign States had power to control and administer prices more effectively than the national Government. The people were told that the natural laws of supply and demand would operate. Instead we have had the bushranging code of stand and deliver, which has resulted from as unscrupulous a gang of price racketeers as have ever disgraced this country. This had caused a period of inflation which has continued for more than 16 years, inflation that the present Government is both unwilling and unable to control.
At the present time, sole powers of price control reside in the six States, and the States have clear powers only in connection with goods and services produced and provided in those States. If a State attempts to regulate the sale in another State of goods produced in the first State it finds that it has no constitutional control powers, especially when the vendor company happens to be one with interstate affiliations or one that trades on an interstate basis. This is a situation that the Minister would have us believe is satisfactory. There is only one answer and that is the restoration of price control to the national Government as a result of a referendum.
There is another development which has exacerbated the resentment of the people even further. Even the wretched handful of commodities that can be bought with present wages are inferior because, as a matter of deliberate policy, the best of this country’s goods, commodities and foodstuffs are being sent overseas where they are sold at reduced prices. The weakest and most worthy elements in the community are being asked to subsidize, by paying exaggerated internal prices, the dumping of these goods overseas.
Inflation, Sir, is economic theft. It is the most heinous of economic crimes and is the parent of national economic disruption. We have a government in Australia today which has a record of super profits for monopolies. It is a government that has actively encouraged the growth of oligopoly, with excessive hire purchase interest rates. We have seen the growth of fringe and black market banking institutions, excessive interest rates, major company frauds, takeover bids and, above all, uninhibited price inflation. This Government will ignore the temper of the Australian people at its peril. It will be called to book and it will go out unwept, unhonoured and unsung, and justly execrated for the economic injustices it has inflicted upon the people of Australia.
.- It is strange that Labour members should come into this House and ask the Government to bring in legislation for price stability. When Labour was in power we had evidence of the most roaring inflation that this country has ever seen. During 1949, the last year of office of the Labour Government, prices rose by 10 per cent. Notwithstanding this, the Labour Government refused to increase age pensions by one penny, so that age pensioners found themselves robbed of 10 per cent, of their then meagre pension of £2 2s. 6d. per week.
– Price control was abolished in 1948.
– During 1948 also prices rose by 10 per cent. The Menzies Government came to power with a policy aimed at price stability, but every attempt made by the Menzies Government to bring about price stability has been opposed by the members of the Labour Party. The Australian people do not forget that when the Menzies Government introduced legislation in the early 1950’s to bring about price stability the Leader of the Opposition and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and their followers got up in this House and condemned the Government. They described the Budget of that time as the horror budget, although it was a budget which was introduced to bring about price stability and which did produce price stability. What utter humbug it is for Labour members to come into this House and ask the Government to take action to bring about stability of prices. History shows that we had wild ininflation when a Labour Government was in power and that Labour members have opposed every single step taken by this Government to bring about price stability.
After Labour members had so severely criticised this Government for what they described as the horror Budget they saw price stability restored to this country and we had silence from them for a number of years. Then when an inflationary situation again developed in the 1960’s and the Government introduced another Budget to bring about price stability there were howls from the Opposition, which then coined the phrase “ credit squeeze “. Labour members throughout the land tried to condemn the Government for doing the very thing that they are now asking, it to do, bring about price stability. The credit squeeze succeeded and we had three years of price stability, as no other country in the world had. Japan, for instance, saw prices in that coun try increase by 10 per cent. Germany, the United Kingdom, the United States of America all saw prices in those countries increasing. But Australia had three years of price stability because the Government was courageous enough to take the necessary action to implement its policy of price stability, although the Labour Party had howled about the Government’s action and called it a credit squeeze. We produced price stability because we had the courage to take action when it was necessary. Labour members squeal for these things to be done, and when we do bring about price stability we are attacked for it.
The only suggestion made by Labour members as to how price stability may be achieved is the establishment of price control, although they know perfectly well that the Commonwealth has no constitutional power to establish price control. Even if it did have such power, honorable members know that price control has failed everywhere it has been tried. Price control does not reduce prices; it tends to increase them because the maximum price becomes the minimum. People who have been selling below the price fixed by the price-fixing authority naturally bring their prices up. All competition ceases and we then have a fixed price. The Labour Government of New South Wales, realising that price control was hopeless and did not effectively control prices, abandoned the system a number of years ago. South Australia, I think, is the only State that has retained price control, and there is no evidence that price control in South Australia is effective in any way in keeping down prices. The only way to keep down prices is to have free competition. Members of the Labour Party would do well to give encouragement to free competition instead of always wanting controls and wanting industry and commerce fettered. As long as we have freedom of trade, freedom in industry and open competition we will have some chance of keeping down prices.
During 1961, 1962 and 1963 we had complete price stability. During that period pensions rose by £1 a week. Soon afterwards the basic wage was increased by £1 a week by the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission. Therefore, the pensioners enjoyed the benefit of the full basic wage increase. The Commission, of course, is outside all political control. In its judgment granting the £1 increase, it stated that as over-award payments were being made right throughout industry a large part of the £1 a week increase could be absorbed in those over-award payments. In other words, the Commission said to the employers: “ You need not give the £1 a week increase in the wage at all; take it out of the over-award payments. I believe that that decision was completely unrealistic because, when the Commission granted an increase of £1 a week in the basic wage, all the employees naturally expected to get it. Most industries, both public and private, felt that although they were not legally bound to pay the increase the employees should receive it in view of the Commission’s decision. Therefore, I believe that because prices have not increased significantly over the past three years, and because of the attitude taken by the employers, the wage earners have derived very substantial benefit from that decision by the Commission.
The Opposition’s argument has no validity whatsoever. It is advanced by people who do not practice what they preach. Their whole record is one of doing everything to force prices up. Indeed, the practice of the Labour Party is to oppose every move designed to bring about stability of prices. Price fixation is no remedy; on the contrary, price fixation is likely to increase prices and not reduce them.
.- We have just heard the honorable member for Sturt (Mr. Wilson) effectively scuttle the whole of the argument from the Government side. He conceded that during the past three years, although wages had increased, stability had been maintained within the economy. 1 distinctly heard honorable members opposite, especially the Minister for Labour and National Service (Mr. McMahon) say that one of the prime causes of the present inflation in this country is wage increases, Yet the honorable member for Sturt says that is not so. Therefore we have a glaring inconsistency in the argument of Government supporters. I find myself in agreement with the honorable member for Sturt on this one point. He might be interested to know that a very learned gentleman, Professor Gifford of the University of Queensland, has contributed a considerable volume of work all pointing to the fact that wages are not creating inflation in the community today.
Let me pass now to some of the other matters raised by the honorable member for Sturt before dealing with the more salient points that I wish to put forward. The honorable member for Sturt referred to the increase in pensions and claimed that pensioners had enjoyed a better standard of living under this Government than under Labour’s administration. I do not know whether the honorable member is aware of it, but, as I pointed out during the debate on the Social Services Bill last week, the cost of living, according to the consumer price index, has increased by 106 per cent, since 1949 whereas the pension for single persons has increased by only 42 per cent, and that for married persons by only 30 per cent, since then. Therefore, it is obvious that under this Government’s administration pensions have been dragging a long way behind the actual cost of living.
The honorable member for Sturt made another rather grave error in equating credit squeezes to our proposal that measures be introduced to ensure price stability within the community. Obviously the honorable member believes that there is a need for recurring busts and recurring large scale unemployment in the community. He feels that these credit squeezes which set the growth of the country back on its heels and which create large forces of unemployed for lengthy periods, are justified.
The first point I wish to mention relates to the rather dear ethic of honorable members on the Government side who, like the honorable member for Sturt, say: “Let us have free competition within the community “. I say very seriously to those honorable members that I would like them to explain just where this free competition exists in the community today. Indeed, when one examines the oligarchies, the cartels and the monopolistic structures in, the community one cannot help but doubt the sincerity and suspect the integrity of honorable members opposite who say: “Let us have freedom of competition and we will have automatic adjustment of prices to the satisfaction of all in the community “.
A tremendous volume of work has been written on the subject of restrictive trade practices. Professor Hunter of the University of Sydney has poured out a great volume of material about it. From perusing these works, one discovers that Australia has possibly the highest degree of monopolisation and engagement in restrictive trade practices of any community in the Western world. This is most disturbing because it proves that rather than act as a responsible elected body to ensure that stability is retained within the community, the Government has divorced itself from that responsibility and handed decisions on prices over to groups who are not answerable to the people and who, rather than act in the interests of the community, act in the interests of profit maximisation. So we find this Government standing for effective government control and regulation of the workers, but not effective control and regulation of business. We have a Government which will dictate to the union movement, but which is loath to direct industry. In this Government’s view, wages must be fixed but profits must remain sacrosanct. The trouble with this Government t is that it measures the wellbeing of the community not by the welfare of the people within the community but by the size of profits.
So we see the Government completely apathetic to the action of that gigantic monopolistic structure - the Colonial Sugar Refining Co. Ltd. - in taking over Ready Mixed Concrete Ltd. For the life of me, I cannot see any similarity between the fields of activity engaged in Ready Mixed Concrete Ltd. and those engaged in by the Colonial Sugar Refining Co. Ltd., yet the latter company has taken over Ready Mixed Concrete Ltd. A disturbing feature of this take-over, is that is was not financed by private investment; it was financed by public money because the sugar industry of this country is heavily subsidised by the Australian consumers who pay about twice as much for their sugar as is obtained for it on the export market. Clearly the Colonial Sugar Refining Co. Ltd. is in a position either to reduce its prices to the consumer or increase its returns to the cane growers. I strongly suspect that it can afford to do both those things. It is about time the Government stepped in and took some effective action to restrict the activities of these monopoly groups which are virtually levying a tax on the community, as the Colonial
Sugar Refining Co. Ltd. is doing with the backing of the Government.
We also have the case of the Broken Hill Pty. Co. Ltd., which has for a long time now been held up to the community as a splendid example of the efficiency and virtuous achievements of private enterprise. Actually, recent surveys have disclosed that rather than being an innovator, an industry which is showing the way with dash and verve, B.H.P. is a conservative organisation which is lagging behind the innovative approach of the steel industries in other parts of the world. Why, at this very moment, Japan is so far ahead of B.H.P. in efficiency, innovation, technical research and general capacity that many manufacturers, particularly those of consumer durables, prefer Japanese steel to Australian steel. Time and time again we hear the blame for price increases laid at the door of the workers. We never hear it being laid at the door of B.H.P. and other monopolistic structures which hide behind the shield of monopolisation and, through their inefficiency, cause a superstructure of excessive costs within the community.
– They will end up by importing Japanese goods.
– Yes. Further, we never hear any criticism of the fact that because of its inefficiency, B.H.P. gets behind with its rollings. I am informed by people in the industry that because of inefficiency, because of inability to meet rolling commitments, B.H.P. has delayed production schedules. Again, we hear of many cases in which the major departmental stores ask the manufacturers of fabrics for patterns of the designs which they propose for the new season’s production. When they look at the patterns, they select the best and most attractive and say: “ We want these “. But they do not give any firm orders. They do not say: “ We want this quantity.” They do not say when they want it but they tell the manufacturer to proceed with the designs they select. They make their purchases from the shelves of the manufacturer, who must bear the cost of carrying stocks that should normally be the responsibility of these people. The manufacturer is entirely in the hands of these monopoly groups.
This is the degree to which monopolies have developed in the community today. This concentration of economic power means that, although only .19 per cent, of companies in Australia earn more than £1 million profit, between them they take one third of the total profit earned by all companies. In addition, 2.19 per cent, of the companies in Australia earn more than 62.4 per cent, of the total profits earned in the community. This is a clear indication of the concentration of economic power. These people, by virtue of this economic power, are able to form a second arm of government and this is very disturbing. We heard recently, for instance, that between 1945 and 1962, of the £280 million invested in Broken Hill Pty. Co. Ltd., which is a gigantic monopolistic octopus, only £66 million represented additions to shareholders’ funds by cash issues. The remainder came from accumulated internal funds.
Broken Hill Pty. Co. Ltd. and the other major monopolies in the country are able to thumb their noses at the Government’s monetary policy because they can finance expansion from accumulated reserves. Therefore, the Government’s monetary policy is directed not at these major concentrations of economic power but rather at the wage earners with flat incomes and at the people who are trying to establish middle-class businesses in the face of powerful opposition, for these are the people who are affected by it, particularly during credit squeeze. I think that is disgraceful and discreditable that the Government is prepared lo deny its responsibility to ensure that some form of selective price control is adopted. It has chosen to allow people who are not responsible to the community, who are not elected by the democratic processes in the Commonwealth, to determine prices for themselves and ruthlessly to destroy any opposition from outside their trade organisations or monopoly structures. These activities must be attacked and while ever the Government refuses to do so we will find that the concentration of economic power will fall ever more into the hands of a few people. This obviously will be to the detriment of the Government of this country.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- It is with some temerity that I address myself to the matter that is now before the House, first, because of its far-reaching implications and, secondly, because of the virtual impossibility of covering such a wide subject in the short space of time allotted to me. The ultimate protection of the living standards of the Australian people can be achieved only by complete and absolute control and regulation of every phase of Australian life, with particular emphasis on prices, profits and salaries. We are faced today with the problem of endeavouring to protect living standards and at the same time of maintaining and advancing those standards in order that they may be worth protecting, and superimposing this very essential task on the need to develop our country. It is quite obvious that here we have a situation the ingredients of which are in conflict with one another, and therefore a situation in which some measure of compromise is necessary.
I do not suggest for one moment that the points raised by the Opposition in this matter are unreasonable. I certainly have every sympathy with the very real problems facing people trying to live on a pension and at the same time to maintain their dignity. The soul-destroying effects of poverty must be experienced to be understood. I have long seen the futility of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission increasing wages and margins, which immediately leads to higher prices and increased living costs, which in turn necessitates a fresh approach to the Commission for higher wages. That it would have been in the interests of everybody if this vicious circle had been broken years ago is beyond doubt. The Australian people by referendum have refused to give this Parliament the power to control prices, and my friends opposite have not shown any willingness, of which I am aware, to abandon the Commonwealth Arbitration Commission and its decisions either to increase wages and margins, or shorten hours and increase leave benefits, or both. That the present dilemma facing wage earners today of increased living costs and service charges can be largely attributed to the decision of the Commission to increase the basic wage by £1 last June seems incontrovertible. That the layman should have experienced great difficulty in reconciling the reported division of the Commission on whether the economy could stand an increase of £1, costing about £100 million, or 10s. costing about £50 million is understandable. A 100 per cent, difference of opinion between such responsible persons is likely to confuse anybody. But then, if we persist in permitting legal eagles to sit on economic problems, we must not bc surprised if ultimately we have some strange chickens coming home to roost.
The problems of people on fixed incomes are indeed very real. Throughout the community we have vast numbers of elderly people who, by thrift and industry during their lifetime, as well as rearing, educating and providing for families, have carefully set aside money which would enable them to retire gracefully and live in the manner to which they had become accustomed. The accumulation of these modest assets over a lifetime has disqualified these wonderful people from pension benefits, and it is to our everlasting disgrace that, by permitting unbridled rein to the inflationary forces in the community, we have in effect robbed them of much of the value of their savings. However, within the electoral division of Moore, which I am privileged to represent in this place, there is a vast group of people on fixed or diminishing incomes who are carrying perhaps the greatest national responsibility of all. These are the producers of wool, cereals, meat, fruit, eggs and all manner of exportable produce on which the prosperity and development of Australia in the final analysis depends.
The problem of these people can fairly be illustrated by taking as an example the cost history of the wheat industry. I use this industry because it is typical of nearly all exporting primary industries and because its cost structure has been measured each year since 1948 by an independent and impartial Government tribunal, the Bureau of Agricultural Economics. During World War II and the immediate post-war period, the Australian Wheat Board acted as agent for the Commonwealth Government in receiving, handling, storing and marketing wheat, which was acquired by the Government under National Security Regulations, and the net proceeds from sales realisations distributed amongst the growers. With the end of National Security Regulations, the power of the Commonwealth to proceed alone disappeared and, in accordance with the wishes of the growers, a CommonwealthState agreement was made to continue the principle of marketing through a single selling authority, but to add to it the very desirable principle of stabilised prices supported by Commonwealth and State complementary legislation: The State legislation conferred on the Commonwealth the right to fix the price of wheat each year at the cost of production price as determined by the Bureau of Agricultural Economics.
It was this requirement which led to the first survey of growers’ costs and has since provided an annual review of costs in this industry which, I repeat, is typical of the cost movements affecting all the primary export industries. The first cost survey to apply to the 1948-1949 harvest was calculated on the then average yield figure of 12 bushels per acre and gave a cost price of 6s. 8d. per bushel. The yield divisor of 12 bushels was to remain constant for the five years of the plan and growers* costs rose progressively to 7s. Id., 7s. 10d., 10s. and lis. lid. At the end of the first five year plan, costs started to gallop forward with reckless abandon and, notwithstanding the steady increase in growers* efficiency which enabled the yield divisor for the second five year plan to be raised to 13.5 bushels per acre, the cost of production of the second plan started at 1.2s. 7d. per bushel. By the end of the second five year plan, growers’ costs had increased progressively to 14s. 2d. per bushel. Had costs stabilised at this 1958 figure, the primary industries may have been able to retain their competitive position in world market. Unfortunately, this did not happen. The cost of production continued to rise and in the intervening years has reached as high as 15s. lOd. per bushel. The success of grower determination to increase efficiency has reduced the cost of production to 14s. 5d. per bushel, which is about the average export price today.
Whether growers can continue increasing efficiency or whether costs can be held at their present level is the great problem facing primary producers today. Any success ineither or both of these directions, however, will not save primary export industries from economic chaos if export prices fall substantially. The overseas buyer of Australian exports could not care less about our fancy internal cost structure and will pay us our cost of production price only, providing he cannot obtain the goods cheaper elsewhere.
I cannot remain unmoved by the thought that the Australian exporting industries may be rapidly approaching the situation wherein they will only be able to maintain growth and economic stability providing we introduce in Australia a price support plan on the all-embracing lines of the plan adopted in the United States of America. Should this happen, I can already bear the honorable member for Bradfield (Mr. Turner) talking about handouts to primary producers but, at the same time, refusing to recognise that our tariff policy, which greatly inflates the costs of primary producers, is, in reality, only a subtle means of subsidising Australian manufacturing industries. It seems strange that if a primary industry gets a subsidy to bridge the gap between its internal cost structure and its export realisations then it is very wicked. But when the medical profession, which is, after all, one of the highest paid professions, was given a subsidy, it was considered very desirable. In fact, its members have now increased their fees to maintain the prosperity to which they have become accustomed to enjoying.
I can only repeat that I am very conscious of the general merits of the proposition before the House but I am bound to say that I do not believe that passing pious resolutions will solve this problem; nor will the enactment of legislation dealing with restrictive trade practices solve the problem if the legislation has carefully had all its teeth removed before enactment and if the State Governments are not willing to back up the legislation with supporting acts. Only a general recognition by everyone of the dangers and injustices inherent in the present economic situation will provide the climate in which effective action can be taken.
Motion (by Mr. Snedden) agreed to -
That the business of the day be called on
Consideration resumed from 17th September (vide page 1303).
Proposed expenditure, £3,523,000.
.- I would like to say a few words about that section of the Attorney-General’s Department which deals with patents, trade marks and designs. I want to draw attention to the fact that, over a number of years, I have made representations to various Ministers to provide assistance to small inventors in our community. There should be no need for me to emphasise the importance of promoting diversity as well as quantity in our production and trade. At various times recently the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen) has drawn attention to this need to diversify our production in order to build up or trade overseas. Only a few weeks ago, I think the Minister drew attention to the fact that even now that export incentives are in operation only about 13 per cent. of our trade overseas is constituted of the products of secondary industry.
I have made various representations to the Government, particularly at the request of the Inventors Association of Australia, which had its humble beginnings in my electorate, asking it to provide various kinds of incentive and assistance to such bodies and to individual inventors. I think it is true that Australians are known as an inventive and ingenious people with, at least, as much initiative and enterprise as other peoples of the world. Therefore, I think it is true to say that there is a good deal of latent talent which has never been utilised, explored or exploited. At various times the attention of honorable members has been drawn to the fact that this country is paying millions of pounds to overseas business people in the form of licence fees and royalties and for the purchase of patent rights. Many of these licences that we secure from overseas’ inventors carry with them certain restrictions on their use so far as exports are concerned. This fact has already been referred to in this debate.
The point should be obvious to everybody that what we need in Australia is a fullblooded drive to give full rein to our own native inventiveness, enterprise and ingenuity. As long ago as the 25th October 1962, 1 received a reply from the then Attorney-General, Sir Garfield Barwick, acknowledging my representations on behalf of the Inventors Association of Australia. In his reply to me Sir Garfield Barwick said -
I have previously informed the Association that while 1 am not unsympathetic to the idea of providing Commonwealth assistance of some kind to help the individual inventor, nevertheless, the idea is not one that can be given effect to quickly and easily, or without the expenditure of a good deal of money.
Some preliminary work on this matter has already been done by my Department. I can assure you that it is still receiving attention but unfortunately the complexities of the issues involved do not enable me to hold out any hope of a speedy conclusion to the matter.
This sounds like the announcements in regard to the restrictive trade practices legislation. We were promised action in, I think, 1960. Now the best part of 4i years has gone by and so far there has been no evidence of any legislation, or the immediate likelihood of any legislation coming before the House. It is almost two years to the exact date since I had that letter from the previous Attorney-General. Before I wrote to him about this matter I had written to various other Ministers, including the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies), and each had said that it was the province of the Minister for National Development or the Attorney-General, or the Treasurer, or anybody else but the person to whom I had addressed the particular remarks.
During the war days the Army Invention Directorate was formed. During the stress of wartime it was seen how important it was to give encouragement to persons of an inventive mind. It has been claimed that the value of four of the inventions developed by the Directorate during World War II almost covered the total cost of the Directorate at that time - just four inventions out of all those dealt with during that time. The British Exhibition is opening in Sydney next week and I noticed that one of the newspaper articles relating to the Exhibition had this to say -
The greater part of industrial research in the United Kingdom is undertaken in the research organisations of the larger firms and nationalised industries.
I want to stress this next paragraph which says -
The 53 industrial research associations, however, which are partly financed by government and which vary in size and scope from laundry research to costly work with iron and steel, draw their members from more than 50 per cent, of British industry.
This statement alludes, in a minor way, to what Britain, one of the foremost industrial countries in the world, thinks about encouraging inventiveness. I hope it will not be too long before we can persuade the present Cabinet to get together on this matter and investigate it from the angle of taxation, from the legal angle and from the angle of the Minister for Trade and Industry. I hope that something worth while will be done to force along the issue. These inventors are trying to help themselves. It is not a case of their wanting to receive government handouts and not being prepared to do anything on their own account.
The Inventors Association of Australia, which is composed of small scale inventors - many of them are individual employees of various firms- began in 1958 following the Sydney Engineering Exhibition. A few inventors clubbed together to have a stand at that exhibition. That gave impetus to a development which has now given rise to quite a substantial body called the Inventors Association of Australia. The members of the Association, in their own modest way, are playing quite an important role in the economy. Their latest move is to establish the Inventors Co-operative Society Ltd. Inventors are invited to belong to the co-operative in order to promote their inventions. Already this Association provides, cither free or at concessional rates, services such as development and design advice on applications for trade marks and patents; technical and drafting service; help in the manufacture of prototypes; photographic services; the services of patent attorneys; publicity services; and salesmen who try to arrange contracts and act as liaison officers for the licence or sale of patents to manufacturers.
Although this matter has very broad implications, in the few minutes that I have at my disposal I want to refer to the particular implications for the Attorney-General’s Department and the Attorney-General (Mr. Snedden). These people - a modest group of people with limited means - find it very difficult to pay for the services involved in promoting their inventions. There are the matters of registration, drawing up prototypes, making applications and using the services of patent attorneys. Most of these things are beyond the range of these people. This is one of their problems. One of the things that I hope the Attorney-General’s Department might do for an established group such as this is provide advisory services. One of their greatest difficulties is that often, when they have succeeded in having their patents in which they have complete confidence registered, the battle is not finished. What frequently happens is that their patented idea is stolen from them. Big enterprises come into the field, take over the idea and ignore the patent entitlement of the small scale inventor.
Some one might say that the inventor has redress at law. But has he? What chance has an ordinary individual in the community, despite the merit of his inventive genius, to fight the big organisations not only in the Australian community but also from overseas? He is not in any position to supply the finance that is needed to carry on such a legal battle. One of the things that the Association would like the Attorney-General’s Department to do is consider providing legal services to protect the patent rights, royalty rights and copyright rights of people who are not able to pay for such legal services themselves. This is not a case of state welfarism; it is a case of giving practical help to people whose ideas could mean thousands or even millions of pounds worth of gain to the Australian community in the way of productive effort. It is the flow of new ideas into the community that will help to make Australia one of the foremost countries of the world. If we are to be users of second hand ideas or ideas imported from other countries all the time, we cannot hope to become a nation of the first order.
Another thing for which the Association has asked is something which is very simple and which will not cost much at all. lt has asked the Attorney-General’s Department to supply to it a free copy of the abstracts containing information regarding applications for patents. I believe that a full year’s supply costs only £15 15s. But when I made an appeal along these lines to the Department more than a year ago, I was told and the Association, through me, was told that these abstracts were available at a particular office in each capital city and that the Association could easily send somebody to that office once a week or so to have a look through the abstracts at that office. That is no way to treat an organisation like this, which could make such a tremendous contribution to our economy. I am sure that it would not hurt to help the Association by providing these abstracts to it free and readily.
The Association has also asked that consideration be given to amendments to the Patents Act to provide that Patent Office fees be suspended on any patents originating in Australia. That is not such an outlandish idea. We give all sorts of concessions in order to promote exports. Why can we not give some real help to people who are prepared to invent things and thereby not only save importing many things including patent rights but also increase our productivity? The Association has also asked that financial assistance be given for the protection in convention countries of patents originating in Australia.
Many of these small scale inventors have given up the job. They have tried their hand at inventing things and have taken out patent rights only to find that their ideas have been stolen by other firms. At first they have become infuriated, and then they have become absolutely discouraged. So they arc no longer giving their energies to this work. I hope that the AttorneyGeneral will give some consideration to this matter. I have given a very sketchy outline of the case this afternoon; but the Attorney-General already has received from me a lot of correspondence on this matter. His predecessor received more than he has received. The Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt), the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen) and the Minister for National Development (Mr. Fairbairn) have all received correspondence from me on this matter. They all have said that they are impressed with the idea but that there arc great complexities in it and it will take some time to consider. I think it is now well nigh time we started to see some action in this matter.
.- 1 take the opportunity, during the debate on the estimates of the Attorney-General’s Department, to mention some matters, several of which have been referred to by my colleague, the honorable member for Barton (Mr. Reynolds). Previously in this Parliament 1 have suggested to the Government that it set up public defenders offices in various parts of the Commonwealth for the purpose of giving free advice or assistance in court to impoverished and underprivileged people who are charged wilh breaches of Commonwealth law, similar to the scheme inaugurated by the New South Wales Labour Government. I point out that I do not think that Government’s ideas in this field go far enough because assistance is supplied by the Public Defender’s Office only when a person has to appear before a superior court on a criminal charge in respect of which his liberty is at stake. I believe that in the not too distant future the New South Wales Labour Government will provide legal assistance to persons in necessitous circumstances who are appearing as defendants at lower courts, such as the police courts, where it is likely that, if found guilty, a sentence or very heavy fine will be imposed upon them.
I want to mention particularly an instance which was brought to my notice yesterday and which will indicate the need for the Commonwealth Government to set up offices throughout the Commonwealth to give assistance to many of the good types of migrants who have come to Australia. The case brought to my notice yesterday came from a very reliable source and concerns an approach made by two men to one of my constituents, a Mrs. Lubasz of 18 Irrawong Street, Wallsend. This unfortunate woman, who, I believe, is of German or Polish nationality, is receiving the widow’s pension. Her husband who, I believe, was also of German nationality, died about five years ago. Mrs. Lubasz has three small children. Two persons supposedly representing a pest control firm presented to her a card bearing the address 2 Hughes Building, Smart Street, Charlestown. The firm calls itself Coldus Pest Control. I believe it would be more appropriate if the firm were referred to as the “ Cold Touch “ pest control organisation because, to my mind, the two representa tives endeavoured to impose a very cold touch on this unfortunate widow with three small children. They inspected her home, which is very humble, and told her that they were pest exterminators and that her home needed treatment. They said that unless her home was treated they would have to report her to the local council and that she would be prosecuted. They quoted a fee of £20. This unfortunate woman would not have even a spare 20s.
If a legal advisory service such as I have proposed were established throughout the Commonwealth by the Attorney-General (Mr. Snedden), who is now in the chamber, unfortunate people from other countries would be able to obtain advice on such matters. In this way I believe that suspect nefarious organisations would be stamped out overnight. I hope that the Press will give appropriate publicity to Coldus Pest Control, which I believe to be a bogus organisation. The two representatives of this firm visited this widow on two occasions - on Thursday, 13lh August, and again at 10 a.m. yesterday - at her address at Wallsend, and endeavoured to extract from her £20 for treating her home, supposedly to remove pests. In each case, they used the threat that they would report her to the local shire council in the district in which she lives. 1 do not want these racketeers to drift across the borders into the Hunter electorate because I have no time for spivs, who I believe are at their lowest and their worse when they arc trying to impose on an unfortunate woman from another country who is not conversant with our language or with the evil acts and minds of some members of our community.
– The Commonwealth Government has a responsibility to the migrants.
– As the honorable member for Yarra has reminded me, the Commonwealth Government has a responsibility to protect these unfortunate people who come from war-torn countries. The Commonwealth Government should set up legal aid offices so that these people can be properly advised on legal matters, particularly matters pertaining to Commonwealth legislation and matters of the nature that I have just brought before honorable members. There must be many instances of this nature not reaching the light of day. Unfortunate people are imposed upon by unscrupulous individuals such as those who were supposedly representing a pest control organisation in the Newcastle district.
Another matter that I want to mention relates to the Security Service. I should like the Attorney-General to confirm or deny whether the Security Service, which is under his control, frequently has representatives overseas checking on prospective migrants to Australia. We know that since our immigration policy was introduced - I am proud to say, by a Labour Government - many worthwhile people from other lands have come here to live and have proved a great asset to Australia. However, there have also been manly crooks, criminals, spivs and people who belong to subversive organisations of a type already disclosed to honorable members. These organisations are causing deep concern to the people of Australia. I refer particularly to the Ustashi organisation, the existence of which was disclosed so eloquently and sincerely by the honorable member for Yarra.
I want to know from the Attorney-General whether members of the Security Service arc employed overseas supposedly to check up on the background of prospective migrants to Australia. I do not want to disclose my source of information, but I believe that such officers are employed. If they are employed, I should like the Attorney-General to tell the Committee and the people of Australia how members of the Ustashi organisation can obtain permits to enter Australia. 1 should like him to tell us also how it is that many of these criminals and murderers are able to enter Australia after the so-called screening which I believe is conducted by members of the Security Service. A moment ago, just before coming into the chamber, I picked up this evening’s copy of the Sydney “ Daily Mirror “ which contains a report which begins -
Bride Murder Charge Remand. Angelo Panarello, 20 … .
I know that it would not be proper for me to say more about that, because the matter is sub judice, but the name does suggest that the person involved came from another country.
If I had the time I could probably show to honorable members that some of the most vicious crimes committed in recent years in Australia have been committed by persons from other lands, people who have successfully migrated to Australia by getting through the screen of the Security Service, which I believe checks on the background of prospective migrants. These matters are of great concern and I believe that they should be brought forward in these debates. If no satisfactory explanation is given by the Attorney-General, who is now at the table and who has a big responsibility to the nation, we on this side of the chamber should repeatedly demand - although I do not like to use that word - an explanation from the Government as to how these members of the Ustashi organisation, these criminals and no-hopers, are able to break through the security screen and the investigations made by members of the AttorneyGeneral’s security forces who, I suggest, are overseas checking up on these individuals.
I have made representations on this matter, and I intend to speak more fully on the subject when we are debating the estimates for the Department of Immigration. I shall ask why relatives of certain people who live in my electorate have, because of their political affiliations, been refused permission to enter Australia. So far as I have been able to ascertain they have honest backgrounds. Yet the Department of Immigration has refused to permit them to migrate to Australia. Members of the Ustashi and other un-Australian groups seem to have no trouble at all in coming to this country and establishing organisations that are opposed to every facet of the Australian way of life and to the democratic system that we all cherish.
Another matter that I want to discuss has been touched on briefly by the honorable member for Barton. This relates to the Patents Act and the right to have inventions patented. For almost two years, a Mr. Westler, of Cessnock, who is a constituent of mine, has been asking for a decision from the Patent Office on an application that he has made for a patent for a gadget to pick up grass after it is cut by a motor mower. He was told recently that the necessary search will not be completed for another eighteen months and that he cannot get a decision until then. Mr. Westler is an ordinary working man, and if he docs not lose interest someone else will perhaps in some way steal his idea and rob him of the fruits of the great concentration of effort that he has put into the development of this device for which he hopes to obtain patent rights.
This matter is very important to the people of my electorate and to me as their representative in this Parliament. I think most honorable members know of the redundancy in the coal mines in the Hunter electorate owing to the sweeping changes that have taken place in the coal industry there. Had the granting of patent rights to Mr. Westler been expedited, a factory could possibly have been operating now in the Cessnock district and providing employment for 15 or 25 men. 1 urge the Attorney-General to look into this matter personally and endeavour to expedite a decision on the patent application, even if more staff has to be engaged by the Patent Office. Apparently, there is a shocking lack of staff in that office. It seems grossly wrong and improper to mc that because there is a shortage of staff in the Patent Office in Canberra, a person who submits an application for patent rights has to wait about three or four years before a decision can bc made.
Members of the Opposition believe that the Parliamentary Draftsman is short of staff. 1 recall that, during the last sessional period, we were informed that several members of the Parliamentary Draftsman’s staff had had nervous breakdowns as a result of over-work and over-strain. 1 urge the Attorney-General to consider this matter deeply along with the other matters that I have raised this afternoon during the consideration of the estimates for the Attorney-General’s Department.
In particular, I ask the Minister to consider what 1 have said about more effective screening by the security service of persons who intend to migrate to this country. There is something radically wrong with the present system when persons of the type that I have mentioned seem to have no difficulty in migrating to this country. The only requirement seems to be that they have not taken part in a May Day procession or have not played a prominent role in trade union affairs. Such activities seem to be the greatest bar raised by this Government against intending migrants. No account seems to be taken of any criminal background, so long as prospective migrants have not shown any Socialist tendencies or any particular interest in unionism.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Mr. Temporary Chairman, I listened with the greatest interest the other evening to the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) as he presented his statement on the “ Voyager “ incident. He mentioned the standards of proof in criminal proceedings. I do not wish to anticipate the debate that has yet to take place on that ministerial statement, but I should like to remind honorable members that the Prime Minister said that in English criminal law a man is presumed to be innocent until he is proved guilty. When he expressed that sentiment, general approbation was expressed by various honorable members. We all preened ourselves and repeated to ourselves the well worn story that the light of trial by jury is the shield and buckler of the individual’s rights and liberties under the English and Australian systems. I felt appalled as 1 contrasted that sentiment with the harsh and stark realities presented to us by a measure which has been on the statute book for years and which is administered by the AttorneyGeneral (Mr. Snedden). I refer to the Crimes Act 1914-1960. The relevant section provides-
– Will the honorable member state the number of the section?
-It is section 30j. Subsection (1.) provides - (1.) If at any time the Governor-General is of opinion that there exists in Australia a serious industrial disturbance prejudicing or threatening trade or commerce with other countries or among the States, he may make a Proclamation. . . .
Sub-section (2.) provides -
Any person who . . . takes part in . . . a . . . strike, . . . shall be guilty of an offence, and shall be liable on conviction to imprisonment for any period not exceeding one year, and in addition (if he was not born in Australia) to deportation by order of the AttorneyGeneral.
Provision in those terms has been in the Act since 1926. I think it arose out of the activities in the Seamen’s Union of Australia of two gentlemen named Walsh and Johnson. Whatever the merits of the legislation may be - and I have the gravest doubts on that point - there is one provision in particular that I want to raise. Subsection (1.) of section 30r is in the following terms -
In any prosecution for an offence under this Tart, … the averments of the prosecutor contained in the information . . . shall be prima facie evidence of the matter or matters averred.
In other words, allegations shall be self evident truths. Prior to the enactment of these provisions, it was commonly accepted among English criminal lawyers that only in particular cases of criminal offences where an offence was self-evident, and where proof was difficult or almost impossible would provisions such as these be accepted and the ordinary principles of proof adopted in the criminal law be departed from. Subsection (2.) of section 30r provides -
The last preceding subsection shall apply to any matter so averred although -
evidence in support or rebuttal of the matter averred or of any other matter is given by witnesses . . .
In other words, the situation is that the prosecution merely presents its allegations and its averments are regarded as proven. If the accused person produces evidence in rebuttal, the charge can still stand and must be considered on its merits by the magistrate or the judge. This sort of thing has always been anathema to the trade union movement. In my opinion, it is an affront to our collective social conscience, because it is unjust, tyrannical and harsh. It is un-Australian.
A further point that I want to emphasise is that the offence or group of offences provided for in the provisions of the Crimes Act that I have mentioned relate merely to the transport of goods either to other countries or between the States. Let us contrast these provisions with those in another measure related to the sale of goods to other countries or between the States - the Australian Industries Preservation Act 1906-1950. This Act also is administered by the Attorney-General. In wording almost identical with that contained in the Crimes Act, subsection (1.) of section 4 of the
Australian Industries Preservation Act provides -
Any person who . . . makes or enters into any contract, … or engages in any combination, in relation to trade or commerce with other countries or among the States -
. . . with the intent to destroy or injure by means of unfair competition any Australian industry . . . is guilty of an offence.
That is very good and very laudable. But it involves no question of prefatory averments being regarded as self-evident truths and of a multiplicity of escape hatches being provided. The statutes speak for themselves, and the injustices and anomalies remain to the discredit of this Government, because it was a government of the same ilk and the same political persuasion which introduced the legislation in 1926. We live in an, I hope, age of enlightenment and the existence of this piece of legislation is a scandal, disgrace and constant hair shirt to the trade union movement, which will agitate, and will never relent or cease to agitate, until this obnoxious section of the Crimes Act is eliminated. If this Government is not prepared to do it, a Labour government will do it.
Some weeks ago I addressed a question to the Attorney-General (Mr. Snedden). I do not want to canvass the merit of certain proceedings which are being taken under the Australian Industries Preservation Act in respect of a prosecution against certain overseas shipping interests, but I did point out to the Attorney-General the very need for that Act to be applied in respect of certain manipulations of prices by the oil refining and vending interests in this country. Recently there was a deputation to the Minister for National Development (Mr. Fairbairn). It was a unique deputation - in fact, one could say it was a historical deputation - because it was led by people who traditionally are on opposite sides on almost every issue concerning the coal mining industry. Here was one case of the lion and the lamb lying down together or, I should say, coming to Canberra to put a collective case for the protection of their industry which is being destroyed by the manipulation of prices in the refilling of crude oil.
The situation is well known today, and lt has been proved over and over again. Reams of publicity have been given to it over the years in the metropolitan and provincial Press of every State of Australia. We have a situation where over £100 million worth of crude oil or petroleum products is being brought into Australia each year. The accepted practices of refining that crude oil are not being followed. In various other parts of the world specific percentages are provided by the statute for the extraction of the volatile elements from the crude. The most volatile of all the elements so far as ordinary commercial practice is concerned is the petrol which is used by the everyday motorist. Generally there is a proviso that about 85 per cent, of the crude shall be converted into petroleum or similar products. The allegations are that in New South Wales in particular, and also in Victoria, less than 70 per cent, of it is so refined. When it comes to marketing, the price is fixed in such a way that by the sale of this 70 per cent, of those products the companies can cover the whole costs of their refinement operations and achieve their planned profit, and they have the residual oi! - what is commonly called the fuel oil - available for sale at any price they choose in open competition with black coal.
Sir Edward Warren, Mr. Parkinson and representatives of the combined mining unions all made the pilgrimage here to Canberra. The problem is right on the doorstep of this Government and on the doorstep of the Attorney-General. There is only one answer, and one honorable thing to do. I believe Senator Spooner suggested it, and it needs to be done. That is to consider invoking the provisions of this legislation against these people. The powers of this legislation may be rudimentary, but nevertheless they are effective to cover this situation. I know that the Minister has in contemplation certain legislation in relation to restrictive trade practices. That may come now; it may come later. It may be a Kathleen Mavourneen act, but this is an Act which is applicable, which can be used and which, in the interests of Australia, ought to be used, because it has been reliably calculated that we are losing, in foreign exchange, between £15 million and £25 million a year due to the dumping of crude oil to the detriment of the Australian black coal industry.
Whilst I laud and support to the fullest the sending of trade ships to the various countries of Asia - backward as they may be in terms of economic development - any trade that we can get is worth while having. Here, in one fell swoop, we can achieve more in the way of saving foreign exchange for Australia than we can by ali the activities of all the trade ships we send to the various countries of Asia in the next 12 months. I leave the problem with you, Sir.
.- Last Thursday evening the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Hughes) suggested that the Attorney-General’s Department should take over the administration of Commonwealth employees’ compensation. The suggestion is one which commends itself to me and which I have felt constrained to put on many occasions in the past. No person having acquaintance with the procedures of the Department of the Treasury can be satisfied with its attitude towards legislation on legal matters or administration in legal matters. I well remember the attitude the Treasury took concerning the Commonwealth Motor Vehicles Act 1959. The administration of the Commonwealth Employees’ Compensation Act is already a large matter. Last year compensation amounting in all to over £1 million was paid in respect of nearly 20,000 injuries. The amount would have been larger had the Act permitted larger amounts. Few, if any, compensation acts in Australia now provide for such small sums.
– You overlook the Budget announcement.
– The legislation has not been brought in yet. Incidentally, on this, will these payments be made retrospective to cover the “ Voyager “ disaster?
– This is not my responsibility. 1 just remind you of the Budget provisions for increased amounts.
– I forget the details of the Budget announcement on this matter. I merely express the hope that those bereaved as a result of the “Voyager” disaster will have the benefit retrospectively of any increases in compensation amounts to be paid under this Act. For some time now the Act has provided for smaller sums by way of compensation than any other act in this held except the Seamen’s Compensation Act.
While I am on the subject of the Treasury’s attitude to the administration of legal matters may I refer also to the expense which is caused to the Commonwealth, and the harassment caused to litigants by the Treasury’s attitude in settling suits brought against the Commonwealth? It is a matter of notoriety in the legal profession that the Commonwealth pays very much more through going to the courts than it would have to pay if the Treasury permitted settlements to be made before the matters got to court. The Treasury has shown itself, both in legislation and litigation, technical, obstructive and incompetent. I agree with the honorable member for Parkes that an improvement both in the legislation and litigation would be achieved if the Attorney-General’s Department were entrusted with these matters.
Another department is concerned with two matters currently before the AttorneyGeneral’s Department. One matter concerns deserted wives. Over 60,000 women receive the widows’ pension; about 11,500 of them are receiving widows’ pensions because they are deserted wives. The amount paid to these women is over £3i million a year. For some time now questions have been asked in the other place and in this House concerning maintenance legislation. For some eight years now there has been an international convention on this subject. There have been discussions over a period on this subject between the Attorney-General or his predecessor and the State Attorneys-General. We should know when these international and interstate arrangements will come to fruition.
Another matter is presumably being considered at the moment, by the AttorneyGeneral’s Department and the Department of Social Services, concerning compensation for victims of crimes of violence. There is already legislation on this subject in New Zealand. I believe a scheme has been introduced in the United Kingdom. Legislation has been projected in Western Australia and New South Wales. More than three months ago the Premier of New South Wales wrote to the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) and said that the projected legislation in New South Wales would await the Commonwealth’s attitude on social service payments, the position being that compensation paid to the victims of crimes of violence would at present debar them from receiving social service payments. In unitary systems, such as the United Kingdom and New Zealand, this problem does not arise. In our Federal system, where legal matters are generally within State jurisdiction - social services in the Federal jurisdiction - co-ordination between the Federal authority and the States is required. In the meantime victims of crimes of violence receive no compensation other than social services. This does not enable them to secure prompt or proper rehabilitation.
The subjects which I will come to now are of more general interest in this field. Members of the Parliament and the public should realise that only parliaments and governments can enable citizens and other residents to have modern laws or adequate courts and ready access to those courts. Private citizens cannot of their own account make laws as distinct from contracts, appoint courts as distinct from arbitrators or provide systems of legal aid. Private enterprise is not adapted for this field. Only parliamentarians can do this. After parliamentarians have acted governments can provide these features of a modern and just society. These days too much of a lawyer’s time is spent unproductively. The very great talents which have developed in lawyers or which they have instinctively are too often wasted.
– I make no bones about this claim. I think lawyers are more apt than members of any other profession or calling to analyse and to solve problems. I do not say they are infallible in these matters but their training should make them quicker than members of other callings and professions in analysing and solving problems. I regret that so much of the time of lawyers is taken up in matters of low social priority or in pursuing archaic methods. One has only to consider that most of the time of barristers is taken up in industrial accidents and highway accidents and in some other fields of practice associated with tax avoidance and tax minimisation. I believe there are other fields in which the services of lawyers are not so readily available but in which they could be of great benefit to the community.
Before I go further let me refer to legal aid. My colleague, the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. O’Connor) earlier this month asked a question about legal costs. He relied on statements which had been made by various members of the Supreme Court of New South Wales and he expressed the fear that citizens were being priced out of their remedies by legal costs. The Attorney-General (Mr. Snedden) in his answer referred to the specific situation under the Matrimonial Causes Act and said that the question of costs is one for the taxing master. I concede that the AttorneyGeneral is usually more helpful in his replies to questions than are many of his colleagues, but I do not think this was one of his most helpful replies and I do not think it is a very hopeful one as far as litigants are concerned. Taxing masters are not primarily prices commissioners. The general question of access to the courts cannot adequately be dealt with from the point of view of bills of costs and what taxing masters do to them, lt should be possible for parliamentarians to provide legal aid otherwise.
Legal aid is not required by the very rich. lt is available to the very poor or to people of restricted means. It is available to insured persons. That is why most cases which come to court arise from industrial and highway accidents against which employers and motor vehicle owners are compelled to insure. I know that in a Federal system the matter of legal aid is not a simple one. Nevertheless, only this month the President of the United States of America has signed a bill ensuring that all defendants in Federal criminal cases will have legal aid irrespective of their means. Under the new law the United States Government will pay for the complete defence of persons charged with criminal offences against the Federal law, including fees for investigators and medical experts. The Commonwealth could provide legal aid for litigants in its
Territories and for litigants under its laws. It could provide legal aid for litigants who sue the Commonwealth or who are sued by the Commonwealth or who sue each other because they are residents of different States. There are many Federal aspects in which legal aid may be effective on the initiative of this Parliament. Expensive justice results in denial of justice. Nobody can be happy that in our community it costs so much to go to law and that so many people refrain from testing their rights or vindicating their rights because they cannot afford to do so.
I have referred to the fact that most cases arise from compulsory insurance against industrial and highway accidents. These two matters, as well as compensation for victims of crimes of violence, could well be dealt with by the Department of Social Services. Once a matter is the subject of compulsory insurance it is on the way to becoming a social service. There are now so many anomalies and archaisms in relation to matters of compensation that we should seek to end them. It is archaic that we should pretend that, the plaintiff in a highway accident case must prove negligence. We should accept the position that has long ago been accepted in the workers’ compensation jurisdiction. I know that a great number of people are not satisfied with the circumstances surrounding workers’ compensation. They are not likely to be satisfied with workers’ compensation so long as the payments made are so much less than people receive when they are working. In these circumstances the litigants arc constrained to test their rights at common law by alleging negligence on the part of their employer. Another anomaly is found in the fact that whilst most people receive their incomes by way of periodic payments, in the case of negligence one can receive a lump sum payment or none at all. Most people are not used to living from investing lump sums. They live on periodic payments.
Hie TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN. -
Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I speak with some diffidence after hearing the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) making it quite clear that those of us without legal training obviously have not the ability to take cases apart and make a reasoned examination of them. It is with a proper sense of humility that I embark on an effort that I realise will be shot full of holes by a person with his superior qualifications.
First, I want to congratulate the new - if one may call him such - AttorneyGeneral (Mr. Snedden). All of us on both sides of the House have appreciated the frankness with which he has answered questions. We wish him the best of good wishes in administering a department which obviously bristles with problems. I can think of no better man than he, equipped as he is with legal knowledge, to tackle those problems.
Wc are indebted to the honorable member for Higinbotham (Mr. Chipp) for having directed the attention of the Parliament and the country on Thursday night to what I would call a rather poignant and serious restrictive trade practice. As we all remember, he directed attention to the case of a comparatively small operator who has been trying to make and sell Venetian blinds and has been meeting head-on all the efforts of certain people who want to ensure that things shall not be done in a certain way, and who want a larger cut from the cake provided by the trade in
Venetian blinds. Let me carry on from there and give another case dealing with a commodity which the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, of course, would regard as mundane. I refer to baling twine, which is something which would not excite the honorable member’s legal nerves, but which to me, as a farmer who has to use baling twine, is of some importance. There is in Australia an organisation known as the Australian Rope, Cordage and Twine Association. There is no secret about this association. The officers of it have been quite open with me about the way it works. However, I want to give two illustrations of the way it works. Recently tenders were called for the supply to a government body of a certain kind of rope. It was interesting to find not only that the prices tendered by the five firms who make this kind of rope were the same, but also that the share of the total tendered for by each firm was the same. This showed, in my view, a clear case of collusive tendering, an example of what Attorneys-General past and present have said requires to be prevented by legislation.
The other example of restrictive trade practices deals with the mundane material called baling twine. For the benefit of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition, this is twine that is used for wrapping around fodder and bales of hay. I make this explanation wilh some diffidence because I realise that the honorable member would not be expected to be interested in such mundane subjects. There is what I would call a clearly restrictive trade practice operating in this field. This has been brought home to me quite plainly and quite openly by people who sell baling twine. There is in my district a merchant who came up the hard way. When I knew him first he was a small battling carrier. By exercising a great deal of initiative and by working very hard he has built up a large business and is now in a position to sell 40 or 50 tons of baling twine a year. This is certainly enough for him to be classified as a wholesaler, but he is not a wholesaler. He does not sell to resellers, he sells direct to farmers. The 40 or 50 tons that he buys a year is enough to earn him a wholesaler’s discount. But he is not a wholesaler; he is quite open about that. He sells direct to farmers. Although he deals in large quantities with people who make the twine, those people say that because he does not order his business in the way they think he should, he must charge £8 17s. 6d. a bale. If he could take advantage of the wholesaler’s discount, to which the amount of twine he purchases would normally entitle him, he could sell the twine at £8 a bale.
The ruling of this Association has meant, in effect, that we in the district pay an extra 17s. 6d. a bale for the baling twine. There is no reason for this other than that the Association says that the trade in baling twine shall be conducted in a certain way. It does not attempt to deny that the quantity bought by the merchant is sufficient to attract the discount. What it says is: “We want orderly marketing. We want the trade in baling twine to bc conducted in this way. Because this merchant will not conduct it in this way we say that he will not get the discount.” This seems to me a dangerous kind of practice. The baling twine manufacturers say that the pattern of trade in this field shall be such and such.
The merchant did not take this treatment lying down. He said to himself: “There is only one source of twine in Australia. If I cannot buy twine satisfactorily from that source 1 should be able to import it.” It was made quite clear to him that if he attempted to import it the Association would certainly go hot-foot to the Department of Customs and Excise and try to prevent him from doing so.
– It did have the importations stopped.
– If that is so, then this is the kind of thing we should surely be angry about, at least those of us who represent rural constituencies, those of us who have an interest in keeping costs of production down, and those of us with an interest in letting the small man have a go and an opportunity to be enterprising. By what right does this Association tell the trade and the farmers how they shall sell and buy their baling twine? When I consider this kind of practice I am frankly disappointed with the way in which the Department of Customs and Excise exercises, by tradition, its power to authorise by-law entry. I should think that in this case, as in the case mentioned by the honorable member for Higinbotham, the Department of Customs and Excise could very well say: “If this is the way this industry is behaving, imports ought to be allowed in and ought to be encouraged to come in in order to break the ring.” I would think that this was surely a function of a Department of Customs and Excise which was not completely dedicated to protecting Australian industry.
– Order! I remind the honorable member that the Department under discussion is the Attorney-General’s Department, not the Department of Customs and Excise.
– I bow to your ruling, Sir. I was discussing restrictive trade practices, and, in passing, I was mentioning the way in which the Customs Department could help the Attorney-General. I realise that when I get on to my hobby horse, the Customs Department, I am rather inclined to ride it into the ground, but, as I have said, I bow to your ruling, Mr. Temporary Chairman. I hope that the other departments which I have mentioned will be able to give some assistance to the Minister in charge of the Department with which we are now officially dealing and help him to tackle this problem of what is clearly a restrictive trade practice. I think this should be mentioned, and I think those of us on this side of the Chamber who are alarmed about the operation of these restrictive trade practices should be on the watch continually and should spell them out in this chamber so that we can alert the people to the danger that threatens. I am afraid there is not enough publicity given to the problems which confront us, and I would like to say to those honorable members who are trying to interject that I have not heard a great deal of evidence from the other side. There has been some but not much. I hope that the Government will bring this legislation in shortly. I can assure the Attorney-General that it will get a very warm welcome from certain members - I think most honorable members - on this side.
.- In my first period I was speaking about methods of compensating the victims of industrial and highway accidents and of crimes of violence. In particular, I had been making proposals for removing the determination of compensation for the victims of highway accidents from the courts, in the first instance, where one has the archaic pro*cedures attaching to negligence, lump surf payments and so on, and where, also, in practice, the victims are always in doubt as to how much compensation they will receive and how long they will have to wait before they receive it.
I made detailed proposals along those lines when discussing the estimates for the Attorney-General’s Department six years ago. Perhaps I should add, however, that I am not suggesting that the methods that I have put forward should be in complete substitution for those existing at the moment. Of course, this Parliament does not have the constitutional power to preclude the present procedure; but it has the power to provide an alternative and better procedure. The Department of Social Services could assess and pay compensation during the period of invalidity, at the rates which a person was earning before he suffered the accident. Furthermore, the Taxation Commissioner could provisionally certify to the income of an accident victim before the accident occurred.
These new procedures would not be compulsory, but they should be available. They would relieve most of the congestion that there is in the courts at the moment. They would give citizens modern, adequate and prompt methods of compensation. Further - and this is not the least in importance - they would release lawyers for tasks which were of more social and economic relevance and importance. I do not say that these methods I have suggested of using the Department of Social Services and the Taxation Branch should end with the bureaucrats. Against these, as with many more administrative decisions, there should be a method of appeal to some Federal court.
This brings me to the general subject of Federal courts. Last March, I asked the Attorney-General this question -
Since all the Judges of the High Court are members of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council, I ask the Minister whether arrangements have been made for Australian Privy Councillors to sit in Australia to hear appeals which would lie from State Supreme Courts to the Privy Council?
The honorable gentleman replied -
I will make inquiries about this matter and see that the honorable member is given a suitable reply.
This was six months ago and I have not had a reply, suitable or otherwise. When I asked the same question of his predecessor in March of last year, that honorable gentleman made the pithy reply “ No.” The Australian Law Journal made this comment -
It would, we believe, accord wilh the views of the great majority of persons having an informed opinion on the subject if, by one means or another, appeals from State Supreme Courts to the Privy Council were with due propriety now to be brought to an end. 1 believe this is the opinion of the great majority of our fellow citizens. I do not believe that the Australian members of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council are in any way less adequate than the English members of that Committee.
I pass to the proposal that there should bc a Federal superior court. I made de tailed proposals for such a court when discussing the estimates for the AttorneyGeneral’s Department in 1959. At the beginning of last year, Mr. Toose and Mr. Byers, Senior Counsel at the New South Wales Bar, outlined proposals for such a court. In the “ Federal Law Review “ of June of this year, the last Attorney-General, now the Chief Justice of Australia, detailed and endorsed such proposals. There is a valuable list in the annexures to his article of the Acts under which jurisdiction could be vested in such a new Federal court.
The matter of principle was decided almost two years ago by Cabinet. It has come up on various occasions since then. I myself referred to it in December 1960 and again in November 1962 when speaking to the Patents Bills. On each occasion I was assured that the Attorney-General of the time had the matter in mind, or had it in hand; but we still do not have such a court, nor have we got legislation for it. I believe that the present Attorney-General might take us into his confidence as to bow far proceedings have gone.
I will not detail the sort of matters which could come before such a court because they have now been dealt wilh in “ Hansard “ and in various learned journals over the last few years. But I believe the articles in the learned journals do not give sufficient emphasis to the scope that there would be for appeals from administrative decisions. It is already plain from what I have said this afternoon that I believe that too much legal talent is wasted in wellfurrowed fields, that is, in fields where litigation is without any hazard of expense inasmuch as it is underwritten by compulsory insurance. But legislators and lawyers have allowed a very great new field of human rights to escape their attention entirely. By that I mean that the courts should be able to supervise and review administrative decisions much more than they do. We must concede that this has been a field in which the English courts and the Australian courts have lagged behind, say, the French courts and the courts of the United States of America.
There are a vast number of Federal administrative tribunals already. The Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) told me in August 1958 that there were 50 different boards, tribunals, committees and courts hearing appeals from Federal administrative decisions. The number has proliferated since then. May I give four instances which do not appear in the annexures to Sir Garfield Berwick’s article. First, there is the question of surcharges on a public servant by the Auditor-General. There the appeal is by petition to the Governor-General. Again there is the question of compensation for unreasonable arrest or detention in or near a prohibited place under the Crimes Act. There again compensation is determined by the Governor-General. These are appeals from Caesar to Caesar. Again there are no appeals on the hundreds of thousands of decisions made under the Social Services Act, except through the local member of Parliament to the Department or to the Director-General of Social Services. Lastly, there are no appeals on any security decisions concerning migrants and public servants except through the local member of Parliament. These are all matters that are determined by courts in other countries. 1 come from the subject of courts to Federal laws. The former Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia in July 1957, at the tenth legal convention of the Australian Law Council said this -
Is it not possible to place law reform on an Australian-wide basis? Might not there be a federal committee for law reform?
In spite of the absence of constitutional power to enact the reforms as law, it is open to the federal legislature to authorise the formation of a body for inquiry into law reform. 1 had occasion to quote the full remarks of the Chief Justice in the debate on the Judiciary Bill in May 1960 and again, in the debate on the Northern Territory Supreme Court Bill in 1961. On the latter occasion the present Attorney-General supported my general proposition that there should be a model code of practice and procedure in Federal Territories and under Federal laws. I hope he proceeds with it. I know it will bc said that the Attorneys-General now have a standing committee; but its proceedings are confidential. They are not made available to the State Parliaments or to this Parliament. .It will be noticed that the Chief Justice referred to the Federal legislature authorising the formation of a body for inquiry into law reform. These matters are a proper subject for legislative initiative. They are matters upon which members of Parliament, State and Federal, are entitled to make proposals themselves or to discuss the proposals of others. It is not right that these matters should be presented in a take it or leave it form to State parliamentarians and that they should be enacted into Federal laws in Territory ordinances. There is no regular provision for members of this Parliament to discuss law reform. We know that proposals for law reform in this country must await, in most instances, initiative by the Federal Government. I would hope that measures will be taken, as Sir Owen Dixon suggested seven years ago, to have some Federal legislative initiative in these matters.
I have mentioned that Federal initiative in these matters is required. The previous Attorney-General was generally loathe to take a Federal initiative. He rejected proposals that I had made in May 1962 on behalf of the Bankstown and District Civil Rehabilitation Committee for a national research organisation to study the causes and statistics of crime and delinquency and the treatment of offenders. The proposal has since been advocated by Professor Norval Morris in an interview on 26th August in the “ News Review “ session on the Australian Broadcasting Commission. The matter is worth looking at again.
There are other proposals for Federal laws that have already come before the Parliament and upon which the Attorney-General and his predecessor have not yet taken action. It is now nearly five years since the report of the Copyright Law Review Committee was given to the former Attorney-General, and three and a half years since it’ was given to honorable members It is a year and a half since the report of the Bankruptcy Law Review Committee was given to honorable members. The report of the Bills of Exchange Committee is certainly overdue. I believe the committee that was promised in 1954 on designs has not yet been appointed. I stand subject to correction on this. It was to be appointed once the Government had made a decision on the report of the Copyright Committee. These are all matters in which modern methods and remedies arc being denied to our fellow citizens because the Federal Government will not take the initiative that the Constitution gives it in matters of industrial property.
I conclude by two other references to Federal laws. I said that the former Attorney-General was reluctant to take Federal initiative. This was particularly true in matters of constitutional reform. There were, however, two matters proposed unanimously by the joint and all party Constitutional Review Committee in 1958 for which full reasons were given in 1959 and for which there was an irresistible appeal in the commercial community. The Attorney-General of the time, therefore, decided to show that these could be done within the existing legislative framework. One was a uniform company law. In fact, we still do not have uniform company laws, as appears from answers to questions given to me from time to time, the last occasion being on 14th May last. The other matter was restrictive trade practices legislation. The honorable members for Higinbotham (Mr. Chipp) and Wakefield (Mr. Kelly) have taunted the Australian Labour Party with not making proposals here. We are committed to supporting the proper proposals made unanimously six years ago by the Constitutional Review Committee. We all know that it is not possible to have adequate restrictive trade practices legislation on the present’ Federal basis. There should be an amendment of the Constitution. We have supported the proposals that have been made in that regard. We are committed to supporting them at a referendum whenever this Government puts them. If this Government falls down on the job, we will put them ourselves as soon as we form a Government.
– This has been a most interesting debate. The matter that predominantly emerges from it is the attitude of the Committee towards restrictive trade practices legislation. In this matter the Government has made its policy quite clear. I have done what I can to explain that this legislation will be brought in as soon as the practical and technical difficulties of constructing the legislation are resolved.
– You have been saying that for five years.
– No, we have not. When this proposal was first announced by the Government, it was realised that it was very necessary that the proposals should be put before the public and that the public and all interested parties should have adequate opportunity to examine them in depth and breadth and make representations, lt follows that if representations of that nature are made, adequate regard must be paid to them. In a matter like this, a representation is made very often dealing with a particular aspect of the particular person making the representation. It has then to be fitted into its general orientation. Honorable gentlemen opposite will assert that I have been saying this for a long time. I have not been saying this for a long time.
– No, you give a different excuse every year.
– I certainly did not give an excuse last year.
– I am speaking about “ you “ as a Government.
– My very good friend, the honorable member for Higinbotham (Mr. Chipp), raised a matter relating to restrictive trade practices. He named the company which he said had suffered by a restrictive practice and he named the company that was engaged in the practice. He went on to talk about mergers and takeovers. This is something about which I cannot comment. If the honorable member chooses to raise this matter, as he is entitled to do, I cannot comment, because I have made an absolutely firm rule from which I have never departed and that is that I will not talk about restrictive trade practices in terms of individuals or companies or the way m which they are in particular developed. I must talk of them in the broad because the essence of a restrictive trade practice scheme must be an examination of the practice in the environment in which it exists, so that we can see whether it is justifiable or not justifiable in the public interests. If I were to mention any practice and name people it could do irreparable damage to people engaged in the practice who, upon examination, might be able to show that their practice was justifiable in the public interest. So this is a rule which I have adopted myself and I will not depart from it at any stage of the consideration of the proposals and of the legislation.
My equally good friend, the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly) also added an example. True, he did not name companies but he named a trade association. If the honorable member will forgive me I will make no comment about that matter at all for the reasons I have just given.
The honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns) made an interesting speech. He and 1 have come to understand each other in some way, and I was surprised that my understanding did not lead me to expect what he would say. The honorable member spoke of the need for restrictive trade practices legislation, but he added - . . but in industry and distribution there are a very large number of small people who can protect themselves only by some kind of an agreement that is established between them.
This statement, coming from the Opposition, is something quite strange to me. The Opposition has rarely spoken on the matter, the reason being that it has always adopted the idea that the best way to handle the problem is by a series of absolute prohibitions. That is not the attitude of the Government as expressed in the elements of the scheme and it is not part of the policy of the Government as announced. The attitude of the honorable member for Yarra is in conflict with the general attitude of his Party. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) - if one can accept him as speaking for his Party - said the other night by way of interjection to the honorable member for Higinbotham or the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Hughes) that when the restrictive trade practices legislation came before the House it would be supported by the Opposition, except that the Opposition would be calling on the Government for the legislation to go further; in other words, to set down a whole series of prohibitions. The Opposition sees a simple way of legislating. The Opposition’s idea is merely to pick up the American Sherman Act and create offences punishable on prosecution by prison - outright prohibition. This is not the sort of thing which this Government contemplates as the proper form of legislation for Australia and Australian circumstances!
The honorable member for Yarra went on to say that what ought to be done in this field is to create Government competition. Once again we see the Opposition inevitably returning to the Socialist platform - the creation of Government enterprises, no doubt nurtured and fed in such a way that they will gobble up any competitor, until in fact there is a complete monopoly by Government ownership. Yet the Opposition says: “ Our policy is democratic socialism.” Is democratic socialism to be interpreted, from the words of the honorable member for Yarra, as being complete public ownership of all the means of production, distribution and exchange? This is what the honorable member meant by his words.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
– In large measure, I have dealt with the matters relating to restrictive trade practices which have been raised in this debate. A number of other matters have been raised. I will deal with them in particular. The honorable member for Barton (Mr. Reynolds) referred to what he described as the need to give aid to inventors. He referred to a number of difficulties. I inform him that, whilst I am not able to go to the lengths to which he obviously would like the Government to go, I have given approval for the printing of a publication which has been prepared and which will be entitled “A Guide to Inventors “. That booklet, when printed, will be available for sale at 4s. 6d. a copy. At a much earlier point of time a similar booklet was available, but it became out of date and fell into disuse. It will be supplanted by this document which, in large measure, will provide inventors with a great deal of guidance in relation to patent applications. I am bound to say that the Patent Office will give whatever help it possibly can give-
– What about those abstracts? Will you make those available?
– I will have a look at that matter. The Patent Office will give whatever help it can give on the technical matters involved in the obtaining of patents.
The honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) referred to the establishment of a public defenders office - as he termed it. I should let him know that at present there is provision for aid to be given to persons charged with offences against Commonwealth Acts when they go for trial on indictment. Very frequently, at the request of my Department - the request flows from a certificate given by a judge; - I approve the payment of fees for counsel to represent persons charged with offences against Commonwealth Acts. The honorable member for Hunter referred indirectly to legal aid. I propose to delay my remarks on that matter until I have dealt with the speech made by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition.
Another matter raised by the honorable member for Hunter was what he described as the screening of migrants overseas. I think that a fair representation of what he said is that, in the screening of migrants overseas, it does not matter whether a person has been convicted of criminal offences, provided he has not marched in a May Day procession. Then, just out of the blue, he quoted from one of today’s newspapers which said that a person with an Italian-sounding name had been charged with murder. He said that this was a dreadful thing. Oan he not realise what a slur he cast on the whole section of our Australian population which is not Australian born?
– He did not say that at all.
– That is what he said. The unfortunate point about it is that periodically we hear comments of this sort from people who, in reality, are not supporters of the immigration programme; and all too often those comments come from the Opposition side of the chamber. My honorable friend, the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Opperman), of course, could deal with this matter in much greater detail. But the truth is that the people who come from overseas to make their homes in Australia, make a tremendous contribution to the development of this country and to the standard of living and welfare of everybody in our community. To cast a slur of this kind on immigrants in general is to do a tremendous disservice to the bulk of the people who come here to make their homes: I feel that the honorable member for Hunter, when he reads the report of his speech in “ Hansard “, will regret what he said. I hope he will.
He also referred to a particular application for a patent. He said that the applica tion had been delayed. I think he referred to it as an application for a patent in relation to the picking up of grass clippings from a lawnmower. The honorable gentleman wrote to me on this matter. I replied to him fully on 20th August of this year. I do not want to take up the time of the Committee by reading it; but I point out that it seemed to me to be a very satisfactory reply. Perhaps I am not the best person to judge whether it was a satisfactory reply, seeing that I wrote it, but the honorable member at no time came to me and suggested that what was stated in the letter was not applicable to the circumstances.
In fact, there had been a misdescription in the application for patent by the applicant. That caused some delay in the Patent Office. The reason for that is that patents have to be dealt with on a highly technical basis. People who have had no association with patent applications cannot understand fully, I am sure, the degree of technicality involved. In any event, as a result of the honorable member writing to me, I made inquiries from the Patent Office and was satisfied that there had been no unnecessary delay. I then replied to his letter. If the suggestions that I made in the reply are followed, the patent application will proceed with all facility. The honorable member for Hunter spoke of a shortage of staff in the Patent Office. I do not pretend that there is not a shortage of staff in that office. We would like to have more men there. But, as I emphasised earlier, it is a very technical office. The qualifications of the officers working there need to be very high. It is not easy to find patent examiners. There are constantly advertisements for people to come to work as patent officers.
The honorable member also spoke of the shortage of parliamentary draftsmen. No job that is performed by legally qualified men is more exacting and more important to this Parliament than that of the Parliamentary Draftsmen. I am able to say that the Parliamentary Draftsmen whom this Parliament possesses are of a standard which could not be bettered anywhere in the world. The proud record of our Parliamentary Draftsmen will be acknowledged by all honorable members. Because the standard is so high, one could not dream of assigning to the job a person without any parliamentary drafting experience. In fact, to my knowledge there has never been an occasion on which the draftsmen could not meet the schedule that was laid down for them. They can work under pressure and they can work at all hours. They do their job magnificently. But it is not correct to suggest that there is any shortfall in their work because of the pressure on them. To recognise that there is great pressure on them is correct, and I am doing what I can in conversation with the permanent head of the Attorney-General’s Department to give them what relief can be given to them.
The honorable member for Cunningham (Mr. Connor) comes new to this chamber and perhaps because he comes new to this House, he said what he did in relation to section 30j of the Crimes Act. He announced to the Committee that this is a bad section because it has associated with it the power to make averments. He said that the Labour movement of Australia will continue to protest, and to campaign to have that section eliminated. Section 30j, to which the honorable member referred creates the capacity for the proclamation in the case of a serious industrial disturbance; the section relating to averments is section 30r. Both those sections were put into the Crimes Act in 1926. Since 1926 there have been, in approximate terms, some 10 years of government by the Labour Party. In that time the Labour Party had the bright jewel that it regarded as the greatest Attorney-General - Dr. Evatt.
– He was, too.
– This is as you regard it. But Dr. Evatt did not remove that provision. The Labour Party at that time, or in the latter part of it anyway, had as Ministers the present Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) and the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard). I think it is proper to give due respect to the self-claim of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. He did show judgment in his corporate decision with the rest of the Labour Government not to remove this section from the Crimes Act. I hope he will take the opportunity to have words with the honorable member for Cunningham so as to explain to him just why this provision was not removed from the Act. For the honorable member for Cunningham to say that a Labour government will do it does not very well reconcile with the facts.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition took advantage of the forms of the Committee to have two speaking periods on these estimates. He occupied half an hour of the time of honorable members and, in the course of it, attempted to show how deep thinking he was and how interested in a wide range of legal problems. He was rebuked by my very good friend, the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly). The rebuke administered to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition was, I thought, a fair one, because the Deputy Leader showed that he had barely a surface appreciation of the problems that he raised. He talked of Commonwealth employees’ compensation and skimmed from that, after citing a couple of figures, to the subject of deserted wives. After a few cursory remarks he skimmed from that subject to compensation for the victims of crimes of violence. Then he skimmed to legal aid, and then he skimmed to Federal laws and the need for the Commonwealth to give some sort of initiative. He talked of the Privy Council sitting in Australia composed of judges of the High Court. He showed, in point of fact, a very real lack of depth of understanding of the matters that he raised.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition raised, in total, eight or nine matters. Divided into 30 minutes, this gives an average of three or four minutes for each. A subject like Commonwealth employees’ compensation is not embraced in three or four minutes nor, for that matter, is the very real problem of the deserted wife. Nor is compensation for the victims of crimes of violence. If the Deputy Leader of the Opposition achieved anything, it was, I suppose, to emphasise that the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns) at least stuck to his brief when he spoke on the very same estimates. But what of the matters he raised? First, let us take Commonwealth employees’ compensation. The honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Hughes) raised that subject, and it is not for me at this point of time to comment on it. The honoorable member for Parkes and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition put their views. I am bound to say that the honorable member for Parkes certainly put his with greater clarity and demonstrated a capacity for understanding.
As to the matter of deserted wives, the Deputy Leader of the Opposition talked as though this were a secret matter, as though nothing had been done. The fact is that several meetings of the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General have discussed this subject in great detail. The conclusion which was reached by the Standing Committee was that uniformity was essential in the reciprocal enforcement, interstate, of maintenance orders. As to other matters, uniformity was not so necessary, especially as there were some wide cleavages of philosophy in the making of orders. It is but a matter of time before the necessary legislation is passed in all States and before ordinances are passed for the Commonwealth Territories.
On the matter of compensation for the victims of crimes of violence, placed before the last meeting of the Attorneys-General in Perth a month or two ago was a letter from the Premier of New South Wales to the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies). The Attorneys-General reached no conclusion in relation to the matter, but I have no doubt that at some time it will probably be listed again.
The reference to legal aid made by the honorable member for Hunter was about the same in quantity as the reference made by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. Legal aid is a question which is being pursued most vigorously by the Law Society of Australia and, indeed, by the various bar associations. Already there is a legal aid system operating in South Australia. That scheme has given the basis for the scheme of Western Australia, and also the basis for the scheme of Victoria. The New South Wales scheme is markedly different. In New South Wales the scheme is essentially a governmental one, whereas in the other three States I have mentioned the scheme is essentially one that the profession administers.
– You’re telling me.
– If the gentleman says: “ You’re telling me “ in a way that is meant to detract from the efforts of the legal profession of Victoria in the operation of its legal aid scheme, then I would like the honorable gentleman not to sit there making snide interjections but to say outright that he does not believe that the legal profession of Victoria is doing a good job on its legal aid scheme.
– No, I don’t believe it.
– Well, there it is; he does not believe that the legal profession of Victoria is doing a good job on its legal aid scheme. I will take the opportunity to inform those hundreds of solicitors and the 150 or more barristers at the Victorian bar who are giving their time unselfishly and who are suffering a financial loss in doing the job in order to ensure what the Deputy Leader of the Opposition described as justice. It is interesting to hear the honorable member for Yarra say this. I wonder whether honorable senators in another place will share this view.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition said something about Federal courts. He asked me to take honorable members into my confidence in relation to my thinking on Federal courts. My predecessor wrote a very learned article, one of great detail, on Federal courts.
– We have read it.
– I confess some surprise that you have.
– Why should you be surprised at anything I read?
– Because I would not have thought that this was a thing you would read. In any event, there is no question of my taking anybody into my confidence on this matter. The whole point about it is that there will inevitably come a time when we have a Federal judiciary - a Federal supreme court.
– I wanted to ascertain when we are likely to have it.
– It is not easy lo fix a point of time at which this is likely to occur. I do not depart from the indications that were given by my predecessor. I think that I have now disposed of all the matters raised that were worthy of reply, Mr. Temporary Chairman, In conclusion, I should just like to say that I am grateful to my friends on the Government side of the chamber for the sentiments that they expressed as they wished me well in the job that I have to do.
– Mr. Temporary Chairman, it was very interesting to hear the new Attorney-General (Mr. Snedden) dilating on the need for Federal courts.
– I did not. Your deputy did.
– The Minister did, too. Me expressed surprise at the fact that 1 bad read the very learned article by the Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia in the new journal that was published for the first time the other day. I was greatly impressed by it. What we of the Australian Labour Party have always advocated is the extension of the judicial functions of the Commonwealth to a far greater degree than the learned Chief Justice of the High Court has been prepared to go. I read what he had to say about relieving the High Court of some of its burdens. However, he did not go so far as we should like to go in taking away from the State Supreme Courts for the establishment of a Federal judiciary jurisdiction over a lot of matters that essentially are entirely Federal and should be dealt with in Federal courts. The distinguished and learned Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) has given a lot of attention to this matter. We hope that the Attorney-General will pursue the work that his predecessor started and bring the draft legislation that the article mentioned indicates is in preparation to the point at which it can be introduced into the Parliament so that we may have an opportunity to propose the amendments to it that wc would wish to see made.
– Before the Senate election, too.
– Yes, before the Senate election. We are prepared to stay here until Christmas. We are in no hurry to go home. I think the Government wants to close down the Parliament and have a Senate election on 28th November or 5th December.
I pay tribute, as some honorable members have already done and as others, I have no doubt, will do at some other time, to the competence of the members of the Parliamentary Draftsman’s staff, who do such wonderful work for us all. Our complaint is that the Government does not pay sufficient to attract enough men of their quality. I think that the draftsmanship of this Parliament is better than that of any of the States. It has been of a very high order throughout the history of the Commonwealth of Australia.
My time is not unlimited, Sir, and I now want to turn to a number of matters that I consider are important. First, I want to mention the fact that the Government has had in its possession since 1959 the report of the Constitutional Review Committee, which was appointed in 1956 and sat for three years. It made many recommendations of major importance. Nearly all were made unanimously. Only on one or two matters did members of the Committee disagree. That was a joint parliamentary committee, representative of both Houses of the Parliament and of all parties in the Parliament. The Government, however, has seen fit not to do anything about constitutional reform. We want it to initiate the machinery for the taking of referenda to alter the provisions of the Australian Constitution in certain specific matters, even if it will not put to the people immediately all the propositions advanced by the Constitutional Review Committee.
We want the people to be allowed to exercise the right to decide on the relations between the two Houses in the way recommended by the Joint Committee. We consider that the Government should hold a referendum to endow this Parliament with power to fix prices in order to stabilise the economy and prevent inflation. We think that the Government should hold a referendum or referenda for the alteration of the provisions of section 51 of the Constitution, as they relate to the Aboriginal people of this country, and the removal of section 127. The Aborigines consider that these provisions are discriminatory. We agree. The Attorney-General thinks that these provisions were inserted for the benefit of the Aborigines.
– Be fair. The particular provisions in section 51 were inserted for their benefit, not the provisions in section 127.
– I thought that the Minister said during another discussion in this chamber that that applied to section 127 also.
– The honorable member should read again what I said.
– I listened to the Minister. If my understanding of what he said is nol correct, that may be more his fault than mine. At any rate, I hope that he will see the error of his ways and give the people an opportunity to remove section 127, too.
We of the Australian Labour Party will help all we can to obtain the alterations to the Constitution that we consider are of national importance and of great urgency. Nothing that the Joint Committee recommended was not of great urgency. It dealt only with urgent matters that affected the Australian people. In our view, it is nonsensical for the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) to say that he will not submit a referendum to the people on the occasion of the next Senate election. The second great alteration to our Constitution - the one in 1946 that give this Parliament power to pass all the laws necessary to establish the welfare state - was carried on the occasion of the Federal general election of 1946.
I take advantage of this debate to stress the need for constitutional reform, Sir. In the period of almost 64 years since the colonies of Australia federated and the Commonwealth of Australia came into existence, only two major alterations of the Constitution have been made. One concerned the taking over of the debts of the States and the establishment of the Australian Loan Council. On that occasion, the referendum was initiated by the BrucePage Government after the Financial Agreement of 1927 and was carried in 1928. The other major alteration was that made in 1946. It was initiated by the Chifley Government. The fundamental document that protects our lives and guarantees our liberties, but also imposes duties and responsibilities on all who call themselves Australian citizens, is of enormous importance to all of us. Our Consitution, like the Constitution of the United States of America, from Which it is largely copied, is a document of enormous importance to our future.
No matter how wise our founding fathers were, no matter how far sighted they thought themselves to be, the Australian Consitution, in 1964, despite the two major alterations that have taken place as a result of the vote of the people, and despite the great alteration in relations between the Commonwealth and the States because of the decision by the High Court in the uniform tax case, is not adequate for the needs of Australia’s present population. Those now under- 30 years of age constitute half the population of Australia, and one third of those now living here are aged between 5 and 24. This shows how necessary it is to bring our Constitution up to date so that it may properly serve the needs of the younger part of our population and those who will follow them. Great work is to be done, Sir. But this Government is not facing up to its responsibilities in this matter, lt has failed to do anything since 1959. As the Prime Minister and his Government become more smug, more complacent and more self satisfied, the possibilities of the submission of a referendum or referenda to the people grow ever more dim.
I want to raise one other matter before this Committee, Sir. This is an important administrative matter that comes within the jurisdiction of the Attorney-General. For the past 15 years, it has been the habit of quite a number of honorable members opposite, some of whom are no longer with us as a result of death, retirement or defeat, but some of whom still represent electorates in this Parliament, to slander, malign, criticise and in various ways attempt to depreciate the importance, the character and the integrity of honorable members on this side of the Parliament in the eyes of the general public. 1 refer to this constant attempt to smear the Labour Party on the Communist issue. Last week I asked the Prime Minister to take action. I now ask the AttorneyGeneral who, too, has authority over the Security Service, to investigate the question of the membership of all members of this Parliament so far as the Communist Party or any of its affiliations is concerned. If any member in this Parliament can be rightly suspected of being a member of the Communist Party or of being in any way associated with what are known as Communist organisations, I ask thu Attorney-General to produce the evidence to the House. If the Government fails to deal with the subject for very much longer I will go myself to Brigadier Spry and ask him whether he has evidence in his files to justify the slanders being hurled around from time to time in this chamber. If he cannot give me any evidence I will come back to the Parliament and make a declaration. A person’s character and a person’s integrity are his most priceless possessions. No-one should be allowed lightly to besmirch the character of anybody alse. I made my plea last week to the Prime Minister and he apparently decided to take no notice of it. Honorable members on the other side who are so disposed - and they are only a small minority, I must say - to besmirch the character of other people seem to have some sort of backing from responsible Ministers in their campaign. The time for this sort of thing to end is now, and if it does not end soon I will carry out my threat to ask the chief of the Security Service just what evidence there is to justify the things that have been said in this Parliament. If there is no evidence - and I believe there is none - I will come back and say so to the House.
Motion (by Mr. Aston) put -
That the question be now put.
The Committee divided. (The Temporary Chairman - Mr. L. J. Failes.)
Majority . . . . 21
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Proposed expenditure agreed to.
Department of Civil Aviation.
Proposed expenditure, £20,071,000.
Department of Shipping and Transport.
Proposed expenditure, £24,596,000.
– I wish to direct the Committee’s attention this evening to the estimates of the Department of Shipping and Transport. There was a time not long ago when this Department was regarded as one of the departments of lesser importance in the Federal sphere, but it now has taken on quite considerable importance. The estimates show that this year the Government proposes to spend £11,279,000 on railway projects. I would like the Minister for National Development (Mr. Fairbairn), who is at the table, to tell me why last year the Government spent only £5,250,546 on railway projects although it appropriated for this purpose £7,205,000. Why was roughly £1,700,000 less than anticipated expended under the Railway Agreement (Western Australia) Act? Why was about £200,000 less than anticipated expended under the Railway Standardisation (South Australia) Agreement Act? Are these projects proceeding at the speed desired when the estimates were drawn up last year or has the rate of standardisation of the Australian railway system slowed? If the latter is the case, the Parliament should be told about it. The original plans envisaged that trains would be running on the standard gauge east-west line in 1968. Having in mind the fact that all of the money appropriated for the purpose has not been spent on standardisation projects, we want to know why there has been a slackening in implementation of the determined policy of this Parliament.
When we think of the millions of pounds being spend on standardisation work it is well to remember that not all of the expenditure is being undertaken by the
Commonwealth. A perusal of the notes supplied to honorable members by the Department of Shipping and Transport reveals that this year the Commonwealth expects to receive £704,000 in the form of interest and repayments of capital on moneys disbursed by the Commonwealth to the States under the various railway acts More than £500,000 of that amount represents interest payable on money already spent on rail standardisation work. So the Slates are playing their part in providing finance to improve our rail services.
When we think of rail standardisation we arc alerted to the need for co-ordination of our railway systems. I hope that in the not far distant future - perhaps before the present rail standardisation plan is completed - consideration will be given to a system of railways controlled at the national level. I say that with all due respect to the States. Under the present system we have the situation of New South Wales making a pica to the Commonwealth for assistance to bring the line between Parkes and Broken Hill up to the desired standard. The Government has turned its back on. that request to provide finance for the most important section of the east-west line. I hope the Government has not been influenced by the fact that New South Wales has a Labour Government. If the Parkes to Broken Hill section of the Brisbane to Perth line is a weak link, that becomes the standard of the whole service. Under the diesel scheme the section between Parkes and Broken Hill should be the most efficient section of the east-west line. It is a level section. In the years ahead I hope that Parkes will become the central depot and focal point of the east-west line. Within the concept of the east-west line, it is not possible to arrive at any conclusion other than that Parkes will become the major central depot. Parkes is at the end of the section containing the heavy grades and the tunnels through the mountains. Parkes must come of age.
In May last the Railway Commissioners of New South Wales, South Australia and Western Australia, met to co-ordinate and design rolling stock requirements for the opening of the east-west service in 1968. I urge the Government, despite its past attitude in relation to this matter, to reconsider the request of New South Wales for finance to strengthen the Parkes to Broken Hill line. If that line is built as the New South Wales Government would like to build it, it will become the measuring stick for the whole service. Anybody who thinks that the measuring stick so far as dieselisation is concerned is not finally the guiding factor is not paying due attention to the very thing that the New South Wales Commissioner for Railways and the other Commissioners discussed at the May conference. There is no point in co-ordinating your vehicular traffic unless your tracks are strong enough to carry the loads that will pass over them. Trains travelling on this line will reach 80 m.p.h. New South Wales needs financial assistance for the Parkes to Broken Hill line. This is a long section of line, lt is the end of the road as far as New South Wales is concerned. At one time the section was closed for three months. Despite that the New South Wales Government showed a profit on the section. When it is open the section is not a profitable one to New South Wales, but it is a most important line.
What docs the Government intend to do about standardising the line and providing for diesel traffic north and south? At present we contemplate that the projects in Western Australia and South Australia will be completed by 1968. What will happen then? What will happen to the manpower and the equipment that has been built up in Australia? Are we to see once again the spectacle that we saw when the line to Maree was completed and Commonwealth railway equipment was abandoned because we had no plan for its use. Now is the time for the Government to plan ahead to utilise on the north-south service the manpower and know-how that is at present being used in South Australia and Western Australia. Let me stress the need for this kind of thinking on the part of the Government. I direct the attention of honorable members to the report in 1945 of the Clapp Committee on Standardisation of Australia’s Railway Gauges. In its report the Committee referred to the fact that in Queensland in the financial years 1926-27 and 1935-36 about 8 million sheep were lost through drought. Recently we have had good seasons, . and this Government has been living on the fat, but we have made no plans to meet an adverse situation in the future. With the east-west standardised rail link due to be completed within three years, are we going to do anything about the north-south line?
As long ago as 1953, the Australian Meat Board recommended to the Government the construction of a line north from Alice Springs and linking up with the Queensland system, so that we could tap the whole of the rich cattle country in that area. Having in mind that cattle could then be quickly brought to southern markets in which there is a ready sale for them, I suggest that the cost of the necessary standardised railway links would be covered by the value of the cattle that die in the northern areas over a 10-year period because rail transport is not available to take them out in drought times.
What is needed at present? The line from Marree to Alice Springs needs reconstructing. The line from Darwin to Birdum is overdue for reconstruction. Has the Government any plans to do something about the Commonwealth’s own railway in the north, which would form part of the north-south link, as soon as the South Australian and Western Australian projects are completed, so that we could then add feeder lines extending into the Queensland cattle areas? If the situation was thoroughly studied, as it was by the Australian Meat Board in 1953 and as it has been by honorable members on this side of the Parliament, particularly the members of the Opposition’s transport committee, it would be realised that if we turned to advantage the know-how and construction methods developed on the Western Australian and South Australian projects and used them in the north we would need no more than the amounts now shown in the Estimates to renew, over a period of six or seven years, the line to Alice Springs, extend it from there through Tennant Creek, link up with a reconstructed line from Birdum to Darwin and branch off to Camooweal and Dajarra and down to Springvale.
I have an estimate here which has been arrived at by people who know something about these matters, and I can tell the Minister that for an expenditure of about £81 million we could connect up the whole north-south system and the whole of the rich beef country in the north and western parts of Queensland with Rockhampton, Townsville and Brisbane. Dieselisation has made it possible for power units to run from Adelaide to Darwin. There would be no need for a great number of watering and fuelling points. This is the cheapest form of transport available in Australia, and it could be made available to the meat industry in Queensland and the Northern Territory. Let me tell honorable members in actual figures the way in which the national economy would be assisted. Dieselised rail services can handle fat stock at a cost of 14s. lOd. per beast per 100 miles. The best figure you can achieve with road transport is £2 per beast per 100 miles.
If this Government will take the knowhow and equipment that have been built up on the Western Australian and South Australian projects, when those works have been completed in three years, we can have, within ten years, a north-south link to connect all sections of our cattle breeding country and our fattening country. I speak on this subject with a great deal of feeling. If the Government allows the manpower, know-how and equipment that is being developed in Western Australia and South Australia to be dispersed, as was the case after the completion of the standardised line to Marree, it will be a national tragedy. I suggest that we should plan now our northsouth rail services. If we have no other reason for doing so let us do it in the interests of making this country safe for future Australians. If we consider a northsouth railway only as a defence project we will realise that we can have a modern transport system, with flat top trucks capable of speeds of 80 miles an hour, so that our defence requirements could be met in any part of the country. We would also be able to develop our beef and other resources in such a way as to make this country worthwhile in the years to come. Those resources will be neglected if we do not undertake these projects right now, not in five years’ time.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I appreciate the interest of the honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison) in the welfare and development of Australia. It seems to be a real interest. But when the honorable member talks about the holding up of the Parkes-Broken Hill railway project, I suggest that he refer that question to the New South Wales Government. The Commonwealth has been carrying on negotiations with the New South Wales Government for a considerable time, and the fact is that the State Government will not allow the construction of this line unless the Commonwealth also agrees to provide an extra 25 miles of standard gauge line from Broken Hill to Cockburn. This is more or less political blackmail, and the honorable member should use any influence he has with the New South Wales Government to expedite these negotiations, because this is a matter that all members of the Parliament are genuinely interested in
I have been particularly interested for a considerable time in the Sydney (KingsfordSmith) Airport. I first raised this matter in the House in 1959 and suggested to the Government that the airport runway be extended to accommodate supersonic aircraft. Again in May of this year I raised the question and also that of the terminal buildings. It is important that Sydney’s airport remain the No. 1 international airport in Australia. I use the word “ remain “ because it is already the No. 1 airport in Australia, grossly inadequate though it is. But at no time, if my memory serves me aright, has any member on this side of the Parliament suggested that the proposed works at Tullamarine airport should not be proceeded with. I think mat as a matter of national importance we should have more than one suitable air terminal with appropriate facilities to provide for the international aircraft that come to this country.
However, since the matter was last raised in the Parliament in May of this year many honorable members, particularly Liberal members on this side from New South Wales, have made a number of inquiries. We have had discussions with the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Henty) and also with the Assistant Director General, Dr. Bradfield, and we have made personal inspections of the terminal and the progress that is being made with the extension of the runway to 8,500 feet. So far as the runway is concerned, I think we have made considerable progress. It is rather an expensive project and the work is not straightforward. In fact, it is a most difficult job. I was saying that considerable progress has been made since May and that the dredge which is so necessary to take the filling from Botany Bay in order to extend the runway has arrived from Holland and has commenced to work. Further, contracts have been let for the sewerage and construction works, and the bridging of General Holmes Drive has commenced. The runway is expected to be completed in 1966. When completed, it will be capable of handling all the aircraft we have at present and the supersonic aircraft which we expect to come into vogue in the next six or seven years. It is expected that the runway will be strong enough to cater comfortably for aircraft with an all-up weight of 500,000 lb. The Concorde, which will be the first supersonic plane that is expected to fly will have an all-up weight of no more than 360,000 lb.
I think the progress that we have made since May has been due mainly to the pressure exercised by the New South Wales members on this side of the Parliament. I say quite categorically that I do not think that the progress that is being made with the terminal and the runway would have been made had representations not been made by members on this side of the House. It is regrettable to find a Lord Mayor, a State Premier, and members of the Opposition now hopping onto the political bandwagon, and wanting to call public meetings. The fact is that the runway is already under construction and it is shameful to find a matter of such great national importance being used in this national Parliament by certain people because of an impending Senate election and an impending State election in New South Wales.
Before referring to the terminal about which I had a little to say earlier, let me say that there are some who think that the runway should be extended further out into Botany Bay to a distance of over 11,000 ft. I have sought the best advice available and I find that although this may be desirable at some future time it appears that the largest plane which we are using now - the Boeing 707 - can be satisfactorily catered for with a runway 8,500 feet long even when it has the full all-up weight of passengers and freight, as well as fuel necessary for such distances as from Sydney to Nandi, Darwin or Perth.
I believe that the progress of work on the runway is satisfactory, but I do not know whether I can say quite the same about the terminal. Before dealing with the terminal, I want to refer to the inaccuracies which those who are using this question for political purposes are endeavouring to foist upon the public, lt has been suggested that there is Victorian domination of the control of civil aviation. Let mc give honorable members the facts. Of the first 10 officers in the Department of Civil Aviation three come from Victoria, three from New South Wales, two from South Australia and two from the United Kingdom, while the Minister comes from Tasmania. Anyone who cares to work out the odds will find that they are 8 to 3 against Victoria. So much for the alleged Victorian domination of the control of civil aviation.
T come now to the terminal. It is still inadequate, but drawings and floor plans for improvements are now under way. In fact, some honorable members from this side of the chamber have already gone to the trouble of examining the tentative plan which indicates that when completed, the Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport will have ten aero bridges or aero fingers and eight holding lounges. Should international traffic increase in future years, it will be possible to extend the number of aero bridges or fingers to sixteen, I understand this is the modern way of alighting from or boarding aircraft.
If Tullamarine is taken for comparative purposes, I point out that the number of aero fingers or bridges proposed there is only six and that there will be only eight holding lounges. This comparison is as it should be. As I shall show later, the amount of air traffic that flows through Sydney airport is far greater than that which flows through the Melbourne airport. The statistics disclose that for the year ended 30th June 1964 162,000 people disembarked at Sydney from international aircraft while in Melbourne only 18,163 disembarked from overseas aircraft. Of those going overseas 137,791 left from Sydney while only 15,628 left from Melbourne. Those figures clearly show that Sydney must be retained as the No. 1 international airport.
The drawings and floor plans showing room sizes, areas and locations of the various terminal sections are now in the final stages of discussion between, the Department of Works, the Department of Civil Aviation and such users of the terminal as Qantas Empire Airways Ltd. Facilities are to be provided also for customs, health, immigration and all the other services and amenities that go with an international airport. The New South Wales Government has also announced its intention to expend £7 million on the provision of an expressway and an arterial road to the airport and this is appreciated. Recently this Government approved of the erection of another three story building at Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport to enable Qantas to extend its technical training facilities. I take this as a clear indication that this airport is to remain the home base of Qantas Empire Airways Ltd., otherwise that organisation would not go ahead with the erection of a building costing £243,300 for technical training purposes.
The Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport is a disgrace to a city the size of Sydney but I feel that in view of what is being undertaken by this Government in its overall plan to spend £30 million on the improvement of air terminals and facilities in Australia it will remain the No. 1 airport. Perhaps the runway there might be extended further out into the bay should that prove to be desirable at some future date, but I suggest that at the moment the need for this work is purely a matter of conjecture because, with the evolution of aircraft, nobody knows whether further extensions will be warranted. We shall not be able to decide this until the supersonic aircraft actually are flying. If it is found necessary to extend the runway–apparently this will not be necessary for at least another seven or eight years - plans will have to be formulated fairly quickly and the work put in train.
It is quite plain from what I have said that the Government has this matter very well in hand. There will be very little difference between the times of completion of the Tullamarine airport and the Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport, but the extensions to the Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport will cost many millions of pounds more than the Tullamarine airport will cost. Both will come into service at approximately the same time. Although definite plans have been formulated by the Government, honorable members opposite and people outside the Parliament want to get on the political bandwagon by calling public meetings. The Government already has the plans formulated and both airports will be completed within the next two or three years. It is understandable that, with the nature of the extensions and the difficulty of extending the runway out to sca-
Order! the honorable member’s time has expired.
– I am sure that, later in the debate, Opposition members from New South Wales will be able to answer the case presented by tha honorable member for Phillip (Mr. Aston), who has tried to justify the action of the Government, despite its neglect of Mascot airport. At this stage I want to deal with problems affecting the island State of Tasmania and briefly to present again the case for a second passenger vessel of the “ Princes of Tasmania “ type. The “ Princess of Tasmania” carries 333 passengers and has been a very big success. The operations of the vessel over- the years are shown in the following table -
The vessel carried a record number of passengers in 1963-64. The number of passengers carried by the “ Princess of Tasmania “ justifies the operation of the vessel and shows the need for another vessel of the same type. The “Princess of Tasmania “ is fully booked for the period from mid-December of this year until midFebruary of next year and the waiting lists for the ship are closed for the period from mid-December of this year until the end of January of next year. The waiting lists close only when the . number on them reaches 120. This means that actually thousands of people who wish to visit Tasmania during the tourist season are unable to travel there by sea.
I have some very interesting figures from the Tasmanian Government Tourist Bureau in respect of bookings for 14, 15 and even 16 months ahead. The “ Empress of Australia “ will commence operations on 5th December next, and we have been told that this will relieve the strain on the “ Princess of Tasmania “. However, I shall show that this is not so and that both ships will carry record numbers. When bookings for the “ Princess of Tasmania “ for the period from 5th July 1965 to 25th June 1966 were opened - this is 15 or 16 months ahead - the Tasmanian Government Tourist Bureau lodged applications for reservations, wilh cash deposits. The Bureau requested 36 reservations for the sailing from Melbourne on 20th December 1965 and furnished cash deposits, but only 13 were allotted to it. ft requested 68 reservations for 22nd December 1965 and was allotted only 49. It requested 167 for 24th December 1965 and was allotted only 61. It requested 202 for 26th December 1965 and was allotted only 57, or about a quarter. It requested 78 for 28th December 1965 and was allotted 6. For the journey from Devonport to Melbourne it requested 42 reservations for 8th January 1966 - some 16 months away - and was allotted 33. It requested 9S for 11th January 1966 and was allotted only 22. It requested 52 for 13th January 1966 and was allotted only 36. It requested 197 for 15th January 1966 and was allotted only 20 per cent., or 53. This position exists although the “ Empress of Australia “ will commence the run from Sydney to Tasmania on 5th December next.
The figures I have given relate only to bookings made through the Melbourne office of the Tasmanian Government Tourist Bureau. The position with the agencies in Brisbane, Sydney and Adelaide is very much the same. A report furnished by the Adelaide office of the Tasmanian Government Tourist Bureau shows quite clearly that there has been a considerable loss of tourist traffic from South Australia due to the inadequacy of the passenger and vehicle ferry service between Melbourne and Tasmania which is being operated by the “ Princess of Tasmania “. Particular stress is laid on the insufficiency of single berth and two berth cabins, which is said to be the greatest cause of the loss of business. The manager of the
Adelaide office expressed agreement with the statement that if twice the capacity of the “ Princess of Tasmania “ were available today there would be little or no difficulty in securing twice the number of passengers now travelling by sea. Even the report from Adelaide alone gives sufficient justification for a second ferry and shows that there would be sufficient bookings to keep it operating.
The Burnie office of the Tasmanian Government Tourist Bureau, which is on the north west coast of Tasmania, reports that a large amount of business is lost through inability to secure accommodation for intending passengers on the single ship available to Melbourne, particularly during the peak period from December to April and during the school holidays. Many potential bookings are lost because the type of booking required by the intending passenger is not available. Many prospective passengers are not aware that it is necessary to make reservations for summer sailings on the “ Princess of Tasmania “ 12 or IS months in advance. Late applications would, in the opinion of the Burnie office, be sufficient to fill a second ship of a capacity similar to that of the “ Princess of Tasmania “ if the long waiting lists are taken as a guide. Similar reports have come from Sydney and Brisbane. Time will not permit me to refer to them, except to say that the Sydney office expressed the opinion that it is unlikely that the introduction of the service between Sydney and Tasmania will materially relieve the position across Bass Strait.
We have received reports from people who have been trained over the years to deal with these matters and to estimate the needs of the travelling public who will undertake tourist trips. All the reports show that there would be sufficient passengers requiring transport to Tasmania by sea to fill a second ferry. A restriction has been placed on tour parties on the “Princess of Tasmania “. From December until April, only two tour parties can go on each sailing. This restricts the number of passengers, of course, because a tour party usually numbers 32. We know from previous bookings, and this can be verified, that at least six tour parties would make each sailing if they were permitted by the principal agents to make bookings. Then, of course, to add another four would mean that at least 128 people would be available for each sailing of this vessel if accommodation were available. Some of the trips are completely booked out, as I said before. The “ Empress of Australia “ is coming on to the run at Christmas time yet 6,000 people have applied for a 1,000 berths in the three sailings of the “ Princess of Tasmania “ for December this year. Those figures give some idea of the number of bookings required. Some of the sailings in December 1965 and in January 1966, 16 months from now, are fully booked out and deposits have been paid in these cases. We have been told that if we waited until the “Empress of Australia “ were operating we would see a reduction in the demand. This is not the case because the “ Empress “, too, is booked out. What is called the “ status sheet “ showing the availability of accommodation on the “ Empress of Australia “ shows that in December the “ Empress “ will undertake twelve trips and will carry 2,952 passengers. Accommodation is fully booked. The waiting list is closed on four of these trips. Bearing in mind that the waiting list is closed when the number of applications reaches 120, at least 480 people will have to make other travel arrangements. With the number of people on the waiting list for later sailings the total on this list will exceed 1,000. In the month of January 1965 only 14 berths are available. The “ Empress of Australia” will make 13 trips and will carry 3,198 passengers. It can be seen that the 14 berths available in January will soon go. The waiting list is closed for seven of the trips during that month. It is impossible to give exact numbers of bookings from February onwards but they are very high.
I wish to refer to a statement made in another place earlier this year by the present Minister for Defence (Senator Paltridge), representing the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Freeth), who said -
This gave me lnc opportunity to confer with my colleague, Mr. Freeth, who has replied as follows: - . . . The passenger returns of the “ Princess of Tasmania “ show that she was filled in only two months of the last 12. . . .
This statement brought an immediate reply from the Minister for Tourists and Immigration in Tasmania, Mr. Atkins, who, on 14th - May referred to the discrepancy in the figures as cited by the Minister. I think that this is a matter that should be dealt with and should be pointed out to the
Minister. I refer to the capacity loadings that the ship had last year. The Minister said that the “ Princess of Tasmania “ was filled only during two months. On 90 out of the 303 trips made by the “ Princess of Tasmania” in 1963 she carried more than the full complement of passengers. This represents about one third of her operations over the 12 months period or, in other words, a quarter of a year. The Minister went on to say -
The passenger returns of the “Princess of Tasmania “ show that she was filled in only two months of the last twelve and over 95 per cent, filled in another three months.
This would represent a passenger loading of 316 persons but, actually, in the last twelve months the “ Princess of Tasmania “ carried 316 or more passengers on S3 trips across the Bass Strait. Is it any wonder that the Minister for Tourists and Immigration in Tasmania gave his reply to the Minister regarding the discrepancies in the figures for the ship? The statement of the Minister for Tourists and Immigration appeared in the “ Mercury “ of 14th May.
Then a very remarkable thing happened. We had been given access to the booking figures up to that date but in May someone in authority denied them to us. Now we are unable to obtain the figures simply because the Minister for Tourists and Immigration in Tasmania was able to point out to the Government that the figures then available were not correct. I think I have been able to show the Minister for Shipping and Transport, from the figures for 1963, that Mr. Atkins was correct when he referred to the discrepancies in the statement mentioned. If we take the first four months for this year - we had not been able to get figures beyond April because someone in authority clamped down in May, as I said before - we find that, in January, on 21 trips out of 27 the “ Princess of Tasmania “ carried more than her complement of 333 passengers. In February 1964 she had more than her complement on 19 out of 23 trips. In March she carried more than her complement on 20 out of 26 trips and in April she carried more than her complement on 14 trips out of 26. These figures indicate the great need for another vessel. The Government of Tasmania has come to the fore and has offered a subsidy of £40,000 a year in each of three years to any line.
Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I speak to the estimates for the Department of Shipping and Transport and I note that provision is made for £1,500,000 for the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission as additional capital for ship construction. This provision is evidence of the growth of the Australian National Line. 1 heard with great interest the reference made by the honorable member for Braddon (Mr. Davies), who has just resumed his seat, to the potentials of the trade between Tasmania and the mainland. From the information he supplied it would appear that, in due time, opportunity will be available to put another vessel of the same class as the “Empress of Australia” on the mainlandTasmania trade. This is very good and indicates the uplift in Australian shipping over recent years. There has been a heavy decline in interstate shipping over the years. I refer to the carriage of general cargo which has been competed for successfully by road and by rail. Of course, bulk cargo has always been carried by ship and this has continued. It is interesting to note - and it bears on what I am saying about the decline in interstate shipping - that in 1950 there were 148 interstate freighters trading around our coast with a capacity of 672,710 cargo tons. In 1960 there were 132 freighters and a capacity of 651,780 cargo tons. It is proper to say that shipping management, in private companies - and also in our Australian National Line - got together and met the challenge of road and rail in the carriage of general cargo. Private shipowners spent many millions of pounds on specialised types of ships - on mechanisation and on containerisation. The whole concept of interstate shipping underwent a dramatic change, particularly over the last five years. Roll on roll off vessels, container ships, composite roll on roll off container ships and special types of bulk cargo vessels were introduced to the coastal trade. The names of four vessels come readily to mind as typifying this dramatic change. I refer to the “ Empress of Australia “, which has yet to go into commission, the “ Seaway King ** and the “ Seaway Queen “, and the “ Kooringa “. These ships have given a new look to Australian shipping.
Honorable members on both sides of the chamber, I am sure, will be pleased that the coastal oil trade will be served by ships built in Australia and manned by allAustralian crews. I believe that from a national point of view that is good. But I also believe that many people, like myself, will have reservations about it and will be concerned that the coastal oil trade will be at the mercy of the Communistically dominated Seamen’s Union of Australia. I wonder whether Mr. Eliot V. Elliott and his Communistic colleagues will be content to let ships which arc carrying oil and the various oil products around the Australian coast, and are manned by all Australian crews, meet their scheduled commitments at all times. Or is their longterm plan to apply a strangehold on the industry when this suits the Communistic objective? One can only conjecture at this stage; time alone will tell. I rather think that Mr. Elliott and his colleagues will be inclined these days to move around wearing large grins, realising the position in which they now find the oil trade; namely, using ships built in Australia and manned by Australian crews, and ready to be strangled as soon as the unions desire this.
I deal now with the port of Sydney. I do so because I heartily subscribe to a statement made recently in Sydney by a colleague of mine, the Honorable F. M. Hewitt, in the New South Wales Legislative Council. He said quite graphically that Sydney was the biggest but the worst port in Australia and that it was the most costly bottleneck in the handling of goods in Australia. Those who know the port of Sydney know how very true arc his words. Half the wharfs are inadequate, decaying and not in keeping with modern requirement of shipping and trade. The charge made by Mr. Hewitt is a serious one and one which can be supported at many levels. We live on an island - a big island of almost three million square miles, with a coastline of almost 12,000 miles. Virtually every ton of cargo exported or imported has to be carried by ship and has to be loaded or unloaded at one of our ports. Our dependence on shipping for our national trade demands more efficient ports. The good, fast and modern ships that we find in the overseas trade call for good, fast and modern ports. Port installations must be sufficient to meet the needs of ships and cargoes. If the installations do not measure up, the nation suffers. I say with emphasis that the port of Sydney is not measuring up to the nation’s requirements.
It is very interesting to note that record figures were achieved in the port of Sydney in the handling of imports and exports combined in 1963-64. The total tonnage handled was 11,870,000 tons, compared with the 1962-63 figure of 10,362,000 tons. In my view, the port of Sydney is devoid of noticeable planning. The port development has been a patchwork. It has been slow. There is no master plan, as far as one can see. That is due mainly to the multi-control which is exercised by the New South Wales Government, the Maritime Services Board, the Sydney City Council, the road authorities and the railways. So we find a situation of apathy and procrastination. Procrastination is rife. The authorities which have been set up to look after the port and its facilities do not show any national outlook.
I make just a few criticisms in the short time at my disposal. The location and layout of a number of wharfs make them very costly and inefficient to operate. There are roadways within wharf areas. That means that instead of areas being free for traffic, cargo is stored where it impedes the movement of vehicles. The speed which is so essential in the delivery and receipt of cargo is lacking. It is significant that in the port of Sydney ships berth very near the heart of the city. That means that vehicles which move to and from the wharfs have to travel through city streets. These vehicles clash with the dense city traffic. Consequently, here again delays result in the removal of cargo from wharfs and the delivery of cargo to wharfs. This applies in the Pyrmont, Darling Harbour and Glebe areas. [Quorum formed.] To add to the confusion and frustration in the shipping industry in the port of Sydney, the Pyrmont and Glebe Island bridges have to be negotiated. They are real bottlenecks. They also cause costly delays. In the future, consideration will have to be given to more use being made of the foreshores of the upper area of the harbour and to planning rail and road access. The situation is so serious that serious planning should take place now. I realise that planning will have to be on a long term basis, but it is necessary in the interests of the port’s future, in order to keep it a port of world class.
Many other criticisms could be levelled at the port’s facilities. In the interests of Australia’s need as a trading nation - one of the foremost in the world - our port facilities must be improved. It is time for a full inquiry into the port’s needs in the interests of national trade and Australia’s economy generally. In respect oi all this I lay the responsibility for the procrastination at the feet of the New South Wales Government and its instrumentality, the Maritime Services Board.
– I should like to confine my remarks to the estimates for the Department of Shipping and Transport. Despite the apathetic attitude of this Government towards the skill of Australian workmen it is pleasing to note that at least the private shipping companies have come to the realisation that the Australian is the greatest shipbuilder in the world. According to the Australian Shipbuilding Board orders worth nearly £60 million will be placed in local yards in the next two years. Those orders include eight tankers costing about £3.4 million each; four 47.000 ton bulk carriers and a smaller bulk carrier; two Australian National Line roll-ons; tugs costing £3 million; a fishing fleet mother ship; and other smaller ships.
For the present and pending increase of orders to Australian shipyards the Boilermakers Society of Australia can claim special credit. My union has campaigned consistently over the years to have a ban placed on the import of ships for the Australian coastal trade, in order to force the building of these ships in local yards and to achieve a general expansion of shipbuilding and national shipping services. It has always paid particular attention to the national shipping and shipbuilding campaign, knowing its vital importance to the employment and wages of boilermakers and others in ancillary trades. It has repeatedly called for a national overseas shipping line and, at the time when crisis threatened Australian trade due to the 1962 British attempt to enter the European Common Market, issued a pamphlet emphasising our need for independent shipping services.
The money and time that the union has spent on the shipping and shipbuilding campaign has certainly not been wasted; it is now to return dividends in wider employment and wage opportunities. This is most important. Ships cannot be built without boilermakers - I should like to emphasise that to the people of Australia - and present orders and future orders planned for Australian shipyards will require expanded facilities. The Government should note, despite its apathetic attitude, that expanded facilities will be necessary to enable the shipbuilding industry to grow.
A year ago my union was complaining of slumps in shipyards and a bleak future. Now extra shipbuilding berths may be required to fill expected orders for bulk carriers of 47,000 tons, tankers and other ships. Even the mighty P. & O. Steam Navigation Co., the largest shipping company in the world, which through its long history has always bypassed Australian shipyards, has been compelled to order locally, through its subsidiary, Union Steam Ship Co. of New Zealand Ltd. its two modern seatainer ships. Burns Philp and Co. Ltd., which ran ships launched in Britain, Denmark and Hong Kong, has had to order a 3,600 ton diesel passenger and cargo ship from the Newcastle State Dockyard at a cost of about £1.5 million. The capacity of the Evans Deakin yard at Brisbane is being trebled under subsidy from the Queensland Government - the present Commonwealth Government please note - so that it can build ships up to 50,000 tons.
Sydney badly needs expanded shipbuilding facilities, which should be provided by Federal and State Governments rather than by overseas combines like Vickers, the present operators of Cockatoo Dock in Sydney. Garden Island has the capacity to do much fitting out work for merchant ships - bulk carriers, passenger ships, roll ons, tankers and so on. The real development of Australian shipbuilding will come when we win our campaign for expansion of the Australian National Line into overseas trade to break the grip of the conference lines monopoly, reduce the excessive freights, keep more money to be spent in this country instead of it going in profit to overseas shipowners, and develop new markets.
The high Australian wages argument is used falsely by opponents of Australian overseas snipping. Countries with higher wages than Australia operate substantial overseas fleets. Steel is the main component in shipbuilding and, despite profiteering by the Broken Hill Pty. Co. Ltd., Australian steel is cheaper than English, European, or American steel, and Japan imports from Australia ship plate to which freight and handling charges have to be added. In any case, direct wage costs are not the main factor in ship operation. The Stevedoring Industry Committee of Inquiry of 1954-56 appointed by the Menzies Government estimated that of £100 of voyage earnings by ships in the Australia-England-Europe trade - this is very interesting - all costs absorbed £67.5. This left a surplus for the shipowner of £32.5 in each £100 of voyage earnings. Crew wages, according to this official inquiry’s report, accounted for only £6.67 of the £67.5 spent out of every £100 of earnings. The crew wage cost of 6.67 per cent, was not as great as the cost of fuel at 10.5 per cent, or surveys and repairs at 7.4 per cent.
The case of the Antarctic ships shows how false and ridiculous is the claim by this Government that Australia cannot afford her own overseas shipping fleet because of high wage costs. The Australian Government lays claim to about half the Antarctic continent. Every year the Danish “ Dan “ ships - usually two, sometimes three - are chartered to transport and service Australian Antarctic expeditions. Danish and Australian conditions are approximately the same. Yet we are asked to believe that it is more economical for Australia to pay in the charter prices the cost of bringing ships with Danish crews all the way from Denmark to Australia, to load and sail for the Antarctic, to return to Australia and then go home to Denmark, than it is for Australia to provide her own ships which would have to sail only from here to Antarctica and back. If there were an emergency like the Suez Canal crisis in 1956, when our Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) distinguished himself, and world shipping were disrupted and scarce, what would happen to Australian men left in the Antarctic without shipping services?
The equivalent of a single year’s expenditure on import and export freights paid to overseas shipping companies would be more than sufficient to build Australia a national shipping fleet capable of reducing freight levies and opening up new markets. An aspect of the greatest importance is that money now paid to overseas interests for freights would be held within the Australian economy, thereby stimulating demand for labour, farm and factory goods - I should like members of the Australian Country Party to note this - and transport and other services. Australia’s national turnover of goods and services in 1963 totalled £9,151 million. Our overseas trade accounted for £2,344 million, or about 20 per cent, of this total.
On the basis of the best available figures from the Commonwealth Statistician, total freight charges for carrying exports from and imports to our shores in 1963 were £434 million. Overseas carriers spent £75 million in Australia on food, fuel, water, stevedoring and transport labour, advertising and so on. This means that the net loss to the Australian community because the carriage of Australia’s international trade was in the hands of overseas shipowners reached about £359 million. Imagine how many homes we could build in Australia with that sum if we had our own overseas shipping line. Some £157 million of this £359 million was paid directly by Australian importers in sea transport charges. These import freights of £157 million were added to the prices of imported commodities sold on the Australian market, thus increasing the prices paid by the Australian consumer. The import freights totalling £157 million had to be paid for out of the proceeds of the exports of farm and factory commodities.
The overseas shipowners organised in the conference lines - the maritime cartels that monopolise basic Australian trade - mostly are domiciled in important manufacturing countries. They cannot charge prohibitive freights on the exports of their own countries, or there would be a public outcry. In any case, the shipowners of the conference lines often are linked financially with industrialists of their home countries. So they charge higher freights on goods exported from Australia than on manufactured products exported to Australia from their homelands. Therefore, Australia pays far more in export freights than in import freights. Freights on Australian exports in 1963 totalled about £277 million. This ii ti colossal sum. Export freights are not directly paid by Australia as are import freights, but they represent a very real deduction from the export cheque. Very often, export freights are so high that Australia cannot compete in nearby Asian markets with European countries. The Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. McEwen) some years ago complained that it would cost about £150 million to build sufficient ships to enable Australia to establish its own overseas shipping line to replace the conference lines as carriers of our international trade. Suppose the cost has since risen to £180 million. That is only about half the annual net outgoing of £359 million on export and import freights.
The tolls imposed on Australia by overseas shipowners do not end with import and export freights. Here are some examples, Mr. Temporary Chairman. Since the war, more than £75 million has been paid by the Australian Government to overseas shipowners for assisted passages for migrants. Last year, more than £6 million was paid. In 1963, 134 single voyage permits and 11 continuing permits were issued by the Menzies Government for the operation of foreign tankers on the Australian coast. By means of bookkeeping devices, £3.5 million in freights was charged against the national economy. Japanese and Italian ships have been carrying bulk molasses from Queensland to Melbourne. A Danish, a German and a Yugoslav ship have operated in the cattle trade on the north Australian coast. Overseas ships carried 25,000 passengers on the Australian coast last year and were paid £550,000 in interstate fares. In the last three years, more than 100 overseas ships have been chartered to carry phosphate rock from Nauru to Australia.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– Mr. Temporary Chairman, the problems raised by the honorable member for KingsfordSmith (Mr. Curtin) are indeed substantial. It is a great pity that Australia is unable to have its own merchant fleet to provide overseas services. One of the very great problems, of course, is that it would be unsafe for us to depend on our own fleet while the Seamen’s Union of Aus tralia remains under Communist control. From a defence standpoint, that would be an almost impossible situation. We know that, in the early days of the late war, when the Communists and the Nazis were in alliance, the Communists in. the Seamen’s Union were capable of retarding and to a large extent immobilising Australian shipping. Facing as we do the possibility of Communist attack in Australia, we can scarcely allow our lifelines to pass into the hands of those who are agents of our enemies and who have shown themselves capable of acting as agents of our enemies.
Let me now leave that subject, Sir, and discuss for a few minutes the problem of the situation at Sydney (Kingsford Smith) Airport at Mascot. Three problems arise there - the problems first of the international terminal, secondly of access and thirdly of the runway. I agree with the views expressed on both sides of the chamber this evening - and, indeed, even earlier - to the effect that the international terminal at Mascot is a disgrace. I say this as one who, on two occasions, has led a team of Liberal members to see the situation at Mascot and make the necessary protest. I wonder whether the situation concerning the international terminal is due to the fact that the terminal is recognised, and will continue to be recognised, as the major international terminal in Australia, so that the terminal building must be on a scale different from that of other terminal buildings. I believe that the Government has perhaps been lethargic in this matter. Possibly, it should have acted earlier. However, I can understand that there has been some delay because the scale of this terminal and of the building required is greater than that at any other terminal in Australia. I think that the delay has been unwarranted, and I hope that it will not be allowed to continue. I believe that the Government has at last taken a decision and will have the resolution to put it into affect and to see that the international terminal at Mascot is begun on an adequate scale without further delay and is completed with all possible speed.
I have dealt with the terminal, Sir. Let me now turn to the problem of access roads. This rests on the plate of the New South Wales Government. As with so many other problems that He on the plate of that Government, there has been a great deal of unwarranted mismanagement and delay. The present scheme, which was announced with a flurry of trumpets in Sydney a few weeks ago, to give access to the new terminal is, I think, a makeshift scheme. lt will not solve the problem. It is not adequate and it is a piece of political eyewash. I feel that the State Government has a great deal to reproach itself for in its tardiness in giving adequate access to Mascot aerodrome. The approaches to Mascot are a disgrace. It may be said that it is no good fixing the approaches until the terminal is fixed. This, I think, would be the wrong approach, because the proper building of the expressways will take much longer than the building of a terminal and should have been started a long time ago. The approaches to Mascot are a shame and a disgrace to the New South Wales State Government.
Let mc come to the third point about Mascot - the question of the runway. The general concept of the length of necessary runway has been very much changed in recent years. What was thought in the past to be quite adequate has proved to be quite inadequate. To be extended, the main runway at Mascot has to be carried over General Holmes Drive and out into Botany Bay. The expensive part of this work is the first part - carrying the runway over General Holmes Drive. That is being faced at the moment. The work is in hand and proceeding. When it comes to extending into Botany Bay, according to present plans the runway has to be extended to about 8,500 feet. These plans are inadequate and should be revised. It has been said that 8,500 feet will bc sufficient to service existing aeroplanes taking off with existing loads, but that will not service even existing aeroplanes taking off with full loads of fuel and passengers. So there is a case to be made out for some extension now.
If honorable members will look at the length of runways provided in other international airports they will see that already - and not in the future - they are settling for the 11,000 and 12,000 feet runways. While the dredge is in Botany Bay, and before it goes, a decision should be made to extend the runway a further 2,000 or 3,000 feet into the bay. That can be done cheaply and readily, except for one thing. Here again we come back to the dilatoriness of the State Government, because the State Government has announced that it has commissioned an overall study of Botany Bay and that the extension of the runway will have to wait on the completion of the overall study. This survey is like the Opera House and so many other things started by the State Government - already long overdue for completion.
I can understand the decision of the Federal Government being delayed by the inefficiency and dilatoriness of the New South Wales State Government which has not yet had completed a definite study of Botany Bay - the first place of Australian settlement - its currents and its development. I can understand that the Commonwealth Government has some kind of excuse, waiting for the State Government to complete its survey, but I do not think that its completion can be very much longer delayed, because it is already overdue. We should take the opportunity now, before the dredge moves away, of extending the filling for that runway for a further 2,000 or 3,000 feet. We should do it for two reasons; first, it is economic to do so - it costs, I think, over £500,000 to bring the dredge into Botany Bay and it would be ridiculous and uneconomic to bring it in twice - and, secondly, if honorable members will look at the plan of the extension they will see that a good part of the embankment wall, which it is necessary to have in order to retain the fill, is taken up by the end wall. If you put the end wall in the wrong place you will simply have to cover it up and so waste the cost of that end wall. So, for reasonable economy and efficiency we should see that the work is done before the dredge goes. If it is done before the dredge goes it can be done very cheaply as an addition. It will cost a lot more after the dredge goes. If it is done before the dredge goes there will be no need to surface and complete the runway, because that can wait until the runway is needed, and then it can be done expeditiously.
If this work is not done we may find ourselves in the position where the new jets coming in, which need 10,000 or 11,000 feet of runway, will go to Tullamarine airport where an extension of runway to that length can be provided quickly, because Tullamarine will need no extra fill. For years we have been told that it cannot be done at Botany Bay. We have been told that no dredge has been available, or something else of that nature. We may find ourselves in the position where the big jets cannot land at Mascot and have to go to Tullamarine. We do not want that to happen. For that reason I suggest that it would be quite intolerable to allow the dredge to leave Botany Bay until the runway has been extended a further 2,000 or 3,000 feet to bring it into conformity with the length of other runways on the international routes which Qantas and other international airways serve.
This is something which has to be done, and I for one would feel that the Government would make a great mistake - and I would speak and vote against the Government if a decision were not made to extend the runway before the dredge leaves. I think we have another 18 months to make up our minds, because the dredge has about 1 8 months’ work to do on the existing extension. In that time we have to bring the dilatory State Government to a decision in this matter. We must clear it with the State Government and proceed with the extension for a further 2,000 or 3,000 feet beyond the present plan. It may not be necessary to make the extension all of the same width, because part of the extension, as honorable members know, will be used to carry the wireless and other gear which is needed for landing purposes in times of difficult weather. For that reason it may be even cheaper than I have said, because it may not be necessary to extend it for its full width for the whole of the extra 2,000 or 3,000 feet. We should make a decision on this within the next 18 months. I hope I have made clear to the House the reason why this has to be done, because if it is not done we may find ourselves in the position where jets can be landed at Tullamarine and not at Mascot. This is something which definitely must not be allowed to occur.
I would like to say something about the Parkes to Broken Hill railway line. I think the Government should reconsider its announced decision on this matter. The decision is not in conformity with its other decisions so far as rail standardisation is concerned. I quite understand the Government’s attitude to the New South Wales
Government. New South Wales is administered by an organisation that is inefficient. Not only is the Government of that State inefficient but some of its contracts are very questionable. Because of these things I can understand the reluctance of the Federal Government to make available money to be frittered away by the New South Wales Government which, luckily, is now coming to the end of its tether. It is likely to be replaced before long by a government which will give efficiency to New South Wales. When that happens I have no doubt that the Federal Government will forget its present inhibitions and will make available money for the Parkes to Broken Hill Line, as I believe it should. I think the Federal Government has made a mistake in this matter. I cannot support its decision and I hope that it will be reversed,
I should have liked to refer to the matter raised by the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Cockle). He referred to the inefficiency of the State wharfs in Sydney. This is a matter which also is in the State sphere, but it affects also the Commonwealth Department of Shipping and Transport. I regret, however, that time will not permit me to complete my remarks.
Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I wish to refer to the estimates for the Department of Civil Aviation. I deplore the fact that although I have spoken regularly for about 10 years about the need for an airstrip to be built on Lord Howe Island, no provision is made in this respect in these estimates. Those two stalwarts, the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) and the honorable member for Phillip (Mr. Aston), came through on the rails tonight and told us that conditions at Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) Airport should be improved. Did anybody ever witness such a farce? For the past 12 or 18 months the honorable member for Watson (Mr. Cope) and the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) have been seeking improvements to Sydney’s air terminal but only now those two honorable members opposite, one from the eastern suburbs and one from the northern suburbs of Sydney, say that these things should be done. It was announced on the radio tonight that the Lord Mayor of Sydney intended to call a public meeting to seek improvements to Sydney airport. Nobody can accuse the Lord Mayor of Sydney of being all talk in the last week. Four months ago, before he journeyed overseas, he said that Sydney’s airport was one of the worst in the world. He should know, because he has travelled extensively all over the world. He repeated his statement when he returned from overseas. In the four months following the first statement on this subject by the Lord Mayor of Sydney not one word was uttered by the honorable member for Phillip or the honorable member for Mackellar, but tonight, knowing that public opinion will force the Government to make some improvements, they have rushed in to advocate improvements to Sydney airport.
I do not intend to spend any more time tonight referring to what those honorable members have said. I want to refer to something that is of vital importance to the people of Lord Howe Island, whom I represent. Over the years the Government has consistently refused to build an airstrip on Lord Howe Island. Honorable members opposite have not said anything about the Government’s failure in that respect because their friends are at present running a very profitable air service to the Island. Mr. Kirby, who used to conduct a boarding house on the Island, working seven days a week, on one occasion came to Canberra to see the Minister for the Interior about an airstrip being built on the Island. I do not know which gentleman Mr. Kirby saw, because Ministers for the Interior change as often as the wind changes. However, Mr. Kirby’s visit was useless. Soon afterwards he died. I have taken up his cause and each year I have spoken about Lord Howe Island’s need of an airstrip. What is the use of talking to honorable members opposite? The man we should be addressing our remarks to is in another place and no matter what we say here, no answer will come from the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Henty).
– Unless it is a matter of interest to Ansett.
– Well, this is a matter concerning Ansett. I have asked the Minister when the Government will commence to build an airstrip on Lord Howe
Island. I have asked whether the present operators of the air service have leased from New Zealand an aircraft to take the place of a flying boat which was condemned four or five months ago. I have asked whether the Government is subsidising the company concerned to the extent of £100,000 in respect of its services to Lord Howe Island. I have asked whether the fare from Sydney to Lord Howe Island, a distance of 483 miles, is £16 9s., whereas the fare from Sydney to Brisbane, a distance of 452 miles, is only £12 7s. I want to know why people were required to pay up to 33 per cent, more for transport to Lord Howe Island than they would pay for transport over a similar distance on the mainland.
Many young people would like to spend their honeymoon or a holiday on the Island. When they discover the cost of the air fare to the Island they want to know why it is as much as £5 dearer than air fares for similar distances between capital cities on the mainland. What can I say to them? All I can say is that the Menzies Government is at fault. For the last five or ten years I have been advocating that an airstrip be built on the Island. One would think that the honorable member for Phillip, whose electorate embraces the eastern suburbs of Sydney, would support me in this matter. After all, the flying boat base at Rose Bay is in the eastern suburbs. One would expect the honorable member for Wentworth (Mr. Bury) to support me because Rose Bay is in his electorate. Why are honorable members opposite silent on this matter?
I have already told honorable members that the flying boat used on the service is not fit to fly in. Only last year the honorable member for Dalley (Mr. O’Connor) and I were making a trip to Lord Howe Island. We were half way there when we were told we would have to go back to Sydney. We asked the hostess what was wrong and she said: “ Oh, they are going back for a spanner,” and back we went. We were delayed four hours in getting to Lord Howe Island. When we arrived there we found about 40 people waiting on the wharf to take the flying boat to Sydney, but they could not get away. The wind must be blowing in a certain direction before the aircraft can take off. Since we had been four hours late in arriving, the aircraft could not leave until next day. Then the trouble started. In some boarding houses there were two people for every bed and the arguments began as to where people were going to spend the night. Honorable members might laugh at this, but it is serious - at least it was on that particular night. Some slept on verandas. People were sleeping all over the place.
That was not the first time that such a thing had happened to me. There was a previous occasion when the New South Wales Minister for Health, Mr. Sheahan, and the honorable member for King in the New South Wales Parliament, Mr. Sloss, went over there. They had to be back for a special meeting but they got back four days late.
– What did Albert say?
– I do not know what Albert said. Tonight we heard the honorable member for Mackellar condemning the State Government for what it is doing and what it is not doing. Whatever the Opera House has cost at least you can see something for it. It is not like Bolte’s bridge that fell into the river. I was in Melbourne a month ago and I was told by certain people confidentially - they could not say it publicly or in the Press - that the best way for Bolte to overcome his troubles with the bridge is to build another one. They told me that repairs to the existing bridge would cost about £3 million while another one would cost about £4 million. How can you compare the Government of New South Wales with the Government of Victoria?
The temporary Leader of the Opposition in the New South Wales Parliament has told us that when the general election campaign commences he will bring Bolte from Victoria. I wonder whether that decision will stand. The Liberal Party is going to bring him over to tell the New South Wales Government how to win an election, although he has fooled the Victorian people or, in other words, he has robbed them. The New South Wales Government would be very pleased to see the Prime Minister of Australia (Sir Robert Menzies) and Mr. Bolte from Victoria brought to New South Wales for the election campaign, because the New South Wales Government would then be returned with more seats than it has at present.
In all seriousness I ask the Minister for Civil Aviation to tell us why the fares on Lord Howe Island service are 33 per cent, higher than fares charged by any other airline for flights over a comparable distance and why he is financially assisting this airline to the extent of £100,000 a year while the company has not an aircraft on which you can safely take a trip to Lord Howe Island. The people of Lord Howe Island deserve something better. All their foodstuffs are carried from Sydney at freight rates about 33 per cent, higher than those charged elsewhere. People who live on Lord Howe Island have no leases of their properties. They cannot erect a building or renovate an existing building unless they have the money in the bank or in their hands because they cannot get any credit. They are working day and night in these boarding houses and guest houses and so far as this Government is concerned they are left like Robinson Crusoe, out on their own.
I ask the two honorable members who spoke tonight about the Mascot airport whether they are going to help the Lord Mayor of Sydney in the protest that he started today in an endeavour to get something done at Mascot. Will they also turn their attention to Lord Howe Island because the situation in respect of the air service to that island warrants investigation. I warned the Government two years ago about the dangers involved. Now we find that an aircraft has to be obtained from New Zealand to conduct this service, when only £600,000 would be required to build an airstrip on the island. At the present time only wealthy people can go to Lord Howe Island for a holiday. They pay £30 for their accommodation and £16 each way for their fares.
Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Some honorable members on this side have spoken about the gateway to Sydney, the international airport at Mascot. We recall that more than 150 years ago Governor Phillip discovered a very glorious gateway to Australia when he came into Port Jackson. In those days such a port would have been considered a sufficiently glorious entrance for any rising nation. But today we travel by air and so the international airport at Mascot’ becomes the entry to Australia and also the exit to other places. If Australia is to give a lead in this South East Asian part of the world, if it is to be an educational centre and a great trading nation, and if our II million population is to grow within a short time to 20 million, then it behoves members of this Parliament to give the country an entrance and a gateway. People coming in now are subjected to the horror of the smells that are encountered during the journey to the city and also to the inconvenience caused by the traffic. The terminal itself is inadequate. Something must be done about these matters and done quickly.
There is one small thing that could be done immediately. Six or seven of the roads running parallel to the access road now used could be opened up by effecting a very simple change in traffic rules. On a day when 0’Riordan Street is full of traffic the other five or six streets parallel to it are empty of traffic and little used. Surely the police could look into this and direct the traffic along other streets until the great new expressway is completed. The terminal itself is by no means good enough for people coming to Australia. The honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) has told us that the runway is to be extended to 8,500 feet. Even then it will not be long enough because the big jets cannot take off on that length of airstrip with a full load of fuel. Therefore, they cannot fly for the full distance for which they are equipped. We ought to demand that there be constructed at the international airport a runway at least as long as those which are available at the other big” airports throughout the world. The normal length of airstrip at most other airports in the world is 11,000 feet. At Idlewild in New York, it is 15,000 feet.
If we are to have a runway 11,000 feet long at Mascot, it cannot be extended in a north westerly direction; it will have to be extended into Botany Bay, and this may not be stable because of the likely effects of winds and tides in the Bay. This situation ought to be investigated, and we in Australia should think big about it. Across the Bay is a length of territory extending from North Caringbah to the Caltex terminal. It would be possible to construct a runway. 30,000 feet long on that territory if it were required. Across that strip a runway 15,000 feet long could be built, extending in a north westerly direction from Cronulla. [Quorum formed.] Honorable members will remember that the Cooks River has been diverted and the area filled with sand. One of the remarkable technical facts ascertained by the honorable members who examined the situation at Mascot was that only 18 inches of ballast filling, and final surfacing with either bitumen or concrete is required on top of this sand to make a solid strip capable of carrying the heaviest of loads, whereas on the clay at Tullamarine, 56 inches or about three times as much filling is required.
– Be careful.
– This may hurt the honorable member for Scullin (Mr. Peters), but it is true. I use Tullamarine for the purpose of comparing the cost per foot of constructing runways. We are told in the good book that sand makes a good foundation and that man should build bis house on sand. As I have said only 18 inches of ballast filling is required on top of the sand at Mascot as against 56 inches on top of the clay at Tullamarine.
– The sands of the desert.
– I do not know what the parrot from Kingsford-Smith is saying but I imagine it is something fairly inane. These are the technical facts. The difficulty about the long airstrip at Mascot is that the sand, which would be placed in position by a dredge, would be subject to the ravages of currents and tides. I understand that the effects of these are being studied now by those people who are competent to work out what is likely to happen.
It is obvious that any work done on extending the strip out into Botany Bay would result in the deepening of Botany Bay and so fit in with a plan to make Botany Bay a second port for Sydney. The port of Sydney will grow to such an extent that the wharfs will not be able to handle the enormous flow of goods in and out of Sydney. Therefore, Botany Bay could become the second port. In fact, it is now becoming the second port for Sydney. Several honorable members on this side of the chamber studied the land on the southern side of the Bay from the air. We thought that it would provide a runway of 30,000 feet in one direction and one of 15,000 feet in the other. The filling up of the low areas with material taken from the deeper parts of Botany Bay would have the effect of making Botany Bay an ideal second gateway to Sydney.
I repeat that we cannot tolerate for much longer the present Mascot terminal as the gateway to a nation like this, not so much because of the inadequate length of the airstrip but because the terminal itself is not good enough. The access road is not good enough, and the smell is too good - too rich and too overpowering. This is something that ought not to be allowed around the gateway to a nation which is growing as fast as this one is. A proud nation should not have such a gateway. For those reasons, we reject any suggestion of delay in giving better access to Mascot and in removing what are called obnoxious industries which I believe are licensed under State laws and allowed to operate there by the City Council. They ought to go. This is just the ordinary civilised approach to such a problem.
– Where would you put them?
Mr. JEFF BATE__ We will let the honorable member for Kingsford-Smith, who has some knowledge of these smells, tell us where to put them. There are plenty of places to put them without having them along the approach to the city of Sydney from t,he international airport. This expressway must be built and we must have something at the airport which is worthy of the nation. However, the entrance to the city of Sydney from the international airport is but one side of the question.
The other side has relation to outgoing traffic bound for Singapore, Manila and other parts far out across the Pacific. Such traffic needs a much longer strip even than the proposed runway of 8,500 feet. I am informed that this strip will not permit aircraft’ to take off with a full load of fuel. Nothing less than 11,000 feet will be suitable for this traffic. We must have strips at least as long as those which are available at other airports throughout the world. I have already pointed out that the airstrip at New
York from which planes take off for the long hops across the Atlantic to Europe is 15,000 feet long.
Although it is considered by some to be improper to dare to mention the State Government because that brings politics into the discussion, I suggest that if the New South Wales Government is proud of Sydney it should do something about an access expressway, and it should do it quickly. If its money is committed for other things, let the State Government say that it is spending the money in other directions. Surely above all else, the front door to the capital ought to be good. The present one is not good enough. It is not suitable for Australia.
– Put it in Melbourne.
– The honorable gentleman obviously ‘is a State-righter. I deplore this tendency in this young member of the House of Representatives who says the airport ought to be in Melbourne. Let him to go to London, Paris or New York and try to sell tickets to Melbourne. Everyone there says: “ I will go to Sydney, thank you. 1 prefer the sort of people 1 would meet there.” This is the answer to the State.righter from Victoria. I am very sorry that that interjection was made.
We ask definitely for a reasonably clean, sweet-smelling access to the city of Sydney and an airstrip long enough to take the aeroplanes that come from the great airstrips at international airports in other parts of the world.
.- In speaking to the estimates for the Department of Civil Aviation I would like to congratulate the Department and its officers. It is a very good Department and we all appreciate the work that it does. I am sure that people who fly as much as we do are pleased that its efforts are directed towards making air travel safer. We all seem to have forgotten that we are Australians. We now have Melbourneites and Sydneyites. I suppose it would be all right if I became a North Queenslandite and spoke about the mess we have at airports there. Honorable members from the southern States complain about their airport terminals, but they should go to Townsville and see the heap of junk there that is still doing service as an airport terminal. Last year I said that the alterations to the building were like putting a gold knob on a toilet door. The alterations have been made, but the building still does not look much better for it. The Department has spent about £8,000 on the alterations and I suppose from a passenger handling aspect it is reasonable. But the building itself is still a disgrace to the nation.
Townsville is our gateway to the eastern countries. Many people travelling from New Guinea and adjacent areas first alight at Townsville. The terminal building there is not comparable with any of the buildings at the Sydney airport and will not compare favourably even with the buildings on the runways. The honorable members from Melbourne and Sydney have little to complain about in respect of the terminal buildings at their airports. I would like to say a little about the alterations that have been made to the buildings at Townsville. During the alterations, a rather fancy little booth, which looks like an enlarged version of the Speaker’s Chair, was built. The people who work in this booth are supposed to sell dry goods and so on and in addition they are supposed to serve light meals. The young female who does the cooking looks as though she is trying to cook eggs in a telephone booth. Honorable members can well imagine how intending passengers feel when they try to obtain a meal. If they want a snack before they board their plane they must stand around while this poor girl tries to cook in a telephone booth. Very often the passengers travel 70 or 80 miles to the airport, but frequently must catch a plane without being able to obtain any breakfast. Honorable members from the southern States are very lucky and should keep in mind that Townsville has one of the worst airports in Australia. Yet it has about four Viscount services going north and the same number going south each day in addition to the service to New Guinea.
I also want to refer to the shortage of pilots in this country. People do not seem to be taking a great deal of notice of this shortage, but it will become critical as time goes on. As soon as a young person is trained as a pilot, in most cases at his own expense, he takes up a position flying aircraft. It takes quite a few flying hours to become a pilot. and the cost ranges between £6 and £10 an hour. If the pilot is qualified as an instructor he may take on this work, or as soon as he completes his training as a pilot he may accept an appointment with one of the charter companies operating light aircraft. But these young pilots are snapped up by Ansett-A.N.A. or Trans-Australia Airlines. They are not replaced in their original service, because no other pilots are coming along. If the instructors are taken by the major airlines the shortage of instructors becomes acute and fewer pilots are trained. The two major airlines do not contribute anything to the training of the pilots; they simply snap them up as soon as they are available. I would like more financial assistance to be given to these young people when they are being trained. After all, this is a matter of national importance. It is not something that applies to only one section of the community. If we keep going as we have been, we will finish up with no pilots at all. Flying instruction costs about £6 10s. an hour. The profit on this is about 7s. 6d. No company will operate at a gross profit rate of 7s. 6d. on a turnover of £6 10s. It is common business sense not to do so, and the flying instruction clubs will not do this unless the Government gives them some form of subsidy or increases the number of scholarships already granted. The present effort is pretty pathetic.
As to imported aircraft and parts, we import mostly Cessnas which come from America. An aircraft that costs 7,000 dollars in America costs £7,000 here by the time duty and other charges are imposed, lt is iniquitous for the Government to require clubs which are training pilots to pay full import duty. It would not hurt the Government to assist the clubs and the companies concerned by granting some taxation concessions. There is not only the tax on aircraft; there are also the tax on parts and the fairly solid tax on petrol. It would be a good idea for the Government to look into this matter.
Like most honorable members, I do a good deal of travelling. I think we are all aware of how heavy air traffic has become recently on most of the main trunk routes, and particularly from Townsville north. Very seldom these days do we see an aircraft that is not booked to capacity. That may bc very good for T.A.A. and Ansett- A.N.A., but I believe that they are taking advantage of the rationalised air services to overload and overbook. They are fooling the people around no end. It is time the Government did something about this and at least increased the present air services. Things have reached such a stage that in the north you have to book three or four days in advance. That is not right because air travel is regarded by most people as a form of emergency transport. If you want to go to Brisbane today you should be able to travel today. You should not have to make up your mind three or four weeks in advance. The rationalised air services have a lot to do with this I believe that rationalisation has outlived its usefulness. Our air services are in a mess, and the Government should do something about them.
Connecting services between Canberra and the north are bad. You either leave here in the middle of the day and go direct to Townsville or you leave earlier and sit in Brisbane from 11.30 a.m. until 4.30 p.m. There is no direct service in the morning or afternoon from Canberra, or even from Melbourne for that matter, to Townsville other than that which departs from Canberra at about 7 a.m., which is not a convenient time. I like to do my flying in the morning. If you do not get an early morning flight you get either a shakeup, which I do not like, or are frightened to death, as I am, in an afternoon thunderstorm. It is time the Government had a look at this whole business. The present set-up makes for a certain amount of efficiency in the airlines, but the present booking arrangements are, to use a phrase, over the fence. I sometimes wonder whether T.A.A. is on Ansett’s side.
North Queensland has about the worst shipping service in the world. We have no passenger vessels unless you call the “ Waiben “ a passenger vessel. This boat carries about nine people between Brisbane and Townsville every Monday but it is very difficult to get a place on that boat. As the honorable member for Leichhardt (Mr. Fulton) reminds me, “ Waiben “ is going off the run. It is about time that the Government had a look also at our shipping services.
.- The honorable member for Macarthur (Mr. Jeff
Bate) and two or three other Government members were very eloquent tonight about the need for lengthening the runway at the Sydney (Kingsford-Smith) airport into Botany Bay. I want to make one comment about that matter. I understand from information received following the recent air pageant at Farnborough in England that the 727 jets are the last of the aircraft which will require a long runway. Both the 707 and the 727 aircraft are landing satisfactorily on the present runway at Mascot.
It will be a colossal waste of money if the runway is lengthened, as has been suggested by honorable members on the Government side, in view of the fact that the jets which will succeed the 727’s will use about onehalf the length of the present runways and will land at about double the speed of the aircraft now in use. With new techniques ia braking and other scientific devices, takeoff and landing distances have been reduced considerably. The proposition that has been advanced will cost hundreds of thousands of pounds. To my mind, the adoption of the proposition will be, in effect, to pour good money into Botany Bay.
Let us consider another point about airports. My colleague from Queensland, the honorable member for Herbert (Mr. Harding), just now referred to the poor passenger terminal at Townsville. We do not have to go outside Canberra to see a poor passenger terminal. Of all the great cities of the world, Canberra must have the worst airport buildings. It must be ten years since even a nail was put into the terminal building or another coat of paint put on the woodwork. It is scandalous, disgraceful and an insult to this great city to have airport buildings such as we have here.
– The Government built a lake instead.
– -That interjection may have more substance than you thought. I appreciate it. Lake Burley Griffin cost about £2,000,000. With that amount of money, you could build a very good airport here. Canberra is a lovely city, a magnificent city, and I am in love with it. I talk about it when visiting schools in my electorate. This national capital city is something to be proud of, and I approve of everything that has been done here. I will approve of everything that is going to be done here, particularly if we build the new Parliament House. But this eyesore at the Canberra aerodrome should be burnt down one night so that we can get a brand new modern terminal. The Government has plans for a magnificent modern airport at Launceston which will be almost as good as the one in Perth, Western Australia. The terminal buildings at Perth are out of this world. Passengers landing at Perth get a good impression of Australia then they see that magnificent terminal. Why have we not got something comparable here in Canberra? What is wrong with the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Anthony)? What is wrong with the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies)? What is wrong with this Ministry, which allows us to look at this eyesore year after year? Important people from all over the world land at the Canberra airport and see this dog box. When fog hits this city, as it did in August on two occasions in three weeks - people were stranded for three hours waiting for it to lift - we are forced to sit or stand around in what amounts to a gaol. It is similar to Alcatraz, the prison off the coast of America. The terminal is like an air raid shelter in England. Everybody is jammed together and can hardly walk, talk or breathe, let alone smoke or eat. The building is an absolute disgrace to a Liberal Government. It is an eyesore and a hideous mess, in the opinion of honorable members on this side of the House. The sooner it is replaced, the better.
The next thing I want to refer to is the nervous approach of this Government to the field of intrastate air services control. It is interesting that a Government professing to be against nationalisation in all its forms should suddenly take an interest in intrastate air control. The Government is attempting to meddle in a field that it has spoken of with horror for years and about which it has criticised Labour governments for their activities. The Australian Labour Party is not opposed to Commonwealth control of airlines, but this Government tells the people that it is opposed to that. Now, however, we see the Government planning to take over control of intrastate airlines throughout the Commonwealth. I am wondering whether the Prime Minister will go on with this scheme in spite of the opposition of the State Governments. The Tasmanian Government is the latest to oppose the scheme. I think we know the reason for this sudden interest in control of intrastate airline services. It is to give the Ansett organisation a better chance to get a bigger slice of air routes in New South Wales.
– That is unworthy of you.
– I do not think that it is. I have given the matter a lot of thought and I cannot for the life of me see any other reason why a government which is opposed to nationalisation of airlines should want to bother with this field than a desire to help an airline that it has already helped so much. I am not criticising the organisation of Ansett-A.N.A. It is good and I often travel by this airline. I am opposed to the Government’s deliberately going out of its way, spending the taxpayers’ money, to assist the privately owned airline to the disadvantage of Trans-Australia Airlines. For that I will not stand, nor will this party. Here we have an anti-nationalisation Government entering a field of control that is as tight as anything one could get, I believe to assist this private airline.
In an editorial on 28th August the “ Australian “ stated -
The Prime Minister has manoeuvred himself and the Liberal Party into a very peculiar position by deciding that the Commonwealth would assume control powers over intrastate air services.
. This tangle of motives and consequences underlines the extent to which the present Liberal Party in power has become a party of ad hoc administration, lacking a basis of strong principles.
Of course, the Government has gone against all its principles by meddling with intrastate air control. Let anyone read its documents and its propaganda at election time. So often the Government acts in a way that is diametrically opposed to what it has told the people at election time. It pinched great chunks of our policy which it opposed two years ago at an election and it incorporated these proposals in legislation. It has not any principles any more. It has only one thing in mind, namely, to win votes by hook or by crook, as we saw at the last election - something that was scandalous and that will go down in history. The “ Mercury “ of Hobart is often forthright in anti-Labour editorials. This is what it states about control of intrastate air routes -
If the tentative interpretation Sir Thomas Playford and Mr. Bolte place on it is correct, the letter from the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) lo Slate Premiers on control of air services presents a new and dangerous altitude to constitutional matters by a Liberal Government. The proposition appears to be that, because of an international agreement to which Australia -is a party, the Commonwealth can declare itself in full control of all intrastate as well as interstate air services by the simplest and most dictatorial of methods - by issuing a regulation.
The editorial goes on to criticise this backdoor, underhand method which the Government is using to increase its powers. It points out that Labour, in the immediate postwar period, tried to establish this principle in which we believe, and that the greatest fighter against the principle before 1949 was none other than the Prime Minister. Finally, it states -
Unless his explanation makes it clear that not only docs his Government not intend to interfere with Slate rights, but that it does not accept international agreements as superseding the Constitution, Premiers must fight it. If necessary, an amendment to the Constitution should be sought to remove any doubts.
So much for the editorials of two newspapers which oppose this move by the Government. In the last four minutes that arc available to me, I want to mention the need for a Commonwealth overseas shipping line, a matter that is very dear to us on this side of the Chamber.
– Not again.
– Yes. I want to remind the Government again that we are paying £300 million a year in freights to overseas shipping lines to have our goods taken away from our shores and imports brought in. It is costing us £160 million to bring oil into Australia. All of this money is paid to overseas shipping companies. The Australian National Line normally does not operate on overseas routes; but last year 25 overseas voyages were made by its ships. They operated at a loss, but the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission, which operates the Line, engaged in the overseas trade in order to avoid having ships laid up for want of cargo and also to provide a maximum amount of employment for Australian seamen.
The A.N.L. is operating in competition with the conference lines, which consist of 22 different companies. The conference meets from time to time to fix common freight rates throughout the world. Therefore, these companies are not competitive in their freight rates.
– What rubbish.
– It is not rubbish; it is quite factual. It is staggering to think that we should be put at the mercy of the overseas shipping companies. At present we have no way of competing with them. We have to accept increases in freight rates. The Government protests, but that is as far as we get. Australian primary producers probably suffer as much as anybody else because of the growth of monopoly control of overseas shipping operations. Recently the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen) said that the establishment of an Australian overseas shipping line would be a disastrous development. We fail to see that.
It is interesting to note that we have to pay more freight on exports to our closest overseas ports than on exports to the more distant ports. In 1955 it cost 12s. to ship a case of fresh fruit from Australia to Singapore, but South Africa landed fruit in Singapore for only 8s. 2d. a case. Canned fruit shipped from Australia to Singapore carries a rate of £9 17s. 6d. a ton, whereas the freight from South Africa to Singapore is only £4 13s. 9d. a ton. I could go on citing figures which show that it costs 20 or 30 per cent, more to send goods from Australia to Singapore than from Great Britain to Singapore. There is an amazing anomaly in our trade with our own Territories. It is cheaper to import a Volkswagen car direct from Germany to Papua and New Guinea than to take a similar car from Sydney to Melbourne. That sounds to me as though somebody is mentally unbalanced. The difference in freight is £80. Considering the vast difference between the two distances involved - from Germany to Papua and
New Guinea, and from Sydney to Melbourne - this anomaly is vivid proof of the crazy pattern of overseas freight charges. 1 have stated just a few points to prove that the Government should investigate the possibility of establishing an Australian overseas shipping line run by the Australian National Line in competition with the private overseas shipping companies. Norway, Switzerland and Czechoslovakia all have their own shipping lines, even though Switzerland and Czechoslovakia are landlocked. Australia, which is the eighth largest trading nation in the world, is at the complete mercy of the overseas shipping companies. We have not one overseas ship of our own and we have not an overseas shipping line. We charter three Danish ships to take Australians to our Territory in Antarctica. These things astound the Australian people, who think about the effects of freight and monopoly control on our industries.
Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- We have been listening to the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie) telling us a good deal about shipping. I want to go back to the hard realities of the civil aviation situation, with particular reference to the Mascot airport and the access road to it. We have heard impassioned speeches from various honorable members on the Government side of the chamber with reference to the olfactory and other aspects of the journey from the city of Sydney to its airport. Of course, I endorse those speeches. The honorable member for Macarthur (Mr. Jeff Bate), who has his nostrils attuned to the sweet savour of the countryside, and no doubt his own industry, finds it most offensive to travel past factories dealing with the end products of that industry - the soap factories, for instance - on the way from Sydney to Mascot. However, I do not want to speak so much about the odorous aspect of that journey as about the future. It is apparent that in New South Wales there is planning and thinking with a view to obtaining Commonwealth support and Commonwealth money for a new route to the airport. I draw attention to the possibilities - there arc more than one - in considering what should be done to overcome the present situation. No government could leave the situation as it is and still lift its head.
Two possibilities are before us. One is to open up a direct route to the airport. It would mean going through some areas of sub-standard housing and, according to others who are more expert in these matters than I, sub-standard and odorous industrial areas. There is a diminishing number of wide open parklands and sporting areas in Sydney. In particular, two championship golf courses of world renown could be looked at in considering the provision of an expressway to the airport. My prophecy tonight is that the present New South Wales Government will look at the people’s green spaces and playing areas rather than at some of the housing areas which would vote for Labour and which are on a more direct route to the airport. It seems likely that eventually a more circuitous route will be chosen which will slice through these few remaining open spaces and thus deprive Sydney of some of the sporting areas of which the city is proud. I prophesy that the Commonwealth will be asked to support this plan by providing some of the money that will be required for the more circuitous route rather than have the status quo in the housing areas upset. So when I support what has been said about the Mascot airport and the need for a decent route to it, I draw attention to the several possibilities that are before us in the choosing of that route.
.- I sincerely hope that the honorable member for Evans (Dr. Mackay) will not be deprived of his regular game of golf on one of the courses to which he has referred and that he will be suitably treated at the 19th hole for the case he has submitted tonight on their behalf. Before I discuss the subject of shipping, I should like to refer to the extension of the runway at Mascot. One of the matters that must be borne in mind - the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie) referred to it - is that in Great Britain considerable progress has been made in the development of passenger aircraft with variable wings or variable engines which can be set in position for vertical takeoff and then switched to the horizontal position for flight in the direction in which it is proposed that the aircraft should travel. The aim is for this form of aircraft to fly at a very high rate of speed and to decelerate rapidly from a speed of 500 or 600 m.p.h. to 50 m.p.h. in a very short space of time, to hover, and then to land gently in a very restricted space. I am not certain on the point, but I believe that a prototype aircraft has been tested successfully or that it is proposed to test one in the very near future. The honorable member for Wilmot was quite correct when he said that, if this if so, the Boeings might well be the last of the long runway jet aircraft. It is very important for the people responsible for the decision to consider this aspect before deciding to incur the tremendous extra expense of lengthening the runway at Mascot to provide for jet aircraft of a type which may very soon become obsolescent.
I move on to the other very important subject which I want to discuss, the need for a national shipping commission in Australia. 1 desire that the commission should operate an overseas shipping line. Even if the Government is not prepared to accept this concept it should at least be prepared to establish a national shipping commission which would regulate and investigate shipping in Australia and see that competition was introduced into the shipping industry of this nation. The honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie) has pointed out that there is not what one could call fair competition within Australia at the present time because of the conference line’s rationalising activity, their freight charges and so on. At the same time - and I will deal with this a little later provided time allows me to do so - I feel that although the Australian National Line has a successful record, the record must not be looked at as the end of its capacity but rather as a sign of what could have been achieved with a more vigorous and competitive administration of the line. I very strongly suspect that the Australian National Line is capable of far greater achievements than it has netted so far. When one looks at the members of the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission, and their interests, I feel that one is justified in holding this very strong suspicion.
Let me mention a few pointers to support my argument as to the need for an Australian overseas shipping line. First, this Government has under way at the present time a vigorous campaign for increasing exports. Last year we saw a 25 per cent, increase in exports of Australian manufacture. Mr. R. W. C. Anderson, the Federal Director of the Associated Chambers of Manufactures, was reported in the Sydney “Daily Telegraph” of 25th August this year as being optimistic that we will see an even better improvement on this in the new year. Taking this, and considering our geographic situation, 1 feel that there is a compelling case for Australia to have an overseas shipping line.
The Minister for National Development (Mr. Fairbairn), who is now in the chamber, was the subject of a report in the Brisbane “ Courier-Mail “ of 4th August after his trip through northern Queensland. The report referred to some of the problems that he found. In particular, the article dealt with the problem of transport, the article states -
Mr. Fairbairn’s answer here last night on the freight question was: “ Clearly this is one of the great problems of the North. The peculiar things associated with transport seem incredible in .many cases.
After pointing out the anomalies to which the Minister has apparently referred, the article continues -
These details of freight anomalies have surprised, even staggered Mr. Fairbairn and his two chief advisers.
Mr Morgan Mines Ltd. wanted to ship 30 tons of powdered iron for metallurgical purposes from Melbourne. The cost from Melbourne to Mr Morgan by sea would have been £28 a ton. The cost of shipping the same cargo from Melbourne to London and then to Mr Morgan was £7 15s. a ton.
The company has done this - having had goods consigned to Mr Morgan, through ils London office.
The mine considered sending carbide from Mr Morgan to Sydney and this would have cost £12 a ton. Carbide is shipped from Johannesburg, in South Africa, to Sydney, for £2 a ton.
Mr Morgan Mines also planned to send limestone to Newcastle. This would have cost £12 a ton by sea. But Japan exports limestone to Newcastle for £1 a ton.
In Mackay, the Local Development Bureau manager (Mr. K. C. Grant) instanced the case of a fibreglass boat manufacturer who found it was dearer to send a boat 100 miles north from here to
Bowen than it was for a competitor of his at Southport, to send a similar boat 750 miles to Bowen.
Most people claimed the high coastal shipping costs were their biggest problem, and many blamed the Seamen’s Union.
I disagree strongly with that. The article continues -
Sir Harold Raggatt said last night that it was two to three times dearer to ship manganese from Port Hedland, in Western Australia, to Launceston than it was to ship it to Tokyo.
Rather than blame the employees in the industry - as people with particular business interests do all too often - 1 think it would be fairer, and more reasonable, just and honest for them to drive the responsibility for the high costs home to people, some of whom I mentioned this afternoon, rationalise business activities and cease setting up cost structures directed at profit maximisation to suit themselves.
Between 30th June 1949 and 30th June 1964, the balance of trade in Australia’s favour was £1,225 million. However, when we subtract the invisibles to arrive at our balance on current account, instead of a surplus, a deficit of £1,772 million results. 1 believe that this deficit represents more than sufficient money to buy several ships suitable for establishing an overseas shipping line. This matter should be examined uegently by the Government. If the Government feels that there are obstacles to the establishment of a national shipping line, it should examine the possibility of a joint national shipping line in conjunction with New Zealand. The Government may believe that Australia is not big enough to support a national shipping line. I do not agree with this opinion; I firmly believe that one is necessary. The United States of America faced and overcame great problems in establishing a national shipping line. The wages paid to American seamen are much higher than those enjoyed by Australian seamen. American seamen are members of a very effective but fair union. In the shipping field there are many parallel circumstances between Australia and the United States, yet the United States has been able to surmount the obstacles in the path of the establishment of a national shipping line.
One method of attack by the United States Government has been to provide subsidies for the shipping industry. As long ago as 1920 the United States Government realised that this course was necessary to establish a shipping line for overseas trade. Between 1948 and 1958 government subsidies totalling 70 million dollars were provided for shipping lines. In addition, the United States Navy paid 102 million dollars during the same period for the incorporation in merchant ships of new devices which it desired to have tested. The devices usually were intended to increase the speed of ships and often, with modifications, could be used for the benefit of the Navy. Apart from their value in testing devices for the Navy, the merchant ships are of great value strategically in times of necessity.
The United States Government has steadily improved its scheme to the point where the American shipping companies are permitted to enter the various conferences. This has been arranged by providing a subsidy which compensates for the difference between foreign rates and the rates charged by the American shipping companies. Money is provided also on loan over very long periods on easy terms of repayment. The Government will provide up to about 75 per cent, of the amount required for shipbuilding. This money acts as a stimulant for the shipping industry. In our own theatre of operations we have witnessed the success of the Matson Shipping Line.
I suggest very seriously that now is an opportune time for the Government to act in the interests of the community, particularly in the interests of exporters. The Government has spoken a great deal about the export drive which it claims is under way. It is time that the Government worked in this direction by establishing an overseas shipping line so that our exporters are assisted to sell their commodities more cheaply on the overseas markets. I refer not only to manufacturers, but also to primary producers who could receive great benefits. Honorable members opposite should realise that the proposal for an overseas shipping line, operated under an Australian maritime or shipping commission, has been .received favourably and with great sympathy by the business community.
Apparently, the Government and its supporters have certain objection to the establishment of an overseas shipping line. I rather suspect that they arc greatly influenced by the chairman of the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission, Captain Williams. I believe he has done a reasonable job within the confines of his duties, but, as I pointed out earlier, I believe also that, because of his interests and associations he has probably rationalised the activities of the Australian National Line. Indeed, the restriction that by law prevents the Line from opening offices in places where it operates in competition with established shipping companies is greatly reprehensible.
Captain Williams, incidentally, is a man who has a finger in many business interests. I have asked several questions on this matter and have received replies from the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Freeth). Over a period of eight years recently, the companies in which Captain Williams has interests enjoyed a return of nearly £500,000. All I can say, having in mind this circumstance and subsections (2.), (3.) and (4.) of section 13 of the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission Act, is that one can only think that Captain Williams constantly runs in and out of meetings of the Commission, for he is not allowed to take part in discussions concerning business dealings between the Commission and companies in which he has interests. This applies also, apparently, to Mr. A. G. Thomson.
Now I want to mention a particular point concerning the business associations of Captain Williams with Fleet Forge Pty. Ltd. Since I asked questions on this subject, I have received several letters from people in Melbourne who are disturbed by the way in which work is handed out in that port by the Australian National Line and by the large share of the Line’s repair work received by this company in which Captain Williams is a large shareholder, and perhaps even the largest shareholder, although I am not certain of that. I am informed by the writers of these letters and by people who have been in personal touch with me that a number of maritime engineering enterprises in Melbourne keenly desire to undertake this repair work for the Australian National Line. They can do it as satisfactorily and on competitive terms. Indeed, I understand that these firms have raised the matter by way of deputation, but so far without beneficial response.
I should like to have raised several other points in this address, which I must now finish. I believe that the Minister should examine the matter that I have raised and should also look at the-
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
The following bills were returned from the Senate without amendment -
Social Services Bill (No. 2) 1964.
Seamen’s War Pensions and Allowances Bill 1964.
House adjourned at 11.24 p.m.
The following answers to questions were circulated -
Tapping of Telephones. (Question No. 239.)
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows -
The attention of the New South Wales Government has been drawn to the provisions of the Telephonic Communications (Interception) Act 1960. The Act docs not provide for the interception of telephone communications in criminal cases unrelated to the security of Australia. Accordingly, no authorities have been given for such purposes. No officers of the Postmaster-General’s Department have been involved in the submission of telephone conversations as court evidence.
s asked the Minister for Trade and Industry, upon notice -
What legislation has been passed since 1950 to assist decentralisation of industry?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows -
The question of the location of factories in Australia has traditionally been a matter within the sole responsibility of State Governments. As honorable members are aware, State Governments have spent, and are spending, money in a variety of ways to assist the decentralisation of industry. The role of the Commonwealth Government has been to sustain the financial strength of the States and for this purpose it has since 1950 provided the State Governments with more than £4,400 million. In addition, the Commonwealth has legislated on many occasions in ways having specific implications for the development of industries and population outside the metropolitan areas. Substantial legislative measures of this kind passed since 1950 include -
Commonwealth Aid Roads Act, 1964 (renewal and extension of legislation first passed in 1923; specified 40 per cent. as minimum proportion to be spent on rural roads).
Queensland (Beef Cattle Roads) Agreement Act 1962.
Western Australian Grant (Beef Cattle Roads) Act 1961 and 1962.
Tasmanian Grant (Gordon River Road) Act 1964.
Port Facilities -
Coal Loading Works Agreement (New South Wales) Act 1961. (Loading facilities at Port Kembla and Newcastle.)
Coal Loading Works Agreement (Queensland) Act 1962. (Loading facilities at Gladstone.)
Derby Jetty Agreement Act 1962.
Western Australia (Northern Development) Agreement Act 1963. (Deep water jetty at Broome.)
Water Supply and Irrigation -
Western Australia Grant (Water Supply) Act 1948- 57 (Water supply in the South- West and Great Southern Land Divisions).
Western Australia (Northern Development) Agreement Act 1963 (Old River irrigation).
Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric Power Act 1949- 1958.
Blowering Water Storage Works Agreement Act 1963.
Chowilla Reservoir Agreement Act 1963.
Menindee Lakes Storage Agreement Act 1963.
River Murray Waters Act 1915-1963 (as it relates to the Chowilla and Menindee projects).
Railway Agreement (Queensland) Act 1961 (Townsville-Mount Isa modernisation).
Railways Equipment Agreement (South Australia) Act 1961 (locomotives and wagons for Broken Hill-Port Pirie line).
Railway Agreement (Western Australia) Act 1961 (Kwinana-Koolyanobbing line construction and standardisation in conjunction with steel industry development).
Brachina to Leigh Creek North Coalfield Railway Act 1950.
Stirling North to Brachina Railway Act 1952.
Leigh Creek North Coalfield to Maree (Conversion to Standard Gauge) Railway Act 1954.
Gold Mining Industry Assistance Act 1954- 1962.
Gold Mining Development Assistance Act 1962.
Petroleum Search Subsidy Act 1959-1961.
Copper Bounty Act 1958-1963.
Fertiliser Industry -
Pyrites Bounty Act 1960 (payable to pyrite producers all located in country areas).
Sulphate of Ammonia Bounty Act 1962 (main producers Risdon, Port Kembla and Newcastle).
Manufacturing Industry -
Rayon Yarn Bounty Act 1954-1962 (Courtaulds at Tomago).
Processed Milk Products Bounty Act 1962-63.
Taxation Incentives - income Tax and Social Services Contribution Assessment Act 1951 -
Capital expenditure on housing and other amenities for mining employees allowable deductions over the period of the mine’s life or 25 years.
Income Tax and Social Services Contribution Assessment Act 1952 -
Income from mining uranium exempt.
Deductions made allowable in respect of capital expenditure incurred during the period when profits from mining in the Northern Territory were exempt from tax.
Income Tax and Social Services Contribution Assessment Act 1954 -
Dividends paid wholly and exclusively from income derived from sale of rights to mine for gold and certain other prescribed metals and minerals were exempted.
Income Tax and Social Services Contribution Assessment Act 1956 -
Capital expenditure on timber access roads made deductible.
Income Tax and Social Services Contribution Assessment Act 1958 -
Capital subscribed to oil exploration company allowed as a deduction subject to certain conditions as to taxation of future profits.
Special 20 per cent. depreciation allowance and averaging provisions extended to fishing and pearling industry.
Income Tax and Social Services Contribution Assessment Act 1959 -
Capital expenditure on housing and other amenities for mining employees allowable deductions over a period of five years.
Income Tax and Social Services Contribution Assessment Act 1960 -
Exemption of income from mining certain base metals and rare minerals made permanent.
Income Tax and Social Services Contribution Assessment Act 1963 -
Expenditure by timber millers on buildings in forest areas (including housing for employees) made deductible.
Decentralisation. (Question No. 340.)
s asked the Minister for
Trade and Industry, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows - 1 Yes.
United Kingdom - Grants of up to 25% of the cost of new buildings and 10% of the cost of new plant and machinery; the building and leasing of factories and sites to industries in selected areas.
France - 5 years total or partial exemption from certain taxes; reduction in company tax; subsidies of up to £750 for each new position created in areas of acute unemployment.
Italy - Ten years exemption from income lax; no customs duly on imported plant and equipment; grants of up to 20% of establishment costs for medium and small enterprises.
United States of America - Low interest long term loans to assist communities to build and equip factories; finance for retraining labour; relief from state and local taxes.
b asked the Minister for Trade and Industry, upon notice -
Does he propose to take any legislative action to stop the drift of population from the country to capital cities? If so, what action is proposed?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows -
A good deal of the policy ofthis Government is already designed to aid the country areas and to add to the attractiveness of rural industry. Such policies include special taxation and depreciation allowances, subsidies, stabilisation schemes, the superphosphates bounty, and the encouragement of mining and mineral exploration.
In addition, the Government intends to introduce arrangements so that nowhere in Australia will the normal price of certain petroleum products be more than fourpence a gallon above the level of capital city prices.
Financial provision for the first year’s cost of this scheme to the extent of £3 million has already been made in the Budget presented recently and the necessary legislation will be brought down as soon as practicable.
Moreover, it is the Government’s policy to continue to regard further practical measures to assist decentralisation as an important objective.
on asked the Minister for Trade and Industry, upon notice -
What was the cost of shipping freight in respect of (a) imports and (b) exports during each of the lust ten years?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows -
Separate figures for this item are not available.
son asked the Minister for Trade and Industry, upon notice -
Is he able to say which countries operate a publicly owned overseas shipping line?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows -
As far as can be ascertained the following countries operate overseas shipping services which are either wholly or partly owned by the Government of the country concerned -
In addition a number of Communist-bloc countries operate Government owned shipping lines in overseas trades.
Trade Missions. (Question No. 369.)
son asked the Minister for
Trade and Industry, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
M.V. “ Delos “-Registered Sweden. “ Straat Banka “ - Registered Netherlands. “ Chandpara “ - Registered Britain. “ Centaur “ - Registered Britain.
National Service Training. (Question No. 480.)
s asked the Minister for the
Army, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are -
d asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice -
How many persons (a) commenced and (b) terminated employment on the Trans-Australian Railway during each of the past four years?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows -
A considerable amount of work would be involved in ascertaining the number of appointments and terminations of Commonwealth Railways staff relating to the Trans-Australian Railway only. Apart from the difficulty of separating the Trans-Australian and Central Australia Railway track maintenance staff, there are numerous employees, e.g. train crews and workshops staff, stationed at Port Augusta and Stirling North who perform duty on both railways. Separation of appointments and terminations for the latter classes of employees would not therefore be possible. However, the following information has been provided by the Commonwealth Railways Commissioner in respect of track maintenance staff appointments and terminations of the TransAustralian and Central Australia Railways for each of the financial years shown -
son asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
n asked the Minister for Territories, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions arc as follows -
Immigration. (Question No. 517.)
e asked the Minister for
Immigration, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
y asked the Minister for Territories, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
Superphosphate from Territories. (Question No. 534.)
m asked the Minister for Territories, upon notice) -
How many tons of phosphate were exported from Nauru, Ocean and Christmas Islands by the British Phosphate Commissioners last year?
s. - The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
Nauru 14s. 4d. (administration costs of Nauru 10s. 8d., royalties 3s. 8d.).
Ocean Island 24s. 9d. (payment to Gilbert and Ellice Islands Government 23s., royalties ls. 9d.).
Christmas Island 2s. 2d. (administration costs of Christmas Island).
m asked the Minister for Air, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows -
The matters referred to by the honorable member have been noted, but, as pointed out by my predecessor in his replies to previous questions by the honorable member, the Commonwealth has no contractual arrangement with the Ferranti Company and can look only to its prime contractor, the British Aircraft Corporation, to act on its behalf in any matters relating to Ferranti. Discussions on the subject of a refund to the Commonwealth are going on between the British Aircraft Corporation and the Ferranti Company but until I am advised of the outcome of these discussions I am unable to say what the position is. I have been keeping a close watch on this matter and shall continue to do so. When I have further information, I shall convey it to the honorable member.
Safety of Life at Sea Convention. (Question No. 571.)
m asked the Minister for External Affairs, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
s asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows - 1. (i) The population of Australia at 31st December, i.e., the mid-point of the year, for the years in question was as follows -
n asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
– The Minister for Civil Aviation has supplied the following information -
s asked the Minister for Trade and Industry, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows - 1 and 2. In 1961 and 1962 the Department of Trade collected a substantial amount of information on the nature and extent of agreements which limited exports. In broad terms this information indicated that some 700 Australian companies were parties to about 1,100 financial and licensing agreements which in some degree provided for restriction of exports.
Car Rental Concessions at Australian Airports. (Question No. 554.)
m asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
– The Minister for Civil Aviation has supplied the following information -
e asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
Who are the top ten administrators in Melbourne of the Department of Civil Aviation?
n. - The Minister for Civil Aviation has supplied the following information -
Apart from the Director-General, Mr. D. G. Anderson, the officers at present occupying the top tcn management positions in the Department of Civil Aviation are -
Three of these officers were born in Victoria and of the others, three were born in New South Wales, two in South Australia and two in England. The Director-General was born in South Australia.
m asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -
I. (a) How much was paid to Bayer Pharma Ply. Ltd. for drugs and medicinal preparations supplied as pharmaceutical benefits in each nf the five years before the Controller of Enemy Property called for tenders for the purchase of its shares in March 1958?
Was consideration given to the purchase of the shares for the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories? 2. (a) How much was paid to Schering Pty. Ltd. for drugs and medicinal preparations supplied as pharmaceutical benefits in each of the five years before the Controller of Enemy Property called for tenders for the purchase of its shares in July 1964?
Is consideration being given to the purchase of the shares by the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories?
– The Minister for Health has furnished the following answers - 1. (a) Payments by the Commonwealth under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme are not made to drug manufacturers, but to chemists, approved doctors, hospitals and certain other approved authorities. Information is not available in my Department as to the amounts paid by these suppliers for drugs purchased from individual manufacturers.
m asked the Minister repre senting the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The Minister for Health has furnished the following answers -
s asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The Minister for Health has furnished the following answers -
n asked the Minister representing the Minister for Customs and Excise, upon notice -
What has been the (a) quantity and (b) value of imports of (i) potatoes and (ii) processed potatoes in each of the last twelve months, and from what countries and in what quantities did they come?
– The Minister for Customs and Excise has furnished the following answers to the honorable member’s question -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 22 September 1964, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1964/19640922_reps_25_hor43/>.