25th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. Sir John McLeay) took the chair at 11.45 a.m., and read prayers.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Labour and National Service. Is he in a position to advise the House as to the arrangements for the proposed construction of a new migrant hostel in the Randwick district? Is he able to assure the House that the design and construction of the building will be of a high standard and in conformity with the good quality homes in the area, and that no problem will be faced by the New South Wales Department of Education with the influx of additional children which will result when migrant families move into the hostel? Can the Minister give the approximate location and boundaries of the proposed hostel? Can he indicate the attitude of the Randwick Municipal Council to the proposed construction?
– Some time ago the Government decided that it would erect three new Commonwealth hostels for migrants in the place of what it regards as substandard accommodation that now evists. One of these hostels is to be erected in the Randwick district. This was mentioned yesterday by the honorable member for Kingsford-Smith. I will first reply to the last part of the question asked by the honorable member for Phillip. The hostel will be located on the former rifle range at Randwick and will be close to the existing Navy stores depot. As to the other questions that have been asked by the honorable gentleman, I can tell him that the hostels themselves will be of high standard. The Commonwealth Department of Works has designed them so that they will fit in with the high quality housing that already exists in the area. We have asked the Department to be particularly careful about this aspect, because we do not want the aesthetic qualities of the area to be affected by the. Commonwealth hostel. The honorable gentleman also asked about negotiations with the Council. Prior to the date on which the final plans were developed, discussions took place between the Chairman of Commonwealth Hostels Ltd. and representatives of the Randwick Council. We were then of the opinion that the Council itself would agree to the proposals. Later - and this has occured during the course of the last few weeks - we heard of some objections that had been raised by sections of the Council and, consequently, I asked the Chairman of Commonwealth Hostels Ltd. to interview the Council again. This has been done and we hope that the difficulties will be removed. As to the third question asked, relating to education, I should stress that what we intend is to replace existing hostels and not build additional ones, so we do not expect that great difficulties will be faced by the Department of Education in its education proposals for young children at the hostel.
– I. ask the Minister for Immigration a question. He will recall that recently, when commenting on the change in the wording of the immigration policy of the Australian Labour Party, he approved of the change and said he was happy that the Labour Party was catching up to his Party, which had no white Australia policy. Has his attention been drawn to the fact that his predecessor in office, as reported at page 156 of “Hansard” of 10th May 1960, stated that in general persons not of European descent are not eligible to enter Australia for permanent residence. He gave two exceptions to that general application of the white Australia policy. I ask the Minister: Is that still the policy of the Government? It not, will he state what the policy is?
– Order! I suggest that the honorable member’s question refers to a matter of policy and is not answerable by the Minister at question time.
– I address a question to the Attorney-General. Does the Minister know of a television finance company registered in the Australian Captital Territory and having a subsidiary in New South Wales known as Goodwins (Sydney) Pty. Ltd.? Is the Minister aware of the terrifyingly paranoiac methods used by this company in attempting to force clients to comply with its charges, which in two cases in my possession amount to a gross total of about 13 per cent, and 16 per cent, fiat on a five year contract? Does the Minister know that threatening letters are sent to clients containing such sentences as -
We strongly advise you not to get in the way, and if any mug magistrate tells you not to pay tell him to ring me and if necessary show him this letter. Remember, if you have not got the £30 do not get in the way.
That letter was signed by S. W. Goodwin, the Managing Director, and sent to a lady in my electorate. Can the Minister find some way of alerting the people of Australia to the way in which this company treats with contempt the fair and reasonable processes of the law?
– I find it almost incredible that any person could have written a letter containing the extract that the honorable gentleman read out. As to finding some method of alerting the people of Australia to this type of company, I am not in possession of any facts other than what the honorable member has said. I should be glad to have a look at the matter, but I am bound to say that I cannot see any way in which I can be of service. I think it is for each individual to look carefully at the contract he is about to sign.
– I ask the Prime Minister a question without notice. It concerns a Press statement issued by the Ministers for External Affairs and Territories last Sunday on Government financial assistance to the Overseas Service Bureau for its Australian Volunteers Abroad scheme. The right honorable gentleman will remember that last March I asked him about another statement which the Minister for Territories made outside the House at a time when the House was sitting. A fortnight ago I askedhim about such a statement by the Minister for Civil Aviation. I ask the Prime Minister: Why were his own precept and example not followed on this occasion when the matter was scarcely so trivial that it would only have been printed or broadcast if released on a Sunday, and not so contentious that it could not have been kept confidential until the House sat last Tuesday?
– I am not aware of the circumstances here. I, myself, did not see the statement which the honorable member refers to although I knew, of course, that the decision had been taken. I will have a discussion about this. I think it is a very sound and proper rule that when statements are to be made in a period of time when the House is sitting they should be made here, in the House. I have endeavoured, myself, to adhere to that rule very closely.
– I address a question to the Minister for Labour and National Service. In view of the apparent dislike of the residents of the Randwick area for the building of a migrant hostel in that area, will the Minister again reconsider the siting of this hostel, or a number of smaller hostels, so that they may be decentralised? I have in mind the city of Orange which is keen to have a migrant hostel, on behalf of which I have made representations in the past, and from which a deputation on this matter has already seen the Minister.
– I can confirm to the House that the honorable gentleman did bring a delegation, comprising a mayor and other responsible citizens of Orange, to ask whether the Government would establish a Commonwealth hostel in Orange as part of a widespread decentralisation plan. I was impressed, not only by his national outlook, but by his desire to serve the interests of the western districts of the State of New South Wales and to see that a policy of decentralisation was carried out. I cannot remember what the actual result of the survey was but I will look at the file once again. I can assure the honorable gentleman that I will let him have a full report about it. What I would like to say is that I do not think there has been any great resistance by the people of Randwick to the establishment of a hostel there. I do not think the honorable gentleman from Kingsford-Smith would like to create that impression, but if he does want to create the impression that there is some hostility I am sure he is well capable of expressing his own thoughts.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Air. I ask: Is it true that there is unrest and grave concern among personnel employed by the Royal Australian Air Force in Q Block Victoria Barracks, Melbourne, due to their overcrowded and unhealthy working conditions? Are conditions at No. 1 Stores Depot, Tottenham, also causing concern? Are these conditions badly affecting the efficiency of both these establishments and creating problems in retaining and obtaining staff? Would it be correct to say that a breakdown of efficient, operations would seriously impair organisation to meet a war emergency should it arise? Are there any plans to modernise and extend No. 1 Stores Depot, Tottenham, by making more provisions for living quarters, building modern stores and by making available adequate parking space for employees’ vehicles on the vacant Department of the Interior land at the corner of South Road and Ashley Street, Sunshine? In view of the fact that the land I refer to is to be used for a pole depot by the Postmaster-General’s Department, will the Minister confer with the Postmaster-General with the object of securing this area to meet the needs of the Royal Australian Air Force and thus overcome the objections raised by the Sunshine and Footscray City Councils to the pole depot and to the illegal parking of cars in the streets adjacent to the Stores Depot?
- Mr. Deputy Speaker, I do not think the honorable member would expect me to have all these details in my head. I will deal, first of all, with the last matter concerning the land at the corner of Ashley Street and South Road. There are two blocks. My Department is about to take one over through the Department of the Interior. The other block is owned by the Postmaster-General’s Department and we are negotiating with the PostmasterGeneral to see whether we can take it over. In any case, we are taking one block over. When we do that we shall draw up a master development plan for the whole of the area, including that extra eight acres. When that is done provision will certainly be made for car parking, although not necessarily on that particular block.
I cannot agree with the honorable member that there is overcrowding in Q Block in Victoria Barracks. I have an office in Victoria Barracks myself which I use when I am in Melbourne, and I have often inspected the offices in Q Block and I believe they are quite adequate. However, the whole general question of Victoria Barracks is one for my colleague, the Minister for Defence, and not for individual Service Ministers. I believe the accommodation is adequate for the tasks we have in mind.
At Tottenham there are some temporary accommodation blocks that are not very satisfactory. We have already constructed some new blocks at Tottenham - 1 think two or three. These have been provided within the last year. I have inspected the area myself more than once. I think another two or three blocks are to go up this year and there are some more in the design list. At least one is for the Women’s Australian Air Force and another for airmen. Generally I would say that accommodation at Tottenham is likely to be much improved in the years ahead. There has been a general expansion of the Air Force, as the honorable member well knows, and we have had to use temporary accommodation to meet the increase in personnel that has resulted from our recruiting programme.
I think I have gone sufficiently into the matters raised by the honorable member, but if there is anything else I have not covered he can let me know and I will give him a full answer.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Labour and National Service. Has the Minister seen the report of the Chief Planner of the New South Wales State Planning Authority, in which that gentleman has stated that Sydney has almost reached the limit of its overtaxed transport systems and that it will soon be impossible to move peak hour traffic unless staggered working hours are introduced? Has any serious consideration been given to this matter or have any discussions taken place in our industrial tribunals with a view to meeting the situation?
– I did see a copy of the report which the honorable gentleman has mentioned. I think it referred not only to transport services in Sydney but also to electric light, power and similar community services in that city. The estimate that was made, which does seem high but I think is realistic, is that about £1,000 million will be required every seven years to provide the basic facilities to cope with the growth of Sydney. I think I can say that this is not primarily a Commonwealth responsibility. I do not think it has been discussed before the industrial tribunals of the Commonwealth. The proper place for this subject to be raised is, 1 think, at Premiers’ Conferences and at meetings of the Australian Loan Council, and I think it is reasonable to assume that when proposals are put to the Prime Minister and Treasurer each year decisions are made by the Commonwealth with a view to endeavouring to overcome problems of the kind the honorable gentleman has mentioned. . However, both the Prime Minister and the Treasurer have heard the question and I think I can assure the honorable member that they will take notice of what he has said.
– I address a question to the Minister for Labour and National Service. Has an exceptionally large proportion of the youths called up for national service training been rejected on medical grounds? Can the Minister state the main disabilities causing such rejection? If not, will he undertake to have a statement prepared showing the causes for rejection and the total number of youths found medically unfit? Is it a fact that youths with long hair, hipster pants and an unclean appearance are almost automatically rejected?
– Those with ordinary memories will recall that I made in this House a statement setting out the numbers of men who have been rejected for national service training. I pointed out that the number actually rejected was not large. I believe that the honorable member, if he cares to refresh his memory, will see that the figures are not as large as had been expected. I did not set out in my statement - I do not think the particulars were given in an analysis presented to me - the kinds of medical problems that faced those who were rejected. Nonetheless, if the honorable gentleman wants particulars and the House believes it wise to have the information made available, I shall have it prepared and presented to the House. As to the last part of the question, concerning the rejection of individuals who favour long hair and have certain other personal likings, I do not think that the characteristics envisaged have anything to do with the matter. I know that some persons with fairly long hair of the bodgie type were recruited. They were immediately subjected to the usual Army treatment and were reduced to normal proportions.
– I address my question to the Minister for Labour and National Service. Will he advise what developments have taken place regarding the recruitment of waterside labour in terms of the Stevedoring Industry Act 1965 and as agreed at the recent conference of the parties concerned? Are applicants offering freely in response to advertisements and are the men who are coming forward for registration types considered admirably suited to waterfront employment? In effect, is the Minister satisfied so far with the operation of the new recruiting system?
– Already a statement has been issued as a result of the conference that was called to consider the problem of waterfront recruitment under the amended provisions of the Stevedoring Industry Act. Discussions were held between representatives of the trade unions, the Australian Stevedoring Industry Authority and the Department of Labour and National Service and we worked out a formula that was regarded as satisfactory to all parties, including the Waterside Workers Federation. I believe that this is a notable achievement. I have not since inquired of the Department or of the Authority what has in fact happened, because I believe that now that the procedure has been satisfactorily established it is not necessary for me to keep in day to day contact with recruitment problems. I am sure that, provided the types mentioned in the Act as being unfit for work on the waterfront are in fact excluded, we shall find that those nominating themselves for work on the waterfront will usually be good types of satisfactory standard. Nonetheless, I shall today find out from the Stevedoring Industry Authority what is happening and I shall let the honorable gentleman know.
– I direct my question to the Prime Minister. Is he aware of the statement made by Mr. N. R. Stocks, General Manager of Drug Houses of Australia Ltd., to the effect that the pharmaceutical industry in this country is controlled by overseas interests to a greater degree than the petroleum industry and the motor vehicle industry and urging that the pharmaceutical industry make more room for Australian equity? Does the right honorable gentleman agree with this assessment? If so, what action does he propose to rectify the situation? Would he consider as one remedy allowing the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories to enter into competition with these foreign companies controlled overseas?
– The first part of the question appears to turn on some statement alleged to have been made by a gentleman whom I do not know and whose statement I havenot read. So I cannot be very helpful on the rest of the question.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister for Primary Industry, concerns the shortage in northern New South Wales, particularly in drought areas, of molasses for stock fodder. I ask: Will the Minister review the position and if necessary consider the limiting of export sales so that adequate supplies can be made available to primary producers who require molasses for stock feed?
– The export of molasses is controlled by a molasses board. There is an understanding between the board and myself that no exports will be made beyond what is available as a surplus to Australian requirements. Any honorable member who is interested in the supply of molasses can report to me that he is unable to obtain supplies and I will immediately take up the matter with the board. I am sure the board is really doing its best to meet the requirements of Australian conditions because Australian requirements have first priority. We export only any surplus that might arise.
– I direct a question to the Acting Minister for Defence. Is the Minister satisfied that the three Armed Services will be able to recruit the estimated 10,000 required to provide for the wastage and replacement needs of the Services in the 1965-66 defence programme? Is it correct that the Government is considering increasing the intake of national service trainees so that the Australian Regular Army will be provided with replacements and reinforcements for Vietnam?
– The advice given to me is that there is no reason to doubt that we will receive the number of recruits that we require. I am not aware of any suggestion that we should increase the national service intake to meet our requirements. It may be that as our training facilities improve we will in subsequent years, as we have done this year, increase the intake for general reasons, not for particular reasons.
– In the absence of the Prime Minister, I ask the Treasurer a question. Does the Government intend to increase the annual distribution of revenue to the States to enable them to implement a policy of financial aid to independent schools to equal that announced by the Prime Minister in his statement yesterday for independent schools in the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory?
– The House has before it legislation which sets out the basis of arrangements entered into by the Commonwealth with the State Governments for a period of five years with respect to revenue grants to the States. It is not proposed to make any special addition to those amounts for the purpose mentioned by the honorable gentleman, but no doubt each State Premier will, inside the increased provision being made as a result of this legislation, determine his own policy in relation to this particular and important matter.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Labour and National
Service. Is it a fact that great hostility has been shown by the residents living in close proximity to the proposed site of the new hostel in Randwick in the Kingsford-Smith electorate? Has this hostility been generated by the refusal of the Minister’s Department to share the cost of a new drainage scheme with an outlet to Lurline Bay? Is it a fact that this scheme will cost in the vicinity of £750,000? Will the Minister give me an assurance that his Department will share the cost of this scheme with the New South Wales Water Board and the Randwick Municipal Council?
– I have not heard that there has been widespread hostility on the part of some sections of the people in the Randwick municipality to the building of a hostel at Randwick.
– How would the Minister know? He lives at Darling Point.
– I do not; I live in a much more interesting area at King’s Cross. It will be obvious from what the honorable gentleman from Kingsford-Smith has said that there is no widespread or even fundamental objection to the building of the hostel. As he has stated, the objection is to the sharing of the cost of the new water and sewerage services into Lurline Bay. I was not aware of this difficulty until the question was raised by my honorable colleague from Phillip. When he raised the matter with me, 1 discussed it with the Department, and I have been informed that it is now under active consideration between Commwealth Hostels Ltd., my Department and the other relevant authorities.
– I ask the PostmasterGeneral whether he can tell the House anything of the warnings given by an official of the Postal Workers Union that stoppages on an unprecedented scale are likely in our post offices just before Christmas. Is this a further instance of progress being stifled by pressures from a union and the populace being held to ransom as a result?
– There have been suggestions in the newspapers that, as a result of certain stop work meetings held by the postal unions, there could be a stoppage just prior to Christmas. For my own part, I believe that those who work within the Post Office have a much higher sense of responsibility than is suggested in this comment. The matter flows from a situation that has arisen in the mail exchange in Sydney resulting from an indication given to the unions last week that new electronic sorting equipment would be installed in the exchange and that the coding machines would be operated by female rather than male labour. We believe this to be in the interests of speedy sorting within the Mail Exchange.
– They are to get £7 a week less than the male rate. That is the trouble.
– This is always the cry of the Opposition. The Opposition has never accepted the principle of arbitration, whereas this Government has. The terms and conditions of employment of postal employees are set down by the arbitration tribunals or the Public Service Board. It is not for me to doubt the judgement which these authorities exercise in setting out those terms and conditions. There are some people - I am one of them - who believe that, as a coding machine is a modified form of typewriter, its operation is much more suited to women than to men. We believe that there is complete justification for using female labour in this process, particularly under present circumstances when there is a shortage of labour throughout the community.
– I ask the PostmasterGeneral whether the original site for the new television station in the Cairns district at Mount Bartle Frere has been abandoned. If it has been abandoned, why is this so? What alternative site is now being investigated?
– I am not aware of any decision to abandon Mount Bartle Frere as the site for the new television station in the Cairns district. I do know that the Department of Works, which would be responsible for the construction of the station, has made a survey of the site at Mount Bartle Frere. The result of that survey has not been made known to me but I would assume that if any construction difficulties are encountered the Department will inform me and express an opinion on a suitable alternative site. I can give no further information than that because nothing further is available to me.
– Is the Minister for Supply aware that Government financial assistance in supplying amunition to rifle clubs throughout Australia has been withdrawn as from 31st June 1965, but that the Government is still assisting rifle clubs by providing ranges and certain forms of administration? As rifle clubs desire to continue in operation, I ask: What is the prospect of rifle clubs securing the FN rifle? Will the Minister make investigations with a view to quoting the present cost of supplying 303 amunition?
– I am generally aware of the situation surrounding continued Government support for rifle clubs, but the general question in principle is one which might better be addressed to my colleague the Minister for the Army. In respect of the supply of rifles and ammunition, it is completely uneconomic for us to continue the production of .303 rifle ammunition in Australia. If we were to do so we would be obliged to charge a price which would be completely out of the range of the rifle clubs. On the question of supplying 762 FN rifles, I do not know of any reason why those rifles should not be made available, subject always to the approval of the Department of the Army. There is ample productive capacity for them and if an official approach were made by the rifle clubs asking for a quotation I would be delighted to look into the matter.
– I preface a question to the Minister for National Development by stating that the 1964-65 report of the Joint Coal Board stated that by 1970 there will be an opportunity to export an amount of coking coal greatly in excess of internal consumption. This is a matter for special comment if there is reason to believe that export on this scale may, in due course, restrain development of steel manufacturing capacity within Australia. I ask: Are Australia’s known reserves of coking coal very limited? What action is contemplated by the Government to assure the Australian steel industry an adequate supply of suitable coking coal to guarantee its development to meet Australia’s internal requirements and to establish a substantial export industry with our huge reserves of iron ore and other basic materials?
– Australia’s reserves of coking coal are thought to be very considerable but we believe nevertheless that it is important that we assess what those reserves are. We believe that there are far greater reserves in Queensland than have been discovered and that there are areas in New South Wales which require drilling. As a result of this the Joint Coal Board in New South Wales has stepped up its rate of drilling and has asked private people to step up their rate of drilling so that the Board can assess the total quantity of coking coal available. We will then have a better idea of how much coking coal we should be exporting. The Commonwealth Government has approached the Governments of Queensland and New South Wales and as a result of these approaches I will shortly be having meetings with the Ministers for Mines of those two States to decide how we are going to deal with the assessment which will be undertaken probably over the next two or three years. When we know what the reserves of coking coal are likely to be we will be in a better position to decide our policy on export.
– My question to the Treasurer concerns the Decimal Currency Board. By way of brief explanation may I say that it has been represented to me that the Decimal Currency Board is adopting a rather unsympathetic attitude to the conversion of coin operated gas meters and that because of this the cost of converting them will fall either upon the gas companies or upon individual householders. Would the right honorable gentleman be kind enough to inquire whether there is substance in this representation and if there is would he persuade the Decimal Currency Board to adopt a more reasonable attitude?
– I can inform the House, from a close association with the Decimal Currency Board, that we have in the members of the Board a very able body of men who have, I believe, devoted themselves to their difficult tasks certainly in a reasonable spirit and, I believe, in a highly practical manner. In their dealings with the various machine operators likely to be affected by the changeover to decimal currency they have sought to give effect to the Government’s desire to deal fairly and reasonably with people affected in these categories. I have no personal knowledge of difficulties having arisen in respect of the equipment to which the honorable gentleman has referred. I undertake to make prompt inquiries to see that he is given such information on the matter as can be secured. I would be surprised to learn that the outcome reveals that the Board has acted other than fairly and reasonably in this matter.
– Is the PostmasterGeneral aware that the Premier of New South Wales made an election broadcast last Saturday morning over a Sydney radio station at a time when by-elections were being held in that State? Was the broadcast in breach of the Broadcasting and Television Act? If so, will the honorable gentleman see that the station concerned is disciplined?
– I do not know anything about this matter. I will be pleased to look into it. Whether the Act applies to the day of the poll or whether it applies only to the time between Wednesday night and Friday night preceding the poll I am not certain, but I will look into the matter. Perhaps there has been an infringement. If so I will certainly bring the matter to the notice of the Australian Broadcasting Control Board.
– Will the Minister give the honorable member an answer?
– I address to the PostmasterGeneral a question which is supplementary to that asked earlier by the honorable member for Balaclava. Is there any likelihood of retrenchments being made of mail officers in the Postmaster-General’s Department due to the introduction of electronic equipment to increase the efficiency of operations?
– I am pleased to inform the honorable member that there will not be any retrenchment of mail officers as a result of the introduction of electronic equipment. There is a substantial requirement for additional mail officers. The staff used on the electronic equipment will be additional . to that used at present. No officer will lose his job as a result of this equipment being introduced.
– I ask the PostmasterGeneral a question. Does the Post Office make a charge to telephone subscribers for statements of trunk line charges? If so, is this charge for the purpose of still further increasing the already large profits of the Postal Department? Do commercial and industrial enterprises make similar charges for business statements or is this new charge being made to encourage business houses to impose similar charges in the hope that the profits of the PostmasterGeneral’s Department will further increase? Will the honorable gentleman review this matter with the object of compiling trunk line statements without the imposition of a charge?
– Telephone accounts are sent out by the Post Office at six monthly intervals. The accounts indicate the rental charge, the charge for trunk calls, the charge for local calls and miscellaneous charges. That is the normal statement. The honorable member is referring to a special statement which is sent to subscribers at their request, giving them details in relation to the trunk calls on a monthly basis or over a longer period. This is a special service and therefore we believe that a special charge should be made. The service was introduced in the early stages for selected customers who made substantial use of trunk facilities and who wanted some check on their use. But the service became so popular that many more people desired it. The cost to the Post Office of providing the service became so substantial that we believe we were justified in making what can be regarded within business circles as a very small charge of 4s. per month or per statement for each line to those who wished to have the service.
– My question, which is addressed to the Minister for Supply, is supplementary to that asked by the honorable member for Mallee. In view of the Minister’s answer to the honorable member, will the Minister consider making available to rifle clubs at a nominal cost .303 ammunition from Government stocks?
– As far as I am aware, there are not sufficient Government stocks of .303 ammunition still held to make a distribution of any consequence.
– In the absence of the Prime Minister and at his request, pursuant to statute I present the following paper -
Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies Act - Council of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies - Report and Financial Statement, together with the Auditor-General’s Report, for period 2nd June 1964 to 30th June 1965.
Honorable members will be interested to know that this is the first report of the Institute since it was placed on a statutory basis by the passage of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies Act of 1964. The report incorporates material which, it is hoped, will be of interest to all those concerned with aboriginal studies and the preservation of the source material on which these studies are based.
Motion (by Mr. Chaney) agreed to -
That the House, at its rising, adjourn until tomorrow at 9.30 a.m.
i Lord Howe Island - Communism.
Question proposed -
That grievances be noted.
. - I have received correspondence from a constituent of mine on Lord Howe Island. She has tried in vain to reach the Government to explain her position. She has had to incur expense because the facilities recommended by a doctor are not available to her on Lord Howe Island. The doctor recommended that she come to Sydney for a serious operation. She had no way of making the journey other than by the air service provided by Ansett-A.N.A. This woman has worked all her life to raise a family and has lived on the island. The fare for the journey was £720, and this took her lifetime savings. The Government must have some responsibility to the people on the island, because at least £100,000 has been spent on a flying boat service. I will not discuss that service today. I have here all the newpaper cuttings which report that the woman was taken to St. Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney at a cost of £720. I have also the documents relating to the medical fees and everything else. I intend to give them to the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Henty). I feel that the Government should accept some responsibility for the expense that this woman incurred. She borrowed money from people on the Island and ever since she has been trying to meet her commitments in repaying that £720. If the Island enjoyed a normal service, similar to services provided to other islands, her costs would have been reduced. Since this happened a few years ago visitors to the Island have been charged ls. in the £1 on their accommodation bills in order to build up a fund to meet such a contingency should it happen again. Unfortunately this woman’s debt was incurred before this procedure was adopted. I understand that should a similar occurrence happen tomorrow there would be sufficient to meet the necessary expense. The Government is concerned with the Island. It has 16 men employed there in the radar station that is used in connection with shipping between Australia and New Zealand. I appeal to the Government to look at this matter. When I was on the Island about three weeks ago this woman told me that she would furnish me with all the documents she had. She said that if the Government recouped her for half the sum she has spent it would help her to meet her commitments. This woman’s pleas should not be ignored.
The Ansett organisation has treated this matter very fairly. Recently I told the House about an occasion when some people were stranded on the Island for four weeks. The Ansett company paid their board and lodgings until such time as the flying boat, which had cost over £100,000, was brought to Sydney and repaired and shipped back to the Island again. A deplorable state of affairs exists at present, but my only plea now is for the Government to do something on behalf of this aged lady who reared a family on the Island on a mere pittance.
She is very anxious to clear up the debt that she incurred to meet the expense of £720. Nurses had to go from Sydney to Lord Howe Island to bring her to the mainland and it took hours before they could be returned to Sydney.
I hope and trust that when I put this correspondence before the Minister he will not tell me that the law says nothing can be done. A lot of things can be done that the law says cannot be done, and this is one of the things I want done. This woman should be given at least £400 or £500 of the £720 debt she incurred. Perhaps then the Government will have some realisation of the way the people on the Island suffer.
– The Government will not treat it as a deduction for purposes of income tax either.
– It will not come off her tax because she has no money with which to pay tax. This is one case out on its own and it deserves sympathy. I hope and trust that in the very near future this Government will do the right thing by me, as the member for West Sydney which embraces Lord Howe Island, and do something of a charitable nature, although it has not previously done anything of this kind for the thousands of pensioners and other people in West Sydney.
– In the few moments at my disposal, I would like to urge the teachers of New South Wales who are about to ballot for the three senior positions in their organisation to cast votes at the coming elections and to help to remove the Communist influence in the N.S.W. Teachers Federation. At the last election there was a poll, I understand, of only a little over 50 per cent, of all members. If there is a full poll on this occasion I am confident that this Communist influence can be removed.
– Whom do you want them to vote for?
– I am asked whom I want removed. The people who should be removed are Mr. S. P. Lewis, the president, and Miss Elizabeth Mattick, the senior vicepresident. These people have often been charged with being Communists. So far as I know, they have never denied the charge. The charges have been publicly made.
They are well supported by indirect evidence and have never been denied. What these people have said is that it does not matter whether or not they are Communists. I think all honorable members on this side of the House - and, I hope, many honorable members on the other side - believe that it does matter. The overwhelming proportion of teachers in N.S.W. are not Communists. But if Communists get into a federation of this kind and can lie under cover they can divert the Federation in various ways.
If honorable members doubt what I say I ask them to read the files of the official journal of the Federation. It is known as “ Education “ and is available in the Library. They will see that while it does not always deal with political matters it always slants such political matters as it does deal with in the interests of the Soviet Union and Communism. Teachers may not understand the way in which the Communists are using them. Perhaps they do not. Perhaps they think that these two people are just innocent people who are only thinking of the interests of the teachers. A Communist in a trade union thinks primarily of the interests of the Australian Communist Party. Quite cynically, he uses his union and its membership to further those interests of the Communist Party. Anybody who is a Communist is for that very reason unfitted to hold any office in a trade union because he will always subordinate the interests of that union and its members to the interests of the Communist Party. That is why he is in the position. That is what a Communist Party member is told to do. If you are going to try to slur off these questions of Communism, say that they do not matter, and refer to them as witch hunts and red baiting, then a Communist can hope to use his position and use innocent people for his or her own purposes. In this case, there is no doubt, I am afraid, about the way in which the Teachers Federation has been used. I say this while asserting all the time that the vast majority of teachers in N.S.W. are not Communists. Again, I ask honorable members to have a look at the things that are inserted in and the things that are omitted from this journal. I refer to such things as the significant support of the Communist stand on Vietnam and the abortive attempt to bring the Federation into the Association for International Co-operation and Disarmament. I am sorry I have not time to go into details about this matter.
– Order! As it is now fifteen minutes to one o’clock, in accordance with Standing Order No. 1 06 the debate is interruptedand I put the question -
That the grievances be noted.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
Bill presented by Mr. Swartz, and read a first time.
– I move-
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this Bill is to give effect to the Government’s Budget proposals on the pensioner medical service. This is the second successive year in which the Government has introduced amending legislation to provide increased benefits under the National Health Service. Last year, as honorable members will recall, we provided for substantial increases in the amounts of Commonwealth benefit payable to members of registered medical benefit funds. On this occasion I am pleased to say that the Government’s measures are designed mainly to assist the senior citizens of the nation, in particular some 120,000 pensioners and their dependants.
The pensioner medical service which commenced on 21st February 1951 operates under Part IV of the National Health Act and is a general practitioner medical service provided free of charge to eligible pensioners and their dependants. By pensioners I mean persons in receipt of age, invalid or widows’ pensions under the Social Services Act, service pensions under the Repatriation Act and tuberculosis allowances under the Tuberculosis Act. Under the pensioner medical service, participating doctors provide medical attention of a general practitioner nature, such as is ordinarily rendered by a general practitioner in his surgery or at the patient’s home, to enrolled pensioners and their dependants. The Commonwealth pays concessionl fees of 16s. for surgery consultations and £1 for domiciliary visits to doctors participating in the scheme. Pensioners eligible for enrolment in the service are issued with entitlement cards which must be produced on each occasion a pensioner or a dependant consults a participating doctor. The pensioner or dependant has complete freedom of choice within the range of participating doctors.
Eligible pensioners and their dependants are also entitled to additional benefits by virtue of the provisions of the National Health Act. First, a full range of drugs and medicines, on a doctor’s prescription, is provided without charge under the pharmaceutical benefits scheme and, secondly, free public ward accommodation in public hospitals is available. The pensioner medical service and the allied benefits have been enormously successful and have assisted pensioners to an immeasurable degree by removing the financial worries connected with sickness.
One aspect of the service that has invoked criticism in the past concerns the restrictions placed on the eligibility for enrolment. Pensioners whose income from sources other than their pension would have rendered them ineligible to receive a pension at the maximum rate under the pensions income means tests in force at 31st December 1953 are at present barred from enrolment in the pensioner medical service. The effect of this provision has been that some 120,000 of the total 863,000 pensioners receiving age, invalid and widows’ pensions under the Social Service Act, service pensions under the Repatriation Act or allowances under the Tuberculosis Act have been excluded from receiving the free medical treatment, free medicines and free hospitalisation provided for eligible pensioners. Now the effect of this Bill will be to remove this restriction on the eligibility of pensioners for enrolment in the pensioner medical service. The service will be available to all full and part social service pensioners and repatriation service pensioners and their dependants who have qualified or who subsequently quality for full or part pensions under the pensions means tests as at 1st January, 1966.
The Australian Medical Association has indicated that its members are prepared to provide a medical service for this enlarged group of pensioners at the concessional rates of payment made by the Government which I mentioned earlier.
A further relaxation which is proposed by the Bill concerns the widening of the provisions relating to the definition of dependants for pensioner medical service purposes. In future, full-time student children of pensioners will be accepted up to the age of 21 years. This provision will mean that all dependants of pensioners recognised by social service and repatriation legislation for pension purposes and those recognised for tuberculosis allowance purposes, will also be accepted for the pensioner medical service. This measure will remove some minor but nevertheless irritating anomalies.
The cost of introducing these measures is expected to be £2 million in a full year. The Government regards this expenditure as well worthwhile as a positive step forward in improving the lot of the pensioner. It also provides further concrete evidence of the Government’s intention to expand the National Health Service, as the nation’s economy permits, to provide a more comprehensive covering befitting a modern health service. The Government takes a great pride in the success of its national health service which is firmly based on -the principle of self-help through voluntary insurance, and which has proved so acceptable to the Australian people with their well-known characteristics of sturdy independence and faith in their own abilities. At the same time, the Government has always kept well in mind its responsibilities towards the elderly people who have helped to build this nation, and it gives me great pleasure to introduce this Bill which provides for increased assistance in meeting the health needs not only of age pensioners but of other pensioners as well.
May I be permitted to state, in support of what I have just said about the Government’s progressive national health policy that, in 1948-49, the last full year before the present Government came into office, expenditure from the National Welfare Fund on health services was £6 million. This year the Government had budgeted for an expenditure of £115 million on its national health service.
To enable the extensive administrative arrangements to be completed, which in volve the Departments of Social Services and Repatriation as well as my own Department, it is proposed that the measures for relaxation of the pensioner medical service means test will come into force on 1st January 1966. The provision relating to student children will come into force from the date on which the Bill receives royal assent.
I commend the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Daly) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr. Swartz, and read a first time.
.- I move-
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this Bill is to extend the present provisions of the Foot and Mouth Disease Act to include two exotic animal diseases, namely, vesicular exanthema and vesicular stomatitis, which are clinically indistinguishable from foot and mouth disease. Under arrangements already made with the States, the Commonwealth will contribute 50 per cent, of the cost of eradication of foot and mouth disease should that dreaded disease ever gain entry to the country. The States collectively will contribute the other 50 per cent, of the costs of eradication.
The Foot and Mouth Disease Act, which it is proposed will be amended by this Bill, established a Foot and Mouth Disease Eradication Trust Account for the Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory in line with the arrangements I have just mentioned, and provides the terms and conditions for the payment of compensation to the owners of animals in the Australian Capital Territory which may be destroyed during an eradication campaign. The terms and conditions for the payment of compensation in the Northern Territory are covered by the Northern Territory Foot and Mouth Disease Compensation Ordinance. Fortunately, due to the ever vigilant efforts of Australia’s excellent quarantine service, foot and mouth disease does not exist in Australia. This disease, if introduced and allowed to get out of hand in a country such as this, would cause economic losses that could be measured in millions of pounds. In presenting this Bill to the House I am pleased to have the opportunity to remind honorable members how much Australia owes to the unceasing work of the quarantine service and to seek the co-operation of travellers in complying with the quarantine requirements that are laid down. These requirements are, I know, vexatious at times to travellers, but our first consideration at all times must be the safeguarding of Australia from the heavy economic losses that the entry of exotic diseases such as foot and mouth disease would cause.
As I stated earlier, vesicular exanthema and vesicular stomatitis are clinically indistinguishable from foot and mouth disease and the Bill is intended to remove legal difficulties that could arise under existing legislation if steps were taken to eradicate vesicular exanthema or vesicular stomatitis in the belief that it was an outbreak of foot and mouth disease. I might mention that the differential diagnosis of these diseases may take a week or perhaps more and it is imperative, in the event of an outbreak of any disease with foot and mouth disease symptoms, that eradication measures be taken without delay. Both these diseases are dangerous exotic diseases in their own right and steps to eradicate any outbreaks of them that may occurr should be taken immediately. Of course, expenditure of Commonwealth moneys would be involved only if an actual outbreak of one of the diseases occurred. I commend the Bill to honorable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Pollard) adjourned.
Debate resumed from 16th September (vide page 975), on motion by Mr. Adermann -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– There being no objection that course will be adopted.
.- Mr. Speaker, the Honey Industry Bill and the two associated measures are designed to amend three measures enacted by this Parliament in 1962 when for the first time the honey industry was given some form of marketing authority and some form of legislative protection designed to ensure that the industry would be able to contend with disastrous price cutting in the export markets for Australian honey. The legislation also provided for a levy on exported honey and the funds so provided were to be used for promotion, marketing and research purposes. These were the announced objects of the 1962 measures. Perhaps I should at this stage say something about the importance of the honey industry to Australia and the community. People do not generally recognise that without that marvellous product of nature, the honey bee, a wide variety of productive enterprises in the primary sector of our economy would labour under great disadvantages. I recall some scare only recently - it was to some degree really only a scare, but the fear was warranted - because it was feared that the too extensive use of chemical sprays on fruit to destroy vermin might kill so many bees as to prevent the fertilisation normally carried out by bees in the irrigation districts of Victoria where fruit is grown for canning. It is well known that we are indebted to the humble bee for the cross fertilisation of a wide variety of clovers that represent one of our greatest and most valuable pasture crops.
In the economic sense, the honey industry produces a most valuable food which is also highly nourishing. Australia exports a substantial quantity of honey to the markets of the world and this trade earns for the Australian economy a substantial sum in foreign currency. The figures that I have are not quite up to date but they are recent enough for my purpose. Probably the Australian people would be astonished to know that in the financial year 1963-64 no less than 18,782,000 lb. of honey was exported from Australia to a wide range of overseas markets extending, I should say, at a quick glance at the list, over 20 or 25 countries. These exports gleaned for our economy returns amounting to fi, 381,000. This represents a considerable sum for an industry that is not generally well known to the people of Australia though it is of vast importance to the people engaged in it and makes a significant contribution to our national economy.
Apiarists are relatively few in numbers in Australia, but it is my firm opinion, as it became the opinion of the Government by 1962, that they deserve recognition and protection in the marketing of their product both inside and outside Australia. In 1962 representatives of the industry intimated to the Government that they were the victims of all sorts of legal but nevertheless nefarious practices affecting particularly the prices received for honey exported. It was believed that the market was manipulated and that price rings had been formed, thus leading to disastrously poor returns to the producers of exported honey. In these circumstances the 1962 legislation was enacted. The Honey Industry Act of that year and the associated levy measures were considered to provide a form of marketing protection that would be effective. One of the consequences was the establishment of the Australian Honey Board as a marketing organisation. This Board is composed of representatives of both producers and manufacturers in the industry and a representative of the Commonwealth Government. Up to a point the efforts of this marketing authority have been valuable in terms of experience, but from the standpoint of results achieved it has been found that something was lacking. The missing element was adequate finance, notwithstanding the fact that there was provision in the Act that the Board would have access to an overdraft limit of £80,000 with the Reserve Bank of Australia. It has now been found that the sum provided for the Australian Honey Board in respect of honey delivered to it voluntarily is inadequate.
It should be noted that no honey is delivered to the Board compulsorily. Any apiarist who so desires may deliver honey to the Board for its disposal on the export or home market. Because the amount pro vided for the Honey Board has proved to be inadequate the legislation has been redrafted. Through the legislation the Government provides an undertaking in respect of future financial arrangements in regard to honey delivered voluntarily to the Board. Once the honey has been delivered to the Board, in effect it becomes the property of the Board. The legislation will enable the Board to ensure that it has the necessary financial backing to hold the honey pending favorable markets. This will enable the Board to conduct its arrangements in an effective manner. By this new legislation which is to amend the 1962 Act, the Treasurer, after consultation with the Minister for Primary Industry, will be authorised to enable the Honey Board to secure the requisite amount of financial accommodation to make an advance to people who have delivered honey to the Board for marketing and also to enable the Board to control exactly the amount of honey to be exported from time to time. That will enable the Board to keep an eye at all times on the stability of the export market.
The principal Act imposed a levy of id. per lb. on all honey produced. Experience has shown that the application of that levy has proved irritating, inefficient and unnecessary in respect of producers who market less than a specific quantity of honey. I think it has been estimated that 120 lb. of honey would be sufficient for their own domestic requirements and perhaps would allow them to deliver some for manufacturing processes. Consequently, in this measure there is a provision that producers of a small quantity of honey - those people with a small number of hives - will be exempt from the levy and the Board will not be required to go to the trouble of collecting the levy from a number of very small producers. It is further provided in respect of the control of honey for export that there will be a continuation of the right of the Board, with the concurrence of the Department and the Government, to issue licences without which no apiarist would be able to export his product to markets in overseas countries. That provision is essential. I agree that, if that provision is used in a manner which I would be inclined to approve, it would prevent any honey producer who does not deliver his honey to the Board voluntarily from obtaining a licence to export his product, if the Board or the Government so decided. Eventually, in an indirect fashion, that may have the effect of delivering him compulsorily into the hands of the Honey Board. Whether the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly) would approve of such a devious method of roping a man into a co-operative governmental backed marketing organisation I am unable to determine from the smile on his countenance.
– The honorable member is dead right; I would not approve.
– But that would not be unique in respect of this matter any more than it would be unique in respect of many others. My interpretation of this obscure power may be faulty. I do not pose as a legal luminary. However, I am glad to say that the Opposition is prepared to support this legislation most ardently. Unfortunately, it is true that an industry which is weak numerically because of the small number of personnel engaged in it - although this one is not weak in respect of the number of bees controlled - invariably as an industry is inclined to have its importance discounted. This industry is essential to our primary production and is useful because of the food that it supplies. But as a Parliament we are inclined rather to discount the importance of such an industry and when compared with other more powerful industries the smaller industries do not obtain the recognition to which, in my opinion, they are entitled. The Opposition wishes the Bill well, both in respect of the enlargement of powers with regard to financial accommodation and in respect of the two complementary measures which make purely consequential amendments to the levy provisions. At the Committee stage I hope to be able to have the Minister clear up some doubts that we have on proposed amendments of some clauses.
.- In brief, I support the Bill and the two complementary measures. I believe that the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) has been quite fair in giving a brief resume of what the legislation is about. I do not think there is anything in what he said with which I would quarrel, except one small point of detail. As I understand it, the industry has no power to borrow money. This Bill will, for the first time, give it power to borrow against the produce that it holds. This is a natural kind of development which we would expect all in the industry to welcome. It was interesting to find that although the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) said in his second reading speech that the industry welcomed this legislation, when the South Australian section of the industry was made aware that the provision was coming forward it expressed strong resentment and was most unhappy about the situation. This led to a certain amount of discussion between the South. Australian section of the industry, represented by the South Australian Apiarists Association, and the Minister. To his credit, the Minister sent one of his officers, a Mr. Hellier, to South Australia to discuss the problems about which they were worried. As a result of an excellently conducted exercise in public relations, Mr. Hellier, an officer of the Department of Primary Industry, was able to put the doubts of the industry at rest. Those in the industry are now quite happy that the industry will go forward.
There are a few important lessons in the concern that the industry showed. First, we should be clear that up to this stage, and even following the conference with Mr. Hellier, those in the industry have not been happy with the operations of the Australian Honey Board. We must be quite clear about that. I know that honorable members on both sides of the House say that orderly marketing is a good thing and they agree that when an industry wants a board it should have one. But we should understand clearly that a board is important only if it works well. The South Australian sector of the industry, and that embodies the people in my State who are most concerned, has been most unhappy with the past performance of the Honey Board. Evidently, soon after the Board became operative early in 1964, it tried to hold the export price of honey at too high a figure, by refusing to sell. During that period, the price of honey fell quite seriously. This was one thing that was worrying the apiarists. They also felt that if the Board had the money to buy more honey it would buy more honey and lose more money and that the losses would come out of the pockets of the producers. They were very concerned about this and that was one of the reasons why a conference was held with an officer of the Department of Primary Industry. Here I pay tribute to the Minister for sending over that officer. This was a proper exercise in public relations.
It was generally accepted after that meeting that although the past marketing performances of the Board had not been particularly good, it was in its early stages of operation and had yet to acquire the skill that can only come from experience. I think I should point out here that at one time there was a South Australian Honey Board. After holding a poll, the producers dismissed that Board because it was not working well. The producers still had some fears about the operation of the Australian Honey Board, the past performances of which did not give them confidence in the Board’s ability to handle the complex job of selling honey on the export market. It was pointed out to them - I think quite properly - that the only choice they had was a board or no organised marketing at all. It was pointed out to them also that if they got rid of the Australian Honey Board they would have to go back to the open trading system of the past which, although it had some strengths, also had a great many weaknesses. That was one point upon which the industry was exercising its mind.
Another fear the industry had was that the Honey Board might lose money. Here again Mr. Hellier of the Department of Primary Industry was able to point out that the care which had been taken by the Minister for Primary Industry and Treasury officials in connection with similar organisations was an effective safeguard against loss of the producers’ money by marketing boards. So, after fairly careful and justified consideration of all points, the South Australian Apiarists Association was content to allow the legislation to go through, although it still expressed the warning that it would watch the future operations of the Australian Honey Board with some anxiety. Again I pay a tribute to the Minister for sending his officer over to interview the Association representatives.
The association had not conducted a formal ballot to decide whether a board should be appointed, but it did express concern at the fact that the legislation made no provision for dismissal of the Australian Honey Board by the producers if they were dissatisfied with it. I agree with what the Minister said to them in discussing this point. He pointed out that if the South Australian producers were dissatisfied they should proceed through their Federal organisation to the Minister. Taking everything into consideration, I congratulate the Minister on bringing down this legislation. I congratulate him in particular for the care he has taken to consult all those sections of the industry that were dissatisfied. I support the Bill.
.- It was disappointing for me to hear the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly) cast doubts on the efficacy of the Australian Honey Board. In my opinion, he sowed some seeds of discontent about the operations of the Board. The action of the Government, which has received the blessing of the Labour Party spokesman, the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard), in giving a measure of control to those engaged in the industry, is most desirable and conforms entirely with Labour Party thinking. The proposal which the Minister outlined some time ago, and which has been touched upon briefly by my colleague, the honorable member for Lalor, is to streamline the operations of the Australian Honey Board.
This is quite an important industry. Although it is not a large export earner it does produce quite a quantity of honey for both home consumption and export. The latest figures available, as published in the Quarterly Summary of Australian Statistics, disclose that during the last year for which information is available, the total production of bee farming in Australia was worth £2i million. A considerable quantity of this production is exported, thus adding to our overseas reserves which, as we know, are gradually declining. Anything that can be done to assist an industry that is adding to the income of the Australian nation is worthy of consideration, especially as the producers will have a measure of control over the operations of the Board. Although honey production is not high judged by world standards, I do feel that there is a great opportunity for expansion in this industry. It is interesting to know that it is carried on in all States.
The State in which the greatest quantity of honey and beeswax - a byproduct of the industry - are produced is New South Wales. Of course, the industry showed its greatest expansion during the years when the affairs of the State were governed by Labour. The greatest number of apiarists are in New South Wales, and the production in that State for each productive hive is second only to that of Western Australia.
The production per productive hive for the various States is interesting. In New South Wales it is 116.8 lb.; in Victoria it is 77.5 lb.; in Queensland it is 111.9 lb. and in South Australia it is 81.3 lb. In the record-breaking State of Western Australia, it is 163.2 lb. In Tasmania it is 103.3 lb., and in the Australian Capital Territory it is 62.1 lb. An important side of the bee keeping industry is the production of beeswax, and here I interrupt myself to make the point that beeswax is an important component in the manufacture of cosmetics. All women are beautiful but some do feel that they need to use cosmetics. Whilst I do not subscribe to that view, I agree that we must accede to the demands of the women on this point. In New South Wales the production of beeswax is 177,000 lb.; in Victoria 64,000 lb.; in Queensland 44,000 lb.; in South Australia 56,000 lb. and in Western Australia 79,000 lb. I have often wondered whether it is those marvellous wildflowers that grow in profusion in Western Australia that encourage the production of such high quality honey and beeswax. As I have said, that State produces 79,000 lb. of beeswax. In Tasmania the production has dropped to 6,000 lb. Those figures are quite illuminating.
I pass now to statistics which show the amount of money we receive for the honey which we export. For the year ended June 1965 Australia received £467,390 for honey exported to the sterling area; £2,221 for honey exported to North America; the sizeable sum of £107,398 for honey exported to the European Economic Community countries and £24,792 for honey exported to the countries of the European Free Trade Association. For countries classified as “other” the amount received was £111,989. Honey exports earned Australia £713,790 in that year.
I wish to quote now from an excellent publication of the Queensland Government entitled “ News Bulletin “. It gives an excellent resume of the honey industry in Queensland and describes the wonderful display at the recent Brisbane Exhibition. A heading on the article indicates that queen bees are worth £10 each. I am sure, Mr. Speaker, that you will permit me to quote from this article. I would ask that it be incorporated in “ Hansard “, but having fallen into a trap previously and been denied the opportunity to incorporate some matter I shall not press for that privilege. I shall read out extracts from the article. The article, headed “ Show Honey Court Display the Best in Australia “ reads -
The R.N.A. honey court is a large self-contained area in the main pavilion, covering about 3,300 square feet. In addition to the competitive display there was a commercial honey bar staged for the fourth time this year by the Queensland Beekeepers’ Association, which has a membership of about 130 professional apiarists. A unique feature of the honey bar was that it offered honeys of distinct floral sources and they could be sampled before purchase.
For the sake of the unitiated in this House that means that people could call for a certain flavour of honey, for example, violet, eucalyptus, carnation or whatever it might be. The article continues -
This service is not normally available in retail food stores.
Pedigreed queen bees were also judged and displayed at the honey court. There are queen bee breeders in the industry who concentrate on selling specially bred bees to the honey producers. Some top line queen bees in the display were worth as much as £10, although they measure less than one inch in length.
Here is an important piece of information on the operation of the industry. The article goes on -
Queen bees are the most prolific and persistent egg layers in the animal kingdom.
– Animal kingdom?
– Yes. It is interesting to note that bees in Queensland are regarded as animals. The article continues -
During the summer months each lays up to 4,000 eggs a day. The substance known as royal jelly is the queen bee’s sole diet during her larval stage. Royal jelly is reputed to have an outstanding food value which restores the vigour and prolongs the life of humans. It is formed from honey, pollen and water in the young working bee’s stomach, from which it is ejected into the cell where the young queen is developing.
Queensland produces approximately 21 million lb. of honey per year, more than half of which is exported. Honey gathering is confined to the southeastern corner of the State - the only area where honey producing flora (native eucalypti and introduced clovers and lucernes) is in abundance.
Later in the article is some information which shows the enthusiasm of a man engaged in this industry. The article says -
A typical example of commercial honey production in this State is Mr. H. E. Fagg’s Calm Gold Apiaries at Killarney, one of the largest and most modern establishments in Queensland. Mr. Fagg’s apiary is based on a central honey extracting plant, as against mobile plants used by some beekeepers. His business carries some 60 million bees in 1,000 migratory hives and produces over 110,000 lb. of extracted honey annually, with slight variations according to season. The Queensland average is 100 lb. a year per hive.
I am sure, Mr. Speaker, you will pardon me for giving that great boost to my native State, which is not lagging behind in this important industry.
I think I should also point out the importance of honey to the consumer. Quite recently I - and I suppose other honorable members - have been reading a series of articles in the Sydney “ Sun “ headed “ Eating to Stay Alive “. One article suggested a number of foods that people should not eat, but which unfortunately they do eat in Australia. One of the foods that it is suggested Australian can eat with equanimity is honey. It is a food that contains sugar in a natural, harmless form. It is a desirable food, it is a beneficial food, it is a tasty food and it is a harmless food. I eat honey. I like it. I think it is a good food, but I will tell a story as a warning to honorable members. I was having lunch in the dining room today and I called out “ Honey “ in a not subdued voice, and two or three of the most charming waitresses turned and came to me, to my embarrassment as I was asking only for the food.
I repeat that honey is a really good and satisfying food. It produces vigour in the human being. While I was in Barbados with a Commonwealth Parliamentary Association delegation not long ago I was taken to a brewery which had recently been established there. The hostess conducting the large gathering through the brewery informed us that it produced the best beer in the western hemisphere and that it conducted a bee farm colony in association with the brewery. The brewery impregnated the beer with the honey that it produced, obtaining as a result that desired vigour producing quality which is so evident in Barbados beer.
It is interesting to note some’ of the countries to which Australia exports honey and beeswax. Beeswax is an important part of the industry. It is used not only in the production of cosmetics but also in the production of car polish and floor polish. Certain ingredients of ammunition are produced as a result of the effort of the humble bee. Some of the strangest countries produce large quantities of honey and beeswax. I do not use the word “ strangest “ in a derogatory sense. I would never criticise any man’s country. Imports of these products into the United Kingdom from Australia from January to April 1964 were worth £449,000. The figures show that Australia is the largest supplier of honey to the United Kingdom. The next largest supplier is Argentina which, in the same period, sold to the United Kingdom £207,000 worth of honey.
A great deal may be said about this important industry. I do not wish to weary the House by speaking for too long. I am sure that I have not yet wearied it. I have sought to extol the virtues of this important industry. I hope that it will go from strength to strength. The Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) has told us that research into the industry is being undertaken. One matter that is being investigated by the Sydney University School of Preventive Dentistry is the effect of honey on the teeth. A worthwhile result will have been obtained if we can eliminate that little stab of pain that those fortunate enough to have their own teeth sometimes get through eating too much natural sugar.
Beeswax has an important place in industry. It is used in the manufacture of almost every kind of polish, including car polish and floor polish. It acts as a waterproofing material in land and sea mines and in various types of ammunition. It is used in the dental trade and in other specialised industry. Very few women realise that beeswax is an important ingredient in several of their beauty preparations. There is no doubt about the usefulness of this busy little insect. It is curious to note that in one part of the document to which I have been referring the bee is described as an animal whilst elsewhere in the same document it is described as an insect. Everything the bee does has a definite purpose. Fruit trees could not produce their fruit without the pollinating activity of the bees. Some people claim that the sting of the bee is useful in the treatment of certain types of arthritis and rheumatic complaints. I am sure that all honorable members acknowledge the important part that this busy little animalinsect is playing in our national life. I wish the Bills a speedy passage.
.- The Opposition has said that it supports these Bills, so there would appear to be little to be said on the subject but already in the debate a lot of information has been given to us. The honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) referred to the economics of the industry and, to an extent, revealed what is in the Bills. The honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly) spoke on similar lines. Now the honorable member for Griffith (Mr. Coutts) has spoken about the virtues of honey and beeswax and has given us certain information from a news bulletin published by the Queensland Government. In his second reading speech on these amending Bills, the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) said -
However, no one organisation has been able to finance the holding of stocks and the result is that producers and packers alike are forced by lack of finance to sell their honey at low prices to overseas speculators who have traditionally reaped the profits that should rightly belong to the Australian industry.
This is the very reason for the existence of stabilisation schemes in so many of our primary industries. Any industry which does not encourage promotion and research activities or which is not a party to a stabilisation scheme is completely out of touch with reality. The Australian Country Party, of course, strongly supports the Bills. Although I listened closely to the debate I did not hear any honorable member emphasise certain facts about the honey industry. The honorable member for Griffith said that the industry exported about £7,000 worth of its products annually. I did not think that was a large amount.
– The amount was £700,000.
– I thought the amount cited was not very large, particularly when you pay regard to the value of the bee industry in other directions. This matter was touched on in one word by the honorable member for Griffith, but other honorable members did not refer to it. I refer to the activity of the bee as a pollinating agent for fruits and such products as clover and lucerne, all of which earn Australia hundreds of millions of pounds in export income.
– I referred to this. The honorable member must have been absent from the chamber.
– I did not hear the honorable member for Lalor refer to this matter. Perhaps I had been called from the chamber. I am pleased to know that the honorable member dealt with this matter because it is a most important aspect of the honey industry. People have paid apiarists to bring their hives long distances - sometimes hundreds of miles - to an area where lucerne is growing or where fruit crops are being raised, so that pollination may take place in the proper manner. Pumpkins and other primary products must be pollinated and bees are the natural pollinating agents. In this respect they are worth millions of pounds to Australia.
The Government has introduced the Bills and the Opposition has said that it supports them. We are short of time and are most anxious to conclude debates before Christmas. I could go into’ many other details, but I will comment on only one other point. Certain diseases infect bee hives and unfortunately are very seldom detected until at some time the hive is lifted and most of the bees are found to be dead. We hope that this research will control the disease to a large extent and will give us a chance not only to maintain the present level but to build up the bee population to the benefit of the whole nation.
.- Although my friend, the honorable member for Griffith (Mr. Coutts), may have become a little confused about the difference between animals and insects, it is quite apparent that he is an authority on the subject, particularly on the queen bee. I cannot imagine any more difficult task than keeping tab on the pedigree of a queen bee. My knowledge of honey is confined to the fact that it is sweet, nutritious and an excellent food. I know, too, that some people claim that it is the answer to the eternal quest for longevity or everlasting life.
The honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly) offered some mild criticism of the Australian Honey Board. I want to point out that no one is perfect, no group of people is perfect and no board is perfect. The plain fact is that the Board was set up to rationalise the export of honey. This in itself was a commendable aim. Before the Board was set up, honey exporters were at times engaging in price cutting. When there was an oversupply of honey on the domestic market in Australia, they engaged in price cutting on various markets around the world, particularly in Europe, and it was quite obvious that this was to the detriment of the Australian apiarists. This has happened in other industries. I recall a. debate a few months ago on the egg industry when it was said that the various State Egg Marketing Boards were competing against one another on overseas markets and were undercutting one another. Cut-throat competition was apparent and this operated to the detriment of the Australian producers. Honey exporters have also engaged in this activity.
It is true that there has been some criticism of the actions of the Australian Honey Board, I have received several letters from people pointing to what, in their opinion, were ineffective or wrong actions of the Board. I found that the letters I received came from people who had previously exported honey and whose business had been reduced because of the arrival of the Board on the scene. They had an axe to grind and it was in their business interests to see the Board go by the board, as it were. I think this criticism can be disregarded. Of course, there can always be criticism of a board or of individuals. Everyone does not agree with the action taken by others. But generally the Board was set up to rationalise the export of honey and I think it is doing a reasonable job and a job that is to the overall benefit of Australian apiarists.
I want to discuss briefly two matters. The first relates to finance. The Honey Industry Bill, which is one of the three Bills before us, provides that the Australian Honey Board may borrow money from the Reserve Bank of Australia to finance its operations in respect of the handling, the storage and the shipment of honey. It is quite obvious that the bee is like the humble hen in the egg industry. The hen provides eggs at certain times of the year. No-one can tell it when to produce and it will not produce an even flow of eggs throughout the year. This is also the behaviour of the bee, as my expert friend, the honorable member for Griffith, would say. Consequently, in certain seasons we have an oversupply on the domestic market. Obviously, if overseas markets were flooded with this surplus production at the one time, the inevitable result would be to reduce prices for the producer. This would be to the detriment of the Australian producer, as the Minister said in his second reading speech. The Board previously was not able to borrow money and its lack of finance crippled its capacity to protect the industry against fluctuations of this type. Therefore, I approve of the proposal to give the Board the power to borrow. The Board will also be able to insure against the loss of honey either in Australia or in transit overseas. Of course, insurance is vital to any transaction. It is especially important for goods of a perishable nature. I want to make just one comment about insurance. The Australian Dairy Produce Board obtains its insurance cover from Great Britain. I should imagine that Australia would be better served if the Board, and also the Australian Honey Board, sought insurance cover from Australian insurers. I would hope that the Board would make every effort to obtain this cover in Australia. I am sure Australian insurance companies would be quite happy to provide the cover.
I also want to speak briefly about interest rates. The Bill does not mention the rate of interest at which the Australian Honey Board may borrow money from the Reserve Bank. I would like an assurance from the Minister that the rate of interest at which the Australian Honey Board can obtain accommodation from the Reserve Bank will be the same as the rate at which the Australian Wheat Board, for instance, obtains finance from the Reserve Bank. The Wheat Board requires cover for its sales and holdings of wheat and it obtains finance from the Reserve Bank, guaranteed by the Government. I would expect the Honey Board to receive exactly the same type of finance at the same rate of interest, and I would be happy to receive an assurance from the Minister that this will be so.
The only other point I want to make in my brief address relates to exemptions. This is dealt with in clause 5 of the Honey Levy Bill (No. 1). An exemption is given to persons who do not produce more than 120 lb. of honey a month. I think this exemption is perfectly reasonable. Similar exemptions from levies are granted in other industries. Once again I refer to the egg industry. An exemption is given to people who produce only for home consumption. But the plain fact is, of course, that it would not be worthwhile collecting the levy from such small producers. It is apparent that this factor also applies in the honey industry. I do not think it would be worthwhile trying to collect a levy from people who produce less than 120 lb. of honey a month. Consequently, I think the exemption is reasonable. I close by saying that the honorable member for Griffith as a bachelor speaks as a connoisseur when he says that all women are beautiful. I have no doubt about that. In this debate., he could have said that all women are honeys.
.- I want to address myself briefly to one matter. 1 have received a request from a group of naturalists in my constituency to raise the question of the effect of insecticides upon bee life. There is no need for me to expatiate on the importance of the honey industry. I had the pleasure in earlier life of being an amateur beekeeper myself and I have a close sympathy with beekeepers and their problems. Today, in the opinion of the Naturalists Society within my constituency - of which I once had the honour to be President - there is a very real need for some curtailment of the general use of insecticides because of the effect on bee life. I understand that there are some six million types of insects in the world. Of those the most important is the honey bee. A case can also be made for some measure of protection in respect of certain flora which bear honey. A remarkable range of flora produces honey, but in Australia we have probably the most unique. Of our honey producers the eucalypt is unique and comprises over 600 species. I direct particular attention to the value of the yellow box, which is called by botanists eucalyptus melliodora, meaning the honey centered eucalypt. Action should be taken to protect this tree because of its yield of honey. There are authentic cases where during the height of the season this tree is capable of keeping three or four hives of bees fully occupied. It can produce. 150 to 200 lb. of honey in a year.
I hesitated to trespass on the time of the House, but I particularly wanted to stress these matters. In conclusion I might also say that the life of the honey bee is something that should be taught to every child; in every public school. It is, of course, the most perfect example of complete Socialism.
.- I recall the debate in 1962 when the honey stabilisation scheme was first proposed to the House. The Bills we are discussing are amendments to that legislation. They have been introduced to improve it. One matter raised by the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr: Kelly) concerned advance payments to agents and to the Australian Honey Board, and the fear that there might be stockpiling of honey which would not be sold at prices to enable a profit to be made. It is most unlikely that the Australian Honey Board would sell honey on which it had made advances under Commonwealth guarantee. Generally it will arrange for honey to be held by the exporter and it will guarantee an advance to the exporter to enable him to pay the beekeeper. When the time comes for the Board to consider exports the exporter will be repaid the’ advance offered to him. Only in exceptional circumstances will the Board become the trader, and even then it would probably use an established^ exporter to handle the transaction. The rate of advance will be determined by the Minister with the concurrence of the Treasurer. The actual rate will be such as to provide no risk of loss to the Board or to the Government, and will be sufficiently high to achieve its purpose. The Australian Dairy Produce Board has had no trouble during its many years of operations with the Reserve Bank in making sure that no loss has accrued. The Honey Board will at all times act only as the agent of the owner of the honey which is voluntarily offered to the Board.
The matter which was raised by the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Beaton) concerned an assurance that the interest rate charged by the Reserve Bank would be no greater than that charged to the Australian Dairy Board and to the Australian Wheat Board. I can assure the honorable member that it will be exactly the the same rate.
– What about the insurance in Australia?
– I am sorry, but this is not a matter on which I can give information. I am not familiar with it and I am not quite sure what is done with other organisations. However, someone may be able to get this information for the honorable member or have a look at the point he has raised. He also mentioned that he was pleased to see an exemption being granted to small apiarists who produce honey more or less as a hobby. As was pointed out in the Minister’s second reading speech, any person producing less than 120 lb. of honey a month will not be obligated to pay the levy. These Bills are improvements to the existing legislation. Naturally there will be further amendments in the future to make other improvements.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr. Anthony) read a third time.
HONEY LEVY BILL (No. 1) 1965. Second Reading.
Consideration resumed from 16th September (vide page 975), on motion by Mr. Adermann -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr. Anthony) read a third time.
HONEY LEVY BILL (No. 2) 1965. Second Reading.
Consideration resumed from 16th September (vide page 976), on motion by Mr. Adermann -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr. Anthony) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 29th October (vide page 2414), on motion by Mr. Adermann -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– There being no objection, this course will be followed.
.- The measures now before us for consideration concern Australia’s great beef, sheep and lamb industry - in effect, our meat industry - which produces about two million tons of meat per annum, a large proportion of which is consumed locally and the balance exported. It is a most valuable industry but, unfortunately, like all other primary industries that deal with stock, it is subject to all sorts of problems from time to time that require a great deal of research in order that they may be overcome and the volume of production maintained and, where possible, substantially increased. It would be hard to measure accurately the enormous benefits that have accrued to the meat industry as a result of research originally undertaken by scientists of the State Departments of Agriculture, veterinary officers and others and, in latter years, by Waite Agricultural Research Institute, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation and other institutions of that character.
Indeed, let me mention just one example of quite recent years. I refer to that plague found in the better rainfall areas of Australia known as “ pulpy kidney “. Largely as a result of intensive research into pasture production, there is a heavier carrying capacity per acre. Lambs graze on these lush pastures at various times of the year and this sets up a complaint in the very best of fat lambs. Until discoveries some short time ago, producers frequently had the dreadful experience of walking around a paddock and finding the primest lambs lying dead with their heads turned to one side. The kidney of the lamb had been unable to cope with the lush pasture and the lambs developed pulpy kidney. Today, as a result almost exclusively of the research of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, stock owners and lamb producers are able to inoculate the ewes before birth of the lamb and to inoculate the lambs twice after birth and pulpy kidney has been practically eliminated in the better pastoral areas.
Again, all sorts of insect pests are found in sheep. There is the tick problem. In Queensland there is the red water problem. There is a vast range of problems concerning our meat industry and it is essential that there should be research work going on always in order to cope with the problems that arise and will continue to arise from time to time. It is because of these factors and the realisation of these facts that some time ago this Parliament decided to set up a body to carry out research work concerning, in particular, the beef industry. It is obvious that, just as the beef industry needs intensified research work, so likewise does the sheep and fat lamb industry. We now have a levy on beef cattle, on sheep and on lambs but, up to the present time, there has not been any contribution from the sheep and lamb industry towards the research activities of a similar nature to that going on in the beef industry. It is now thought desirable that, whereas the cattle slaughter levy certainly applies to sheep and lambs, but only for publicity and marketing purposes, in the future some portion of the levy should be applied to research work into the sheep and lamb industry. As a result, this legislation has been shaped and drafted in such a manner that in the future the Meat Research Act will enable some of the levy on sheep and lambs to go into what will be known as the Meat Research Trust Account. That will be largely, in the first instance, under some control by the Australian Meat Board. Subsequently the funds will go into a meat research trust account.
The actual research work will continue to be carried out by the State agricultural departments, the universities and the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. The type of research work will be largely influenced by recommendations from time to time from the Australian Meat Board. There is provision in the legislation that the levy concerned shall not exceed certain amounts in regard to sheep and lambs. There is provision for a committee to be established comprising largely members of the Meat Board. The general provisions of these Bills are of such a nature that there should be a continuation and even an improvement in the research work in connection with sheep, carried on for the great Australian meat production industry.
Whilst it is true that a variety of primary producing organisations have indicated their assent to the introduction of levies for this purpose, individuals who are not members of such organisations - you might call them non-trade unionists - will be required under the measures now being taken to pay levies for purposes in respect of which they have no say whatsoever. In effect, this Parliament, in order to aid this industry, is imposing a levy on the people who operate that industry just as, in the case of trade unions, a levy is imposed on members and non-unionists when the union concerned is strong enough. Unfortunately, the unions do not necessarily always have the protection of Parliament. In this case, primary producers’ organisations might meet every month or quarter in each district. The local branch might make a recommendation to the central organisation which might pass it on to the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) as representing the will and wishes of that organisation. That might be done even though there had been a bare quorum of only five or six people present at the local meeting, notwithstanding the fact that the organisation might have a membership, in a small town or district, of 100 or 200. But what is wrong with that?
– That is rather like your political meetings, perhaps.
– Exactly. It is common to all political parties and organisations. Those few people might be the key agitators. In the Labour movement, of course, they are called agitators - and sometimes Communists. But in primary producer organisations they are live wires. They are the people on whom rests all the burden of voicing the organisation’s wishes so they say. In many cases, the rank and file members could not care less until, suddenly, they are confronted with the fact that a levy has been whacked on them. I make no apologies for those people. I think they deserve to be whacked to that extent. Together with other members of my Party, I am one of those people who, under those circumstances, willingly support these particular measures which, we believe, will help the further advancement of research for the great meat producing industry of this country. That will be a benefit, not only to the primary producer but to every Australian who, indirectly, is dependent upon the products of the land.
– I support these Bills the purpose of which is to extend the activities of the Australian Cattle and Beef Research Committee to include the mutton and lamb industries. They are also designed to bring representatives of these industries on to the Committee so that it can examine the research projects that will be undertaken with the money raised under this legislation. The original Cattle and Beef Research Act was part of the great research scheme for primary industries set up by this Government. There was the Cattle and Beef Research Act, which will now deal also with mutton, which was passed in 1962-63. The act dealing with wool was passed in 1957- 58; that dealing with dairying was passed in 1958-59; wheat was dealt with in 1957- 58; and tobacco in 1955-56. The Commonwealth matches, £1 for £1, the moneys levied on the industries except for the wool industry. The Government contributes £2 for each £1 raised by the wool industry.
These Acts are all part of the very successful policy for science that this Government has put into operation since it came to power, a policy which has been a vital factor in the development of primary industry in Australia. These Bills will increase the grants for research at the universities. Last year £148,603 was granted to universities in Australia for beef research. Since the inception of the scheme in 1962- 63 an amount of £289,426 has been granted to universities for beef research. If we take the five primary industry schemes together, we find that the amount granted to universities for research has reached a total of £3,344,895. During the term of office of this Government the number of universities in Australia has increased from eight to fourteen, or fifteen if one includes the proposed university in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. The number of students enrolled in universities has increased from 31,753 in 1949 to an estimated total of 82,788 this year. This increase of about 260 per cent, compares very favorably with the increases over a very similar period of 160 per cent, in the United States of America and 50 per cent, in Great Britain.
Under this Bill the grants to the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation will increase. Last year the grant, which amounted to £457,300, was for beef research only but this year it will cover research into mutton as well. Since the inception of the scheme under the original Act the amount granted to the C.S.I.R.O. for meat research has reached a total of £774,800. If we take the five primary industry schemes together we find that £18,144,726 has been granted to the C.S.I.R.O. in a period of 10 years or so. This money has gone to enlarge the facilities, the buildings, the equipment and the staff of that organisation and also to help with its running costs.
Other Commonwealth Departments also will benefit from this legislation. The Northern Territory Administration received last year for beef research an amount of £38,390. It has received altogether in this field £52,240. The Bureau of Agricultural Economics received £60,105 last year and £110,460 altogether. The Bill will also undoubtedly increase the grants to State departments. In 1964-65 the State Departments of Agriculture received £315,269 for beef research under the legislation then in force. Since the inception of the scheme they have received £651,732. Considering the five primary industry schemes together we find that £4,647,913 has been granted to the State Departments of Agriculture for research.
This Bill represents an expression of part of the science policy of this Government. In this debate I cannot, of course, discuss the work of the C.S.I.R.O. or the universities in other fields of science, or of the various State departments, or of the Department of National Development with its Bureau of Mineral Resources, its Joint Coal Board research and its Australian Coal Industry Research Laboratories. I cannot discuss the work of the Forestry and Timber Bureau, the Atomic Energy Commission or the National Materials Handling Bureau. I cannot discuss the research work carried out by the Department of Supply in electronics, aeronautics and defence, nor can I discuss the details of the medical research work carried out by the Department of Health. I cannot speak of the direct grants made by this Government for research in other primary industries. However, all these grants have emanated from the Government’s science policy.
Honorable members opposite make a great song and dance about their contention that the Government has no science policy. If it has not, then the development of research and science facilities in this country and the development of our universities themselves have been quite remarkable. If we have no science policy it is amazing how these improved research and science facilities have played such an enormous part in the development of Australia.
I support this Bill also because it represents a unique concept of the administration of scientific research work. As the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) told us in his second reading speech, there is to be an Australian Meat Research Committee of 12. There will be a chairman appointed by the Government. There will then be seven representatives of the industry, leaders in their field and selected for their ability and not necessarily for their affiliations. There will be a representative of the C.S.I.R.O. and also a representative of the Australian Agricultural Council which, of course, itself represents the State Departments of Agriculture. Then there will be a university representative, nominated by the universities that are conducting meat research work. The Committee will have an executive officer, and if he is the executive officer who is now with the Australian Cattle and Beef Research Committee, Dr. M. C. Franklin, this new Committee will have an outstanding man who has made a great contribution to the achievements of the C.S.I.R.O. He has also been attached to the University of Sydney and has a long experience of science and its administration.
The Bill gives expression to a unique concept of liaison between the Government and industry. It is of great importance in this connection. It gives an opportunity for the practical men to meet the scientists in a committee in order to review the problems of the industry that are brought forward by industry representatives. The Meat Research Committeee will also review projects submitted by the research organisations. It will request the provision of funds and ultimately, of course, it will study the results of the research that is carried out and ensure that it has been worth while.
The primary industries of Australia support this legislation. As the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) said in his concluding remarks, every primary producer knows the benefits that will flow from this measure, and every person in Australia who eats meat will benefit from it. Those engaged in primary industry support the legislation because they realise its value. They recognise the importance of the Government’s contribution and they appreciate the opportunity to participate in the scheme and to nominate representatives to the Research Committee. Conversely, the Government realises the importance of the legislation in the development of primary industries and ultimately of this country.
The Labour Party supports this legislation. Undoubtedly the members of that party have examined it in their caucus and have understood that it falls within the concept of their new platform, their new policy for science, and in accordance with the pledge that they have signed they will vote in favour of the legislation. If the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) votes in favour of it he will put himself in a rather false position. This is a matter of great concern, not only to honorable members on this side of the House and to our rural industries and their organisations, not only to our scientists and the scientific organisations, but also to our academics and the universities. The honorable member stated a few weeks ago that an Australian Labour Party government would destroy these industry research schemes. He cannot be said to be unaware of these matters or not to understand them. He has studied them. He leads and speaks for his party in these matters. He said, referring to the C.S.I.R.O.- a serious situation has arisen as a result of the increasing dependence of the Organisation on industry funds. Research programmes started with these funds have to be approved by outside bodies, and this adds to the administrative duties of research scientists while limiting their freedom of action. This arrangement, which has grown to significant proportions during the term of the present Government, is based on the curious assumption that the best people to tell scientists how and where to conduct their research are laymen. We have the ludicrous contrast of the Robertson Committee of 10 prominent academics administering £1 million of Federal money for research while the Australian Wool Board, which contains no scientists and is advised by committees on which there are few scientists, administers £2,600,000 of wool research money. Significantly, it is the Wool Board that has taken it upon itself to insist that the C.S.I.R.O. shall do no work on blends of wool with synthetic fibres, despite scientific opinion that this is a field which holds promise for future wool utilisation.
Here is the critical sentence -
It should be perfectly obvious to the Government that the only people competent to design research programmes are the scientists themselves and that if they can be trusted to spend wisely the £134 million provided by the Treasury they can also be expected to use wisely the £4i million from other sources without having to justify their progress in detail to lay bodies. Why has the Government allowed this situation to arise? Is it that it distrusts experts and wishes to restrain them, or is it merely that the Government, lacking a science policy and any means of reviewing and co-ordinating its activities in scientific fields, has simply failed to notice the consistency of the waste involved?
He went on to say -
One way to %et more value from existing money is to give the Commonwealth Scientific Industrial Research Organisation Executive a freer hand with the quite large amounts of the taxpayers’ money that are now administered by such bodies as the Wool Board.
One may include also bodies such as the Australian Meat Research Committee which is provided for in this legislation. The effect of this statement by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition is that primary industry experts should be removed from committees such as these, thereby destroying the unique balance between practical men and scientists and the unique liaison between government and industry in this field of science.
The honorable gentleman based his attack on a series of false assumptions. First, he showed a lack of understanding of the purpose of the Robertson Committee. Would one ask an industrialist to examine a pure research programme? Secondly, Sir, he said that the advisory committees of the Wool Board have few scientists on them. Let us examine these two committees. The Chairman of the Wool Production Research Advisory Committee is Mr. C. W. Strutt, a science administrator. The C.S.I.R.O. is represented by that distinguished scientist, Dr. O. Frankel. The universities are represented by a distinguished scientist, Dr. Melville, of the Waite Agricultural Research Institute, who is also very much involved in industry affairs as Chairman of the Australian Wool Industry Conference. There are three members of the Australian Wool Board on the Committee. The Australian Agricultural Council is represented by Mr. A. G. Strickland, the Director of Agriculture in South Australia. He is a man who has given a lifetime to the administration of science in the field of agriculture and I know that he is highly respected, not only in his own State. There are three wool growers on the Committee. Finally, its Executive Officer is Dr. G. R. Moule. Five of the eleven members who, with an ex officio member, make up the Committee are scientists. These are very distinguished scientists in their fields.
The second committee is the Wool Textile Research Advisory Committee. The Executive Officer is Dr. A. J. Farnworth, a man who is very prominent in this field. The Chairman is Mr. A. L. Senger, of the Department of Primary Industry, who is a science administrator. The universities are represented by Professor Chaikin, who is well known for his work at the University of New South Wales. There are two representatives of the manufacturers and two representatives of the Australian Wool Board. The C.S.I.R.O. is represented by no less a man than Sir Frederick White, and the International Wool Secretariat is represented by Dr. Carter, a man who is an authority in the field of wool textiles. Five of the nine members of this committee are scientists. Indeed, some of them are among the most distinguished scientists in Australia and represent some of our most famous and internationally best known scientific organisations. If we add to the scientists the two representatives of the manufacturers, who are technically qualified to advise on wool textile research, we have seven out of nine members who have scientific or technical qualifications.
So it is false for the Deputy Leader of the Opposition to say that there are few scientists advising the Wool Board. He went on to say that the Board insisted that no work be done on the blending of wool with synthetic fibres. This also is false, for the Board has never at any time insisted that the C.S.I.R.O. do no work on the blending of wool with synthetics. In fact, it is the Organisation’s right and its duty, under clause 1 (a) of its constitution, to enter into this field if it considers that this is a field in which work should be done. It is quite entitled to use its own funds on such work. So why does the Deputy Leader of the Opposition suggest that the Organisation has been prevented by the Wool Board from doing work in this field?
– The Wool Marketing Committee of Inquiry stated that this research had been stopped.
– I am advised by the Department of Primary Indus try that there has been no insistence that the C.S.I.R.O. shall not do this kind of work. It can go ahead and do it with its own funds under the terms of its own constitution if it believes that work in this field is as important as the Deputy Leader of the Opposition suggests.
Why does he say these things? Why does he base his assertions on false assumptions? I do not think he is acting out of ignorance, for he is very well informed on these matters. He may be making a naive approach in an attempt to attract votes from a particular section of the community.
– Order! I suggest that the honorable member get back to the Bills now before the House.
– I believe that this is relevant, Sir.
– It is really relevant to a measure that was passed some weeks ago.
– I bow to your ruling, Sir. I believe that we should bear in mind, as we consider these Bills, the Australian Labour Party’s intention to destroy this legislation if it ever comes to office again. I issue a warning to our primary industries, to our scientists, the universities and to the State departments of agriculture. I would be interested to hear the views of the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly), who is an expert on these matters and who is a member of the Advisory Council of the C.S.I.R.O.
The final point that I want to make is that these associated measures will have important effects on the development of research and expenditure on research in this country. Last financial year some £1,069,000 was raised by the beef cattle levy and about £3,360,000 under the five schemes in which mutton and lamb are now to be included, was granted to the C.S.I.R.O. Great efforts have been made by Opposition members to denigrate the Government’s achievements in this field. For instance, the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns) said recently -
It is apparent that in Australia a considerably lower proportion of our resources are being used for research than in almost any other comparable country. For instance, in the United Kingdom 2.4 per cent of the gross national product is being used for research; in the United States of America 2.7 per cent.; in the Netherlands l.5 per cent.; in France 1 per cent, and in Canada 0.7 per cent. Australia is the lowest of any of the countries I can find, spending 0.6 per cent. These figures are provided for us in the much ignored Vernon report. I have made my own calculations . . .
The honorable member went on to say -
One other point that I think it necessary for attention is that in Australia a very large proportion of the volume of funds being provided for research is provided by governments -
Under the legislation now before us money will be provided for research by the Government as well as by contributions from the industry - directly through organisations like the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation or universities. In Australia the proportion of government funds is 68 per cent., universities 12 per cent, and industry generally 20 per cent, making a total of 100 per cent. The striking difference here is that in most comparable countries the proportion of funds provided by industry is, relatively, three or four times greater than it is in Australia. In the United Kingdom industry provides 63 per cent, of the funds expended on research; in the United States of America, 75 per cent. . . .
The honorable member went on to list a number of countries. The figures that he gave are totally false. He has transposed, apparently for his own purposes, the columns of Table 16.1 in the report of the Committee of Economic Inquiry - the Vernon Committee. The table shows that in the United Kingdom the proportion of funds provided for research and development by industry is 37 per cent., whereas he said it was 63 per cent. Industry expends 63 per cent, of the money spent on research and development, but this expenditure included also funds provided by the Government. In the United States the proportion provided by the industry is 32 per cent., not 75 per cent, as the honorable member said; in Canada 31 per cent., not 39 per cent. This table gives figures that the honorable member did not give. In France, 22 per cent, of the funds are provided by industry, not 57 per cent, as he said, and in the Netherlands industry provides 63 per cent, of the funds, not 64 per cent. The honorable member has made totally false assumptions. He did not even go on to say, as the Vernon report stated, at paragraph 30 of chapter 16, that there is no way in which to judge a proper level of research and development expenditure in Australia and that the proportion of expenditure compared to gross national product varies from country to country. This is the first paragraph in the conclusions and summary of the report. The Vernon Committee continues on that line.
The honorable member for Yarra did mention the defence effort, but what he did not also mention was that an analysis of figures indicates that approximately 35 per cent, of Government research funds is spent on primary industry, a figure which probably would correspond to about 25 per cent, of the total research and development budget. Of course, this Bill comes into this field. Australia spends about three times as high a proportion of the gross national product on research in primary industry as does the United States of America. Since the contribution by primary industry to the gross national product in Australia is about three times as great as in the United States, it appears that Australian research expenditure in primary industry is roughly comparable in that scale with that of the United States. This is of great importance and it is part of the matter that we are discussing. The honorable member for Yarra, either by a piece of blatant intellectual dishonesty or by an error, has falsely quoted the figures.
– Order! The honorable member should confine his remarks to the Bill before the House. He is at present referring to matters that have already been raised in previous debates. Those matters are not now open for discussion.
– I bow to your ruling, Sir. My final point is that I support this and the complementary measures because they come into the science policy of the Government. They will play a unique part in the development of our beef and meat industries. I can support them with a very clear conscience. I hope that honorable members opposite can do the same.
.- The honorable member for Robertson (Mr. Bridges-Maxwell) has given me the opportunity to participate in a debate on a bill on which I had not earlier proposed to speak. All my colleagues and I support the proposal that more money should be spent on research in a primary industry which is showing the greatest growth and the greatest potential for export earnings. Money spent on producing meat more economically for our own consumption and to earn export income is well spent.
To a certain extent I must refer to a previous debate since the honorable member for Robertson has done so. He referred to my remarks in the debate on the estimates for the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, in particular concerning the expenditure by the C.S.I.R.O. of wool research funds. Insofar as he suggested that I was acting on false premises in my remarks in that debate he was incorrect.
I referred to the effect which wool producers had on wool research as shown in the report of the Wool Marketing Committee of Enquiry, known as the Philip Committee, in February 1962. I shall quote only one of the several paragraphs in which the Committee referred to this question. Paragraph 584 of the report states -
The woolgrower members, who together form the majority of the Committee, have expressly or impliedly dictated certain fundamental policies, an important result being that the C.S.I.R.O. has done little work on the effects of blending wool with man-made fibres. Many woolgrowers have an almost fanatical aversion to recognising that a textile composed of a blend of wool with manmade fibres has any value. It is this attitude which, in part, has prevented the C.S.I.R.O. from undertaking research into blends.
On that basis I have asked two questions on this subject. One of them has already been answered. On 12th October the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) answered a question which I had put on the notice paper in these terms -
What changes have taken place in Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation wool research policy since the report of the Wool Marketing Committee of Enquiry in February 1962?
The Prime Minister’s reply did not deal with the question of blends upon which the Committee made the remarks which 1 have quoted. Accordingly, I put another question on the notice paper of 20th October in these terms -
How far have the changes in C.S.I.R.O. wool research policy, which he described in his answer to me on the 12th October 1965, resulted in a modification of the ban on research into blends, which were discussed in the report of the Wool Marketing Committee of Enquiry in February 19627
It may transpire that there has been a change of policy, but I am at least endeavouring to ascertain the facts. The last that the Parliament was told about it was in February 1962 by the Philip Committee. There have been no references in the C.S.I.R.O.’s annual report to any change of policy. I have now put the second question on the notice paper in this sessional period in an attempt to find out whether there has been a change. It may be that I am going on false premises, but I defy any honorable gentleman to quote any document available to the Parliament which shows that 1 was proceeding on false premises. In fact, all the available information shows that there have been inhibitions on research into wool by the C.S.I.R.O.
Nobody on this side of the chamber has - certainly I have not - cast any doubt on the necessity to spend money on wool research. Wool is our greatest export industry and our greatest primary industry. We should spend money on research into wool and we should spend more money on research into wool. Quite clearly, at a time when competitive fibres are being produced as a result of vastly greater expenditure on research than wool receives, we must spend money in this way. All I was intent on insisting was that the money that we spend, the public money which is contributed by all taxpayers as well as the money contributed by the producers, should be spent to the very best purpose.
On this Bill we all support the objective that more money should be spent on research into meat. Meat is not yet as great an industry as wool, but the meat industry is growing more rapidly, both in its production and in its exports. Quite clearly we must spend more money on investigating how best we can produce meat, from what parts of our country and for what markets. It is relevant, however, to say on this Bill, as I said in the debate on the estimates for C.S.I.R.O., that the scientists should be free to conduct research where their knowledge says that the time can be best spent. If the meat producers inhibit research with the money provided under this Bill, in the same way as the wool producers inhibited research into blends as the Philp Committee reported to us, we shall not be getting the best return for the money provided under these Bills. It is completely spurious to suggest that in any way I was implying that money should not be spent on primary production.
– I never said that.
– Then we have cleared that. The only dispute between us seems to be on who can most effectively decide the nature of the research. I believe that if we are employing agricultural scientists, veterinary scientists and all the other scientists whose skills are relevant to this research, we should pay due regard to their skills.
– We do.
– I have quoted where, in the opinion of an expert committee which was set up to report to the Parliament, this was not being done in the case of wool. I am not assuming that there will be similar inhibitions with regard to meat. I do not say that research into meat will be inhibited in this way at all; but I do hope that the scientists in the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, in the universities and in some government departments, both State and Federal, to which I may refer presently, will be as free as possible to conduct research into all aspects of meat production and marketing in which they think research may be fruitful. I believe that science is most effective where it is most free.
We are responsible in this Parliament for appropriating tax money for research. We are responsible in this Parliament, through excise duties, for deciding what contributions will be. made by the producers towards research in any industry. In general - and this is not to be wondered at - we are very much laymen in these fields. For example, we do not have a parliamentary science committee. In the debate in which the honorable member for Robertson followed me, he advocated, such a committee. We both agree that parliamentarians should have available to them, in the British parliamentary system which we have inherited, some of the means of informing ourselves which are available in the United State Congressional system. All I would hope is that in meat the research will be just as free as I have said it should be in wool; and I have demonstrated as best I can, on such information as is available to honorable members, that at this stage research in wool is not free.
I said that I would refer to the work of some government departments with relation to meat research. Quite apart from the research which is carried out in some Divisions of the C.S.I.R.O. and in the various university faculties of veterinary science and agricultural science - both are relevant to meat production - there is much research conducted by the departments of agriculture and of land use in the various States and the Northern Territory.
There is also meat industry research in which the Bureau of Agricultural Economics is now interested. It is research in which the National Health and Medical Research Council is interested. There are very many factors in our pastoral and agricultural activities in which meat production is involved. We have not always realised the way in which the whole balance of nature may be upset. We decide that certain animals can have certain pellets or injections. We decide that various animals can be dipped or sprayed. We decide also that various pests which afflict animals can be eliminated by spraying from the ground or the air. But we have found that as a result of some of these measures certain effects have been brought about in the meat which have caused qualms, shall I say, at home or abroad. Honorable gentlemen will not expect me to say more because then I should be accused in some further debate of having injured our meat industry.
There are, then, new features of research required by the Bureau of Agricultural Economics and the National Health and Medical Research Council, quite apart from the university faculties, the State departments and the C.S.I.R.O., to which the Bill refers. It is very clear that we need very much wider, more diverse and more extensive research if we are to be certain that the meat which we know we can produce, and which we know we can sell, is to be produced and sold to the best advantage.
There may be some elements of politics between the honorable gentleman’s party and mine on this subject at the moment. I fancy that he has been a bit stirred by the references I have made more than once, inside the House and outside it, to the science and technology policy which the Federal Conference of the Labour Party propounded last August. The whole world was able to discern how we reached that policy, how we debated it and how we endorsed it. That is, people were able to see how our conference conducted itself. Anybody who attended the conference - and anybody could - was able to get copies of the papers that were before the conference and to listen to the debates on them. Anybody can get from any of us copies of the Party’s policies on this and all other subjects, for1s. 6d. all told.
On the other hand, so far as I understand, the Liberal Party’s policy was last enunciated five years ago. The supreme policy making body of the Liberal Party has been meeting in Canberra this week, behind closed doors. Nobody knows yet what policy changes or innovations it made. The public could not attend. It is true that it has been stated in the press that in a few days the various voting patterns which emerged at the Council meeting will be published; but it is fairly plain that the Liberal Party still has not evolved a science and technology policy.
The honorable gentleman quoted many figures. If he had gone back a bit further, he would have found that every form of research which this Government has undertaken was initiated by the Chifley Government and that in the field under discussion, it was initiated by the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) who opened the debate for the Opposition. Wool and meat research, for instance, were all initiated by the Chifley Government. Every existing marketing board, except the Wine Marketing Board was set up by a Labour Government. Every agricultural research station in this country was set up by the Chifley Government or the Curtin Government and, where necessary, this was done in collaboration with the State governments in whose territories the research stations were established.
– They have been improved so much by us that you would not know them now.
– The honorable member for Mallee was here at that time and supported the proposals. I now refer to the honorable member’s favourite volumes of “ Hansard “ - those for 1949.I have checked that the honorable member voted in favour of our States Grants (Encouragement of Meat Production) Act. Again between 1946 and 1949, the honorable member voted in favour of the allocations made by the Chifley Government to the Kimberley and Katherine research stations. Does he wish one to go further?
– Of course 1 do.
Mr. WHITLAM__ Honorable members can look at every statute and at every Budget and they will find where the genesis of all this research - and it was co-operative research with the States too- was laid down. It is true that a lot of money has been spent since but there has been precious little co-operation. In relation to meat production honorable gentlemen should realise that the initiative of the Chifley Government in this’ respect, both in the State Grants (Encouragement of Meat Production) Act and in the establishment of the Katherine and Kimberley research stations was allowed to peter out as far as the Act was concerned and to taper off as far as research stations are concerned until the winds of change started to blow more strongly in 1960 and 1961.
It is very easy for the honorable member for Robertson (Mr. Bridges-Maxwell) to take some statement and, because I show that there are shortcomings in the way other research funds are being spent, to insinuate that in some respects I am opposed to this Bill. Indeed, 1 am supporting this Bill. I believe that not only is it right that it should be introduced, but that it is long overdue. More money should have been spent on research in the meat industry. I believe also that it is not only proper, but is long overdue, that there should be more co-ordination of this research. I believe too, as I have indicated with a proper discretion, that more research into meat production has been shown to be necessary than the Minister mentioned in his second reading speech.
But the important thing is that the scientists and the institutions should have their activities properly dovetailed. Not only should they have the wherewithal, which only the Parliament can provide from taxation or from an excise duty on the producers, but also the researchers should be as free as possible in carrying out research for which their skills have equipped them. The most effective research is that carried out when the researchers are most free. The need for more research is not something that the Labour Party has discovered alone. Honorable gentlemen will realise that about four years ago the Australian Academy of Science submitted to the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) that more national research foundations should be established to co-ordinate research between Commonwealth, States and territories and between institutions and individuals. This Bill in no way impedes the objectives which we have proclaimed and which the Liberal Party has not yet proclaimed. I cannot quote the policy of the Country Party. The document containing its policy is out of print. The last document available, which dates from the 1950’s, so the Library tells me, makes no reference to science or to research. At least the Labour Party has acknowledged the problem and proclaimed its policy. It will continue to urge that more money be spent on research into primary industries, that there should be broader coordination between Commonwealth and State departments and the institutes involved, and that the research workers should be as free as possible to carry out their research and that greater efforts should be made in the fields of extension and application of research findings. In that way we shall get the best dividend from the money that we appropriate.
.- It gives me much pleasure to support the Bills before the House - the Meat Research Bill and the two other Bills. I assure the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) that the Country Party supports scientific research very strongly and is supporting it this afternoon. It supports research in general. The Country Party realises the importance of research especially in relation to the kind of bills we are dealing with at present, but it points out the necessity for both scientific and practical research in order to bring about the necessary results. Production of beef, mutton and lamb in Australia has increased greatly. Meat production is one of the three most important agricultural industries. It is very difficult to deal with research in Australia because of the size of the country, the variations in climate as well as a number of other aspects. There is a tremendous field to cover. This Bill will assist in the broadening of research.
What arc the objectives of research? In the main I would say that the objectives are to improve the standard of the quality of production in all parts of Australia and to assist the practical man in overcoming many of his difficulties. There are two fields of research, the scientific and the practical.
Without these fields working together we will never achieve anything. Too often we consider pure science in relation to agriculture and are inclined to forget the tremendous amount of work done on the practical side. It is important, in dealing with these Bills, to remember that pure research is important. But promotion is also important. Having realised the problem and having discovered how we can grow more grass and more wheat per acre and how we can produce more sheep per acre, it is necessary to transfer our knowledge into the field of production. In a vast country like Australia it is extremely difficult to do this unless we promote research.
Know-how in primary industry is important. Farmers and producers generally in agricultural industries have done a tremendous amount of work. All the science and research in the world cannot replace real know-how in stock breeding. This basic know-how is frightfully important in increasing our production. That was so during the initial development of this country when there was no such thing as research or promotion as we know it. All we had was know-how, but great progress was made. I pay a compliment to the farmers of Australia for what they have done in every generation to help us reach the stage that we have reached.
We have, of course, many knowledgeable men in the science field. They are to be found in the various universities, agricultural societies and so forth, and I pay a tribute to these men also. They often work behind the scenes and to a large extent what they are doing is not generally known. Some Australian scientists are better known overseas than they are in Australia; they are world renowned. Others are famous not only in Australia but also in other parts of the world. The progress during the last few years in developing the production of beef, mutton and lamb is really tremendous. Farmers in conjunction with scientists have done things that we did not believe possible 1 1 or 12 years ago. For instance, clover has been produced in very low rainfall areas, with magnificent results. What the ultimate will be we do not know. This Bill deals with these important matters. What the future carrying capacities and production will be in Australia, the scientists themselves do not know at this point. We are still pushing forward very rapidly with our programme.
I wish to comment on research activities in primary industry throughout Australia. In the forefront of my mind at the moment is the need of the meat producer for finance. It seems somewhat futile for the scientists to carry out research into meat production if the results of their research cannot be applied in the field through lack of finance. Australia relies heavily on her primary industries for a favourable balance of payments position. We rely on the export earnings of our primary industries to build our factories and import our raw materials, machinery and machine tools. At present our overseas reserves are falling. I urge, the Government to see that adequate finance is made available to this great industry which is vital to the expansion and development of Australia.
I propose to examine the advances that have been made available to primary industries over the years and to follow the matter through to see what the trend has been. In 1948 advances made available to primary industries totalled £106.5 million. That figure does not include advances made available to the mining industries. As at January of this year the total of advances to primary industries stood at £256.4 million, with an additional £8.5 million being made available to mining industries. In the six-year period from 1948 to December 1954 advances to primary industries almost doubled from £106.5 million to £210.6 million. But in the 10 years from 1954 to 1964 the amount of advances increased by only £46 million. This is not good enough. We moved forward reasonably well between 1948 and 1954 but in the next 10 years, during which we were hammering to get an improvement in the situation, there was a reduction in the additional amount of finance made available to primary industries.
The lack of finance is reflected in total production. In 1948 the total value of production from primary industries was £686,784,000. These figures have been supplied by the Bureau of Census and Statistics. In 1954 production by primary industries was worth £1,356,231,000. In other words, in those six years the value of primary production almost doubled. We must remember that in this period advances to primary industries almost doubled also. In the 10 years from 1954 to 1964, if science had been doing its job, as I am sure it was, and if farmers had had available to them sufficient finance to get on with the job, we should have seen a similar improvement in primary production as we saw in the preceding six years but, in fact, the value of primary production in that 10-year period increased to only £2,004,947,000. In other words, although the value of production almost doubled in the six-year period from 1948 to 1954, in the following 10-year period it did not increase at the same rate. These figures are relevant. They tell a story that has been recounted in this House ever since I have been here. That story is that we should have more finance for these mighty primary industries. If the increase of £46 million in advances to primary industries in the 10 years from 1954 to 1964 had been applied solely to Western Australia for development of one million acres of land each year which that State is endeavouring to bring into production, the amount would have been only a small fraction of what is needed. But that amount was spread over the entire continent, so it is obvious that our primary industries are operating on a shoestring. It is time that this Parliament looked seriously at this matter. Unless adequate finance is made available to our primary industries, including our mining industries, we cannot make use of scientific developments and modern machinery. The only satisfactory way to farm is with adequate finance. I am afraid I have digressed a little from the terms of the Bill, but in my opinion this matter of finance is of paramount importance.
Research is important, not only into production, but also into processing, storage, marketing and transport of the commodity. In recent years stringent regulations have been applied to our meat exports to America. In the last year or so, I have inspected some of our meat processing plants in the northern part of Western Australia. Vast sums of money have been spent on these plants, but these days you must have a lot of capital in order to do the job properly. The restrictions that have been placed on our exports to America have encouraged us to process our meat exports correctly. Some years ago almost all of our meat exports went to Great Britain but the scene has changed and we are now exporting meat to many other parts of the world. If we want to build up our overseas markets, obviously we must supply a good product. It is not good enough simply to produce a good beast. We must process the meat correctly and package it correctly. These are very important points, and it is heartening to see that money has been spent in this field. It is also necessary to reach these markets economically. The Australian Meat Board tackled one of the problems arising from the transport of meat only recently, but here again a good deal of money must be spent on research. We are a long way from many of our markets. We cannot afford to continue to ship our meat as we have been shipping it for many years. We have, for instance, been handling one lamb carcass at a time. There is room for research into the problems of the transport of meat. We cannot continue to handle meat as we have been. We must do it in bulk, and not one carcass at a time. We have also been handling carcasses of beef one at a time. The cost is fantastic, and much work can be done in this field.
I have no doubt that the Australian Meat Board is well aware of all these factors and it will no doubt do what it can to solve the problems. I have mentioned this matter before in the House when speaking about port development. The handling of meat is one factor to be taken into account when we consider modernising our ports. To produce meat is one thing; to market it correctly is an entirely different matter. Research must go right through from the time we start to grow the beast until the meat reaches the market on the other side of the world. It is not good enough to stop at any point; the research must go right through.
I want to refer to the importance of maintaining the industry within Australia. In the last year or two, a tremendous amount of damage has been done by drought. This is a fruitful field for our research workers, scientists, farmers and others connected with the production of beef and lambs. Herds are built up by years of patient breeding and the expenditure of a tremendous amount of money, but they are almost entirely wiped out within a few months from the onset of drought. I feel that the Australian Meat Board could be doing considerably more work on this subject. I am not criticising the Board; I know it has done some work.
But what I am saying is that somewhere in Australia somebody has to pick up this problem and do something with it. We have not really dealt with it yet, although we have looked at the problem in some minor respects. The Government is mindful of the situation now; but what about tomorrow? I think that the Australian Meat Board is the authority that should take up this problem in earnest and make some recommendations to the Government. It is not enough to say that a farmer can grow a variety of clover and increase the carrying capacity of his land. We do this every day. Farmers increase the carrying capacity of their land, build up their flocks and think that Christmas Day will be here for ever. But then we have a drought right across Australia from the east coast to the Kimberleys in my State. Let us tackle the problem of drought now. I say that the Australian Meat Board should pick it up. If it wants money to undertake research in the long term, I am sure that it would receive encouragement and support from the Government.
Nobody will ever really know the full cost to Australia of the drought we are experiencing now. Somebody will make an assessment of the cost and the figure will be very large. The drought will also give the Government a headache, not only as it affects the balance of payments but also as it affects general taxation within Australia. I appeal to the Australian Meat Board to tackle the problem earnestly. Drought cannot be prevented, but if a minute part of the cost of this drought had been spent on devising ways of saving stock, the losses would not have been so heavy. I made a suggestion in the House - I have forgotten when; I think it was during the Budget debate - that silos for the storage of fodder be constructed and that we use the resources of the Snowy Mountains scheme. We must consider all possible means of reducing the losses. Research such as this could become part of our general export scheme. The cost would be practically nothing when compared with the cost of the drought. We should face up to these problems and assist the farmers to do what they can, though they cannot do much. We must have sufficient fodder held in Australia to save our breeding stocks. In 1965, when men can go to the moon, it is not good enough to say that we in Australia cannot save our breeding stocks. I support the Bill.
– I also support the Bill. The attitude of the Opposition to these measures has been outlined by the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam). They have covered most of the field and have given the reasons for our attitude. I would like to deal briefly with the effects of the legislation on meat production in the Northern Territory, which is the electorate I represent. The expansion of meat production in Australia can confer considerable benefits on our economy, as well as helping the economy of the area in which the production is undertaken. Overseas markets for our meat are waiting to be tapped. We have an unfulfilled demand for our products in many parts of the world, including Europe, the United Kingdom, Asia and America. These markets can take every ounce of meat that we can produce. It is fitting, therefore, that we in this Parliament should do everything we can to increase the production of meat in Australia. I am sure that we are not doing enough in the Northern Territory. Research is not keeping pace with developments and requirements.
I was amazed to hear the honorable member for Robertson (Mr. BridgesMaxwell), in very indignant tones, chide the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. P. Cairns) and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition for misquoting figures. He was accusing them, of course, of juggling the figures to suit their arguments. A few minutes earlier, the honorable member suppressed and juggled figures to suit his own argument. He mentioned the figure that had been allocated to the Northern Territory for research. I take it that he quoted from the report of the Australian Cattle and Beef Research Committee for the year ended 30th June. He gave the figure for 1964-65. He gave the total amount of money that had been allocated for research. But he omitted to give the figure for 1955-56, which shows that the allocation has been pruned by some 33) per cent.
– From what source was the pruning done?
– The source is the report of the Australian Cattle and Beef Research Committee. The figure given by the honorable member for 1964-65 was £38,390.
– I was referring to the period since the commencement of the Act.
– The allocation is only about £26,000, a decrease of almost £12,000, so we are not going from strength to strength, but, in some respects, are slipping behind. It may be argued that other instrumentalities are stepping up their programmes, but this is not so. The proposed expenditure by the Administration is £67,000 down on the previous year’s expenditure. In only one section of the general services of the Northern Territory Administration dealing with this industry is the expenditure greater than for last year, and that is in respect of the Animal Industry Branch where the proposed appropriation is £17,000 over the appropriation for 1964-65. The proposed expenditure on agriculture and development research is less than for last year, and we all know that this research is associated with the expansion of the beef industry because improvement of pastures leads to increased carrying capacity. This year only £15,000 is proposed for field operations at the Coastal Plains Research Station. Last year over £60,000 was spent there. This research station performs work on behalf of the Beef Research Committee. We have been wasting our opportunities. It was announced recently that the arid area research station is to be started again. About three or four years ago its operations ceased because of lack of funds. We lost valuable time that we can never regain. We lost the opportunity of finding an earlier solution to our problems. Central Australia is potentially valuable for beef production. It is true that at present it is in the grip of a devastating drought and that its herd numbers may be down by up to 75 per cent, before the drought breaks, but given the right type of research its potential could be developed.
In the Northern Territory the rainfall varies from about 65 inches in the extreme north to about 20 to 30 inches 250 miles inland, but this is a belt of country that could be vastly expanded for beef production. It carries little production at present because many problems have not been overcome. Research into these problems requires energy and money as well as technicians to undertake it. At present scientists from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation and from the Administration are undertaking research, and funds are being provided for the job. On the Barkly Tablelands is an area of 30,000 square miles comprising some of the best natural cattle country in Australia. It is terrific country with a relatively safe rainfall. Droughts are seldom experienced there, and it is an area that can be vastly expanded. However, at the moment it is gradually changing to overseas ownership. Eventually we may find that Australia owns very little of this valuable tract of land. With mineral development in the north this area should be producing for an export market to the north, and it is hoped that in the not too distant future it will be doing so.
I listened with great interest to the honorable member for Canning (Mr. Hallett) and his comments on credit availability, and I could not agree with him more. In the Northern Territory the high rainfall area has been settled primarily by men of moderate means. It is only in the last two or three years, since meatworks have been established in the area, that they have gained some adequate return from their work. In the past they were at the complete mercy of anyone who wanted to offer them a low price for their produce, but now, with meatworks in Katherine and Darwin to protect them, they are able to supply meat and get good returns. The main factor limiting an increase in production is the lack of credit facilities - not day to day credit facilities that can be secured from stock agents and banks, and where the money is on call, but long term finance to enable them to build up their breeding herds and, consequently, their normal herds. It is no use men trying to build their herds if they are being continually pushed for money and have to realise on their capital from time to time. Australia is sadly lacking in stock breeders. This is not restricted to the Northern Territory. If there is a general breaking of the drought there will not be sufficient breeding cattle available to take advantage of the seasonal conditions that must flow from a general break. In the north, where men should be breeding herds they are frequently being forced to realise on them to meet their commitments.
The Government should institute without delay a credit scheme for the provision of long term finance - for a period of at least 15 years - so that men can obtain credit in the knowledge that they will not be called on each year to liquidate their liabilities. Although the Government has introduced relief measures in the drought stricken areas of Central Australia the measures are only temporary and are completely inadequate for the purposes for which they were intended. They are short term measures. What the Territory needs - and this applies to other parts of Australia - is facilities to enable long term finance to be obtained for expansion purposes. The industry could be developed and expanded from the Kimberleys through the Territory and into Queensland. There is no single step that would achieve the purpose quicker than a long term credit finance scheme. I could not agree more with the honorable member for Canning that this is essential. Of what use is technical knowledge, improved pasture and improved stock if men do not have the finance to institute scientific advances? In the Northern Territory we need a soundly based finance scheme as well as greater expenditure on basic research work.
I pay tribute to the men in the Northern Territory and to the scientists from the Administration and from the C.S.I.R.O. - who are battling to produce results. They are doing their work with limited means, with limited manpower and with limited scientific assistance. Investment by the Government on research must ultimately return handsome dividends. I support the Bill which, although inadequate, does serve a useful purpose.
.- There seems to be general agreement in the House about the principles motivating these Bills and I am not going to detain honorable members for long. I merely want to bring out a few points that have not been mentioned. These Bills are another example of our primary industries helping themselves. The industry groups have agreed that they be levied through this legislation in order to help themselves. The Government is subsidising money put into research by the producers. The Government is helping those who are willing to help themselves.
Going back over the history of this legislation, in the autumn session of Parliament last year the Government brought in legislation providing money for beef research, for beef promotion and for administration. It imposed at the same time a promotion and administration levy on sheep. Having secured the agreement of the Australian Agricultural Council, I understand, the Government has been able to complete the scheme and impose a levy - again with the industry’s concurrence - for research into mutton and lamb. This legislation completes that part of the exercise. It is a carefully contrived arrangement and the Australian Meat Board will have primary responsibility for overseeing the research and gathering the money. This is the way in which the industry has progressed.
I think it is a tribute to the leaders of our primary industry groups that they have been able to see that it is worth while agreeing to being levied in this way so that money wifi be available’ to help them. As I said before, the Government is prepared to help those who help themselves. Under this scheme the Government will have power to impose a beef levy, with a maximum of 7s. 6d. per head on cattle slaughtered. Of that sum 2s. will go to research and 5s. 6d. will go to promotion and administration. This money has not always been used by any means. There is at present a total levy of 3s. 3d., of which 2s. goes to research - and that is the maximum allowed - and ls. 3d. goes to promotion and administration, instead of 5s. 6d. Now we come to sheep and lamb. Under this legislation, there will be a legal maximum levy of 9d. per head on sheep and lambs. Of that 9d., 4d. will go to research and 5d. to promotion and administration. I understand that the Department of Primary Industry intends, by regulation, to impose considerably smaller levies than the maximum provided in this legislation. This is understandable at the start of the scheme. I understand that the figures will be Id. per head for research together with the present lid. per head for administration. That will be a total levy of 2id. per head. This levy has been agreed to by the industry groups and they are now responsible for collecting money for mutton and lamb research. I expect that it will be well used.
It is interesting to realise that in addition to this levy on mutton and lamb there is also a wool levy. This works out at a total levy of ls. 2id. per head based on today’s prices for wool and on the figures that have been made available as to the suggested rate of levy for the future. That is a reasonable contribution for the industry to make. It is interesting to realise that twopence of this will go for research and ls. 0)d. will go to promotion and administration. No-one can say that the industry is not helping itself and it is a tribute to the maturity of the industry as a whole to realise that it is worth doing these things. Let us take the case of a fairly lange farmer who sells 25 cattle, shears 3,000 sheep and lambs, sells 1,000 surplus lambs and sells 2,000 bags of wheat. He would make an annual contribution of £166 a year in levies which in all cases he has agreed to have collected from him. In all cases he has urged the Government to bring in legislation to collect levies of this magnitude. It is clear that the industry is prepared to help itself and to take an active part in trying to solve its own problems.
This brings me to the question so ably raised by the honorable member for Robertson (Mr. Bridges-Maxwell) when he discussed the attitude which evidently’ the Australian Labour Party takes. That attitude was certainly adopted by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam). There was a certain amount of caustic criticism in the speech of the honorable member for Robertson when he spelt out Labour’s policy. I am not sure exactly what the Deputy Leader of the Opposition said. In “Hansard” of 20th October last he is reported as follows -
It should be perfectly obvious to the Government that the only people competent to design research programmes are the scientists themselves…..
Under this legislation the scientific experiments for which this move is to be used will be under the control of a group of people made up of scientists and producers. They will say how the money will be spent. Evidently the Deputy Leader of the Opposition does not think that this is the right way to behave. I repeat his remark -
It should be perfectly obvious to the Government that the only people competent to design research programmes are the scientists themselves
I think this strikes right at the root of this question of the industry’s willingness to be levied - and its urging the Government to impose a levy. I think it would be entirely wrong to take the attitude that the industry should then not have a say as to how this research money is to be spent. I am not alone in thinking this. I want to quote from the Report of the Wool Marketing Committee of Enquiry headed by Sir Roslyn Philp. At page 108 of its report the Committee stated -
This is not to say that the scientist should not be allowed great latitude, particularly in respect of the pure science aspects of research, but, as Dr. White indicates, the general policy direction should be in the hands of the body which finds the money.
This is a principle to which we all must subscribe. As the honorable member for Robertson amply demonstrated, a committee administering this levy money should consist of scientists and also of the practical people who help raise it and from whom the money comes. They have the great responsibility of seeing that the levy money is well used. No one has a greater respect for scientists than I, but no one knows better than I that a committee composed only of scientists will need the guidance of people whose problems the scientists hope to solve. This, I think, goes right to the root of the problem. I know, and I think we all know, that scientists can go off on long-hair schemes, but apart from that there is the desirability for the problems of the industry to come up through the Committee, be presented to the scientists, who would then discuss them and say which of them can be solved. After all, I as a farmer should be equipped to know where my problems are and in what order of priority they should be tackled. Taking this responsibility away from the people who find the money would be, I think, a retrograde step indeed, for two reasons. I repeat them. The first is that the scientist, although he may sometimes resent the intrusion of the non-expert mind, in the end usually agrees that he needs guidance as to where problems exist. Secondly, the knowledge of where the problems exist is derived from industry groups such as the one envisaged in this legislation.
I presume the Deputy Leader of the Opposition speaks for his Party. If he does, and if he expresses the policy of the Australian Labour Party when he says -
It should be perfectly obvious to the Government that the only people competent to design research programmes are the scientists themselves- then I think there must be a lot of people throughout Australia who are levying themselves, agreeing to this legislation, indeed welcoming it, who will feel that they will have no say in deciding how their money is to be spent. If this is the policy of the Labour Party, and I presume it is, then I think the members of the Labour Party are making a grave mistake. They are tending to make it less likely that farmers will agree to this levy because they will feel that they will have no active say as to where the money is to be spent.
Perhaps I should make a suggestion or two myself as to how the. money may be spent. I shall make one suggestion with due deference. Before I came to this place I used to breed a type of mutton sheep called Dorset Horn. I was not very good at it. I do not pretend that I was an expert, but I did occasionally judge this breed at Royal Shows and similar events. I used to pretend that I knew what I was looking for. I used to look with very great wisdom - at least I presume it was wisdom, it was intended to be - at a sheep and feel the depth of flesh and so on and say: “ This is what we want”. I used to handle the animal in that intimate way that judges do, but all the time I had an uneasy feeling that I was not quite sure what I was looking for. Not being a top rank stud breeder, it may be said when T make comments such as this, particularly when judges are at work on my own sheep and I do not gain a prize, that I am just displaying sour grapes. However, it is refreshing to see that one of the best, if not the best, of the recognised stud breeders or mutton breeders in Australia, Mr. I. W. Redden of Newbold Ltd.famous as mutton breeders throughout Australia - has said in a recent newspaper article that he was not quite sure where our show fads are taking us.
I think there is not one of us who show mutton sheep at the various shows, and who over-fatten them, who is not a bit uneasy as to whether the qualities of which the judges speak so wisely after giving their decisions are really what we want. Of course those decisions cannot be questioned, and the judges can always explain them by saying: “ It is a matter of type “, or something like that What we are really interested in should be the mutton or lamb which represents the end product. Therefore I suggest as an exercise to the members of this proposed committee that they look at the question of the qualities in a show sheep which are important in the breeding of commercial sheep which produce the mutton and lamb in which we are all ultimately interested.
There is only one thing I would like to say in conclusion. When this matter was discussed during the last sessional period the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) said that he hoped to bring in a similar scheme to cover pig meat. I trust the Minister will tell us when he closes the debate what has happened to this proposal. After all, the producers are all in the same boat, so to speak, and if knowledge gained about beef will spill over beneficially into the field of pig meat then I think it is only proper that the pig producers” should be prepared to share in the levy in the future. I hope the Minister will tell us what is happening with this small but important part of the industry.
I support the Bill wholeheartedly. I think lt is another step in the. right direction. I commend the Minister, as I have frequently done before, on the patient way in which, he has led this industry to its present position. I think if either the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) or I had had to tackle the problem we would probably have, succumbed to anger long ago. But as usual the Minister seems to have been possessed of abnormal patience - whether it is patience or persistence I am not quite sure - and again he has been able to bring forward a Bill which I think is a sound piece of legislation and with which those who will contribute the money are well satisfied.
.- The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) has come under fire this afternoon for making in a previous debate what I thought was a valuable contribution. I think it is our responsibility to examine the way in which public money is spent, and in addition we have a responsibility to the people who contribute in the various industries towards the funds necessary for research. It is our responsibility to see that those funds are spent in a proper and adequate way. My personal view is that the best possible approach is that of cooperation between practical men and scientists, but by the same token the Deputy Leader of the Opposition brought out an important point when he quoted from the report of the Philp Committee, which quite clearly indicated that the scientists had been inhibited in their research. He referred in particular to research into the possibility of blending wool with man-made fibres.
– That is not in the Philp Committee’s report.
– It is. He quoted it here this afternoon, but obviously the honorable member was not listening.
– I was listening, but I cannot find it.
– Well, have another look. If honorable members opposite have not read the report I suggest they go away and do so. The policy of the Australian Wool Board, and indeed of the International Wool Secretariat, has been one of going it alone in opposition to man-made fibres. 1 think everyone concerned with the wool industry - and after all it is tremendously important to this country - ‘has given a good deal of thought to the question whether this policy is right or wrong, whether it best serves the interests of the wool industry and of the nation. I am aware, of course, that the scientists have not yet said their last word in respect of wool, that their activities in research are designed to bring out the qualities of wool in a better light for consumers around the world. In the future their discoveries may enable wool to be put to more practicable, better and more widespread use. Obviously this would be to the advantage of the wool growers and the country. Having given special thought to this matter, I believe that it is inevitable that the man-made fibres and wool will get together in a sort of marriage of the two fibres. This is the sort of thing that applies in practice nowadays. If one goes into the Myer Emporium Ltd. or any other store in Melbourne one can buy a great number of articles of apparel containing a mixture of wool and a synthetic fibre - nylon, dacron or something else. I have a feeling that this marriage of the fibres represents the answer in the long run.
However, Mr. Speaker, this is only by way of passing reference to answer the observations . of the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly). The purpose of the Bills now being considered is the extension of the current beef research scheme to mutton and lamb. I am satisfied that beef research activities have been successful up to date. I make only one qualification, and this is my sole purpose in rising to speak briefly this afternoon. I am not satisfied that the results of beef research and, for that matter, the results of research in other fields of primary production and agriculture are being put to effective use. This is a tremendously important matter. I am not satisfied that the Australian farmer is receiving all the information that is being made available by research. I am not satisfied that the full benefit of this research is being obtained by its being put into practice. I believe that there is room for vast expansion in the development of rural extension services through which the benefits of research are made available by ensuring that farmers have at their command the knowledge that the scientists have gained from their researches. I believe that it is completely useless for scientists of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, the various universities and State and Federal departments to undertake a tremendous . amount of research work for which the community, through the Government and the producers in the respective industries, pays unless the results of that work are put to practical use by the man on the land.
– Television could be used to give him the information.
– Any means could be used. Television certainly could be used and so could the Press, the radio and any other means of communication. Especially important is personal extension work by officers of Commonwealth and State departments. There is tremendous scope for the intrusion of the Commonwealth on a very large scale in the field of rural extension activities. I believe that this should come about naturally by co-operation with the various State Governments. The value to Australia of primary industries, including the meat industry, is tremendous. They account for something like 80 per cent, of our export income. It is only this export income that enables us to live in this tough trading world. Indeed it is obvious that our dependence on export income earned by primary products will continue for a long time. The meat industry has developed and expanded greatly in recent years and it has still enormous potential for further development. Consequently, I consider that it is vital that the results of research undertaken by scientists in the various fields of which I have spoken be given to the farmers so that they can put this research into practice. This is tremendously important. It is just a waste of money to pay scientists to undertake research to show how a job should be done, how something should best be used, how a crop can best be grown, how to improve the breeding of stock, how to improve farms and how best to use land unless the man who does the practical job - the man on the land - gets the knowledge that is gained from this research.
As I said before, Mr. Speaker, I am not satisfied that at present this knowledge is reaching the man on the land. I believe that there is tremendous scope for Commonwealth activity in co-operation with the States. The honorable member for Robertson (Mr. Bridges-Maxwell) indicated by the whole tenor of his remarks that he was perfectly satisfied with the existing situation in tertiary education and science in Australia. I am not satisfied. One. of the factors holding back the expansion of rural extension services is the lack of trained and expert personnel who can go out and give information direct to the man on the land. We have not enough of these skilled personnel in Australia. This is due to the lack of educational services in our community. This matter is of tremendous importance to the people of Australia, and particularly to the rural community. I am certain that we must undertake an energetic and vigorous programme to overcome the shortage of trained officers for rural extension services. It is tremendously important that we increase the available staff and that the Commonwealth enter into this field on a large scale. I hope that in the near future the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) will indicate to the farmers of Australia that they will soon get more adequate information as a result of the research conducted in this country. I support these Bills.
.- Mr. Deputy Speaker, I support these measures, the purpose of which to extend the beef research scheme t.. the scientific, technical and economic problems of the sheep industry. A great deal has been said toda) about the marriage of wool with synthetic fibres. I believe that, in the parliamentary sense, such remarks in this debate may be described as being out of wedlock. Research, principally undertaken by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, has made considerable contributions to our rural industries. I am confident that we are only now on the first rung of a ladder leading to tremendous expansion in our rural industries, particularly those based on livestock, and more especially the cattle industry rather than the sheep industry. Funds for the research provided for by these measures are to be obtained from a levy not exceeding 4d. a head of sheep slaughtered and not exceeding 2s. a head of cattle slaughtered. The funds raised by means of these levies will be matched £1 for £1 by the Commonwealth Government. In short, these measures will continue the present beef research scheme and extend it to mutton and lamb.
It is now a widely accepted fact that the best opportunity for the expansion of our markets is in the meat industry, for which the market is growing at a rate greater than can be met by the supply. One of the ways of increasing the supply of meat to the market is by promoting research, and that is the very thing for which these Bills provide. As we are aware, research throughout the world has made tremendous strides in the last 20 years. Whether or not we have a policy for research in Australia, we have heard a great deal about this. Indeed, there is no country that has yet established a set policy on research, because developments are occurring at such a great rate and are so widely diversified. Our research in the field with which we are concerned today is somewhat diversified. It is mainly entrusted to the C.S.I.R.O., of course, but some of it is undertaken by the universities and some by State departments. To a great extent this diversification brings about duplication of effort. Here there is scope for improvement.
In general, university research remains with the student. Much of it is done in the course of preparation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in various fields. In my view, one aspect in which there is room for considerable improvement is the publication of the results of research. Research findings should be published much more widely. There should also be a great deal more liaison and conferring on the results of research. The provision of an adequate clearing house for information should be regarded as a major project. No matter who undertakes research the information gained should be accessible. I agree wholeheartedly with what the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly) said today about practical men having a place in an advisory capacity with scientists. In my time I have had quite a bit to do with scientists, particularly with those of the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, and I do not think I have met one with any degree of maturity or achievement who has resented in any way working with or receiving practical advice from a man who was confronted with the problem that the scientist was endeavouring to solve. I think it might be said that the practical man is confronted with the problem, the scientist finds out how to solve the problem and the technologist is the instrument in overcoming the problem.
In the last generation conditions in the beef industry have changed tremendously. This has been due to a great many things which are too numerous to deal with in detail in the time at my disposal. A generation ago the demand was for larger cuts of meat. Animals then were slaughtered at a much greater age. A customer could buy more for his money in those times and there was no desire for the younger meat as there is today. There was not the variety of foods competing with meat in those times. Newcomers to Australia throughout the last generation have in most cases been eaters of young meat. The growing of beef in former times was a slow process. We have now gone in much more for quicker maturing beasts. Shortly after the war it was found that the light weight animal produced the best type of beef to meet the demand created by newcomers. That animal carried the right amount of fat covering to produce good eating meat. The animal now required by the public is small, fairly well finished, free from blemishes and weighing probably under 450 lb. There is a strong preference for the animal which is aged between 9 months and 15 months. Heavy beef today is largely for the export and institutional trade. Export today is composed of a large proportion of boneless meat, both beef and mutton, which permits the export of half finished animals. Local demand is now for small joints and steaks for grilling, braising and barbecuing. The demand is for meat which is free of excess fat.
We have seen a great change in demand; tenderness and leanness are more sought after than flavour. Anybody who has eaten meat that has a bit of maturity knows that it is better meat to eat. Because of the demand for younger meat, in almost every saleyard that we go into in metropolitan or country areas we see a very large number of young quality heifers being sold. I shudder to think of controlling the type of cattle that is sold, but this has come about in Great Britain where female cattle cannot be sold if they are below a certain age. lt may well be that we are not very far from having such a provision in our legislation. We must promote more meat for home consumption. On examination, the protein in our diet is not as high as we might have. Meat is now the most sought after protein in the world and we must endeavour to have more regular and more adequate supplies. One of the ways in which we can achieve this is by improving our pastures and improving our breeding. Scientific research, aided by technology, is almost solely responsible for the improvement in our pastures. We have types of grasses in the tropics like Townsville lucerne which was not produced by scientists but was discovered. It is interesting to realise that although this plant was imported from, I think, Mexico, it has been found that either by evolution or by coincidence there are three different types of Townsville lucerne - the early season, the mid season and the late season. This naturally gives the plant added value. We have other plants like siratro. But we have yet to discover a plant with the nitrogenous quality that will change things in the tropics.
It has been said by a very reliable authority that it can be expected that within a generation or two we can increase the number of our cattle in the tropics by nine times. If this could be done we would have a greater export income from beef than we would have from wool. Other things that science has given us are fertilisers, trace elements of various kinds, methods of irrigation and methods of tillage. But in the animal breeding field it is still the stud breeder who is most responsible for the improvements. Science aids in many ways. I would be the last one to question that. But the scientist is quite mistaken if he believes that improvements can be made by any slide rule method. I have referred in this place before to what I term the instinctive genius of stud breeders. These people have brought about the greatest improvement in all animals. This is something that we should not underrate. It is the stud breeder who produces the animal that improves the kind and the commercial breeder is the man who sustains it. One respect in which experimentation has been of great aid - we must not underrate it - has been in the improvement of breeds, particularly in the tropics where different conditions prevail. Many of the British breeds, perhaps, have characteristics which make them not as adaptable or able so readily to overcome trouble-! that will be found in the tropics as some of the exotic breeds, particularly those of the Brahmin type.
Great success has been achieved with the crossing of animals. Whether this has been continued too far and whether we will have too many hybrid breeds only time will prove; but the C.S.I.R.O. at Townsville, Katherine. Beatrice Hill and the Kimberley Research Station is experimenting with very great success in this field. Disease is another problem. It is necessary to overcome tick and certain internal troubles. In addition there is a parasite which is greatly underrated in southern areas. I refer to cattle lice. In southern areas not many people seem to be aware of how much lice can retard the condition of cattle in colder climates, particularly in the colder months. In all this knowledge that has been derived from research, the direction in which research has devoted its energies has been greatly determined by the experience of practical men. I do not think that that can be disputed, aor do I think that it can be overstressed. A remark made this afternoon by a member of the Opposition may have suggested to some listeners that either the honorable member for Wakefield or the honorable member for Robertson (Mr. BridgesMaxwell) said that the practical man should not get in the way of the scientist, but I did not read that into anything that was said by those honorable members. They did say that the practical man should be working with the scientist. I support that wholeheartedly.
I refer now to extension work. Extension of the knowledge derived by research workers is something of which we all are greatly aware. We are drastically short of people for extension work. That has been brought about by a great expansion in scientific knowledge and by great requirements for it. This is a matter to which I have already referred - the need for the scientist and the practical man to get together so that knowledge can be passed on through extension services. The training of officers for extension services is a subject that would take some minutes to discuss so I shall not refer to it in very much detail. However, I believe that there is a flaw in the whole system. With the greatest respect, I believe that it begins at the stage when our children are about 14 years of age. I have the greatest respect for vocational guidance officers, but I believe that far too many people are told at the age of about 14 years whether they are to be scientists or whether they should study the humanities. They are being guided away from occupations in which, upon reaching maturity, they might be more successful. It is rather like the person who breeds a thoroughbred as a stayer and then upon finding he has some ability to sprint immediately trains him as a sprinter. Another way of imparting knowledge to the man on the land is through a farm advisory service. The important thing is a practical application to the land of the knowledge gained from research. The honorable member for Canning (Mr. Hallett) referred to the necessity for conveying to the man on the land the results achieved by research so that he may apply them to his practical working of the land. I cannot do other than confirm what he said about the great requirement for finance in the rural industries at the present time, and I take the liberty of quoting a newspaper article which I accept as being accurate. It is a report of a statement made by Sir Philip McBride on 30th September last. It reads -
At 30th September 1965, die 23 Australian pastoral houses bad no less than £136,800,000 invested in financial assistance to the man on the land.
As the last year has shown, any restriction on trading bank lending was, so far as the rural primary industries were concerned, immediately reflected in increased calls on pastoral houses for assistance.
Sir Philip said that in official quarters early consideration must be given to the considerable and complex problem of the provision of adequate finance for those primary industries which were still providing the great bulk of Australia’s export income.
– Did he resign from the Liberal Party after making that statement?
– Not at all. This, is a serious problem. I have said that in the meat industry probably lies the greatest possibility for expanding exports. Markets that were not even thought of a few years ago have been found and expanded. Even though last year America imported from Australia only a little over half the meat that it took from us in the previous year, we were still able to increase our exports because Britain, which had been our traditional customer, doubled its imports. New markets were found in Greece, Italy and other places on the European Continent. Whereas in 1963- 64 Greece took from us only 5,913 tons of meat, last year it imported 23,500 tons from us and became our third largest customer for meat. A lot of this, of course, was boneless meat and this is of great advantage to us, particularly in time of drought. Italy, which had taken only 4,351 tons of our meat in 1963-64, increased its purchases to 20,160 tons in 1964-65 and vied with Japan and Greece for the position of our third largest customer.
In considering the great possibilities of expansion of markets for our meat, one matter which concerns us immediately, and which has been talked about at very great length here, is the present drought situation in eastern Australia, especially in most of New South Wales and most of Queensland. Even to feed an Australian population of 20 million, we shall need to increase our sheep by between 80 million and 90 million and our cattle by from 10 million to 12 million. The latest figures available disclose that we had 165 million sheep in 1964. In that year, we slaughtered 33i million sheep, of which 4,775,000 or 14 per cent, were exported. In the same year, when we had 19 million cattle, we slaughtered 6.5 million of which 1.8 million or 27 per cent, were exported. These export figures are approximate only because they are based on an average weight of 350 lb. per animal for cattle and 40 lb. per animal for sheep. The sheep export figures quoted relate to the weight of meat and not numbers of sheep. The figures relating to slaughtering cover the numbers of animals slaughtered..
Let me now briefly outline what has happened in past periods of drought. In 1891 Australia had 106.4 million sheep. That number fell to 53.7 million in 1902 and did not reach 100 million again until 1926. So it took 35 years’ to get back to the 1891 figure. Between 1910 and 1916, the sheep numbers dropped from 98.1 million to 73.1 million. There is no reason to suggest that conditions were very much worse in those days; but it has to be remembered that with such advances as improved transport, we have been able in recent times to kill for export many animals which otherwise would have been left to die. Nevertheless the depletion of stock in the present drought could well be comparable with the earlier figures. In 1895 Queensland had 7.1 million cattle. That number had dropped to 2.7 million by 1905. These figures give us much cause for thought.
As I have mentioned already, what is far more serious than the total numbers of stock lost is the loss of breeding stock, which cannot be regained quickly. And this is where the statement made by Sir Philip McBride has special application. If anything can be done to save breeding stock so that our sheep and cattle numbers may be built up reasonably quickly after drought overtakes us, it should be done. I support the Bills. They are good measures that will make a great contribution to the beef industry.
.- We have certainly been discussing gastronomic delights this afternoon. Earlier we had a debate on honey. Now we are debating other very important items of Australian diet - beef and mutton and lamb. The cattle and sheep industries are very important to Australia from the point of view of pro ducts for both home consumption and export. Here I do not think it would be out of place if I quoted from what the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann) said in explaining the purposes of the Bill. He said that the main purpose of the Bill was to provide for the extension of the current beef research scheme to cover beef, mutton and lamb research. He also said that the general principles of the research scheme were an integral part of the joint industry proposals for meat market development which were implemented by the Government last year. He then went on to explain the Bill and I think he deserves great praise from unbiased members like myself for the way in which he did that.
I do not know that any other members have taken the trouble during this debate - I have been here for almost the whole of it - to point out just what is involved in connection with the charges to be made under the Bill. It is proposed that the moneys derived from the levy imposed under the Live-stock Slaughter Levy Bill shall be used for research as well as for meat market development. The rate of levy prescribed for mutton, and lamb is not to exceed 4d. per head and the maximum rate for beef research will be 2s. as at present. I think this money is being well spent. Its expenditure does not impose any hardship on the industry. On the contrary, it represents a very sound investment for the industry. The levy will return very handsome dividends to those associated with the production side of the industry We must go from strength to strength in the field of research. We must display impatience or dissatisfaction with what has been done, although much has been done. New discoveries are being made all the time in the field of research, and the meat industry, the subject of the three Bills now before the House, certainly provides a wonderful field for research.
The Minister, in his second reading speech on the Meat Research Bill, said -
The actual research is undertaken by bodies such as the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, universities and State Departments of Agriculture. Expenditure from the Trust Account can be incurred only after recommendations by the Research Committee and after approval of such recommendations by the Minister for Primary Industry.
That very briefly explains the purpose of the Bills before the House this afternoon. I am one of the representatives of the State which produces the largest number of beef cattle in the Commonwealth. Whilst I represent a very highly industrialised city electorate many of my constituents are engaged in the processing of beef in the large meat works in the city of Brisbane. Some of these meat works are located in my electorate of Griffith. I speak on behalf of these people and in their interests because they are just as much involved in the prosperity of the meat industry as is the man who wears the big hat and rounds up his beasts and fallings in the rural areas of Queensland. Lest some honorable members wonder why I am making these observations it would be as well to make clear that I am speaking for my own electors of Griffith who are engaged in the preparation of beef for export and the hauling of beef cattle to abattoirs. I speak also for the waterside workers who load the beef for export.
As I said, Queensland has the largest number of cattle in the Commonwealth. If you will permit me, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I shall give the beef cattle numbers, which I think will be of some interest. Statistical returns show that for the year ended 31st March 1965 there were 6,333,000 head of beef cattle at pasture in Queensland. This is an increase over previous years back as far as 1956. It is pleasing to know that although the State is suffering from a devastating drought the figure for the period up to 31st March this year, at any rate, shows an increase in the number of beef cattle in the State. It is true that there are large numbers of beef cattle in other States. For the same period the beef cattle numbers of New South Wales were 3,450,000.
– The Tasmanian figure would be interesting also.
– Since the honorable member for Wilmot has made that observation I shall give the figures for the other States. The beef cattle numbers for Victoria for that same period were 1,415,000; for South Australia, 434,000; for Western Australia, 1,039,000; and for Tasmania, 219,000. I ask for leave to continue my remarks at a later stage.
Leave granted; debate adjourned.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
Bill presented by Sir Robert Menzies, and read a first time.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time. This is a Bill of immense importance but of not great complexity in itself. It is designed to break the nexus - a term which we have all come to understand - created by section 24 of the Commonwealth Constitution. Section 24 states - and I want to state this matter with all possible clearness because I think that is vital to an understanding of it -
The House of Representatives shall be composed of members directly chosen by the people of the Commonwealth, and the number of such members shall be, as nearly as practicable, twice the number of the senators.
The phrase “ as nearly as practicable, twice the number of the senators” is something that has to be borne in mind in the whole parliamentary and public consideration of this matter. I do not undertake to be dogmatic as to what is meant by the phrase “ as nearly as practicable “, because, after all, if there are 60 senators it is quite practicable to have 120 members of this House, yet we have 122 plus 2 who do not have a general vote. But it is quite clear that “ as nearly as practicable” imposes genuine limits, however they may be defined, on the number of people in this House.
What are the facts? In 1949, following the increase in 1948 of the House of Representatives from 74 to 121 members with full voting rights and of the Senate from 36 to 60 senators, each member of this House represented, on the average, 66,000 people. Today, such is the growth of the population that each member, on the average, represents not 66,000 people but 94,000 people. Without a constitutional change, how far can we increase the number of members of this House, increasing the numbers to do justice and to give effective representation to the people of Australia, who have now reached Hi million and who could easily become IS million, 18 million or 20 million in due course? Without a constitutional change how far can we increase the membership of this House - by two or three or four - because the words of the Constitution are “ as nearly as practicable “?
I would not care -to commit myself to the proposition that we could increase the number of members of this House by more than two or three or, in a handsome moment, four. I would not like to say that we can do better than that. We cannot discuss this problem, nor can our people discuss it, in a practical way without bearing in mind the current and now well established method of electing the Senate - <a method which means that in a vote for five senators, as at present, barring casual vacancies, one side may get three and the other two, but that in a vote for six senators all the chances are that each political side will secure three senators, however the political sides may be made up. If that happened in every State we would have a perpetually deadlocked Senate with 30 senators on each side. An habitually deadlocked Senate would mean that at any stage a government chosen at a general election for the House of Representatives - and this is how governments are chosen in our country - could be rendered impotent. This would not be good for parliamentary democracy and, therefore, would not be good for the people of Australia. The practical problem, therefore, is whether we should continue the constitutional system under which the House of Representatives should be limited in numbers to twice the numbers of the Senate.
Having said that - because that is the vital question - I start with the Senate, whose functions, properly understood, I profoundly respect. At present there are 60 senators - 10 from each State. Originally, before the increase of the House of Representatives in 1948, there were 36 senators, three retiring from each State each three years. At present there are 60 senators - 10 from each State - and they are elected five at a time in each State. So at each Senate election there is a reasonable probability of one side or the other having a majority of three to two. Should the Senate be increased by one senator per State - that is, to 66 - each Senate election under normal circumstances would require the choice of one half of 1 1 senators, that is, of five and a half senators which, as our late lamented friend Euclid would have said, is absurd. The only practical course under those circumstances would be to choose six at one election and five at another. I invite honorable members who have implicated themselves in the mathematics of elections to realise the confusion that course could produce.
Suppose that the Senate were increased in numbers to 72. I mention this because at present you cannot increase the membership of this House, whatever the population of Australia may be, without increasing the numbers in the Senate. Suppose we said that the other propositions to which I have referred are not good and that we will increase the numbers of the Senate to 72. That would mean 12 senators from each State, six to be elected at each election. Under the present system for Senate elections^ - and nobody has been able to suggest a better system - the election of six senators from each State would almost guarantee in every State the election of three Government senators and three Opposition senators and so we would produce a deadlocked Senate, with every motion and every amendment defeated. I remind honorable members that section 23 of the Constitution states -
Questions arising in the Senate shall be determined by a majority of votes, and each senator shall have one vote. The President shall in all cases be entitled to a vote; and when the votes are equal the question shall pass in the negative.
I have always rather liked that phrase - “ the question shall pass in the negative “. What it means is that the question will not be passed at all but will be resolved in the negative. That is the position in the. Senate. A deadlocked Senate would not be any good to a government in this House, elected by the people, because nobody could pass a resolution and nobody could pass an amendment. Therefore, if there is to be a Senate in which a clear majority becomes possible, the numbers of the Senate would need to be such under the existing Constitution that an odd number would be elected every three years. Having mentioned the present odd number of 5, I must, therefore, go on to the next odd number of 7. If 7 were to ba elected every three years there would be a
Senate of 84 members and under the Constitution as it now stands, the House of Representatives would have 168 members.
– A member would not have the opportunity to ask a question.
– I think the honorable member would, because he always asks such good questions. I wait for them. But the point taken by the honorable member is right. Nobody pretends for a moment that we want 168 members in the House of Representatives. Most people, realising the duties of members of the Parliament and the enormous and growing population that must be represented, would say: “We ought to have 130 or 135 or whatever it may be, but we do not want 168.” I want people to understand that, under the Constitution as it is now, if this referendum were defeated, we could not increase the number of members in this House to fewer than 168 if at the same time we were to increase the membership of the Senate to an extent that made that institution workable.
This seems to me, and I think to all of us, to be quite clear. It follows from this that, as long as the present section 24 remains, the membership of this House must stand still or vary by perhaps only one or two, unless a massive increase is made in the numbers in the Senate. Therefore, this Bill has one simple purpose, and I hope that the people of Australia will accept it as an expression of the joint judgment, wisdom and opinion of this House. We propose an amendment to break the nexus. Should someone be a little anxious as to whether we will in an extravagant way want to increase our numbers in some ballooning form, we propose two matters in this amendment to afford protection. First, we will protect State representation in the Senate. It was said to me at one stage that perhaps in some States there might be a fear that, with all this changing of the existing rules, individual States would have fewer senators. We have sought to meet this. We have provided in this amendment that all original States, which under the existing Constitution are entitled to no fewer than 6 senators, will be entitled to no fewer than 10 senators. In other words, we protect the existing State position in the Senate.
Secondly, we believe - I know that my friend, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell), will agree, because I have read what he has had to say - that there must be a limit on the increase of the membership of the House of Representatives. The Bill provides that the number of members of this House shall be ascertained by dividing the number of people of the States by such number as is for the time being determined by the Parliament, that number being not less than 80,000. In other words, the quota for electorates is to be not less than 80,000. I point out for the information of honorable members that if the Parliament decided that the quota should be 80,000, with today’s population the membership of this House would be 143. If the Parliament decided that the quota should be 85,000 - it cannot be less than 80,000 but it can be more - the membership of the. House would be 135.
I give these simple statistics to illustrate the real nature of the problem with which we must cope. I want to emphasise to the House and to the people of Australia that the defeat of these proposals would inevitably mean that any increase in the membership of the House in future would be extravagant. We would have double the number of an increased Senate, as I have indicated, or no increase at all. I am one of the oldest inhabitants of this place. I know exactly what honorable members opposite are about to say and I am not sure I do not agree with them. I look around the House and I see my old friend, the honorable member for Darling (Mr. Clark), who is a contemporary of mine in this place. Going back over this time, anybody who knew anything about the business of the Parliament would never disagree with me for one moment when I say that the problems being looked at by honorable members today are three or four times more weighty and more complex than they were when I first came into this House. I know this at first hand. I am not an idler; I have worked all this time and I know what it means. I would think it dreadful if the people were to cast a vote that permitted the members of this House to represent not 50,000 or 60,000 but even more than the 120,000 represented by my colleague, the Attorney-General (Mr. Snedden), in Bruce and by the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard), whose presence there has been so encouraging that the population has risen rapidly. But it is true that we have these big electorates. If in ten years time we had a situation in which every member of this House represented 120,000 electors, I would think that this was an outrage to the effective democratic representation of the people. After all, we are the Parliament of the nation. We disagree amongst ourselves. We may have all sorts of opinions of each other. But we have the supreme duty to represent our people and to repre sent them effectively. To represent them effectively, there must be a proper proportion between the number of members of this House and the number of electors in the nation as a whole.
In moving the second reading of the Bill, I have not gone into any little side alleys, because my experience has been that these problems have to be seen at the centre. They must be seen with clarity if a change is to be made in the Constitution. As for this one, I profoundly hope and I deeply believe that when this is adequately explained to the people of Australia they will say “Yes” and they will change this rule and thereby make a tremendous contribution to making this Parliament an effective agent of the popular will.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Calwell) adjourned.
Bill presented by Sir Robert Menzies, and read a first time.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time. The purpose of this Bill is to alter the Constitution by repealing section 127. That section provides that in reckoning the numbers of the people of the Commonwealth, or of a State or other part of the Commonwealth, Aboriginal natives shall not be counted. The Government believes that the first opportunity should be taken to have it repealed and proposes to submit the Bill to referendum at the same time as the referendum on altering the method of determining the number of members of the House of Representatives. The Joint Committee on Constitutional Review recommended repeal in its report - that is the 1959 report - at paragraph 398.
No doubt the principal reason for the inclusion of section 127 in the Constitution in 1900 was the practical difficulties that would be encountered in satisfactorily enumerating the Aboriginal population. There were no doubt real difficulties then in ensuring that a census of Aborigines could be effectively taken. In modern times, this is not so. Moreover, section 127 is not related to the qualification of Aborigines as voters in Commonwealth elections. Section 41 of the Constitution has always guaranteed an Aboriginal the right to vote at Commonwealth elections if be had a right to vote at elections for the more numerous House of the Parliament of a State. The Commonwealth Parliament itself has removed all disabilities in respect of voting at Commonwealth elections so far as Aborigines are concerned. Consequently, Aborigines are now entitled to enrol and to vote and they should, in the view of the Government, be recognised as forming part of the population of their State for any purpose.
I think I should at this point make reference to the Government’s decision not to put forward any amendment of section 51 (xxvi.). I mention this because the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) had a question on the notice paper about it and I am now, in effect, answering that question. Section 51 (xxvi.) provides that the Parliament may make laws for the peace, order and good government of the Commonwealth with respect to “ the people of any race, other than the Aboriginal race in any State, for whom it is deemed necessary to make special laws “.
Some people wish - and indeed the wish has been made clear in a number of petitions presented to this House - to associate with the repeal of section 127 the removal of what has been called, curiously to my mind, the “ discriminatory provisions “ of section 51 (xxvi.). They want - and I understand their view - to eliminate the words “other than the Aboriginal race in any State”, on the ground that these words amount to discrimination against Aborigines. In truth, the contrary is the fact. The words are a protection against discrimination by the Commonwealth Parliament in respect of Aborigines. The power granted is one which enables the Parliament to make special laws, that is, discriminatory laws in relation to other races - special laws that would relate to them and not to other people. The people of the Aboriginal race are specifically excluded from this power. There can be in relation to them no valid laws which would treat them as people outside the normal scope of the law, as people who do not enjoy benefits and sustain burdens in common with other citizens of Australia.
What should be aimed at, in the view of the Government, is the integration of the Aboriginal in the general community, not a state of affairs in which he would be treated as being of a race apart. The mere use of the words “ Aboriginal race “ is not discriminatory. On the contrary, the use of the words indentifies the people protected from discrimination when it is remembered that section 51 (xxvi) was drafted to meet the conditions that existed at the end of the last century - for example, the possibility of having to make a special law dealing with kanaka labourers. The power has, in fact, never been exercised. If the words were removed, as some people suggest - and there is quite an attractive argument in- favour of that - it would change dramatically the scope of the plenary power conferred on the Commonwealth. That must be borne in mind. If the Parliament had, as one of its heads of power, the power to make special laws with respect to the Aboriginal race, that power would very likely extend to enable the Parliament to set up, for example, a separate body of industrial, social, criminal and other laws relating exclusively to Aborigines. It is difficult to see any limitations on the power to do any of these things, because the existing power is a plenary power in the Constitution. Conferring such a new power could have most undesirable results.
The Joint Committee was quite clear in its recommendation that section 127 should be repealed. In relation to the question that I have just been discussing, namely, conferring a power on the Commonwealth to make laws with respect to Aborigines, the Committee, at the time, it ceased its deliberations in 1958 - and I mention this as an historic fact - had, paragraph 397 of the report states, given some consideration to the very important question as to whether the Commonwealth Parliament should have an express power to make laws with respect to Aborigines, and representations from various quarters advocated the adoption of a recommendation to this effect. The Committee had, however, not completed its inquiries on all the issues involved and consequently no recommendation has been made. I have quoted this because I do not want to have it said against anyone on the Committee that he has committed himself. This is not true: This was left open. What I have said will show that the removal of the exclusion of the Aboriginal race from the scope of section 51 (xxvi), that is, to include them within the power, is not the simple matter it is often represented to be. The inclusion would, in the view of the Government, not be in the best interests of the Aboriginal people.
Returning to the Bill before the House, the matter can be simply put by saying that section 127 is completely out of harmony with our national attitudes and with the elevation of the Aborigines into the ranks of citizenship which we all wish to see. To sum up, three possibilities have been examined: First, to omit from section 51 (xxvi.), the words “ other than the Aboriginal race in any State”. This would give the Commonwealth Parliament power, a plenary power, to make laws, unlimited except by such general provisions as those of section 92, with respect to Aborigines - for example, industrial laws, social services laws, health laws and so forth. Is this desirable? I have endeavoured to point out that we do not think it is. Should not our overall objective be to treat the Aboriginal as on the same footing as all the rest, with similar duties and similar rights? Section 51 (xxvi.) does not create discrimination in the case of the Aboriginal. It avoids it. The second proposal was to repeal placitum (xxvi.) altogether. Quite frankly, this has its attractions. The power has never been exercised. Yet, in the modern and complex world which changes around us almost every week we might conceivably wish to employ it. For example, we have great obligations in the case of Nauru. We might, some day, under some circumstances, wish to pass a special law with regard to Nauruans - the people of the Nauruan race - in order to. help them to be re-established somewhere outside their existing island. We might. Therefore, it would be unwise, perhaps, to deprive ourselves of the machinery for dealing with a problem of that kind should that problem arise. The third proposal that has been made - and I say this with great deference to some of my friends and supporters who have mentioned it - is to add a new provision rendering invalid laws regarding Aborigines by, for example, invalidating any Commonwealth or State discrimination on the grounds of race.
Well Sir, all I can say, with lively memories of what happened in the United States of America over their amendments - over what they called the “Bill of Rights”, the crop of litigation, and the reduction to terms of somewhat wide and rhetorical expressions - is that any provision of that kind would produce a crop of litigation. It would involve arguments of definition. It could readily invalidate laws which, while designed to protect the special interests of Aborigines, could be held technically to discriminate either for or against them. Sir, I repeat that the best protection for Aborigines is to treat them, for all purposes, as Australian citizens.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Calwell) adjourned.
Second Reading. (Debate resumed vide page 2635).
.- Mr. Speaker, the number of beef cattle in Tasmania in 1965 was 219,000. In the Northern Territory there were 1,029,000. The total number of beef cattle in Australia in 1965 was 13,919,000. You will realise, Mr. Speaker, that Queensland has approximately half the total number of beef cattle in the Commonwealth. Consequently this Bill is of major importance to the industry in that State. Not merely does it cover beef cattle, lt is also making provision for sheep. The population of sheep in the various States is not distributed in the same way as beef cattle. New South Wales leads the numbers, Victoria is next, with Queenlsand following in third place. That is the position so far as beef is concerned and that is the subject matter of the Bill to which I would like to pay particular attention.
The beef industry is one which is subject to fluctuation. It is an industry which produces large quantities of goods for export. As the years have gone by in recent times, our markets have changed. Let me quote the exports of beef and veal expressed in shipped-weight tons to various countries to show how they have changed. In 1963 the United States of America was our principal customer and took 208,000 tons of beef. In 1964 that had jumped by 10,000 to 218,000 tons. But in 1965, owing to certain legislation imposed by the United States Congress and States, it had dropped to 139,000 tons. For the year 1963 the United Kingdom bought from Australia only 25,628 tons of beef. This jumped in the next year to 43,368 tons but in 1965 it made a phenomenonal jump to 101,859 tons. So honorable members can see that on the one hand there has been a large drop in beef exports to the U.S. and in the same period a large increase in beef exports to the U.K.
Time will not permit me to quote all the countries purchasing large quantities of beef and veal from Australia but in all cases the market fluctuates. For example I will quote the case of Canada. This gives a fairly good example of what is taking place. In 1963 we sold 4,406 tons of beef to Canada. In 1964 the figure had dropped to 3,668. In 1965 it had dropped to 1,909 tons - a drop of 2,500 tons over two years. You will agree with me, Mr. Speaker, that that is a very large falling off in the sale of beef to Canada and the same basis applies to many countries with which Australia has trading relations in beef and veal. On that basis you will agree, I am sure, that the desire to persist in extensive research which will do something to improve the efficiency and quality of the industry is well worth while. The money invested will give a very substantial return to all associated with the industry.
I want to make some reference to the difficulty that the beef industry is going through so far as the United States is concerned. Honorable members will know that there has been a very large drop in the sale of beef to that country over a period of three years, from 208,000 tons to 139,000 tons. I want to quote a passage from the report of the
Australian Meat Board which I have before me. The report says -
Notwithstanding the voluntary meat agreement between the U.S.A. and Australian governments announced on February 18, 1964, restrictive legislation was subsequently initiated by the U.S. Congress. Public Law 88-482 - containing complex mechanisms to limit aggregate imports of beef, veal and mutton into U.S.A. - was enacted on August 22, 1964.
That was only a few months after the announcement of the trade agreement between Australia and the United States of America. The report goes on -
Quota provisions under this legislation were to be based on 1959-63 average imports plus a growth factor to be determined and announced annually. The Secretary of Agriculture was required to review quarterly the total volume of meat which, but for the Act, would be expected to enter U.S.A.
That briefly sums up the United States national legislation. Then we get to the State level. The States have passed legislation which imposes very great hardships on the Australian beef industry. The report says -
A number of individual States in U.S.A. has enacted legislation (and more have such legislation in train) which is deemed to be discriminatory and restrictive in regard to imported meat as well as unconstitutional and contrary to U.S. international undertakings and obligations. While most of this legislation requires labelling to indicate foreign origin, some has other aspects and it is most conveniently grouped under the term “ restrictive legislation”. The Board, through its North American Representative and its attorney in Washington, has been fully informed on this question for several years. The closest liaison has been maintained with the Australian Government Departments who have made representations in Washington and the Board believes that everything possible has been done so fur.
The fact is, however, that our market has dropped in the United States. This is something which concerns my own State and also the electorate that I represent. The various State Governmentsof Australia, and also this Government, have been doing a lot to build up the beef industry. In Queensland and Western Australia large sums of money are being spent on the construction of beef roads to enable cattle to be moved by modern road trains. In the old days the cattle were moved by drovers and it has been said that the cattle then lived on the most costly diet, the fats and fillet steaks that they had built up over their period of grazing on inland pastures, particularly in the Channel country. Now it is proposed to move the cattle by huge motor road trains so that they can be delivered to the rail head in prime condition. This means that stock in better condition are being delivered to the meat works for slaughtering and the result is, of course, that the national wealth is boosted.
The Commonwealth Government is also assisting the Queensland Government in what is known as the brigalow lands scheme. There are areas of land of up to 30 or 40 million acres on which brigalow scrub is growing, and it is thought that by clearing this land and planting it with various grasses beef production can be increased. This is to some extent a gamble but I think it is paying off. Let me quote a report of the Queensland Department of Primary Industries dealing with this matter. It says -
The main avenue of expansion within the beef industry was the development of brigalow land, particularly the Fitzroy Basin Brigalow Development Scheme. Climatic conditions were unfavourable for development of blocks in this scheme in 1964-65. Unsatisfactory pasture establishment followed aerial seeding in December and January. Sucker regrowth has been extensive and required the aerial spraying of 20,000 acres with weedicide during May. Some indication of the progress of the scheme is given by the fact that about 200,000 acres of scrub have been pulled to date and some 137,000 acres sown to Rhodes grass, green panic and buffel grass. With world demand for beef increasing, the prospects for the industry are bright. As an earner of overseas exchange with great potential, the industry warrants national encouragement. Expansion of the beef roads scheme is one way in which this can be given.
In association with the brigalow land development and the construction of beef roads there must also be carried out constant scientific research and investigation. No opportunity should be lost to achieve an even greater degree of efficiency in the industry and to produce cattle of higher quality. One member of the Country Party made an observation in this debate this afternoon about the early sale of heifers, deploring the fact that heifers were being disposed of before they had produced calves. This is a shocking state of affairs in a country in which we are trying to promote our beef industry and doing all we can to increase its productivity. We are told that the world’s population is increasing at a very fast rate. There are not many countries which can produce increasing quantities of food in the form of beef. Australia is one of the few. We have the potential. We have the land which at present is not being used because under present conditions it cannot be used. The experiment that is being carried out in clearing brigalow country in the Fitzroy basin is on a grand scale and it deserves to succeed in the interests of the underfed peoples of the world. I certainly hope it will be successful. But we must lose no opportunity to pursue avenues of investigation and encourage scientific research in this important field.
Much could be said about various breeds of cattle, about which there has been a great deal of argument. I believe the arguments are being satisfactorily resolved. We have the recognised breeds in Queensland such as the Hereford and Shorthorn. The Santa Gertrudis has been introduced and we also have the Brahman and the Aberdeen Angus. All these have their patrons or advocates, but although there are differences of opinion amongst stock owners or breeders regarding the various breeds or types of cattle, I feel that the final arbiter should be the scientist, who will, I hope, be encouraged to pursue his investigations as a result of the passing of this Bill.
I believe that before I conclude, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I ought to make some reference to the disastrous drought which has hit the beef industry heavily and which still persists in many parts of Queensland. I know that scientific investigation work will not solve problems of the kind occasioned by this disaster, but research may make possible measures that will enable the industry in the future to mitigate the effects of a drought like the one that we are experiencing at present. It has been the unhappy lot of Queensland to experience such droughts at intervals of years. I suppose that nature dictates the occurrence of these disasters from time to time, and no doubt they will occur in the future. The beef industry is a great industry with a quite romantic history. It deserves every possible encouragement, for in my State particularly it is playing a noble part in providing food for the hungry people of the world. I wish these measures a speedy passage and I trust that they will be sympathetically implemented. I hope that great benefits will flow to this nation and to the world from the implementation of these Bills.
.- Mr. Deputy Speaker, I heartily support the senti ments expressed by my colleague from Brisbane, the honorable member for Griffith (Mr. Coutts), and other honorable members on this side of the House. The Bills before us provide for the extending of the beef research scheme to mutton and lamb. Therefore, these measures must receive the support of everyone who is interested in the expansion of primary production in Australia, for they will assist in the eradication of disease with a consequent increase in production and in exports, which represent our very life blood. The purpose of these Bills is explained in the second reading speech of the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr. Adermann), which appears at page 2413 of “Hansard” of 29th October. He stated -
In the associated legislation provision has been made for an amendment to the Live-stock Slaughter Levy Act to provide for the existing levy on sheep and lambs to be used for the purposes of research as well as for meat market development The legislation provides that the prescribed rate for the purposes of mutton and lamb research shall not exceed 4d. per head. The maximum rate of 2s. for beef research is continued.
There is provision also for the Cattle and Beef Research Trust Account to be renamed the Meat Research Trust Account. Into this Account will be paid the research component of the levy on cattle, sheep and lambs and the matching Government contribution. This reminds me of, say, Miss Cynthia Jones changing her name to Mrs. Cynthia Coutts, or something of the sort. She is the same woman under a different name. Here we are to have the same scheme under a different name.
At present beef producers pay a levy of 3s. 3d. a head of stock slaughtered for research and for market development. Of this sum 2s. a head goes to beef research and ls. 3d. a head to market development. At present mutton and lamb producers pay a levy for market development amounting to lid. per head of stock slaughtered. This levy has been in operation for one year and last financial year it brought in approximately £180,000. This sum was matched by a contribution of £180,000 by the Government, making a total of £360,000 available for research into market development. These measures now before us will give the Australian Meat Research Committee the green light to go ahead and impose a further levy on sheep and lambs slaughtered. The proceeds of this levy will be devoted to research. This will put the mutton and lamb industry on the same basis as the beef industry in which this levy for research purposes has been imposed for several years. As I have said, the research component of the levy will be paid into the Meat Research Trust Account, which will be administered by the Australian Meat Research Committee. This Committee will be deemed to be a committee of the Australian Meat Board. The marketing component of the levy will be paid to the Board. The industry will decide the size of the additional levy and this will be subject to approval by the Board.
An additional levy at the rate of, say, Id. a head of stock slaughtered would provide specifically for research purposes on the basis of last year’s slaughterings £120,000 a year. Since the Government will match £1 for £1 the sum raised by the levy, this would provide for research £240,000 a year. The Meat Research Committee will have to ask three important questions: First, what sort of research is most required in the mutton and lamb industry? Secondly, what organisations are to conduct this research? Thirdly, how much money is required to achieve the objectives agreed on? The answers to these questions will take some working out. The Bills now before us will enable the Committee to get to work and find the answers so that it may recommend the striking of a levy sufficient to bring in enough money for the necessary research. I believe that the Committee cannot, afford to be too conservative in this matter. A levy of at least Id. a head of stock slaughtered seems necessary to achieve the required objectives.
The Australian Cattle and Beef Research Committee’s report for the financial year 1964-65 is a massive document. It outlines a big programme of research that is going on in Australia today. For the production of this monumental document I pay tribute to the 12 members of the Committee and especially to the Chairman, Mr. J. L. Shute, O.B.E. This Committee has organised the expenditure of the research funds raised by the beef research levy and next year, under its new name, will organise also the expenditure of the funds raised for mutton and lamb research. Under the heading “ Research Activities 1964-65 “ at page six the report states -
A summary, by title only, of 155 projects supported by the Committee is included in Section 22 of this report. Financial support was given to 138 of these during 1964-65.
That indicates a tremendous programme of work being undertaken by the various research organisations in Australia and financed by the Committee. The list of organisations engaged in this research throughout’ Australia includes the Department of Primary Industries in Queensland, the corresponding department in New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania, the Northern Territory Administration, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, the Commonwealth Bureau of Agricultural Economics, the University of Queensland, the University of New England, the University of Sydney, the University of Melbourne, Monash University in Victoria, the University of Adelaide and the University of Western Australia. Various special projects are listed. The formidable group of organisations enumerated is undertaking a massive research programme embracing almost every aspect of the meat industry. At page 33 the report shows what is going on in my State of Tasmania. Four projects were listed for ‘ Tasmania for last year. The first was a field survey of the beef cattle industry in Tasmania. The report states -
The main objectives of this survey are two-fold, to obtain basic information on the beef cattle industry in Tasmania and to determine priorities for investigational work.
An active field programme has been held up pending appointment of suitable staff.
The second project was an infertility survey of beef cattle in Tasmania, and on this subject the report states -
The objective of this project is to survey the fertility of beef herds in a large, defined area in the northern midlands on properties of high and low cattle densities. The area contains approximately 1,000 properties carrying 30,000 beef cattle. The largest property carries 700 cows; many carry 50-150 cows.
The report goes on to state that they were taking a survey of pregnancy and diseases associated therewith. The third project was “ beef cattle improvement and extension, private co-operators “. This project has not been started because the Department has been unable to secure sufficient or suitable staff.
The fourth project dealt with the effect of pasture oestrogens on reproduction in Launceston. They have not yet sufficient staff for that project, so although we have high hopes for research it all depends on manpower. We must have men and women who are willing, capable and trained to carry out these enormous programmes. I should like to know how many people are involved in the programme which is outlined in this report, people who are working, experimenting and researching week after week and year after year to help us to solve the problems of primary industry. It would be a massive number of people. We hardly ever hear the names of these people. They may work for a lifetime in research and yet we never even hear of them. Tonight I pay a sincere and warm tribute to these unsung heroes of research throughout the Commonwealth. They are working under all conditions, dealing with all types of cattle, and they experience difficulties of access to areas. They have many other problems to overcome, but they are doing magnificent work for research. In this annual report of the Australian Cattle and Beef Research Committee to which I have referred, it is stated that £29,764 will have been spent over a four year period ending June next year on the four projects that I have outlined for Tasmania. I am glad to know that Tasmania has not been neglected in this huge research programme.
I should like to mention also that the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation which is probably the top research organisation in the world, is in my opinion probably the pin-up of all of us in Australia. The story of the work of this organisation would be one of the finest, richest and most wonderful stories ever written, if it were written up exclusively. Each year the C.S.I.R.O. produces a fine annual report, a copy of which for the year 1964-65 I have in my hand. The report mentions most of the main activities of the last 12 months, and at page 27 refers to what is being done about cattle. On that page under the heading “Cattle” the report states -
Beef production, already one of Australia’s most important industries, promises to become even more important with the development of additional production areas in the north -
That would be on the brigalow lands which were referred to by my colleague, the honorable member for Griffith, earlier tonight - and the opening up of new export opportunities. Research into problems affecting cattle was begun early in the history of the Organisation, and its value was quickly demonstrated by the development of reliable diagnostic techniques and a vaccination procedure which has led to the almost complete eradication of pleuro-pneumonia from Australia.
This is a major achievement by the C.S.I.R.O. Recently there has been an outbreak of pleuro-pneumonia among cattle in the Gippsland area of Victoria. About 300 properties in that area have been partially affected. It is the worst outbreak for many years. I only hope that the. men who will be assigned to track down and eradicate this disease in that area of Victoria will be successful. There will be great losses for a start, but I hope that they can eradicate the disease completely. The time is coming when, as a direct result of the activities of the C.S.I.R.O., there will be no more of this dread disease in Australia. The report continues -
Some £800,000 of Commonwealth funds are expended directly on cattle research annually, and are now supplemented by substantial amounts from the Australian Cattle .and Beef Research Trust Account and lesser amounts from the Dairy Produce Research Trust Account and other contributors.
The current cattle research programme of C.S.I.R.O. is aimed at improvement in production through attack on several broad fronts.
These are then listed. It states -
These include work basic to the development of cattle breeds for both beef and dairy purposes suited to the hot environment in the north; investigation and development of methods of control of diseases and pests; the development of new pasture species for the tropical and subtropical areas of Australia; and an investigation of the relation between poor nutrition and reproductive performance.
One of the factors retarding the development of beef production in the northern areas of Australia is the absence of suitable breeds to withstand tropical conditions.
The report contains a fascinating story which tells how, by inter-breeding and by bringing in Zebu types of cattle as represented by Brahman and Afrikander breeds to mix with our own, an attempt has been made to develop a type of cattle that will withstand the hot, tropical conditions. A study is made of characteristics such as body temperature, sweating, digestion of food and other aspects which become important in the northern area of Australia. I have already mentioned the attack on pleuro-pneumonia. The report states that it may soon be eliminated from Australia. It adds -
When this is achieved, the possibilities of export trade in live cattle will be greatly improved.
Honorable members will see how all these features are dovetailed. We beat a disease and clean up our stock and immediately we make them fit for export. This enables us to increase our export of beef to overseas markets. The report refers to the V5 strain vaccine which the C.S.I.R.O. has been using for 28 years to protect cattle against pleuropneumonia. At present the Animal Health Laboratory at Parkville is preparing1½ million doses of the vaccine annually. That magnificent work is going on in a quiet part of Melbourne, which I know well, in the suburb of Parkville and it is for the benefit of the great cattle industry.
Further experiments are being made with a new vaccine for special types of dairy cattle. So we pay a great tribute tonight to the C.S.I.R.O. The report states at page 70 under the heading “Sheep and Wool Production “ -
Many of the developments in animal production are, of course, based on developments in pasture production.
We must never lose sight of the fact that everything we eat comes from the soil - mother earth. From the soil comes the food to feed the stock that produce the meat, the milk, the butter, the cheese and the eggs to feed mankind. The protection of that six inches of earth is the most important task with which any government or any organisation like this can be entrusted. Our very life depends on the grass that we grow as pasture in that six inches of top soil. Interestingly enough, a woman walked into a grocer’s shop one day and ordered some milk. She said to the grocer: “Are you sure that this is fresh? “ The grocer replied: “ Madam, of course. Only an hour ago it was grass.” That illustrates how important grass is. From green grass comes white milk - another miracle by the cow. Let me stress that the C.S.I.R.O. has a division conducting research into plants. It is undertaking the task of discovering the types of pasture best suited to the production of milk, butter, cheese, wool, meat and so on. It is most encouraging to know that this research is being carried out. We will all agree that the better the pasture the better the production, and the C.S.I.R.O. is having great success with its work in connection with pastures.
I come now to exports. I note from the report of the Australian Meat Board, to which my colleague referred a moment ago, that there has been a tremendous increase in the exports of meat and veal over the last three years. That report also gives statistics relating to mutton and lamb separately. Exports in both these products have increased so greatly that one cannot but help pay tribute to the graziers who have been responsible for that achievement. The production in each State has improved over the years. All this is the result of the research programmes conducted by the C.S.I.R.O., the universities, the State departments of agriculture, and others. The success of their work is amply demonstrated by the figures relating to increased exports.
In conclusion, let me say that the Australian Labour Party supports this measure. I remind honorable members that 33 per cent of our members represent rural electorates. The Australian Country Party has no monopoly of the representation of rural electorates. Thirty-three per cent, of the members of the Labour Party represent either completely rural electorates, such as mine, or partly rural electorates, and these electorates include 20 different kinds of agriculture.
– And they are all magnificently represented.
– As my colleague says, they are all magnificently represented. Some of us have served for almost 20 years-
– Order! I ask the honorable member to deal with the Bill before the House.
– We thoroughly support this move by the Government to stimulate research throughout Australia. In fact, 80 per cent, of the Bills that go through this Parliament are not opposed by us because they are designed to put into effect plans, projects and policies that we on this side approve, that we have in our own programme, and which this Government has neatly pinched from us from time to time.
.- in reply- I appreciate the constructive approach made to this Bill by all speakers. There is really nothing for me to answer other than the question asked by the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly) who wanted to know whether the research envisaged by this Bill would be extended to cover the pig industry. I did say at some earlier stage - I do not think it was while speaking to this Bill - that the question of research in the pig industry was being considered by . the industry itself. Those interested in the industry informed me that they would work out a proposal before coming to the Government. I am afraid that they are still very divided on the matter and have not been able to come to any unanimity.
We have shown that this Government is research minded, but I am always happier when I find the Opposition in agreement with us. It is essential that all these industries progress, otherwise we shall stagnate, and one of the best forms of ensuring progress is the application to production of the achievements of scientific and technological research, together with the latest developments in mechanical equipment.
There is only one other matter to which [ wish to refer. As the honorable member for Wilmot (Mr. Duthie) has said, the date of commencement of operation of the levy will be as agreed upon by the Government. [ hope that honorable members are not expecting a speedy commencement of the plan. The Government would not like to be collecting money at the rate of £120,000 a year from the sheep industry at the present time, having regard to the enforced sales of sheep due to drought conditions. It is possible that the scheme will not come into operation before 1st July next. I think everybody will agree that that is the sensible approach in the present circumstances. We shall look at the position from time to time and, even though our proposal has the complete approval of the industry, the commencing date will be such as we consider to be the right time having regard to the welfare of the industry and present drought conditions - conditions which we hope will soon be dispelled.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr. Adermann) read a third time.
Consideration resumed from 29th October (vide page 2414), on motion by Mr. Adermann -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr. Adermann) read a third time.
Consideration resumed from 29th October (vide page 2414), on motion by Mr. Adermann -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr. Adermann) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 28th September (vide page 1307), on motion by Dr. Forbes -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– There being no objection, the course suggested by the Minister for the Army will be followed.
– The purpose of each of these Bills is to increase the expenditure of each Committee from £5,000 to £10,000 a year. The Opposition does not oppose the provision in either case. The Public Works Committee and the Public Accounts Committee are both important committees of this Parliament which perform an important work. 1 think that perhaps the Public Accounts Committee might be better employed as an Estimates Committee, but in so far as it makes reports after the expenditure of public moneys it fulfils a useful purpose. The practice of the British House of Commons is to have an Estimates committee which examines the Estimates before they come before the Parliament for debate. Some day perhaps we will get round to the situation where the Estimates can be discussed before they are submitted to the Parliament and members of the Parliament can be profitably employed considering them. This would be one way by which members of the Parliament who are not Ministers and who are not engaged in the work of the executive of the Opposition could be profitably employed. - Under existing conditions members of these two Committees have fairly heavy responsibilities, and their work is increasing. As the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) said earlier this evening, the work of the Parliament is at least four times as great as when he came into it. The work of the Committees is correspondingly four times as great. Continually we refer works of great importance to the Public Works Committee to deliberate upon, investigate and submit a report. These works are situated in many parts of Australia - almost round the whole coastline. The reports submitted by the Committee are generally adopted by the Government and ultimately approved by the Parliament. It is necessary therefore that the Committee should be permitted a greater annual expenditure than the sum of £5,000 which has obtained for a number of years now.
The salaries of members of Parliament and of permanent heads of the Public Service have increased. The size of the Public Service has increased and the salaries of those who carry out the work of the administrative machinery of government have increased. Therefore the amount of money that should be expended on the work of each of these Committees at the disposition of the Treasurer should be similarly increased. I know that there is a per diem increase in the expenditure for each of the members of the Committees, lt is right that that should be so. There is no reason why members of committees should be treated any differently when they are working on committees than when they are serving in the Parliament. The Opposition recommends to the Parliament that these Bills be passed with expedition and that the Government be enabled thereby not only to see that the current work of the Committees is effected with the same efficiency as before - and probably with greater efficiency - but also that more work can be undertaken by the Public Works Committee in particular and consequently by the Public Accounts Committee.
The work of the Parliament is growing. The problems ahead of us are vast. The problems that this country faces are as great as those faced by any nation. We must progress quickly. We must develop as fast and efficiently as we can. Membership of each of these Committees is not a sinecure. It means work which requires ability, concentration and devotion, and those who serve on these Committees are entitled to the gratitude of the Parliament. Having said that, I wish the Bills a speedy passage.
.- As a member of the Public Accounts Committee and as present Vice-Chairman of that Committee I should like to support the Bill. I have been a member of the Public Accounts Committee since 1956, and I endorse the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) by saying that the amount of work that the Committee is dealing with now is much greater than the Committee dealt with when I first joined it in 1956. Most of the increase is due, of course, to the size of the Budget now as compared with the size of the Budget in 1956. In addition, some new portfolios have been created over the last nine years, a fact which also tends to make the work of the Committee more heavy now than it was before. Honorable members who have not had any experience on the Public Accounts Committee might imagine that members go to meetings of the Committee just for the purpose of saying a few words. That, of course, is not so. A lot of work has to be done at times other than when the Committee is holding a public inquiry.
I would say that the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, be he Professor Bland, the honorable member for Deakin (Mr. Davis) or the present Chairman, the honorable member for Swan (Mr. Cleaver), does practically a full time job. Ordinary members of the Committee certainly have their hands full. They need to go through various papers before an inquiry is held and a lot of their time is taken up that they might think could otherwise be well spent in their electorates, if they were to take a personal point of view. I am not speaking on behalf of myself personally. I just wish to endorse the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition in regard to the amount of work that the Public Accounts Committee does. [ think it will be agreed that we have done yeoman service on behalf of the Parliament over the years.
Question resolved in the affirmative. Bill read a second time.
Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Dr. Forbes) read a third time.
Consideration resumed from 28th September (vide page 1 307), on motion by Dr. Forbes -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Dr. Forbes) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 18th August (vide page 184), on motion by Mr. Harold Holt -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
.- The Clerk referred to this Bill as Order of the Day No. 13. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) has remarked that it is an unlucky number. He may be right, because this Bill was not listed on what is known as the “ blue sheet “. I do not know why other matters on the blue sheet have been deferred, but I protest at the short notice given to the Opposition of the resumption of the debate on this measure.
The Bill is fairly slim, having regard to the size of some Bills that come before us, but nevertheless it is one of the most significant financial measures that we deal with. It determines the reimbursement to the States in terms of the uniform tax arrangements. In introducing the Bill on 18th August the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) said that in the current financial year £377,547,000 would be made available by the Commonwealth to the States. That sum represents almost 20 per cent, of the taxes collected by the Commonwealth and forms a significant part of the total revenues available to the States. In his second reading speech the Treasurer said that there are two main forms of assistance to the States - what he called “assistance for general revenue purposes” - which the States are free to use as they see fit. It is this form of assistance that is contemplated in this Bill. These reimbursements to the States are a distribution on the part of the Commonwealth from the sums which it has collected by reason of the States forgoing their right separately to collect income tax. The amount that is made available to the States is freely disposable by them as they determine according to their constitutional responsibilities. The Treasurer indicated also that some other kinds of assistance are made available by the Commonwealth to the States for a variety of specific purposes. For example, sums are made available for health schemes, for universities and for road projects.
I ask honorable members to bear with me and to look at some of the figures in the document entitled “ Australian National Accounts. National Income and Expenditures.” This document gives a comprehensive assessment of financial transactions in Australia from 1948-49 to 1963-64, which is the latest financial year for which figures are available. The document gives details of expenditure at the government level, first on the part of the Commonwealth and secondly by State and local government authorities. The Government sometimes seems to want to take credit for the fact that in the revenue that it collects there is a higher proportion of direct taxes compared with indirect taxes, but this ignores the fact that if the States are to derive revenues independent of what is reimbursed to them by the Commonwealth, for the most part they must resort to indirect taxation. Some of the State taxes are of a dubious kind socially. The States have been forced to run lotteries and to resort to such devices as the Totalisator Agency Board. They have been forced to open betting shops of one kind or another in order to raise revenue over and above what the Commonwealth is prepared to reimburse to them.
The document to which I have referred contains some interesting facts about tax revenue raised on the one hand by the Commonwealth and on the other hand by State and local government authorities. I take as a starting point the year 1952-53. I take this year rather than another year only because it is two or three years after the Government had been in office. In 1952-53 total expenditure by the Com monwealth amounted to £910 million. By 1963-64 - the latest financial year for which figures are available - the amount had increased to £1,716 million. There are two reasons for this increase. There has been an increase in the population. There has also been a fall in the value of money. Inflation has continued at an average of about 2i per cent, annually over the period, while the population has increased at between 2 per cent, and 2i per cent, annually in that period. So total government expenditure must of necessity increase if we are to provide the same kind of services per head at the end of a year as we did at the beginning. Expenditure increased because the population increased and also because there has been a fall in the value of money.
In the same period from 1952-53 to 1963-64 expenditure by State and local government authorities increased from £324 million to £929 million. Again, the increase is for the same sort of reason, that the population of the States has increased. The States, after all, are only a reflection at six different levels of the totality of the Commonwealth and the total population of all the States has increased by roughly 2 to 2i per cent, per annum. In addition, the value of money has fallen by an average of about 2i per cent.
The significant factor with the States is that the biggest item of their revenue is the reimbursements that are paid to them by the Commonwealth in terms of the uniform tax arrangement. In 1952-53, the Commonwealth paid to the States for the States and the local government authorities - no direct payment is made to the local government authorities - a sum of £165 million which was 50.9 per cent., or almost 51 per cent., of the total receipts of the States and the local government authorities. In the last complete financial year, the amount repaid by the Commonwealth to the States had risen to £377 million. This is a significant increase in terms of the total amount of money, but it is a much smaller percentage of the total receipts of the States and local government authorities. It had fallen from 50.9 per cent, in 1952-53 to 40.6 per cent, in 1963-64. It is easy enough for the Commonwealth Government to say that the amount has increased, but in terms of the total receipts of the States and local government authorities the proportion that the Commonwealth repays has fallen from 50.9 per cent, to 40.6 per cent. This is a decline of about one-quarter. Of course, if the States are to make up the difference, they must resort to taxes of the indirect and inequitable kind rather than the direct kind that is available to the Commonwealth. That is the first proposition I would like the House to note.
When we look at the other side of the finances of the States and the local government authorities, we find that one of the most significant increases in their expenditure is in the item “ interest paid “. In 1952-53, the States and local government authorities had an interest burden of £62 million. In 1963-64, the interest burden had risen to £210.8 million. This is near enough to £211 million. At the same time as the payments to the States had increased from £165 million to £377 million, though in real terms they had fallen from 50.9 per cent, to 40.6 per cent., the interest payable had risen by £150 million. I think that this again is a matter that the House should note. After all, the interest burden of the States can more or less be controlled by the Commonwealth. In the same period, the interest burden of the Commonwealth, which was £44 million in 1952-53, had fallen to £19.7 million in 1963-64. In other words, there has been a decline in the interest burden of the Commonwealth in terms of its total outgoings, but there has been an increase of nearly £150 million in the interest burden of the States.
The formula purports to give a new deal to the States. It fixes the amount that the Commonwealth has to pay to the States in terms of three factors. It allows for the fact that the population of the Commonwealth is increasing. It apparently assumes’ that there will be a continuance in the fall of the value of money. Inflation is a built in factor, as it were; it is a fact of life in Australia. The formula also provides now for what is called a betterment factor, or a growth factor. Whatever the sum is at the end of one year, it will be increased in the next year by a percentage of population increase, by a percentage in the fall of the value of money measured by the average weekly wage and by what is called the betterment factor or the growth factor, which is set at 1.2 per cent.
I direct the attention of the House to the fact that, at the most recent election, both political parties spoke in terms of performance of the Australian economy and said that it was capable of providing for an economic growth rate of 5 per cent. To some extent, the Vernon Committee was pilloried recently because it simply echoed what both the Australian Labour Party and the Liberal Party of Australia had said at the last election, that is that it was possible for the Australian economy, if it was planned properly, to allow for a growth rate of 5 per cent. What does the growth rate of 5 per cent, mean? To begin with, it means that as the population and the work force increase, between 2 and 21 per cent, more people will be working at the end of the year than at the beginning of the year and, if they are equipped with the same sort pf skill and the same sort of technical resources as the people had at the beginning of the year, total production ought to increase by about 2i per cent. If it does not, the per capita production has fallen. So, if we are to have a growth rate of 5 per cent., we must increase productivity by about 2i- per cent. If the productivity of the Commonwealth as a whole is to increase by 2i per cent,, why do the States not have the advantage of that same 2i per cent, in the formula? They are only receiving half of that as a betterment factor. I suggest that is a weakness in the. formula, unless, of course, the Government has made a reassessment of the situation and finds that a growth rate of 5 per cent, is not feasible and is bringing it down to something less than 4 per cent. On that estimate, I suppose the 1.2 per cent, betterment factor is realistic. But the Government should say that it does not believe that the rate it suggested at the last election is now possible in terms of the economy as it is ticking over at the moment.
There is a certain amount of mystery about Commonwealth and State financial relations and I have already pointed to two factors. If the population rises, or if the purchasing power of the £1 is less at the end of a year than it was at the beginning, then to achieve the same performance obviously the States have to have more money. The Commonwealth occasionally gets very unctuous, through the mouth of the Treasurer, about what it is doing in reimbursing the States, but what it does not take into account is that part of the increase that it claims credit for has been absorbed by the rather odd item - interest paid on the debts the States incur for their capital works programmes. If we take out of the total receipts of the Commonwealth the amount that it reimburses to the States and look at the result on the basis of the increase in the financial responsibilities of the States which include expenditure on education, health, irrigation, power and transport we get a better idea of the position. The States have far and away the greatest constitutional responsibilities as they affect ordinary citizens of the community. As I see it, the States are really getting a raw deal in reimbursements.
During the course of his remarks the Treasurer implied that these grants were of two kinds - what he called the grants for general revenue purposes and the assistance for a variety of specific purposes. He claims the virtue of the formula is that the States will now know fairly accurately the size of their grants for the year ahead and that with that knowledge they will be able to plan their activities on an assured basis. All I would suggest is that the States will know now in the terms of the formula that a certain sum is available to them which is not capable of being increased.
– They can do so much and no more.
– Exactly. On the other hand the Commonwealth has the luxury of being able to choose, if it wants to do so, to increase its defence expenditure or its social welfare payments. But the States have no such luxurious choice available to them. It is because of this set of circumstances that we are getting in Commonwealth-State relationships a sort of stagnation - a marginal starvation I have called it on other occasions. Why should not a State be able to decide to increase the quality of its education services, or to increase the amount available for adult education or for libraries? A State cannot do this. It has to cut its cloth according to the financial formula the Commonwealth has set. As I have said, this is fairly niggardly in terms of a growth programme of 2i per cent. The States are to get only potentially half of that, and presumably the Commonwealth is to take the rest.
What has been the effect of this on the States? I have already pointed out that, in terms of their total financial obligations, what the States are now reimbursed by the Commonwealth is a lower proportion of their total obligations that it was say 10 years ago, which means that in order to make up the difference the States have had to do one of two things. They have either had to resort to indirect taxes or they have had to do what the Commonwealth also has chosen to do recently - to charge more for the services provided by public utilities than those services actually cost. One of the biggest items of increase for the States and local government authorities is what is called the surplus on current account. In 1952-53 the surplus on current account for State and local authorities was £72 million. In 1963-64 this had risen to £207 million. Where does that sum come from? It comes from charging the users of electricity, railways and other public utilities more than those services cost to provide. It means using those activities as taxation devices. Whether honorable members opposite think this is a legitimate taxation device is for them to say. They complain about prices rising, when it suits them, but among the biggest increases in recent times in the price structure have been increases in indirect charges - for instance, increases in tram fares, gas tariffs and electricity charges. They all add to the cost of living, but such increases are necessary for the States io balance their budgets.
I suggest that the story is told in its stark reality when we look at the document that the Commonwealth Statistician publishes each year - “ Australian National Accounts”. It gives an assessment of the obligations of the States and of the local authorities. What is happening at the level of the local authorities? A question was asked today about certain expenditure in the city of Sydney. We have a rather odd division in Australia - I suggest it is a historical division rather than anything else. If we draw a circle with a 100 mile radius from Sydney and another the same distance from Melbourne, within those circles we embrace more than half of Australia’s population. However, to provide the facilities of the cities of Sydney and Melbourne only one source of revenue is available, namely the local rate. The local rate is a fairly regressive form of taxation. It is based on the value of property and is levied at a flat rate, not even a progressive rate. Whether people regard that as an equitable form of taxation I do not know. If we take Great Britain as an alternate, more than half of the revenue of local authorities there does not come from the rating system at all; it comes from a subvention from the central government. Compare this with what we get in our two biggest capital cities. I know that the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull) evaluates democracy in terms of cows and sheep rather than people, but I think that fundamentally most people evaluate democracy in terms of people.
– The honorable member is generally pretty fair. Be fair now.
– The honorable member is entitled to his primitive philosophy and I am entitled to my fundamental philosophy which is that people are more important than property, and people are more important than cows and chattels, or sheep and cattle. All I am suggesting is that we are reaching the situation in Melbourne and Sydney - anybody who lives in those two cities will realise this, and nearly half the honorable members of this House are in that category - .that life is becoming increasingly more difficult in those areas. I think, so far as Melbourne is concerned, that about one third of the houses are unsewered and it is supposed to be a modern city. Perhaps the honorable gentleman who is to follow me, who has some knowledge of personal hygiene, thinks that that is satisfactory.
– It is worse in Brisbane.
– -Precisely. Who is to pay for this? I suggest that it is time we altered the whole pattern of taxation in the community and that those people who have the capacity to pay should pay. We ought not to be resorting to one armed bandits to finance State Governments and to antiquated property methods of taxation for local government. Surely we ought to be looking at these sorts of things.
– We do not have onearmed bandits in South Australia.
– You may have twoarmed bandits there, which is worse. They can take twice as much. But there are plenty of unsewered houses in every capital city because local government authorities do not have the facilities which 100 years ago were recognised as being requisite for modern dwellings. All I am trying to point out tonight is that the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) seems to be suggesting that this is a handy formula which improves the lot of the States. But to my mind it is deficient because local government is the poor relation in our system of government. We have three levels of government in Australia. There is the- central Federal Government, the State Governments and the local government authorities. I am not arguing that it is a good thing to have half the population of Australia confined within 100 miles of Sydney and 100 miles of Melbourne. But that is one of the inevitabilities of geography and economies as we find them in Australia at the moment.
I hope that some day decentralisation will be encouraged but it will only be encouraged if the Commonwealth Government, which has control of the major levels of taxation in Australia, alters the taxation pattern. Sometimes we are inclined to make comparisons with other countries. If we like to make a comparison with the United States of America we find that in that country certain taxes that are exclusive to the Commonwealth in Australia can be levied by the States. They can also be levied by local authorities. In most states of the U.S. there may be a separate petrol tax, a separate sales tax, and there may be imposts of different kinds. It means that in the United States a higher proportion of the total tax collected is collected by the States rather than by the central government merely because of the way that the Constitution is drawn. A measure was presented tonight which is designed to shift some of the constitutional powers in Australia. It is the first such measure for a long time. There is not so much a need to shift constitutional powers ia the field of taxation but there has to be a recognition by the Commonwealth Government that it has to pass down more of what it collects to the States in the first instance and then, subsequently, to local government authorities, if Australia is to continue to function towards the end of the 20th century as it ought. This is one opportunity to have a look at this picture.
I have been rushed this evening to deal with this measure but I ask those who will have, the opportunity to debate this bill tomorrow - I doubt whether it will be finished this evening - to look at the statistical compilation called “Australian National Accounts “. I repeat that the Commonwealth is now providing a significantly smaller proportion of the total taxation to State and local authorities than it did 10 years ago. There has been a drop in the proportion from 51 per cent, to 40.6 per cent, a drop of about a quarter. It is because of that that the States and local government authorities, who have to provide the functions and services that the people want, have had to resort to what are in many respects undesirable forms of taxation and to have heavier recourse than is necessary to indirect rather than more equitable and direct methods of levying taxation.
In order to bridge that gap the States and local government authorities are charging more for the public utilities that they provide than those services cost. While one can argue as to whether that is an equitable way of doing things, in my view it is not. I am not a believer in the profit system. I believe that profit is merely a matter of charging the consumer more than an article costs. If the Government considers that profit is the only way of making an economy tick then at least there can be differences of opinion about it. But surely so far as public utilities are concerned the test must be whether a service is provided at the lowest possible cost. The States and local government authorities are charging at the moment £207 million more a year than they need to charge because they have no other sources of revenue available to them.
The other awful indictment of the financial history of Australia is the increase in the interest burden which, because of the way the mechanism is
F.13691/65.- R.- l»7J operated, falls entirely on the States. Whereas the interest payable by the Commonwealth has fallen from £44 million in 1952-53 to £19.7 million in 1963-64, the interest burden on the States has risen from £62 million to £210 million. This means that out of the £210 million increase that is available under formulas such as this to the States, £150 million merely goes for the book-keeping interest item. Perhaps somebody might think that that is equity, justice or commonsense. but to my mind again it is arguable. Because circumstances such as this are being allowed to continue we are developing in Australia the most sprawling cities in the world and the untidiest conglomerations of overcrowded traffic anywhere in the world. Some time ago my colleague the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) and I had a pleasant drive from Brussels to Paris. What astonished me was that although Paris is a city with a population of nearly five million people you suddenly come on it within about five, miles of the city itself. It will not be very long before we will find that Melbourne begins in the electorate of the honorable member for Corio (Mr. Opperman) and finishes in the Dandenong area. We will have one of the thickest and untidiest cities in the world.
Those of us who go out to airports at 8 o’clock in the morning find traffic moving in one continuous line and in one direction from about 7.30 to 9.30 a.m. In the afternoon between 4.30 and 5.30 p.m. the traffic flows just as continuously in the other direction. Then one can go into the city of Melbourne on Sunday and fire a cannon down the streets without hitting anybody. A community system in which we find these vast changes between times of the day and days of the week is not my idea of civilised and intelligent living. I believe we should try to ensure that we will have a better pattern of life by 1985 than we now have in 1965. The honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull), who is trying to interject may not like the idea, but by 1985 the population of Melbourne will be four million. Goodness knows what the population of Sydney will be by that time or how all the people will then be managing to live. If the honorable member thinks that this is a desirable prospect it is for him to say so.
The only way to prevent it from being inevitable is by altering some of the machinery for the collection of taxes in Australia and for the distribution of the money thus collected. I leave the matter there for the contemplation of honorable members.
.- Mr. Deputy Speaker- - -
- Mr. Deputy Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation.
– It has been a little difficult to speak on this Bill, Mr. Deputy Speaker. One has to sympathise particularly with the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean). He has had a most difficult task, and not because of any lack of ability. He has great ability, which we all acknowledge. But as he had only about 10 or 12 minutes to prepare his speech he is to be sincerely congratulated on having put together the few thoughts that he did. However, I want to deal with one or two of the suggestions he made towards the latter part of his speech, perhaps after he had managed to collect some of his ideas on the taxation reimbursement formula.
It is well to remember that the principal arguments he put forward concerned decentralisation in Australia and its relation to reimbursement grants. He would seem to have put a case that we should return to the pre-1959 formula which, of course, had been developed to weight the distribution of the population as one of the multipliers used. For various reasons some objections to this were put forward by the Premier of Victoria and this formula was altered in 1959. It was altered precisely in this respect: The dispersal of population, which was one of the multipliers which had applied for quite a number of years, was deleted from the original formula.
The honorable member’s other suggestion concerning the general state of financial relationships between the States in a federal system is a most difficult kind of concept or idea to speak about in relation to a formula.
This can be demonstrated quite simply. I think this is the third new formula that has been applied since uniform taxation became a reality. First of all, for a few years after 1942 there were grants which were really taxation reimbursement grants and were applied according to the average rates of taxation levied by the States during the late 1930’s and the early war years. Then in the early post-war years we had a formula developed - I think it was Colin Clark, an economist in Queensland, who helped to develop it - which included a population multiplier related to the dispersal of the population. This applied from the early post war years until about 1958- 59, and it was precisely because this became less and less appropriate to a realistic measure of the requirements of States in relation to revenue that it was deleted in 1959. In that year a formula very similar to the present one was devised for the reasons stated.
In 1959 two multipliers were applied to the taxation reimbursement grants. There was the population multiplier for each State, reflecting the rise in the population of each State. Then there was a multiplier related to the increase in average wages, and to this was added a 10 per cent, increase called a betterment factor which gave a little extra. This was developed and used following the suggestions of Tasmania at the two Premiers’ Conferences in 1959 and it worked reasonably well. But there is one thing I should say about the proceedings of the 1959 Conferences. The printed proceedings of those conferences are available and they make interesting and rather delightful reading on occasions. One can see the arguments advanced that had any real worth and also the ones that had only political value and were put forward so that they could be given to members of the Press outside the Conferences. These proceedings have been available from the time those Conferences were held in 1959.
This year there is a problem in that the proceedings - I think because of an objection by one of the Premiers - are just not available. The Conference was a most important one, being the one at which the formula was altered once again by doubling the betterment factor. But as the record of proceedings is not available all the information we can glean is from Press cuttings and hand-outs by the various Premiers and Treasurers. I suggest that these are inadequate if we are to understand the positions of the States in our present Federal system. I do not know which of the Premiers or which of the Treasurers objected to the release of the report of the proceedings of the Premiers’ Conference. But I ask that it be made available if possible.
As I have mentioned, there have been three or four changes in the formula. One formula continued from 1942 until the early postwar years. The next formula continued from the early postwar years until 1958-59, and another was adopted from 1958-59 until this year. The formula was again altered earlier this year by the doubling of the betterment factor. What are the principles involved in the development of this kind of relationship? In 1959 the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) stated them very clearly and very well when he said that there were, three principles involved in developing a formula for the distribution of revenue as between States. The central government - in this instance the Federal Government - has to decide on the amount that it wants to distribute in the base year. There has to be an agreement to decide the proportions of that sum that the States require in the base year. The base year for this formula, of course, is 1965. The third principle, which is the one that I should like to deal with at some length, is the provision for the escalation of the grants to each State during each year of the application of the new formula.
It is true that we cannot very well expect a formula of this nature to apply for a lengthy period, bearing in mind the nature of the developments within States, the different kinds of problems that the States have in respect of the migration of population and the age distribution of population, the level of State social services and the relative stages of development within States. It is inconceivable that a formula for the distribution of revenue grants can be a long-term formula in a federal system. I believe that the honorable member for Melbourne Ports made this point this evening. One could not agree with faim more about this. Other federal systems have had this problem and have altered quite often the distribution of grants as between the component parts of the system. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports mentioned Canada, where, as we know, certain Provinces levy in their own right taxes that in. Australia are levied by the central Government. In India there is a relationship between the States and the central Government that is different again. In that country certain excise duties and various levels of personal income tax are levied by the States. As Professor Prest of the Commonwealth Grants Commission pointed out some years ago in a paper no country with a federal system has devoted so much energy and thought to the problem of the distribution of grants within the system as we in this country have done. The paper that I have just mentioned was submitted by Professor Prest to section G of the Conference of the Australian and New Zealand Association for the Advancement of Science in 1958. The formula for the distribution of grants has been altered twice since then. So Professor Prest might feel disposed to reinforce rather more vigorously the thoughts that he expressed on that occasion. He stated then that Australia has gone further than most federations in trying to allocate grants on the basis of State needs. He went on to refer to the formula that then applied, with particular reference to the third principle - that relating to the rate of escalation year by year.
I believe that one or two pertinent points can be made here. We have in Australia a body established to compare the level of general living conditions and of general State social services and to bring to equality those States that may be somewhat below the standards of the principal States of the Commonwealth. I refer to the Commonwealth Grants Commission, which has used a number of principles in order to bring States to equality with one another. I mention this because one of the multipliers in the present formula could well be varied. I am thinking in particular of the population multiplier. During the last four years under the chairmanship of Mr. P. D. Phillips the Commission has devoted a great deal of time to estimating the unit cost of State social services. It has done this particularly in the field of education and has attempted to do it also in the field of health. Indeed, it has done some quite useful work in this respect. One could argue very vigorously about some of the principles that the Chairman of the Commission has considered and rejected. When one reads the transcript of evidence taken at the hearings of the Commission this year and examines the submissions made by the Commonwealth one could well ask whether the Chairman has quite comprehended some of those submissions.
The comparison of State social services in the field of health is worth considering. If we adopt as valid in a federal system the proposition that each unit, whether it be Queensland, Victoria, Tasmania, or Western Australia, ought to have equality of sacrifice within the unit in the development of the State’s social services in the fields of, say, health and education, we come up with some interesting points. The level of health expenditures was mentioned by the Premier of Victoria and some of the other Premiers this year as a reason why rather greater grants should be given to the States they represented. But we can ask this question: If the people of a particular State have not exerted themselves in the expenditure of their own private resources - not public moneys - and have not made sacrifices as great as those made by the people of another State, can that State make a claim for additional public expenditure? It may be said that it cannot.
Let me refer to health services and make comparisons between the States. It is well known that in the early 1950’s Queensland claimed extra assistance because of its health services. These claims were based largely on the fact that there was a system of free hospital treatment in Queensland. No other State had such a system. Queesnland’s claims for additional assistance were rejected. Some may say that they were rejected for valid reasons. They were rejected because the people of that State were expending less of their own resources than were the people of other States. More of the State’s health services were supported from the State Budget than was the case in other States. Let me consider health expenditure in Queensland in the financial year 1962-63 as a proportion of Budget expenditure compared with the situation in other States. In New South Wales 11.91 per cent, of the Budget was spent on health, in Victoria 13.14 per cent., in Queensland 14 per cent., in South Australia 8.97 per cent., in Western Australia 11.1 per cent, and in Tasmania 11.7 per cent. In other words, on health services, from our own private revenue in that State, we expended less than other States so we had no claim to receive extra assistance because more had to come out of State public revenue expenditure.
In the field of education the Commonwealth attempted to develop this principle at hearings of the Commonwealth Grants Commission earlier this year. The Commonwealth submitted that if a State made less of its own. sacrifice for the provision of education it had no claim to receive extra money. This is a valid point. I shall quote some figures in this respect. For the year 1963, if we take pupils aged 14 years and over - these are the expensive ones so far as education expenditures are concerned - the responsibilities of the States varied significantly. In New South Wales of every 100 children, 72.3 had to be supported by the State; in Victoria the percentage was 70.9; in Queensland it was 68.1; in South Australia it was 79; in Western Australia it was 71; and in Tasmania it was 77. So it can. be seen that the people of both Western Australia and Tasmania exerted less of their own effort in this respect than did the average of people of the standard States. The point that I want to make is that because of this factor they did not have a claim for extra funds to be given to them, in the same way as Queensland did not have the right to claim extra for health, merely because in Queensland we have a unique free hospital system.
It is unfortunate that the Chairman of the Commonwealth Grants Commission has rejected this kind of submission. I think he has rejected it on grounds which certainly are not based on maintaining equality of sacrifice at every unit within the Federal system. I referred a few moments ago to the population multiplier which is used in the present formula for grants. One very important factor which this population multiplier glosses over and does not distinguish is that proportion of a State population increase which is due to natural factors and the proportion which is due to migration. To put them both together and not to distinguish between them can make that formula rather an inappropriate measure. There are a number of reasons why a
State, a large proportion of whose population increase has been due to migration, should have the migration factor proportion of its population weighted. There are valid reasons and weighted reasons why this case can be made.
Referring again to social services, one of the cases goes back to a meeting of the Commonwealth and State Ministers on migration in 1954. At that time it was found that a case had been made that States had an extra burden on their gaol system - this was mentioned precisely, but I do not mention that with any malice - their education and health services. It was argued that they had extra burdens on these services because of extra migration. I think the Victorian Minister attempted to make this case, and certainly the Tasmanian Minister presented this argument. These gentlemen were induced to go back to their States and to investigate whether migrants were in fact an extra weight on their social services. It was learned that they were a less than proportionate weight upon the social services of the States, an important reason being the medical check which migrants have and a large addition to a healthy work force which is involved with these people. Here we have a valid reason why those States whose population increase has occurred to a large extent because of migration should have that proportion of this multiplier weighted down. If we refer to figures in this respect from the last two censuses we come up with some very interesting facts.
If we ask ourselves what proportion of the population increase of the various States has been due to migration and what proportion has been due to natural factors, we find that in New South Wales migration between the last two censuses accounted for nearly 36 per cent, of the population increase. In Victoria migration accounted for nearly 47 per cent., in Queensland 23 per cent,, in South Australia 50 per cent., in Western Australia nearly 18 per cent, and in Tasmania 2.25 per cent. As can be seen from these figures, the two States which have had the least migration between those two censuses were Western Australia and Tasmania. This had the effect of making their population rather younger than the population of the other States. If I may put it another way, the weight of children who required education, compared with people in the work force, was higher in Tasmania and Western Australia than it was in New South Wales and Victoria. The Commonwealth Grants Commission has acknowledged this factor because it has given a unit cost grant to those States to bring them up to equality with New South Wales and Victoria which did not have the weight of these children on their Budgets.
But very similar to these States is the other one, Queensland, where only 23 per cent, of the population increase was due to migration. Here we have another reason why this proportion of a population increase in a State should be given a different weight in the multiplier from that given to the natural factor in the States’ population increase. This applies particularly to provincial towns and provincial areas. As we know, there is a massive migration out of these areas when young men, particularly, and young women to a lesser extent, come of work force age. It is a fact that in many provincial towns the proportion of population aged between 5 and 17 years - this is- the dependent school age where we measure the level of a State’s social services and education - goes up to something like 35 per cent., whereas the average in Australia is only about 25 per cent. This factor should be taken into account and it could well be taken into account in the matter of the population multiplier in these new grants. Of course we know that the present formula will apply for only a limited number of years and that it could be considered in another way.
The Commonwealth’s submissions to the last Commonwealth Grants Commission hearings in Canberra attempted to measure the level of the burdens of State taxations in this respect, both in the private field and in the public field. As a result the Commission produced some very interesting tables which appear as tables 2 and 3 on pages 71 and 72 of the 32nd report of the Grants Commission, which will be discussed tomorrow, I understand. If Western Australia is not to be a claimant State for many years hence - this is a possibility - and if Tasmania is the only State then to be considered as a claimant State in relation to grants, the present body which has been set up, and the present officers of the Department of the Treasury who consider matters of interstate finance - there are not many of them - could consider measuring the relative levels of State social services in all States of Australia. This would be a valid and worthwhile thing to do if the Commonwealth Grants Commission did in fact alter its character. The level of interstate migration is obviously important if there is to be any alteration in the multiplier which has been mentioned. Above all, an attempt ought to be made to measure the equality of sacrifice as between the States, I know that this is a most difficult thing to measure but, unless it is done, we shall only be able to have a check of the relative position as between the States once every six or seven years and it could happen that when we do have another formula negotiated the record of the proceedings once more will not be available.
So there are one or two points that would be worth considering with respect to the present arrangement in this field. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean), on very short notice, and myself, on notice which was about an hour longer, have managed to put a few thoughts’ together tonight and we hope that those Treasury officers who are connected with interstate finance will consider them when making submissions when a new formula is negotiated at some time in the future.
.- The honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Kevin Cairns) suggested that reports of the discussions at Premiers’ Conferences should be made available in a better form. I agree with him, but I think he strayed a bit wide of the subject when he started to discuss the report of the Commonwealth Grants Commission, which is a subject of another debate and which deals with special grants that are to be made available to Western Australia and Tasmania.
I support the views expressed by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean) concerning this measure. I point out that the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) announced that the purpose of this Bill is to authorise the putting into effect of the decisions of the Premiers’ Conference which was held in June last. At that meeting, the Premiers reviewed the problem of Commonwealth and State financial relations and this new formula was brought forward. The last meeting of review was in 1959 when a new formula for Commonwealth and State financial relations for the six years ending June 1965 was decided upon. The new arrangement which we are now discussing provides that the grant payable to each State in the year 1965-66, and each subsequent year, will be determined by taking the grant for the previous year - with the addition of £1 million each year for five years in the case of Queensland - and increasing it by the percentage change in the populations of the State during the year ended 31st December of the year of payment; the amount so obtained is to be increased by the percentage increase in average wages for Australia as a whole and that amount is to be increased by the betterment factor of 1.2 per cent. In addition, it will be remembered, the Victorian grant for the year 1965-66 was increased by £600,000 during the course of the Conference. The total to be made available to the States by way of financial assistance grants is £377,547,000.
Over the years, the Commonwealth has assumed responsibility for many matters which were mainly the responsibility of the States under the Constitution. This has been done by periodic agreements between the Commonwealth and the States under which increased proportions of available government revenue have been collected by the Commonwealth and distributed, by agreement, to the States. One of the first major steps was the establishment of the Australian Loan Council in 1927. It was established for the purpose of raising loans for public works. It has assumed responsibility for determining the annual amounts to be raised by way of public loan to meet the economic needs of the States. The Council consists, as is well known, of representatives of the Commonwealth and the States.
Premiers’ Conferences are held in conjunction with meetings of the Loan Council, but the proceedings have become a bit of a farce. Instead of being a body representative of the States and the Commonwealth, meeting to arrange the nation’s finances, the Loan Council has become a forum in which the States fight for the finance they consider they need and the Commonwealth finally decides what they will get. The Commonwealth has two votes to the one held by each of the States. In addition, it has a casting vote. Therefore, the Commonwealth only has to get two of the States on side and then the voting being even, the Commonwealth can get its way by using its casting vote.
There is no doubt that the borrowing programme adopted by the Loan Council at its last meeting was inadequate for the needs of the States. Both Victoria and Queensland get extra assistance under this Bill. There is no doubt, either, that Premier Nicklin of Queensland went into the meeting knowing that he would get an extra £1 million a year for five years. It was well and truly known before the meeting started that the Leader of the Australian Country Party - the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen) - had promised to look after the Country Party Government of Queensland. So there was one State on side before the meeting started. The Commonwealth then only had to get another State on side to get its own way. While the other five States were squabbling with the Commonwealth over the first offer, which was increased later, Premier Nicklin sat as silent as the night, knowing that his Country Party leader was looking after him. As I have said, one more State had to be got on side. It was publicly announced that a secret deal had been arranged behind Mr. Speaker’s chair between Premier Bolte and the Prime Minister. Mr. Bolte had been called to a whispered conference and had been offered a special grant of £600,000 above that offered to the other States in the new formula for the distribution of the uniform tax collections. His acceptance of the Prime Minister’s offer, on which he commented: “ Peanuts; but I will accept it “, sealed the deal. The other Premiers were angry, but they were hog-tied. The Commonwealth had the numbers if it came to a vote. It had the votes of two States, plus its own two votes and a casting vote, and these would be sufficient to carry the day. The Premiers therefore accepted the position, but they had certainly learned a lesson.
It is true, as was announced by the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt), that this year’s Budget provision for payments to or for the States amounts to £555 million, which represents more than 20 per cent, of the estimated total expenditure of the Commonwealth. Some payments are tax reimbursements, as provided for in this Bill, and some are special payments for specific purposes such as roads, universities, and so on. Looking ahead, we oan see that the economy will require more public expenditure by the States if the problems of a rapidly growing population are to be met and if there is to be an adequate and vigorous development of our resources. It is essential, too, that the Commonwealth and State Governments, and their public authorities co-operate in a constructive plan for a much higher rate of economic and social development. A national plan setting out specified target rates in the field of public investment is required. If this is done, private enterprise will be able to make its contribution within the framework that could be provided by this public investment. The present contribution of public investment is not equal to the task of meeting current demands in developing the Commonwealth.
I draw the attention of the House now to some very important figures. At the present time, half of our population is under 30 years of age and about one-third is under 20 years of age. This represents an important asset. It ensures that in the years ahead there will be a much higher proportion of the population in the work force and a larger body of young people available for training. The facilities for training, however, need extending so that to meet the demands of technology we will have the higher trained skills available. These are the problems that should be discussed at Premiers’ Conferences, because to meet the problems of the future governments will have to assume greater responsibility. A plan should be developed between the Commonwealth and the State Governments to meet this important basic need. I direct attention also to the fact that public investment is about one-third of the total investment in Australia whereas in some countries in Europe the ratio is more than 40 per cent.
The amount of reimbursement from the Commonwealth to the States is to be increased under this Bill. It should be increased. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports directed our attention to some very important figures to which I will refer in a minute. In the past six years the Cornwealth’s collection of taxes has risen by at least 64 per cent., but the amount of reimbursement to the States has increased by much less. Consequently the States have had to lift the percentage of State taxes collected within the States. Figures show that Victoria’s reimbursement from the Commonwealth has increased by 41 per cent, but that Victoria has been forced to lift the amount of taxes collected within that State by 60 per cent. Looking at the figures as they affect the other States - and some of these were referred to by the honorable member for Melbourne Ports - we see that Queensland’s reimbursement from the Commonwealth has risen by 39 per cent, but that that State’s collection of taxes has had to be lifted by 54 per cent. South Australia’s reimbursement from the Commonwealth was 41 per cent, higher, but its internal taxes were increased by 69 per cent. Tasmania’s reimbursement from the Commonwealth was lifted by 34 per cent., but its internal faxes had to be lifted by 39 per cent. In New South Wales the Commonwealth reimbursement was lifted by 38 per cent., but the State’s own collections were lifted by 64 per cent. In my own State of Western Australia Commonwealth reimbursements were increased by 38 per cent., but the State had to increase its own taxes by 67 per cent, in order to meet its growing needs.
So we find that under the tax reimbursement legislation, whilst, the amount of taxes collected by the Commonwealth has increased by 64 per cent., the Commonwealth has been returning a smaller percentage to the States under the formula, and as a result the States have been forced to raise the yield from their own fields of taxation. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports went into this matter in some detail and there is no need for me to reiterate what he. said. I wish merely to emphasise the figures which I have just quoted. It is true that Tasmania and Western Australia have access, as the honorable member for Lilley mentioned, to the Commonwealth Grants Commission; but before they can be successful in any application that they make they have to prove that their efforts to raise revenue and control expenditure compare with the efforts of the standard States. I cannot speak for Tasmania but I can, of course, speak for Western Australia. The replacement of the tax reimbursement by financial assistance grants has meant that Western Australia has lost relatively. The amounts disbursed to the State were increased, but compared to the total amount disbursed Western
Australia did not do so well. Its share of the total actually dropped in proportion. The formula does not allow sufficient for the fast growth of a developing State such as Western Australia. The loan allocation formula does not allow for the growth rate at all. The State is further penalised in that it ‘gets only a small share of local and semi-governmental borrowing.
The Commonwealth Grants Commission, as mentioned by the honorable member for Lilley, makes additional grants, but these are pegged, as I have just mentioned, to the level of the services that applies in New South Wales and Victoria. The Commission ignores the difficulties of a small population trying to develop one-third of the Commonwealth. Western Australia is going to develop rapidly in the next few years, and consequently the cost of Government services is going to increase. The cost of these services must be considered. The difficulties we face result from our small population which, of course, means sparsely populated areas. We have police stations throughout Western Australia that are manned by one policeman. We have schools with only one schoolteacher. We have many small hospitals. All these establishments have to be provided with reasonable facilities, but because they are small the cost of running them is comparatively heavy.
Last financial year Western Australia spent £18 19s. lid. a head on education compared with £17 16s. 6d. a head spent in New South Wales and £17 5s. 7d. a head spent in Victoria. Because Western Australia exceeded the average it was penalised by the Commonwealth Grants Commission. Our costs are added to, as I have already explained, because of our sparsely populated State. Last year Victoria increased its railway freight rate by 10 per cent. Western Australia had to follow suit, or it would have been penalised by the Grants Commission. Increased freight rates mean increased costs to primary producers and this, of course, has an effect on the cost of our exports. Antagonism from the States of New South Wales and Victoria to Western Australia’s request for finance to build the main deversion dam on the Ord River is apparent. No doubt the attitude of these States has had a considerable influence on the Commonwealth Government’s decision to defer consideration of this important northern development project for a period of 12 months. Those States, of course, want the finance that would be made available for the Ord River diversion dam to be spent in the southern areas of eastern Australia. - I emphasise that the Ord River project should be considered a national project similar to the Snowy Mountains hydroelectric scheme. It should no more be considered a debit against’ Western Australia than the Snowy project should be considered a debit against Victoria and New South Wales. Projects such as the Ord River scheme will make Western Australia a much stronger economic unit of the Commonwealth and will mean bigger markets for goods from the eastern States. Such a project would also add considerably to foreign exchange by providing more exports. The stronger Western Australia becomes the more it can contribute towards taxation. I direct attention to figures relating to Western Australia’s rural production and exports. In 10 years the value of rural production in Western Australia has risen from £78 million to £109 million, an increase of more than 40 per cent. Over the same period the value of Western Australia’s exports has risen from £72 million to £144 million. This is important so far as the finances of the Commonwealth as a whole are concerned.
There is no doubt that royalties from iron ore are going to play a big part in the State’s revenue in the future. It is expected that the population of the north west will increase by 25 per cent, as a result of the iron ore projects. For the time being a lot of financial assistance is required to develop the north, and that finance has to be provided somehow. It is disturbing that the Commonwealth Government is so reluctant to help Western Australia. The Commonwealth’s attitude towards the Northern Division of the Department of National Development is a national disgrace. Not one project recommended by that body has been commenced since the Division was formed as a result of an election promise made after the Government won the general election in 1961 by only a narrow majority. In the opinion of many people from Western Australia and other States the Government stands con demned for its attitude towards northern development. I repeat that the Government has listened for too long to the vested interests in the bigger States. Victoria and New South Wales may have a good case for receiving increased Commonwealth financial assistance. All States are justified in claiming more financial assistance to meet their needs but it is a weak argument to claim that Western Australia is getting more than its fair share of Commonwealth money. Nevertheless, figures have been cited to show that this is so. Thinking of this kind ignores Australia’s dependence on Western Australian exports of which iron ore will form a substantial part. The argument overlooks the greater demands for government services in a State that is one third the area of the Commonwealth but which has a small population compared with Victoria, which has a small but highly industrialised area and a highly concentrated population. I emphasise again that Western Australia’s expansion is important to the nation.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Coutts) adjourned.
The following Bills were returned from the Senate -
Without requests -
Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 1965-66.
Without amendment -
Appropriation Bill (No. 2) 1965-66.
Motion (by Dr. Forbes) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- I rise to bring before the House a matter that I feel is important. It relates to an advertisement in the “ Pink Pages “ section of the Sydney telephone directory. I know that the usual procedure is for the PostmasterGeneral’s Department to call tenders for publication of the “ Pink Pages “. It is left to the successful tenderer to sell advertising space in the publication. The successful tenderer for the. 1964 “Pink Pages” directory was Edward O’Brien Pty. Ltd. of
Sydney. I raise this matter because of a complaint made to me by a constituent who for 10 years has been placing advertisements tn the “Pink Pages” of the Sydney telephone directory. These advertisements have cost him about £2,000. He is engaged in the highly competitive field of motor schools. Today there are a great many of these schools, all actively competing against each other for business. The gentleman of whom I speak paid £300 to have an advertisement inserted in the 1964 edition of the “Pink Pages “. But the advertisement was inserted four pages after the entry in alphabetical order relating to the motor school. I trust that the Postmaster-General (Mr. Hulme) has a copy of the “Pink Pages” in the chamber with him, because I advised him earlier that I would be raising this matter. The small entry in alphabetical order for the Academy of Motoring appears on page 568, but the advertisement appears on page 572. This man has paid £300 to have his advertisement placed out of alphabetical order. He made representations to the firm selling advertising space in the directory but he did not get to first base. He then made representations to the PostmasterGeneral’s Department. He was told by the Department that advertisements were located, as far as practical, in alphabetical order. He was told, also, that preference was given to advertisements occupying larger spaces. But on two of the pages between the small entry and the advertisement there are no advertisements whatever.
The Department said that balanced outlay and continuity of reference would be preserved. The Department went on to say that notwithstanding these provisions the PostmasterGeneral’s Department reserved the absolute right to place any advertisement in any location it saw fit. The Department did not tell the person that he had to pay the fee. This information was conveyed to him after he complained that his advertisement had been put out of place in the alphabetical index by four pages. I point out that many other advertisements which were not in alphabetical sequence were placed before this advertisement with the result that this man’s business has suffered greatly. I point out also that this man has refused to pay the fee of £300 because he thinks that he has been misled because of fraudulent advertising.
If honorable members look at the four pages concerned and study the advertisements which have been put in by this publishing firm they will find that there are at least eight quarter, column advertisements in front of this half page advertisement for which the gentleman concerned paid. They will find also that a half column advertisement which refers to the All Nations Motor School has been inserted. To me, the advertisement for the All Nations Motor School appears to be out of alphabetical order because the firm which compiled these pink pages has put that advertisement before the advertisement for A.D.E. Motor Schools. Honorable members can see this is out of alphabetical sequence. Therefore, I feel that the firm concerned has been allowed to mislead the public. Any person who pays his money to this advertising firm is entitled to a fair go and the advertisement should appear in proper ‘ alphabetical sequence.
I ask the Minister, as this question concerns the Postmaster-General’s Department, to have a look at the matter of the pinkpages to see that the people who pay their money are given a fair -go in the presentation of the advertisements. This matter might be a reflection on the Department. It bears not only on advertisements relating to motor schools. In other sections of the pink pages of the telephone directory advertisements in relation to florists and television appear out of alphabetical order. There are a great many other categories. This state of affairs does not apply in New South Wales only. I have been told by many of my colleagues that the same situation applies in other States. Misleading advertisements are placed in front of genuine advertisements out of alphabetical order. The Minister must have a look at this matter. He should see the managers of the firms which are responsible for compiling these advertisements in the correct alphabetical order. I ask the Minister to have a look at this matter and make some representations to the firms which are responsible for the publication of these pink pages so that advertisers will get a fair go.
– What year did the honorable member mean when he gave me the page reference?
– The year is 1964. The gentleman concerned refused to pay his £300 fee because he felt that he was not being given a fair go by this publishing firm. At page 10 of the pink pages it is stated -
Each business and professional subscriber connected to an exchange in the Sydney Telephone District is given a listing in ordinary type under a selected classification in this Directory.
I might say that the gentleman to whom I am referring pays the P.M.G. for two business telephones. In the pink pages of the telephone directory for 1965 which has just been distributed in Sydney, both business phone numbers of this man have been deleted. I feel an injustice has been done to him and that his business will suffer as a result of this injustice. 1 do not know who gave this publishing firm the right to have this man’s business phone numbers deleted from the pink pages. If he pays his fees to the P.M.G. for his business phones, the Department has the responsibility to see that his business phone numbers appear in the pink pages as other persons’ phone numbers do. I think the Minister should look into this matter. He should ensure that the firm concerned is conducting its business to the satisfaction of the people who pay for the advertisements that appear in the pink pages.
I would like to draw the attention of the Minister also to a quarter column advertisement appearing at page 568 of the directory. I have shown this advertisement to many of my colleagues and asked for their interpretation of it. At first sight, some people say it looks like “ Accept Driving School “; others say it looks like “ Adept Driving School “. There is an Adept Driving School and an Accept Driving School. Both are in the St. George district. The advertisement is misleading. I am led to believe that the Adept Driving School is an old established school that has been operating for many years, but the Accept Driving School is a new school and has been operating for only a couple of years. However, looking at the advertisement it is difficult to say whether it is meant to represent a “d” or “cc”. People will be misled by the advertisement. The old established driving school will lose a good deal of business because of the form of the advertisement. I ask the Minister to look at this. 1 could go through the pink pages and mention many other similar advertisements, but time does not permit.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I wish to speak tonight on the subject of hire purchase. First, I would like to say that I realise there are many reputable and highly important units of our economic life in the hire purchase field today. Hire purchase is the poor man’s overdraft, so people say, and it has brought about a big change for many men and women who, without a nest-egg, have nevertheless been able to enjoy the opportunities given by prudent budgeting, higher wages and secure employment prospects. But some companies have been careless and perhaps too lax in their controls. We all know of public tragedies in this field. But there is another side to the coin, and that is a grim and even terrifying story of the sheer and deliberate exploitation of the unfortunate. We all know of the incredible willingness of the unwary to sign complicated documents and to undertake even ridiculous commitments. What I have to say tonight is, however, much more serious. It is a story of one notorious company’s overweening selfconfidence in its impregnability which has led it to adopt practices and methods that to me display a frightening paranoia and a disregard for the decencies and reasonableness of the rule of law.
A lady whose name I will not mention but who lives at Fivedock in my electorate came to my office in Ashfield the other day and placed a letter, which I shall read, and accompanying documents on my desk. The letter is headed ‘* Goodwins (Sydney) Pty. Ltd. Collection Agents for Television and General Finance Co. Ltd., Television and General Finance Co. (Aust.) Ltd., Canberra, A.C.T.” It reads-
Re Hire Purchase Account No. 3.904.BR.
We wish to advise that the Process Server has been handed a Notice of Demand for detention of Property with instructions to go back and go in and recover our goods. We strongly advise you not to get in the way, and if any Mug Magistrate tells you not to pay, tei) him to ring me and if necessary show him this letter.
Only by the payment of not less than £30 to the Process Server can you avoid having the goods repossessed.
Remember if you have not got the £30 do not get in the way.
The signature looks like “W. Goodwin” and underneath is typed “ S. W. Goodwin, Managing Director “. I looked at the contracts that this unfortunate woman had signed. She had bought a new television set for the sum of £208 19s., to which was added the cost of an antenna at £19 10s. Then were added maintenance charges for five years - I assume the period of the contractamounting to £91 7s., and insurance charges amounting to £10 4s. for the same period, making a total cash price of £330. She paid a deposit of . £15. Then term charges amounting to £45 were added, making the total amount payable £375. Her first instalment on that account was due on 21st December 1961. That means that charges payable to the company amounted to 64 per cent, of the cost of the new set and the antenna, or about 13 per cent, flat per year.
The set was repossessed some time later when the lady’s husband became ill. When he returned to his employment she inquired about getting the set back. She was induced to sign a new contract for a second-hand set which had the same serial number as the set she. had had earlier. Indeed, it was the identical set that she had possessed previously. The second-hand price of this same set was put down as £233. Let it be remembered that the original new price was £208 19s. She signed this new document. An additional sum of £19 10s. was charged for the antenna. It was the same antenna; it had not been taken off the roof. In addition, maintenance charges for 30 months amounting to £46 and insurance charges for 60 months amounting to £10 10s. were added, making a total of £309. This time she paid a cash deposit of £20. Term charges totalling £131 were then added, making the total amount payable on this second-hand set £440. This amounts to 80 per cent, of the second-han. price, or 16 per cent, flat per year, payable in charges.
Since that time this lady has paid £148 12s. in 25 instalments. Her husband, who suffers from indifferent health, again became ill and her last payment was made on 19th February 1965. She received the letter that I quoted and which was dated 14th May. She subsequently paid the sum of £30 that was demanded in the menacing manner set out in the letter. She later paid two further instalments of £8 each. The last instalment was paid towards the end of Octotber this year. She was still somewhat behind in the total payments that were due. She arrived home from work one day to find a man outside her home, which she had left locked, and her television set being loaded into a van. She had left the door key in the bread box for her husband. They had entered the house and taken the set without, her permission. Despite her telephone protest to Mr. Goodwin, to whom she says she spoke personally, the set has not been returned.
This is a frightening story. I believe it will be frightening to a large number of small people in the community who, looking at their contracts only as this woman did, are induced to sign. She admitted to me that she looked only at the amount she would have to pay in weekly or monthly instalment’s, budgeted it against what her income could be expected to be, and paid too little attention to these exorbitant, indeed disgusting, charges that have been included in the transaction. I admit that perhaps her story has some undesirable features. The fact that the set had been repossessed on two occasions indicates that she had fallen behind in her payments. Nevertheless, the fact that she paid 25 separate instalments, the last one having been paid only a few days before the set was finally repossessed, seems to me to indicate the high handed attitude.
The fact that she had told the managing director of the firm over the telephone that she had gone to the court’ for redress probably occasioned this letter that I read. The reference to the. court and the reference to the magistrate as being a mug magistrate indicates that the proprietor believed he was quite secure within the letter of the law. I sincerely hope that there is redress for this woman within the letter of the law, but if there is not then I believe it is my duty publicly to draw the attention of the people of Australia to the operations of this company.
.- I listened with interest this morning to the question asked by the honorable member for Evans (Dr. Mackay) about the activities of Goodwins (Sydney) Pty. Ltd. and I listened to him again tonight. I endorse the sentiments that he expressed tonight about this company. I do not think he was a member of the Parliament in October 1962 and earlier, but if he examines the “ Hansard “ reports of that time he will find that the ramifications, exploitation and corruptness of this company were exposed in this Parliament by the honorable member for EdenMonaro (Mr. Allan Fraser) and later by myself. What the honorable member for Evans said tonight endorses what Labour members brought to the notice of this Parliament so long ago. The truth of our statements is exemplified by the fact that this company is on the way out. If a liquidator has not been appointed, he is on the verge of being appointed.
Goodwin himself is a commercial brigand. He is unprincipled. He is a Shylock of the worst type. The case mentioned tonight by the honorable member for Evans is mild in comparison with many that came to my knowledge at the time this matter was first raised. Goodwin registered his company in the Australian Capital Territory. If a person purchased a television set in Sydney and moved it from one house to another without the consent of the company, under the agreement he had signed it was prima facie evidence of an attempt to defraud the company. I have actual documents showing how Goodwin had arrested and thrown into the -Marrickville police cells at night an old age pensioner for some default in connection with a washing machine. The next day, when the man appeared in the Newtown Police Court, Goodwin offered no evidence against him.
I can recall another case where a man was brought back under arrest, in custody, from Adelaide by the same company. These cases have been mentioned in the Parliament, but I am quoting them from memory tonight. Goodwin sought to have this’ man’s wife arrested too. She had young children and the South Australian authorities refused to take action. However Goodwin brought the man back to the Newtown Police Court. The next day, after the man was brought back under arrest, Goodwin tendered no evidence against the man and he was discharged. There were other cases of a similar frivolous nature. I can recall another instance where a man and his wife were thrown into the police cells one night by Goodwin. This company was registered in Canberra, and if a person who purchased a television set in Toowoomba or some other place defaulted in his payments his case was heard in Canberra.
The company preyed mainly on people living long distances from Canberra. In my district it preyed on pensioners and others in poor financial circumstances. The company sold thousands of pounds worth of television sets and other electrical goods to people in my electorate - pensioners and others - but when they could not meet their payments they were faced with the full force of the law. Goodwin not only wasted their time but also the shareholders’ funds in an endeavour to obtain payment. This matter has been mentioned here again and again, and I am pleased that tonight the honorable member for Evans has endorsed what has been said by Labour members in the Parliament.
Goodwin himself knows no barriers, and in this Parliament when I am referring to him I know no barriers. He asks that we repeat outside the remarks we make in the Parliament. When these charges were raised in the Parliament, Goodwin wrote to every organisation in my electorate in the most vile and libellous terms, labelling my charges in a manner that undoubtedly would have brought to me very heavy damages had I taken action for defamation. Similar charges were made against the honorable member for Eden-Monaro, for the express purpose of silencing criticism in this Parliament of the type of conduct that the honorable member for Evans mentioned tonight and of which hundreds of examples were available. If any member of this Parliament, including the honorable member for Evans, comes to my office in Sydney I can produce heaps of files, over which they could not jump, relating to this company. They relate to cases of the worst type by this company - cases similar to that mentioned tonight by the honorable member for Evans, and many concerning pensioners. How any government, Federal or State, can condone conduct of this nature, when public funds are involved, is beyond me.
I can remember another case involving a pensioner in my electorate. He did not have 2s. to bless himself with. Goodwin sold him some hundreds of pounds worth of electrical equipment - a television set - on a £5 deposit, with the balance on the never-never basis. When the pensioner could not meet his payments the company repossessed the set and instituted the normal law proceedings against him in the Canberra court. The company rendered an account for almost the full price of the television set. Not only could the man not pay, but it was obvious he should never have been supplied with the set. Much to my surprise, a couple of weeks later he arrived in my office with two credit notes for £5 or £10 each, from Goodwins, saying that he could have what he liked as long as he presented them at Goodwins. I suggested to him that he should go and give them to Goodwins as back instalments on the set that he could not pay for the first time he received it. I said: “ Have you got any money? “ He said: “No”. I said: “They sold you the set knowing that?” He said: “.Yes”. I said: “ Have you told them what they can do? “ He said: “ Mr. Daly, I have already done that without your advice”. Goodwin himself is evidently a paranoiac. One can see that from the type of letter that he writes. In the letter referred to by the honorable member for Evans, Goodwin referred to a “ mug magistrate “.
The danger with these people is that they are dealing with public funds. The company is registered on the stock exchange. In view of the type of person who is running the company, I. look with a degree of pleasure at the dwindling value of the shares of this company on the stock exchange, because that is the only kind of treatment to which it is entitled. I am sorry for those people who have put money into the company, which is run by a completely unprincipled person. I do not like to raise this matter, but I want to give the list of directors of the company if I can turn it up quickly. I do not wish to raise this matter in any political sense. I just mention it in passing, but it is significant that at the time when this matter was raise*) in this Parliament by myself and the honorable member for Eden-Monaro, ana throughout all the time criticism of the firm was being raised, and while I had the evidence in my possession, one of the directors of the company was Mr. A. D. Bridges. M.L.C., a prominent member of the Liberal Party in New South Wales who is now a Minister in the N.S.W. Government. During all the time these matters were being raised in this Parliament - and they have been verified tonight by the honorable member for Evans - not once did Mr. Bridges raise his voice in support of the charges that were made. I do not know whether or not he has resigned his position, but it is significant that While he was a director of the company he was silent when people were being exploited unmercifully, particularly in my own electorate, as has been exemplified tonight. I am pleased that the matter has again been ventilated.
– I have been assured that be has resigned.
– I accept the honorable member’s assurance. The only thing I regret is that he did not express some of the sentiments which have been expressed by the honorable member for Evans tonight, because the evidence must have been fully available to him at the time. I do not wish to speak further, but as the matter was raised this morning I thought I should mention the fact that it has already been ventilated. The honorable member for EdenMonaro raised it first. Dozens of cases were then brought to my attention. I can assure the honorable member for Evans that always when these cases are defended in court Goodwin capitulates and refuses to prosecute when the solicitors for these people appear.
The cases mentioned by the honorable member for Evans might be bad ones. But I can instance cases where people have owed only a few pounds on a large purchase and the article has been repossessed. In my own electorate they battered down a door to take back a second-hand Kelvinator appliance of some description. Then they charged the woman almost the full purchase price. There was another case where a dear old soul bought a television set from them for £60 or £70. She could not pay anything except the £5 or £6 deposit. She told them to come and take it back. They would not take it back, but they sent her a summons for nearly £70. She wrote to me and said: “ Mr. Daly, I have asked them to take it back, but they will not do so. I have only a small house. Do you think I can charge them for storage? “ This gives an idea of the type of people running the company. Reputable companies would not do those things.
I do not want to cast aspersions on Goodwins’ salesmen, but he employed all kinds of salesmen. First they caught the person they were selling the article to. Then they went the roundabout and in the end they caught Goodwin. If he was not appearing in cases to get television sets back he was appearing in cases to get his money back from the salesmen who had caught him. It was a roundabout circus. I am pleased that the honorable member for Evans has raised the matter. I support his charges and I hope that the Attorney-General (Mr. Snedden) will take appropriate action within the scope of his jurisdiction in the Australian Capital Territory to prevent companies like Goodwins from exploiting the Australian public.
.- Mr. Speaker, tonight I want to inform the House of some of the recent activities of Sir William Gunn, whose name has been prominently before the public in connection with the wool reserve price referendum in which campaign he is the chief promoter of the “ Yes “ case. This matter arose from a meeting held in support of the “ Yes “ case at Dartmoor, which is in the electorate of my friend, the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Malcolm Fraser), on 27th September this year. Apparently on that occasion Sir William spoke to the meeting in support of the scheme. Subsequent to the meeting a Press statement was issued by the Australian Wool Board of what Sir William had said. The gravamen of the matter I want to raise tonight is simply this: On this occasion and in the Press statement Sir William Gunn, in order to persuade people to vote yes, gave incorrect and misleading information. He subsequently admitted that the information was incorrect.
The matter arose in this way: One of the questions that has to be sorted out if a reserve price scheme is brought in is the typing and the yielding of the wool. There had been discussions concerning this problem between the wool brokers and the Wool Board prior to 27th September. They may have been quite profitable discussions. The wool brokers, apparently, as a body, put up suggestions to the Board as to some part they might play, if the scheme came into force, in relation to preparing the typing and yielding statistics of the wool. The point to be made at this stage - and Sir William Gunn subsequently admitted this - is that no agreement had ever been reached between the brokers and the Board on this subject. There had merely been discussion which had not been brought to a conclusion. Shortly after the meeting at Dartmoor, down in the fastness of the electorate of Wannon - and I understand from my friend the honorable member for Wannon that this is not the largest of centres - a Press statement was put out under the letterhead of the Wool Board. It said this -
Recent discussions between the National Council of Wool Selling Brokers and the Australian Wool Board had resulted in a considerable cost saving in the administrative structure of the proposed Wool Marketing Authority.
The Chairman of the Australian Wool Board, Sir William Gunn, said today the two organisations had carried out separate investigations into the increased number of valuing staff necessary to introduce a reserve price plan.
Significantly, Sir William said, the two independent exercises had each produced the same answer. As a result it had been agreed that the present wool technical staff employed by the Board for statistical purposes, need only be increased by 18.
I will leave out a paragraph which is not particularly germane to this point. The statement continued -
Since this original estimate wool brokers had agreed with the Board that their staff could assist the Authority in this appraisal task. This would considerably reduce the fixed costs of operating the plan.
In another paragraph it was stated -
Under the arrangement negotiated with the National Council of Wool Selling Brokers all typing and yielding of wool would be done by Brokers’ staff in the various selling centres.
That was what was put out to the world by the Wool Board, obviously with Sir William Gunn’s privity, as I shall show. When this announcement was made by way of Press release following the meeting it received publicity in several newspapers circulating among wool growers and others interested in primary industry. One of the newspapers was the Victorian “ Stock and Land “ of 29th September. Another was the Victorian “ Wheat and Wool Grower “ of 8th October. In both of those newspapers it was reported, naturally enough, following the Press release by the Board, that this alleged arrangement had been made between the brokers and the Board. When the announcement was made the brokers, naturally enough, were rather puzzled and on their behalf I think it was a Mr. Williams, the executive officer of the National Council of Wool Selling Brokers, who approached the Board to find out what it was all about. In the result, the true position became known. My complaint is that it became known to only a few people. The upshot was that on 13th October Sir William wrote to the President of the National Council of Wool Selling Brokers a letter from which I now quote-r-
My attention has been drawn to the fact that some publicity has been given in the Press to a statement I made that certain arrangements have been made with brokers about the conduct of a reserve price operation should this be agreed to by growers and at some future date come into effect.
I may have given .this impression, but it was not my intention to do so. I fully understand the position to be that the Board and the National Council of Woolselling Brokers have opened discussions on matters which might be of common interest should a reserve price operation come into force, and have already agreed that our points of view are not very far apart, and that it should be possible for practical, workable arrangements to be agreed on as between the Board and brokers.
The letter concludes with this paragraph - 1 would emphasise that my only intention was to state that discussions bad taken place on these subjects, progress was being made, but that no agreement could as yet be reached.
It is difficult to see how that could have been Sir William’s intention, because he said several times in the Press release that agreement had been reached; that a firm arrangement had been made. I wonder really whether the words uttered by Humpty Dumpty when speaking to Alice in “ Alice Through the Looking Glass “ might not apply to Sir William. You might remember, Mr. Speaker, that in chapter 6 of that book Humpty Dumpty said -
When I use a word … it means just what I choose it to mean, - neither more nor less. “The question is “, said Alice, “ whether you can make words mean so many different things “. “ The question is”, said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master- that’s all “.
Apparently when Sir William says that an agreement has been made, he would have us believe that he meant to say no agreement has been made. It is all very puzzling and must be misleading to, and bemuse, the growers who are to vote in the referendum.
Not only was Sir William’s statement contained in a Press release; it was also issued to the public in the same form in the “ Wool News Digest “, volume 2, No. 9, of September 1965. It is difficult to see how there could have been room for mistake on Sir William’s part.
The other matter I should mention is that I spoke to the executive officer of the Australian Wool Board yesterday, ais I thought I should do before speaking in this House on this subject. I said to him: “I want to find out, if I may, whether any public correction has been made by the Board of Sir William’s misstatements”. That is the substance of what I said. The executive officer said, after I had referred to the matter in question: “I know what you are talking about. Sir William was rather carried away by the exuberance of the occasion and no correction has been issued”. I am not criticising this officer of the Board. He went on to say, as well he might: “I suppose we should have done something “.
I wish to draw the attention of the House to these matters because it may be remembered that when I spoke in the second reading debate on the Wool Reserve Prices Plan Referendum Bill, I took leave to doubt whether the information being put out by the Australian Wool Board was entirely accurate. It looks as though my misgivings have been borne out by this event. Honorable members will well remember that this is not the only misleading statement that has been put out by the Board in support of the scheme. We all remember the occasion a month or so ago when Mr. Neville, Chairman of the Wool Marketing Committee of the Board, was corrected in properly stringent terms by the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies), who said of him that he had indulged in a gross misrepresentation. This misleading information is a matter that calls for public notice.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
Motion (by Mr. Daly) negatived -
That the honorable member for Parkes be granted an extension of time.
.- I want to say a few words about the reserve price scheme. I would not have done so had this place not been made a forum for advocating a “yes” vote. I believe that those of us who have a doubt about the reserve price plan should warn the wool growers: “ When in doubt don’t “. If the contemplated scheme were really a reserve price plan I would support it. But it is not a reserve price plan and I have been astounded that the people who are advocating it do not realise what it will cost. I have been astounded that people who should be accustomed to dealing with auctions do not think of the commission that will have to be paid each time the wool is bought in.
Everybody who has had any dealings with auctions knows that there is nothing more frustrating than to bid for an article and not be successful in obtaining it. Nothing will give more offence to our overseas buyers than to have them bid up to say, 51d. per lb. and not be allowed to purchase the wool, and find afterwards that the buyer with millions of pounds at his disposal has bid 52d. and obtained the wool. If common business acumen were brought into play and buyers from, say, Japan went to 51d. under a real reserve price scheme and were told that the reserve price was 52d., in all probability a deal would be made. Why cannot common sense prevail in this matter? But of course it will not, and the broker will get his commission, there will be handling charges for taking the wool back into store and there will be charges again for bringing it out. If on the second occasion it is knocked down to a bidder from overseas, or the local buyer with the millions again obtains it, the commission must of course be paid. Some may think that this is common sense but I say it is against all business principles. I cannot understand why graziers and others who understand buying and selling at an auction have not comprehended the position. It is surprising how many people who advocate this scheme have not considered these details of it.
It is a remarkable thing that the big Gunn said about 12 months ago that he could not guarantee that this plan would be successful. So again I say to the wool growers: When in doubt, don’t. Even Sir William Gunn does not know whether the scheme will be successful. He hopes that it will be successful.
Last night we heard the honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) refer to stockpiling. Stockpiling will have a tendency to bring down the price of wool because prospective purchasers will know of the big reserves held in store. An astronomical amount of money will be thrown into this scheme. 1 forget the phrase which was used to describe the amount but 1 think an inexhaustible supply of money will be required to implement it. The wool growers will contribute £30 million and it is suggested that the Commonwealth Government will guarantee another £50 million, but additional millions will be required.
The people who sell wool have informed me than the futures have a big bearing on the price of wool. If £150 million will be available to the authority and if the futures govern the price of wool, surely we have within the industry astute people who can operate on futures and protect the price paid to the grower. The reserve price plan is being introduced to defeat futures buyers. Why cannot this money be made available to buy futures? This is not a reserve price plan; it is a restricted acquisition plan. There is not the slightest doubt in the world that the object of this plan is to soften up the wool growers so that an absolute acquisition plan can be introduced. I warn the growers to think about this because, as surely as night follows day, an acquisition plan will be introduced within a very few years. Again I say to the wool growers: When in doubt, don’t.
.- I would not like to attempt to follow the ramblings of the honorable member for Mitchell, Mr. Irwin) in relation to the proposal for the introduction of a reserve price plan for the sale of wool. I understand the honorable gentleman has been a prominent figure in the commercial world, to wit, an employee of the great and powerful commercial banking institutions in this country which have been such strong believers in competition over the last half a century that they have been successful in reducing the number of banking institutions in Australia from probably 50 to about 7. Then they have the cheek to advertise on television about competition being the life of the nation. For half a century they have been keen - they have been successful too, and I do blame them - on reducing the competitive factor in banking.
– Did not the honorable member want nationalisation?
– Of course 1 wanted nationalisation. The honorable member for Mallee will find out that the private banks will eventually reduce their number from seven to one. In effect, that is all they are today. At that stage they will probably do much the same as the Gas Corporation of Victoria did when it offered its shares to the State Government and they will then become nationalised in due course. I do not intend, however, to be sidetracked by the oracle from the Mallee.
The honorable member for Mitchell, as a result of his business experience within the ambit of the banking system, knows full well that the customers of his bank who were most successful were invariably the men who operated from great financial strength and who faced their competitors and the business world with great financial resources at their disposal. Tonight, he has had the cheek to exercise his right to speak in this chamber solely to deprecate a scheme that is backed by the financial might and financial reserves of the Commonwealth. He has tried to throw doubt on the capacity of this scheme, which is backed by the stability of the Commonwealth, to operate successfully. Even if it is not entirely successful at its commencement, it will be in a much stronger position than are the 120,000 wool growers of this country, disunited and speaking with 120,000 voices as they are at present, in trying to sell their wool on the market today. It is mere fiddle-de-dee for the honorable member to talk the nonsense that he has uttered. Every buyer, regardless of what he is trying to buy, knows that his task is infinitely more difficult when the man from whom he is attempting to buy is very strong financially. I need not say any more about this aspect of the matter.
The honorable member for Mitchell has talked about the eventual development of the acquisition of wool. I do not know whether this will ever come about. It certainly will not, under either this Government or any other government, unless the wool growers of this country believe that acquisition would be a better method of disposing of their wool. As for this talk of stockpiling, I ask the honorable gentleman: Who owns the wool now when the market for it is poor and it is not sold? Who owns the wool that is held up in the pipeline? It is owned by 120,000 wool growers, who individually are weak, and who have no capacity to determine when the pipeline will be opened or the price at which the wool held up in it will be spilled on to the markets of the world. Under the proposed wool reserve prices plan, the pipeline will be controlled by the proposed Australian Wool Marketing Authority, which will itself determine when and at what price the hitherto unwanted wool will flow on to the markets of the world.
What a lot of nonsense the honorable member for Mitchell has talked this evening. All he has done has been to endeavour to help the wool buyers of the world to continue to hold the wool growers of Australia in the palms of their hands and to exploit them. But the great majority of the wool growers will not think much of the honorable member. Indeed, they will not think much of this Government, which has been so dilatory and so weak in its attitude towards the plan as to decline, in effect, even to announce that it favours the plan. In 1951, the present Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) and the present Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen), in a pamphlet, recommended to the wool growers of Australia a scheme that was put to them in a referendum similar to that now about to be held. These right honorable gentlemen have now backed away from that sort of action. Does the honorable member for Mitchell know why? It is because the wool growers of Australia are infinitely wiser today than they were in 1951.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.54 p.m.
The following answers, to questions upon notice were circulated -
m asked the Minister repre senting the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
Why did he wait till 20th October 1965, the day after the debate on the proposed expenditure for the Department of Civil Aviation, to table the Australian National Airlines Commission’s Annual Report signed on 5th October 1965?
– The Minister for Civil Aviation has supplied the following information -
There was no intentional or avoidable delay in tabling the 1964/65 annual report of the Australian National Airlines Commission. The Minister has indicated to the Commission on a number of occasions that it should aim to have its annual report available for the Parliamentary debates on the civil aviation estimates. The Honourable Deputy Leader will know however, that the Commission has to comply with the requirements of the Australian National Airlines Act in relation to its accounts before submitting them to the AuditorGeneral for certification, and it is only then that the report can be completed and printed. These procedures make it difficult to achieve an earlier completion date.
In the 20 years of the Commission’s existence, its annual report has been ready for tabling in the House of Representatives before the commencement of the estimates debate on only five occasions. The 1964-65 report was tabled immediately it became available, and this was, in fact, earlier than in the previous four years.
h asked the Minister repre senting the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
– The Minister for Civil Aviation has supplied the following information -
It is anticipated that the airport at Essendon will continue in use for some years, at least, after transfer of airline activities to Tullamarine in 1969 - ten years after the Essendon terminal opened. It would continue to be used for charter, executive and general aviation traffic. Any surplus building area will be thrown open to lease.
ser asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
y asked the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
What telephone concessions are available to blind persons by way of rebate of installation fee, rental, charges, etc?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows -
Blind persons who lease a telephone service in their residence may, upon application, be granted a one-third reduction in the base annual rental for their service. The concession is restricted to the telephone rental charges, the normal rates being applied for all other items such as local and trunk call charges, installation and removal fees.
s asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
The figures for 1965-66 include 3 dairy farmers and 1 sheep farmer who vacated during the quarter ended 30th September, 1965. 2. (a) 21 dairy farms (b) 2 sheep farms.
y asked the Minister for Health, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows - 1 and 2. The tables below set out the figures for deaths from cancer in Australia in 1964, with a break-up into sex, age group and State -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 11 November 1965, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1965/19651111_reps_25_hor48/>.