25th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. Sir John McLeay) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– I ask the Minister for
Labour and National Service a question. Has he been informed of the existence of a widespread report that the General Manager of General Motors-Holden’s Pty. Ltd. yesterday informed a Press conference that he had no power whatever to negotiate in the dispute between his company and its employees, and that his only function was to report on teletype to America every incident and wait for instructions from Detroit in return? Will the Minister investigate these reports and ascertain whether this company is powerless to seek ways to settle this dispute so as to reduce losses to all those involved and damage to the Australian economy? If the Minister is not anxious to see this dispute prolonged and extended, as is alleged against him by the President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions, Mr. Monk, will he state that the Government is not opposed to a conference between the parties to ascertain whether a settlement can be reached? If he will not take this action, will he explain his reasons?
– I have not heard of the report referred to by the honorable gentleman. The fact is that the company itself has stated that it is willing to negotiate on the initial claim made by the unions. Nonetheless, I will have an inquiry made to determine whether Mr. Hegland has made this statement. As to the substance of the honorable gentleman’s question, relating to Mr. Monk’s statement, I agree that as Minister for Labour and National Service it is my responsibility to attempt to settle industrial disputes. It is not my duty - I emphasise this - to take sides in disputes. Certainly it is not my duty to take the side of those who are disobeying the law.
The facts in this case - and they have to be repeated - are: It is known that initially this strike occurred because of a dispute over wages in the G.M.H. foundry.
The company was willing to negotiate on the matter. Then the Vehicle Builders Employees Federation of Australia extended its demand to a £3 overall increase in wages. The Federation said - and this is important - that it was prepared to negotiate on the foundry claim, but at that stage the Amalgamated Engineering Union came in and demanded that the £3 overall increase be extended to all employees. Then the employees at the works were called out on strike.
So the facts are that the company is observing the law and the union is breaking the law. My attitude is that I should not take sides with one or other of the parties. I believe in the rule of law and of order, and the rule of law and of order, in both spirit and letter, is contained in the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Act. General Motors-Holden’s Pty. Ltd. is not in breach of the law as stated in that Act; the unions are in breach of the law.
I merely state the facts and honorable members on both sides of the House can make up their minds where they stand in the dispute.
– I ask the Minister for the Army a question following on a question asked yesterday by the honorable member for the Northern Territory, and one previously asked by me. Can the Minister give any further information to the House concerning the developments in the United States of America of the Red Eye heat seeking ground to air missile?
– I am aware of the honorable gentleman’s interest in this weapon. We are very much aware of developments that are taking place in this field, and we are closely watching the development of the missile known as Red Eye. The only additional thing that I can say to the honorable gentleman is that some progress has been made on the weapon, but it has not yet undergone acceptance trials with the United States Army. When it docs, we hope to have a very close look at it in relation to our own requirements.
– In the absence of the Prime Minister, my question is directed to the Deputy Prime Minister.
In the light of our federal arbitration system’s apparent failure to meet our national needs - the most recent illustration being the action of the Liberal and Country Party Premier in Victoria who, in an effort to restore some element of rough wage justice in the Victorian State instrumentalities, announced his willingness to sign an agreement providing substantial wage increases for employees under Federal awards, completely outside the framework of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act - will the right honorable gentleman discuss with the Prime Minister as a matter of national urgency the question of setting up a royal commission to inquire into, and report to this Parliament upon, the following matters: (a) The extent to which overward payments are now applying in Australia; (b) whether the effect of this overward payment system is not now approaching a level where collective bargaining is fast becoming the order of the day in Australia; (c) the effect that the over-award payment system is having or may have upon the national economy; and, most importantly (d) the best method to be adopted to relate wages to prices and regulate profits in the same manner as wages so as to provide the highest possible standard of living, yet avoiding a continuance of the present upward trend in price levels in Australia?
– As to part of what the honorable member said, it would be within the competence of either of two parties to a dispute to approach the Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, as the law stands. However, I recognise within the honorable member’s question issues much more far reaching than those that can be covered in that manner. I will refer the question to the Prime Minister.
– Has the Minister for Repatriation seen a newspaper report which states that Australian servicemen serving in certain South East Asian areas, including Borneo, will be ineligible for repatriation benefits? Can the Minister say whether the report is true?
– I did see a statement to this effect in a metropolitan newspaper yesterday. I wish that the newspaper concerned would check up on the facts before publishing statements of this nature which can cause much concern to all Australian servicemen. The report was entirely untrue. Australian servicemen in these areas are covered for repatriation benefits under the Repatriation (Special Overseas Service) Act, provided that the servicemen are on special service.
– I ask the Minister for the Interior: Has a decision been taken to integrate the Aboriginal primary school at Wreck Bay with the primary school at Jervis Bay? If this proposal is implemented will it mean that the Aboriginal children from Wreck Bay will be transported daily to attend the school within the naval area of Jervis Bay? Is it proposed that the present school building at Wreck Bay will be removed and re-erected at Jervis Bay? If this latter proposal is under consideration will the Minister re-examine it and consider allowing the present school building to remain at Wreck Bay for use by the community as an arts and crafts building or as a pre-school centre?
– This matter has not previously come to my notice. I will obtain what information I can for the honorable member.
– I ask the PostmasterGeneral a question. The honorable gentleman probably will recall that during the autumn sessional period I asked -
Will the Postmaster-General use all means at his disposal, including seeking an increased financial allocation, to have more automatic telephone exchanges installed in rural areas?
I now ask whether the increased charges for telephone services, recently approved by the Parliament, and the allocation to the Post Office in the Budget, bring to the Postmaster-General’s Department the finance that it needs. If so, will there be an increase in the installation of rural automatic exchange equipment and may greater departmental participation in the repair and general maintenance of existing party telephone lines be expected?
– Dealing with the last part of the question first, it is not likely that there will be any alteration in principle so far as the service rendered by the PostmasterGeneral’s Department in country areas is concerned, particularly as regards lines erected by private individuals. Dealing with the other matters raised by the honorable member, he will remember that an additional £8½ million has been made available in the Budget for capital works. It will be appreciated that some part of that money will go to meet increased costs, but it is anticipated that an increased number of installations will be effected in a number of fields in the current year. Last year approximately 297,000 telephones were installed. Depending on the rate of applications, it is expected that this year we will install about 310,000 telephones. It must be realised that the installation of telephones is not just a matter of availability of money. We also must have available the necessary technical people to carry out the installations. They must be trained within the Post Office itself. As regards rural automatic exchanges, if my memory serves me correctly, 65 were installed last year and it is anticipated that about 150 will be installed in the current year.
– I ask the Minister for External Affairs whether he or the Government has sent a message of congratulations to the government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics on its magnificent scientific achievment in successfully putting into orbit around the earth a capsule containing three men. If not, will the Minister, when he visits Moscow in the near future, undertake to convey personally to Mr. Khrushchev the admiration and congratulations of the Australian people on this outstanding scientific achievement?
– I will give thoughtful consideration to the suggestion made by the honorable member. I assume the suggestion is made on behalf of his party.
– I ask the AttorneyGeneral a question. On 1st October, in answer to a question by the Leader of the Opposition, the Attorney-General said that a Mr. E. S. Sachs had admitted in sworn evidence before the Supreme Court of South Africa that he was a Communist. Will the Attorney-General inform the House of the title of the case in which Mr. Sachs was involved? In view of the linguistic embarrassment of the Leader of the Opposition, will the Attorney-General endeavour to give an English translation of the title? Has Mr. Sachs ever made any retraction of his evidence or has he expressed any indication of having changed the views and beliefs which led him to seek membership of the Communist Party.
– The Leader of the Opposition askedme a series of questions along the same lines earlier this week. I indicated that at that time I could not answer them seriatim, but, with the question put in its present form, I think I can give an answer.
The case to which I refer is that of Sachs and Dupreez, reported in South African Law Reports, Witwatersrand Division, 1946. The report commences at page 94.
– You are not going to read the lot, are you?
– I shall not attempt to read the whole of the report, but I assure the Leader of the Opposition that he can obtain a copy of it either from me - I shall hand it to him - or from the Parliamentary Library. I shall read just a very short portion of the report because what the honorable gentleman objected to was my statement that Mr. Sachs had sworn in evidence that he was a Communist. That was in a case heard in 1945. I quote the following passage from the judgment of the trial judge on that occasion -
The plaintiff in evidence admitted that be was a Communist.
I shall not trouble the House by reading the whole of the judgment. I shall just read one other portion. The trial judge said -
I am thus of the opinion that the plaintiff not only spread Communism but that by making use of the “ Garment Worker “ for that purpose he did so improperly.
The “Garment Worker” was the official organ of the Garment Workers Union, of which the gentleman concerned - Mr. Sachs - was secretary. As I indicated, the report is available to the Leader of the Opposition. I shall make a copy of it available personally, or, if he wishes, it can be obtained from the Parliamentary Library.
– I address a question to the Attorney-General. Was not the case to which the Attorney-General has referred the one in which Mr. Sachs received £300 damages and in which those who maligned him had to pay £11,000 in costs?
– The honorable gentleman is correct in saying that £300 was awarded by way of damages. I have no way of knowing the amount of the costs. One would have to read the whole of the judgment, as indeed I have, to understand the basis on which the damages were awarded. Just before awarding the damages, the learned trial judge said, with relation to the plaintiff -
He was untruthful when he stated that South Africa was not in his opinion ripe for sowing the seeds of Communism. He was not candid in explaining his change of front in regard to the war when Soviet Russia became one of the Allies. He made improper use of the “ Garment Worker “ for the purpose of spreading Communism.
He went on to say -
These matters, in my opinion, to some extent reduce the quantum of compensatory damages which should be awarded.
Indeed, the essence of the case seems to be the way in which Mr. Sachs used his powers as secretary of the union. As for a direct answer to the honorable member, it would take more time than is available during question time to explain the way in which the £300 was arrived at by the trial judge. But, as I said, a copy of the judgment is available to the honorable member.
– My question is directed to the Minister for the Interior and is related to a newspaper statement regarding proposed amendments to the Commonwealth Electoral Act. Has the honorable gentleman noted the studiously worded terms of a report in today’s “ Sydney Morning Herald “ implying, first, that the Prime Minister has foreshadowed an amendment to the Commonwealth Electoral Act allowing for 20 per cent, fewer voters in rural than in city seats and, secondly, that this has always been the law but that Distribution Commissioners have failed to interpret it correctly? Apart from the completely unjustified interpretation of the Prime Minister’s policy speech and the reflection on Distribution Commissioners over the past half century, does this mean that there is an intention to give votes to cows and sheep as well as to people? Does the honorable gentleman know that in the United States of America within recent months the Supreme Court has ruled against cows and sheep and in favour of people as constitutents? Does the honorable gentleman think that when the measure comes before the House members are going to behave like sheep or goats, or perhaps in some cases like cows? Finally, would he agree that this slanted report bears all the hallmarks of a handout by some person who with too much partisan zeal and too little prudence has brashly provoked inevitable reactions at this time?
– I have not had a chance to read the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ this morning. There has been, in the Commonwealth Electoral Act, just about since Federation, provision to allow for variations of the quota of constituents in an electorate to 20 per cent, above or 20 per cent. below the quota. The Prime Minister did state in his policy speech, and it also was stated in the Governor-General’s Speech, that there would be slight amendments to the Commonwealth Electoral Act to make clearer to the Distribution Commissioners the reasons for provision for variations of 20 per cent, either above or below the quota. The provision has existed since 1904, I might say, and the Australian Labour Party when in office has found just as much occasion to use it as has the conservative side of the House. I think that when people say there should not be variations, members of the Opposition ought to consider some of the Opposition members who have enormous electorates, for example, the honorable members for Kalgoorlie, Kennedy and Darling. Last week I was fortunate enough to be in the electorate of the honorable member for Kalgoorlie. I found that many people there believed that he should have an electorate with fewer people in it than are in the electorate of a member representing a metropolitan division. In his electorate he has 860,000 square miles to try to cover. Now, I fail to see how the honorable member can give the same value of representation to his constituents as an honorable member in a small electorate can give to his constituents. In reply to the second part of the question of the honorable member for Bradfield, relating to a recent case in America -
– Several recent cases.
– 1 will comment on that. This started with the Carr v. Baker case in the U.S. Supreme Court. There have been several amplifications of this case. The case related to representation within the States of America and has no bearing on the U.S. House of Representatives.
– Yes it does.
– It does not have any bearing on the House of Representatives. It relates only to the various States. It should be of interest to this House to know that in the U.S. House of Representatives there can be a variation of from 70,000 to 440,000 in the number of constituents who elect a representative.
– I desire to ask the Deputy Prime Minister a question. In April this year the right honorable gentleman said that, through our reliance on overseas investment, we are selling a bit of our heritage every year. I ask him whether he has read a reported interview with the Treasurer today in which the Treasurer is quoted as saying that the notion that we are selling our heritage is not justified. Does the right honorable gentleman still adhere to the views that he expressed last April or does he now agree with the views attributed to the Treasurer today?
– I think it would be better if I reminded the honorable member that, in speaking to a motion in the House, I have stated my views on this matter. Those are still my views.
– I wish to direct a question to the Minister for Immigration. Has the honorable gentleman seen a report in this morning’s Melbourne “ Sun News-Pictorial “ concerning a Russian churchman who has been been refused admission to Australia to attend the forthcoming so-called peace conference? Is it a fact that this gentleman is not the well known Archbishop Alexei, the Patriarch who has been decorated with the Order of the Red
Banner, but another younger person of the same name who is much less well known?
– This matter has just been brought under my notice, as a matter of fact, as far as the newspapers are concerned.
– Where have you been peregrinating?
– If I may make a comment, the interjection from the Deputy Leader of the Opposition is not quite in keeping with his position. I am aware that there was some doubt as to which archbishop was concerned but the main factor is that whoever is applying for the passport is one of the six members of the delegation who have applied to come from a Communist country to a Communist controlled congress. Following the policy of the Government, we do not issue visas for that particular purpose. So, whoever the applicant may be in such circumstances, the passport is not being issued.
– I ask the Minister for the Interior a supplementary question. Is the solicitude which he has just shown for the preservation of three Labour seats - Kalgoorlie, Kennedy and Darling - to be a characteristic of the redistribution legislation which he is bringing in?
– The point that I tried to bring out was that there is a variation of opinion in the Australian Labour Party on this point of sticking to an even quota for all electorates.
– I desire to ask a question of the Minister representing the Minister for Defence. In view of the acute need for more manpower in the Australian Armed Forces, will the Minister ask the Minister for Defence to have his Department undertake an extensive public relations campaign to ensure that many of those leaving school at the end of 1964 will be induced to enlist in the forces because of the high professional status of a service career, a status which, it is suggested, might be compared favorably with any profession requiring university training?
– I will certainly direct the attention of my colleague in another place to the suggestion of the honorable member. It is quite true that, through the various skilled courses in the Armed Services, there is an opportunity for young men to become highly skilled in most modern professions and I hope that this fact will be drawn to the attention of those concerned.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister for Territories, concerns the Public Service of Papua and New Guinea. Has the Minister seen recent reports in the daily newspapers to the effect that expatriates are leaving that service when vacancies become available for indigenous people? It has been said that these expatriates are leaving without compensation. Is the Minister able to comment on these statements and to say whether they are true?
– The matter referred to in the question asked by the honorable member for Batman evolves from the policy of the Government under which Public Service situations at present occupied by overseas officers will be taken over gradually by local officers. Obviously, in those circumstances there is a degree of insecurity in the Public Service. Recently a delegation from the Public Service Association of New Guinea visited me in Canberra and discussed the matter with me and officials of my Department. I have suggested to the Association that it work out a scheme which would cover the situation and alleviate the sense of insecurity that its members feel. We have promised to assist in the formulation of these measures. When I have those measures from the Association, I will put the matter before Cabinet for decision.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for the Interior. I refer to the lift or elevator, if it can be so described, in the Commonwealth Parliament Offices in Melbourne. This machine has been subject to constant stoppages for a number of years. The crowning insult came at the beginning of this week when I found myself having to ascend five flights of stairs to the top floor of the very highceiling building in order to get my papers. Then on Tuesday morning the lift was still out of order and I did the same thing again. I suggest to the Minister that this is a great and insufferable menace not only to the coronary proclivities of members of the Parliament but also to their unfortunate constituents who want to see them. I ask the Minister to treat the replacement of this antediluvian horror as a matter of urgency.
– I sympathise with Victorian members of the Parliament who use the Commonwealth Parliamentary Offices in Melbourne. The offices are not what one might term of the highest standard. I gather that the lift is not of a high standard either. We are hoping that we will be able to find another building. It has been suggested that the Customs House in Melbourne might be renovated and used for offices for members of the Parliament and Ministers. I would not like to say here and now that we will put a new lift in the present offices. If some maintenance is needed, we will have a look at that matter. But the question of installing a new lift in such an old building is one that we will have to put aside for the time being.
– As the Attorney-General has been so smart in reading the past history of brother Sachs, I wonder whether he has been reading the startling revelations made before the Tasmanian Government’s prices inquiry in Hobart in the last fortnight. There have been startling revelations of blatant blackmail and restriction of trade by big business in my home State. In view of the serious disclosures, which are supported by hundreds of other far more serious examples throughout Australia in the jungle of restrictive trade practices, will the Attorney-General treat his restrictive trade practices legislation as urgent and get it into the Parliament this sessional period, or will he succumb to the pressure of big business which opposes his legislation?
– The legislation on trade practices will be introduced into Parliament as soon as it is ready. As I have said in this House before, accompanying the drafting of the legislation are a tremendous number of technical difficulties which the draftsman is at present surmounting. I reject very flatly the imputation contained in the second part of the honorable gentleman’s question. It is just plain not true.
– I desire to ask the Minister for the Army a question. He may remember that yesterday the honorable member for New England asked him about the recent exercise Long Shot and that in his reply he said it proved without doubt that Australia was able to mount and maintain a force on a far shore. He added -
This exercise also demonstrated that with more men the Army could do this more comfortably and with less disruption to the Australian support area.
Will the Minister explain more clearly for the lay mind what is meant by “more comfortably and with less disruption to the Australian support area “?
– By the term “comfortable “ I meant that the men would not have to work the long hours that they now work if more men were available. The expression “ disruption to the Australian support area” applies to the system, of which some honorable members are aware, of field force units lending men back to the Australian support area. Various members are posted primarily to the field force units but shadow posted to the Australian support area. Up to a certain point, this is a very good system. It makes the maximum and most effective use of manpower. In peace, there is not a job all the time in logistic units for people posted solely to the field force units. A shortage of manpower has meant that the process of shadow posting and lending back has been used excessively. One of the effects of this is that when we assemble a field force for an exercise such as Long Shot the commands in the Australian support area have some difficulty in carrying on their normal functions. I would add, because this is not always realised, that in a situation in which the field force had to take part in actual operations it is expected that plenty of men who are not in the Army would be available to take the places of those people who are loaned back or shadow posted to the Australian support area from the field force.
– I direct my question to the Minister for External Affairs. Is he aware of reports that in a message to the Secretary-General of the United Nations, U Thant, India has called for an international agreement banning the spread of nuclear weapons to countries still without them and has asked for a discussion of the matter by the General Assembly? Have world leaders, including the late President Kennedy, emphasised the grave danger to mankind in the spread of ownership of nuclear weapons? Will the Government take steps to assist India to bring the matter before the General Assembly and will the Government support the ban as the logical follow up from the nuclear test ban treaty?
– It is highly probable that at the forthcoming sessions of the General Assembly matters relating to nuclear weapons and the distribution, dissemination and use of nuclear weapons will be brought forward in various forms. I think it would be premature for me to attempt to forecast the attitude of the Australian delegation until we see the actual resolution that is put forward and have an opportunity to take part in the debate.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Labour and National Service. I ask: Is it true that industrial disputes in Australia this year have already been responsible for the loss of more than 750,000 man days? In view of the serious loss to the economy that this occasions, will the Minister urge the need for recourse to conciliation in an attempt to avert the drastic economic consequences that will further deplete the wellbeing of those on fixed incomes in this country?
– The figures recently published by the Commonwealth Statistician show that industrial disputes are occurring at present at the rate of about 1,200 a year, or 300 a quarter. The number of disputes is much the same as in previous years, but the number of man days lost is, I think, considerably in excess of the figure for the last three or four years. I have consistently advocated a policy of conciliation under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. I believe that the more conciliation is adopted the less prospect there is of disputes. I point out to the honorable gentleman again, as I have pointed out in this House before, that under the conditions of over-full employment that we now have, too many of the left wing unions want to exercise their industrial power to obtain payments over and above the rates fixed by the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission rather than resort to conciliation. I shall do all in my power to ensure that the idea of conciliation is fostered. Whenever I can, I shall attempt to bring parties together for discussions in the process of conciliation.
– The Minister has a golden opportunity now in the dispute with General Motors-Holden’s Pty. Ltd.
– A strike is already in progress in that instance. As the honorable member for Cowper has very rightly said, industrial losses caused by these strikes do great harm to persons on fixed incomes and to persons in receipt of pensions and, above all, they seriously reduce our export income.
– I wish to ask the Treasurer a question. Is it a fact that the new decimal coins of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, and 50 cents denominations will not have the word *’ cent “ inscribed on the first of the coins mentioned or the word “ cents “ inscribed on the others? If this is a fact, what is the reason for this, bearing in mind that other countries using decimal coinage include the appropriate word “ cent “ or “ cents “ on the coins?
– The honorable gentleman’s question reminds me of an anecdote about a former Leader of the Australian Labour Party who asked a United States taxi driver whether his countrymen ever became confused because bills of all denominations of dollars were printed in the same colour. He received the reply: “ Oh, no, Sir. We all can read.” I believe that the Australian people have enough sense not to need the word “ cents “ on their coins.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for External Affairs. I ask: Has his attention been directed to a report made by a sub-committee of the United Nations which deals with colonialism and which has criticised in strong language Australia’s contribution to the advancement of the peoples of Papua and New Guinea? Can the Minister say what opportunity will be presented for this country to reply to the statements made in the report? Will he assure the House that, if an opportunity is provided, our reply will be couched in unambiguous language, more particularly as some members of the sub-committee admitted that they had not been to Papua and New Guinea?
– As I understand the position, a sub-committee of a committee of the United Nations has made a report. At the proceedings of that sub-committee, the Australian representative at the United Nations headquarters very clearly and very forcefully presented the Australian case. It is our experience, as honorable members know, that decisions on matters of colonialism are not always made on the merits of the case, but sometimes have elements of political prejudice or political opportunism injected into them. I imagine that the report of the sub-committee will now go to the full committee. The honorable gentleman can rest assured that Australia’s case will be presented there again forcefully and clearly. I assume that in the meetings of the General Assembly there will be further reference to the same subject and we will take steps, on behalf of the Australian people, to uphold our point of view and to defend strongly a record of which we are proud. There is no apology on our part for what we are doing in Papua and New Guinea. The job we are doing there is one that does us credit and is appreciated by the people who really matter most, the people of Papua and New Guinea.
– I wish to make a personal explanation, Mr. Speaker. I have been very seriously misrepresented in a report appearing in this morning’s issue of the newspaper the “Australian”. It is a report of a talk that I gave yesterday to students at the Australian National University and it is headed “Chifley’s Feet of Clay “. The report says -
A Labour Parliamentarian yesterday gave the Chifley legend a hefty kick. Dr. J. F. Cairns, Member for Yarra, described Mr. Chifley as a man who was an uneducated engine driver with little command of English.
I would like to inform the House and everyone else that I did not make this statement or any statement which could justify this report. I said that while Mr. Chifley was alive many people had said that he was an uneducated engine driver and could not speak the King’s English, in the same way as many people, generally Labour’s opponents, had criticised every Labour leader. That opinion of Mr. Chifley was not, is not and never has been my own view. On the contrary, I believe that the late Ben Chifley had very great wisdom and understanding, well beyond the scope of education to impart.
– I present the following report of the Tariff Board -
Ordered to be printed.
– I wish to inform the House that I have received a letter from the Speaker of the House of Assembly of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea forwarding the text of a resolution unanimously agreed to by the House on 2nd September 1964. The terms of the resolution are as follows -
We the elected representatives of the people of Papua and New Guinea desire to convey to the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia, the Trusteeship Council and the General Assembly of the United Nations Organisation, the expressed wish of the people that they, the people, and they alone, be allowed to decide when the time is ripe for self-government in Papua and New Guinea, and the form that such government will take and the people’s further firm conviction that the road to self-government can best be travelled with one guide - and that guide the Administering Authority, and that undue pressure from without can lead only to that disruption, chaos and bloodshed which the people have observed with great alarm in certain newly independent countries.
Bill presented by Mr. Freeth, and read a first time.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
In his second reading speech in the Senate on the very lengthy Navigation Bill 1958, the then Minister for Shipping and Transport, Senator Paltridge, drew attention to the fact that the navigation laws need to remain under continual surveillance. He indicated that his Department would be keeping the Navigation Act under review so that, in future, anomalies would be removed when they became apparent, and any amendments made necessary by changing circumstances could be promptly effected, without allowing numerous amendments to accumulate, thus necessitating lengthy pieces of legislation.
The Navigation Act 1961 was the first of a regular series of amendments of this nature and we now have before us the second Bill of the series, drawn up to deal with various matters that have been found to need attention since the 1961 Bill was passed. Most of the clauses relate to matters of relatively minor importance and I think need only be referred to in detail in Committee. Even the more important matters dealt with, to which I shall now refer, do not involve really important policy decisions.
It is now provided in the Act that a superintendent shall refuse to approve the engagement of a person whom the Maritime Industry Commission, constituted under the National Security (Maritime Industry) Regulations, has directed be not engaged as a seaman. About 700 seamen were excluded by the Commission from employment in the Australian Maritime Industry during the 1939-45 war under a power derived from the National Security (Maritime Industry) Regulations. In 1952 the Navigation Act was amended to give continuing effect to certain powers and procedures which would otherwise have lapsed because of the repeal of war-time legislation and provisions were inserted in the Act to continue the exclusion of these 700 seamen. Only a small minority of excluded seamen had really bad characters and, as the exclusions are now of some 11 to 21 years’ standing, these provisions are to be repealed and the exclusions terminated. Such action will not result in any large re-entry into the industry. Many of the men have left Australia, have died or have established themselves permanently ashore and are no longer interested in returning to sea. It is undesirable that the exclusion should continue indefinitely and the repeal of the provision is effected by clause 12 of the Bill.
Under an existing provision in the Act which was taken from a similar section in the British Merchant Shipping Act of 1894, intended to protect seamen from the practice of giving an advance in wages to a man which thereby bound him to go to sea; articles of agreement cannot contain any provision for the payment in advance to any seaman of wages due to him. Under modern industrial conditions and the present system of engaging seamen in Australia, such a protection is no longer necessary It is a disadvantage in connection with the institution of modern methods of paying employees such as by credit to their bank accounts, as in these circumstances advances against accrued wages are often sought by both the seaman and the employer. Clauses 17 and 18 of the Bill effect the repeal of this provision.
Section 179 of the Navigation Act applies terms of imprisonment for breaches of labour discipline to foreign seamen and is therefore out of line with section 100 of the Act which deals with like offences by seamen in British ships but does not impose imprisonment. Clause 30 is designed to remove the reference to imprisonment in the penalties attaching to offences related to labour discipline by foreign seamen, thus bringing the section into line with section 100.
The Act now requires the owner of every ship to which it applies, including a River Murray ship, to have each part of the ship that is required to be surveyed under the regulations surveyed at least once each year. Ships on inland waters, such as the River Murray, operate under conditions very different from those applying to sea-going ships to which the survey provisions of the Act and the regulations are designed to apply. Such ships operate in shallow sheltered waters and there is not the necessity for the stringent conditions which have to be applied to ships engaged in interstate or overseas voyages. The ships concerned are few and small, and greater flexibility is desirable in the laying down of suitable conditions, and this can best be done by regulation. Clause 32 amends the Act to allow the regulations to prescribe not only the parts of a ship which must be surveyed but also the manner and period of such surveys in relation to a particular class or type of ship.
The Act now provides that the masters of certain ships shall produce to the Collector of Customs from whom a clearance or transire is desired, certain certificates which are in their possession. A clearance cannot be granted to the ship and the ship may be detained until these certificates are produced. To facilitate the documentation of ships moving on the Australian coast arrangements are being made for the production and notation of these documents at certain specified ports of call so that it will not be necessary for a ship to produce the certificate to the Collector at every Australian port. Clauses 35, 36 and 37 give effect to this proposal.
Division 9 of Part IV of the Act provides for the testing and use of anchors, chain cables and gear in ships. It provides a procedure whereby the Minister may grant licences to persons for the testing, proving and marking of anchors, chain cables and gear and it provides penalties for the use of gear which is unsafe. The division, which was inserted in the Act in 1912, has never been proclaimed. To prepare and keep up to date Australian regulations for this purpose would involve an effort out of proportion to its usefulness. The gear covered by this division is that used on ships in connection with the loading and unloading of cargo, and it is covered in Australia under the Navigation (Loading and Unloading - Safety Measures) Regulations. There never has been and there is not now any necessity to proclaim these sections, and clause 39 provides for their repeal.
Two International Labour Organisation conventions made in Seattle in 1946 provide for the examination and certification of able seamen and cooks. The Navigation Act was amended in 1958 to enable Australia to ratify these conventions but, before this could be done, it has been necessary to try to ensure that acceptable training and examination facilities for able seamen and cooks are provided. Certain practical difficulties have so far prevented the provision of these facilities and as a result these provisions have not yet been brought into force. It is now evident that some time must elapse before appropriate facilities can be established, and in the meantime there is an urgent need to bring into operation the remaining provisions of the sections of the 1958 Act which relate to this subject. Clauses 55 and 56 of the Bill have the effect of deleting from the 1958 Act the provisions requiring the passing of prescribed examinations and the issue of certificates of qualification before a seaman may be rated as an able seaman or a cook. Without these provisions sections 26 and 76 of the 1958 Act can be proclaimed and brought into force immediately. As soon as the difficulties associated with the provision of training facilities and examinations have been overcome, action will be taken to amend the Act to reinsert these provisions and to move towards ratification of the conventions. In the meantime it will be possible to have the benefit of the operation of the remaining provisions of these two sections of the 1958 Act and to effect a consolidation of the Navigation Act generally, all sections of which will then be in force.
Apart from the matters which I have dealt with in a little detail, the content of the Bill is concerned with more or less minor variations to the existing provisions of the Act. They do not involve important policy decisions and in the” main are designed to clarify existing provisions, to remove anomalies or to simplify administrative procedures. The main object of the whole Bill is to make clearer, more precise or more workable the existing provisions of the Act and the Bill does not contain any matters to which any honorable member might be expected to object. It will to a considerable extent improve the effectiveness of the Act and I recommend it to the House for favorable consideration.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Whitlam) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr. Freeth, and read a first time.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this Bill is to make four relatively minor amendments to the Australian Coastal Shipping Commission Act which are intended to maintain the Government’s policy of allowing the Commission the maximum flexibility in its operations consistent with the necessary overall Ministerial control.
The main amendment relates to the Commission’s borrowing powers contained in section 30 of the Act. The Commission is faced with substantial capital expenditure over the next few years for the construction of new vessels which it has on order or intends to build, and for associated shore facilities. The Commission presently has on order the “Empress of Australia” for the Sydney to Tasmania passenger and cargo trade and the “Musgrave Range”, a 21,000 ton bulk carrier, both of which vessels are expected to be completed in the near future. It also has on order a 47,000 ton bulk carrier, due for completion in 1966. The Commission also has announced its intention of constructing two fast roll-on roll-off vessels for use between Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane and there is a possible requirement for another 47,000 ton bulk carrier.
Under the Act as framed at present the Commission is limited to borrowing for temporary purposes on overdraft with a maximum of £5,000,000. The proposed amendment retains the limitation of borrowing to a total of £5,000,000 but extends the sources from which funds may be obtained. The proposed new section is in the same terms as section 31 of the Australian National Airlines Act 1945-1961, which controls the operations of the Australian National Airlines Commission. Under the new proposals the Commission will be able, subject to the necessary approval, to borrow money other than by a bank overdraft, and also to borrow from the Treasurer out of moneys appropriated by Parliament for the purpose. The £5 million upper limit provided in the present Act will remain, and the interest rate and other terms of loans from the Commonwealth will be as determined by the Treasurer, who, in making such a determination, will fix an interest rate not less than that payable on the preceding long-term Commonwealth loan raised from public subscription in Australia.
As I have already mentioned, the Commission has undertaken a substantial programme of new construction, and it is felt desirable to provide for loans from the Commonwealth, within the existing limitation of its borrowing powers, to ensure that its programme is not delayed by any temporary shortages of finance. A further improvement introduced by the new provisions is that the Commonwealth has the alternatives of providing additional funds either by increases in the Commission’s capital or by loans in the manner described. This will enable the Commission to maintain a balance, as circumstances may require, between capital and borrowed funds.
The proposed amendment will give the Commission greater flexibility in the use of its borrowing powers to finance its construction programme, and to manage its borrowing in line with its needs. Section 22 of the principal Act requires the Commission to obtain my approval to any staff salaries exceeding £2,500 per annum. The amendment proposes to increase this limit to £3,500 per annum in line with the general rise in wage and salary rates since the Act was originally passed in 1956.
The final amendment proposed relates to the use of any money held by the Commission but not immediately required. At present section 32 sub-section 2 of the Act provides that it may be invested on fixed deposit with a bank or in Commonwealth securities. Since the Act was passed the Commonwealth Reserve Bank has sponsored the development of a short term money market which enables the investment of surplus cash for short periods at rates of interest which generally are higher than those available for fixed deposits, although the loans are secured against Commonwealth Government securities. The amendment seeks to add such investment to the other two possible uses of surplus funds.
I feel sure that honorable members will agree that the Commission, since its establishment in 1957, has made a substantial contribution to the efficient operation of the Australian coastal shipping trade, not only by the efficiency of its operations, but also by the lead it has taken in the development and construction of modern vessels. The proposed amendments will assist the efficient operation of the Commission, and I therefore commend the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Whitlam) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr. Anthony, and read a first time.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time. The main purpose of this Bill is to give a State an additional member for any fraction of a quota, in lieu of a member for a remainder greater than one-half of the quota. The Bill, though of importance, is short in compass and can be shortly and simply stated. First, however, I think I should set out briefly the history leading up to the proposed amendments.
Following the taking of the 1961 Census, the Chief Electoral Officer, as required by law, determined the number of members to be chosen in the several States. As honorable members will be aware, the procedure for determining the number of members is found in section 10 of the Representation Act. This section requires that the quota shall be ascertained by dividing the number of the people of the Commonwealth by twice the number of senators. Then the number of members to be chosen in each State shall be determined by dividing the population of the State by the quota. The section further provides that where there is a remainder greater than one-half of the quota, one more member shall be chosen in the State.
The application of this procedure following the 1961 census resulted in the follow: ing entitlement for each State -
New South Wales, 45.13 - 45 members;
Victoria, 33.76 - 34 members.
Queensland, 17.44 - 17 members.
South Australia, 11.17 - 11 members.
Western Australia, 8.47 - 8 members.
Tasmania, 4.04 - 5 members (Five being the minimum under the Constitution).
This is a total of 120 members for the Comonwealth or an overall decrease of two members on the existing representation.
This determination represented a gain of one member for Victoria but the loss of one member each for the States of New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia. On the basis of this determination, Distribution Commissioners were appointed for the purpose of redistributing the States into new Divisions and the Commissioners’ proposals were tabled in this House on 4th October 1962. During the debate on the New South Wales proposals, the Opposition opposed the proposed loss of a member in New South Wales and also referred to the proposed loss of a member in both Queensland and Western Australia. The Opposition expressed the view that one more member should be chosen for a State when the remainder was 10% of the quota. The Leader of the Country Party also opposed the proposals and suggested that where there was “ any remainder at all”, a State should be entitled to one more member for that remainder.
In view of the comments made during the debate on the New South Wales proposals, the Prime Minister (Sir ‘ Robert Menzies) undertook to have the arguments for and against the proposals carefully examined. This examination has been effected and the Government agrees that steps should be taken to ensure that a State obtains an additional member for any fraction of a quota and this Bill purports to achieve that objective.
The Bill also provides that the last determination made by the Chief Electoral Officer, that is the determination made following the 1961 census, which would have resulted in the loss of one member each for New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia and a gain of one member for Victoria, will be rendered ineffective. A fresh determination will then be made which, in effect, will result in 46 members being chosen for New South Wales 34 for Victoria, 18 for Queensland, 12 for South Australia, 9 for Western Australia and 5 for Tasmania, following the next redistribution. That is, there will be a total of 124 members for the States as against the 120 members which would have been the case without the proposed amendments. I commend the Bill to honorable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Daly) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 25th August (vide page 529), on the following paper presented by Sir Robert Menzies -
Civil Aviation Control - Letter, dated 6th August 1964, addressed by the Prime Minister to all State Premiers.
And on the motion by Mr. Fairhall -
That the House take note of the paper.
Motion (by Mr. Fairhall) - by leave - agreed to -
That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the Minister for National Development (Mr. Fairbairn) and the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) each speaking without limitation of time. [Quorum formed.]
– I move -
That the following words be added to the motion: - “ and, whilst agreeing that the Commonwealth should regulate all air navigation within Australian territory, deplores the Government’s misuse of its new legislation in giving preferential treatment to Ansett Transport Industries Ltd. in intrastate aviation”.
The motion will be seconded by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam). The course that the Opposition is taking in this House and in another place is designed to register in the strongest possible terms our protest against the manner in which the Government has shown its contempt for the Parliament, broken undertakings to the Premiers, ignored public opinion, overridden considerations of the public interest, dealt in a completely cavalier way with fundamental constitutional issues, and, through an unfortunate co-mixture of arrogance, duplicity and incompetence, generated a completely unnecessary crisis in civil aviation in this country. I shall substantiate each of these charges in detail, but the question which must be asked is: What motivated the Government in taking the actions which have reduced it to this sorry situation? Our answer is that this is simply the latest, the least justifiable and the most indefensible illustration of its determination to prop up, to protect and develop the empire of Reginald Miles Ansett.
At the outset, let me clear the ground for this debate. The question under debate is not whether the Commonwealth should or should not control intrastate aviation; the question is whether any government has the right to act in the arrogant and ill-considered way that this Government has done in order to achieve its objective to help its great and powerful friend. The principle involved is not the principle of Commonwealth authority over civil aviation. That principle, to us, is unchallenged and unchalleageable. What is involved is something else. It is the integrity of the Commonwealth Government itself because of its attempt to abuse its power. It is not a constitutional question of State rights; it is a question of fair play and fair, honest dealing between the Commonwealth and the States and between this Government and a small airline which Mr. Ansett wants to destroy.
The stand of the Labour Party on this matter is quite clear, and can be stated quite simply. We support the principle of complete Commonwealth authority over civil aviation. We have always adopted this attitude, and . we do not propose to abandon it now. We shall see in due course where the Country Party stands in this regard because it has one attitude in the New South Wales State Parliament and another attitude in this Parliament. Some of its members will be obliged to stand up and be counted on this issue when the debate is completed. We will stand them up because we will call for the necessary division.
– You are wasting your breath.
– I might be with some people, but they are the people who ought not to be here, anyhow. How they ever got here is no credit to the intelligence of the electors whom they are supposed to represent. Whilst I say we support the principle of complete Commonwealth authority over civil aviation, at the same time we reject and condemn the way in which the Government has acted in the exercise of that authority. We do not believe that the Government is sincere in its newfound interest in Commonwealth powers. Therefore, we suspect its motives, we deplore its methods, and we mistrust its intentions. We just can not believe that the Liberal Party or the Menzies Government has suddenly become converted to the desirability and urgency of Commonwealth control of aviation. It is obvious to us that this is no Tarsene conversion. We cannot find anything in the existing situation to justify or explain the Government’s newfound sense of urgency. Therefore, we are bound to believe that it is impelled by the belief that if it does not act now a commercial advantage sought by Ansett-A.N.A. might be imperilled. If we are right in our belief, then the Government is guilty of a gross offence against the authority of Parliament, . and Ministers are recreant to their oath to see that justice is impartially administered.
The inescapable fact is that the Government’s mishandling of the matter has created a crisis over an issue which could and should have been resolved to the satisfaction of all parties long ago. Why, we must ask, is there all this frenzied activity over a matter which has a political history that can be traced back to at least 1937? It was in 1937 that the present Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies), then Attorney-General in the Lyons Government, sponsored a referendum to give the Commonwealth full control over civil aviation. The referendum was defeated although a majority of the people voted for it. It was not carried in a majority of the States. The Federal Labour Party supported it. I myself spoke for it, and voted for it. Unfortunately, the Lang Labour Party, some sections of the Australian Labour Party, and some sections of the trade union movement opposed the referendum. I admit it; I regret it. We made an attempt in 1944 to secure control over aviation. At that time, the Liberal Party campaigned against it, as did the Country Party, although both had supported the proposition in 1937. Some members of those parties said - I do not think quite honestly - that if power over civil aviation had been separated from the other 13 powers they might have voted for it. But the truth is that they did not.
Let me come nearer to the present day. In 1959, the Joint Committeee on Constitutional Review appointed unanimously by the Parliament on the motion of the Government, recommended that the Commonwealth should possess full powers over civil aviation, both interstate and intrastate. The Liberal Party and the Country Party were fully and ably represented on that Committee, and on this issue there was no dissentient voice. But despite his promise to consider the report with - and I quote his words - “ a loving care “, despite the undertaking of the Australian Labour Party that it would give complete support to any referendum designed to implement all or any of the report’s recommendations, the Prime Minister did nothing. He still has done nothing, five years after the report’s presentation. Yet, after five years of inactivity, after five years’ refusal to act on a well thought out proposal, for which Labour’s promised support guaranteed acceptance by the people at a referendum, the Government now bursts into activity, riding roughshod alike over its own avowed principles and the combined protests of the State Premiers. lt is true that the constitutional aspects of this question appeared in a new light after a judgment handed down by the High Court in February of this year. In the case of Airlines of New South Wales versus the State of New South Wales, the court made it clear that in its view the Commonwealth already possessed, within the existing framework of the Constitution, sufficient powers to regulate all aviation activity within Australia. It is on the basis of that opinion that the Government decided to make its new regulation on aviation control.
This, broadly, is the constitutional story up to now. The Government now finds itself in possession of powers which, till February last, it thought it did not have. But when the Government decided to use its new found powers it began to behave in an extraordinary fashion. It is that conduct - its conduct over the past few weeks and days - that the Opposition seeks to condemn.
The first that the public, or the Parliament, knew of the Government’s intention to act was through some remarks of Sir Thomas Playford, the Premier of South Australia. In the course of a television talk Sir Thomas revealed, for reasons of his own, that the Prime Minister had written to the Premiers announcing the Government’s intention of amending the Air Navigation Regulations to give the Commonwealth control over intrastate operations.
The Parliament, of course, was never consulted about this proposal and was never told about it. The information, as I have shown, just leaked out. The letter was written on 6th August while the Parliament was in recess. But when Sir Thomas Playford’s premature revelation forced the Prime Minister to make a statement in the House on 20th August, he promised to allow debate on the proposals. The House was given a firm undertaking that it would be given an opportunity to debate the proposals and its underlying principles. Nothing- of the sort happened. All we can now debate is a fait accompli.
It is in this fashion that the Prime Minister honours his undertakings on this really important constitutional question. It is in this way that he shows his respect for the Parliamentary institution. But that is not the only promise broken by the Prime Minister and the Government. In his letter to the Premiers the Prime Minister stated categorically -
I wish to make it clear that in regard to intrastate air transport co-ordination, the Commonwealth would propose to act only after consultation with the State transport authorities.
This promise, like the rest, has been broken flagrantly and absolutely. I invite the House to draw the only possible conclusion - that there was never the slightest intention on the part of the Government to consult with the Premiers, the Parliament, the State transport authorities or anybody else.
The Government decided to act even before it received the Premiers’ replies to the Prime Minister’s letter. Two Premiers have not yet replied in writing, and of the four replies received only two had been received at the time the Government made its new regulation. The Executive Council proclaimed the regulation on 2nd October. Yet on that day, only the Premiers of Victoria and Queensland had replied to the Prime Minister’s letter. The replies from New South Wales and Tasmania were not received until the following week, by which time the regulation had already been gazetted. Sir Thomas Playford still has not replied, though I suppose the Government will learn his views through the columns of the Adelaide “ Advertiser “.
But what becomes of the Prime Minister’s undertaking that there would be consultation with the State transport authorities?
It also lies broken and dishonoured. Yet the Premiers arc unanimously opposed to the Menzies proposal.
The Country Party Premier of Queensland, Mr. Nicklin, said his Government was “perturbed” and sought “further details before making any final commitment “. That request has, of course, been ignored. What else could Mr. Nicklin expect? The Liberal Premier of Victoria, Mr. Bolte, said -
The action of the Commonwealth is wholly inexplicable so fat as this State is concerned.
And then Mr. Bolte raised the vital question. He said -
I find ‘it difficult to understand’ why, for no readily apparent reason, you should wish to dislocate the existing integrated system of control of inter- and intrastate air navigation.
The Prime Minister’s Liberal friend, on whose behalf he intervened with such striking results in last weekend’s by-election in Victoria, is suspicious; he cannot understand the Prime Minister’s motives. Is it then surprising that the general public is also suspicious and unconvinced?
One other incident is sufficient to illustrate the haste with which the Government acted. On Thursday, 1st October, the Senate was due to debate the estimates for the Department of Civil Aviation. With virtually no warning the debate was postponed, because the Minister - for Civil Aviation was consulting with his colleagues on the framing of the regulation which was proclaimed the following morning. It may or may not be significant that among the visitors to Parliament House on the preceding days was none other than Mr. R. M. Ansett.
– Where? In this Parliament?
– Yes, in this Parliament. Of course, he is a frequent visitor. A lot of people like to see their great and powerful friend when he has something to ask for. The timetable of events shows quite clearly that the Government had no intention of honouring its undertaking to the Premiers, any more than it intended to honour its undertaking to this Parliament. Therefore, it was never intended that Mr. Bolte should receive an answer to his question, namely: Why did the Government wish to take what he regarded as a wholly inexplicable action?
How then can we explain the Government’s sudden about-turn? How can we explain the newfound interest in Federal authority on the part of a Government composed of parties which claim to be the champion of States rights; a Government, led by a Prime Minister who only a month ago said that the desire for more centralised authority was based on MarxistLeninist principles?
How can we explain the haste, the secrecy, the arrogance, the deception that surrounds this murky business? How can we explain the broken promises, the refusal to meet the legitimate requests of the Premiers for further explanations and further information? How can we explain what the Victorian Premier calls the inexplicable?
I suggest all these things can be explained only with reference to the long and tangled story of the attempts by Ansett- A.N.A. to take over East-West Airlines in New South Wales, and the determination of the New South Wales Government to prevent the destruction of this airline. This battle began at least as far back as April 1960 when Ansett-AN.A. made a takeover bid for East-West Airlines.
In the following year, allegations were made by the Directors of East-West Airlines that the then Minister for Civil Aviation, Senator Paltridge, was putting pressure on them to accept a takeover bid from Ansett. The Minister denied the allegations on 24th October 1961. That evening, Mr. Drummond, the former honorable member for New England, defended the directors of East-West Airlines in this House. Speaking of an interview at which he had been present Mr. Drummond said -
I can say definitely that the Minister-
Meaning Senator Paltridge- said to the representatives of the company that they would have to get together with Ansett.
The whole force of Mr. Drummond’s repudiation of the Minister’s denial can be appreciated only by those who know the former member for New England as the very epitome of integrity and honour.
The Minister later admitted the correctness of Mr. Drummond’s account - he had no other choice - but claimed that what he meant by “getting together with Ansett” was that the two companies should do their utmost by collaborating on common operational problems to reduce costs. In fact, that was not a just interpretation of what he meant. He meant that East-West Airlines should sell out to Reg Ansett, and that was the impression of the then honorable member for New England. He said it in this Parliament, and no member of the Government challenged him.
– And Davis Hughes said it too.
– Of course, Mr. Davis Hughes, M.L.A., said it at the same time, either in the New South Wales Parliament or somewhere in New South Wales. Let me get back to Ansett airlines - to Mr. R. M. Ansett who pays the election expenses of the gentlemen opposite. The Minister made a very damaging admission. East-West Airlines was at that time, and still is, cooperating with Trans-Australia Airlines. T.A.A.. provides East-West with some booking facilities and maintenance arrangements at low charge in return for the benefit of EastWest’s on-carriage, as the term is used. The; on-carriage is an important and immensely; profitable concern since it enables the airlines to earn extra revenue without incurring extra cost. This is why T.A.A.’s virtual exclusion from intrastate routes has given Ansett Transport Industries Ltd., with its subsidiary lines, an enormous advantage. This is the reason why Ansett wishes to buy East-West Airlines - to deprive T.A.A. of the benefits of the on-carriage. In urging the directors of East-West Airlines to get together with Ansett, the Minister for Civil Aviation was simply saying that the benefits of the arrangement should be transferred from T.A.A. to Ansett-A.N.A. No other interpretation gives any logic to his words.
At the time of the original takeover bid by Ansett, the New South Wales Government, in an attempt to prevent monopoly control of intrastate routes, decided to reallocate the routes to give East-West Airlines 49 per cent, of the traffic. This was challenged in the courts by the Ansett controlled Airlines of New South Wales and it was not until this year that the final appeal by Ansett was rejected by the Privy Council. Following this decision, the New South Wales Government announced that the first reallocation of the routes would take place on 12th October. It was this announcement that goaded this Government into its unwonted activity.
The only possible interpretation that can be placed on the Government’s action is that it is determined, at all costs, to prevent any attempt to break Ansett’s stranglehold on intrastate airlines, a stranglehold that should never have been allowed to be created; a stranglehold that is against the public interest and should, therefore, be destroyed. The Government that is moving at the pace of a snail in preparing its anti-monopoly legislation is always ready to defend and extend the restrictive practices of Ansett. The Government’s action is completely inconsistent with its professed principles. But it is entirely consistent with its past record of favoritism to Ansett at the expense of T.A.A.
The full list of special favours received and benefits conferred by this Government is long, but let us look at it briefly. In 1957, when Ansett acquired Australian National Airways Pty. Ltd., the Government transferred the 1952 benefits to Ansett and provided additional benefits by way of guaranteed loans and strengthening of the rationalising provisions. In 1957 when T.A.A. refused to agree to a fare increase sought by Ansett, the Government imposed an aviation kerosene tax which fell most heavily on T.A.A. because at that time it was almost the sole operator of turbine jet aircraft. The cost to T.A.A. in the following year was £300,000. T.A.A. had to increase fares. When the question of jet re-equipment came up, T.A.A. wanted to purchase the Caravelle plane and Ansett wanted to purchase the Electra. The Minister for Civil Aviation at that time stated that both airlines should standardise on Viscounts. Following an interview between Mr. Ansett and the Prime Minister the Cabinet reversed that decision and both companies were told that they could get Electras. Because he had placed orders much earlier than T.A.A., Mr. Ansett operated his Electras for some months before T.A.A. This caused T.A.A. a loss of £400,000.
In 1958 the Government passed the Airlines Equipment Act which provided guarantees for Ansett of up to £15 million at low rates of interest. Under the cross charter the Government compelled T.A.A. to exchange three Viscounts for two DC6B’s although the Viscounts, in fair competition between Melbourne and Perth proved to be far more popular with the public than the DC6B. The Government forced this cross charter by threatening to refuse T.A.A. permission to buy an additional Electra to match Ansett’s fleet. The Government has consistently denied T.A.A. the right to operate intrastate services although Ansett enjoys this benefit through a host of subsidiary airlines. The Government intimidated the board of T.A.A. who wished to appeal against the co-ordinator’s decision to allow Ansett access to Darwin. In 1961, prior to the elections late that year, the Government passed the Airlines Agreement Act to incorporate the matters requested by. Ansett in his open letter and now the Government is intervening by the use of its regulatory powers to prevent the New South Wales Government from carrying out a re-allocation of routes as between East-West Airlines and Airlines of New South Wales.
Let me make my Party’s attitude to Mr. Ansett quite clear. We do not condemn him because he is a capitalist, nor, being a capitalist, because he obeys the first law of capitalism which is automatic aggrandisement. He must obey the impulse towards monopoly or, possibly, be himself destroyed. We dislike his methods and his devious manoeuvres; and we denounce his cupidity and his avarice. We are not afraid of the exercise of Ansett influence so much as we are that of Ansett affluence. I wonder, and so do others, how much money of the Shell Co. of Aust. Ltd. is involved in Ansett’s. It was the Shell Co. which, acting on behalf of all oil companies, forced down the price of Moonie oil a year or so ago. Most importantly, we condemn a Government which sees as its first responsibility a responsibility towards Ansett rather than to the interests of the public at large. It is not so much that we resent this Oliver Twist of aviation; but we fail to see why the Government should always play Dame Bountiful. We can only agree with the words of a very distinguished lawyer who said last year that Mr. Ansett sometimes seemed the beneficiary of a new principle summed up in the words of George Orwell: All people are equal, but some are more equal than others. That, in any case, is how the Melbourne “Age” of 26th July 1963 quotes a gentleman named Billy M. Snedden.
– The Attorney-General.
– At that time he was not the Attorney-General but he was a lawyer appearing in a case against Mr. Ansett when Mr. Ansett had arranged with the Victorian Government to shift a dam from a site which spoilt his view. I thought the present Attorney-General summed up very well the position in regard to the Government’s friend, Mr. Ansett.
The high-handed action of the Government cannot be condoned. It is the action of a government which has lost all sense of perspective and all sense of direction. We are entitled to seek the Government’s motives for acting in this way. We cannot find them in the so-called philosophy of the Government parties. Everything that they profess to stand for tends the other way. We cannot find the Government’s motives for acting in this way in any new, urgent situation that might justify desperate measures. We can find them only in the Government’s determination to provide further advantages for Ansett-A.N.A.
The Government’s methods are as reprehensible as its motives are suspect. The privileges of Parliament, the views of the States, the promises of the Prime Minister and even the forms of common decency have all been thrown aside. From the point of view of the Labour Party, not the least tragic aspect of this inglorious episode is the fact that the Government’s arrogance and blundering endanger the very cause which it now claims to advance, namely the genuine case for Commonwealth regulation of air navigation. The spectacle of a government exercising its power in this way casts the gravest doubts upon its capacity to exercise any power at any time in any way.
– Is the amendment seconded?
– I second the amendment and reserve my right to speak to it.
– Before I deal with the gravamen of the letter written by the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies), I will answer some of the charges made by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell). First of all, he has said that by making regulations under the Air Navigation Act we have shown a contempt for the Parliament and that that has been a gross offence against the authority of the Parliament. I do not know whether he realises the legal position. The position is that we have an Air Navigation Act and, under that act, we are empowered to make regulations concerning air navigation.
If we had brought in new legislation, it would have been exactly the same as the measure that is on the statute book at present, and the new act would have given us exactly the same power to make regulations for intrastate, interstate and international aviation as we have now. What on earth is the point of coming to the Parliament with legislation which is already on the statute book and under which we now believe that we have authority to make further regulations? I honestly cannot follow the reasoning of the Leader of the Opposition in asking us to pass new legislation identical with the act that is already on the statute book.
– What about the Prime Minister’s promise of a debate?
– Secondly - I do not know whether this is what the Deputy Leader of the Opposition just mentioned; I could not hear him plainly - the Leader of the Opposition said that we promised to act only after consultation with State transport authorities. Was that what the Deputy Leader of the Opposition mentioned?
– No. I said that the contempt of the Parliament lay in the fact that although the Prime Minister promised, in tabling the letter, to permit a debate on the proposals, they were embodied in regulations before a debate was held.
– That all depends on the timing. Now we are having a debate. The Leader of the Opposition said that we had broken, flagrantly and absolutely, the promise which had been given that we would consult with the State transport authorities. That is completely incorrect. I do not know where he has been; but I was in Sydney last week and I cut this article out of a Sydney newspaper. It even has a photograph of Senator Henty alongside it. It says -
The Minister for Civil Aviation, Senator Henty, moved today to implement the Federal Government’s new control over intra-state aviation.
He conferred this morning with the N.S.W. Attorney-General, Mr. Downing, on the Government’s proposals.
– On what date?
– I have not the date, but it was last week. Yet, the Leader of the Opposition said with great rhetoric that our promises lie broken and dishonoured. He should look into these matters. Not only did Senator Henty have discussions with Mr. Downing who at the time was not only Attorney-General but also Acting Minister for Transport, but the Director-General of Civil Aviation tried to see Mr. Coleman, the New South Wales Commissioner for Motor Transport. The Director-General left a message that he was anxious to see Mr. Coleman. Mr. Coleman was away, so he was unable to do so. There has been no lack of approach on our part.
Now let me get on to the matter that is before the House, namely the Prime Minister’s letter. I am glad to see that the Opposition agrees with the Government in our belief that we now have power to regulate intrastate as well as interstate airline opera- 1 tions. Much has been said about this matter by legal authorities. I am no lawyer. I think there are very few honorable members who can say definitely whether or not we have this power. Obviously this question will be determined finally - I think the sooner the better - by the High Court. All I can say is that Commonwealth legal authorities, on reading the decision of the High Court in the case of Airlines of New South Wales Pty Ltd. v. the State of New South Wales, believed that the Commonwealth had this1 authority. So, acting on that belief, we brought in these regulations.
Perhaps there are some people who ask: Even if we have this power, should we exercise it? I believe that very few honorable members would say that if we have the power we should not exercise it. Certainly members of the Opposition do not say that. We know their attitude from the report of the Constitutional Review Committee. Not only the members of the Opposition but all the members of the Government parties who were on that Committee were unanimous in sayingthat the Commonwealth should exercise authority over intrastate aviation.
It is of interest to note that that Committee was a high-level committee. It was not just a backbench committee. The Leader of the Opposition and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) were members of it, as was the previous member for New England, who lives right in the middle of the East-West Airlines Ltd. territory and might have been inclined to say that the States should have control of intrastate aviation. But the members of that Committee were unanimous on that matter. We know that the Labour Party, according to its Federal platform, is in favour of Commonwealth regulation of intrastate civil aviation as well as interstate civil aviation. The biggest air charter operator in Australia has saidthat he is in favour of it and believes that it is essential. Let me read this report of what he sa id - “ We are convinced that the Federal Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Henty) and the DirectorGeneral of Civil Aviation are not moved by a desire to protect Ansett-A.N.A., but they are out to ensure the healthy growth of an expanding aviation industry,” Mr. Cavill said. “ The acquisition of powers over intra-State services by the Commonwealth was an essential adjunct to the continued healthy growth of aviation in Australia,” he said.
The individual States could not properly control civil aviation because they had no experience, no personnel and could not offer the necessary liaison to the industry at all times to ensure licensing growth and protection of the industry.
Commonwealth control would do more to protect civil aviation in Australia from monopoly tendencies.
I do not think there is any disagreement in the House with the statement that if the Commonwealthhas the power to make these regulations it should make them and should exorcise control. Who is against the Commonwealth exercising this power? The only people who oppose our exercising this power are the States. This is pretty difficult to understand, because after all we know that, ever since Wilbur and Orville Wright first flew in 1908, the States have had complete control over intrastate aviation. But what Lave they done? Practically nothing. All aviation today is in effect controlled by the Commonwealth Government. Asthe Prime Minister pointed out in his letter, we have a tremendous expenditure on aviation. We now have over £60 million invested in facilities for international and domestic air services. The Commonwealth now spends £12.5 million per annum on the maintenance of the aviation network. This includes £4.3 million for the intrastate network. Today intrastate service operators are entirely dependent on Commonwealth financial support for their essential operations in marginally profitable routes. In 1963-64, the Commonwealth subsidised developmental and essential rural services in the States to the extent of £440,000. Last year, its contribution to the development and maintenance of municipally-owned aerodromes was £470,000.
There is no doubt that the Commonwealth is the authority that contributes to the development of aviation. By comparison, the States last year spent, I believe, just over £100,000. If anything needs to be done in the States, the State Governments immediately say: “ This is a national matter. The Commonwealth Government should do it “. As I have said, the States have had the power all along. Those who scream the most are perhaps the ones that have done the least to help in any single way. Look at Victoria, for instance. Victoria had a regulation which required intrastate operators in that State to obtain a licence from both the State and the Commonwealth. The present State Government, the Bolte Government, in 1956 abolished the requirement for a State licence and said that only a Commonwealth licence was needed. Yet Mr. Bolte comes out now and says in his letter-
I must, on behalf of the Victorian Govern ment, raise the strongest objection to what can only be described as another attempt by the Commonwealth Government to extend Commonwealth power to a degree where it intrudes into the exercise of the constitutional powers of the States.
To me, this creates a really absurd situation. I think we ought to grow up. If the Commonwealth must pay for the intrastate services, surely it should have the power to organise them. It reminds me of an occurrence in my electorate on one occasion. The State Government had suggested closing a railway line. Few people were using it; it carried only four passengers a week. But immediately the State Government decided to close it there was an outcry and everyone said: “We must keep our railway line open “. We have this situation now with the
States. They have not exercised their powers, but the moment the Commonwealth moves to take the powers over the States say that this is an intrusion into their sovereign rights, as if the States were really sovereign. I am sure the Deputy Leader of the Opposition will agree with me that today the so-called sovereign rights of the States are so small that the loss of the power to control intrastate aviation would not take much more away from them.
I come to a consideration of whether it is of advantage for the intrastate services to be reallocated by the Department of Civil Aviation or whether we should accept the Borthwick plan. I mention again that a Commonwealth government reallocation will be done in conjunction with the- State transport authorities. It is not being done unilaterally by the Commonwealth Government. I believe very sincerely that the Department of Civil Aviation should, and if it can it certainly must, go ahead and reallocate or reorganise the intrastate airlines in New South Wales. Let me give a few examples. I have here a map of the present situation. The lines operated by Airlines of New South Wales are shown in red and those operated by East-West Airlines are shown in blue. It looks almost like a spider’s web. For example, Airlines of New South Wales goes to Coffs Harbour and then flies directly over Grafton, which is served, by East-West Airlines, on to Casino, then across three more lines operated by EastWest Airlines and finishes at Oakey in Queensland. This is happening all over the State. Aircraft operated by Airlines of New South Wales fly to Bathurst, then over Orange, which is an East-West Airlines port, and on to Parkes. Again, East-West Airlines operate to Temora and West Wyalong, while Airlines of New South Wales operate to Narrandera and Griffith just beyond them.
– The Borthwick plan cured all that.
– Far from it, although I agree that under that plan the airlines do not cross as many of the routes of other airlines as they did previously. All that the Borthwick plan set out to do - this is what Borthwick was told to do - was to reduce Ansett’s percentage to 51 and to increase East-West Airlines percentage to 49. He was not told that he had to organise the State network system sp that two viable and profitable airlines were operating. This is what the Department of Civil Aviation would do. Perhaps I should mention one of the most ludicrous situations of all. This shows why it is essential for the Department of Civil Aviation to look into the set up and to have complete power and authority to bring the two airlines together and to make a rational reorganisation.
When a new aerodrome was opened at Albury about 10 months ago the Depart* ment of Civil Aviation sought people who were eager to operate a service there. After considerable thought, it decided that TransAustralia Airlines should be granted this licence. I agree with this entirely, because T.A.A. had been operating a service from Sydney , to Canberra and Corowa and then on to Melbourne. Corowa was cut out and Albury substituted. But at the same time the State licensing authorities, for some unknown reason, said: “We will allocate a licence for this route”. They allocated a licence to East-West Airlines. The result is that a Friendship run by T.A.A. leaves Albury and flies to Canberra and Sydney and, on some occasions, within a couple of hours a DC3 run by East-West Airlines leaves Albury for Sydney. Naturally, when it leaves it is almost empty. In fact, all that East-West Airlines has been doing for many months is to fly empty seats from Albury. 1 think its monthly average has been about three passengers a day. It is quite obvious to anyone who has the least thought about this matter that there is no need for EastWest Airlines to maintain that service. It is of practically no assistance to the local residents and must have cost the company at least a five figure sum in the past 10 months. This sum is either paid by the Commonwealth by way of subsidy or else it is paid by the shareholders of the company:
– The company runs a Fokker there on Fridays.
– There have been at least three different schedules in the past 10 months so I am afraid I cannot keep up with it and I am afraid that none of the local people can. either. This is probably one of the reasons why the company is losing money. 1988 Civil Aviation. [REPRESENTATIVES.] Civil Aviation.
– Has Senator Henty given licence to East-West Airlines to operate the service between Sydney and Albury?
– I am sorry, I cannot answer that offhand. The Commonwealth certainly should have the power to make a sensible reallocation of the airlines. It could make a reallocation which would mean that the Commonwealth would have to pay less in subsidies and would result in two viable airlines operating in New South Wales. After all, this is our policy and this is what we have done. Look at what we have done for East-West Airlines. There is no doubt whatever that if it were not for what we have done the company would not be operating today. We have paid considerable subsidies. I think in the past six years we have paid £147,355 in subsidies. In four of the last six years, losses would have been incurred had the company not received subsidies. But we have not only paid subsidies. We have assisted East-West Airlines Ltd. also by spending £331,000 on the development of the Tamworth aerodrome alone, and another £881,000 on other airports and facilities used by this airline. We have also spent £90,000 per annum on the maintenance of airports in the area served by the company, and it contributes only £15,000 per annum towards this maintenance work. We have assisted East-West Airlines also in obtaining 50 per cent. of the fleet that it now uses. Through Trans-Australia Airlines, we made available a Friendship aircraft, originally on lease, and then allowed the private airline to purchase it on very reasonable terms. We obtained a DC3 aircraft from the Royal Australian Air Force and made that available. We arranged for East-West Airlines to purchase another DC3 on very reasonable terms. So no one can say that we have not assisted East-West Airlines and that we do not intend to continue to do so. However, the argument that is going on at present makes it look as if East-West Airlines is biting the band that fed it.
– But your implication is that you have spent nothing on the aerodromes used by the Ansett organisation.
– We have assisted the Ansett organisation. We have assisted Trans-Australia Airlines, too. We pay it a subsidy of, I think, about £133,000 per annum, and we pay the Ansett organisation a subsidy to operate non-profitable services to country centres. The cause of all the present trouble is the fact that, for some unknown reason, the Australian Labour Party has become bitterly and to a fantastic degree opposed to Ansett and the Ansett organisation. The New South Wales Government’s action has been taken only to damage the Ansett organisation. Labour’s attitude on this issue is completely paranoiac. The fact is that the present services operated by both East-West Airlines Ltd. and Airlines of New South Wales Pty. Ltd. in New South Wales have been worked up by both organisations. They started with nothing and built up their services. Ansett has expanded his services and built up his organisation.
– Butler Air Transport Ltd. was bought out by Ansett.
– Yes. Airlines of
New South Wales Pty. Ltd. originally was started by Butler as Butler Air Transport Ltd., and was bought, first by Australian National Airways, then by Ansett, who has built it up in the years since. Both Airlines of New South Wales and East-West Airlines have built up their organisations and given good service on the particular routes over which they operate. There is no reason for a sudden arbitrary decision to take the plum - the Sydney to Dubboservice - from the Ansett organisation and hand it on a platter to East-West Airlines.
– Ansett robbed Butler of the service.
– He purhased it from Butler.
– He swamped a meeting of the shareholders of Butler Air Transport Ltd.
– There is no point in arguing about this. We all know what happened. Ansett Transport Industries Ltd. purchased the majority shareholding in Butler Air Transport. When Ansett bought the Butler organisation, he purchased all its assets, and he has continued to operate first class services to Dubbo, Wagga and all the other places formerly served by the Butler organisation. But we now find the
Labour Government in New South Wales adopting the idea that Airlines of New South Wales should just be robbed of a fine service that it has built up and operated with great success. One might just as well say that, because Myer Emporium Ltd. has developed into a big organisation and made a good profit in its last financial year, half of that organisation ought to be chopped off and given to Buckley and Nunn Ltd. That would be just as sensible a proposition. Just because both these retail firms are privately owned and have been built up over a long period, there is no reason why one of them should be robbed in favour of the other,
– Is it not true that the Government of which the Minister is a member represents monopoly and is always on the side of the big man and never on the side of the battler?
– Order! The honorable member should cease interjecting.
– The whole of the muddied waters surrounding this most unfortunate business could be cleared in no time if the New South Wales Government, instead of trying to make political capital out of this issue, as it obviously is trying to do, took the action that is open to it and tested in the High Court of Australia the new Air Navigation Regulations that the Commonwealth has promulgated. This is the way to overcome the situation. We do not want this constant bickering and fighting to go on. We want an immediate decision on the question of whether the Commonwealth has the power or the States have the power to make such regulations. Once that issue is determined, we can go ahead and have a sensible re-arrangement. But what has the New South Wales Government done? It has brought in one of the most vicious pieces of legislation ever witnessed, I believe, by any member of this Parliament or of a State Parliament. That piece of legislation is completely vicious and has been brought in for the purpose of damaging Ansett and forcing him to go to the courts. I understand that the legislation has not yet been passed by the New South Wales Parliament but is still being debated. The extraordinary thing about it is that it provides for the adoption under State law of the regulations made by the Common wealth. In other words, the New South Wales Government proposes to adopt the amending regulations introduced by the Commonwealth within the last few days - the very regulations against which it is protesting. I say frankly that I do not know what the reason for this can be.
– The New South Wales Government knows it.
– I do not think so, frankly. I do not think it even knew that it was doing this. The New South Wales Government is only playing politics and looking for an issue for the next election. It is hoping to deprive Dubbo of an air service which it has had for many years and which has been well and efficiently operated. What the State Government does not realise is that if it deprives Dubbo of this service, it will also deprive Mudgee. As many honorable members know, the Airlines of New South Wales service from Sydney to Dubbo is operated by a Fokker Friendship which lands first at Mudgee and goes on to Dubbo. What Renshaw is hoping to succeed in doing is to close down this airline. If he does, he will deprive Mudgee of its service.I suggest that Mr. Nott, a Labour member who is the representative of the Mudgee area in the New South Wales Legislative Assembly, will have a bit of explaining to do concerning the actions of the State Government which he supports and which has introduced special legislation that will have the effect of depriving Mudgee of its air service. I repeat that these muddied waters could be cleared tomorrow if the New South Wales Government or any other State Government were to decide to go to the High Court and find out just who has the power to regulate intrastate civil aviation.
Sitting suspended from 12.43 to 2.15 p.m.
.- It is obvious that in sending in to bat the Minister for National Development (Mr. Fairbairn) - the 12th batsman in the Cabinet - the Government was expecting a very sticky wicket. There is no doubt that the issues under consideration at present are some of the most important which have had to be discussed at any time since Federation, with the possible exception of the issues involved in the celebrated banking legislation of nearly 20 years ago.
The Government finds itself heavily on the defensive, lt finds arrayed against it not merely the Parliamentary Opposition, representing 47 per cent, of the people of Australia, but also at least five arid probably six of the sovereign States of the Commonwealth and their Governments, and, further, public opinion. There is an apocryphal story told of pre-World War H Germany which may illustrate my point. lt has a devastating moral impact. It is a story of a brilliant engineer who was a political novice and who was chosen by the Hitler regime to do certain engineering work in charge of a factory. In his innocence he sent back to the central authority a complaint that although he was supposed to be in charge of a perambulator factory, no matter how he tried to fit together the different pieces fabricated from the blueprints, they always made up machine guns. No matter how you look at the facts of this case, no matter how you examine. the various regulations and acts, you find that there emerges a pattern of monopoly, a pattern for Ansett, a blueprint for complete monopolisation of Australian transport..
Plan A has already been accomplished and has resulted in the blatant and obvious conferring on Ansett-A.N.A., a subsidiary of Ansett Transport Industries Ltd., of equality of status with Trans-Australia Airlines in relation to interstate air travel. Plan B is obviously designed to confer on Ansett Transport Industries Ltd. full control of intrastate air navigation. Plan C will obviously and logically appear in its turn, and its purpose will be to show that the Ansett interests, having equality of status with T.A.A. in interstate air travel, and having a complete monopoly of intrastate air travel, are in a position to handle all Australian interstate air travel more efficiently than T.A.A. We will hear a spate of oratory to the effect that inefficiency exists and that there is no need for competition. No doubt we will hear cited what happened in regard to Amalgamated Wireless (Australasia) Ltd., the Colonial Oil Refineries Ltd. and other Commonwealth trading interests which have been successively sold out by this Government . to private interests. The pattern that was followed in the cases of those undertakings will again be followed.
After these plans - plans for the future, but nevertheless definite plans - for the
Ansett empire to gain a monopoly of Australian air transport have been accomplished, the way will then be cleared for the Ansett interests to take over road transport. Perhaps there will be a twopronged attack, not merely on road transport but also on rail transport. What juicier plum could there be, with its splendid opportunities for obscene and almost embarrassing profits, than a proposal - backed by specious arguments - that our railway system should be integrated and co-ordinated with the rest of the Ansett transport empire?
So much for the future. Now let me consider the present. I heard the Minister say that he was no lawyer. I certainly agree with him. The Government in this case is speaking with its tongue in its cheek. Without the new regulations the Government had every power that could possibly bc needed to regulate - I emphasise the word “ regulate “ - intrastate air services. The Air Navigation Act is quite specific in regard to the powers it confers on the Federal Government. First there is the power to regulate internal transport within any State. Secondly there is the power to regulate interstate transport. Thirdly there is the power to regulate transport between any of the States and the Commonwealth territories. Then there is the power to regulate air transport within Commonwealth Territories, and finally there is the very special power regarding “ controlled air space “ which is the subject of discussion, and which will no doubt be the subject of litigation in the High Court - the power relating to the control of air space.
The Government has not been frank, and I suggest to the people who are listening in today that they might well examine the details of the judgment that was given in the High Court, because in it there is no positive brief for the Government to walk in as it has done and legislate for every phase of the regulation of air transport. I quote a passage from the judgment of the Chief Justice in the case of Airlines of New South Wales Pty. Ltd. versus the State of New South Wales and others -
A study of the Schedule (to the Act) suggests that obligations are placed upon the Commonwealth which extend over the whole territory of Australia and that in almost all respects- “ Almost “, mark you - the legislative power which arises from the need of carrying out the Convention given by s. 51 (xxix) would suffice to support laws made with a complete disregard of the distinction between interstate and intra-State trade.
For many years, in fact since 1937, there has existed a perfect system of intrastate air regulation and control. The Commonwealth Government has issued licences in respect of interstate transport. It has determined standards of airworthiness of aircraft. It has decided the routes for interstate and other air travel, with the exception, of course, of intrastate air transport. It has in all respects defined the principles of air navigation and the rules of the air which are to be followed in the navigation of aircraft. But in all cases its licences have been issued subject to the special powers of the State transport co-ordination acts. Conversely, the State Governments have issued licences in respect of air routes and have prescribed times of operations. But in respect of airworthiness and the rules of air navigation they have attached to their licences a proviso that these aspects shall be subject to Commonwealth law. There was complete reciprocity on a decent and sensible basis, and that situation existed despite the position postulated in the decision to which I have referred. There has been complete reciprocity. The question of urgency does not arise. There is no particular crisis which warranted the immediate implementation in intrastate transport of the Convention International Civil Aviation decided on at the Chicago conference.
This is a most serious matter for the State Governments. I speak with the experience of 13 years’ service in the Parliament of New South Wales. I understand the feelings, the motives and the objectives of the Governments of sovereign States and I also understand my responsibility as a member of the National Parliament. I am supported in this by the comments made by each of the Premiers in the replies, as publicised, to the Prime Minister’s letter which is the subject of discussion. I would say that in each of those cases special emphasis has been laid on the fact that the proposed action of the Commonwealth Government would totally destroy co-ordinated . transport services within each of the States.
Let us hark back to 1931 when the Government ©f New South Wales deliberately and systematically drew up legislation, which by definition included aircraft, for the purpose of co-ordinating the respective transport services in the air, on the roads and by rail. The Prime Minister may prate about a £60 million investment in aerodromes and utilities that are associated with air travel; he may prate also of another £30 million to be spent; but the State of New South Wales alone has £290 million at stake in its railway system. In the aggregate, investment in the railway systems of Australia, owned by the respective States, not yet paid for, and accounted for in the public debt of each State, amounts to more than £700 million. That amount is in jeopardy, because transport must be considered as a whole.
If the control of intrastate air transport is to be taken out of the hands of the State Governments we will have a situation where transport co-ordination within the three fields I have mentioned will be completely and utterly destroyed. The problem must be considered as a whole, Sir, instead of becoming the subject of the arrogant, unprincipled, cavalier and unscrupulous actions of this Government. There is no precedent in the constitutional history of this Commonwealth for the activities of the Government on this occasion. Deliberately it chose the day after the Parliament rose for the introduction of these regulations, needlessly and unnecessarily. The more one looks at it the more convinced one must be that that is so. I need not convince the public of this, because the public is already awake to the situation. Honorable members can be certain that when this matter goes before the people, as it undoubtedly will in a test of public opinion in the forthcoming Senate election, there will be a resounding verdict given against this infamous Government.
It is a scandal that any private enterprise should receive the preference that comes from this Government. But, after all, what is this Government? It was Lord Acton who said that power always corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. I have been amazed to see the arrogant use and abuse of power by this. Government, to see its slovenly administration, to see its failure to reason out thoroughly the principles of decent and democratic relationships between the Commonwealth and the
State Governments. It has failed utterly and completely in this respect. The Minister, for whom I have every respect as a gentleman, has shown that for all he knows about the transport services of New South Wales and the other States they might as well not exist. I agree that in the ultimate it would be in the best interests of Australia for transport services to be under national control, but let there be a decent, fair, democratic and sensible way of achieving this. Let the people of Australia be consulted. Let the facts be put before them and, above all, let us purge public life of the preferment which exists today for this individual, Ansett.
This Government is a government of monopoly. It is a puppet of monopoly. It has been a noteworthy fact, commented on by most ecologists, that in Australia we have not a natural balance in some respects. Pests have been introduced into Australia. We have had the rabbit, the sparrow and the prickly pear, all of which have proliferated because there has not been a natural balance to control them. In the same way, there is no counterbalance in this country to the ramifications of monopoly, because this Government believes in monopoly. It is starry eyed when it looks at monopoly. There used to be a gibe against the people of Britain that they dearly loved a lord. This Government dearly loves a monopoly. It gets starry eyed when it looks at a monopoly. It drools; it positively genuflects. It hastens, childlike, it runs to attend to the whims of monopoly, to do everything it can to nurture monopoly. This present situation is a disgrace, because there is no worse form of monopoly than the one we are discussing. Here we have a conspiracy within the Government to ensure that this private monopoly will become the ultimate transport dictator of Australia. Do not accept my word as expressing the thoughts of a partisan or of a political party; I quote the words of the “ Canberra Times” in an editorial on Saturday, 3rd October 1964, under the heading “How Much Competition in Airlines? “ The editorial refers to the perilous system of operations today and states -
It has also been claimed that this particular system is a particularly happy invention of the Australian genius. But perhaps it is time to ask whether the system wit] really work when the private company is itself a monopoly protected from other competition. The trading banks are not in this position; their competition is real enough. The commercial television companies must compete with each other as well as with the A.B.C. But it looks as if the Federal Government wishes to put Ansett-A.N.A. beyond the reach of competition from other airlines and to guarantee it a privileged position with every chance of high profits in perpetuity.
I repeat - with every chance of high profits in perpetuity.
– Is that a Labour paper?
– No. It is a moderate conservative paper which, nevertheless, can speak in the national interest. The editorial continues -
If this happens a good many people outside the Labour Party may begin to wonder whether the right answer is not to nationalise all air transport. If fares, timetables, meals, and the aircraft used are all virtually controlled, so that the only competition is between the public relations firms of the two airlines, what useful purpose is served?
I echo that sentiment: What useful purpose is served? I come now to the obvious reluctance of the present Government to allow T.A.A. to take a part in intrastate air services. The obvious reason is that it wants to keep T.A.A. out. The Government wants, by the present arrogant seizure of power, to ensure and guarantee in perpetuity the control that Ansett now has in intrastate air line activities. It wants to expand that activity further to the point of absolute monopoly of intrastate transport. In the fullness of time and by the normal democratic processes we will see the question of the ultimate control of Australian air transport resolved, but the Government’s action is not the way to do it. It is unfair, it is undemocratic, it gives no consideration whatever to the genuine interests of the various States^ and the Government has consolidated public opinion against itself in a way that is without parallel in our history.
.- The attitude of the Government in relation to air transport is very well known and, I would say, is in direct contrast to the attitude of the Labour Party whose representatives sit opposite and in the State Parliaments. I listened to the honorable member for Cunningham (Mr. Connor), who said that Australian transport problems will ultimately be resolved,” but he did not say how they will be resolved. Are we to take it from the tenor and tone of his speech today that he is suggesting, as many other members of the Labour Party have suggested, that transport should be nationalised? If he is suggesting that, why does he not tell the Australian people exactly where he stands.
– He does not say that.
– Of course he does. Here is a man who says straight out that the whole of the national transport system should be nationalised. I do not know whether the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) will defend the honorable member as he defended the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren) the other night, but I am sure that neither he nor any of the other members of the Opposition would be pleased at the fact that here we have the honorable member for Cunningham espousing the cause of nationalisation which the Opposition party has been trying to play down ever since the last two elections. But now the policy is quite out in the open again.
In the last 14 years this country has been provided with a very safe and efficient air transport service. Under the control of this Government air services have been expanded throughout the length and breadth of the land. Every man, woman and child in the community has received, directly or indirectly, great benefit from our efficient system of air transport. Our air transport system has greatly assisted this country’s expansion and development. When discussing this subject it is well to remember that the Commonwealth has already spent about £60 million on aviation facilities and has created an air transport system covering more than 3 million square miles. Having regard to the expansion and growth of our airlines, Australia probably has a better record of safety in the air than any other country. In short, this Government has accepted its responsibility. Its acceptance of that responsibility has made possible the growth of airlines in this country.
It seems to me that some of the State Governments want all the rights in the matter of aviation without accepting any of the responsibilities. I do not think that the New South Wales Government is genuine in the interest that it has shown in this matter, as 1 shall show in a few moments. Similarly I shall show that some other States did not take any real interest in aviation until this subject became of political importance. I believe it is essential for Australia to have an effective single air transport control. This year about 31 million people will be carried by the airlines. Those people are entitled to an efficient and well planned service. Only last week the Department of Civil Aviation began a detailed study which will lead to the re-allocation of some air routes in New South Wales. The objects of the study have been clearly stated and I do not think any fair minded person will quarrel with those objects.
– What were they?
– First, the Government is anxious to provide the best possible service to rural areas. Secondly, it was concerned to secure the existence in New South Wales of two airlines, each of which is an independent and viable entity. Thirdly - this is important - the Commonwealth aims to decrease the amount of subsidy that it pays to airlines operating in New South Wales. It will be realised, of course, that subsidies are in reality paid by the taxpayers throughout the Commonwealth. Surely nobody can quibble about those objects. They are objects with which any honorable member, no matter what his politics may be, would agree if he were not obsessed with socialistic objectives.
It has been said that the Government has acted hastily in introducing these regulations. I point out that as far back as 1961 the New South Wales Government was aware that some re-allocation pf air routes was to be made. In fact, the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) wrote to the then Premier of New South Wales, Mr. Heffron.
– What was the date again?
– October 1961. In his letter the Prime Minister said that he had learned of the decision of the New South Wales Government to make certain re-allocations. I think the Prime Minister was right in pointing out that out of common decency the New South Wales Government should have consulted the Commonwealth if it intended to re-allocate air routes because the)
Commonwealth is providing so much money for airport amenities and facilities and to train men to operate efficiently and safely our internal air lines. The New South Wales Government appointed a Mr. Borthwick to inquire into the re-allocation of air routes. Having made certain inquiries on behalf of the New South Wales Government, Mr. Borthwick reported that if New South Wales wished to put into effect any plan of reallocation, prior consultation with the Commonwealth would be necessary. The New South Wales Government did not take any notice of Mr. Borthwick. It did not accept his plan but went ahead haphazardly to reallocate air routes.
– Was Mr. Borthwick a’ T.A.A. man?
– Of course he was. There can be no doubt that the Commonwealth should be responsible for looking after the affairs of our air transport system. As long ago as 1920 a resolution was passed at a Premiers’ Conference that each State refer control of air navigation to the Commonwealth. The Constitutional Review Committee has said that the Commonwealth should have control of air services. We know that Commonwealth control of air services is Labour Party policy. I think it is wise for the Commonwealth to have this control because in this way we will get a more efficient and co-ordinated air transport service.
The Labour Party has been consistent in its policy on air transport. It states that the needs of the community are best served by a monopoly system of . air -transport. The Labour Party further states that it should be a socialistic monopoly. The Labour Party has never made any bones about its policy. The Government, on the other hand, has made it quite plain that it considers an aviation monopoly, whether it be a Government monopoly or a private monopoly, to be undesirable. The Government has. established a competitive airlines system. Our system has attracted the interest and has been the envy of many countries where the public has found that the elimination of the spur of competition hardens the hide of a transport monopoly to public protests and demands. The Airlines Agreement Act passed by this Parliament a few years ago provides that there will be two airlines in equal competition on the trunk routes and that one of those airlines will be TransAustralia Airlines. The legislation makes no mention of which will be the other airline. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) has claimed that preference has been given to Ansett-A.N.A. His colleagues on the other side of the House have frequently claimed that the Government is out to kill T.A.A. This is a ridiculous assertion. T.A.A. was formed three years before this Government came to office and in the last 14 years it has expanded and prospered. It is now being re-equipped with the bestand most expensive domestic airliners available. If the intention ever was to kill T.A.A., surely the Government has gone about its task in a peculiar way. The Government has allowed T.A.A. to prosper, to expand and to make record profits.
I firmly believe that in the air transport system there is a real place for individuals’ arid private enterprise. The Labour Party seems to take great delight in attacking the Ansett group, which in my opinion has played a notable part in the progress of aviation in this country. Listening to the Labour attack on the Ansett group one would think that Ansett-A.N.A. was a monopoly. Some honorable members opposite have even claimed in this debate that Ansett-A.N.A. is a monopoly. I cannot’ think of one field of endeavour in which Ansett Transport Industries Ltd. has a monopoly. In fact, most of the company’s activities are in some of Australia’s most competitive fields - air transport, road transport, hotels, tourism and manufacturing. Ansett employs thousands of Australians and serves millions of others. I have an admiration for this company which started with very little capital and which has created and developed a great air transport industry in the face of very successful and keen competition from Trans-Australia Airlines. I have an unqualified admiration, too, for the contributions of T.A.A., but, unlike the Opposition I do not look upon it as a shining jewel of socialism, nor do I make all who compete against it targets for socialistic shafts.
It is a matter for regret that many members on the other side of the House look upon T.A.A. as a monopoly weapon with which to achieve socialism. They know very well the provisions of the Airlines Agreement Act. They know very well, too, that the airlines are guaranteed not equal traffic but equal access to traffic. It is only the use of initiative and by giving service that airlines can compete successfully, and honorable members opposite know very well that one aspect of competition from which both airlines have been saved is that of overcapacity, which has proved so ruinous to so many airlines throughout the world.
I have said that the aims of the Labour Party in air transport are well known. This makes the situation in New South Wales all the more surprising. Certainly, the future of East-West Airlines Ltd. under a Labour Government in Canberra would be very uncertain. One could understand the motives of the Labour Party of New South Wales, no matter how one deplored them, if that party were deliberately planning the re-allocation of air routes in New South Wales in an effort to advance a socialistic objective through T.A.A. In this case, the Labour Party’s aim seems to have been to take assets from a large group of private shareholders and to present them to a small group of private shareholders. It was a remarkable decision and all the more remarkable because it was the first evidence of any aviation interests by the New South Wales Government. That Government has always been quite happy to let the Commonwealth find the money, to provide the facilities, and to provide the trained staff to operate and maintain those facilities and to provide the subsidies to make many of the services possible. My understanding is that East-West Airlines Ltd. is take-over proof and this is very important from the Labour Party’s viewpoint. No shares can be disposed of without the approval of the company’s board of directors. This is not so with Ansett Transport Industries Ltd. whose shares are freely available and are listed on the stock exchange. This leaves that company open to a potential take-over by any person or by any organisation.
Labour’s concern for East-West Airlines Ltd. is like the concern of the cat for the canary. It is not the New South Wales Government or the Labour Party that has helped this decentralised and efficient airline to become an efficient industry and, I might add, a profitable one which gives good service, and it should be a somewhat sobering thought for members of the Opposition that
East-West Airlines Ltd. finds it is capable of paying a higher dividend than T.A.A. pays. Without the assistance of this Government, it is doubtful whether East-West Airlines Ltd. could have continued. The Minister has pointed out that this Government assisted that company in the early days by making available aircraft on charter from T.A.A. and, in addition, aircraft from the Royal Australian Air Force when one of the company’s planes crashed into the lake near Kensington. Indeed, the Government virtually gave the aircraft to the company because the company bought it at what might be called a give-away price. It can be seen, therefore, that the Government wants to ensure the existence in New South Wales of at least two independent airlines, but it has a responsibility to see to it that air routes that overlap and that are unprofitable are cut to a minimum, in an endeavour to decrease the subsidy payments which the Government makes.
It seems rather strange that the Federal Labour Party which, with its known element of left wing members, unanimously agrees that control of air transport should be in the hands of the Commonwealth, should now be supporting the right wing Labour Party in New South Wales in its socalistic objectives and its desire to retain control of intrastate routes, which are being pursued at this time purely for political purposes.
– Make up your mind.
– It is being used for both purposes. Perhaps this can best be illustrated by the Opposition’s intention, through its socialistic dogma, to assume partial or complete control of any industry to further its objectives. It is interesting to examine the attitude of the various States towards this matter. Many of the States have taken a new interest in the air navigation licensing system. In South Australia, an airline operator is required to hold only a Federal licence. In Tasmania, the obligation to obtain a licence from both Federal and State authorities is concurrent, but the requirements of the two sets of regulations may be satisfied in any order. When we examine the position in Western Australia we find that section 46 of the relevant act provides that the Transport Board of that State may grant a licence, provided all the laws or regulations of the Commonwealth have been complied with. It is interesting to note, too, as the Minister pointed out this morning, that in 1956 the aircraft licensing provisions of Victoria were repealed, and at the present time only a Federal licence is required in that State.
I come now to Queensland. The State authority there is empowered under the Queensland Air Navigation Act to declare that the Commonwealth Air Navigation Regulations do not apply to intrastate aviation. This power has never been exercised. What is the position in New South Wales? Here we find that the Premier, seeking the help of his Federal colleagues, has come out as a great State righter, without even having the decency to consult with the Commonwealth Government which pays the piper by way of granting subsidies and providing facilities. Without having the decency to consult this Government on his reallocation proposals, he accuses this Government of making a hasty decision. It is a ridiculous proposition which has been put to the House, especially when we realise that his advisers had said to him: “You cannot do this. Before a scheme can be practicable it should be considered in consultation with the Commonwealth and must have the concurrence of the Commonwealth.” The Premier of New South Wales did not comply with the suggestion made by his advisers.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– If I had been blindfolded and had not seen that the honorable member for Phillip (Mr. Aston) was on his feet, I would have thought that it was Reg. Ansett who was speaking in this House this afternoon. In the last few days, I have read many of the arguments that Ansett used when he swallowed up all those State enterprises. Those arguments are in line with the ones put forward by the honorable member for Phillip this afternoon. They have no relevance to the replies by the State Premiers to the letter that was sent to them by the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies). The only matters before the House aTe the letter that the Prime Minister wrote to the States and the replies by the States to that letter. There is no argument between anybody in this House as to the need for power to control civil aviation. However, when it comes to dealing with the problem of civil aviation and how the power is to be used, we cross swords with the members of the Government. Let me come right down to the letter which was written by the Prime Minister on 6th August 1964 to the State Premiers. It is too long to read out in full here, but there are two passages to which I want to refer. The first is as follows -
You will I am sure also appreciate that the coordination of these services presents the Commonwealth wilh enormous financial and technical problems.
The second passage to which I refer is the second-last paragraph - the mailed fist of. the Commonwealth directed at the States - which is as follows -
The Commonwealth proposals would, as the Commonwealth sees it, result in there being neither practical nor legal scope for State control of intrastate air navigation, and they would mean therefore the termination of the Commonwealth- State Arrangements of 1937.
If ever a mailed fist was directed by the Commonwealth at the States, this was it. The Prime Minister told the States bluntly, in that paragraph, that whatever their point of view was this Government proposed to do what it has since done. If the honorable member for Phillip (Mr. Aston) had one bit of honesty in him he would have struck back on behalf of the Premiers of Queensland and Victoria. They are not members of the party to which I have the honour to be attached. Let us consider the reply of the Queensland Premier,, who signed his letter “ Frank Nicklin “ - he is on very good terms with the Prime Minister. In his final paragraph he writes -
Therefore, before making a final commitment, I should appreciate more explicit details of the terms of the Commonwealth’s proposal and a copy of any draft legislation proposed to give effect to it.
That is the position so far as Frank Nicklin is concerned. The next thing he knew was that the regulations were applied; although he had set out good reasons why he should see the draft legislation. Let us now consider the Prime Minister’s extra special friend, Henry Bolte from Victoria. Remember, this is not a Labour Party Premier. He wrote -
I find it difficult to understand why, for no readily apparent reason, you should wish to dislocate the existing integrated system of control of inter- and intrastate air navigation.
Now let us see what this terrible State of New South Wales had to say through its Premier. Somebody on the Government side of the House this morning said, when the question of co-ordination was being discussed, that the New South Wales Premier was a bushranger. The second last paragraph of the Prime Minister’s letter to the Premiers was the type of thing that bushrangers used in their day, yet this was said in a letter to the States. What did the Premier of New South Wales have to say? He immediately directed attention to the legal technicalities of the problem and suggested to the Prime Minister that there should be a meeting of the Attorneys-General of all States to consider the legal problems. He made this suggestion - here are his own words - “ to ensure the proper co-ordination of all forms of transport within the States “. I will come back to this in a moment. The Premier of Tasmania, again recently re-elected, wrote as follows -
Apart from the civil aviation aspect, your Government’s action has very far-reaching general implications in relation to the sovereign powers of the various States, and is causing my Government serious concern.
The Prime Minister, instead of arranging for some type of discussion with the State Premiers after the receipt of these letters, throws down the gauntlet and says: “ As from last Saturday we are supreme. We run this show and you can do as you like “. Is that the type of co-operation that enables the nation to develop? Is that the type of assistance that the States might expect in a federal system? Is that the type of co-ordinated approach which is necessary if this country is going to develop all its forms of transport?
I want to come back to the subject of co-ordination which the Prime Minister mentioned in his letter. The question of co-ordination of air routes is not nearly so important as the question of co-ordination of transport generally. The co-ordination of transport generally is the great national need which has been crying out for attention for 15 years, but which has been neglected by the Menzies Government.
I say deliberately that these civil aviation regulations have been promulgated to suit Ansett. The Prime Minister knew what the Premiers had to say. He knew of the great need for the integration and co- ordination of all forms of transport. Yet the Prime Minister in his letter spoke of tha vast sums being spent on air services. Why is he not a realist? Why does he not also refer to the vast sums of money which we are now spending on rail transport by way of instituting uniform rail gauges - £45 million in Western Australia and about £19 million in South Australia? In considering the co-ordination of transport, air transport is related to rail transport and road transport. But the Prime Minister is not concerned with coordination of transport. He is concerned only with Ansett and with matters that are attached to Ansett. The Prime Minister knows full well what section 101 of the Constitution provides. It gives the Parliament authority to set up an interstate commission, which would be the proper authority to examine this question and all related questions of co-ordination of transport in Australia.
It seems to me that during this debate only one point has been made which has had any substance, and it was made by the Minister for National Development (Mr. Fairbairn). He was very concerned about the Albury service. He tried to paint the picture that the New South Wales Government for no reason wanted to give the Albury run to East-West Airlines. It so happens that I travelled in a Trans-Australia Airlines plane from Albury the other day, and it was filled with passengers. What was the real reason for the Commonwealth Government denying East-West Airlines the Albury run? It was because it was a T.A.A. run. I have here a copy of a Press report of 10th October 1962, headed “No Extension of T.A.A. Services”, in which the following appeared - . “This was done having regard to the fact that private enterprise is entitled, willing and prepared to operate services which adequately cater for passengers,” Senator Paltridge said.
So, in 1962, we were not going to extend T.A.A. services. I throw it back in the Minister’s teeth that if the licence had been granted to Ansett, T.A.A. could not have got permission from this Government to operate to Albury. That is the position.
The honorable member for Phillip spoke about East-West Airlines as though that company did not count. Opposition to what is being done by the Government is not coming from the Australian Labour Party alone. Let me quote what the Deputy Leader of the Country Party in New South Wales said last Saturday. The following report appeared in the “Sydney Morning Herald” of 10th October-
The Deputy Leader of the New South Wales Country Party, Mr. W. A. Chaffey, yesterday attacked the Federal Government for its attempt to take control of intrastate air routes.
The attack was unprecedented by a Country Party leader against a Commonwealth decision.
He said the action of the Federal authorities became suspect when its timing was considered - two days before the States reallocation of these routes was to become effective.
The Federal Government was placing itself in a position “ where the man in the street feels that the person who is dictating civil aviation policy in this country is Mr. Ansett”.
This was what Mr. Chaffey said. Let me quickly recount what has happened over the years since 1955 - and this may shock every honorable member in this House who listens carefully. I have copies of headlines that have appeared in the Press every year since 1955. First, on 10th March 1955 the following headline appeared: “Ansett to Challenge Ban on Canberra Service “. Ansett won. The next heading was in the “ Daily Telegraph “ of 29th August 1957, as follows: “Ansett Bid for Mails”. Ansett won. The next headline appeared in the “ Sydney Morning Herald “ of 4th October 1957 and was: “Ansett Bids to Take Over Butler Line “. Ansett won. Somebody said he paid for it. Let me read the next report, again from the “Daily Telegraph “, this time of 15th October 1957-
Ansett interests bought more than 6,000 Butler shares on Sydney Stock Exchange yesterday.
Let me give you the history of Butler Air Transport Ltd. which was published in the Press on 5th August 1957. This is what was said of Mr. Butler -
Mr. Butler, as one of the pioneers of flying in Australia and one of the most versatile airline operators, has a secure place in the history of Australian aviation.
That was so until Ansett cut his throat. Another Press report, which appeared on 15th October 1957 was headed - “ Last Ditch “ to Avoid Absorption.
That was the last stand of Butler Air Transport Ltd. Then, on 18th February 1958 this heading appeared in the “ Sydney Morning Herald “: “ Q.C.’s Claim in Butler
Air Dispute” and we find Sir Garfield Barwick appearing for Ansett.
Then we come to the next headline which appeared in 1960. Butler planned to reverse the position. The headline read: “Butler Plans First Jet Airline With French Caravelles “. The Press obtained a comment from Ansett in Melbourne, and what did he say? I quote -
In Melbourne, the Managing Director of Ansett-A.N.A., Mr. R. M. Ansett, said: “Mr. Butler hasn’t got Buckley’s - or Butler’s - hope of starting a new airline”.
He did not start one because Ansett had the support of this Government. Let us go on to the next heading. It appeared on 22nd December 1958. This reflects the building of the Ansett empire. It reads: “Ansett To Get Airline”. It referred to shareholders in Southern Airlines Ltd. Ansett got it. The growth of the Ansett Transport empire is a transport menace in a free country. On 3rd July 1959 this headline appeared: “Ansett Bid for Guinea Airways “. Ansett got it. There is another headline on 10th November 1959, which reads: “Ansett’s Sales Up To£22 Million”. Then followed this statement-
Ansett Transport Industries Ltd’s group revenue jumped from£16.8 million to £22 million in the year to June 27. . . .
Here is another heading which appeared on 19th November 1959: “Ansett Pressing For N.G. Services”. Ansett got it. When he got that one he decided he wanted some dough so we find that the next heading is: “ Ansett’s Guinea Shares To A.M.P. “. The article reads
Australian Mutual Provident Society, Australia’s largest mutual life assurance organisation, today announced that it had purchased more than £1 million worth of various shares from Ansett Transport Industries.
You are getting big business riding up over a transport monopoly that is a menace to this country. Let me put this to honorable members: In10years from now Ansett may be dead and gone but the Government is allowing a situation to develop in which Ansett television, Ansett road transport in freight and passenger traffic and Ansett air transport will Tesult in an empire which could allow control of this country to fall into the hands of a dictator. What we are allowing to develop is a great menace which could bring this country to its knees if it were in the hands of a dictator. It might be a Communist empire or it might be a Fascist empire but what the Government is setting up now is an empire in the hands of one man which could result in control of transport and communications being taken away from the Government. If you allow that to remain in the hands of one man or one group you run the possibility of the country going down the drain in the years that lie ahead.
It was said by the honorable member for Phillip that we were concerned with one thing and one thing only, and that was a national airline under Government control. I offer no apology for holding that point of view. Let me tell honorable members why. We had a Labour Government in Australia fortunately, from 1941 to 1949 and it knew it was necessary to have a national line. It was a Labour Government that introduced T.A.A. It was a Labour Government which set the pattern for T.A.A. which could not be destroyed by this Government. There is a reason behind Labour’s policy and we offer no apology for it. Labour did not go into this matter idly. Labour caused a war Cabinet decision to be made to set up a departmental committee covering air, external affairs, the Treasury, the Postmaster-General’s Department, and transport and aircraft production with the Director-General of Civil Aviation, Mr. Corbett, as chairman. The document concerned, 1 know, is marked as a secret document but this is what happened in 1943 in regard to Ansett. This committee, headed not by a Labour man but by Mr. Corbett - now dead and gone - investigated every company - Ansett, A.N.A., Guinea Airways and Butler Air Transport. He went through the lot. Today there is only one of these companies left; the others are all part of Ansett today. East-West Airlines is a company which is not controlled by Ansett. But the remarkable feature of the documents to which I have referred and which is in the files of the Government - is that the committee did have a look at Ansett and Ansett has never changed. Incidentally, the document was signed by a chairman who was not a member of the Australian Labour Party. Referring to Ansett’s, the document says -
The evidence of this Company was characterised by such inaccuracy in figures and quotation as to suggest a deliberate intention to misrepresent the position and mislead the committee.
This is the background of Ansett’s ever since 1943. At that stage there was a great Australian in charge of civil aviation, the late Arthur Drakeford. Members of the Country Party laugh but they are not fit to clean his boots. He was a great Australian. Had he remained in power I would have been glad of it. This was his recommendation -
I submit for consideration the following alternative: - That there be formed a Department of Air Transport vested with the necessary authority to -
provide, operate and maintain all regular Air Transport Services in Australia;
He stated his reason for this recommendation as follows -
All aerodromes and aeradio stations throughout Australia are already owned and staffed by the Commonwealth. Additional aerodromes and facilities at present used for war purposes will undoubtedly become available for Civil Aviation needs in the postwar period.
He also said -
Future first line defence of Australia will be air defence. For strategic reasons, air lines, particularly the main trunk lines, should be government owned and controlled.
In the interests of our defence, that is how it should be. This nation can never defend itself in any other way and every air route that there is in this country should be for military as well as for peaceful purposes. They should be organised in consideration of every form of defence that we need in the air. That is Labour’s policy and I am proud of it. When we come to office, despite Ansett, that is what Australia will have.
.- This debate this afternoon has degenerated, in my opinion, to a level of personal abuse which I feel is quite unwarranted in this context. To me the concern of honorable members in relation to this matter should be the constitutional issues involved. There is no need for any reference to any individuals involved in this affair and I feel that the references that have been made this afternoon against an individual are only indicative of the vindictiveness of the type of action exemplified by that taken in the New South Wales Parliament by introducing a bill containing penalties so severe that they are without parallel. Particularly when they are compared with penalties under the New South Wales industrial arbitration legislation do we realise how vindictive they are.
Much mention has been made this afternoon of the statement made by a member of the New South Wales Parliament from my area, Mr. Chaffey, M.L.A. His argument is based on his belief that constitutional aviation powers should be retained by the States. I understand that Mr. Renshaw, the Premier of New South Wales, is of that opinion. If we look at one of the letters that were tabled in the House recently, we see that Mr. Reece, the Premier of Tasmania, is also of that opinion. How does that tie in with the opinion expressed by members of the Federal Parliamentary Labour Party today? The amendment that we are currently discussing, as I understand it, states expressly that the members of the Federal Parliamentary Labour Party agree that the Commonwealth should regulate all air navigation within Australian territory.
It has been stated on a number of occasions today that no-one in this House believes that the constitutional power should not be assumed by the Commonwealth. Let me say here and now that I am of that opinion. I believe that the sovereign rights of the States should be preserved. But I do not believe that those sovereign rights should be preserved without the attendant obligations. Those obligations should go concurrently with the exercise of those rights. I believe that those obligations should include at least the payment of all subsidies to intrastate services to rural and developmental areas which for so long have been supported by the Commonwealth Government. If the State Governments are as genuine in their claims as I am in my belief that the States should retain their constitutional rights, then I suggest that in the future they should display a little of their sincerity. If their powers are returned, as I would like them to be, the State Governments should display their sincerity by agreeing at least to pay subsidies in order to develop rural areas.
As the honorable member for Phillip (Mr. Aston) said this afternoon, in the past there has been no display by many of the State Premiers of any intent to exercise their sovereign rights and there certainly has been no display by any Premier of any intent to exercise his sovereign responsi bilities. In my opinion, it is of no use to have one without the other. Sovereign responsibilities are equally a liability of the States. The States must be prepared to bear those responsibilities if they wish to exercise those rights. That is the basis on which I say that in this instance the Commonwealth should not assume these powers. I believe that the Commonwealth should be prepared to let the States retain the right to coordinate intrastate transport.
It has been said this afternoon that “ transport “ does not mean only air transport. I quite agree. The member for Tamworth in the New South Wales Legislative Assembly, in a statement which he made on 9th October and which has been referred to in this debate this afternoon, said -
Let me make my own position perfectly clear. Military defence is a Federal responsibility; civil defence is a State responsibility. This has been acknowledged over the years by both Federal and State governments, irrespective of parly political persuasion.
There has to be within the whole ambit of Civil Aviation some degree of government influence that will ensure that the Government in its planning can be certain that there are aircraft available to fit into any mobilisation plan in time of military emergency.
He went on to refer to the fact that civil defence does not relate only to a military emergency. Civil defence relates also to floods and fires, for instance. On many occasions in recent years the New South Wales civil defence organisation has operated very efficiently when it has been called upon to provide help and succour in times of floods and other civil emergencies. That is the sphere in which I believe the constitutional rights should be retained by the sovereign States. It is in that context that I believe the Commonwealth in this instance is intruding upon a jurisdiction which should be retained by the States.
I regret that the correspondence has taken place and that action has been taken by the Commonwealth in this regard. But, if we are to debate the procedures that have been undertaken by the Commonwealth, as we are doing this afternoon, let us look at the matter factually and let us not condemn the correspondence because of the intrusion of the name of an individual company, as is done in the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell). To me, that is quite obnoxious. In fact, this fairy tale that has been told this afternoon reminds me of the Noddy books of which we heard recently. It is a fairy tale that might well have been written by Grimm or Hans Christian Andersen.
The only problem about it is that we have the ogre of Ansett Transport Industries Ltd. and I presume that the good fairy - I am afraid that I would not classify him as such - is the Premier of New South Wales, the Honorable Jack Renshaw. What a good fairy! I wonder. This afternoon the honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison) has mentioned the efforts that have been made by the Premier of New South Wales on behalf of East-West Airlines Ltd. Let us look back and see just what happened at the time of the AnsettButler negotiations. What was done by the Premier of New South Wales - not Mr. Renshaw, but his predecessor - at that time to help Butler, the underdog? Was anything done?
If we look at the text of the Bill that has been introduced into the New South Wales Legislative Assembly, once again we see that this pseudo good fairy is preparing to introduce a bill which is intended directly to prejudice the operations of one individual company. That one individual company will be penalised outrageously if it continues to operate under what it presumes to be the laws of the country for the time being. That is most obnoxious. I do not think that this matter should be reduced to a sordid personal battle. The Commonwealth already has undertaken to look into the problems of East-West Airlines Ltd., and I have no doubt that that company will receive an equitable share of air transport within New South Wales.
In fact, the Director-General of Civil Aviation stated only recently - prior to his having discussions with the representatives of East-West Airlines Ltd. and prior to his having similar discussions with the representatives of Airlines of New South Wales Pty. Ltd. - that some consideration would be given to placing New South Wales air transport operations on a reasonable basis. The need for a redistribution has been long acknowledged. In fact, in the letter from which the honorable member for Phillip quoted - the letter written by the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) in October 1961 - there was mention of the need for some redistribution. I have no doubt that if the Premier of New South Wales at that time had been prepared to agree with the request, which was made very reasonably by the Prime Minister, that the matter be deferred until after the election which was then about to take place, some consideration would have been given to an equitable redistribution of the internal air routes of New South Wales.
The position which has arisen now is that the matter is being investigated. I have complete confidence in the impartiality of the Commonwealth Government and the impartiality of the representatives of the Department of Civil Aviation. I have no doubt that they will ensure that there will be an equitable redistribution. The Minister for National Development (Mr. Fairbairn) mentioned the almost spider-like complex that appears when one looks at the present air routes in New South Wales. This afternoon mention has been made of the economics of the operations of individual companies. The honorable member for Phillip mentioned that the dividend paid by East-West Airlines Ltd. this year was more than the dividend paid by TransAustralia Airlines. But let us consider how this dividend was made up and how the profits were determined. If we look at the profit figures of East-West Airlines, we see that in the financial year up to 30th June 1964, whilst before tax it had a profit of £45,311, it actually incurred a loss of £17,474 on airline operations and this was after a subsidy payment of £27,400.
These are the figures that quite equitably and correctly the Department of Civil Aviation is examining to determine how it can make the position better not only in terms of service to the public but also in terms of costs to the taxpayers. As I have just said, the subsidy payment to the company was £27,400. This is the only way in which a private aircraft operator in New South Wales can hope to operate economically. If these subsidies are to continue to be a big burden on the Australian taxpayers, there is a very good and sound reason why there should be an investigation of route re-allocations and more sense used in the allocation of routes and the way in which they ate run.
This afternoon I find myself in a little difficulty because we are debating an amendment moved by the Opposition which at one point agrees that the Commonwealth should regulate all air navigation - I completely disagree with this - and at another point deplores the Government’s misuse of its new legislation. I have no truck with the rider that follows this, and that is that the Government gives preferential treatment to Ansett Transport Industries Ltd. I completely disagree with this assertion. However, I regret, as the Leader of the Opposition said in his amendment, that the Government has misused its new legislation. I regret that the Commonwealth has taken these powers by regulation. Personally, I think, if the Commonwealth decided that this was a constitutional issue that properly fell within the ambit of a legal decision brought down in the High Court, it should have moved by way of an act and not by way of a regulation to which the only remedy is the moving of a motion of disallowance. I am afraid I do not agree with this action of the Government.
I think it would have been far better, if action were necessary, for the Commonwealth to have used the direct means of legislative action and not an indirect means. To me, introducing a power in this way by a regulation is not a direct attack on the matter. Nonetheless, let me assure the House that I do not agree that the Commonwealth should have assumed this power. However, if it intended to do so, it would have been far better if the Government had done it by way of an enactment. There would not then have been the same public criticism as there currently has been of the action of the Government.
I think the real issues have been very much clouded by the actions of Opposition members and by some of the publicity that has been centred on unfortunate aspects of the takeover of these powers by the Commonwealth. We, the community, the public of Australia, would have been far better served if a conference between the Prime Minister and the Premiers had been held following the correspondence. This is a supplemental argument that I would like to put about the introduction of the regulations at this stage. Once the correspondence had been entered into, it was a pity that there could not have been some conference, not at the level of the Attorneys-General but at the level of the Prime Minister and the Premiers, to discuss the way in which it was intended to take over and to operate intrastate air transport. At the time of the correspondence in 1961, a statement was made showing that Mr. Borthwick, the person who was appointed by the New South Wales Government to look into the co-ordination of air transport, thought it would be essential for the Commonwealth and the States to act together, that the States would not be able to operate entirely on their own. The Prime Minister said -
Mr. Borthwick concluded that the concurrence and assistance of the Commonwealth would be necessary to carry out effectively any plan adopted by the New South Wales Government.
This argument, which was put by the Prime Minister at the time of his letter to the Premier of New South Wales on 31st October 1961, illustrates the necessity for the Commonwealth and the States to continue to co-operate on the ways and means of operating aircraft routes within New South Wales or within any other State. This is another reason why, if the Commonwealth intended to take over the powers and to do so by regulation rather than by enactment, there should have first been a conference between the Prime Minister and the Premiers to determine in what way there should be a route re-allocation, in what way greater economies could have been effected and in what way the people of New South Wales and the rest of Australia could best be served. To me, this should have been done before the regulations were introduced.
I would restate my case. I cannot agree with the amendment that has been moved this afternoon. On the other hand, I think that the procedures that have been adopted by the Commonwealth have been fair and equitable, that they have shown no undue preference for Ansett Transport Industries Ltd. but that it would have been far preferable for the Commonwealth to have acted after consultation between the Prime Minister and the Premiers. If such a conference had been held and the regulations then introduced, much of the adverse criticism that has presently been aroused would have been silenced. Let me finally assure Opposition members, who seem to think that I am not prepared to support the case of East-West Airlines, that I believe that the impartiality of the Department of Civil Aviation and the Commonwealth Government will ensure that there will be an equitable distribution of airline routes within New South Wales and that whatever the final arbitral body is, whether it be the Commonwealth or the State, the Department of Civil Aviation will ensure the continued viable existence of this decentralised airline that operates in northern New South Wales.
.- What would the attitude of the honorable member for New England (Mr. Sinclair) have been if the Menzies Government had introduced this legislation by enactment instead of by regulation? What would his attitude have been if the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) had waited for a conference with the Premiers and there had been a disagreement between the Prime Minister and the Premiers? All that emerges from his speech this afternoon is that he would not have agreed with his predecessor, the Honorable David Drummond, on the desirable extent of Commonwealth powers and that he does not agree with his State colleagues in the Country Party, the honorable members for Tamworth and Armidale, on the desirable use of State powers.
The honorable member has touched on two significant matters of procedure. He said that this big change in legislation should have been made by act instead of by regulation. Of course, the Prime Minister could not wait to do this because he had to act quickly in the interests of his backers. Again, this is why the Prime Minister could not wait for another conference with the Premiers, because the Premiers’ Conference had concluded before the Privy Council refused leave to appeal from the High Court and matters became urgent. The Prime Minister has dishonoured undertakings both to the Parliament concerning this legislation in the form of regulations or in any other form and to the Premiers. Let me recall to honorable members that on 20th August he said that, as soon as he had the approval of all the Premiers to publish his air navigation proposals, he would table them in the House and permit a debate upon them. Five days later, he tabled the proposals and said he would provide an early opportunity to discuss them after the Budget debate. We have now begun that discussion, but not until almost a fortnight after the regulations were brought in. They were promulgated the day after the Parliament rose for the last recess of one week.
The Prime Minister, in his recent letter to the Premiers, stated - in regard to intrastate air transport coordination, the Commonwealth would propose to act only after consultation with the State transport authorities.
His Minister brought in the regulations and then issued licences, without any consultation with the Premiers and before the Prime Minister received the replies of the Premiers concerned. The Prime Minister had no consultation at all with them. He broke his promises to the Premiers as well as to the Parliament.
These, it may be, are matters of procedure, even if they are the only significant matters on which the honorable member for New England is prepared to commit himself. Everybody else in this House, on both sides, agrees, I understand, that the Commonwealth should regulate all air navigation within Australian territory. The difference between those on opposite sides of the chamber is about whether the Commonwealth should so exercise its powers as to give Ansett Transport Industries Limited the same preferential treatment in all intrastate aviation as it has received in all other fields. There is nothing sacrosanct about the name “Ansett Transport Industries Limited “ and nothing indecent in mentioning it. That name appears in four or five acts of this Parliament. The company which bears it is one of the few companies whose rights are enshrined in Federal statutes.
It is significant that the present honorable member for New England is even wary about mentioning the name of EastWest Airlines Ltd. There were no such hesitancy and no such timidity on the part of his predecessor, who forthrightly stood for the Commonwealth’s obligations in air navigation throughout Australian territory and also for the rights of the company centred on his electorate. The preceding representative of that electorate, for his pains and for the fact that he stood up here and disclosed the pressure brought to bear on East-West Airlines by the previous Minister for Civil Aviation, was rubbished by the Prime Minister and disowned by all his colleagues. They turned their backs on him. But, as the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) said this morning, we knew that the honesty and integrity of the former member for New England were beyond challenge and that he stood for what he knew to be the truth and what he thought was the proper course.
Let me now pass from the attitude of the Australian Country Party which is split into four sections on this matter. These are, first, the Country Party members in the Federal Parliament, except for the honorable member for New England; secondly, that honorable member; thirdly, the members of the Country Party in the New South Wales Legislative Assembly apart from the members for Tamworth and Armidale; and, fourthly, those two members. Let us turn to the Liberals, who exhibit a frightening unanimity on this subject. They believe in State rights when those rights can be manipulated by Liberal backers, as they have been in respect of intrastate air navigation in Victoria, Western Australia and South Australia, where Ansett companies have a monopoly. Liberals will override State rights when those rights cannot be manipulated by Liberal backers, as in New South Wales. State rights are never as important to Liberals as the rights of individuals, especially if the individual concerned happens to be Mr. Ansett.
The Prime Minister has spoken often about outside control of the political parties represented in this Parliament. Every action and every word of his in relation to air navigation show how his Party is manipulated by Mr. Ansett. The right honorable gentleman often seeks to give the impression that his Party represents the whole community. He speaks of a property owning democracy and free enterprise. Suddenly, however, when the vital property interests of his friends are at stake, the mask drops and we see starkly what and whom the Liberal Party of Australia represents. The leopard cannot change its spots, much as it likes to mask them. The Government puts party and property interests before national interests. It does so on such a large scale as sometimes to make it difficult for ordinary people to grasp what is involved. The Government works on the principle of the big lie: Do anything on a big enough scale and you will get away with it. The Government has got away with it every year for the last seven years with respect to the interests of Ansett Transport Industries Limited.
I have mentioned the remarks made by the honorable member for New England. Perhaps I should now mention some of the points made by the Minister for National Development (Mr. Fairbairn) who in this chamber represents the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Henty). First, he allowed himself one very small disparagement of East-West Airlines. He said that the average number of passengers carried by this airline to and from Albury in its DC3 aircraft daily was three. In fact, the number is 10, as it has been throughout this year. The Minister made a comparison with the service to Albury operated by Trans-Australia Airlines in lieu of its former service to Corowa. T.A.A. operated to Corowa twice a week. It provides a service to Albury every day. This is a matter of fact which we can test. The Minister was in error. He said also that Mr. Borthwick had been charged with the task of deciding which routes within New South Wales were to be re-allocated to achieve an equal share between East-West Airlines and Airlines of New South Wales Pty. Ltd. The Minister stated that the sensible thing to do would be to discuss the routes and not the shares. How far would one get with such a discussion with a representative of Ansett Transport Industries? Clearly, the shares should first be determined and then one has to determine what allocation of routes will provide those shares. That is what the Commonwealth has done in interstate civil aviation. The New South Wales Government has purported to do within the boundaries of the State exactly what the Commonwealth claims should be done with services between the States. There is a lot of speculation about how Labour would exercise air navigation powers. For three years in New South Wales a Labour Government has been trying to bring about an equal share of routes within the State, just as there is an equal share of services between States.
The Minister for National Development slated that the Commonwealth should have been consulted about the re-allocation of services within New South Wales. When Mr. Borthwick began his investigations, the State Government asked for experts from the Commonwealth Department of Civil Aviation to be made available to advise and assist him. These were the circumstances in which the letter from the Prime Minister to the New South Wales Premier, which was mentioned by the honorable member for Phillip (Mr. Aston), was sent. The request was made by the Premier and rejected by the Prime Minister. So, three years ago, the Commonwealth was asked to advise on intrastate air routes in New South Wales, but it boycotted the proposed conference. In those circumstances, why should the Commonwealth assume that the determination made was a false one? The Commonwealth now proposes to complete its review of New South Wales intrastate routes by the end of next January. But why should it meastime displace the determination made by the arbitrator whose deliberations it boycotted?
The three years’ delay has meant that East- West Airlines has lost £1.5 million in revenue and £150,000 in profit. The Minister for National Development now suggests that it should enter into litigation again. How is the viability of this airline to be established if, once again, it is to become involved in litigation extending over three years? This was the time for which the litigation in the last case was protracted by the Commonwealth’s dilatoriness and tardiness. That litigation came to finality only when the State Government asked the High Court of Australia to direct the Commonwealth to speed up its pleadings. Will this company’s viability be assisted by depriving it again of £1.5 million in income and £150,000 in profit? Is this the best contribution that the Minister ls able to make to the solution of this problem?
The Commonwealth Government’s motives in this matter are shown very clearly by its timetable. The last referendum on this subject alone was defeated in 1937, when the Prime Minister, the Deputy Prime Minister (Mr. McEwen) and the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) all were members of this Parliament. They showed no interest in the subject over the next 27 years. The Convention on International
Civil Aviation, which is shortly known as the Chicago Convention, and which is being fully applied now, came into force in 1944. The three right honorable gentlemen took no interest in its terms for the next 20 years. They ignored this Convention on civil aviation, just as they have ignored about a dozen maritime conventions, SO conventions of the International Labour Organisation and a great number of other international conventions. This Convention was a dead letter as far as they were concerned until Ansett’s application to the Privy Council was rejected. Then, within 24 days, the Prime Minister writes to all the Premiers. He announces that he will consult with them. He does say, when Sir Thomas Playford discloses that a letter has been written to the Premiers, that he will have a debate here. But he cannot wait for a debate. He cannot wait for the consultation with the Premiers. There is a special meeting of the Executive Council, the regulations are gazetted and the licences are issued - all before the new arrangements in New South Wales can come into effect.
Let me say something more about the court proceedings. After all, it was Mr. Ansett’s company that went to the High Court, just as Australian National Airways Pty. Ltd. went to the High Court when Trans-Australia Airlines was to be established. Complaints have been made ever since because the High Court said: “T.A.A. cannot have a monopoly of interstate trade, but it cannot be excluded from interstate trade.” On this occasion the Court has held that the State Government, under the law as it stands, can regulate intrastate trade. When the Ansett companies lose in the courts they come along and ask their friends in the Comonwealth Government to change the rules, to alter the legislation.
All the defects which have been said to exist in the present system - duplication, inefficiency and expense - have all existed presumably for years. The only new factor is that Ansett has lost another case, and that is why the law is being changed. This change was threatened by him and by the Commonwealth Government last April, after the High Court judgment when all counsel involved in the case before the
High Court, including counsel for the two parties I have mentioned, signed undertakings which applied to proceedings taken under the law as it existed at the time of the suit, 1961. That is, at that time Ansett already knew that the Commonwealth would alter the laws in the light of the High Court decision if the appeal to the Privy Council failed. The Commonwealth Government had told Ansett at that time that if his appeal to the Privy Council failed it would alter the law.
The issue in this case is not the power but the exercise of it. The Liberals believe in a two airline policy between States and a one airline policy within each State.
– They split their ethics.
– Well, they are up for sale to the highest bidder. They ensure that there will be a monopoly within each State - a Government-guaranteed monopoly for Ansett Transport Industries Ltd. - by refusing to allow T.A.A. to operate flights which commence and end in any one State, and by refusing any other potential operator, such as the dispossessed Mr. Butler, all means of setting up a competitive service. When Mr. Butler asked for currency to import Caravelle aircraft the Menzies Government said: “No, we will not let you import them.” Again when he said: “ Let me have hangars at the various aerodromes so that I can use charter planes which are already in Australia “. the Commonwealth said: “ No, you cannot have them “. It is by these methods that the Government has ensured that there is a monopoly in intrastate air navigation in the hands of Ansett, except in New South Wales. It was not concerned when Ansett took over Butler and tried to take over East-West; in fact it abetted him. It is only concerned when Ansett has to make do with an equal share in New South Wales.
What is it about East-West Airlines Ltd. that irritates the Government and Ansett? It is the fact that it is the only surviving competitor other than T.A.A. It is because it is the only source of on-carriage for T.A.A. It is because it operates under the only mainland State Government that the Commonwealth Government cannot domin ate. The principle is that what T.A.A. has it must share; what Ansett has or can acquire he must have for himself. I heard interjections earlier today about robbing Ansett. Nobody in the Government parties complained when T.A.A. was robbed of £400,000 in fuel tax which it alone was obliged to pay until Ansett acquired Viscount aircraft under an agreement of which Australian National Airways Pty. Ltd. had refused to avail itself. Nobody in the Government parties complained when T.A.A. lost £400,000 while waiting for the Electras it was compelled to order. There was no cross chartering of Electras at that time, as there was no tossing of a coin to ensure that the Electras were equally shared from the beginning. Nobody in the Government parties complains yet at the fact that T.A.A. loses £300,000 a year because it has had to share the Darwin route. And, of course, 1 have already pointed out the amount that East-West Airlines Ltd. has lost in three years of litigation.
My leader cited a series of preferences granted to Ansett over T.A.A. It will be remembered that T.A.A. has been refused the rights that Mr. Hawke of Western Australia and Sir Thomas Playford of South Australia asked that it should have within their States. On 31st March 1960, Senator Paltridge said -
Having regard to the fact that T.A.A. enjoys a monopoly of the service to Darwin, it is not considered that T.A.A. suffers any competitive disadvantage by not being able to trade intrastate in four of the Australian States.
Two years later, however, T.A.A. was forced to give up half of its Darwin operations. It is robbery if the Ansett organisation is compelled to give up some of its routes in New South Wales; it is perfectly legitimate if T.A.A. is forced to give up half its Darwin operations. When T.A.A. wanted to appeal from this decision to the body set up by Parliament for such a purpose, Senator Paltridge intimidated the members of the administering body of T.A.A. and forbade them to prosecute the appeal. Since then T.A.A. has been refused leave to share the new Darwin-Perth route. It has been refused leave to land its aircraft at Wagga or Cooma in the course of interstate trade.
It might not be inappropriate to mention the latest preference shown in connection with television licences. Honorable members will remember that Ansett applied for the third TV licence in Brisbane and was refused on the recommendation of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board. What does he do then? He buys up the shares in the successful company. The PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Hulme) then says he will alter the law and the harassed AttorneyGeneral (Mr. Snedden) says he will alter the proposed law on restrictive trade practices. But the Cabinet says: “ No, lay off “. It overrules its own Ministers in and out of the Cabinet.
This is all part of a pattern. East-West Airlines Ltd. was refused a permit to import a Friendship aircraft to improve its services. It was refused a Government guarantee so that it could get a lower interest rate on its loans, although Ansett had been given this concession. Only now is East-West Airlines Ltd. able to buy a new Friendship. The Government’s motives in this matter are as obvious at its methods are devious. Arrangements which had the approval of the electors of New South Wales and are supported by judgments of the High Court have been cancelled. Undertakings to this Parliament have been disowned. Electors, judges, parliamentarians carry less weight with the Prime Minister and his Cabinet than does the most powerful of his backers, Mr. Ansett.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- When the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) was speaking earlier this afternoon he quite recklessly, I think, said that the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) had broken promises. I deny that immediately. The Prime Minister has not broken any promises given within the Parliament or outside it, and I think I shall be able to demonstrate this as I proceed. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition twitted the Government with the statement that the Interests of the Ansett airline are, to use his words, enshrined in several statutes of the Parliament. This is true, if “ enshrined “ is the correct word - and I do not challenge it - but it is worthwhile remembering why this is so. The explanation is, of course, quite simple. In the early days of the establishment of Trans-Australia Airlines by a Labour Government it was made quite clear that the Government proposed not merely to run an airline but to run Australian National Airways Pty. Ltd. out of the sky. As we believed in free enterprise and in a Government airline and a private airline operating together we recognised that it would be unbusinesslike to expect the heavy investment of millions of pounds in a major private airline if the circumstance existed that as soon as a change of Government came about Labour policies would operate to destroy the economic viability of the private airline. So the procedure was brought into the Parliament quite openly to establish the rights of this other great airline - the private airline - irrespective of what government was in office. There is nothing to run away from in that. That is quite simply stated and that was the reason.
It is rather anomalous that against the background of that rather extreme action that this Government felt impelled to take to protect the interests of a private airline, the situation should be such today that spokesmen from the Opposition side are standing as the champions of East-West Airlines Ltd., another private airline. I cannot explain this attitude, and I do not think Opposition members themselves have explained it. But I wanted to deal with those two points ana* then turn to the main subject, because what we are discussing is not history; we are discussing the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell).
The Leader of the Opposition refers in his amendment to the Government’s misuse of its new legislation in giving preferential treatment to Ansett. The fact is that up to the present time the Commonwealth has not used its new regulatory power other than to maintain the status quo, but it has intimated that it proposes to use its power to rationalise services to the advantage of the operators and of the community. The Government has stated this publicly and has so advised the Government of New South Wales and both the operators. Just taking the objective facts: The Government has not used its new power under the regulations in a preferential manner in favour of Ansett. It has not used it at all other than, for the time being pending negotiations, to preserve the status quo. On that ground alone the amendment should be defeated, because in fact its assertion is incorrect. To ask the House to vote on that would be to ignore the issues that have been introduced into this debate. I do not intend to follow this course.
Confusion has been introduced. The side issues and the main issues have got completely out of focus. As is normal in a democratic parliament, the issues of substance have become not only confused but have been over-ridden by the issues of politics. Let us look at the sequence of events that led up to the present situation. It was in 1961 that the then Government of New South Wales moved to rationalise, as it called it, the air services in that State and appointed the Borthwick Commission, not to advise the Government on what might be a fair division between competing airlines but with a charter in these terms: Tell us the best way, in your opinion, to give 51 per cent of the routes to Ansett, who previously had 70 per cent., and to give 49 per cent, of the routes to EastWest Airlines, which previously had 30 per cent. That was not really rationalisation; it was a most autocratic and arbitrary decision, and how the routes were to be allocated was quite a subsidiary matter to this quite arbitrary and autocratic prior decision on the economics of so-called rationalisation.
When the Government of New South Wales took that step in 1961 it, according to everyone’s comprehension of the law at that time, had the power to do so. No one disputes that it had the power - but it had power without responsibility. The Commonwealth, on the other hand, has carried all the responsibility in this regard. It has accepted what I might call the political and general economic responsibility of initiating and sustaining civil aviation in Australia. lt has found the immense capital needed for the construction of aerodromes and all the other apparatus that goes with it, in cluding meteorological services and radio beacons. The Commonwealth has found not only the capital for its own TransAustralia Airlines but has found a great deal of the capital for private airlines other than Ansett. It has found this capital and has done all these things without having any power really to apply, at the critical point where power might be exercised, its influences to have rational air services. What really happened was that when the Heffron Government of New South Wales in 1961 set out on this course the Prime Minister wrote to Mr. Heffron. Time does not permit me to read out long letters, but the Prime Minister said in effect to the Labour Premier in 1961: “These issues that you are proposing to deal with deserve discussion between us before licences are issued “. So the first initiative was taken by the Commonwealth through the present Prime Minister to seek consultation with the States.
The Government has never departed from its desire and willingness to consult with the Government of New South Wales or with the operators. It may be asked why those discussions did not proceed immediately. The explanation is that because of a legal challenge in a court case things were held over until the case had been decided. That was the state of affairs until 1964 when the law case which the Ansett interests had initiated failed. Then the State of New South Wales, without seeking to take up the Prime Minister’s offer for consultation, moved ahead to pass the legislation giving effect to the Borthwick recommendations. However, by that time, although Ansett had lost the court case, the law on the matter had been stated by the Chief Justice and at least also by Mr. Justice Windeyer in the High Court. The Chief Justice, Sir Owen Dixon, said that for reasons which he enumerated Commonwealth authority “ would suffice to support laws made with a complete disregard of the distinction between interstate and intrastate trade “. Mr. Justice Windeyer said in his reasons that it would suffice, in his view, “to bring the matter within the legislative power of the National Parliament”. So here we had a completely new situation, one in which the Commonwealth was no longer in a position where it assumed responsibility without having power. It retained its responsibility and the High Court told it that it did have power.
The Commonwealth, pursuant to its policy, which had never been secret but had been clearly stated, then intimated its intention to act in accordance with this newly recognised power. The Prime Minister said in his letter to the Premiers that the Commonwealth would institute a Commonwealth system of air transport coordination. In the same letter he said that the Commonwealth would do this after consultation with State transport authorities. So from 1961 to 1964- right through to the key point - the Commonwealth assumed responsibility when it did not think it had the power, and when it found that it did have power it continued to accept its responsibility and show that it was willing at all times to consult with governments and State transport authorities. It set out the objectives which would guide the Commonwealth in the exercise of its power or would guide the Commonwealth in pursuance of its negotiations with State authorities. The objectives were quite clear: To ensure the unified and co-ordinated regulation of air safety in all fields of air navigation, including international, interstate, intrastate and Territorial operations and operations of Commonwealth aircraft including military aircraft; the orderly development of civil aviation and associated facilities with due regard to national priorities, the coordination of large and difficult financial, technical and operational programmes; the planned expenditure of Commonwealth moneys on the growth of developmental and rural services; the regulation of competitive and non-competitive routes to achieve maximum use of resources, including aircraft utilisation. Those are the Commonwealth’s objectives. Nobody has sought to challenge them as wrong objectives. As long ago as three years the Commonwealth sought consultation with the Premier of New South Wales, and again recently through the present Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Henty) and his officers.
What has the Commonwealth done thus far, because the amendment deals with the present situation? Thus far the Commonwealth has preserved the status quo. It has not given any preference to Ansett in this matter. There is no question of misuse of legislation. The reasons that motivate the Commonwealth in this matter are reasons that are comprehended and which nobody has challenged. I suppose vested interests always will have different views about any arrangement of rationalisation, but we have not yet reached that stage. To date the Government has preserved the status quo.
To make the position clear, when the Government does act under the regulations it will do what it has already announced it will do. It will produce a fair rationalisation of air services, first in New South Wales and thereafter wherever rationalisation may be necessary or desirable. I make it quite clear that the Government does not approve of expropriation of assets. So the Ansett interests will not be disregarded in the rationalisation of airlines. This is in contrast to the attitude of the New South Wales Government which seems bent on disregarding the interests of a great enterprise. The Government aims to improve the economic viability of East-West Airlines. Let me make that perfectly clear. Through the agencies of the Department of Civil Aviation and perhaps our law authorities, in consultation with the airline operators and in consultation with the authorities in New South Wales to the extent that they are willing to consult on the exercise of the Commonwealth’s authority in this matter, we will be looking for a rational and fair allocation of routes - an allocation which, I am sure, may be expected to give economic benefits and perhaps add something to the mileage of East-West Airlines. Any allocation of routes will give both companies something which they do not possess at present - security of tenure of their routes. It is all very well to argue that one company should have this route and the other company should have that route; but the fundamental need where large investments are involved is proper security of tenure of the routes operated by a company. This is the great good that the Commonwealth can do. Only where there is an economically viable company, fair rationalisation of air routes and security of tenure of air routes can there be security in respect of subsidy arrangements on which an airline may depend to some extent. I see nothing but fair treatment for Ansett in the Government’s proposal. Similarly I see nothing but good for East-West Airlines in the proposal.
The Commonwealth is heavily committed financially in civil aviation - in the provision of services for aerodromes, the provision of safety devices and the subsidising of airline companies - and in all these matters the interests of the taxpayer must be protected. Safeguards must be taken to see that a subsidy is not recklessly allotted to an airline operator. If the provision of a subsidy may be avoided by rationalisation of routes, then in the interests of the taxpayer it should be avoided; but if in the interests of the community an air service which is not selfsustaining is desirable, it is our policy to subsidise that service and to ensure that those who operate the service know that the subsidy will continue to be available. So here we take into account not merely the interests of the airline operators but also the interests of the Australian taxpayer and of the travelling public. I am sure that the Government is following the correct and legal course towards this end.
Consistent with its overall and continuing policies the Government does not want to act ruthlessly. At all times it wants to consult the interested parties, be they State Governments, manufacturers, commercial interests, farmers or airline operators. The Government’s constant endeavour is to consult and, wherever possible, to reach a decision by agreement. Above all, we want stability in civil aviation. Hardly less importantly, we want to get politics out of civil aviation.
– When I spoke earlier in the debate I said that when East-West Airlines Ltd. operated from Albury with DC3 aircraft it carried an average of three passengers a day. I intended to say that this was the average number carried daily during July last. I must thank the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) for directing my attention to my error. I trust that the House will accept my assurance that I intended to say that the daily average of three passengers was carried during the month of July.
Question put -
That the words proprosed to be added (Mr. Calwell’s amendment) be so added.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Sir John McLeay.)
Majority . . . . 18
Question so resolved in the negative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Consideration resumed from 14th October (vide page 1949).
Department of Territories.
Proposed expenditure, £827,000.
Proposed expenditure, £100.
Cocos (Keeling) Islands.
Proposed expenditure, £63,500.
Proposed expenditure, £38,400.
Proposed expenditure, £18,888,700.
Papua and New Guinea.
Proposed expenditure, £28,496,000.
.- I move -
That the proposed expenditure for the Department of Territories be reduced by £1.
As an instruction to the Government -
To clarify its wages policy for Aborigines of the Northern Territory; in particular -
The administration of the Department of Territories is becoming an ideological menace to the security of Australia. This is why the Labour Party is moving this motion at the present time. When I was in Papua-New Guinea in 1962 it was a matter of pride on the part of the Administration that to public servants of PapuaNew Guinea the same salaries were paid, regardless of race, for equal qualifications, with one proviso, that there was, of course, an additional allowance to expatriate officers because of the disability involved in living overseas from their homeland. This was a perfectly defensible differentiation, but in the salaries position there was a basic recognition of the equality of human beings.
Now, at a stage when the Government is claiming that it is removing from the statutes of Australia everything savouring of race discrimination, we take a step backwards in the direction of race discrimination. The Government’s argument defending this would be more impressive if the House of Assembly in the Territory had had the whole question referred to it and if the initial steps had not been taken in a dying Legislative Council. It would also be more impressive if the Government were as strongly seised of the need for the establishment of a university as a preparation for independence as it is seised of the need to cut salaries as a preparation for independence.
We are concerned also at the renewal of unrest in the forces of law and order in Papua-New Guinea. We believe that all these things are related questions. First, we complain of the Government’s complete ideological stupidity when, in a world of rising race tension, it comes out with a straight proposal to cut the salaries of people on the ground of race. Secondly, we are impressed with the constitutional impropriety of the Government’s action - that it started this action in the Legislative Council of Papua-New Guinea when that body was in the process of dissolution and disappearance. Thirdly, we are impressed by the Government’s political folly in not having this matter raised and thoroughly discussed in the House of Assembly itself in a real process of consultation with the people of Papua-New Guinea. Every sign that is coming from Papua-New Guinea seems to be that this Administration is developing a Midas touch of failure.
When I was in Papua-New Guinea two years ago the then district officer at Lae - the authority at Lae who has now gone into the new House of Assembly and who is one of its most distinguished officers - Mr. Niall, spoke to me about the unrest in the police force at Lae, but he indicated that the unrest was general. He said: First and foremost there is a small grievance. Members of the police force regard themselves as dressed out in a uniform which has no dignity. Secondly, they resent the fact that an officer can be brought up from the South - meaning from Australia - paid a very high salary, put in authority, undertake none of the unpleasant police duties at all, and be given very good living quarters whilst they are struggling year after year to try to get the Government to provide some sort of decent quarters for the indigenous police. Finally, there are their complaints about their inadequate wages.
This police force in Papua-New Guinea had to take action against the Pacific Islands Regiment when the latter was dissatisfied about its pay, conditions and quarters. Two years after Niall indicated this unrest among the police in Lae we had a police mutiny in Rabaul, on exactly every one of the grounds that Niall had mentioned to me two years before. This shows that the causes of unrest were thoroughly well known to the Administration, which was still dragging its feet about rectifying them.
The Pacific Islands Regiment and the Royal Papuan Constabulary are the forces of law and order, and if they are in a state of unrest and discontent it argues a serious failure on the part of the Administration. There is a considerable gravity about these things at a time when right alongside our Territory we have Indonesia establishing radio stations and developing programmes in English which are completely and solely designed to speak to the English speaking natives of Australian Papua-New Guinea, precisely because, in general, the Englishspeaking natives of Australian Papua-New Guinea are the intellectual leadership of the country.
Perhaps we could be persuaded that the Government is concerned about the future independent Papua-New Guinea being unable to pay these salaries if, with this fearful prospect before it, the Government had not decided that there was no particular . hurry about establishing a university in Papua-New Guinea, in spite of the recommendations of the Currie Commission which investigated this matter. If you say that you are concerned about the coming problems of Papua-New Guinea to the extent of cutting salaries, why are . you not concerned about the coming problems of Papua-New Guinea to the extent of establishing a university to train the leadership of independent Papua-New Guinea? You cannot have these two arguments co-existing - that there is no hurry about establishing a university while falling over yourselves to cut the salaries of native public servants. This clumsy approach led one of the most pro-European natives of the Territory, Lepani Watson, a member of the House of Assembly, to say that the entire educated youth of Papua-New Guinea has lost confidence in the Department of Territories and the Administration.
I believe, and it is an honest conviction on my part, that the Department of Territories as it is now run is becoming a menace to Australia on all of these race issues, and the menace is not merely in Papua-New Guinea but is also in the situation in the Northern Territory. The Leader of the Labour Party (Mr. Calwell) today received a letter from a distinguished Catholic clergyman drawing attention to what we have in other ways drawn the Minister’s attention to before - the high infant mortality. In the three and a half years this clergyman has been parish priest in the Alice Springs district 500 Aboriginal infants have been buried in the Alice Springs cemetery. We mentioned to the Minister that in one year there was an Aboriginal infant mortality rate of 200 per 1,000 in Papunya compared to a European infant mortality rate for Australia of 17.86. Everybody knows that if 500 European infants in that period had died in the Alice Springs area the Government would have been turning handsprings to solve this basic scourge. We Australians make these mealy mouthed meaningless statements for international consumption; we say that all Aborigines are Australian citizens within the meaning of the Nationality and Citizenship Act 1948-1960. This is a statement which happens to to mean exactly nothing, but it sounds good abroad, because people might think there are citizenship guarantees in our constitution the same as there are in the American constitution. Despite these fine words we never react as though what happens to our Aboriginal natives matters. We do not, and the Department of Territories does not, react in the same way to what happens to them - although they are supposed to be equal citizens - as everybody here knows we would react in the case of European infant mortality at the rate I have mentioned.
I am not making any criticisms of the Alice Springs hospital. The infant mortality rate is not usually a question of hospitalisation. The United Nations takes it as a test of the living conditions - the unhygienic living conditions - under which people live. Aborigines in the nomadic state are not normally living under hygienic conditions. It is this persistent failure of the Department of the Territories and the Government - the illprepared concentration of population - which leads to these scourges of gastroenteritis and this exceptionally high infant mortality rate. It is not good enough in 1964 for a Commonwealth Government to act on the assumption, as in fact the Commonwealth Government does act on the assumption, to judge by its actions and not by its words, that a serious death rate among Aborigines is not to be regarded as we would regard a serious death rate among Europeans.
It would also be very much more impressive to hear the Government arguing for lower wages for the natives of Papua and New Guinea on the ground that this is necessary preliminary to giving them independence in the future, and to help the State of Papua and New Guinea to develop a viable economy in the future, if it were not for the fact that there is a very unsatisfactory approach on the part of the Commonwealth Government to the wages of its Aboriginal employees in the Northern Territory. The Government is not envisaging the coming independence of the Northern Territory. Aborigines of the Northern Territory have in general a low wage rate and there is a very slow process of transforming the wage rate in the direction of equality. I recognise that in the terms of the censure we have put there is not, in a quarter of an hour, sufficient time to argue all the points. But these nine points are the opinion of the Australian Labour Party. We believe that they are nine grounds on which the Department of Territories is disastrously failing Australia, and the Minister is failing Australia. We believe that absolutely every one of these points, including the ratification of the International Labour Organisation convention, is an urgent question. We believe that every one of them is a test case for Australia. They are a test that determines whether we aTe, in fact, a white supremacist country or whether we are capable of being concerned about all Australian citizens regardless of race.
– I did propose to discuss some of the points raised in the censure motion by the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) but I have consulted the Minister for Territories (Mr. Barnes) who feels that he is more directly informed on them and so, by arrangement, he intends to cover them. There is, however, one general point I would like to make in regard to Papua and New Guinea. I think we would be doing the future people of Papua and New Guinea a very bad disservice if we were to train them according to principles that have been observed in some parts of West Africa where some people are adopting a most extravagant method of living.
We have seen cases of them squandering money, in many cases for their own personal benefit on consumer goods, and in other ways setting an extraordinarily bad example. I agree basically with the point the honorable member has raised, that it is difficult to push this argument correctly and in a logical way to the person on the receiving end of its effects. I can quite understand that that type of thing does create a difficulty. But at the same time, by avoiding the difficulty, as is the suggestion in the tenor of the remarks of the honorable member, are we going to do these people, in the long run, a real service or a great disservice? I think that is the crucial point we have to face up to. While I accept the points that the honorable member has made, I think that the attitude of the Government on this matter is, unfortunately, the only correct one and, unpalatable as it may be, I agree that in the long term view it will be proved correct.
However, I do not propose to go into this matter because I want to say something about Nauru. Unfortunately, I have not had the opportunity of visiting Nauru. Opportunities of that nature are pretty limited. But I do believe that the problem of Nauru is of far greater significance to our primary industry than people realise. The condition of Australia’s present relations with the tiny population of the trust island of Nauru has not been eased by the recent visit of Chief Hammer de Roburt and the other members of the party which came to inspect Curtis Island and Fraser Island and also to consult with the Government on the future of the Nauruans.
The problem of the re-settlement of the Nauruans, approximately 2,700 in number, is a responsibility that has been undertaken by Australia on behalf of the administering powers, the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Australia. With the wholesale reduction in the number of trust territories in the last four or five years, the concentration of supervision of the Trusteeship Council of the United Nations has been directed on those territories remaining, including Nauru. It is obvious that the problem of Nauru’s future has become one of the main subjects remaining for discussion by that body. Although it might seem fantastic to most people, that such a small population should aim and be encouraged by an official world body, to seek governmental independence, this is certainly what is very shortly to be forced on the administering powers. Whether we like it or not and whether we think that it is a good thing or not, it is obviously going to be the trend in the very near future.
The significance of Nauru to Australia’s economy, through its only product, phosphatic rock, cannot be exaggerated. The deposit at Nauru is one of the finest single deposits of this nature in the world and at the present time it forms the main source of the rock which is the basis of the Australian phosphate fertiliser industry. Honorable members know that the whole of the rainfall area of our primary industry depends very largely on the availability of phosphatic rock at economic prices to the fertiliser industry. Again, it is impossible to over-emphasise the vital part that superphosphate types of fertiliser have played, and continue to play, in our economy generally, not only for pastoral purposes but also for our farming industry, for the growing of wheat and other cereal crops. Our main farming industries - grain growing, dairying and many lesser forms of production, as well as the production of meat and wool - depend very largely today on the availability of superphosphate at economic prices and the Government has recognised this problem in the rainfall and higher cost areas of Australia by introducing the recent subsidy on superphosphate.
I believe it is very necessary that we should try to understand the psychology of the Nauruan people and their attitude towards being moved to some other place when the present deposit of phosphatic rock is exhausted. If the present intentions of the British Phosphate Commissioners, who extract the rock from the island and finance the whole social structure there, are carried out of raising the rate of extraction to about 2.5 million tons a year, the life of the deposit will be about 23 to 25 years or until about 1987 or 1989.
It is understandable that the Nauruans have a real difficulty in making up their minds on a move when some consideration is given to the income and amenities provided for them by the British Phosphate
Commissioners. In royalties, surface rights and other payments to the community and the land owners, at the present extraction rate, an average income of over £2,000 per annum is available for each of the 500 families on the island, and this makes this small population amongst the three or four richest communities in the world. Total payments to the islanders for 1963-64 were in the vicinity of £1.2 million and that figure did not include salaries and wages of about £98,000 paid to those Nauruans employed by the commission. This is an extraordinary situation. This population is, as I say, amongst the three or four richest communities in the world. This island is very isolated and before the phosphatic deposits were discovered the people subsisted on a very low standard of living common to most of the small Pacific islands. There was practically no opportunity to trade and as the requirements of the few hundred people were not great they were easily satisfied by tropical fruit, a little tropical farming and a little fishing. Since World War I the standard of living has improved out of all knowledge as a result of the activities of the British Phosphate Commissioners and the Australian Government. Those activities have brought about a continuing increase in population. Even without the phosphate extraction which has reduced the availability of land on the small island, the little cultivated area that is available will be completely inadequate to supply the needs of the growing population. That also indicates the future need for another home to support the estimated increase in population.
In addition to the cash payments made directly to the people and to the individual land owners which, as I mentioned, create a very high standard of living, there are other benefits which I have not mentioned. For instance, the people have provided for them free of charge splendid health and education services. Incidentally, there arc no taxes. They also have extremely good housing. For instance, the latest type of house being built by the Commissioners costs in the vicinity of £A.4,000, is paid for by the Commissioners and is let to the local people at a rental of approximately 10s. a week. That also represents a tremendous subsidy.
It is well for the people to balance all of these matters in coming to a conclusion by analysing their situation, and to appreciate the tremendous contribution that the Commissioners are making to their wellbeing. Furthermore, we members of this Parliament, as people who have some say in this matter, must appreciate the attitude of mind that such an elysian type of existence must create. We will then understand more clearly the difficulty that they face - particularly the older people - in making up their minds on whether to take this step of leaving the island, on which they have lived very happily and under delightful conditions, in the event of the island becoming completely uninhabitable.
However, I was distressed as I think many other people were, by the parting remarks attributed to their chief. They were probably induced by some smart pressman. I refer to the chief’s reference to Australians being bullies in their negotiations with the Nauruans. I believe that on due consideration he will realise that his remarks were far from the truth and that in fact the British Phosphate Commissioners, with the support of the Australian Government and people, have provided the Nauruans with an existence which is hardly equalled anywhere else in the world.
One other point that we must remember is that, in support of the idea of the Nauruans remaining on the island after the deposits have been worked out, certain proposals have been canvassed. One involves remaking the island, by taking soil from the Australian mainland in ships. That would involve a haul of about 2,000 miles. Apart from the fact that the rainfall is extremely fickle, the remaining structure of the island will be very porous. Those two physical factors in the cultivation on any large scale of an island remade by the introduction of soil are scarcely diminished by the economic and mechanical difficulties in the way of implementing the proposition. For instance, the cost of taking soil to Nauru would make the land the highest priced land in the world. It would be quite uneconomic in any sense.
The other point is that because of the extremely bad anchorage - in fact, there is no harbour at all and all the loading is done by cantilevered mechanical devices which go direct from the land on to the ship - it would be almost impossible to reverse the process ip order to unload soil in any quantity. In other words, this proposal is a non-runner. I believe that that should be pointed out straightaway before the idea that it is a practical proposition begins to grow. I repeat that we must dispel that idea so that the islanders will not entertain it as something that will help them in the future.
My time is very limited. I want to raise one other point which I believe is very important, namely the future of the pastoral industry in the Alice Springs area. As you know, Mr. Temporary Chairman, for about 8 to 10 years that area has experienced one of the worst successions of droughts that have been experienced in the history of the white occupation of Australia. That must have a direct depreciative effect on the future condition of the pastoral industry in that area. I do not know what the answer is. Various possibilities exist. One is that some limitation on the stocking should be applied. But such a limitation is not always successful because you cannot ensure that the limited number of stock will spread out over the whole area. They may tend to confine themselves to a smaller area where the feed is sweeter. In that event you would not achieve any worthwhile result.
This problem has to be faced up to. Some excellent reports are available. A land survey has been made by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. Unfortunately, when that report was made the full significance of the succession of dry years had not been appreciated. This is a serious problem. It could mean that the whole of the centre of Australia could develop into a dust bowl. I believe that the best minds available in the C.S.I.R.O. and the Agriculture Branch of the Northern Territory Administration should be devoted to the study of this problem in an endeavour to come up with a satisfactory solution. I regard this as a serious matter. Those of us who have had an opportunity to see this country in a dry time will realise not only the heartbreaking effect that the drought has had on the people who are trying to make a living in the area but also the disastrous effects that it could have on the whole area contiguous to it in central Australia.
– I support the amendment moved by my colleague, the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley). I wish to confine my remarks chiefly to the estimates for the Northern Territory. The notes and tables that have been circulated by the Minister for Territories (Mr. Barnes) convey quite a bit of information on the estimates as they relate to development and other aspects of Northern Territory affairs. I was disappointed with the very small increase in the overall vote for the Territory. At this stage when the Government is asserting that we are making efforts to develop this part of Australia, the overall vote for this year represents an increase of only about £H million on the expenditure last year. That increase will only take up the slack caused by the increase in costs. It will not result in any great additional work being carried out in the Territory.
I do not believe that the developmental services are receiving the attention that they should receive. The Mines Branch is very important. In my opinion, it is the branch that will give the most value in terms of return on capital expenditure in the north. The appropriation for the Mines Branch this year represents an increase of a little more than £1,000 on last year’s expenditure. That is a shocking state of affairs, when we remember that mining could play a very important part in the development of the country. It brings in its wake large numbers of people, whom we really need. I do not think the increase in the proposed expenditure is good enough. In the Northern Territory some very important prospects are now coming under notice. I refer, for example, to the Gove Peninsula bauxite deposits. The Government is trying to interest overseas organisations in them. There has been some talk of atomic power being used to treat the bauxite on the spot. This would be a worthwhile contribution to development.
But many other aspects of mining are not receiving the attention that they should. We have vast mineral deposits at Mr Isa. We have silver and lead deposits under the control of Territory Enterprises Ply. Ltd., which is an offshoot of the Zinc Corporation. We have copper deposits in the centre which were recently discovered and are being worked by Aborigines in the area, strangely enough. Interest is being shown in these deposits by American firms and we hope that they will be developed in the near future. However, the Administration is not giving a lead and is not giving sufficient encouragement to the development of existing deposits and the discovery of further deposits. We already know that Australia contains large mineral deposits and it is reasonable to assume that other deposits must exist. But the amount allocated to the Mines Branch in the Northern Territory has been increased by only £1,000. This would not maintain the present tempo of work in the Branch; the increase in the basic wage and other rising costs would easily absorb all of this small amount.
In agriculture the amount allocated for agricultural research and development has been increased by £85,500. The two main activities of the north on which development can be based are minerals and land development, but only an additional £85,500 has been provided for agriculture. It is only recently that the Government has adopted a scheme of pilot farms, although such a scheme was recommended some years ago by the Forster Committee. The honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly) was a member of the Committee and played a prominent and energetic part. I do not know what he feels about the work he did as a member of the Committee. However, very few results aTe flowing from what was a most comprehensive, informative and useful report. The members of the Committee might just as well have stayed at home for all the attention that has been given to their report. As I say, only recently one suggestion of the Committee has been adopted and pilot farms have been established to try to determine the economics of agricultural production and mixed farming. This should have been done years ago, but we are happy that a start has been made now. We badly need to have this type of activity speeded up. Instead of three or five farms, we should at this stage be creating hundreds of farms.
I am not the only one concerned about the slowness of development in the north. I recently had sent to me a very informative leaflet distributed by the Victorian Employers Federation. It is a mid-week report produced by the Federation. The Federation cannot be said to support the Australian Labour Party. It is concerned about what it terms the vacuum in the north and in its leaflet it states -
There is a marked difference between State and Commonwealth activities in those parts of Australia most vulnerable to hostile opinions from overseas observers.
This is a very interesting point.
– Commonwealth money is being used in Queensland and Western Australia.
– That is right, the States are getting in for their cut, but the Commonwealth is badly lagging and is not pushing its own interests.
– That is right.
– It is. The Victorian Employers Federation is not a friend of the Labour Party but it is very upset about the efforts of the States to put their proposals before the new Northern Division. When the estimates for the Department of National Development were being debated recently, we were told that not one proposal had been put before the Department by the Department of Territories. The Minister for National Development (Mr. Fairbairn) told us then that not one submission had come from the Department of Territories for developmental projects to be implemented or even considered. But the States certainly have their men working and have put forward proposal after proposal. If the present trend continues, we in the Northern Territory will find that very few crumbs of the cake are left for us. The Victorian Employers Federation also said -
Finance supplied from Commonwealth coffers is not alone sufficient action for development. The Commonwealth must accelerate its own operations in its own Territory.
I heartily agree with that view. The Federation continued -
Melbourne based National Council for Balanced Development (N.C.B.D.) considers the North must be treated as a whole.
The V.E.F. agrees with this concept and seeks the support of southern interests for urgent action to create an authority and get on with the job.
The Federation is not satisfied with the Northern Division that has been created. This Division is certainly a step in the right direction, but we have always felt that this does not go far enough.
The Federation is concerned at the sorry stateofaffairsinthenorthandhasundertaken to do something about development Itself. It has applied to the Administration fora grant of land of some 100,000 acres. At one stage it was reported that the Federation was seeking some 9 million acres, but I believe the size of the area has been reduced to 100,000 acres. The Federation is willing to do some of the developmental work that should be the responsibility of the Government. It will, of course, draw heavily upon the experimental resources of the Administration and of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. I do not know of any reason why the Commonwealth Government should not take advantage of the experimental work done by these bodies and make land available to settlers in the Northern Territory at the cheapest possible rate. Obviously, when the Federation’s undertaking becomes established, it will be sold. Establishment costs will be pretty high and will have to be passed on to the buyer.
We have nothing in the nature of a soldiers’ settlement scheme in the Northern Territory. The Commonwealth Government should be planning to implement a scheme of this nature in an effort to create a stable and prosperous agricultural industry in the Northern Territory. No-one can say that this cannot be done. We have seen the results at Humpty Doo, at Katherine, Daly River and other selected areas. All that is needed is the will and some money; production would follow. The markets are available in the East for the rice and other commodities produced in the north, but they must first be grown. An agricultural industry can be established and will eventually be established, in conjunction with the fattening of beef in the northern high rainfall areas.It is true, as the honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. Mackinnon) said, that the centre is in the grip of a shocking drought. But we cannot do much about that.
Recently, a Select Committee of the Legislative Council of the Northern Territory was established to inquire into the possibility of establishing an agricultural industry. I ask the Minister for Territories to take prompt steps to implement the recommendations of this Committee when its report is placed before the
Government. I have listened to the proceedings of the Committee and have appeared before it and I am sure that it will produce a report containing many useful suggestions. But it is useless for the Committee to make a report if somebody does not act upon its recommendations. It is up to this Government to act on the select committee’s recommendations at the earliest possible time.
I believe that one of the main points that the report of the select committee will make will be that provision should be made. for long term credits. This is one of the most vital matters that the Government will have to consider. A branch of the Commonwealth Development Bank should be. established immediately in the Northern Territory so that prompt attention can be given to the needs, not only of pastoral and agricultural industries, but also of small secondary industries that have to be established there. We all know that long term credit would form the basis of any scheme of development, whatever might be its nature and whatever might be its objectives. So I ask that the Government consider earnestly the report of the select committee of the Legislative Council for the Northern Territory immediately it becomes available.
At present, the operations of the Commonwealth Development Bank in the Northern Territory are divided. In the northern part of the Territory, the Bank’s operations are administered from Brisbane. In the southern part, they are administered from Adelaide. The people of the Territory and I consider that, to ensure prompt action to meet the needs of potential borrowers, a branch of the Bank ought to be established in the Territory without delay. Every State has a branch of the Bank within its borders. Only if the Bank establishes a branch in the Territory can action be taken promptly when applications for advances are received.
In the few moments that I have left, Mr. Temporary Chairman, I want to place before the Committee a matter of great concern to the people of the Northern Territory. This is the proposed execution in Darwin of a recently convicted person. The people of the north are incensed at the thought that capital punishment will be carried out there, and they have asked me to raise the matter in this Parliament and voice their protest. They wish me to place before the Parliament their request that the sentence be commuted to imprisonment for life. While on this topic, I should like to mention another matter about which there is great concern in the Territory. We all know that in Alice Springs recently a lad of 12 was sent to gaol for misdemeanours. He was confined in a gaol because there was no other institution in the Northern Territory to which he could be committed. There is an institution in Darwin, but it is more of a receiving home, and it caters for children who are to be in custody for only short periods.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– Mr. Temporary Chairman, it is always interesting to follow the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson) in debate, for he is a man who has lived in the Territory for many years and who has varied interests there. He is always abreast of what is happening in the Territory and he is always able to tell us something that is worth listening to and thinking about. This afternoon, he presented his case in a very practical manner. He appealed, towards the end of his remarks, for the establishment in the Northern Territory of a branch of the Commonwealth Development Bank of Australia to serve the interests of the people of the Territory, particularly in the southern portion of it. I could not agree more with his suggestion. I strongly support the idea because I believe that the remote control that has been exercised over the Territory has been one of its greatest drawbacks. Most Territory affairs are controlled from the south. I consider that more and more decisions should be made on the spot in administering the Northern Territory.
The first step to be taken should be to give the Legislative Council for the Northern Territory wider scope to consider matters that affect 3the Territory. I believe that at present the Council meets only about four times a year and discusses purely domestic matters. I could give numerous examples of important subjects that the Council is not permitted to consider. For example, it has no right to discuss money bills or grants made to the Territory. A great step forward would be taken if the Council were permitted to discuss these matters, and advise the Northern Territory Administration, control of which is centred in the south, on the expenditure of funds, particularly in certain fields. If this were done, we might be able to get a better spread of expenditure, and much more satisfactory results from it, than we get under the present arrangement with the control of expenditure determined in an office in Canberra.
The Council should be permitted to discuss also matters such as beef roads which have been the source of many problems exercising a great deal of thought in the Northern Territory for a considerable time. A fairly good job has been done in the construction of beef roads which have been of immense value to the Territory and the Commonwealth and have contributed especially, by indirect means, to the revenue of the Territory. But the Legislative Council is afforded no opportunity to discuss and consider proposals for the construction of beef roads. I do not suggest for a moment at this stage, at any rate, that the Council should have the final say in proposals for the building of these roads but I believe that much good would come from consideration of these proposals by people who live in the Territory and have its interests at heart.
I suggest, too, that the Northern Territory should have its own public works committee to discuss Territory works projects. We in this Parliament, of course, ‘have our own Public Works Committee, which investigates various projects in the Northern Territory and makes recommendations to this Parliament concerning them. However, I can.sider that a committee composed of territorians could make a fine contribution by its recommendations on proposals for works in the Territory. I am thinking particularly of roads now. A Territory committee could make a better contribution than can be made by the Public Works Committee of this Parliament, which visits the Territory for a few days, has a brief look at the proposed site of a project, takes some evidence, returns to Canberra and makes a report. The approach of a local committee would be more practical and far better results would be obtained. I believe that these suggestions that I have made are in the interests not only of the Commonwealth, but, in particular, of the Territory. It has a big area - 520,357 square miles - and it is a valuable part of Australia.
I wish to pay tribute now, Mr. Temporary Chairman, to the excellent work being done in the Northern Territory by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, particularly in research in fields such as the growing of crops and the development of pastures. Some lime ago, I was privileged to visit the Katherine experimental farm, which is doing work that will be of immense value to the Territory, especially when It can be applied in conjunction with settlement schemes and when markets can be provided for the particular crops that can be grown in the north. We know that one of the great drawbacks in the north is the deficiency of certain elements in the soil. This requires the modification of cultivation methods. The latest report on the administration of the Northern Territory, Which we have just received, gives a number of illustrations of the research being done at the Katherine experimental farm. This research will be of the greatest benefit if taken beyond the pilot farm stage and followed up. This applies not only to agricultural crops but also to pasture improvement.
The members of the party with which I visited the farm had the benefit of seeing certain experiments with natural pastures supplemented by certain conserved fodders and crops such as Townsville lucerne. The results that were presented to us were remarkable. Whether similar results can be achieved on a larger scale is yet to be proved, but I believe that it is worth while going ahead with this kind of work on a larger scale than at present. I suggest that a bigger property should be acquired which would be typical of properties in the area. The C.S.I.R.O. officers could then see Whether they can carry out their experiments and duplicate the work they have already done on a much larger scale. This is important for the Territory.
There has been a gradual increase in the population of the Territory over recent years. Looking at the figures one finds there has certainly been no regression and that there has been a gradual increase, but is the population increasing at a fast enough rate for us to fill this part of Australia? I do not think it is. We see a gradual process going on with a gradual increase of population and of production. But is it fast enough? Can we wait, having in mind the proximity of the hungry people in nations to our north?
I am going to get on my hobby horse once again and present a suggestion to the Parliament that I have presented on previous occasions. I suggest that in this part of Australia we could carry out a very useful experiment. We could make Darwin a free port for everything other than immigration. I know that this carries all sorts of implications, but I remind the Committee that if we did this Darwin would become one of the cheapest places in Australia to live instead of one of the most expensive as it is at the moment. This would tend to attract population to the area, and once you bring in population you must expand. It would help the establishment and development of the various industries spoken of by the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson). The farming industry, for instance, would go ahead in leaps and bounds. We have the know-how, we know about soil deficiencies and we know what we can produce. If we had sufficient population we would get the whole of the Territory developed in no time.
Other countries have demonstrated the benefits of this device. I remind the Committee of places like Singapore and Hong Kong. What have those places got in their hinterlands to compare with what we have in the Northern Territory? I shall leave this suggestion with the House. I know that it will involve all sorts of problems, but at least we could try something fresh. We are not doing the job fast enough at the moment. If anybody else can put forward a better suggestion I will be quite prepared to listen to it. This is the only one I can think of at the moment’ and I think it would be worth trying.
.- The honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) has used, on behalf of the Opposition, the time honoured device of proposing an amendment to the effect that these estimates be reduced by £1, In order to draw attention to the dissatisfaction of the Opposition with what is being done in the Territories and for the people who live in them.
The amendment covered nine points and the honorable member for Fremantle made an impassioned speech. He spoke with great feeling because he has a great concern for the human beings who live in the Territories and particularly for the indigenous people of Papua-New Guinea. The honorable member for Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson) has spoken, as he usually does, with great conviction and deep understanding of the Northern Territory. He has once again made a plea for the Commonweatlh to develop the Northern Territory and, for that matter, to develop the whole of the north of Australia. I support his remarks. 1 deplore the fact that in all the Northern Territory there is not one major water undertaking. Quite recently I asked a question whether there was any major water undertaking north of the 26th Parallel, and of course the only information given was about the work going on in connection with the Ord River project in Western Australia.
It is not my intention to deal with the amendment at this stage, but I do contend that what has been said by the honorable member for Fremantle, the honorable member for the Northern Territory and the honorable member for Maranoa (Mr. Brimblecombe) deserves as speedy a reply as possible from the Minister. Australia’s first responsibility in its external relations is the administration of Papua-New Guinea, the advancement of 2,000,000 primitive people to a condition of competence to manage their own affairs. This is the special and exclusive responsibility of the Government of this nation. The work, for which there is no published timetable, is urgent. For this reason the estimates for the Territory of Papua-New Guinea invite the closest examination. May I say at this stage that I regard this exclusive and special responsibility as one sacred to this nation. In no circumstances do we need the meddling hands of other people to make contributions which would conflict with the general purpose and character of what we are trying to do in the Territory of Papua-New Guinea. We do not want another Congo on our doorstep. We want clarity of purpose, we want direction and we want drive. For this reason the estimates for the Territory should, as I say, bc examined very closely, just as the work of lnc Administration of the Territory should be examined with frankness and honesty and with an appreciation of the fact that we live in a very troubled part of the world and that we may be living on borrowed time.
We must ask ourselves whether we are doing enough and whether we are acting with a sufficient appreciation of the urgency of the situation. Are we doing as much as we are capable of doing? I answer this question in the negative. I believe we are not doing as much as we can do or should do. We should apply ourselves with greater drive in the future. The estimates for the current year reveal an attitude of complacency and self-satisfaction on the part of the Government. The amount of about £28.5 million provided for 1964-65 is only £2.6 million more than the vote for the previous year, and when one takes into consideration revotes and increased costs, wages and salaries, little additional work can be expected from this increased vote. Because of lack of funds, health and education programmes will not be accelerated as they should bc. The building of a viable economy will be delayed. Urgent tasks in the Territory of Papua-New Guinea do not seem to be understood by the Government. Maslyn Williams made a statement on his return from Indonesia two months ago which 1 think ought to be heeded. He is a journalist of some note. A report in the “Australian” of 21st August 1964 said-
Australia had “ four years of grace “ before Indonesia would take an interest in Papua-New Guinea, the Australian author Maslyn Williams said on his return from Indonesia.
Surely that is a warning that should be heeded. Surely an opinion of that kind ought to stir the Government into a more purposeful drive and into providing a larger vote. Whatever we might do under the Colombo Plan or in other directions, the development of Papua-New Guinea is our responsibility. This is our special province in world affairs. Bishop Moyes expressed himself very clearly following the handover of West New Guinea to Indonesia. He said an explosive situation existed. He went on to say much more, but I cannot repeat all his words in the limited time at my disposal. He said that areas beyond the limits of West New Guinea would be affected. These are undoubted facts.
The New Guinea “ Highlands Bulletin “ made a plea that we should make our position clear, lt said that New Guineans want security. I agree with Ian Downs and other writers in the “ Highlands Bulletin “. In the course of his statement in that publication Downs said -
In our urgent desire to create the structure of independence we are suddenly confronted with the fact that for nearly all New Guineans independence is associated with the idea that it is us who are abandoning them, not they who are getting rid of us.
These are the sorts of things that ought to be noted by the Government, for Ian Downs is one of the practical people in that Territory. He has had administrative experience and is now doing a grand job of work in a balanced way in helping in the development of the Territory.
Despite the double talk and propaganda of representatives of nations who deny democracy to their own nationals, we must face the fact that we are not doing enough and that we must bestir ourselves. It grieves me that we fail to do all that we could do in this situation. I think of what has taken place in the Territory, and I want to give credit where credit is due. I give credit to the public servants in New Guinea; I give credit to the people engaged in the missions; I give credit to the administrative people, patrol officers and others who are all engaged in a great work. They are dedicated people making their contribution. The selfless work of the missions in health, healing and education should be given greater consideration and respect in this country. There is evidence of devotion to duty of the highest order by doctors, nurses and others.
On my recent trip to the Territory for the opening of the Parliament there I met such people who are doing a grand job of work. I should like to pay a tribute to those who were engaged in the recent election in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. The magnitude of the task of trying to lift a primitive people to a capacity to engage in democracy was of an outstanding order in dimension and in challenge. Yet the work was undertaken and carried through with remarkable success. I think it is necessary, therefore, that we should admit that we have grand people there and that they need support. Let us admit our political shortcomings and correct our administrative mistakes - for there have been mistakes and there are mistakes. Many sins of omission and commission have been referred to in the amendments suggested by the honorable member for Fremantle. There are the problems with the police and the army, and now the problem, which can develop into a very great size, in regard to the native public servants who are to have a reduction of the salaries that they expected to receive.
Let us remember also when we are considering Papua and New Guinea - this is a regrettable and depressing thought - that most of the problems that have occurred in the Territory have been in places where we have had the longest possible association with the people of that Territory. That is one of the most disturbing things. Rabaul, Port Moresby and New Ireland are places where we, the European people, have had a long association with the people there, yet it is in these places that the greatest difficulties have occurred. The Government has decided to reduce the salaries of native public servants in the Territory to bring them to some 45 per cent, of the rates paid to expatriate public servants. This is a division based on race. There can be no excuse for this. This is the sort of thing that causes all the dissatisfaction and can be a basis from which could grow a political and social cancer in the Territory which could have most injurious effects on this country. The Melbourne “Age” of Monday, 11th May 1964, made a very pertinent comment when it said -
Genuine equality of opportunity will be impossible until the indigenous people are educated to a point where they can compete for equal salaries and equal housing with white people. But at least we have abolished the noxious signs of racial discrimination . . .
Yet this Government, with all the background of information available to it, is now prepared to bring about a state of affairs which must inevitably cause unrest and dissatisfaction. After 50 years there are still problems associated with wages, taxes and so on. These are the sorts of things that need not occur, for surely we know better.
I refer to a speech delivered by the former Minister for Territories, the Honorable Paul Hasluck, to the Annual Congress of the Public Service Association of Papua and New Guinea on 1st September 1962 in which he made the position clear and showed that these things were understood by him. He said -
In facing this task of reorganising the public service to prepare the way for an indigenous public service, we proposed first a plan for an integrated service in which the indigenous and expatriate officers would be fellow members of the same service, the expatriate receiving bis additional emoluments mainly in the form of expatriate allowances.
They are extra allowances for being away from home.
This proposal has the great merit in the eyes of the Government of avoiding what might seem to be a racial division of the public service.
The very thing that the former Minister for Territories drew attention to is the thing that is being practised in the Territory at the present time. This is a shocking state of affairs and it is the sort of thing that, placed within the knowledge of the enemies of this country, plays into their hands and destroys our cause. From every point of view, this practice of differentiation should be rejected.
I wanted to say something about health because 1 know of some progress that has been made in the building of hospitals and so on, but I also know of the shortcomings in many places, for example, at Kundiawa. 1 know of new hospitals at Madang, Port Moresby and Lae. Great work has been done and great progress has been made and great credit is due. But at Kundiawa one doctor looks after a 450-bed hospital which can accommodate 400 patients. He looks after all sorts of patients suffering from all sorts of ailments from leprosy to malnutrition and all the other ailment’s that one can think of in this modern time. Doctors in that area have a feeling of frustration about which something should be done.
I conclude by saying that I think it is completely unfair that a new Minister should be placed in this onerous and responsible portfolio. This is a job for a senior Minister. I should like to say also that it is necessary for us to do promptly what we have promised to do for the people of the Territory. We should have a more forceful drive in education and health. We should develop a viable economy in the Territory. There should be equal pay for equal work, and there should be equal opportunities. There should be an avoidance of any actions or panic measures which undermine the cause of the Territorians and of ourselves.
.- I had not intended to make any reference to the Territories, other than to Cocos Islands, but when I heard some of this michievous prattle being given vent to by honorable members opposite I felt that there were one or two points that I should refer to. The first is, of course, this arrant nonsense in relation to the salaries which are to be paid to indigenous public servants in New Guinea. I feel that these remarks can do nothing to further the very excellent work that has been done in the Territory. This mischievous talk can only stir up strife among those good people who have heretofore been accustomed to receiving a low level of salary. Only a few of them have begun to receive the higher rates. If the Territory became completely independent it would be unable to afford to continue to pay the higher rates. Moreover, the indigenous people seem to be happy on the old level of salary. They have become accustomed to it. It would be most unfortunate and mischievous if an indigenous Public Service were to be paid higher rates than the people as a whole, because this would immediately create an elite, and the difficulties that we see developing in the so-called emerging nations on the African continent.
The other matter to which I wish lo address myself concerns the statement about the death of Aboriginal children at Alice Springs hospital. The statement is completely meaningless. Prima facie it would appear that many children died. This is unfortunate, and I regret it, but the statement is meaningless unless we first know how many natives live in the surrounding districts and unless we also know the circumstances of the deaths of the children. It must be remembered that in the Alice Springs area many natives live in the tribal state. Many of them resent interference by white people. For example, the birth of a child is a highly tribalised matter. Much can happen at the birth of a child which will result in the death of that child. A baby may contract all kinds of infections if born under tribalised conditions. It is a notorious fact that Australian natives arc highly susceptible to epidemic diseases such as measles. In natives, measles is a far more formidable disease than it is in white people because natives have not developed a natural immunity to the disease. Tn natives, measles is a real scourge. When an epidemic of measles breaks out among Aborigines in the Northern Territory adults and children alike die like flies. I speak from experience in this matter because I have been a member of the Northern Territory medical service. Another dangerous disease among Aborigines is gastro-enteritis. One does not need medical knowledge to know of the vast number of flies in the centre of Australia. The place swarms with them. The conditions under which children in a tribal state live are not as hygienic as they might be. Often their food and water are contaminated. In the circumstances it is not surprising that the mortality rate of Aboriginal children is high.
But this situation is not unique in the world. On the island of Mauritius the infant mortality rate is 156.3 a thousand. In the United Arab Republic, which is, I believe, to some extent civilised, the infant mortality rate is 108 a thousand. In South-West Africa - a place very dear to the hearts of some honorable members opposite - the infant mortality rate is 126.8 a thousand. So the infant mortality rate among Aborigines in the Northern Territory is not unique, although it may be unfortunate. It is mischievous to hold the Government culpable in such a matter. To do so does not help the affairs of this country one bit. I was surprised to hear the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) make such a statement in an attempt to mislead honorable members.
I rose primarily to speak about Cocos (Keeling) Islands. It was my great fortune not long ago to pay a visit to the islands. I wish to compliment the Department of Territories on the magnificent job it is doing there. I note that the appropriation this year for Cocos is £63,500. It is amazing that so much is being achieved with such a small amount of money. I was very proud of Australia’s effort on Cocos, which is a recently acquired Territory. There was a general spirit of optimism on the islands. The work being done there is first class. I inspected just about every aspect of activity on the islands. The machinery and equipment is in first class order. The technicians there are very keen about their work. I compliment them on their great spirit. I found very little to criticise. There are many difficulties associted with life on Cocos. The climate causes metal to corrode rapidly. Anything made of metal deteriorates very quickly. Nevertheless, everything on the islands was shipshape.
I wish to make one or two minor criticisms in connection with Cocos (Keeling) Islands. First I refer to the teaching of religion. The community is very small and one would not expect many facilities for this on the islands. I found that most of the religious teaching was given by a private individual who conducts impromptu services of a non-denominational nature. After a vary simple non-denominational service he shows films. Hiring of films cost £2 each and freight to the islands adds a further £3 each to their cost. I understand that he has tried unofficially to obtain some relief from the freight costs on his films. The amount involved would appear to be small and I suggest that the Department of Territories in some way subsidise the acquisition of these religious films, which are eagerly viewed by the people on the islands. The gentleman who shows the films is doing a magnificent job. Something of this kind is needed in the community.
The other small matter to which I refer is the school on the islands. The school is conducted under the aegis of the Western Australian Department of Education. The expense of running the school is met by the Department of Territories. I do not think the school is adequate. A larger school is needed. When I was there 35 pupils in eight grades were being taught. I understand that sometimes there are nine grades. The strain on the one teacher must be quite substantial. The school building is very small. The different” grades cannot be segregated very well in the small schoolroom.
Apart from the matters I have referred to I was most proud to see how the islands were operated. I was proud to see the Australian flag so prominently displayed at all times. Cocos is a show place which we could without hesitation invite anybody to see. Our efforts on Cocos are no disgrace to us. I would like to see the facilities on the islands expanded. We must bear in mind that Cocos is less than 700 miles from Indonesia. I am sure that this point is not without significance and has not escaped the notice of the Government. I compliment the Department of Territories on its magnificent administration of Cocos (Keeling) Islands.
.- I support the remarks that have been passed by previous speakers from this side of the chamber. I was surprised to hear the honorable member for Bowman (Dr. Gibbs) express doubt about the statement made by the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley). If anybody knows anything about the Northern Territory and the problems that arise in that part of the country it is the honorable member for Fremantle. I do not think anybody in this chamber can honestly say that any remarks passed by the honorable member for Fremantle are untrue.
– I did not say they were untrue.
– You said he did not know what he was talking about.
– That is not the same thing.
– Have it whichever way you like. Like the Ansett affair which was debated in the House today, it all depends on the way you look at it. I go along with all that the honorable member for Fremantle had to say.
I wish to refer briefly to Norfolk Island and, if time permits, to New Guinea. Last July, I was fortunate enough to pay a visit to Norfolk Island. I arrived there at the same time as our present Minister for Territories (Mr. Barnes). I felt very Bony for the Minister because he was then only newly appointed to his portfolio and was travelling round the various Territories under his control to see what was happening. It would be quite impossible for a new Minister to understand immediately what is going on in all the Territories under his jurisdiction. He needs time and he has a number of areas to cover. The Minister went to Norfolk Island to make an inspection and to see what some of the troubles of the people were. I think he will agree that the troubles on Norfolk Island at the present time are many. One of the greatest of them relates to medical facilities, or the lack of them, and the lack of medical attention. I have in my possession the minutes of the proceedings of a meeting which the Minister attended. They indicate what is required in the way of medical services on Norfolk Island and, with the concurrence of honorable members, I incorporate them in “ Hansard “.
MINUTES OF MEETING OF THE NORFOLK ISLAND PUBLIC HOSPITAL BOARD WITH MR. C. E. BARNES, M.H.R., AND HIS HONOUR THE ADMINISTRATOR, HELD IN THE BOARD ROOM ON SATURDAY, 4th JULY 1964, AT 10 A.M.
Mr. C. E. Barnes, Minister for Territories.
His Honour the Administrator.
Mr. Robert Swift, Secretary.
Mr. G. Adams, Chairman.
Mr. R. H. H. Nobbs.
Mrs. B. Quintal.
Mrs. A. Bathie.
Dr. M. B. Clark.
The Chairman declared the meeting open at 10 a.m.
Chairman. - Minister for Territories, I would like to welcome you officially on behalf of the Board and the Hospital staff. As you know, running a Hospital and being so isolated here, we have problems, and it is some of these problems that we are presenting to you this morning and hoping that we might achieve something to help us out of these problems. Our Secretary has prepared a Statement of Revenue and Expenditure for the forthcoming year, but some of the figures may seem a little high to you. With all this in mind, I have made a few notes which have been brought to my notice. You will see on the Revenue side, Sir (and here the Chairman proceeded to enumerate the items set out on the Revenue side of the Statement). Of the £8,000 asked for, the Chairman stated that we wished to have four trained Sisters on the staff, and that we were also hoping to have a “bush nurse”, who, as part of her duty, could visit some of the older people around the Island. There were quite a number who, owing to their old age, were unable to get around any more and some of them could be suffering from malnutrition. This would be one of the duties which a fully trained bush nurse could attend to. The Chairman explained that the salary for this nurse was included in the £8,000 asked for. The Chairman also explained that one of our problems was to get staff to come here and then when we do get them here, it was a problem to keep them here. They did not have the scope here and they sometimes felt that there was no advancement in their profession, in comparison to what they could get on the mainland. After six months, if they did stay that length of time, which was seldom, the Board were prepared to pay their fare one way. If they did stay 12 months, their return fare was paid.
The Chairman then explained that “ Advertising “ covers calling for nurses when necessary. “ Remission of fees” covered what we might call bad debts and also there were patients who could not afford to pay the Hospital fees and that was left to the Board’s discretion. For the kitchen, a new Frigidaire was required. The present Frigidaire had been giving trouble for some time now and it was decided that it had outlived its usefulness. The condition of the linen, crockery and cutlery was also very bad.
At the moment, we did have an X-ray machine. It was quite a new one, just about two years old, but the Medical Officer said that it is just too small. Patients have come here for X-ray and that machine was just not big enough to cope. We have had residents on the Island who had had to visit the mainland for X-rays because they had been unable to be done here.
The Chairman stated that he had also been asked by the trained staff for a little kitchenette in their quarters so that they could make a cup of tea when off duty. They had also asked for a small wash-house where they could deal with their own personal effects. Regarding furniture, they would like four small bedside tables and bedside mats and small bookcases where their literature could be kept in some order.
As for the water supply, in summer time, it is quite possible, and it does happen, that we have water problems. His Honour would bear this statement out that we have had, on occasion, to call on him and he has had to ask the public to help us out if they had water available and request them to make it over to the Hospital to carry us through the dry weather. It was the opinion of the Board that it might be necessary to provide another storage tank to store the water during the winter months, and it was suggested that a minimum of 20,000 gallons should be considered. We did have a deep well, but again there was the problem of getting the water from the well. There was an old piston type pump on the well, but in the Chairman’s opinion, it was quite obsolete and was always subject to breakdowns, which caused a great deal of inconvenience. The Chairman said that we would like to ask that a new electric jet pump be supplied to this deep well to save so much inconvenience.
The Chairman then called on Dr. Clark to put his views before the Meeting.
Dr. Clark then said that what the whole thing amounted to was that the Health Services here had been, not exactly neglected, but that now the red light was showing and that if there was to be a Hospital here, it would need a great deal of help from the Commonwealth Government. He felt that this should be a Commonwealth Hospital, where Health and Hospital Inspectors could come around and see just what was necessary. In the past, doctors have come here for perhaps three years or perhaps two years and sometimes one year and have done the work to the best of their ability. This was not good enough because of the equipment and the staff position. It had been said that a man can play a good tune on an old fiddle, but he can play a better one on a good instrument. He would like to point out now that the £3,000 which the Administration had made available to the Hospital was for urgent equipment and was not included in any of the present Statement of Revenue and Expenditure. As the Chairman had said, the staff problem was a big one. It was a big problem to get them here and then to keep them here. The main incentive was that there was no Income Tax. We were short of staff at the moment. At the present time, we had three sisters only and one girl who came in for three mornings a week. Another difficulty was finding the money to pay the staff, because one week the Hospital may be full and the following week it could be empty. The Minister asked what type of malady caused this rise and fall of patients in the Hospital. Dr. said that this was ‘ caused by epidemics of influenza and so on which were brought mostly from the mainland, and there was also a good number of old people who required attention from time to time. This was a 16-bed Hospital and at the moment, we had only 6 patients. Of these 6, two required full nursing care. The old people in Hospital required nursing care, because they could not have attention at home. If tha Hospital was full all the year round, a lot oi our problems would be solved, also providing that the patients could pay, but for many months in the year, the Hospital could be practically empty. With a bigger population, we would get a bigger turnover and we could keep the Hospital relatively full. The staff only got paid when tha work was here, and Dr. Clark said that he would like to see the whole staff paid by the Administration. Lots of people on the Island could not afford to belong to the Hospitals Contribution Fund, and even if they do, they only get 90 days’ benefit paid for in Hospital. We had a patient in Hospital! now who had exceeded that period of time, and he did not know how he was going to pay his wife’s bill. We had another patient who had had a coronary two days ago and he had only £20 in the Bank and he was worrying now, because if he did not get out of Hospital very soon and get busy on his land, he was going to be in trouble. This was a bad state of mind for any patient and did not assist in his recovery. We also needed a “ bush nurse “, because there were a lot of old people on the Island - about 70 of them - who live by themselves. About 38 of these were widows. All these people have to be looked after and the people who helped the Dr. most were the ministers of religion visiting them and they let him know if these old people required help. Some of them needed injections and some of them required quite a lot of time spent on them. A lot of people who had come to the Island have developed bronchitis or asthma and they come here for climate reasons and not to get away from Income Tax or anything else. They come here with a certain income each year which they now find is inadequate and are scratching for money, because they are chronic invalids. We had no Commonwealth Benefits here, so that patients have to pay the full price of their drugs. For instance, there was one patient here who had to have certain drugs which were costing him about £3 per week, and he would be taking this drug indefinitely. If he finds that he cannot afford this and leaves off taking the drug for two or three days, his infection gets him down and he has to send for the Dr. again. A 5-day course of Aureomycin on this Island costs about £4. Quite a lot of people on the Island have high blood pressure and many of these patients have to pay about £1 per week for drugs. Another course is cortisone, which costs £3.16.9. Dr. said he had to keep a supply of this, because it was life-saving, but if it was not used before 196S, it had to be discarded and wiped off. But it still had to be kept here. What he would like to suggest was that the Commonwealth Benefits should apply here on the Island. People got these drugs free on the mainland, but, for instance an injection of Penicillin costs 14/- here.
The Dr. also said that we needed a full time handyman around the Hospital. As they went round the Hospital, Dr. would be able to point out all these things to the Minister and then it would bring home to everyone just how much these things we had asked for were needed.
Mrs. Bathie.; Mrs. Bathie asked that if this Hospital was put under the Commonwealth, what difference would it make to the island and the people.
Minister. - The Minister stated that this was ? very difficult question. It involved principles which he had agreed to respect on the Island. The whole thing that the Dr. had suggested, that we come under the Commonwealth, was cutting right across what he had promised the Islanders to keep out of - the kind of legislation which they had in Australia. This point was very interesting to him, because it took him back about 25 years in Australia when they had had these problems. In all country hospitals in Australia, they had the difficulty of balancing the budget. The old idea was that the local authorities (and all authorities differ but this was in Queensland) and the ratepayers came to the rescue to lighten the burden. They also helped by holding fetes and balls and any other community service which would help raise funds for the Hospital. Then the Government started to come in and take over Hospitals and when the Government took over, they fixed the fees and everything else and all independence was lost. As the Minister saw the situation here, we had had a lot of people who could not pay fees, so therefore it had to be a community effort. In Australia today, they had to pay taxes, and the Minister thought that last year, the Pharmaceutical Benefit Fund was ?28,000,000. This included all these expensive life-savings drugs which the Dr. had just enumerated. All one had to do was pay 5/-. A pensioner did not pay anything. The average person paid 5/- to the chemist and the Government made up the difference between that 5/- and the cost of the drug. The Dr. said that in Queensland, the patient did not pay anything. The Minister replied that that was where the taxpayer came to the rescue again. Last year, the total tax, direct and indirect per man, woman and child, was ?109 per year. The Dr. said that if the people here had to pay Income Tax, the Government would still have to put more money in. The Minister agreed and said that he knew that this would happen. The Dr. then said that as regards health, it would then be a political thing and we would be running into the same thing as they had in the U.K. and it would just be a political football.
The Minister. - lt could become a political football here too.
– Dr. said that if it was up to the politicians to find money, then this was what was needed. He also said that if the Minister indicated that the money could not be found, then we would just have to scratch along as we had been doing, but it was not very good going.
Minister. - The position is that this Island has a Council which represents the Australian Govern ment here. From indications he had seen and heard, the Islanders do net want Income Tax.
Mrs. Bathie. ; I do not think that it is Income Tax which the people are afraid of. I think it is Land Tax. The old people on the Island were terrified of Land Tax, because they felt that if they could not pay their rates, they would lose their land and this burt them very much indeed.
Minister.- Whatever taxes they may be, the individual here must bear the same responsibility as the individual must do in Australia. This is just the position. This Island wants to be a separate entity, as they have gone along for many years, and they do not want to come into this sort of legislation which they had in Australia. The Minister believed that the Island would eventually have to do it, but he said that he was not going to tell them what to do, because he had promised them this.
Mr. Adams. ; Mr. Adams suggested that perhaps we could add a few more members to the Board and they could take over the Council.
Administrator. - The Administrator said that it could be the reverse and the Council take over the Board.
Dr. Clark said that he believed that about tcn years ago, the Hospital was run by the Administration. Mr. Adams stated that this was so before the actual Hospital Ordinance came into force, but as far as he could remember, there was always a Board.
Dr. Clark said that even if it was a Commonwealth Hospital, we would still have to have a Board in order to decide policy and so on.
Mr. Adams. ; Mr. Adams said that he would like to say that the Hospital Board was the only governing body on the Island, and in his opinion, the Council bad no other power than being totally advisory. As far as the Hospital Board was concerned, they did have certain powers and could make By-laws with the approval of the Administration. Mr. Adams continued by saying that it must be obvious to the Minister, the Administrator and to all present that we were running into financial problems and it was on those lines that we had put our difficulties before him and that we hoped that be could help us as far as our financial difficulties were concerned and also as regards the equipment which Dr. Clark had requested as being necessary. It was not so long ago that we were having difficulty because we did not know where the next fortnight’s salaries were coming from. Mr. Adams asked the Minister if, in his official capacity, he could even guarantee us if we were short of funds, that the Government would cover even the fortnight’s salaries. He said that perhaps if we omitted paying the staff for one fortnight, we might even come back next day and find we did not even have a staff.
Minister. - The Minister replied that these were the responsibilities of the Hospital Board and that they should regulate their finances. There was no use in having a Hospital Board if these expenses were to be put on the Administration.
Mr. Adams. ; Mr. Adams agreed with this, but it did not alter the fact that we have to purchase drugs which are put forward by the Medical Officer, and even at the present Lime, we could be dragging the chain there a bit as far as paying for the drugs were concerned. We had to cover that sometime, and even with the Hospital full, it could be months before we got that money back from in-patients to put back into our general funds. It was on occasions like these that when we have to purchase drugs as well as our general supplies that cuts our financial position down to a bare minimum that we are never sure, from fortnight to fortnight, whether we will be able to pay the staff. With our present Secretary, and we have had trouble with previous Secretaries, things have changed very much. She is doing a marvellous job here and we are, beyond doubt, collecting a good amount of our outstanding debts, thanks to her. At the moment, we are in a position to cover most of our expenses and debts, but when all this money has been collected, we will be back to the old situation when we do not know whether we will be able to cover the staff pay for the next fortnight. Mr. Adams said it was a very tricky problem, so he failed to see where they could refer back except the Administration.
Minister. - The Minister said he could not agree with this at all. He recalled that Mr. Adams had said that the Council had no powers and that it was just an advisory Council. He intended to give them power in the sense that he sought their advice. It was useless to have a Council elected by the people of the Island if we did not take their advice, and it would be wrong if he did not take their advice through the Administrator. If funds run short, then fees must be adjusted to provide for the necessary reserves.
Mr. Adams. Mr. Adams said that in the course of his day-to-day work he often had people telling him that the fees were too high already, so how could they be asked to pay perhaps ?2 or ?3 more per week.
Minister. - The Minister then asked what the fees were, and on being informed of this, stated that they were very low indeed. Certainly in comparison to mainland standards.
Mrs. Bathie. ; Mrs. Bathie said that from personal experience, she knew that at Prince Alfred Hospital, it cost ?21 per week, but this amount included drugs, injections and operation.
Dr. Clark then said that no Hospital makes a profit; it always made a loss.
Mr. Adams here quoted the case of his two children who had to be flown to the mainland and were admitted to the Royal North Shore Hospital where they were costing him ?3 per day each. He also had had to pay air fare for his wife to accompany the two children, but fortunately, he had had the means to cover this. It just could not be done again. This was one of our problems here. We are so isolated and if an emergency arose, we could get to the mainland in a few hours, but we had to have the finance to get there in the first place. It cost over ?50 to get there for the parents as well as air fare for the children and there were very few who could afford it.
Minister. - The Minister said that the difficulty was to run this Island on the standards of the mainland on a legislation or a principle which they had had 25 years ago in Australia. He had no doubt that we had people coming here from the mainland feeling that there was a great disparity on what they could get here and what they could get on the mainland in regard to these sort of things, and in the way of amenities. The whole difficulty was trying to maintain isolation under these circumstances.
Dr. Clark said that when one got to the top of Mount Pitt and looked around, one could see how very isolated the Island really was and the question is did they really want a Hospital on the Island and did the Minister think that a Hospital was really necessary.
Minister. - The Minister said that he did think so.
– Dr. asked the Minister that if we were to have this Hospital, was it going to be fully staffed.
Minister. - The Minister replied that, as he had said before, this was again a question of funds, and they could not be picked out of the air. Someone had to pay for them.
– Dr. said that this Hospital had managed to carry on in the past because they had had to cut down on staff and had not replaced them when they left. He, the Dr. had come here for one year and that year was up in August, and unless the Hospital can carry on in some way with help, he was not prepared to stay on, although he had promised the Administrator that he would do so.
Minister. - The Minister said that this was an important matter, but that it involved the principles which he had promised the Island. They did not want taxation here and they wanted to keep out of the system which they had on the mainland and he had promised to respect their wishes. He would say that the proper thing to do was to make a formal application of all those things we wanted and had asked for to the Administrator, and he, in turn, would get the opinion of the Council on what they wished on the matter. This would have to be a decision made by the people of the Island, because he was not going to make any decisions in Canberra.
Mr. Nobbs. ; Mr. Nobbs said that the Board had tentatively fixed a sum of ?6,000 increase per year for subsidy, making a total of ?8,000. He thought that the Minister would have heard sufficient to realise that we do need assistance. He suggested that an amount such as this should be placed on the estimates. He also thought it was obvious to everyone that we require some immediate assistance. If we could have an immediate increase in subsidy, and then whatever other sums are allocated, we could then go to the Administrator and state what we wanted, and if he agreed, along with the Council, then this amount or part of it, could be spent each year on the necessary equipment and other necessities. Mr. Nobbs said that he would prefer to see some immediate assistance, and stated that, as the Minister went round the Hospital, he would see the need for assistance and for spending a lot of money on the Hospital. We were also faced with continually rising costs and rising salaries, and he considered that our problems were not of our own making. He had been on the Board for twelve months, and pre.viously, they had limited the Dr. to ?50 per month for drugs.
Minister.- The Minister said that the situation was that we were in need of funds. He stated that we could achieve this for our Hospital by raising the fees or going to the Administration for a greater subsidy. We must make a request in a formal application for extra subsidy and he also suggested that we should get the opinion of Council. The Commonwealth Government made its allocation every year and it covered the administrative expenses of the Island. He repeated that Council would have to advise on the question.
Administrator. - All this extra expense is a situation which has suddenly arisen. I have said before that the expenses of the running of this Hospital depends greatly on the Medical Officer. The question of this equipment had not arisen before. The X-ray which the Administration had purchased for the Hospital on the advice of the previous Dr. now that the new Dr. had arrived, was now not big enough according to him. That was ?700 wasted. The Hospital had shown a profit of ?500 in the last year, and he could not understand why the Board should suddenly require another ?8,000. This, he felt, was something out of the air. The Board had talked about various alterations to the Hospital, but the Administration did this in the ordinary way. Then the Administration had suddenly received a demand for ?3,000 from the new Dr. to pay for new equipment, which had been granted. He felt that the Board must have some forethought.
Mrs. Bathie. Mrs. Bathie stated that the Members of the Board gave up a great deal of their time and tried to do what they could for the Hospital.
Dr. Clark explained to the Administrator that the reason why the Hospital Board could not look ahead was because they could not see beyond the next pay day.
Mr. Adams explained that he had been three years on the Board, and it was only when the Board had had their recent meeting with the Administrator that they had any idea of putting in estimates at all, but it should be appreciated that at least we are’ keeping the Hospital open. During those three years, it had always been scratching for money. As the Minister was visiting the Island now, the Board felt that it was an opportunity to make these things known to him and we would appreciate his helping us out now. This again did not alter the fact that our Secretary will be scratching for money to pay the staff again. Mr. Adams stated that we could only hope that the present Board would now have some ideas on estimates and that this knowledge could be passed on to future members of the Board.
Mr. Nobbs. Mr. Nobbs said that he was in full agreement with the Chairman. He thought that the community had been wonderful and had supported the Hospital very well.
Minister. - The Minister said then that he had a much clearer picture of things now. The situation was that we did not know where the money was to come from. To use a simple term, he said we were living from a hand-to-mouth method, but that these things had to be provided for 12 months ahead in estimates. The Minister then asked Mr. R. Swift if it would be possible to get someone to come over to the Island and look into certain matters concerning the Hospital. Mr. Swift said there would be no difficulty in arranging this, but that the cost of the visit would have to be paid out of Norfolk Island revenue.
Administrator. - The Administrator said that by putting in our estimates now as we had done, we had shot his estimates up by 18 per cent
Mrs. Bathie. Mrs. Bathie asked whether the roads or health was more important.
Administrator. - The Administrator said that this was something which the Island itself must decide.
Minister. - The Minister stated that we were obviously very short of funds, and this is where the Council must advise us.
Administrator. - The Administrator said that there was certainly an urgent need for money, but that our policy was Government policy and that we must take note of what Council advises. The Administration could pay the Hospital subsidy of ?2,000 straight away.
– The Doctor said that the reason why all this had come up now was because he was looking into the future and he would like to see this Hospital put on a sound financial basis.
Minister. - The Minister said that this Hospital was up to the standards of 25 years ago, and the desire now was to bring it up to completely modern standards. This was a decision which he believed the Island people had to make and they would have to bear the cost of doing this. Before the Council are asked to make decisions on large expenditure, he thought that they should know what was ahead of them. This question of a subsidy of ?8,000 was to be suddenly brought upon them. He believed that this question had to be brought before the Council. The Minister said that he would have a discussion with the Administrator and Mr. Swift as to the best way they could go about it and how they would put this matter up and how they could plan ahead. The main thing to him was as to how they could best assist.
Mr. Adams. Mr. Adams said that at the next Board meeting, they could discuss this as a Board and refer it to the Administrator, and if His Honour could get a sub-committee formed, then we could work in as a unit.
Mr. Hobbs.; Mr. Hobbs said that he thought this situation had been brought about largely by our present Doctor and that he was right behind the Doctor in demanding that this Hospital bc brought up to good standards.
Minister. - The Minister said that, on the mainland, Hospitals get considerable help from outside bodies such as the Red Cross, Lions Clubs etc. There was also a wonderful service run by the Methodist Church known as the Blue Nursing Service.
Here Mr. Adams informed the Minister that we had received a donation of a 4-burner gas stove from the Lions Club. Mr. Adams also mentioned that the public do help in the way of donations of fruit, fish and vegetables and do excellent voluntary work when called upon to do so.
Mr. Adams then asked the Minister that, as all the facts had been placed before him, that he would give the whole matter his fullest consideration at the earliest opportunity. Concluding, Mr. Adams said that on behalf of the Board and the staff, he would like to thank the Minister for coining along and bearing with us in our problems and hoped that, in due course, all these problems could be ironed out
Minister. - The Minister replied that he would like to thank the Board for the opportunity he had had to listen to what had been said andhecertainly would, as the Chairman suggested, give the whole position his fullest consideration. He realised our difficulties and the Government were here to help us in every way they could.
The Chairman declared the meeting closed at 12,45p.m. (Signed.) F. G. A. ADAMS, Chairman.
There is nothing contentious in those minutes, but they do contain a request for a subsidy and I thank the Minister for allowing them to be incorporated in “Hansard”.
The Hospital Board there took up this matter of medical facilities with the Minister. It asked for several little things to be done on the island, and it would like the Minister to give approval to the payment of subsidy as soon as possible. I think the Minister should take action immediately, because the amount involved is only £8,000. Although it is small, it is essential and will be of great benefit. The Government Medical Officer made it quite clear that the situation on the island is not good.
I think the Minister will agree that the Government Medical Officer told him that the old people on Norfolk Island are suffering from malnutrition. I ask the Minister or anyone else who knows all the facts of the position there how people can be expected to exist on the miserable sum of £2 a week which I understand is all that these proud and dignified people receive. This £2 a week is paid from a fund called the Destitution Fund, and to get it, applicants have to submit to a very severe means test. Out of this £2 a week, these elderly citizens have to keep themselves.
After all, these people are Australians. Norfolk Island belongs to Australia just as Tasmania does. We call the residents of Norfolk Island, Norfolk Islanders just as we call the people from Tasmania, Tasrnaoians. But they are all Australians, and it is up to us to see that they are treated as Australians. I ask the Minister to increase this miserable handout of £2 a week and to put these elderly people on the same footing as all other Australians. I further ask that the name “ Destitution Fund “ be changed because I feel that it is a degrading name.
Let me mention for the information of the Committee that the cost of living is higher on Norfolk Island than it is in Australia becauseallessentialgoodsaresold as Sydney prices plus freight and plus lighterage charges. These lighterage charges must be added to the cost of the goods because there is no natural harbour at Norfolk Island, nor is there any wharf there. For this reason, goods shipped from Sydney have to be transferred to lighters, which makes the cost of handling much dearer. I mention this point because these poor old people have to meet all of these added charges out of their miserable £2 a week.
I understand that the Government Medical Officer explained to the Minister that it is his duty to keep the people on the island in good health and to treat them if they become ill; but the cost of some of the modern drugs he has to prescribe is beyond the means of the Norfolk Islanders. I think everyone will agree that when people know they should have drugs but cannot afford them the knowledge does not tend to help them get well. The worry about this problem disturbs them and their condition deteriorates further. This state of affairs cannot be allowed to continue. It is inhuman and un-Australian. The Minister should step in right now and exercise his authority to right the wrongs that prevail there. I am sure that after he has had time to study the question in more detail he will do something along the lines I have suggested.
As was pointed out a moment ago, the Minister has a big portfolio to administer. The Territories over which he has jurisdiction are big and are scattered over a wide area. We know that his responsibilities cover Cocos Island, the Northern Territory, New Guinea, Norfolk Island and some other smaller places. That is a lot for the Minister to have to look after, and I think he is to be congratulated for the vigour he has shown and for demonstrating that he is prepared to travel round to see for himself. I know there are two sides to every question, but I am confident that he will look into these matters relating to Norfolk Island. I am bringing them forward now in the hope that the Minister will analyse them. If he agrees that the people on Norfolk Island are Australians, I hope he will give them the same treatment as is received by people on the mainland.
By visiting Norfolk Island frequently the Minister will get to know the islanders better. They want the Minister to clarify their position because they are the descendants of the crew of the historic “ Bounty “. They want to know just what their standing is. They are very proud of their record of service to their monarch. They say that in proportion to population, more people enlisted from Norfolk Island and more paid the supreme sacrifice than was the case in respect of any other part of the British Empire, as it was known then, or the Commonwealth as we know it now. They feel that they have played their part and they now want a little bit of understanding. They want to be put on the same basis as other Australians. They want their hospital modernised and they want social service benefits similar to those which are available in this country. At the present time, no social service benefits are available on Norfolk Island.
The Norfolk Islanders have asked to be allowed to contribute to the Commonwealth social services scheme so that they may benefit from it. I do not know what the answer to that is, but they pointed out to me that the basic wage on the island amounts to only seven-eighths of the Federal basic wage. They argue that as they receive only seven-eighths of the Federal basic wage they are in reality paying a tax. If the Minister agrees with the argument that as their wages are so much lower and as they are paying more for their goods, they are in effect already paying a tax, he will concede that they are in an awkward position. I point out, for example, that petrol is dearer because of shipping and lighterage charges. There is no organised transport on the island so that most people have to provide themselves with motor cars. They pay 6s. a gallon for super grade petrol and Ss. 9d. a gallon for standard grade petrol if they wish to use their cars to get around the island or if they wish to work their tractors. I understand that shortly the Government is going to endeavour to equalise petrol prices. I understand it is going to make the price of petrol for the man living outback the same as for the man in the city. If that is the case I will not moan about it, but if the Government is going to do that it should think of these people on Norfolk Island and give them a little of the same treatment.
A case was referred to me concerning the hospital on Norfolk Island. There is one medical officer on the island, and he does an excellent job, but he cannot do everything. He has not the facilities to carry out a simple tonsillectomy. If it were necessary for a child to have its tonsils removed the child would have to go to Sydney. The mother would have to accompany the child. This would cost £78 5s. in fares alone, then the mother would have to find somewhere to stay in Sydney while the child was in hospital. It is only by going to these places that one hears about these things, but it was pointed out to me that a member of the local hospital board had to go to Sydney five times in six months for X-ray treatment. It is a simple matter to work out approximately what that would cost if it costs £78 5s. in fares for a mother and child to go to Sydney. Hospital treatment can be a big expense for anyone living on Norfolk Island.
It is this sort of thing which the people on the island want rectified. They want several other things, too. They have told me what they want, and I know they have told the Minister. It would not matter if I were the Minister or whoever was the Minister, these requests would be made. The requests have to be looked at and the urgent matters treated without delay. I know that for a long time the islanders have been pleading for some sort of breakwater for a harbour. I do not know whether or not that can be tackled from a defence angle. I do not know what the Government’s policy is concerning Norfolk Island, but I know that situated as it is almost midway between Australia and New Zealand it could be a place of great importance in the defence of New Zealand and Australia. The airstrip on the island is not strong enough for the heavy type of aircraft operating in the area. This is why DC6’s are engaged on the route. However, I understand there is some move afoot to strengthen the airstrip.
From what I can see something should be done, if possible, to make boating safe in the area just as we make provision in Australia for fishing co-operatives and the like. The fishing potential of Norfolk Island is considerable. They are having trouble at present with Japanese poachers, as we are having in New Guinea. Every week or so we read of a Japanese fishing ship going into port in New Guinea for repairs, or we read of a Japanese ship being involved in an accident or of a Japanese ship being stranded on a reef. We know that this sort of thing is happening. We know, too, that it is happening around Norfolk Island, and even off the Queensland coast, but we have not a fisheries protection vessel in Australia the same as most maritime countries have.
This is the sort of responsibility that should be shared by the Department of
Territories and the Department of Defence in order to ensure that our continental shelf is not poached, because these people who come down to fish in our territorial waters think it is an open go for everyone. I ask the Minister to look at this and to get together with the other departments to stop this poaching which goes on in Papua-New Guinea and in isolated places around Norfolk Island.
Sitting suspended from 6.1 to 8 p.m.
– by leave - I wish to make a statement concerning Senate elections at the request of the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) who, as honorable members know, is absent from the House for the time being because of illness. Honorable members will be aware that, to satisfy the provisions of the Constitution, elections for the Senate must have been conducted and completed by 30th June next, so that newly elected senators may commence their term of service on 1st July 1965. On the recommendation of the Prime Minister on behalf of the Government, His Excellency the Governor-General has proposed to the State Governors an election timetable and each State has agreed to the timetable proposed. Accordingly, I announce to the House that elections for the Senate will be held in all States on Saturday, 5th December. It is necessary that this announcement be made to the House at this time since the law of some States requires formal action in those States within the next few days in order to give effect to the timetable in mind.
The full timetable is as follows: Issue of writs, Monday, 26th October 1964; nominations close, Monday, 9th November 1964; polling, Saturday, 5th December 1964; return of writs, on or beforeSaturday, 23rd January 1965.
Dr.Gibbs. - Mr. Temporary Chairman, I desire to make a personal explanation.
– Does the honorable member claim that he has been misrepresented?
– Yes, the honorable member forBatman(Mr.Benson)inhisspeech earlier said that I had implied that the figures cited by the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) were not correct and that I had cast doubt on the veracity of the honorable member for Fremantle. That is not the case. What I said in fact was that the figures as given by the honorable member for Fremantle were meaningless. They related to a report quoted by the honorable member that 500 children in the Alice Springs area had died in the last three years. Those figures are meaningless in the absence of accurate information as to the number of natives living in the area. The other important factor is that a large number of natives in that area are living in a tribalised condition and those natives have an inherent susceptibility
– Order! The honorable member is not to enter into a debate or to make a speech.
– I am just repeating what I said before. I am not debating the matter. I said that the figures were meaningless unless the total number of natives in the area were stated. In other words, we do not know the actual infant mortality rate. These natives are in a tribalised condition and I said that they have an inherent, undue susceptibility to certain diseases.
– I wish to address the Committee on the future of university education in Papua and New Guinea. Let me say at the outset that I join issue with the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) on his amendment As I noted his words, the honorable member said that one object of his amendment was to have the Government proceed promptly with the establishment of a university in New Guinea. Such a statement is, of course, an oft-repeated tilt at the Government in its administration of the Territory. In fact, I looked at the Monthly Chronicle of the United Nations for July 1964 and in it the same sentiment is expressed.
Referring to the Trusteeship Council, it stated -
The Council reiterated its previous recommendation concerning the immediate need to provide a substantially increased number of New Guinean students with training at university level, whether at the institutions of higher education already established in the Territory or at universities overseas.
I would not seek to disagree with the honorable member for Fremantle that there should be a university in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. In fact I think most honorable members would agree that there is a need for the university - a separate autonomous university - in the Territory. But the basic issue is not that. The basic issue is when this new university should be established. I would like to remind honorable members of the words of the resolution read in the House today which came from the House of Assembly of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. I will read those words in their entirely because I think they should be remembered by all honorable members when they are discussing these estimates. The words are these -
We the elected representatives of the people of Papua and New Guinea desire to convey to the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia, the Trusteeship Council and the General Assembly of the United Nations Organization, the expressed wish of the people that they, the people, and they alone, be allowed to decide when the time is ripe for self-government in Papua and New Guinea, and the form that such government will take and the people’s further firm conviction that the road to self-government can best be travelled with one guide - and that guide the Administering Authority, and that undue pressure from without can lead only to that disruption, chaos and bloodshed which the people have observed with great alarm in certain newly independent countries.
That is the resolution read in the House today and I would like to lay emphasis on it because, with great respect to certain members on the Opposition side, when discussing this whole question of our administration in the Territory too much attention is given to the views put forward at the United Nations. Of course, one does take notice of the United Nations but one should also bear in mind the fact that there are nations who use that organisation when it suits them. Before my attention was drawn to the resolution that was read - and this was at dinner this evening - I had come across a report in the Sydney “ Daily Telegraph “ of Friday, 4th September of an interview with a member of the House of Assembly in Port
Moresby, a 39-year-old New Guinea school teacher, Matthias Tutanava Toliman. He, on that date, had called on the world and on the United Nations in particular to cease all interference with Australian policies in Papua and New Guinea. Referring to Mr. To Liman, the report stated -
He has warned against outside pressures for early independence in Papua-New Guinea and has flatly announced that Australia is the only nation which can have any outside say in the future of his people.
Now, we cannot afford to ignore this expression of opinion from the very people whom it is our responsibility to look after. I believe that we do a disservice to them if we go ahead and are unduly influenced by expressions from outside bodies, even responsible bodies such as the United Nations.
Having prefaced my remarks by saying that, I would like to deal this evening with the report of the Currie Commission on Higher Education in Papua and New Guinea. In order to get that report in its true perspective, honorable members should look at the history of the moves for a university in the Territory. In May 1961, the then Minister for Territories directed that the whole problem of tertiary education and higher training should be investigated by a committee consisting of senior officers of his Department, the Prime Minister’s Department, the Australian School of Pacific Administration and the Administration of Papua and New Guinea. As honorable members are aware, that committee reported back to the Minister in August 1961. It recommended, amongst other things, that a university college linked with an Australian university should be established in Port Moresby not later than 1966.
On 8th April 1962 the United Nations Visiting Mission arrived in New Guinea. By coincidence, on that same date the then Minister for Territories released a Press statement in which he said that part of the June Valley site on the outskirts of Port Moresby had been reserved for a university college. He also said that preliminary talks between officers of his Department, the Prime Minister’s Department and the Australian National University would be held in the near future to discuss in greater detail the possible interest and assistance of the
Australian National University in the new university college. He further said that the date of tie foundation of the new university college would depend largely on the potential size of the undergraduate body of all races, but that it was hoped that its establishment would be justified in the next four or five years. He went on to say that in the meantime any indigenous students who matriculated would be assisted to attend Australian universities.
I do not wish to bore the Committee with figures, but I believe that it is necessary to give some figures in order to appreciate fully the problem that we have in respect of university education in Papua and New Guinea. In 1962 - at the time when the then Minister made his statement in relation not to a university proper, not to an autonomous university, but to a university college - there were three undergraduates from Papua and New Guinea at Australian universities. Honorable members will be pleased to know that this year the number has risen to eight. There are estimated to be 550,000 indigenous children of school age in the Territory. Of those, only 179,000 are attending primary, secondary or technical schools. In 1962 the number of children receiving secondary education was 3,076. Of course, honorable members will be pleased to know that ‘today that number has increased to 5,498. I emphasise that it is only 5,498 out of an estimated total number of 550,000.
The Currie Commission suggests that, based on those figures, Papua and New Guinea should have a university in 1966. I mention those figures because I believe that we should, to use a Roman phrase, hasten slowly. Rome was not built in a day. In my opinion, we might well adopt the Roman motto of Festina Lente; that is, hasten slowly. Indeed, the Currie Commission, in chapter II of this report, under the heading, “ The Educational Background and its Problems “, dealing with the school situation in general, itself recognised the real problem. It said -
Paradoxically, it might be said that the first need of the higher education in the Territory is more, and especially better, lower education; and it would be an appalling disservice to the people of Papua and New Guinea to present them with a costly structure which, for lack of due attention to the foundations in the schools, could collapse of ils own weight.
On the figures I have produced to the Committee and on the additional figures which the Currie Commission itself provided - it took into account not only potential matriculants from schools but also potential university students from among officers serving in Papua and New Guinea - the Commission says that a university should be established immediately and should be operating by 1966. I say that there should be a university, but I counsel some degree of caution in rushing in on a society which, it is admitted, is still mainly in the Stone Age, and giving it a university immediately. Let us concentrate more on what the Americans term the grass roots. Let us first get down to a good secondary education, and then let us have a tertiary education which the people will deserve and will then know how to utilise properly.
Some 60 years ago the French sociologist, Emile Durkheim, said that educational problems were in reality sociological ones, and that the shape of education should be considered in terms of the demands made by society. I would adopt those words, because I believe that in relation to the demands made by the society that we are discussing this evening - the people of Papua and New Guinea - neither the figures I have quoted nor the expression of opinion contained in the resolution from the Papua and New Guinea House of Assembly, which was read in the House today, nor the expression of opinion by the school teacher member of their House of Assembly, as reported in the “ Daily Telegraph “ of 4th September, provide sufficient indicia that we should rush in and immediately set up the university which the Currie Commission has recommended.
One thing that puzzles me is that, as honorable members are aware, Australian universities plan in terms of trienniums. The current triennium is from 1964 to 1966. The universities receive their grants from the Commonwealth, on the recommendation of the Australian Universities Commission. Planning for the next triennium commencing in 1967 is now in progress. The report of the Currie Commission, at page 205, states -
The Commission recommends that the following Estimates for capital spending be adopted in principle, for the Triennia 1965-67 and 1968-70.
I pause to wonder why the eminently qualified gentlemen who made this report on higher education in Papua and New Guinea did not see fit to adopt the same triennia as the Australian Universities Commission adopts. This evening we are at a disadvantage in that we do not have before us the Martin report on tertiary education. It would have been of great assistance to me in dealing with the question of tertiary education in one of the Territories that Australia administers. But, it is not before us this evening and one can only guess about its contents.
However, I can see one answer to the question that I have posed; that is, that it is not the responsibility of the Australian Universities Commission to make recommendations for any university that may be set up, if the Government should so decide, in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. But I would urge the Minister for Territories (Mr. Barnes), when considering the establishment of this university, to use the triennia that are used by the Australian Universities Commission in dealing with tertiary education in Australia.
As a lawyer, I am interested to see that the Currie Commission recommends that a faculty of law in the university for Papua and New Guinea should be given high priority, and that a dean of law should be among the first professorial appointments. In fact, members of my profession have taken a great interest in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. The Law Council of Australia set up a special subcommittee to consider the subject of legal education in the Territory. The Council sent that sub-committee to the Territory to look at the matter first hand. I was pleased to see that the major concern of the subcommittee was that when the time came - I emphasise those words - Australia should leave behind a society accustomed to the rule of law. I hope that that is not forgotten when the question of setting up a university is considered fully. In fact, in the report of the sub-committee, which was in the form of a memorandum for the Law Council of Australia, the major question that I posed at the beginning of my remarks this evening was posed. The sub-committee said -
What is the time available? This is a question, which, involving as it does political questions on the international level, the sub-committee is unable to answer. It has, however, proceeded on the basis that the answer is more likely to be supplied by the intensity of pressure on Australia to end a colonial regime merely because it is colonial, than in any deliberate assessment of the capacity of the people’s affected to shoulder the responsibilities entailed. In other words, the solution is more likely to be political than practical.
I would urge that we make our solution not political but practical. I would urge that we look at this question objectively, that we take heed of the resolution of the House of Assembly of Papua and New Guinea and that we do not bow to external pressures. We have a fine record in the Territory. Let us maintain that record. I wish the Minister the best of luck in his efforts to find a solution to this thorny problem, involving as it does the question of staff and so on arising from the setting up of a new university. I am certain that, guided by the principles we have evolved in the past, his efforts will be successful.
– I wish to make a personal explanation relating to a remark of the honorable member for Bowman (Dr. Gibbs). In the course of his speech he made it appear that my remarks about the infant mortality rate in the Alice Springs district referred to the Alice Springs hospital. I made no reference whatever to the infant mortality rate in the Alice Springs hospital. It would be very serious if what I had to say was turned into a criticism of the Alice Springs hospital. In fact, I referred to the registration of Aboriginal births in the Alice Springs district, which in one year was 359, and the registration of Aboriginal infant deaths in the Alice Springs district, which in the same year was 119.
.- The honorable member for Denison (Mr. Gibson), in giving some of the historical background of the proposal to establish a university in Papua and New Guinea, said that Sir Hugh Foot arrived here on 8th April 1962. However, he did not say that the Government refused to accept the suggestions made by the Opposition when it proposed a definite matter of urgent public importance for discussion on 11th April 1962, when Sir Hugh Foot was in the chamber. The matter was raised by the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley), and it was in these terms -
The need, as one factor in preparing the people of Papua and New Guinea for selfgovernment, to establish a University of Papua with faculties designed to meet urgent needs and with residential colleges; and with ancillary high schools and technical schools to give secondary schooling adequate to prepare the undergraduate students of the University for University courses.
The Government refused to accept the suggestions of the honorable member on that occasion. We have been told tonight that the establishment of a university will still be pushed off until 1966, and it has been said that the people of New Guinea have just come out of the Stone Age. I remind the Committee that the people on the coast of Papua and New Guinea have been out of the Stone Age for over 100 years. It is true that the people in the highlands are very primitive, but it cannot be said that the people on the coast have just come out of the Stone Age. This is not true.
We should not lose sight of the fact that the first university established in Australia in the early 1850’s commenced with fewer than 10 students. It is important that we get on with the task of educating the people of Papua and New Guinea. This is one of the great challenges to the Government and to the people of Australia. It is important that we provide education for the people in the Territory up to university standard. I would like to speak on this subject in detail, but time will not permit it. I would mention, however, that when Mr. Tom Mboya was here he said that until education in the Territory reached university level there would be no national movement and no unity of the people in Papua and New Guinea. It is foolish to suggest that the establishment of a university in the Territory should be put off until 1966. This is the time to establish the university. Breezes are blowing through the world and they will not be halted. We must go forward and we must try to hurry the development of the Territory along. We must realise that we have great responsibilities and we must face those responsibilities. If necessary, we must make great sacrifices in this country to assist the people of Papua and New Guinea to prepare themselves for self-government.
I rose to speak to the amendment moved by the honorable member for Fremantle. He moved -
That the proposed expenditure for the Department of Territories be reduced by £1.
He then set out an instruction to the Government, which contained nine clauses. In clause (iv) he said -
To inquire into the deaths of 500 Aboriginal infants in the Alice Springs area in the last three and a half years, to show that the Government reacts to this, one of the highest infant death rates in the world, as it would to a similar death rate among European infants and takes drastic steps in hygiene, living conditions and housing to reduce the rate.
The honorable member for Bowman (Dr. Gibbs), who is a medical practitioner, was rather critical of the honorable member for Fremantle, and the honorable member for Fremantle has made a personal explanation. However, I can give further facts and figures. Dr. F. Lancaster Jones in his work “A Demographic Survey of Aborigines of the Northern Territory “ said that in central Australian settlements the infant mortality rate was 208 per 1,000 live births and that this must be one of the highest infant mortality rates in the world. His overall estimate was a rate of 176 per 1,000 in the Northern Territory, with a rising tendency. The honorable member for Fremantle has said that 500 Aboriginal infants died in the Alice Springs area in the last 3i years. I think it is worth while reading from a letter written by a missionary in the Northern Territory. He said -
The Registry of Births and Deaths at Alice Springs covers from Tennant Creek south to the South Australian border, and within this area there are approximately 6,500 aboriginal persons. This figure was given me by Welfare. Amongst this population, and under the age of four years from October 1963 to the beginning of October 1964, there have been 1 19 registered aboriginal deaths. During the same period ar.d covering the same population there have been 359 aboriginal births. Therefore, over the last 12 months there has been a death in the district of an aboriginal child for every three that have been bom. You will be shocked as you read this: it is truly a staggering figure. It is given to me by the Registrar.
These are official figures from the Registrar at Alice Springs. The honorable member for Bowman, as a medical practitioner, is dedicated to help those who are suffering and to prevent death wherever he can. How does he explain this large number of deaths of Aboriginal children? In his speech he said that this infant mortality rate was similar to the infant mortality rate in the United Arab Republic. Let us consider the reaction of some of the farmers in the Australian Country Party if some disease resulted in the loss of one in every three calves born on their properties. They would call on the Government to assist them in some way to try to wipe out the plague or disease that was killing their stock. But of course we are now dealing with the deaths of Aboriginal children, and all that honorable members on the other side can say is that the infant mortality rate amongst Aboriginals is the same as the infant mortality rate in the United Arab Republic.
I think all honorable members have great respect for the work of the honorable member for Fremantle. 1 refer with pride to the work he has done, to his research and to his sincerity. His views on problems affecting Aboriginals should be heeded by all honorable members, and particularly by the honorable member for Bowman, who should have some understanding of the human feelings of these people and of the challenge presented by the problem of infant mortality. The infant mortality rate amongst these people is a blight on Australia and we should do what we can to reduce it. We should also try to raise the standards of the Aborigines in the Northern Territory.
In the few minutes remaining to me, I wish to discuss the estimates for the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. This financial year, £28,496,000 is to be voted. Even though there is an air of urgency, the time is short and the eyes of the world are on us and the job that we are doing in this Territory, the vote is being increased by only £2,606,700, although the defence vote is being increased by something like £40 million. If we consider the matter, surely we must realise that the development of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea represents one of the most important defence projects that we could undertake. We know that the Afro-Asian nations are greatly concerned about our attitude to the people of the Territory. We must make sure that it is properly developed. 1 believe that a vote of £28,496,000 for the Territory this financial year is insufficient.
We must ask ourselves: Can we do the job of developing Papua and New Guinea on our own? Can Australia cope with this gigantic task of preparing the people of the Territory for self-government in the short time available? I believe that we cannot do the job alone and that we must call on the United Nations and its specialised agencies such as the Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation and the World Health Organisation. We must speed up the development of the Territory. For some reason or other, the tabling in this Parliament of the report of the survey by the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea has been long delayed. It is necessary for us to get from the International Bank money to help promote the development of the Territory, but it must not carry an interest rate of 6 per cent. We shall need to obtain money from the International Development Association, which is a new organisation, and we need to get it at an interest rate of about 1 per cent, or less. An under-developed country like Papua and New Guinea could not carry an interest burden of 6 per cent.
Our record in relation to one aspect of the problems of developing the Territory is not good. The people are divided. There is no national unity. Mr. Tom Mboya pointed this out. The Australian Government and the Australian people have not promoted unity among the people of the Territory. A visitor from the south who talks to a local employer will be told that the employers in the Territory do not want all their workers to come from one tribe or one clan, but like to split their work force among the members of a number of clans so that members of one clan will tell on those who belong to other clans. The local employers believe that this helps them to get their work done. They constantly use members of one clan against those of another. They play off the Tolais against the natives from the Sepik area and the Motus against the Kukukukus. This is one of the great difficulties encountered in the Territory. In many instances, local interests have fostered divisions between the people of Papua and the people of New Guinea or between the people of the coast and those who live in the highlands. Divisions of this kind have been widely encouraged by the so-called administrators - men who are senior officers. They do not seem to be trying to break down the barriers between the various groups in Papua and New Guinea. Unless the indigenous people are brought together and an attempt is made to break down the barriers between them and remove their differences, great problems will occur when self-government is achieved.
– What about West Irian?
– One of the great problems of honorable members opposite is that they all seem to fear other nations. Let us have faith in the people of East New Guinea. Let us show them that we put our faith in them. Let us say to them: “ You will govern yourselves. You will guide your own dentiny.” When they achieve selfgovernment they will make up their own minds and decide whether they want to be independent, whether they want to link up with Australia or whether they want to join with Indonesia. That will be their business. I have read with interest the terms of the resolution that was read to us today by Mr. Speaker. I agree with that part of it which states that the indigenous people of Papua and New Guinea will eventually have to determine their own future. But this is not to say that the outside pressure brought to bear in the United Nations has not helped to speed up the development of Papua and New Guinea. I have visited the Territory three times since I was elected to this Parliament some six years ago. It appears to roe that most of the progress that has taken place has occurred in the last five or six years and that very little was done before. We have as yet only a fewindigenous people of the Territory reaching the stage of university training. A crash programme of education will have to be adopted as a matter of great urgency.
Over the many years for which we have administered Papua and New Guinea, development of the Territory has lagged. It has not even a decent road system. The principal all weather road, I suppose, is that from Lae to Wau, a distance of 80 or 100 miles. New Guinea is one of the largest islands in the world. Yet it has only about 100 miles of all weather road. There are plans, of course, to construct an all weather road from Lae to Mount Hagen and from there across to Madang on the north coast. A good system of all weather roads in the Territory is needed. Has there been any real development of the Territory? How long will it take us to build a national road system there?
We must show some concern for the right of the people of Papua and New Guinea to self-determination. When they achieve political self-determination, will they achieve economic self-determination? We know that three major companies control the great wealth of the Territory. These are Burns Philp and Co. Ltd., W. R. Carpenter and Co. Ltd. and Steamships Trading Co. Ltd. These companies are moving into more and more fields and taking more and more control of Papua and New Guinea. I am greatly concerned for fear that when political freedom comes to the indigenous people they will fail to achieve economic freedom.
Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- Mr. Temporary Chairman, I begin my remarks by suggesting to the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren) that he examine the “ Hansard “ of the House of Representatives of 11th April 1962, at page 1549, which records a proposal for the discussion of a matter of definite public importance submitted by the Opposition. The subject was education in Papua and New Guinea. If he turns to page 1562, he will note that the Opposition did not even have enough regard for the urgency of the matter to call for a division on the motion for the calling on of the business of the day, which terminated the discussion on the proposal. I suggest that, if it is worth while proposing a matter for discussion, it is worth while also calling for a division on a motion designed to terminate the discussion. The honorable member, I think, said that the Government would not support the proposal.
I wish to discuss the estimates for the Territory of Papua and New Guinea, which appear at page 144 of the Bill. I begin by complimenting, first, the Government and, secondly, the present Minister for Territories (Mr. Barnes) on the wonderful work that has been done in Papua and New Guinea. I should like to congratulate also the present Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck), who was previously Minister for Territories for a lengthy period. I believe that we may justifiably be very proud of our achievements in the Territory over many years. The honorable member for Batman (Mr. Benson) said that he sympathised with the present Minister because, as a junior Minister, he had such a tremendous task to perform. I assure the honorable member for Batman, knowing the ability and capabilities of the present Minister, that there need be no fear. Like other honorable members on this side of the chamber, I am confident that the present Minister will discharge his responsibilities ably and efficiently.
If we look at page 144 of the Bill, we find that the proposed expenditure for the Territory this financial year is to be increased. This is in line with the increase in activity that has occurred in recent years. Expenditure will increase from £25,890,000 to something like £28,500,000. There will be an increase of just under £3,000,000. This, as I have said, is in keeping with the usual practice of gradually increasing the amount each year.
Domestically, to some people at least, New Guinea may not seem of any great importance, but I believe that nationally it is of extreme importance, and in the international field Australia is being judged by many other countries on its activities in this Territory. It is unfortunate that many of the people who express criticism are among those who know the least about the subject. Some of them have not even visited the area and they do not know the problems that exist now or the ones that are likely to crop up in the future. Many do not realise that the value of exports from New Guinea - and when I speak of New Guinea I include Papua - is only two-thirds of the value of imports into that Territory. I do not know how many of our critics are aware of the increasing expenditure that we make in the Territory from year to year.
As I said at the outset, in this financial year we are putting something more than £28 million into the Territory by means of direct grants. Naturally there will also be other moneys infiltrating into the area.
The expenditure we are making is a very good thing. Some people ask themselves whether these allocations that are made from time to time represent an efficient method of providing finance, but I believe the important point is that we are constantly increasing our grants for the Territory. In my opinion it is far better to make constant increases than to provide a huge sum in one year and a reduced amount in the following year.
The honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Luchetti) in his speech earlier today was rather critical of some of the things that are taking place in Papua and New Guinea. He spoke of problems with salaries and he mentioned hospitals. But I do believe that the honorable member for Bowman (Dr. Gibbs) adequately answered the honorable member for Macquarie in that connection. The honorable member for Macquarie went on to say that Australia was being shown up in a bad light through her activities in the Territory, but I suggest that it would be far better for the honorable member to concentrate his remarks on Australia’s achievements in the Territory than to concentrate on criticisms, because many of the criticisms cannot really be considered constructive suggestions.
In regard to education the honorable member for Denison (Mr. Gibson) spoke at some length, and spoke very well, on the importance and value of universities. I agree with much of what he said, but I would like also to direct attention to the increases and improvements that have been made from time to time in educational facilities. I think the honorable member for Reid said that very little had been done in this field in New Guinea until the last four or five years, but I believe we are advancing at a fairly rapid rate in education. The number of registered and recognised schools has increased from about 250 or 270 some years ago to more than 1,000 today. The number of Administration schools has increased from about 40 in 1950 to more than 400 in 1962. But we must also remember that because of the lack of educated parental guidance it is not easy to stress upon the people, and have them understand, the value of education. Some of them work on the principle that if they attend a school for 12 months or so they will be automatically educated. This presents a mighty big problem, as the
Minister for Territories knows only too well. This is another of the problems that we have to try to solve.
I believe also that in recent years there has been a great improvement in the health situation. Today there are more than 100 hospitals whereas at the conclusion of World War II only about two hospitals were left standing. There are more than 500 maternity and child welfare centres. These figures are not to be sneezed at. They do not point to a country that is not playing its part in furthering the advancement of the area. There are quite a number of aged persons’ centres scattered throughout Papua and New Guinea. I agree that there could be a shortage of medical practitioners, but this is a problem that is not confined to New Guinea. I think most honorable members, particularly those from rural areas, will agree that there is a critical shortage of medical practitioners in country districts on the mainland. I know that there is in my electorate of Wimmera, and I am sure that the situation is much the same in the electorate of my colleague, the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull). As I have said, the shortage of medical practitioners is not confined to New Guinea.
We must also remember that the Territory covers a very large area and that it has a rather small population. As most of the natural exports, particularly in the agricultural field, are of a tropical type, the Territory has to compete in the export field against various other tropical countries in the vicinity, including northern Australia. So it is not easy to establish a new industry or to expand an old one, because you must face the problem of exporting your produce once you have ‘grown it. There is naturally a limit to the early potential of secondary industries. We must remember that some of the people are not far removed from the cannibal stage, and there are not many of them who can be placed in secondary industries. When faced with that problem it is only natural that there is a difficulty in expanding secondary industry as rapidly as we would like to see it expand.
I have just been reminded of one other matter. Perhaps it does not bolster the point I have just been trying to make, but it will be of interest to honorable members. We had some discussion this afternoon about the
Ansett organisation, and I would like to tell the committee that the Ansett company in New Guinea has at last been able to give one of the natives a position in the aviation industry. We must first congratulate the Ansett organisation for giving this help to one of the local inhabitants, and we should also congratulate the lad himself.
I believe we have made magnificent strides in the development of New Guinea. Australia has accepted a commitment to undertake the trusteeship of the area and to provide the necessary assistance in its development. Australia has honoured all her commitments. We are working for the social, educational, economic and political advancement of the inhabitants, so as to bring them to a stage at which they can clearly choose their own future. We will protect the rights of the inhabitants to make their own choice, and when that choice is made we will certainly respect it. Most importantly, we have pledged ourselves not to leave the Territory until the indigenous inhabitants wish us to do so. I compliment the Government on its activities in this area, and I believe that time will show that the decisions we are making today are the correct ones.
.- I support the amendment moved by the Opposition. The amendment contains nine points of criticism of the Government’s administration of the Northern Territory and the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. I should like to say at the outset that I appreciate very much the resolution conveyed to this Parliament by the House of Assembly of Papua and New Guinea. The unanimous resolution from that Assembly indicated that people in the Territory did not want to be pressured into independence but wanted to take the responsibility upon themselves to decide when they were ready for independence. I believe that that resolution conveys to the Australian people the feeling of those in the Territory, their attitude of responsibility and that they are prepared to trust us in this matter. Before I start on my speech proper I want to say that I, as one who has had an opportunity of visiting Papua and New Guinea - admittedly it was a couple of years ago - have a tremendous admiration for the many officers who carry on tasks in all stations of life in the Territory. I refer to teachers, medical officers, research workers, agricultural assistants and a whole variety of people who go up into that Territory with, I am sure, no great expectation of large remunerative rewards but with a real missionary zeal. To see them do their work in difficult conditions in many cases is an inspiration to anybody who has had the pleasure to witness it.
Tonight I feel compelled to make some critical remarks about our performance in respect of education in the Territory. The Government has told us that in Papua and New Guinea today about 179,000 of the estimated 540,000 indigenous children are attending schools of standards recognised by the Administration. Taking those figures in relation to each other we find that almost exactly one-third of all the indigenous children in Papua and New Guinea are receiving some kind of education that meets the minimum standards required by the Administration. I believe that the Government expects to have about 350,000 children in those schools by 1967. However, we need to remind ourselves that by 1967 there will be many more children and so, although the proportion attending school will be somewhat greater than now, it will not be as great as many of us would like. This means that there are great tasks in front of the Administration in respect of education. There are qualitative aspects of education in the Territory, apart from the quantitative ones I have just mentioned, that aggravate the problem.
This year the Government has allocated £4.63 million for the running expenses of education in Papua and New Guinea. This amount is only £672,000 - 17 per cent. - more than was allocated last year. It is just a little over £500,000 more. We are supposed to be seised of a sense of urgency in helping to educate the people in the Territory. We have a big backlog of educational endeavour to make up, and, to my mind, we will not do it by progressing at such a snail’s pace. Although we have increased our running expenses in respect of education by only that amount we find when we look at the capital expenditure for education for the current financial year that we will be spending £1.2 million, which is £388.000 less than we spent last year. I will be interested to hear from the Minister for Territories (Mr. Barnes) under what pretext and under what consideration we will have 32i per cent, less capital expenditure for schools and educational facilities in Papua and New Guinea this year than last year. One would have imagined that the position would have been the complete reverse, that we would have been responding to the pressures of the United Nations, of world opinion and of what is happening in West Irian alongside us and would have been increasing the pace of our endeavours.
In addition to this expenditure by the Administration, £570,000 is to be made available to the mission schools. The bigger part of our educational endeavours in Papua and New Guinea is being carried out by the mission schools, which receive a subsidy from the Government for that purpose. The £570,000 to which I referred is £81,000 or 16 per cent, more than was provided last year. That is a paltry increase, even when it is considered on its own. But when you take into account that in the meantime higher rates of subsidy are now being paid to qualified mission teachers it means that we are probably subsidising no more teachers for mission schools than we were last year. I am forced to the conclusion that we are still very much dragging our educational feet in Papua and New Guinea.
I said that besides the quantitative problems there were qualitative problems affecting our educational advance in Papua and New Guinea. One problem is the neglect of secondary education. The honorable member for Denison (Mr. Gibson) said that there would not be enough students coming forward for tertiary education by 1966 or a little later. If we continue to perform the way we are in respect of secondary education his argument will become valid. However, I am sure that that is not the way that he would wish it to become valid. I have had a communication from the National Union of Australian University Students which sent a team of investigators to the Territory to make their own independent inquiries. They reported that they felt that our performance in respect of secondary education left much to be desired. Among other things, they said, there was little or no guidance available to secondary students in the choice of a career. There are virtually no scholarships available to secondary school students to keep them on at secondary schools. Of course, what is happening is that the brighter secondary students are being pressured to leave school and go into private or public employment. Naturally, their parents being in a poor economic position, they find the attraction of immediate remuneration very hard to resist. If we want to ensure a supply of students for technical and tertiary education we must make it possible for them to withstand this temptation, this urgent need to seek immediate remunerative employment. Therefore, we need to back up our present system by introducing a solid system of secondary school scholarships and allowances. We should provide residential quarters to allow the students to attend school under the best possible conditions conducive to the best possible educational achievement.
There are numerous other aspects of secondary schools that I cannot refer to tonight, but the fact is that we still have about 5,500 students in our secondary schools in Papua and New Guinea when we should have many more. It has been mentioned tonight that two or two and a half years ago the Foot Report told us that it was necessary for us to get on with the task of training professional people, the people who will take over the leadership positions - political, economic and social - in Papua and New Guinea. If the Territory is to aspire to independence in the foreseeable future it will be absolutely necessary for these people to be trained. It has been acknowledged that our policy has been one of uniform development at a comparatively slow rate, more or less leading everybody up at the same pace. That is not good enough. We must go into this problem now and produce an educational elite that will give leadership in architecture, law, education and in all the other fields. We will not achieve this if we continue to carry on what seems to be the policy of the Government to hasten slowly, as the honorable member for Denison said.
Every newspaper of any consequence in (his country and every editorial has expressed misgivings about the Government’s reaction to the report of the Currie Commission. The Currie Commission has asked us to have a university in being and in operation by 1966 and it drew attention to this urgent need of administrative and professional staffs among the indigenous people of Papua and New Guinea. Yet we have heard it said openly tonight - we have suspected this for a long time - that the Government is not anxious to go on with this task, despite the fact that the former Minister for Territories said two years ago that we were going to establish a university college in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. Two years have gone by and still there is no sign of a university college. Now we have the report of the Currie Commission - the result of a careful investigation made by eminent men who ask us to get on with the job and to establish first an institute of higher technical education and secondly a university.
The Commission asks us to start immediately. It says in respect of the institute of higher technical education that we should be in a position to begin diploma courses in civil engineering in 1967. Nobody needs to be told how important civil engineering would be in a place like Papua and New Guinea. The Currie Commission asks us to appoint a principal of the institute immediately and to appoint other officers in the current financial year. I ask the Minister for Territories to give us some idea of the Government’s reaction to the Commission’s report. We do not want to hear that the Government thinks the report is interesting. We want to know what the Government intends to do in the immediate future. The Commission thinks that a university should be in operation in the Territory by 1966. In order that this may be so the Commission asks us to appoint a registrar and certain staff this year. Well, it is already October and very little has been done. The Commission asks us to appoint a Dean of Education and a librarian in 1964. It asks us to set up an interim council for the university immediately and to appoint a vice-chancellor so that matters may get under way. The Commission suggests that if we do not think we can do these things ourselves we should seek the help of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation. If one looks across the border of the Territory one finds that in West Irian, that part of the island controlled by Indonesia, a university is already functioning. About 200 students attend that university.
– What about independence for West Irian?
– That is another issue. You say it is not possible to establish a university in the Territory by 1966. It is estimated that by 1973 Papua and New Guinea will need 200 university graduates a year. Where will they come from?
I want to say a few words now about the Northern Territory. In that Territory education is provided by the South Australian Department of Education. My talks with various educationists during my recent visit to the Northern Territory lead me to the belief that the sooner we get away-
– Were they teachers?
– No, they were not teachers. They were members of the community who are dissatisfied with the present system of education that is controlled from South Australia. Teachers are appointed to schools in the Northern Territory for a period of two years. Almost as soon as a teacher has learnt something about the customs and make-up of society in the Territory he is on his way back to South Australia. Even the Superintendent of Education in the Territory is appointed for only a three-year term. Imagine if this were the situation in Canberra - that teachers were appointed to schools here for only two years, except in the case of teachers who voluntarily stayed longer, and then whizzed back to some distant place in order to obtain promotional opportunities. I hope that before long we will establish a Commonwealth educational service which will provide a service not only to the Northern Territory but also to residents of other Commonwealth Territories.
The people of Darwin complain bitterly that air conditioning will not be provided in the local high school before the end of this year. The school was built to accommodate 500 pupils but there are more than 600 in it already, and the number is increasing by 25 per cent. each year. There is no school counselling service available to the children in the Territory. This is disgraceful in an area where the social fabric of the community is not as happy as it is in some other areas. In the Territory there are more problems associated with the breaking up of marriages and illegitimacy than there are in other parts of the Commonwealth. It is essential that a local school counselling ser vice be established soon. The only counselling service available at present comes from distant Adelaide. These people want this service in the Territory. It is necessary to have someone who knows the conditions in the Territory and the type of product that the Territory wants to turn out. There is still no technical college in Darwin Technical courses are done by correspondence from Adelaide.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
. -I was disturbed to read in one of this evening’s newspapers details of the report of a United Nations sub-committee which criticised Australia and urged that Australia abolish special and reserved seats in the New Guinea House of Assembly, eliminate disparities in wages of the indigenous people, permit more selfgovernment in municipal matters and speed up efforts in economic and educational fields. I do not have time to deal with all of the matters raised in the sub-committee’s report. If I did have time I could say a lot to discredit this Government. But 1 have time to deal with that aspect of the report in which the sub-committee urges that Australia eliminate disparities in the wages of the indigenous people.
I have made inquiries into the wages paid to native workers in Papua and New Guinea. I have placed on the notice paper questions on this subject and have asked the Minister for Territories (Mr. Barnes) questions without notice about it so that his replies may be on record and so that other honorable members may have available accurate details of the true position in the Territory. I hope that honorable members will take note of what is said tonight because many people to whom I have spoken cannot believe that conditions in the Territory are as bad as I say they are or as the Minister says they are. The Press should tell the people of Australia how badly the Government is behaving in the Territory as far as wages paid to native workers are concerned, because if Australia does not do a lot more in the Territory, then, as a member of the House of Assembly, Mr. Don Barrett, said, the Territory could become a hotbed of Communism. It would then be far too late for the Press and the people of Australia to bemoan that we had not done something about the causes of Communism earlier. Mr. Barrett, who is a planter, said -
The conditions that exist and are becoming prevalent in New Guinea today will prove ripe for Communist propaganda. Very soon there will be trouble because the numbers leaving school are unable to find work. They are not taught technical skills at school or told that money comes from the land.
Mr. R. T. D. Neville, another member of the House of Assembly - nobody can say that be is opposed to the white people in the Territory - has said -
Unless material progress goes hand in hand with education you will produce a group of people best described as Mau Mau for lack of a belter word.
The position in New Guinea is serious. It is getting worse each year. The Government is doing nothing about it. The Government’s behaviour is nothing short of scandalous as far as wage rates for native workers are concerned. One day we will wake up and find, because of our complete indifference to wage rates in New Guinea, that we have a very serious situation there. The people of Australia should be told the facts.
I propose now to give some figures. These figures are not based on hearsay; they have been supplied by the Minister. Recently in answer to a question the Minister told me that of 380 native labourers employed by the Commonwealth/ New Guinea Timbers Limited, a company in which the Commonwealth owns the majority of shares, 196 were paid only £19 10s. a year or 7s. 6d. a week plus keep and accommodation. The clothing provided for these natives consists of lap laps. Their food consists of sweet potatoes. Their accommodation is of the most primitive kind. The Minister’s own estimate of the total value of accommodation, keep and clothing is £71 a year. You can add that to the remuneration if you like, but you will still have only the miserable rate of 7s. 6d. a week for wages and something less than 30s. a week, on the Government’s own estimate, for accommodation, keep and clothing. The Minister said that twenty of them were paid at the rate of £22 15s. a year or 8s. 9d. a week, and seven were paid at the rate of £26 a year, or 10s. a week. Of the balance, 119 were paid at the rate of £39 a year or 15s. a week, and the other 38 were paid amounts ranging from 12s. 6d. a week to a maximum of £4 a week. The maximum of £4 was paid to only one solitary person.
On the same date, the Minister admitted that the only paid holidays to which these native workers are entitled from this company, are Good Friday and Christmas Day. They do not receive payment for any other holidays throughout the whole year. The Minister went on to say - this is reported in “ Hansard “ on the same page - that they are not entitled to any annual leave at all. And mark you, these rates and conditions are authorised by the Government’s own Native Ordinance 1958-1963. There has been no review of these minimum wage rates for native workers since the 1958 rate of 6s. 3d. a week was increased to the present rate of 7s. 6d. a week in 1963. I refer honorable members to page 674 of “ Hansard “ where I am reported as having asked the Minister to say whether the Government intended to review the wage rates fixed by the Government’s ordinance for native workers. The Minister’s reply was -
Reviews are made from time to time, and, from my recollection, these wage rates were reviewed a few months back. When the next review will be made, I would not be able to tell the honorable member.
I took the trouble to follow up this matter. On 16th September 1964, as reported on page 1212 of “ Hansard “, the Minister said that the present rates were fixed when the existing ordinance was passed in 1958. I was not satisfied with this and I then asked why, if this was so, he had told me that they had been fixed recently. The Minister then said, in effect, “ I did not mean what I said then “, or, “ You misunderstood me. I was talking about the ordinance of 1958.”
– And the Rabaul rates.
– I am talking about the rates that are set out in “Hansard”. On page 1616 of “Hansard” of the 29th September 1964, the Minister is reported as having admitted that there had been no amendment of the New Guinea Employment Ordinance since 2nd January 1961 when the wage rate was lifted to its present level of 7s. 6d. a week. Due to delays by the Administration in gazetting ordinances that improve workers’ conditions, these have been known to take five years to be implemented,so it would not be beyond the realm of probability that the last review was made away back in late 1959 or early 1960. 1 have just said that it has taken up to five years to implement ordinances. I ought to substantiate that because it is a most serious statement to make. If it is true, then somebody ought to be rapped over the knuckles. If honorable members care to refer to page 1770 of “ Hansard “ of 18th October 1962, they will note that the then Minister for Territories now the Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) told me - and listen to this because someone has said that we must not hasten too quickly - that the Native Employment Ordinance 1958-60 was proposed in October 1955, was not drafted until 31st August 1957, was passed by the Legislative Council on 11th June 1958, and was not fully implemented until 6th October 1960, almost five years to the day after it was first proposed. This is a disgraceful performance and the people responsible ought to be dismissed from the Service. The Minister concerned ought to be removed from office if he allows those officers to remain one single day longer in employment. The officials who allowed an ordinance that was proposed in 1955 to improve the conditions of native labourers to be delayed for five years before being fully implemented, ought to be dismissed because they have done a great disservice to this country in the eyes of the world. It is an absolute disgrace, and the Minister and the others responsible ought to be ashamed of themselves.
I want to refer now to something that is even more serious. On 30th August 1962, as reported on page 978 of “ Hansard “, the then Minister for Territories told me that none of the natives employed by Commonwealth/ New Guinea Timbers Ltd. was then employed on the minimum rate of 7s. 6d. a week, and that 205 of them were employed on the higherrate of 8s. 9d. per week. Let me revert now to what the present Minister said in answer to my question only the other day. We find the Minister admitting that instead of there being no workers on the minimum rate of 7s. 6d. a week as was the case two years ago. no fewer than 196 of the natives have now been reduced to that rate. Therefore, if one can believe the statements made in this Parliament by two Ministers of the Crown, 196 natives in New Guinea have slid back from 8s. 9d. per week to 7s. 6d. per week. How can the Government get away from this? Unless the former Minister was lying when he told me that not one of the natives was on the rate of 7s. 6d. a week, then I say that the position of the natives in New Guinea has slid back steadily. What is more serious is that it has slid back in a factory in which the majority of the shares are owned by the Government.
Let me answer those who might say that the natives are not worth any more. When I visited this factory at Bulolo I observed European women - the wives of some of the top echelon of the European men working there - doing certain jobs. I saw them standing on one side of a conveyor belt opposite a row of natives doing the same sort of work. A pair of white hands would catch hold of a piece of timber on the belt and a pair of black hands on the other side of the belt would catch hold of the same piece of timber. The timber would be turned over and placed on another elevator. The white women and the natives were working together doing exactly the same tasks. I asked: “What wages are these people getting?” To get a reply was like getting-
– Blood from a stone.
– It was almost as bad as that. I eventually wheedled out of the person in charge of the operation the information that the native men working on one side of the conveyor belt were getting 7s. 6d. a week, but I could not find out how much the women were getting. He kept evading the question by saying: “ There is no comparison because they only work 30 hours a week; the natives work 44 hours “. I said: “ Can you tell me what the women get for the 30 hours? “ He said: “ It would be very difficult to say “. I asked: “ Who makes up their pay? “, and the reply was: “ I do not know.” I said: “Can you take me to the person who makes up the pay? “ He said: “That would be a bit difficult. I do not know whether I can do that.” I came back here, and, on 15th November 1962, in this Parliament, I said to the then Minister: “ Can you tell me what these women are getting? Nobody else seems to know.” The
Minister replied, as reported on page 2551 of “ Hansard “, that the European women were employed at £10 7s. 4d. for a 30 hour week. The native employees were required to work 44 hours a week for 8s. 9d. I took the matter a little bit further. 1 made inquiries about the average wage rate paid to the Europeans employed by this company. 1 was told that the average wage for European employees was £30 19s. Id. and that the average native rate was £1 8s. 6d. a week.
– And this factory is under Commonwealth control.
– Yes. The Commonwealth Government owns the majority of the shares in it, and wages and conditions are controlled by a Commonwealth ordinance. The profit made by this company last year was £193,000, after meeting all expenses. Does this Committee realise, and do the people of Australia realise, that the Commonwealth could have increased the wages of every one of the workers in that factory by 100 per cent, and still made a profit of £180,870? It could have increased the total wages of the highest paid as well as the lowest paid employees by 100 per cent., and the additional cost would have been only £12,130 a year. In view of those facts, it can hardly be argued that the company cannot afford to pay any more. This miserable treatment of these people cannot be justified on the basis that the company cannot afford better wages. You cannot say that there is a case for refusing the right of these people to the same wages as are paid to Europeans on the grounds that the firm would go broke. If you only doubled the existing Tales the firm would still make a profit of £180,000.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– 1 have been most interested in the remarks that have come from honorable members on both sides of the chamber. Obviously there is great interest in the territories which my Department administers. I notice that there is considerable interest in the Territory of Papua-New Guinea. In view of some of the criticisms that have been expressed by honorable members opposite, I think it is just as well to get the situation in PapuaNew Guinea somewhat in perspective. We in Australia embarked on a degree of nationhood only in the 1920’s. In the 1930’s, of course, we were pretty well encompassed by the worst depression this nation has ever known. This is not an excuse; I am only putting the facts. In the 1940’s, of course, we had the worst war the world has ever known and in Papua-New Guinea the whole area was pretty well devastated. I think one hospital remained after the war. So, in a sense, we started again from scratch. I would say - and when I say this I have in mind my predecessor, the present Minister for External Affairs (Mr. Hasluck) - that the advancement of PapuaNew Guinea, when it is realised that it is in the category of the under-developed countries, has not been surpassed anywhere in the world.
– Rubbish, you say. I should like to see another country which has developed as well.
– What about these wage rates? What have you to say about them?
– You do not build a country on wage rates. If we are going to embark on a sort of cargo cult, which is virtually what is suggested by the Australian Labour Party, we will be leading these people down the drain. Australia has been built up by the hard work of every person who came out here. Our ancestors had to put up with all manner of difficult conditions. They were faced with a completely foreign environment from what they had experienced in their own countries in Europe. They met these challenges. They were not given handouts in the form of high wages, universities and all the rest of it. They built this country by building new industries. Consider our early settlers who crossed the Great Dividing Range into a very arid country. They came from the lush fields of Europe into this vast arid country. One wonders what sort of hearts they had to enable them to do so. By their endeavours they built one of the great industries of the world - the great wool industry of Australia. We have lived on the sheep’s back in Australia. That industry was developed and it made us. To the wool industry we have added all sorts of other industries. This has all been done by hard work. You do not get anything other than by hard work.
In Papua-New Guinea we are endeavouring to advance the people to standards far beyond what they have been used to, and in this we are succeeding admirably. At this stage I should like to express my appreciation of the remarks of honorable members from both sides of the chamber who have given credit to the officers of the Administration, and not only those in Papua-New Guinea, but to the officers in all the Territories under my Department. Those officers have done an excellent job in advancing the people of those Territories, and I think that if the people of Australia could see what the officers are doing, and the spirit in which they are doing it, they would be very proud.
– They ought to have a good look at Burns Philp.
– The honorable member for Hindmarsh seems to be obsessed with the idea of these wage scales. Wage scales are an important thing, but a wage scale has to be adjusted to the economy of a particular country. He has suggested that we should put up the wage scales because Burns Philp, W. R. Carpenter and a few more are making profits, but what about the thousands of people in the Territory who are making just a bare living. You will ruin them. I will now read a statement which was presented to me on a recent visit. It was a motion introduced in the House of Assembly by the local government councillor, Maiak, who said -
Mr. President, I would like to move that we ask the Minister for Territories to say to the Prime Minister of Australia that all Councillors of Sumgilbar Council say “ Thank You “ to the Australian Government for helping the people in Sumgilbar. The Sumgilbar Council builds aid posts, schools and feeder roads from tax money collected from our own people. However, we know that the Australian people send tax money to pay for teachers, medical orderlies and for building roads and bridges. They have recently completed a bridge over the Sumerang River and the road is now open for us to advance.
Our children are at school and later we will be able to cope with all work but for the present Australia must strengthen us and I would like the Minister to bring this statement to the Prime Minister.
From my knowledge of the areas that I have traversed in Papua-New Guinea, I think that is a true expression of the feelings of the people up there. This does not mean that we are by any means complacent about what we are doing. A lot has to be done. Another thing to be remembered is that Australia is a developing country itself. Every £1 we have to spare we could use here in Australia, but we have accepted the responsibility for developing New Guinea - and let me remind you that the Australian taxpayer is subsidising New Guinea to the extent of 2s. of every 3s. that is spent there.
I have great hopes for the people of New Guinea. I believe they have the ability to advance their country. They have the disadvantage that they have not the industries that Australia has, such as the wool industry and the beef industry. However, they are fast going along the road to building up industries suitable to their environment and the climatic condition. I might remind honorable members that these industries are producing tropical products which, in a general sense, are in over-supply in the world - copra, cocoa and that sort of thing. We are going to develop other industries there. A large company in Papua-New Guinea is going to embark on a tea industry, and this will add to the standards of living of the people who live there.
I do not want to take up much of the time of this Committee, because we have a lot of business to get through, but I should like to touch on a matter which was brought up tonight by the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley); that is, the public service wage scale. As I mentioned in answer to a question, this scale is designed for the situation when the local officers - that is indigenous people of the Territory of Papua-New Guinea - take over from the present expatriates, the overseas officers of the New Guinea public service. I think it would be completely dishonest of us to profess that they are going to be able to choose the time when they should become independent and then saddle them with a public service built on Australian standards. The per capita income of the people of New Guinea - and this includes the incomes of
Europeans and the earnings of the companies there - is £70 a year, whereas the per capita income in Australia is £658.
If you are going to load a public service or a community or an economy with a burden like that the people will never be independent. I know this sort of thing has difficulties and we may have to alter this arrangement. I do not say it is perfect by any means and the Government will certainly alter it if it can. But I would subscribe to the basic policy that this is right. I would like to make this absolutely clear: At the present time there are only very few indigenous members of the Public Service in Papua and New Guinea. We are doing this early in the piece before we get large numbers coming into the service. I would also like to make it clear that no single indigenous public servant will suffer a loss in his emolument. He will suffer a loss in his salary but he will receive an allowance to bring it up to his present rate and in some cases will receive more because in the change over from the old classifications he will move up into a higher wage scale.
– What would be the position where a clerk had taken time off to qualify as a teacher? Would he, on becoming a teacher, be paid the old clerk’s scale or the old teacher’s scale or the new teacher’s scale.
– Off hand, I could not say. If he had already been accepted and engaged he would get the old teacher’s scale. But if he was just going into the position he would have to accept the new scale. If he had been given to understand that he would receive the old scale I feel that we would have to do something about it; but he would have to satisfy us as to those circumstances. Students are in the same position. I am going to have a look into this matter. I am expecting a report from the Public Service Commissioner. A similar set of circumstances exists in the Northen Territory. But before I leave Papua and New Guinea, I would like to point out the scale of assistance being given by the Australian Government to Papua and New Guinea. In 1952-53 the grant from Aus tralia was £5,473,000, In 1964-65 it is £28,496,000. The revenue to the Administration has increased from £2£ million in 1952-53 to £12,700,000 in this coming year. I think that is a pretty extensive advance.
As far as the Northern Territory is concerned, we are faced with a completely different circumstance. The Northern Territory is in the geographic region of northern Australia. The problems of the Territory are in line with those of the States of Western Australia and Queensland. The economy of the whole north of Australia has been based mainly on beef and minerals. I would remind honorable members that the north really had a set back in 1922 when the price of cattle dropped from about £20 a head to about £3 a head in the south overnight and, in the far north, were virtually unsaleable. The north had its greatest set back when that occurred. Unfortunately it was at a time when most of the great mineral areas seemed to peter out - the copper areas of Cloncurry, Charters Towers and many others.
Now we have another surge of hope in that area, particularly in the Northern Territory where we have great prospects with the development of manganese ore and iron ore. There are also prospects for bauxite in the Gove Peninsula and also increasing income from our cattle industry. Unfortunately, there is a very severe drought in the centre, as was mentioned by the honorable member for Corangamite (Mr. Mackinnon). This is one of the worst features of a very large part of Australia, in fact two-thirds of Australia. I suppose that Alice Springs is one of the centres of this arid area and it represents a very typical part of Australia.
There is a lot we have to learn in this part of the world as regards the seasons. It is very hard to know what a normal season is in the centre of Australia around Alice Springs. This particular area was blessed with good seasons in the early fifties. Since that time there has been a great series of droughts. In recent years the cattle population has dropped from about 300,000 in the Alice Springs area to about 130,000 now.
But there is one very great change in this part of the world, and that is the benefit of motor transport. It enables people to move cattle from drought areas, either to agistment areas or to where they can be be sold in the more fortunate areas in the south. This situation has been aided, of course, by the Government’s efforts to put beef roads into most parts of north Australia, not only the Northern Territory. It would be very hard to assess the millions of pounds that have been saved to the cattle industry through these beef roads over the last three or four years. We still have a long way to go with our beef roads programme and one of the problems in the north is our resources of manpower and machines to build these roads which are so necessary. But we are making headway. For the first time, there is an abattoir at Katherine and there the man on the land can get quite an adequate price on the spot for his cattle. This has made a great difference to those people in the far north.
There are other advances being made by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation and other research enterprises in that particular area. I am very hopeful, particularly, of what the future holds as far as our Townsville lucerne and some other pastures which are going to mean very much to the carrying capacity of that particular area are concerned. The honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson), with his great knowledge of that country, is very concerned with its development. He mentioned projects such as rice. Of course, we have not found all the answers in regard to these things but the research areas and some of the pilot farms that we have going will reveal some of them. The suggestion that we should put tens of thousands or possibly millions of pounds into advancing these projects before we have the answers to the questions would, I think, reflect a completely irresponsible attitude to our taxpayers. The honorable member for Fremantle embarked on a very serious criticism of infant mortality in central Australia. I think be was very effectively answered by the honorable member for Bowman (Dr. Gibbs).
– He answered the honorable member far more effectively than I could, or could the honorable member for
Yarra, because the honorable member for Bowman happened to be connected with the medical service of the Northern Territory. I know the honorable member for Yarra regrets that he cannot use these figures against Australia. The honorable member for Bowman quoted other figures from other parts of the world to show that these figures did not support the case of the honorable member for Fremantle.
The interesting point about this factor is that the honorable member for Fremantle quotes the figures for Alice Springs, but he does not quote the figures for the other parts of the Territory. The Alice Springs area is probably one of the most difficult areas, climatically, that one would find in Australia. As the honorable member for Bowman pointed out, with his experience of the Northern Territory, there are flies and other things, but the Aborigines will not accept our ideas of hygiene. These are some of the things in which we have to educate them, and it is not an easy matter. We are trying to bring them into our community, to take their place as equal partners. Just as it is difficult to bring them in on the economic and social sides, it is also difficult to bring them in on the hygiene side. In Alice Springs, as anybody who has been there knows, the variations of temperature are very considerable. The day temperatures are very high and the night temperatures may be around freezing point. That is a very serious matter for infants.
I am particularly disappointed in the honorable member for Fremantle. I thought he was sincere in the attitudes that he adopts. In a speech that he made in this chamber recently, he stated that the health situation in the Northern Territory was extremely poor. That is a very grave reflection on the devoted staffs on our settlements. I point out that in our settlement hospitals the Aborigines have the benefit of the 24-hour service of a trained sister and the flying doctor is within easy call if a serious case arises. Serious cases are taken into a base hospital. On the settlements the Aborigines have three meals a day and infants are put on diets suitable to their ages.
– Fancy that. How lucky can you be?
– I know that the honorable member does not like to hear this. He is out to knock Australia. He is happy if these statements are reported all over the world. That is his objective. The honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns) also delights in this sort of thing, and the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren) is in that category, too.
That is one illustration. But the best illustration is that, whereas in the past the Aborigines were considered to be a dying race, today they are increasing by hundreds every year. I believe that that is a great indication of what we are doing in the Northern Territory. But we are not complacent about what we are doing. We have all sorts of problems to solve. We will face up to them in the spirit of Australians. We will not do that by giving handouts, as suggested by the Labour Party. The Labour Party is given to that sort of cargo cult. Its figures are plucked out of thin air. We saw that happen in the last election campaign. In that campaign the Leader of the Labour Party promised the people hundreds of millions of pounds, but he could not tell us where the money would come from. That is really a cargo cult brought to Australia. I do not see why we should criticise the people of New Guinea when we have a cargo cult right here on our doorstep. The interesting point is that the candidates in the recent Papua and New Guinea election who advocated cargo cults really went down the drain, just as honorable members opposite who subscribe to that sort of attitude will.
Before I finish my speech I should like to comment on some remarks made by the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Benson). I know the interest that he has in Norfolk Island. There are great difficulties on that island in relation to the hospital and social services. But I point out that the people on the island have an elected council; that they do not pay income tax; and that they pay a very small customs duty. If they are to benefit from our social services and the other things that exist in our economy, I am afraid that they will have to come into our taxation system. When they are prepared to face up to that sort of thing, I will certainly consider their position.
Question put -
That the amendment (Mr. Beazley’s) bo agreed to.
The Committee divided. (The Temporary Chairman - Hon. W. C. Haworth.)
Aye . . . . . . 40
Noes . . . . . . 58
Majority .. ..18
Question so resolved in the negative.
Proposed expenditures agreed to.
Department of the Treasury.
Proposed expenditure, £88,238,000.
Advance to the Treasurer.
Proposed expenditure, £16,000,000.
– This is a pretty grim hour of night at which to get down into the depths of the problems of the Treasury. However, I would like to direct attention to one or two matters in the estimates for the Treasury. In the schedule of salaries and allowances reference is made to the Royal Australian Mint. This item appears for the first time in these Estimates because previously the Mint had been a division not of the Australian Treasury but of the British Treasury. As we know, it is intended within a short time to change to a new system of currency in Australia, known as decimal currency.
From time to time the Opposition has drawn attention to certain inequities that seem to be inevitable in the introduction of the decimal system because there is no exact equivalent in decimal currency of the old penny. In fact, one cent in the new currency will be equal to 1.2d. in the old currency. We realise at this stage that the basic unit will not be changed. We suggested that instead of the unit of conversion being 10s. - that is, two dollars being equivalent to £1 - the dollar ought to be equivalent to 8s. 4d. We realise that we have lost that decision. The Currency Act was passed at the end of the last Parliament and the new currency has now been chosen. In future, 10s. in current money will be known as a dollar.
We have suggested that some of the difficulties of converting prices at present expressed in pence could be obviated if we had a half cent unit as well as the proposed units. It is proposed that in the new currency there will be a 1 cent coin, a 2 cent coin, a 5 cent coin, a 10 cent coin, a 20 cent coin and a 50 cent coin. Some weeks ago I asked the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) whether we could have a half cent coin. He answered, as I interpret it, that a half cent would be a breach of the decimal system. I am afraid I cannot quite follow the logic of this. I cannot understand how the decimal system would be breached by our having a half cent coin. South Africa, which changed to the decimal system, chose to have a half cent unit as well as a cent unit. I again ask the Treasurer to consider this suggestion. In my view, it is only a Treasury hurdle, not a real one, that precludes us from having a half cent in the system. Let me give an example of the difficulties with the proposed system. Let us take a newspaper which is currently selling at 5d. This is the price of a newspaper in many cities. If in future this is to be sold for five cents, it means a 20 per cent, increase in real terms in the price of the newspaper.
– Probably the proprietors will sell it at 4 cents.
– They may sell it at 4 cents, but in my view they would not. They are more likely to sell it at 5 cents. At least they would gain something and the public would be saved something if they could sell the newspaper at 4i cents. But they will not be able to do this because there is to be no equivalent of a halfpenny in the proposed currency. In Victoria, tram fares have increased recently because of the policy of the Victorian Government. All the increases in tram fares have been expressed in penny units. The overall fare for most journeys has gone up by about 4d. A journey that formerly cost ls. 6d. will now cost ls. lOd. That is an increase of the order of four over eighteen, which is a very big percentage increase. At the beginning of 1965, when we switch over to the new currency, there will be a further increase in fares because there is no exact equivalent of ls. lOd. in the new currency. The Treasurer and such people may think that these things do not matter much, but they do matter to the ordinary household in the community whose budget contains many items the prices of which are expressed partly in pence. Many items recur daily, such as fares and newspapers. At any of the food stores, one finds plenty of items with prices expressed partly in pence.
Again, I urge on the Government the need seriously to consider striking a halfpenny or a half cent coin in addition to the other denominations proposed. In my view, no insuperable administrative difficulties are posed. The proposition does not seem to me to breach in any way what is called the decimal principle. In the United
States of America, for instance, there is a 25 cent coin - a quarter dollar. There is no proposal for a quarter dollar in the Australian decimal coinage. It seems to me that no great principle is involved. This is simply a matter of convenience and, in this instance, as well, a question of justice of considerable magnitude. If we provided for a halfpenny or a half cent coin, some prospective price increases, which are inevitable if the change to decimal currency is made with the units as at present proposed, would be mitigated. That is one matter to which I wish particularly to direct attention during this consideration of the estimates for the Department of the Treasury.
The second matter concerns the dissemination of information, Mr. Temporary Chairman. A considerable amount of public information will be required concerning the new decimal currency. These days, many other aspects of public finance need to be made readily understandable to the public. At present, the Commonwealth Government spends the community’s money at the rate of something like £2,500 million a year. One quarter or more of the economic activity that occurs in the community is a direct result of actions by branches of government, whether Commonwealth and State Governments or local government authorities. The proportions and perspectives of the expenditures of these branches of government are such as to make it incumbent on the Treasury to supply to the public information that will be intelligible, in contrast to the information presented in some of the documents published by the Bureau of Census and Statistics which, after all, is just a branch of the Treasury, and in documents presented to this Parliament at Budget time.
I direct the Treasurer’s attention to some documents that are published periodically by the United Kingdom Treasury. One that I have in my hand now is entitled “ Broadsheets on Britain “. It is one of a series distributed by the United Kingdom Treasury to schools, public libraries and other community organisations that require them. This one is devoted to the subject, “The Commonwealth Today”. Each issue is given over to presenting in a popular form some aspect of the role of government in the ordinary economic activity of the community. There is another series entitled “ Bulletins for Industry “. Both these series are published monthly and have a circulation of some hundreds of thousands. I have obtained them simply by writing to the United Kingdom Treasury. They have been sent to me free for five or six years now. I suggest that these publications are good examples of the kind of documents required in Australia today to make the implications of public finance relatively intelligible to the ordinary person in the community. I believe that any government and any parliament gains by the publication of such documents, particularly if they are widely distributed throughout the community, for they promote a better understanding of the role of government in a modern community. I suggest to the Treasurer that he consider establishing an information section in the Australian Treasury.
– I think that the economic survey series has filled this need.
– I regard that series as most disappointing, with all due respect. Those publications are obfuscating documents. I do not know who the writer is, but all I can gather from the document, “The Australian Economy, 1964” and the publication for 1963-
– They are presented in lucid prose.
– I regard their language as jargon rather than lucid prose. Such publications are welcome, but they are not the sort of documents that are likely to be read by the man in the street. I have here another publication of the Bureau of Census and Statistics, but I doubt whether it is readily available to the man in the street. Even if it were, I think that the man in the street would have difficulty in comprehending its contents. I have only two or three minutes left, and I now turn to the final matter that I wish to raise. I regret that I have not more time in which to discuss it. The Treasurer, as reported at page 33 of “ Hansard “ of 1 1th August 1964, in his Budget Speech, stated -
What we have to ensure is that demand does not rise excessively. Should it do so, there could soon be over-strong competition for goods and labour and materials. Costs and prices would be driven up.
In my view, they are now being driven up. The Treasurer continued -
Speculation could break out again. Imports . could rise excessively. . . .
I doubt whether this Government has grappled with the circumstances surrounding what may be described as speculation in the community. I doubt also whether there are very many persons in the community at large who are able to indulge in speculation. This activity is open to only a comparatively limited number of people. The ordinary wage earner has very little scope for it. About the only speculation in which he indulges is speculation about how he can manage to survive for the rest of the week, and that is the sort of speculation in which he usually engages in the early part of each week. He is not given to speculation in the sense of buying something today with the prospect of selling it for an enhanced return tomorrow. Only a limited number of people have available opportunities for that kind of speculation. I suggest that it is time the Treasury and the Treasurer took steps to prevent speculation from breaking out rather than grappling with it after it has become apparent.
I contrast the speed of action taken concerning the regulation of intrastate airline services by the Commonwealth with the Government’s failure to take action to deal with what are known in the financial world as fringe banking institutions. These have been the subject of a great deal of discussion. We on this side of the Parliament have said that fringe banking is far more like banking than not like banking and that it ought to be treated as banking. In our view, the Government ought to legislate to treat it as such instead of saying that any legislation may be subject to constitutional challenge. The Government ought to pass legislation to deal with fringe banking institutions and leave it to the speculators and the economic predators in the community to challenge the legislation If they will. The Government should first take positive action and see what comes of it.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I wish to speak tonight about the bank overdraft system. An increasing number of people seem to be of the opinion that if we were to change the system of bank overdrafts for one based on fixed loans;, the banking industry would be able to respond better to changes in monetary policy and the effectiveness of monetary controls would be improved.
– You are the toughest bank manager of the lot.
– Evidently you have not done business with me. In my opinion a changeover to fixed loans, far from having the desired economic effect, could easily work in the opposite direction and could add substantially to the mass of uncontrolled credit funds available for personal expenditure, for inter-company borrowing, investment in hire purchase and other types of lending, both public and private. In the course of this speech I shall demonstrate how this could happen, but before I do I think it is desirable for us to see the overdraft system in proper perspective.
The overdraft limit has been a feature of Australia’s banking system for many years, perhaps longer than anyone living can remember. It permits a borrower to restrict his use of bank money to such amounts as he actually needs from day to day. The bank, in turn, charges him interest only on the amount drawn each day rather than on the amount which it keeps in reserve so that he can draw it should he wish to do so. Overdrafts are without doubt the most flexible and most economic type of lending device yet developed by man. Many of the farms and big business in Australia have been enabled to establish themselves because of this method of overdraft limits which is peculiar to Australia.
In a country such as Australia, which is subject to vast fluctuations in seasonal conditions and in the prices that can be obtained for our products overseas, the overdraft is almost an ideal type of loan from the borrower’s point of view, although it may not at all times be so suitable to the banks. At the present time the advances of the major trading banks total about £1,200 million, whilst limit commitments are some £700 million over and above this figure. The figures for July 1964 are: Overdrafts, £1,184 million; Limits, £1,902 million; Difference, £718 million.
Because there seems to be a big difference between overdrafts and limits, some people in this community consider unused overdrafts something of a time bomb likely to blow up in our faces when things get tough, particularly when there is a credit squeeze on. Well, a credit squeeze is on the banks right now, but I do not see any significant changes taking place in the relationship of overdraft limits to actual overdrafts. Indeed, the record is one of great stability. The Reserve Bank’s most recent Statistical Bulletin, that for August this year, shows that for the three years during which the figures for overdraft limits have been published there has been a remarkably consistent ratio of overdrafts to limits. For example, average overdrafts for the year 1961-62 were £1,002 million and overdraft limits at July 1962 were £1,733 million, the relationship of one to the other being, in round figures, 58 per cent. Average overdrafts for 1962-63 were £1,061 million while overdraft limits at July 1963 were £1,821 million, again a relationship of 58 per cent. Average overdrafts for 1963-64 were £1,106 million and overdraft limits at July 1964 were £1,902 million, the relationship again being about 58 per cent. These figures, and my own experience in a lifetime of practical banking, indicate that the dangers of overdraft limits being excessively used are being greatly exaggerated. We have always had and must always have a substantial excess of limits over overdrafts and if this constitutes a time bomb then all I can say is that 1 have never seen it go off in my lifetime. Indeed, I am not sure even that it has a fuse in it. lt seems to have become fashionable over the last couple of years for academic economists in particular to worry about these unused limits. The figures about overdrafts and limits were not published by the Reserve Bank until two or three years ago. The economists did not know the position before that time and consequently did not show any great concern about it. The making available of these figures to our economists has been almost like giving a thermometer to an excitable young mother; she takes the children’s temperatures, panics at even small variations and calls for the doctor. These days we tend to judge the condition of members of our very healthy banking family according to the figures of bank limit commitments, and when we see any rise at all we call for the doctor. This particular doctor then limits the amount of work he permits our banking patients to do.
The main reason why some people want to change the overdraft system to one of fixed loans is that the overdraft method, with its unused limits, allegedly does not allow monetary policy to be implemented quickly enough. It is said that often the trend of advances is so slow to change that policy could be due for reversal even before it can be implemented. This misunderstanding comes about because most of these theorists have never actually worked in an office, factory or bank and have not” had actual experience of banking and of the way in which people actually borrow money.
– Have you had any experience?
– A little - just on 49 years. Implementation of banking policy is thus, say the critics, always too late and often works the wrong way. There is, of course, often a substantial and unavoidable time lag in the overdraft system between a bank manager telling his customer he can get a loan and that customer actually drawing it in full. Again this is to the customer’s advantage. The lag is often of many months’ duration and frequently we see in Australia a situation in which a bank, in accordance with official policy, is doing practically nothing by way of new commitments although its advances are nonetheless increasing. This is because the bank manager has made commitments to his clients three, four or five months previously, but they have not availed themselves of their overdrafts until after the new edict has been issued. Therefore, say the academics, let us scrap the overdraft system in favour of fixed loans. In the first place, fixed loans will be dearer for the customers of banks because they will have to draw their loan in full as soon as it is approved and pay interest on the total amount of the loan for the whole period. They will pay interest on not only the amount actually needed at any one time but on the whole loan for the whole period contracted. By drawing loans in full, substantial deposit funds would be created. The community’s spending would be greatly encouraged and the Reserve Bank would find that customers of trading banks, and the community at large, would experience a big upsurge in freed credit funds. These newly created funds would be completely outside the control of the monetary authorities and would be pure dynamite so far as potential inflation is concerned.
To create a mass of new credit funds in this way would be to promote the very situation which it is desired to avoid. The public would have to pay more, too - particularly the farmer and the small businessman who cannot raise fixed capital and rely on their bank to stand by them through seasonal variations. The borrower from the Australian banking system enjoys the luxury of having his bank hold reserve funds for his possible use without, in most cases, any charge at all. There is a good case, based on correct use of money and the proper channelling of Australia’s limited financial resources in the right directions, for some small fee to be charged by the banks for keeping funds in reserve for possible use. But do not let us talk of scrapping wholesale the flexible time-proven overdraft system which gives the small man the best of both worlds by allowing him the financial luxury of having his bank first hold money in reserve for him for no charge at all and, secondly, charge him the lowest rates in Australia on a daily balance basis when he does use it.
Whilst I believe that the ovedraft system should not be scrapped out of hand I believe also that there is some scope for a proportion of fixed loans within our banking system. Indeed, the banks have always made fixed loans where circumstances suggested that a customer’s best interests would be served in that way. Loans to municipal and shire councils are a case in point. Now that the Reserve Bank at long last acknowledges that long term lending should be a function of the banking industry we have seen considerable use by banks of the Term Loan Fund with its fixed loans for export and developmental types of undertaking.
.- I wish to take the opportunity of this debate to draw the attention of the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) once again to certain aspects of provisions of the Income Tax and Social Services Contribution Assessment Act which should be amended to provide justice and fair play to quite a large number of people in the north, north west and outback areas of Australia. These are matters that I have raised in this chamber previously, both by way of debate and in questions, and although the Treasurer has not been able to put forward any logical reasons why my submissions should not be agreed to and the Act amended accordingly, he has never taken any action whatever to correct the anomalies. Therefore, I feel that it is my duty, as the representative of many of those people, to raise the issue in this chamber once again.
The anomalies occur in the zone allowance provisions of the Act, which have application to a large part of Western Australia, South Australia and Queensland, to the whole of the Northern Territory, to about half of Tasmania, to a small part of New South Wales and to most of the islands of the Commonwealth. I am not in a position to say to what extent the anomalies affect people in other States, but I do know that a large number of people in Western Australia are being treated quite unfairly because of the definition that has been placed on the word “resident” in relation to people living in these zones. The section of the Act to which I am referring is 79a., which provides for a taxation allowance to people residing for a certain period of time in certain areas or zones. The allowance is made according to section 79a. - in recognition of the disadvantages to which they are subject because of the uncongenial climatic conditions, isolation and high cost of living . . .
This applies to two zones, zone A and zone B, and the allowance in zone A is considerably greater than the allowance in zone B, purely because of the different conditions that apply.
In Western Australia the whole of the area above the 26th parallel is in zone A, and certain areas below the 26th parallel are in zone B. As has become quite obvious, in some instances zone A should be extended south to meet the objectives set out in section 79a and also zone B should in some instances extend further, but this is another matter which I hope to have time to raise later. To anyone who does not realise what occurs, the allowances could appear to be quite reasonable, but unfortunately - and this is where the anomalies occur - quite a number of people who really should qualify to claim the allowance under this section are not able to do so. The anomalies arise from sub-section (4.), which could be termed the definitions clause. That subsection sets out very clearly that to be classed as a resident of one of the zones and so qualify for the allowance the taxpayer must reside in the zone for a period of more than one half of the year of income. I want to stress that. It does not say that residence roust be for more than one half of one year; it refers to more than one half of the income year. There is quite a difference.
As the income year in relation to income tax is from 1st July of one year to 30th June of the next, it is necessary for a person, in order to qualify as a resident of one of those zones, to live in the zone for somewhat more than six months between those two dates, lt is not sufficient, for instance, to reside in the area from, say, 1st June until 23rd December of the same year because, although the actual residence would be more than six months, it would not be solely within the income year. As a matter of fact, it is not sufficient to live in the zone from the middle of January to 23rd December of the same year, because although it would be a total residence of almost 12 months, there would still not be a period of residence of more than half of the year of income. So where the anomalies and injustices can and do occur can be readily seen. For instance, one married man with a wife and child could qualify for a taxation allowance of £387 in a little over six month’s, whereas another man with a wife and one child, living and working in the same place, and quite likely on the same job, could be there for almost 12 months and still receive no zone allowance. Surely this is a completely ridiculous position.
It has been said - no doubt correctly - that the purpose of the concession is to encourage people to go out into those areas and to remain there for some time. If one person can qualify in six or seven months for the zone allowance, surely another person living and working under the same conditions in the same area for a similar or longer period should receive at least equal recognition. In many cases it is not the fault of the taxpayer that he or she does not remain in the area long enough to qualify for the zone allowance. Often the fault is due to the nature of the employment or the wishes of the employer. This is the case particularly in respect of government employees. For instance, a school teacher transferred to a zone area would not normally commence duties until late in January or early in February and, upon transfer out of the area, normally would cease duty about the middle of December. As a result and due solely to the nature of his employment he could have a full school year of residence in the area and not qualify for an allowance. On the other hand, he could have three full school years of residence in the area and qualify for a zone allowance in respect of only two years of income. This situation could apply to persons such as employees of the Postmaster-General’s Department, banks and other government departments.
I am sure that all honorable members on this side of the House and many honorable members opposite will agree that to allow such a position to continue is completely wrong and grossly unfair. I am sure they will agree also that the situation should be corrected as soon as possible. But what is the attitude of the Treasurer to this matter? Recently I asked a question on notice about this matter. In reply the Treasurer said, in part -
Consideration has been given on a number of occasions to amending this requirement to meet particular anomalies-
He admits that anomalies exist - but to the present no alternative has been found which would not either produce further anomalies or open the way to exploitation of the allowance by persons visiting zone areas for brief periods for holiday and similar purposes. The question will, however, continue to be examined.
So the Treasurer agrees that anomalies exist. He then states that those anomalies have received consideration and he suggests that there are difficulties in the way of removing the anomalies because of the possibility of exploitation. Would anybody in this Parliament who has any knowledge of the north and other outback areas seriously suggest that anyone would take a holiday in those parts for more than six months merely to qualify for a zone allowance? If there are people prepared to do this there is nothing to stop them exploiting the present provisions of the legislation. It would be as easy for them to holiday in a zone area for more than six months of an income year as it would be to spend more than six months there in some other period. If it is feared that the position could be exploited in some way, surely the Government could legislate to make such exploitation impossible. It seems that the Treasurer has no honest desire to rectify the anomalies that exist. If I am wrong I ask him to give the matter proper examination and consideration because in my view and I would think in the view of most honorable members there are no serious difficulties involved in removing these anomalies.
The next matter to which I refer concerns the boundaries of zone A and zone B. It is obvious that the zones should be extended. For instance, there are areas which a few years ago may have been considered to be properly allocated but which today are completely out of the picture. A review is needed to meet the requirements of section 79a so far as isolation, high cost of living and climatic conditions are concerned. On 1 3th March 1962 I asked the Treasurer a question about Geraldton being included in zone B. The Treasurer replied -
Hie information obtained, which I have had occasion to consider in the last few days, indicates that Geraldton is not less favourably placed than many other localities outside the zone areas. You will appreciate that the Government could not justifiably introduce legislation for the purpose of including Geraldton in zone B without first taking into consideration the claims of these other parts of Australia. As you know, the Government has only recently announced a reduction in income tax. At the present time, therefore, I do not feel justified in recommending action that would cause a further considerable loss of revenue as a result of a general revision of the zone boundaries.
I accepted that answer as a fair proposition, but when income tax was increased this year I thought it was fair to suggest that the time was opportune again to examine the matter. So on 1st October this year I asked the Treasurer a question. I referred to the Treasurer’s reply about the reduction of income tax in 1962 and I asked -
Does it then follow that the obstacle he referred to in 1962 has now been removed as a result of the Government’s recent announcement to increase taxation, and, if so, will he now arrange for a general revision of the zone boundaries to be made? If not, why not?
The Treasurer replied -
Mr. Speaker, the honorable gentleman raises what is, in effect, a budgetary item and he would appreciate that it is not the practice to deal with budgetary items by way of an answer to a question. The House is still discussing the Estimates relating to the Budget I introduced into the House in August and it is not contemplated that there will be other budgetary proposals, at least in the visible future.
So my question was not really answered. In his reply to my question in 1962 the Treasurer said that he was not prepared to do anything which would lead to a considerable loss of revenue. This can only mean that he is quite aware that any inquiry into zone boundaries would show that they should be extended. This in turn means that there are people in some areas who should be receiving a concession or a greater concession, as the case may be.
The Government’s action this year in discontinuing the 5 per cent, income tax rebate will further aggravate the position in zone areas and in areas which should be included in one of the zones and will result also in additional revenue accruing to the Government at the rate of about £35 million a year. If the time was not opportune to revise zone areas when taxes were reduced and if it is still not opportune to revise them when taxes are increased to the tune of £35 million a year, I would like the Treasurer to say which stage of tax movement - up, down or sideways - he considers appropriate for a revision of zone boundaries. In conclusion I ask whether the Government has any intention of correcting the anomalies that are so obvious as far as zone allowances are concerned. Will the Treasurer say when a move in this direction will be made and when we may see the anomalies removed?
House adjourned at 10.39 p.m.
The following answers to’ questions were circulated -
d asked the Minister for National Development, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows - 1-3. The Commonwealth Government does not at present offer any monetary reward for the discovery of minerals. However, rewards have been offered in the past for the discovery of certain minerals.
In 1920 the Commonwealth offered a reward of £10,000 for the discovery of petroleum in commercial quantities in Australia. The offer was increased to £50,000 later the same year and was withdrawn in 1925. However, no reward was ever made.
At one stage in its operations the Australian Aluminium Production Commission sought to encourage the search for bauxite by a policy of rewards.
In 1948 the Government introduced rewards for discoveries of uranium ore, the maximum reward being fixed at £25,000. This offer to pay rewards was liberalized in 1953, but was withdrawn in respect of discoveries made after 31st March 1961. Rewards totalling £112,750 have been paid for discoveries of uranium, the maximum reward of £25,000 being paid twice - in respect of the discoveries at Rum Jungle and Mary Kathleen.
Inquiries under National Health Act. (Question No. 598.)
y asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The Minister for Health has furnished the following reply -
Investigations conducted by my Department in connection with the National Health Act fall into two categories - firstly, investigations of suspected frauds and other serious infringements that are properly dealt with by prosecution in the Courts and, secondly, investigations of any conduct of medical practitioners and chemists that may be regarded as abuse of the principles of the Pensioner Medical Service or the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. Cases of this latter nature are referred to the Medical Services Committees of Inquiry and the Pharmaceutical Services Committees of Inquiry respectively.
In cases referred to these Committees of Inquiry, the degree of abuse varies considerably and of course the severity of the action taken as a result of the findings of the Committees of Inquiry varies accordingly.
Doctors are free to attend patients and write prescriptions in accordance with their own judgment, but it is an inherent principle of the Pensioner Medical Service and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme that the Commonwealth should meet only the cost of what is considered reasonable. Where a doctor’s claims in respect of medical services are considered excessive, part of the claims may be disallowed following a report by a Committee of Inquiry. Similarly, in the case of excessive or wrongful prescribing, the doctor can be called on, following a report by a Committee of Inquiry, to repay the cost of the excessive or wrongful prescribing.
The Committee of Inquiry cases do not of themselves involve prosecution and it would be most improper in many instances to make public the names of the doctors or chemists concerned. In practice, the Committees sometimes recommend that the doctor or chemist concerned be reprimanded and that notice of the reprimand be published in the Commonwealth Gazette. Where I have approved a Committee’s findings in those circumstances, publication has followed. In other cases, the Committees make no such recommendation for publication in submitting their findings and I have consistently followed the long-established practice of the non-publication of the names in these cases.
It must be clearly understood by the honorable member that the functions of the Medical and Pharmaceutical Services Committees of Inquiry are to inquire into and report to the Minister or the Director-General of Health in respect of the services or conduct of medical practitioners or approved pharmaceutical chemists. The Committees are not courts and do not impose fines or penalties.
n asked the Minister for Territories, 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 are as follows -
Laws Relating to Radio-active Substances. (Question No. 655.)
m asked the Minister representing the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The Minister for Health has furnished the following replies - 1 and 4. All States have adopted legislation to control radio-active substances, substantially along the lines recommended by the National Health and Medical Research Council. An ordinance for the control of radio-active substances in the Australian Capital Territory is currently being drafted and when finalised this ordinance will form a basis for a similar ordinance for tha Northern Territory.
s asked the Minister for National Development, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
The information sought by the honorable member in relation to the progress of the beef road projects being undertaken by the Commonwealth in the Northern Territory, and with financial assistance from the Commonwealth in Queensland and Western Australia, is set out in the following statements.
The primary purpose of each of the beef roads is to facilitate transport of store cattle from breeding areas into fattening country and fat cattle from fattening country to railheads and/or meatworks. Although the roads are intended primarily for this purpose, consideration has been given to other factors including the benefits which will accrue to the population in the localities concerned and to other industries such as the rnining industry.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 15 October 1964, viewed 6 July 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1964/19641015_reps_25_hor44/>.