25th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. Sir John McLeay) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
Mr. CLYDE CAMERON presented a petition from certain electors of the Commonwealth praying for the withdrawal of our troops and an immediate cessation of hostilities in Vietnam.
Petition received and read.
Mr. BRYANT presented a petition from certain citizens of the Commonwealth praying that the Commonwealth Government will repeal the Wards’ Employment Ordinance and legislate to provide at least the basic wage for all Aboriginal workers in the Northern Territory.
Petition received and read.
– Is the Minister for the Army aware that, according to the answer given to my question concerning volunteers for the Army, since I960, 57,409 men have volunteered for service and 41,593 or 73 per cent, have been rejected or have withdrawn their applications? Furthermore, 73 per cent, have been rejected in this present year. Will the Minister now state the reasons for the high percentage of rejection? Why has the Government introduced conscription, with overseas service, when so many men are prepared to volunteer?
– The honorable member for Grayndler is certainly persistent. This subject has been canvassed over and over again. The explanation has been given over and over again and has been accepted by the Australian people as was made clear at the last election. The fact is that there are certain basic minimum standards for soldiers which have been established from experience in war, particularly the last World War. If soldiers do not measure up to those standards they tend to become administrative liabilities and a danger to their comrades. The minimum standards are not excessively high, but the fact is that every single one of the people mentioned by the honorable member who applied for enlistment in the Army and was rejected was unable to reach those standards. If the honorable member continues to pursue this line I think he should come out and say where he stands on the matter. Is he prepared for this country to have an Army in which are enlisted people who do not measure up to standards which, in the fires of war, have been found to be the desirable minimum and who would become administrative risks and a danger to their comrades?
– I wish to ask the Postmaster-General a question concerning the operation of the Broadcasting and Television Act. Is it correct that the Australian Broadcasting Control Board has forced certain public companies to sell shares that were purchased in associated companies before the Broadcasting and Television Act was amended? Is not the legislation under which the Board has taken this action retrospective law and against the spirit of all legislative action?
– I think I should put the record straight in relation to this matter. It will be remembered that the policy of the Government was that no person or company should control licences in more than two television companies. Some people were able to circumvent the legislation which had been introduced in the early 1960’s and the Government last year determined new principles for legislation. The decision having been made, I issued a statement on 17th December 1964 indicating that legislation would be introduced in the following parliamentary sessional period which would affect people who had interests in excess of those contemplated in the stated Government policy, and that such persons would not be allowed to purchase directly or indirectly, any additional interests between 17th December and the time the legislation was passed.
Many licences were due for renewal on 30th November last and the Board found it necessary to point out to some of the companies that, in fact, they had made purchases, directly or indirectly, in additional companies or had increased their interest in companies in which they had previously held shares, and that therefore they were in contravention of the Act. I was informed of the matter and in turn informed the companies that under the provisions of the Act I was unable to issue new licences while they remained in contravention of the law. Those companies then proceeded to dispose of the additional interests that they had obtained after 17th December 1964.
– I ask the Prime Minister a question. If I prepare a pamphlet on the war in Vietnam containing speeches made on the subject by Opposition members, will the Prime Minister undertake to have it printed and distributed in the same way as the Government’s pamphlet on this subject has been printed and distributed to school masters, church leaders and other interested people, so that those who are thinking about this subject - and not too many Australians are, unfortunately - will be able to see that there are two sides to this case and will be able to make an intelligent appreciation of the relative merit of the Government’s stand and the Opposition’s stand on this matter?
– If what the honorable gentleman wants is that we should sponsor the publication of a debate all I can tell him is that we already do that by publishing “Hansard”. In any “Hansard” the people may read what is said on the other side of the Parliament by any section of the Opposition and what is said on this side.
– Why is not something else done instead of putting out a booklet?
– The honorable gentleman falls into the error of thinking that we are circulating something that is supposed to be in the nature of a debate. We are circulating this document to indicate where the Government of this country - there is only one Government of this country - stands on a matter for which the Government has to accept a major responsibility.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Territories. I ask whether there is any confirmation of a report that several cases of cholera have crossed the border from West Irian into the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. Can the Minister assure the House that adequate help is being given and precautions are being taken by the Territory Administration to prevent the spread of any serious disease?
– I think the honorable member refers to a report in a publication known as the “Australian International News”. I can assure him that there is no truth whatsoever in the report. The last indicated case of cholera in West Irian occurred in September 1962. That was satisfactorily coped with and in accordance with international sanitary regulations West Irian was declared free of cholera in March 1963. Since then there has been no further outbreak. The second part of the honorable member’s question concerns something that is a matter of great concern to us - the proper policing of the border between West Irian and the Territory of Papua and New Guinea for health, quarantine and other reasons. We regard it as especially important to prevent both human and animal diseases from entering the Territory and we have provided an organisation to cope with, the situation should an outbreak of disease occur at any time. We carry large stocks of vaccine in the Territory. We have medical posts situated in strategic areas and a complete organisation is ready to go to work at any time should a disease come across the border.
– My question is directed to the Treasurer. I ask: Does he recall that in May last he indicated the intention of the Government to introduce a bill to amend the Commonwealth Employees’ Furlough Act to correct longstanding injustices relating to the long service leave entitlement of officers who return to the Public Service after losing more than one year of service as a result of retirement because of invalidity? Will the right honorable gentleman endeavour to have the necessary measure prepared during the forthcoming recess with the object of introducing it early in the next sessional period of the Parliament?
– Some decisions have already been taken by the Cabinet on aspects of the legislation. I should like to see the remaining matters concluded speedily so that the amending measure relating to the general subject matter to which the honorable gentleman refers may be introduced in the autumn sessional period.
– I direct my question to the Minister for National Development. I ask: Have extensive investigations and experiments in the desalination of water been conducted? Is the work progressing to a stage at which there is a possibility of the use of salt water for commercial purposes at an economic cost?
– I think it is certainly true that there are commercial possibilities for the use of desalination. In fact, four small plants are in operation in Australia today and there are some very large plants overseas. The United States plant at Guatanamo Bay produces more than 2 million gallons per day. This plant is in Cuba, as the honorable gentleman would know. When the Australian Water Resources Council was formed it looked very closely at desalination and set up a panel to report to the Council. The recommendation of this panel was that there did not appear in the foreseeable future to be a requirement in Australia for the so-called mammoth plants which use atomic energy and turn out vast quantities of water, but there did appear to be a requirement in Australia for a small plant which could turn out a small quantity of fresh water either for stock watering or for some of the more remote townships, particularly those associated with mineral development in outback areas. This report is in the hands of the printers at the present moment and it will be available fairly shortly.
- Mr. Speaker, I desire to ask you a question. When future presentations of furniture are made by this Parliament to Parliament Houses of fellow members of the Commonwealth, will you please take steps to ensure that such furniture is not branded “ Made by European Labour Only “, as has already happened to my knowledge in one particular presentation? Would you also ascertain whether this practice arises from some archaic and forgotton section in a State Act of Parliament?
– I suggest to the honorable member that if he will furnish me with the details, I will give him an adequate reply.
– I ask the Prime Minister whether the material circulated to the schools was the Department of External Affairs pamphlet “ The Facts on Vietnam “ or whether it was a collection of Ministerial speeches. It if was a collection of Ministerial speeches, I ask the right honorable gentleman: Why is it assumed that political speeches are better material to circulate to schools than the documented, illustrated research of the Department of External Affairs?
– Both documents were prepared by the Department of External Affairs. The first one to which the honorable member has referred is a very full document containing a lot of basic material. The view taken by the Department of External Affairs was that the document is much too long for general reading, although I would be’ very happy to think that everybody in Australia would take the opportunity to read it. The second document was designed to be much shorter and, to that extent, more readable. To the extent that it contains statements from speeches, they were selected as statements of fact and of policy.
– I ask the Minister for Immigration whether he has agreed to travel arrangements for members of the Russian Black Sea Navy and Red Army to enable them to hold choral displays throughout Australia early next year. Does the Minister know that many new citizens of Australia, such as the Hungarians who have vivid memories of their families being destroyed by Russian troops, have grave objections to this proposed Soviet military display in Australia?
– I have heard something of this proposed visit and I have made inquiries, but so far no application has been made to my Department for permission for this choir or group to enter Australia. I should like to say, however, that from time to time we do have applications for entry permits for people representing the cultural sections of other countries and for athletes and so on. When the circumstances warranted it, we allowed these people to come in. If any application is made with relation to the Soviet military display, it will be judged on its merits.
– I ask the Treasurer whether he will give consideration to amending the Income Tax Act so as to extend the sections which provide some tax benefit to primary producers in times of drought, flood and bushfire. In particular, will he give some consideration to amending section 3 6(3 A) to allow a fanner or grazier to elect to include any deferred profit on forced livestock sales in the year of his choice? The present obligatory provision requires that one-fifth of such profit shall be included in each of the four years succeeding the forced sale. Will he also consider amending section 75 to permit of an outright deduction for fodder purchases in the year in which this expense is incurred in preference to such deduction being made, as is at present provided, in the year in which the fodder is used?
– I shall study the detail of the honorable gentleman’s question. It would be quite impracticable for me to attempt to deal with a matter of such complexity off hand. In the recent amending legislation, the Government covered one aspect of income tax as related to drought. I refer to the proceeds of sales from two wool clips sold in the one year. I shall look in a sympathetic way at the question that has been put and write to the honorable gentleman when I am in a position to do so.
– I ask the Minister for Air whether he has seen a report of a successful experiment in bushfire control with water bombs from a small aeroplane which was carried out by the Victorian Parks Com mission at Orbost In Gippsland. Will tha Minister consider selling to the Victorian Government at a nominal price one of the now redundant V.I.P. Dakotas so that further experiments may be carried out on a larger scale?
– The first point is that the aircraft in 34 Squadron will not be replaced until the new. aircraft are available and this, as I stated to the House last week, will not be for many months yet. I know of the consistent interest of the honorable member for Gippsland in the question of bushfire control. If the State Government makes a request, I shall have a look at it.
– I preface a question addressed to the Minister for Territories by saying how pleasing it is that representatives of the Parliament of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea should be in this chamber of the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia today. Does the Minister intend to establish any schools or to provide opportunities for the members of the Parliament of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea to study the English language so that they may be more effective parliamentary representatives and have a better understanding of the form of democracy which is being practised in this country and which, we hope, will flower in the Territory? I suggest that the opportunity also be made available to departmental officials and those indigenous people who desire to improve their knowledge of the English language.
– This is a matter that has been of great concern to me and my Department for some time because we realise that the difficulty of the language system in the House of Assembly and elsewhere is one of the problems we have to meet. We have been exploring many ways by which we can overcome this problem, and I hope very shortly to have something in train by which we can meet this sort of challenge.
– I direct a question to the Acting Minister for Defence further to the answer given to my question on notice on 7th December 1965. Is he aware that the workers of North West Cape are still thirsty? Is he aware that the negotiations between the contractors and the proprietors of the hotel to which he drew my attention have not eventuated? Because of the provisions of the United States Naval Communication Station Agreement Act and the Defence (Special Undertakings) Act, will he reconsider this problem and arrange for discussions between the United States naval authorities and the Government regarding amenities in this restricted area and so obviate any adverse effect on the constructional programme?
– I informed the honorable member, in the answer I gave him to his question on notice, that basically licensing provisions are the responsibility of the State Government. The Licensing Commission in Western Australia took away the licence relating to this construction operation. To the best of my knowledge and belief discussions were commenced between the construction company and the new licensee of a hotel some five miles from the construction camp. As this was the position only a few days ago I still believe the discussions should take place before the Commonwealth Government is requested to interfere in any way in this matter.
– Will the PostmasterGeneral amplify the answer he gave last week to the honorable member for Dalley about the Australian content of television programmes? Is he aware that the impression has been widely taken from the brief words he used that he is unaware that there is an Australian quota? I hasten to add, of course, that I know that the Minister has taken a keen interest in this and has, in fact, increased the quota to 50 per cent. Will he inform the House as to the possibility of making the quota more effective, particularly in the field of drama, so as to employ Australian actors, producers and directors? Finally, has he noted the reminder given to him by Mr. John Howard in the “ Canberra Times “ that he undertook to make a general statement on the question of Australian television programmes and that he hoped to do so before the end of 1965? Will he, therefore, take this penultimate opportunity that I now give him of doing so before the House rises?
– The honorable member suggested first that I undertook to make a statement and then that I hoped to make a statement. My hopes will not be realised because this matter has not been finally considered. I appreciate the point that has been raised on the question of a quota. A quota has been applied in general terms. The various television stations have to show a certain percentage of Australian content. As I interpreted the question of the honorable member for Dalley, he was referring to quotas related to specific subject matter. A quota is not imposed other than one of two hours a week at peak viewing times. Suggestions have been made to me and to the Australian Broadcasting Control Board that a system should be developed whereby greater credit is given to a station in meeting its quota commitments by using a certain type of Australian production. It is in that sense that I said the Government had not come to any decision on the matter.
– I ask the Minister for National Development a question. The Government has increased the oil search subsidy for this financial year. Is the increase having any effect in those areas leased by Australian and other companies? If so, are more wells being drilled in any of the States?
– Yes. There has been an increase in the number of wells drilled this year compared with the number drilled last year. The number drilled so far this year is a record. The increase in the number of wells drilled has not been as large as I had hoped it would be. There are two reasons why the number is not higher. One is that more wells are being drilled to a great depth. This is because of gas strikes at a considerable depth. Two such wells are at Gilmore in Queensland and Gin Gin in Western Australia. The latter has been drilled to a depth of almost 15,000 feet. Whereas a well can be drilled to, perhaps, 2,000 feet in three or four days it takes many weeks to drill to great depths. Another reason why more wells have not been drilled is that more of the money allocated has gone on seismic work rather than on direct drilling. In spite of all these things it is interesting to note that there has been an increase in the amount of drilling in Australia and in the number of wells drilled.
” VOYAGER “ DISASTER.
– I ask the Minister for the Navy a question. I presume that the honorable gentleman has now perused Vice-Admiral Hickling’s book on the “ Voyager “ royal commission and will have noted the assertion that two professionally qualified witnesses were interviewed in the chambers of counsel assisting the Royal Commissioner and were told that they would be called to give evidence but in fact were not so called. Will the Minister state the names and qualifications of those witnesses, the nature of the evidence they would have been able to give, and the reason for not calling them?
– I have read with a great deal of interest Vice-Admiral Hickling’s book, and I remember the passage to which the honorable member has referred. I am not in a position to say who were the witnesses referred to by Admiral Hickling.
– Does the Minister know who they were?
– Just a minute. I am assured by counsel that everybody who was interviewed and told that they would appear before the Royal Commission did so. Therefore I believe that what is stated in this book does not exactly accord with the facts.
– Does the Minister know their names?
– I ask the
Minister for Trade and Industry a question. Are statements appearing in the Press about the Minister’s meeting yesterday in Queensland with the Queensland dairymen’s organisation grossly inaccurate? Is the Minister able to make a statement about this meeting?
– Journalists have their own system. I do not wish to challenge their treatment of this meeting. The meeting that I had in Queensland yesterday is of great public interest because many of the leaders of the dairy industry in Queensland believe that their industry will suffer under the trade agreement signed with New Zealand. Before I addressed the meeting I invited the leaders of the industry to state what they conceived to be the basis of their fears. They did this. They explained their fears fully and rationally. It seems to me that this is all that has been reported in one newspaper. I was invited by the dairying industry to address the meeting and to state the position as I saw it. I did that. This fact has not been reported. There was no challenge to my assertion, which I have made in the House, that if 100 tons of cheddar cheese were brought in from New Zealand it would cause, at worst, 100 tons to be re-exported from Australia, resulting in a maximum loss of one tenth of one farthing per lb. of butter fat.
– Too much.
– That may be so, but the cold fact of the matter is that neither honorable members on the opposite side of the House nor, I say with respect, many leaders of the dairy industry in Queensland place sufficient weight on the fact that the average production of milk per cow in Queensland is 301 gallons a year whereas the average production everywhere else in Australia is 513 gallons per cow. The fundamental problem of dairymen in Queensland - it is a very serious and a very personal problem - is that environmental conditions do not permit the average Queensland dairy farmer to achieve a level of production that is at all comparable with the average production in the rest of Australia. This Government has devoted a good deal of money and scientific and extension efforts to helping to correct this fundamental disability. When this problem has been solved, Queensland dairy farmers will be on their feet and will be equal to other dairy farmers in Australia. I produced the figures and asked the dairymen to make their judgment on figures and not on fears. The figures show that in the first two years of the New Zealand agreement the maximum loss that the average dairy farmer in Queensland could suffer would be 21s. for the year. I pointed out that the average dairy farmer in Queensland is receiving £245 a year voted by this Parliament under the policies of this Government.
– I direct a question to the Prime Minister. I ask: Why has the Government placed an embargo on Lieutenant Colonel Bramfield, former commander of the First Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment in South Vietnam, preventing him from giving Press statements about the war in Vietnam? Is it because this gallant leader, whom we all regret is at present partially disabled, would present a different picture of the Vietnam war from that which the Government puts forward? If the Government will not allow this Army leader to speak to the Press, will the Prime Minister consider arranging for him, when he has recovered from his present disability, to address members of the Parliament who may be interested in hearing a first hand account of the Vietnam war?
– As this is the first I have ever heard of this matter, perhaps the Minister for the Army could answer the question.
– The suggestion that the Government has placed any particular ban on Colonel Bramfield is completely untrue. There is a well established policy, which has always existed, that operational commanders returning from overseas do not, for very good reasons, give Press interviews. This is known to Colonel Bramfield and to everybody in the Army. This is the policy that has been followed in this instance. I will be only too glad to consider the request made by the honorable member for Kingston in the last part of his question, that members of the Parliament should have an opportunity to talk to Colonel Bramfield when he has recovered.
– I address a question to the Prime Minister. It relates to Rhodesia. Is there no hope of getting the parties concerned back to the conference table? Can the right honorable gentleman say whether any country is seeking to give an impetus to the proposal advanced by Sir Alec Douglas Home that de jure independence may be secured by an international treaty safeguarding African rights? Will the right honorable gentleman give an assurance that the Australian Government will hold itself ready to offer all reasonable help towards assisting to solve this desperately unhappy problem?
– The attitude of the Australian Government is that it is in the highest degree desirable that there should be a conclusion to this matter by sensible negotiation and the re-establishment of a constitutional form of government. That is also clearly the objective of the Government of the United Kingdom. The fact is that sanctions have been imposed with the idea of hastening the time when such discussions can occur.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Health. Are Betnelan tablets free when prescribed for severe eczema and inflammation skin disorders? Is phenylbutazone free when prescribed for rheumatism as an anti-inflammation drug? Are the tablets respectively priced at 74. 6d. and 29s. 4d. per 100? Do each of the drugs cause side effects when continually used, and is it true that phenylbutazone can cause depression and bone marrow anaesia, with dangerous consequences to patients? By what reasoning is the dearer prescription free when used in inflammatory skin conditions, and not free when used by sufferers from arthritis? Is the real reason for not allowing Betnelan tablets to be prescribed free to arthritis sufferers, especially to pensioners, the high cost factor? If it is not, will the Minister examine personally the features associated with both the formulas which impel him to accept one drug and to reject the other for arthritis sufferers?
– Because of the problems associated with the side effects of drugs, and because of other complications, we have a very clearly defined system for the control of items which are included in or deleted from the list of pharmaceutical benefits. We have a Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee consisting of experts to advise the Minister on items that should be included, and equally on items that should be deleted, and in addition those that should be used for restricted purposes. The Department has also the advice of the Drug Evaluation Committee which makes an assessment of information available overseas and within Australia in relation to possible dangers of side effects from drugs.
Price does not come into consideration because the Committees are not asked to consider economic features; they are asked to consider only the question of the safety of the drugs concerned and whether or not they are suitable for the treatment of certain disabilities. However, I will look at the particular items that have been mentioned by the honorable member and will let him have a further reply.
– Does the Minister for the Army know that flying foxes are attacking orchards at Gross Vale and The Hills district of my electorate by night and that they slumber by day in nearby gorges? Will the Minister investigate the possibility of detachments of the Army being used in an endeavour to eradicate these pests?
– I did not know about this emergency - about this attack - but obviously it is causing some concern. I will be only too glad to investigate the matter in accordance with the Army’s normal policy of helping in a time of national disaster or emergency. I shall investigate the matter immediately to see whether there is anything useful the Army can do to help.
– My question is directed to the Treasurer. I draw attention to the heavy increase in road fatalities and the need for the Australian Government to take urgent action to reduce them. Has the Treasurer seen a resolution adopted by the Australian Automobile Association urging the Commonwealth Government to give financial encouragement for the design of safe vehicles by reducing sales tax on vehicles which conform to Australian Motor Vehicle Standards Commitee regulations concerning dangerous fittings? These provide for external equipment to be so constructed as to minimise bodily injury and for the interior to be so constructed as to minimise the probability of injury to the occupants. Will the Treasurer explain his attitude to these worthwhile recommendations?
– Any practical proposals that would have the effect of reducing the dreadful and mounting road fatality toll should be carefully studied by the appropriate and responsible people in the particular departments in which these matters fall. I shall study the honorable member’s question and see whether I can either usefully have it examined within the reaches of my own Department or considered by the Minister more directly concerned.
– For the information of honorable members I present the following papers -
Conference on Trade and Development, Geneva, 23rd March to 16th June 1964 - Final Act and Report.
Statement by the Right Honorable J. McEwen, M.P., Minister for Trade and Industry, at the Conference, 26th March 1964.
Statement by Mr. A. P. Fleming, O.B.E., Head of the Australian Delegation, to the Conference, 10th June 1964.
General Assembly- Resolution 1995 (XIX) establishing the Conference on Trade and Development.
– As Chairman, I present the following reports of the Joint Committee of Public Accounts -
Seventy-sixth Report - Treasury minute on the Sixty-fourth Report, together with summaries of that Report;
Seventy-seventh Report - Treasury Regulation 53.
Mr. Speaker, I seek leave to make a statement.
– There being no objection, leave is granted.
– The Seventy-sixth Report of the Joint Committee of Public Accounts relates to a Treasury minute arising from your Committee’s Sixty-sixth Report which dealt with expenditure from the Consolidated Revenue Fund for the year 1962-63. Over the years, your Committee has made a practice of submitting Treasury minutes to the Parliament, either as part of subject reports going forward in the normal process or, particularly in more recent years, in reports relating specifically to groups of Treasury minutes. However, the Treasury Minute relating to the Sixtyfourth Report contains an expression by the Department of the Treasury of important principles affecting the financial responsibilities of the Executive and the Parliament and for this reason we believe that its significance extends beyond the scope of your Committee’s Sixty-fourth Report and should be reported upon separately.
Your Committee desires to invite particular attention to the re-enunciation of fundamental principles relating to the formulation of estimates of expenditure as set out under the general heading in the Treasury minute. This statement is consistent with your Committee’s observations relating to estimating procedures in its Seventy-fourth and Seventy-fifth Reports which were presented to the Parliament yesterday, as well as in previous reports which, over the years, have related to inquiries into departmental expenditure.
Your Committee notes the view expressed by the Department of the Treasury that any trend towards conservatism in the original Estimates and towards the encouragement of the use of additional Estimates couud lead to undesirable results. Your Committee accepts without qualification, however, that its responsibility to the Parliament is to strive constantly to refine the estimates which are presented to the Parliament and to achieve the maximum possible degree of realism in respect of the provision of funds. If, in the performance of this task, departments are influenced to exercise more discretion in compiling their initial estimates, your Committee believes that any resultant effects upon financial policy represent the wishes of the Parliament. It believes that, in such circumstances, the Executive would respect those wishes and would make appropriate adjustments to its procedure relating to calculations of expenditure and revenue to provide for any appreciable trend towards a higher demand for funds through the additional Estimates.
The Seventy-seventh Report relates to Treasury regulation 53. This regulation is one of several provisions contained in Part III of the Treasury regulations under the Audit Act, concerned with the ordering of supplies. The regulation enunciates the basic principle of public disclosure of all Com monwealth contracts arranged. Your Committee became aware of differences of interpretation and practice between Commonwealth departments regarding the amount of detail relating to contracts let which they were prepared to disclose to inquirers. Accordingly, after preliminary discussion with representatives of the Department of the Treasury and the Audit Office, your Committee conducted a series of public hearings in May and October 1965 in which the representatives of 16 departments were examined.
The evidence submitted to your Committee showed that, during 1961, the Attorney-General’s Department had informed the Treasury that there was an inconsistency between regulation 53 and Treasury instruction 13/28A. In addition, it was learned that there were several unsatisfactory features of the regulation which lead your Committee to the view that proper care had not been exercised in framing it.
Your Committee considers that Treasury regulation 53 and its attendant instructions should be reframed without delay, that in such a process the regulation should specify clearly the details of contracts arranged that are to be included in the Commonwealth “ Gazette “ and that a uniform method of presentation of such details should be adopted in the relevant ‘ Gazette “ notices. Your Committee considers also that the reframed regulation should provide that the disclosure of unit prices should be confined to disclosure subsequent to gazettal, that provision for subsequent disclosure of details other than unit prices should be provided and that this should be framed in such a way as to permit departments to inform an unsuccessful tenderer of the reasons for the non-acceptance of its tender, in terms of its own insufficiency but not in terms of the merits of the successful tender.
Your Committee further considers that, when reframed regulation 53 should include a provision to exempt departments from the requirement to gazette or disclose details subsequently when it is in the public interest that such details should not be revealed, and that the Department of the Treasury should consult the Department of Works regarding the form in which that Department should be exempted from the necessity to disclose, subsequent to gazettal, details of rates in schedule of rates contracts for works and services. Finally, and more generally, your Committee is of the opinion that the Department of the Treasury, when proposing any amendments to either its regulations or instructions, should first ascertain from the Attorney-General’s Department that such amendments will not result in inconsistency between the regulations and the instructions. I commend the reports to honorable members and move that they be printed.
Ordered that the reports be printed.
Motion (by Mr. Freeth) agreed to -
That the House, at its rising, adjourn until tomorrow at 9.30 p.m.
Mr. FREETH (Forrest- Minister for Shipping and Transport [11.23].- I move -
That, in accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1913-1965, the following proposed work be referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works for investigation and report: - Construction of building extensions and provision of central airconditioning plant at Gore Hill Television Studios.
The proposal consists of two separate but related works as follows: First, a building extension consisting of a ground floor and four upper floors to provide continuity studios and control rooms and office accommodation. The building will be of reinforced concrete construction finished with brickwork to match the existing building. Secondly, a new plant room to house conditioning plant associated with the proposed extension described above and to supplement the plant serving the existing studios. The order of cost estimate for these works is £355,000. I table plans of the proposed work.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I move -
That, in accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1913-1965, it is expedient to carry out the following proposed work which was referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works and on which the Committee has duly reported to this House: -
The proposed Commonwealth offices at Perth are to be erected on a site facing St. Georges Terrace. The site was purchased from the Western Australian Government in August, 1964. The site area will permit further development in future years. The proposed building of sub-basement, basement and 17 upper floors will be constructed in reinforced concrete and will be faced in natural stone and reconstructed stone. The building, which will be fully airconditioned, will provide accommodation for the three Treasury Branches - the Taxation Branch, Sub-Treasury and the Bureau of Census and Statistics. The estimated cost of the building is £2,980,000.
In reporting favourably on the proposal the Committee has recommended that action be taken to have the north-east and southeast corners of the site re-aligned. This recommendation will be referred to my colleague, the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Anthony), for discussion with the Perth City Council.
The Committee has also recommended that the design of the surface car parking at the rear of the site be modified to provide more car spaces initially. This recommendation will be implemented during the detailed planning of the project.
Upon the concurrence of this House in this resolution detailed planning can proceed in accordance with the recommendations of the Committee.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
(No. 2) 1965.
Debate resumed from 8th December (vide page 3802), on motion by Mr. Bury-
That the Bill be now read a second time.
.- I propose to discuss the effect of this legislation on central Queensland and particularly Mount Morgan. I point out that the continuation of the bounty is essential not only for the immediate benefit of the particular community but also for the expansion of industry in the area. At the present time a fertiliser factory is in process of being established at Gladstone. This factory will be dependent on pyrites from Mount Morgan and the bounty is essential to the continued supply of this material.
The fertilizer complex, projected to come into production in Gladstone late in 1967, has been based on the production of 160,000 tons a year of sulphuric acid by Mount Morgan Limited from Mount Morgan pyrites. This quantity of acid will require approximately 140,000 tons a year of pyrites from Mount Morgan. Because of the higher capital cost of an acid plant to use pyrites it is essential that the bounties on pyrites and sulphuric acid be available to the company to justify the use of pyrites in place of brimstone. If there are no bounties on pyrites and sulphuric acid it seems likely that brimstone will have to be used and that the major part of the sulphuric acid plant and the fertilizer complex may not be located in Queensland.
The estimated capital cost of a sulphuric acid plant using pyrites to produce 500 tons a day of acid is £2,200,000. This compares unfavourably with the estimated capital cost of £900,000 for an acid plant of the same size designed to use imported brimstone. Acid produced in a pyrites burning plant can compete with acid from a brimstone burning plant only if bounties equal to the existing bounties on pyrites and sulphuric acid are available to the producer of pyrites and the acid manufacturer.
The Mount Morgan ore-body consists of minerals which contain gold, copper, silver and sulphur. The sale, for small return, of the pyrites is necessary and desirable to enable the full exploitation of the ore-body. The proven reserves of gold and copper ore are limited and without the sale of the pyrites content of the ore operations on the Mount Morgan ore-body could start to decline within the next 20 years. On the other hand a steady outlet for the 9,000,000 tons of pyrites available at Mount Morgan would increase employment at the mine and ensure the continuing operations at Mount Morgan for at least 50 years.
The two customers that the company had for pyrites have recently advised that they no longer require pyrites. Their reason for this is presumed to be uncertainty about the future of the pyrites and pyritic acid bounties and the disadvantages of using pyrites to produce acid if there are no bounties. In the past the company has received an extremely low return on the funds used in the manufacture of pyrites. The position for the last financial year, ended 27 June 1965, as shown in statements submitted to the Tariff Board, was as follows -
It can be seen from these figures that the profit before tax of 3.54 per cent on funds is well below the limit under the Act of 12£ per cent, and that the bounty has not been a means of making large profits but in fact has been necessary to enable pyrites to be sold and used for the manufacture of sulphuric acid.
In addition to the labour directly required to produce pyrites at Mount Morgan for the fertilizer plant at Gladstone, revenue would be obtained by the Railway Department from the freight on 140,000 tons a year of pyrites transported from Mount Morgan to Gladstone. This would be of great benefit to the Railway Department in central Queensland in that it would enable more effective use of the line between Mount Morgan and Rockhampton after Moura coal is lost to this section. It would also help to prevent the loss of railway employees from Mount Morgan and go a long way towards ensuring that Mount Morgan will retain its railway depot
The use of Mount Morgan pyrites would result in a saving of £1,160,000 a year in foreign exchange and result in the development of a strategically important sulphuric acid centre at Gladstone based on an indigenous raw material. The saving of £1,160,000 of foreign exchange is based on the current imported price of brimstone. The price of brimstone has increased rapidly during the last year and it is likely, according to informed sources overseas that it will go substantially higher. This will mean a corresponding increase in saving of expenditure on imports of brimstone. In addition informed forecasters predict that there will be another world shortage of sulphur by 1970. This means that by that time the Australian Government may very well be forced to reconsider its attitude towards encouraging the use of indigenous sources of sulphur as it had to do in the early 1950’s. This appears to be the most likely outcome of the present rapidly changing sulphur supply position and Australia will find itself in the position of having to pay high prices for imported sulphur of limited availability. For this reason alone it would appear that Australia should not become even more dependent on overseas brimstone as a result of failure to continue the bounty on pyrites.
Further increases in the price of brimstone which seem inevitable will in turn result in increases in the cost of fertilisers based on sulphuric acid and in turn increases in the cost of primary products. On past experience the Government will be called upon to provide further bounties on fertilisers produced from imported brimstone. The major part of these bounty payments will be used indirectly to pay for high priced brimstone and will be lost to the country. On the other hand a continuation of the bounty on pyrites will result in the money being used to increase employment in Australia and it will be more likely to stay in Australia. Also whereas the bounty paid on fertilisers will most likely increase with increasing cost of brimstone, the bounty payments on pyrites will decrease with increasing brimstone prices and eventually fall away to nothing. The continuation of the bounty on pyrites will have a stabilising effect on the cost of fertilisers to primary producers whereas its removal will probably result in higher bounty payments on fertilisers being called for before 1970.
Because of the availability of such large quantities of sulphur in pyrites at Mount Morgan it will be possible for Queensland, at least, to continue to enjoy low cost fertilisers and low cost primary products provided that the bounties on pyrites and acid are continued. There is no possibility that the cost of production of pyrites will increase at anything like the rate at which the cost of brimstone has been increasing in the past year. The availability of cheaper fertiliser should encourage primary production in central Queensland and allow smaller holdings to be worked economi cally in this area. This in turn will contribute to closer settlement of the area. Again this will provide increased traffic of primary products through the ports of Rockhampton and Gladstone and an inevitable increase in export income.
To summarise the position, the economic feasibility of the fertiliser project based on the use of pyritic acid is fundamentally dependent on our ability to offer pyritic acid at a price which is competitive with that of acid produced from brimstone. In order to do this we need the assistance of a bounty on pyrites and pyritic acid. The fact that the continuation of the bounty on pyrites will increase the life of Mount Morgan from 20 to 50 years is very important at a time when we are trying to develop the northern portion of this continent. Here we have one measure that can guarantee the existence of both the town and the mine at Mount Morgan. It will guarantee to every person at present employed at the mine work for the rest of his working life if he wishes to remain at Mount Morgan. It is expected that the pyrites deposit there may expire in 50 years. However, it is also expected that if the bounty is not continued the mine, the township and the entire community will disintegrate in 20 years.
We should not overlook the possibility that the production of sulphur and sulphuric acid from pyrites mined in Australia will relieve the Government of a drain of more than £1 million a year in foreign exchange. So, Mr. Speaker, we urge that this Parliament continue the bounty on pyrites to preserve not only an important industry in central Queensland but also industries conducted in similar circumstances in other parts of Australia. This bounty has a major aim of preserving an indigenous industry and there should be no question of its not being continued. I urge members of all parties in this Parliament to join in supporting the two Bills that we are now discussing.
– in reply - Mr. Speaker, I have no intention of prolonging the debate, I believe that all speakers supported the Bills that we are discussing and that all the questions that have been raised are answered somewhere in the Tariff Board’s report on the Sulphuric Acid Bounty Act and the Pyrites Bounty Act. Anybody whose mind goes back to 1950 and the shortage of sulphuric acid that was then apparent will appreciate the policy then adopted by the Government of providing bounties. We are satisfied that when the bounties were introduced the Government at the same time accepted an obligation to those companies that went into the production of pyrites and of sulphuric acid from Australian pyrites. This forms the origin of the terms of reference to the Tariff Board on which its report was based.
I notice that the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns) seemed to object because the Government had, so he said, instructed the Board. What the Government did quite clearly was to let it be known what its policy was and to ask the Board to make a recommendation on a matter well within the Government’s policy making capacity. Therefore, this matter does not stand in the same light as does the Board’s consideration of a straight out tariff question. The recommendations contained in the report answer the questions raised by the honorable member concerning the products that are to be the subject of bounty. All these matters are stated and the Government has accepted the Board’s recommendations. I am sorry that the honorable member found it necessary to be somewhat unfair to the Board in his reference to the paragraph at the bottom of column 1 of page 10 of the report, in which the Board stated -
No other or additional forms of discharging the Government’s obligations have been considered by the Board in what has been essentially a cursory examination . . .
The honorable member, apparently misreading the report, seemed to charge the Board with having given only cursory examination to the whole subject matter of the report. That paragraph should be read carefully in conjunction with the terms of reference to the Board, which state the desire of the Government that the report be given in terms having regard to its wish to ensure that the change of policy referred to should not operate to avoid the obligations which the Government considers it has to the producers. So the words, “ cursory examination “ clearly indicate that the Board, not having in its terms of reference an instruction to look at this matter of compensation or other aspects of the running down of the industry, has given only cursory examination to that question. I thought that I ought to make the record clear. The Tariff Board has given us, I think, a splendid working document.
Several Opposition members raised other matters. The honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Gray) pointed out that there may be a risk of a shortage of brimstone in the immediate future. This situation could be provided for. Once again, the Government has accepted the Tariff Board’s recommendation that the present bounty on pyrites be continued until 30th June 1969 and that the position be reviewed one year before that date. Clearly whatever report the Board favours the Government with as a result of that review will have regard to the then existing circumstances of the supply of brimstone and the other matters mentioned and attention will then be given by the Board to the question of whether it should at that stage recommend continuation of the bounty. Accordingly, Mr. Speaker, I commend the Bills to the House.
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. Fairhall) read a third time.
Consideration resumed from 25th November (vide page 3193), on motion by Mr. Bury -
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. Fairhall) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 25 th November (vide page 3195), on motion by Mr. Howson -
That the BUI be now read a second time.
.- The purpose of the Bill is to amend the Royal Australian Air Force Veterans’ Residences Act 1953. The original Act was enacted in accordance with an old fashioned custom, which was observed after World War I, and World War II in the United Kingdom and in Australia, that moneys which accumulated as a result of the capture of enemy vessels should go to the personnel who took part in captures. After World War II it was decided that the administration of this scheme would become rather difficult. An accumulation of funds had resulted from the capture of enemy naval craft during that war and it was decided that rather than distribute the money to individual personnel it would be infinitely better to create a trust fund for the benefit of the personnel concerned. This action was taken in Australia by the creation of the Royal Australian Air Force Veteran’s Residences Trust. Nevertheless, I understand that some distribution was made to naval personnel.
The distribution among such a wide number of people resulted in each individual receiving an infinitesimal amount, so it was decided in relation to the Royal Australian Air Force share of prize money to set up the Trust to distribute the moneys among former members of the Air Force who were in distress. However, as the number of such cases was exceedingly small it was decided to amend the Act and empower the trustees to distribute the moneys to eligible personnel for the purchase of homes. The moneys are to be distributed among those who need assistance which otherwise they would be unable to obtain. This is a desirable move. Homes purchased from funds accumulated will be provided for eligible persons who are defined in the Bill to include -
Australian Air Force;
the mother of a deceased former unmarried male member of the Royal Australian Air Force, if the mother-
The term “ eligible person “ will also include a former female member of the Royal Australian Air Force in certain circumstances. I think that is desirable. The Opposition applauds the change. Perhaps one of the most desirable features of this measure is that the Trust is required, as soon as practicable after each thirtieth day of June after the commencement of the Act, to furnish to the Minister a report on the administration of the Fund during the year ended on that date. There is a further requirement that the Minister shall lay the report before each House of the Parliament within 15 sitting days of that House after its receipt by the Minister. That provision is particularly desirable because trusts of all types have been established in circumstances similar to these. Often well meaning trustees are appointed, but they are not required to place reports before the public.
Very often the general public and potentially eligible personnel are not aware that they may apply for benefits under various Acts. I fear that it frequently happened that people who could have been assisted died and missed receiving something to which they were entitled. With the presentation of a report to the Parliament, members of the Parliament will become aware more readily of the availability of assistance funds. When called upon by their constituents, or when instances of distress are brought before them, they will have more knowledge than they have at the moment of what can be done to assist the needy case. I hope that the Parliament will see fit in the future to amend acts relating to other funds in a like manner. The Opposition readily supports the measure. We hope that it will provide considerable assistance to persons who will become eligible for a benefit which was not previously made available.
.- I support the Bill. It so happens that tha honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) and I spoke on this legislation in 1953 when it was first introduced. After a very long period it is now to be amended. As the honorable member said, the Act has been in existence since 1953. At that time the amount in the Royal Australian Air Force Veterans’ Residences Trust Fund was £229,000, which had been transferred from the prize money Trust Fund. This amount was the share of prize money which was to be disbursed to ex-Royal Australian Air Force personnel or personnel of the 1939-45 war who were still serving. As the honorable member for Lalor has said, the money was derived from enemy or alien ships which had been captured as result of action by the Navy or, as specified in this case, by the Air Force. It is interesting to note that about this time Great Britain said that the system of prize money which had existed would no longer apply. I, among very many others who would have been eligible for the very small amount which would have been involved and which would have been disbursed from this prize money, am very glad that the Fund was established. But I, in common with those who would have been eligible, know also that the Fund has been left dormant whereas it should not have been left more or less unused for as long as it has been.
The amount to be distributed to each individual would have been approximately £1 10s. For that reason it was decided that the money should go into the Fund to provide for ex-R.A.A.F. personnel in necessitous circumstances. In common with everybody else - I am sure that this is so - I believe that the feeling of those eligible for the small amount was that the money would be used for a very desirable purpose. In the period from 1953 until now the amount in the Fund has risen from £229,000 to £376,693. 1 feel that the long delay in using this Fund means that opportunities to fulfil the functions of the Trust have been lost. I am bound to say that I think the activity of the Fund has been reprehensible. There was an obligation on the Fund to see that the prize money, which was foregone without any complaint by ex-R.A.A.F. members, was used. I know that many surveys have been made to ascertain whether or not the Trust has been able to function within the terms laid down by the Act.
Having discussed the matter with the Air Force Association and other interested bodies, I speak with some solid knowledge of the matter and I am bound to say that those bodies feel that the Fund has been bogged down for far too long. I am bound to say also that each and every one of us who has an interest in the matter can take some share of the blame for that. But I am pleased that at long last, we can look forward to some activity and I sincerely hope that even though new classifications are being included, there will not be the same kind of tardiness as there has been in applying this Fund to the purpose for which it was established.
The new classifications include widows of deceased members, mothers of deceased unmarried members, and former female members who are eligible for war service homes. There is a new requirement with which I thoroughly agree. It is a most desirable one indeed, and I agree with what the honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) had to say about it. It is that the Trust shall be required to report to Parliament annually. That is a very healthy provision. Not only will it help the Trust in its operations, but also it will enable members of Parliament who are interested in the Fund to know precisely what is going on from year to year. But, even with these new eligibilities, I am still not satisfied that the Fund will be able to operate as it ought to. As I have said, it has already been dormant for far too long despite efforts which I know have been made to make it operate. Here again I say that the efforts made were far too tardy.
I am going to suggest one or two other extensions for consideration and what I am about to suggest accords with the view held by the Air Force Association which, after all, is a very responsible body. They are also similar to the proposals that have been submitted by the Association to the various Ministers for Air over the period in which efforts have been made to get this Fund actually into operation. The first suggestion I make is that if the money is not to become available for the function for which it was originally intended, then the Fund might devote its attention to providing scholarships or bursaries for children of ex-R.A.A.F. parents selected by the Trust after recommendation by appropriate bodies such as the
Air Force Association. If it is found, as was ostensibly found originally, that these moneys cannot be applied to the original purpose for which they were intended because of lack of apparent eligible persons, then surely the thing to do is to turn attention to where eligibility can be established. The suggestions I am now making are offered with this end in view.
The second suggestion I make is that in specific cases - they would have to be indeed specified cases - the Fund might think of providing some flying scholarships. Another rather important facet which the Fund might look at is the making of grants in certain specific cases to places of accommodation provided by ex-servicemen’s organisations for ex-R.A.A.F. personnel who are in indigent circumstances. Here, I think, is a practical suggestion as to how the Trust might be able to use some of the money. There are certain homes, hostels and other ex-servicemen’s institutions of which exR.A.A.F. personnel who themselves might have been directly eligible for a share of the prize money may be inhabitants. It may be well worth while the Fund looking at the question of making the conditions or day to day life of these people more comfortable by making small grants to the organisations to which I have referred. Again, the Fund might consider giving loans to the Air Force Association for building homes for exR.A.A.F. personnel in special circumstances.
Those are some further categories which I suggest the Fund might investigate if, despite the widening of eligibility provided by this legislation, the trustees still find that they are unable to fulfil their functions. After all, looking at the period from 1953- 65, we find that very little if anything has been achieved by the Fund. This legislation proposes very desirable extensions of eligibility but I earnestly hope that if the Fund finds within a measurably short time that the liberalisations to be granted under this Bill are insufficient, it will look further afield to ensure that this money which was provided for a specific purpose is used for that purpose.
.- I rise to commend this Bill to honorable members. Although it would appear that the trustees have not been active in carrying out their duty to provide homes for ex-service per sonnel in necessitous circumstances, I think some good has resulted because the original £229,000 has now increased to £376,693. During the 20 years that have elapsed since the establishment of the Fund, the number of people in necessitous circumstances has evidently not been great, but I think the time is arriving when the trustees will find that many men and women who served in the Royal Australian Air Force between 1939 and 1945 will be requiring these homes and residences. 1 hope that the trustees will be more active in letting it be known that these residences are available for former R.A.A.F. personnel who are in necessitous circumstances.
The honorable member for Lalor (Mr. Pollard) might have created the impression that these moneys will be available for the erection of homes. My understanding of the legislation is that the money will be available for the provision of residences for the accommodation of former personnel and not to enable them to erect their own homes.
The honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Falkinder) made suggestions for the alternative use of this money if the residences are not required. Knowing the number of people in the 60 years and over age group who are desirous of being accommodated in the homes envisaged here, I feel that if publicity is given to the fact that the homes are available, the Trust will find that there are sufficient people requiring accommodation. I commend the Bill to honorable members. It is very gratifying to see that legislation of this type has the approval of both sides of the House.
– in reply - I take this opportunity to thank the House for its cooperation in agreeing to this Bill so readily, and to answer some of the interesting comments made by the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Falkinder). First let me say that I admire the officers and men of the Royal Australian Air Force who originally did forego their share of this prize money. As a former member of the Fleet Air Arm, I got mbe. I agree that there has been a delay. I share his feelings about the fact that it has taken some time to get these things .going on the lines originally agreed to in 1953. However, in the meantime some of these funds have been put to good uses. The provision of bridging finance to those members wanting war service homes has been useful and has met a very real need for a number of people.
I have been frequently in touch with the Federal President and Secretary of the Air Force Association. I have tried to keep up to date with their ideas. Most of the proposals put forward by the honorable member for Franklin today are new and I shall certainly look at them if it appears that we will not be able to make full use of all the funds available. The proposition related to people in homes provided by organisations like the R.S.L. has already been examined. It has been suggested that we might erect homes for people covered by this Act alongside other R.S.L. homes so that the homes could be run conjointly. This would have problems but they would not be insuperable and the Trustees are examining the suggestion. The provision of scholarships would be getting away from the original purposes of the Act, and might require a considerable amendment of the legislation. The other suggestions he made are probably easy of solution and should be looked at before we examine his wider proposals. It is most useful to have these propositions put forward here. If, as time passes, we need further avenues for the employment of funds we can examine them. Now that we will be receiving annual reports I hope that the House will be able to prod me or the Trustees into action should there be delays in the future as there have been in the past. I feel certain, as a result of contacts I have had with the Trustees, that there will not be further delays to the fruitful operation of this Act.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Clauses 1 to 5 - by leave - taken together, and agreed to.
Proposed new clause 5a.
.- I move-
That the following new clause be inserted in the Bill- “ 5a. Section 10 of the principal Act is amended by omitting from sub-section (3.) the word Treasurer ‘ and inserting in its stead the word Minister’.”.
At present the Act requires that the AuditorGeneral shall prepare a report for the Treasurer each year. As the Trustees are now to prepare a report for the Minister it is thought advisable that the AuditorGeneral should also report to the Minister so that we can get the two reports together and examine them simultaneously. That is the sole intention of the amendment.
Proposed new clause agreed to.
Remainder of Bill - by leave - taken as a whole, and agreed to.
Bill reported with an amendment; report - by leave - adopted.
Bill (on motion by Mr. Howson) - by leave - read a third time.
Debate resumed from 2nd December (vide page 3501), on motion by Mr. Barnes -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
.- This measure deals with an agreement by three governments concerning the setting up of a system of government on the Island of Nauru. The Minister for Territories (Mr. Barnes) in his statement said that it was an agreement between the three governments and the Nauruan people. We accept this as true in the sense that discussions took place with the Nauruan people, but the second schedule to the Bill is actually an agreement between the three governments. The Nauruan people, in this context, means actually about half the people resident on the island of Nauru at present - in effect, the original Nauruan race. The Bill sets up a Legislative Council which will consist of the Administrator, nine representatives of the Nauruan community - not representatives of the migrant population which provides the labour force for the phosphate industry, but nine representatives of the Nauruan community in the sense of the original Nauruan race - and five official members. With this the Opposition agrees.
The Bill reserves to the Commonwealth Government the subjects of defence and external affairs and matters related to the phosphate industry. The ordinances of the
Council will be subject to veto in the first instance by the Administrator and then by the Governor-General. This is analagous with the arrangement that was made in Papua and New Guinea, not in respect of the present House of Assembly there but in respect of the former situation. For the moment we regard it as entirely justifiable that the Governor-General should have reserved to him questions of defence, internal security, the maintenance of peace and order, external affairs and matters associated with the phosphate industry. The measure also provides that the GovernorGeneral’s ordinances will prevail if in conflict with those of the Legislative Council. The Governor-General’s ordinances must be tabled in each House of this Parliament and will be subject to disallowance by either House. We have no criticism to offer of this arrangement for the time being.
An interesting new feature is the decision to set up the Executive Council - a form of Cabinet - consisting of the Administrator, two elected Nauruans and two official members. This is an experiment that the Opposition regards as justifiable. The functions to be conferred on the Executive Council will be determined by the Legislative Council and the Executive Council will be able to deal with other matters referred to it by the Administrator. This appears to us to be a good measure too.
At present on Nauru there is a court of appeal consisting of a judge, and a central court which must consist of a judge or three magistrates. Provision is now made for appeal to the High Court of Australia from decisions of the court of appeal. This is to us a surprising provision. We make no adverse comment upon it. In the interests of justice it may be a great improvement, but when the island is pressing for independence and when the leaders of the Nauruan community have said that they want independence by 1968 it seems surprising that a new legal link is being forged between Australia and the island of Nauru in the form of an appeal to the Australian High Court. This is rather like the imperial system of the appeal to the Privy Council. We regard as surprising this new enactment at a stage when independence is being sought. We do not think that human right is lost by it - there may be gains - but it is a surprising provision for the Government to make and we hope that the Government will explain it.
The central court must consist of a judge and not the three magistrates if it is having a matter involving interpretation of this Bill when it becomes an act or if the question at issue is the qualifications of a member of the Legislative Council. The BUI provides that existing laws continue and that Australian law applies if it is so specified in an Australian act or if it is deliberately applied by a proclamation of the GovernorGeneral. With all of these things we agree.
The Governor-General has reserved to him the right of pardon, remission and commutation in the case of death sentences. The Administrator may exercise these powers in respect of other sentences. I suppose that so long as the Administrator exercises power within the Constitution of Nauru, this is justified. I wonder, however, whether responsibility towards other communities will not be one of the biggest difficulties that the Nauruans will face later when independence comes. In dealing with these intensely human problems it may be interesting to see how the Nauruans on the Executive Council exercise the prerogatives of mercy, particularly towards other communities. It might have been an interesting experiment in self-government if they had been given that responsibility. After all, two of the five members of the Executive Council will be Nauruans.
I now wish to say something which I do not intend as criticism of the Nauruan community. However, it should clearly understand this matter. The Nauruans go before the United Nations, in a sense, representing themselves to be and feeling themselves to be one of the new emerging communities or nations. They need to face the fact that there is a query to their relationship with subordinate races who are on the island. This query touches on the matter of independence. It is fine for their spokesmen to come here as spokesmen for what are, in a sense, colonial peoples. While I do not question their right to determine who are citizens of their island, they need to see that some attitudes which appear to be developing are rather analogous to those of, say, planters of the southern American States who, before the Civil War, were determined that their labourers would never be citizens. I do not press that analogy too far. I do not think the Nauruan people should be swamped by migrant communities, but it is surprising that absolutely nobody from outside has been granted citizenship over the years when the islanders could have granted citizenship, if I may use that expression. This leaves some doubt in one’s heart about their attitude towards people whose work is essential in order that the Nauruan people may draw their royalties. It is very good that the Nauruan people are acknowledged as having possessive rights in the phosphates, but those phosphates would mean nothing if they were not extracted by labour. I would be interested to find out whether there is any Nauruan view, apart from one of exclusion, regarding the people who are employed as labourers, because if independence came to Nauru the Nauruan people might very well nationalise the phosphate industry. Then the interesting question would arise as to how well trained they were in the problems of handling labour and how sensitive they were in granting justice to the migrant community. I think it might be quite a sharp corrective to some of the things said by Nauruans in the -United Nations if certain spokesmen of the labour force on the island were also to be heard in the United Nations. It is very easy for Nauruans to strike the pose of being a subordinate race and then expect no criticism in the other stance of being a paramount race over other labouring races. Their treatment of another race could very well be called into question.
The Legislative Council is to have appropriation ordinances recommended to it by a message of the Administrator. There is to be an audit of Territory accounts. The Administrator’s salary is to be a charge on the revenue of the phosphate industry. All of this we are interested to support. At the same time the measure seems to be brought forward as an interim one. The Nauruan community is pressing for independence by 1968 and in a sense the provision of a Legislative Council of this character must be out of harmony with the ultimate aspirations of the people. I do not say that as a criticism of the Government’s going this far. I understand that the Nauruan people support this measure thus far but consider it to be the opening of a door for something very much more extensive later. The Opposition, however, feels that it will be an essential part of the education of the people of Nauru that they should see the three governments which now have complete authority over the labour force taking into account in the full trusteeship sense the needs and rights of that labour force. I do not say that we should force representatives of the labour force into the Legislative Council, but I think it is an omission in the agreement that we have the Administrator having ultimate political authority, as it were, over the phosphate industry but the agreement does not set up any authority to speak to the Administrator for the migrant community in the compound. If this is going to be the example we leave to Nauru I think we may well be the architects of various problems on the island when independence comes. If they do not see as an example from us a structure guaranteeing the social rights of the migrant community while it is on the island, the social education of Nauruans for independence will be defective.
The Opposition supports the motion for the second reading but wishes to urge a broader conception of trusteeship on this Government, the Government of the United Kingdom and the Government of New Zealand. This kind of agreement, which seems to be drafted as if the migrant community did not exist, should not continue. Accordingly I move as an amendment to the motion for the second reading of the Bill -
That all words after “That” be omitted with a view to inserting the following words in place thereof: - “ this House, while not opposing the passage of the Bill, regrets that the Nauru Agreement between the three Governments set out in the second schedule contains no terms which provide for the political, economic, social and educational advancement of the indentured labourers in the phosphate industry “.
In explaining this amendment, I should like to say that I am not acting on the assumption that no education is available for the few children of the migrant community who live on the island. I know that there are schools for them. But we have been repeatedly asked by the Government to be sensitive to the rights of the Nauruan people and to this country’s duty to provide for the political, social, economic and educational advancement of the Nauruan people. That has been done. At the apex of the educational advancement of the Nauruan people is the provision of some 80 scholarships tenable in Australia for Nauruan scholars. But are there scholarships for the children of the people who have been brought to labour in this industry? They ought to be our concern too.
I am afraid that the practical political fact is this: The Gilbert and Ellice Islands are very poor in resources. The chance to go to Nauru and earn about £5 a week, which is very meagre by comparison with the affluence of the Nauruan community, represents a substantial social advance for them and the money they remit home is a very important part of the economy of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands. We recognise that the phosphate industry will cut out and the most elaborate precautions are being taken to ensure that, when this happens, the Nauruans will not suffer. But what will happen to the Gilbert and Ellice Islanders? Does it not matter that they have laboured for our agricultural industry and for the Nauruans at what are low wages and that their low wages have helped to make possible the whole system of royalties that is enriching the Nauruans? We have no plan for them when the industry peters out. If that is our attitude, and if that is the attitude of the Nauruan community, it means that we are saying: “ If you have a right in an industry by owning something, we will go to the utmost lengths to safeguard you; if you have a right in an industry by providing the labour that makes the product available to the world, we are not concerned to safeguard your future and your rights when the industry cuts out”.
I am most concerned about this as an example to the Nauruan people. If we do not bear in mind the future of the labour force, we will sew a whirlwind in two places - one in Nauru and the second in the Gilbert and Ellice Islands. I am aware, of course, that there are other labourers, such as Chinese from Hong Kong; but Hong Kong is in rather a different situation. We take a mandate and then a trust in which we say that we will effect the political, economic, social and educational advancement of the people of the trust territory. Do we accept the viewpoint that the people of the trust territory do not include the temporary residents who are absolutely essential for the industry? If we do accept that viewpoint, it is a very inadequate one. The United Kingdom Government at any rate ought not to be satisfied with this because the Gilbert and Ellice Islanders, and for that matter the Chinese from Hong Kong, if they were born in Hong Kong, are British subjects. If the United Kingdom Government is willing to enter into agreements that do not safeguard the interests of its subjects who are providing essential labour on the island of Nauru, it ought to.
We move this amendment because in a sense we believe it to be a shot across the bows of the United Kingdom Government and the New Zealand Government and our own Government to remind them of the existence of these people. According to the Minister, the migrant community on Nauru outnumbers the indigenous community by 13, the figures being 2,827 to 2,814. But the 2,827 includes nearly 400 Europeans who are in a rather different position and who cannot be regarded as labourers in the phosphate industry. I think it would be a provision for the political and economic advancement of the people in the labour force on Nauru if they had a definite council, a definite structure. I do not mean a territorially sovereign one, but a council or body to speak for the community to the Administrator and to state the needs of the community. It is no use saying that these people do not have needs or the commission meets them and that no one should be recognised as a representative to speak to the Administrator on their behalf. I do not want the Government to call this body a council if that implies territorial sovereignty or a territorial position. But I do say that their political and economic advance would be facilitated if we recognised very definite spokesmen on their behalf. There is a long tradition of evil about indentured labour in the Pacific islands. While I recognise that the method of labour recruitment for Nauru has been improved in recent times, there have been times in the past when it was highly unsatisfactory. I believe that we would be displaying our sincerity if we established recognised representatives of the labour force. Such recognised representatives will be essential when Nauru has complete sovereignty and has become independent.
The amendment would also effect the social advancement of these people. Let me be perfectly clear about this. I do not like labour contracts or agreements that require a man to leave his family at home. I do not think that this is consistent with humanity and I do not think it conforms with modern ideas about the way a labour force should be treated. I recognise that many of these people are young men who are not married, but I do not think that we can assume automatically that this is the status of all of them.
– They can bring their families with them.
– Is that so? Well, it is astonishing to learn how very few of them have done so. I would like to be sure that they can practically bring their families with them, as well as legally, not merely because they want to do so but because they can afford to do so. Is a family transferred at the expense of the industry or do the labourers do this at their own expense? That is what I mean. It is fine to say that someone has an entitlement to do something, but it may be practically impossible for him to do it. I am speaking about their status, their social rights and the level of wages which would make it possible for them to have their families with them with an adequate standing on the island.
The other point is educational advancement. Scholarships to this country are provided for the people of Nauru. No scholarships are provided for the children of members of the labour force and no entitlement or assistance is provided to enable them to come to Australia and study here. I do not think that we can ignore these people. They are part of the system that enables us to get phosphates for our primary industries. We cannot say: “The only people we are concerned about are the people who own the island, the people of Nauru “, when they do not extract the phosphate that we use and when the labour force that does extract the phosphate is treated by us on a different and lower level. I make no demands on the Nauruan community as to the way it should treat these people at this time but the world will when they are independent. The way the Nauruan community is prepared to treat them may well be a factor in the timing of independence, but my criticism is directed at this moment to the three Governments. Their agreement does not include anything that adequately safeguards the rights and future of the migrant community. We think that this is an omission. I stress again that we believe it to be an unfortunate example to the people of Nauru, who need the example of a concern for this labour force. At the moment, the Nauruan people do not appear to me to be showing a great concern for this labour force at all. The Opposition wishes this Bill a speedy passage. It does not oppose its second reading, but I stress that Opposition members regret that the Second Schedule does not set out terms which provide for the advancement of the labour force on the island of Nauru. I think, therefore, that the agreement in that sense is an inadequate discharge of the trusteeship, even if it is acceptable to the Trusteeship Council. I think also that a clear statement along those lines - the intrusion of a new issue into the discussion between the Government and the Nauruan community - is overdue, because in the long run the Nauruan community is going to be respected if it shows that it is not merely concerned about its own rights and its own future but is concerned also about the rights and the future of people who have served the Nauruan community extremely well whether the Nauruan community recognises that fact or not.
– Is the amendment seconded?
– I second the amendment and reserve my right to speak later.
.- As has been pointed out by the honorable member labourers to the island. Indeed, one of the ments appertaining to Nauru are as a result of the agreements between three Governments - the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Australia - acting as trustees for the United Nations. Generally speaking, these three Governments are charged with the concern for the peace, order, good government and defence of the island. The First Schedule to the Bill sets out the Trusteeship Agreement. Article 5, paragraph 2, subparagraph (b) indicates the duty of these countries to promote the economic, social, educational and cultural advancement of the inhabitants.
Recently I visited Nauru and was able to see at first hand some of the things that were going on there and to talk with .people about others. I gained, I think, quite reliable impressions of the situation with regard to the way in which we have been discharging this particular aspect of the trusteeship. There were some aspects which gave me concern, not in the sense that we were in toto, or even to a large degree, remiss in our discharge of our trusteeship obligations in this sector, but because of the tremendous difficulties which apply. Many of the things I want to say at this stage refer to these particular aspects of life on the island and the difficulties that the island will face increasingly as it moves further into autonomy.
First, I refer to educational responsibility. I personally visited every school on the island and most of the classes in those schools. I spoke with the teachers and others in responsible positions. The first thing that impressed me was, as has been pointed out by the honorable member for Fremantle in a different context, the segregation of the racial groups on the island. There are schools provided for Nauruans and there are other schools provided at the expense of the Phosphate Commission for the children of the indentured labourers. This, of course, casts some light on the fact of the bringing of the children of indentured labourers to the island. Indeed, one of the problems arises apparently from the elaborateness of the two storey building that caters for the children of Chinese and Gilbert and Ellice Islands indentured labourers. It is a first class school in all its equipment and in terms of the quality of teaching. I have nothing but praise to offer for the teachers in every aspect of the educational system in the island. Especially in the kindergarten section was I impressed by the devotion to duty of the teachers, particularly the Australian teachers who are giving leadership. A very young lady, Miss Adamson, was looking after the whole of the kindergarten departments while I was there, being in charge of the Nauruan teachers as well as the other Australians. Seeing the way they were teaching basic English to the children was a most delightful interlude in my stay.
As the ages of the children increase so problems multiply. For instance, truancy is the greatest crime, if I may use that word, in the Nauruan calendar and the reason for it is not to be found just in the children. It is to be found in the homes and in. Nauruan society. If the things that I have to say from now on appear to have elements of criticism in them I hope that anyone reading the report of my speech, particularly the Nauruans, will regard it as constructive and friendly criticism which is aimed towards helping the island along the path it so earnestly desires to travel. There is lack of ambition among the older children. This is most apparent as one speaks to them in class and out of class about their future intentions. It is in stark contrast to most, indeed all, other educational groups to whom I personally have spoken. Discipline becomes increasingly difficult in the schools. I say this not just on the say-so of Australian teachers or from my own observation. I know that the Nauru Local Government Council is gravely concerned about this aspect. Lack of discipline reaches serious proportions particularly among the older children. It has at times even resulted in violence to male teachers and undesirable incidents involving female teachers. There is a lack of parental care and supervision. Young children are at times left to fend for themselves. The children cannot stray very far. They cannot easily come to much harm. There are no wild beasts and not even noxious reptiles or insects that can cause harm. So children are allowed to wander to a great degree on their own initiative.
There is a lack of regard for property and a Jack of effort among the children. Perhaps I can illustrate this by an incident. The headmaster at one high school invited me to watch the effect of the ringing of the school bell after the recess period. When the bell was rung it was largely disregarded. The vice-principal himself went out among the children, blowing a whistle, but little regard was paid to him. It requires almost physical force to get the children back into the class room after recess. This is very different from what I have seen in educational institutions elsewhere. Then there is the attitude of students who go to Australian schools and colleges. Let me give one illustration. A group of Nauruan students in an Australian college asked for a larger laundry allowance. This was queried and they were told that they should wash their own drip dry shirts as the Australian students did. They replied that they would not do that as it was women’s work. When it was said to them that that was what the Australian male students did they replied: “ But we are not Australian students, we are Nauruans. We come from the richest island in the Pacific.” This attitude is one of the greatest dangers that is attendant upon the current circumstances of the Nauruan people. Again, there is, unhappily, no apparent development of special abilities among the children. I spoke, for instance, to the teachers of arts and crafts and found that while this was perhaps an area where the Nauruans responded most, they responded in no way greater than, if as great as, children in other school communities in which the teachers had taught. We have here an island people with grave problems besetting their educational system. This is not entirely the fault of the people themselves. The major reason is, as I have said, among other things, the factor of tremendous isolation.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
– by leave - I wish to make an explanation. In answering a question this morning I inadvertently gave an incorrect figure and I wish to correct that statement. I said, in reply to a question, that in a certain contingency the average dairy farmer in Queensland could lose 21s. a year. The correct figure is 30s. 8d. a year.
– Prior to the suspension of the sitting, I was talking about certain matters relating to Nauru, particularly with regard to the educational field. I hope to develop a little more the subject of the difficulties under which the Nauruan people are developing their own autonomous state. The major one of these is isolation. There are three other factors which I believe add to the difficulties and I would put them in this order: The inadequacy of many of the native customs and laws which still persist; the effect of their wealth, which is not inconsiderable, upon the individuals as a result of phosphate royalties; and the difficulties arising out of administration.
First of all, I want to refer to isolation. This is an indescribable factor, for this tiny island is set virtually on the Equator and is a tremendous distance from normal crossroads of intercourse and world events and circumstances. The weather, in an isolated situation like this, is something to be considered at all times. Very often it has the effect of completely blanketing the island from any kind of communication apart from radio telegraphy. The telephone service is available, virtually, for only half an hour or three quarters of an hour a day from Monday to Friday. The weather is capable of holding up shipping so that ships drift off the island for six or eight weeks at a time. This, of course, also presents economic difficulties to the shipping companies. As a result of this, of course, there are difficulties with ordinary correspondence. A letter takes generally from three to four weeks, and quite often up to six weeks, from the time it is written in Australia to delivery in Nauru and vice versa. This means that even personal correspondence to people on the island is affected so adversely that it is very difficult to remember what was contained in the earlier correspondence.
There are no newspapers on the island, and this I deplore. In times past there was a news sheet called the “Nauruan News “. It was stuffy enough, for sure, but it did convey news of the outside world. But since it ceased publication in October - and I cannot ascertain why it did stop - there has been no newspaper of any kind on the island. As a result of this isolation the Nauruan has an unreal and inflated view of his own position. This is one of the normal results of isolation. It has applied in many ways to our own Australian characteristics where isolation occurs. Lack of comparison inevitably leads to distorted views of oneself. So the Nauruan is inclined to see his own stature, his own importance, his own social significance and his own educational attainments in an unreal light.
Isolation also means that there is virtually no place on the island for a visitor to stay unless he stays, with prior arrangement, in a private home. In my case, I stayed with the Administrator and I was most grateful for his kindness and hospitality. There is no guest house or hotel. In my view there is a pressing need for communication to be developed, particularly in the form of a regular aeroplane service. This may be only fortnightly, or something of that nature, but it would be a tremendous advantage to be able to go to and from the island without having to depend on the vagaries of the weather or on other considerations of that kind. Similarly, when single people go from Australia to the island to serve there, for example, as teachers the Administration has frowned on their having visitors. This is presumably because of the great difficulties of coming and going and other things related to crowded life on the island. I believe that every effort should be made to provide facilities so that parents of young Australians, for instance, who are serving on the island, and others in that category, can go to the island and break the long isolation.
We all know that in an isolated community inevitably there is pettiness, gossip and interference in private affairs. This is characteristic of any small country community in Australia, let alone an island set in the middle of the Pacific. Living there is like living in a goldfish bowl. I have stressed some of these difficulties arising out of the inevitable effect of isolation. They must have an effect on the thinking of the people or, at times, the lack of thinking on the part of the people, with regard to their future habitation of that particular island or moving as a community to any other place.
I want to refer now to the inadequacy of native customs and laws. There is one most astonishing custom in Nauru. It is found in some other communities. The custom is called “ boobagee “. This means that to admire something very greatly which belongs to somebody else puts that other person under an obligation to hand it over. For instance, I had a conversation with one Nauruan gentleman, a very kind and thoughtful person, who told me quite a lot about his own family. I found that he had three children of his own and also three or four others that bad been virtually “ boobageed “. In other words, they wanted more children than they had so they set out to admire the children of other people and asked for them in that fashion. These requests were granted. This custom has had an astonishing social and economic effect on some families who are loath to give any evidence of possessions in case they are acquired by assiduous relatives or friends. Another inadequacy arising out of native customs and laws and out of the circumstances of the island is a decay of enterprise. At one time Nauru was a fishing community but now virtually no fishing is undertaken by these well-to-do people who find it is easier to take fish from the deep freeze or out of tins.
Similar things happen with regard to the land laws which throw insight on some of the practical provisions of the Bill and on the functioning of the future economics of the island. These land laws are based on a matriarchal system. Indeed, there are those who feel that most of the activities and discipline of the island are to be traced eventually to this source, even more overtly than in other communities like our own. The matriarchal system means that land is sub-divided among the children of the women and ownership goes with the woman to her children. Ownership dies with the man and the land is sub-divided according to the number of children. Today, ownership has got down to almost ludicrous levels, to five places of decimals, in terms of portion of an acre, in cases where land ownership has to be established with regard to royalties. It may be that a particular person is the possessor of .01357 of an acre, to cite one figure mentioned to me. This is something which is not unique to the Nauruan people but it means that, to provide up to date laws relating to land ownership, the Administration will face a tremendous train of difficulties. This will also apply to any orderly development of the island. Many times the British Phosphate Commission has been frustrated in its desire to do something in terms of real development because of the lack of consent from the owner of a tiny portion of land. Again, as the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) has pointed out, this sense of ownership reflects itself on immigration or on any kind of influx of population. Even people born in the islands - to the Gilbert or Ellice islanders and so on - have no chance of acquiring land for themselves.
Under this heading that I have been speaking of, I might also put the attitude towards work which has arisen in the people. work being an evil to be avoided. Where this has developed to such a degree as it has in Nauru I believe it leads to decadence, a lack of enterprise and a lack of stimulus and challenge in life which is disastrous to the moral and social welfare of the people.
The other matter that I mentioned as being one of the difficulties facing future legislators on the island is the simple fact of the wealth of the population arising from the royalties being paid. There is an utterly unreal situation. There is a lack of apprehension of what could happen if, for instance, the value of the phosphate deposits happened to drop not simply because of the discovery of other phosphate deposits elsewhere but perhaps because of modern science developing alternative materials. This would leave the population entirely at sea, to use a phrase that might have several meanings.
Let me give the House an illustration of the way in which money is so freely available. While I was on the island there was a good deal of talk about a particular councillor who owned the land on which the Administration settlement was based, and who had recently received a pre-payment of more than £20,000 against the day when the royalties would be available to him.
Exploitation has arisen from this money situation. Many evils are rampant. There is a black market, for instance, in liquor, lt is an offence against the ordinances of the island for a Nauruan to drink intoxicating liquor. This is officially backed up by the councillors, but the number of breaches of this ordinance that occur show that this is the second most widespread crime in Nauru. While Europeans pay 23s. a dozen for bottled beer, the black market price is between £8 and £10 a dozen. Many of the islanders produce their own intoxicating liquor. There is a local drink called beda which sells on the black market for about £1 a pint. It has many disadvantages, of course, medicinal as well as financial, that are best avoided.
There is need for more care by Europeans in relation to intoxicating liquor, for instance when entertaining Nauruans. Many Europeans are very careful to avoid the use of liquor in their homes on such occasions, but there are other occasions on which liquor is drunk at gatherings at which Nauruans are present. This is something that Europeans should consider simply from the point of view of social courtesy. It has even been said that amongst some of the worst offenders in this field are the councillors themselves, but I do not want to dwell on that point. I want to make it clear that among the councillors are some of the finest and most able people on the island, as one would expect. Another aspect of the financial situation is the plentitude of motor vehicles. There are more than 1 ,000 of them on an island with about 12 miles of roads in all, and there is a tremendous problem with motor accidents.
The honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) spoke about indentured labour. This is at the basis of the amendment proposed by the Opposition, and there are two or three points I would like to make in this connection and which, to my mind, make the amendment unacceptable. I have already referred to the fact that there are children aplenty on the island, and the children of indentured labourers - Gilbert and Ellice Islanders and Chinese - are catered for quite adequately, in my opinion, in the schools provided by the Commission. It is just not true that a man has to leave his family at home when he goes to live on the island as a transitory worker. It is this transitory nature of the labour that makes the Opposition’s amendment rather difficult to follow. These persons go there in the first instance for one year, but their contracts may be renewed and they may remain possibly for two years or perhaps for three years, which is the maximum. They can bring in a certain number of children under 12 years of age. They have their homes provided and their passages paid for by the British Phosphate Commission. They are transitory workers, they come for a brief period and they are completely under the control and administration of the Phosphate Commission while they are on the island. To my mind these facts remove any significance at all from the amendment proposed, which would place on the Administration responsibility for continually concerning itself with the ordinary day to day affairs, political, economic, social, educational and otherwise, of these people. These matters are adequately looked after by the British Phosphate Commission and I believe, therefore, that the proposed amendment has nothing like the merit claimed for it by the honorable member for Fremantle.
There is an unrealistic attitude to the future, and this springs largely from decisions made in the past, for instance with regard to the shifting of the population to Curtis Island. I could refer also to other suggestions that have been made, such as that top soil should be brought in by ship to replace the phosphate taken from the pinnacles of coral on the island. The Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation has carried out experiments and has shown clearly that this island is a coral atoll built up of highly porous coral material, and that soil placed in position and subjected to irrigation from year to year would very quickly be dissipated and lost because of the very structure of the island itself. If an experiment were to be carried out on the island in this direction it would require highly specialised techniques for devising a barrier to this permeability.
At the same time the question might well be asked: “What about using garbage and other waste material on the island itself? Why is this not being used to develop the land, acre by acre, which needs to be reclaimed among the pinnacles in the centre of the island?” One of the difficulties is that there has been a lack of planning and a lack of realistic thinking about the use of these materials. There is no garbage collection. Pigs wander at will throughout the island, into gardens and indeed into the houses at times. There is the dual problem of sanitation - there is an ever present danger of hookworm, about which the medical officer is continually concerned - and of the redevelopment of the land which has been worked. I believe there is need for a considerable degree of enterprise and new thinking with regard to the whole developmental prospects of the island for the future.
The last matter with which 1 want to concern myself is that of administrative difficulties. I believe the island has been well and soundly served in the past but that there is a need, now that a new and youthful outlook is developing, for a new young career man as Administrator. I believe that such a man should not have to rely on inferior departmental heads but that he should be surrounded by officials of real drive and ability who would work with him in planning the future of the people. There is no room for any stuffy, hidebound attitude towards the future development of Nauru. There is no room for the paternalism that is so evident on many occasions in the present circumstances. There is no room for the Nauruan equivalent of “ She’s right; the Government or the British Phosphate Commission will do it for us “. This attitude is apparent even with the island’s budget. Nauru had revenue income last year of about £40,000. The estimates of expenditure run to about £1 million. The British Phosphate Commission simply pays the difference. This is the cause of the attitude prevalent among the people of indifference and financial irresponsibility. It is an attitude that should be removed entirely in any planning for the future.
My last words will be devoted to the forthcoming Legislative Council, which I welcome as a step forward. While on the island I had the opportunity of speaking with the existing councillors and the legislators to be. They were tremendously interested in the ordinary day to day affairs of a legislature and the life of a member. I was greatly impressed with the calibre of the top man, the Head Chief Hammer De Roburt, and of councillors like Councillor Bernicke and Councillor Edwin Tsitsi and others. But there is a great gulf between these men and the Nauruan people as a whole which must be bridged by teamwork between the Administration and the future Legislative Council. There is need for a kind of five year plan that will involve informing the people, enlisting their support, recruiting and training them for the many duties which will have to be performed on the island. They will need not just political or even education training. There is a need for intelligent, imaginative leadership in the fields of sociology and social services, and this will have to come from the new Administrator and his top assistants and the Nauruan councillors of the future, who must all be first class men.
I hope that these remarks, which, while not pulling any punches, have been meant to be helpful, will be considered by members of the new legislature as something of a contribution for I sincerely wish the new Council well, as I wish all the people of Nauru well.
.- Mr. Speaker, the Australian Labour Party supports the honorable member for Evans (Dr. Mackay) in his expression of good wishes to the whole of the people of Nauru. The amendment to the motion for the second reading of the Bill which was proposed by my colleague, the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley), and which 1 seconded is designed to have the welfare of all the inhabitants of Nauru taken into consideration. Australia has occupied the island for more than half a century. Every feature of the political, economic, social and educational life of the island has come into being under Australian tutelage. Our current obligations are set out in the Charter of the United Nations and in the trusteeship agreement. Among our obligations is that of promoting the political, economic, social and educational advancement of the inhabitants of the trust Territories.
There is too much inclination to consider Nauru, when we do consider it, purely in the light of the interests of the Nauruan community and of the Australian people. It is not right that Australians as the trustees should profit from their trust. It is not right that the half of the Nauruan inhabitants who do not belong to the Nauruan community should be without political, economic, social and educational rights. It is not good enough to say, as the honorable member for Bowman (Dr. Gibbs) seemed to imply by interjection while the honorable member for Fremantle was speaking, that the indentured labourers are free to take their wives and children to the island. I suppose that it is perfectly legal for them to pay for a passage to the islands for their wives and children.
– The honorable member is showing his ignorance. They do not pay for a passage.
– Are the wives and children taken to the island free?
– Of course they are. If the honorable member is so interested in these matters he should look into the facts first.
– I shall look at the facts available to honorable members. It is quite clear from the annual reports on the administration of Nauru submitted to the United Nations that no accommodation is available for the wives and children of indentured labourers.
– Such accommodation is available.
– There is not sufficient accommodation of that kind. For the information of the House, Mr. Speaker, I quote figures given in the last annual report received - that for 1963-64, which was presented to the Parliament in April this year. At the end of June 1964 there were 1,023 Pacific Islanders in the Territory. Among them were 107 women and 193 children. It is surprising that there were not more women and children if accommodation for women and children was provided by the British Phosphate Commissioners in the compounds where the indentured labourers and their dependants must live. At the end of June last year the Chinese community numbered 835, of whom 16 were women and 24 children. British subjects from the Gilbert and Ellice Islands and from Hong Kong, who represent nearly all the indentured labourers, have no accommodation available for their dependants, or do not avail themselves of accommodation if it is available. Other parts of the report set out the nature of the accommodation and the extensions proposed. My colleague from Fremantle is the only member of the Parliament who has ever raised the question of the indentured labourers in Nauru. He did so in the debate on the Estimates in September 1960. Our subsequent silence, whether or not we are ignorant or well informed on the subject, does not excuse us in overlooking the matter now that it has been brought before us.
The Parliament has passed only two measures relating to Nauru, in 1919 and 1932. This will be the third. The Opposition will help in the passage of this Bill. We support it as far as it goes. We expect, and the United Nations expects, that further constitutional arrangements will be made within two years and no longer. The Minister for Territories (Mr. Barnes) did not mention this aspect. In the meantime we should concern ourselves with the work force in the phosphate industry which will be excluded by this measure from the jurisdiction of the proposed Legislative Council for the Territory of Nauru. The Bill will reserve the industry for the jurisdiction of the Australian Government. The work force in the phosphate industry is indentured. It amounts to as many bodies - and souls - as the Nauruan community itself.
The Nauruan community, Sir, represents the smallest nation in the world. The island presents a microcosm of all the economically and politically dependent parts of the world. Its economic and political problems are an epitome of those to be found in any colony anywhere in the world. There are three particular factors which dominate the life of the inhabitants of Nauru. They depend on one industry. They are a dual population. They are subject - and have been for more than half a century - to a much more powerful nation which may variously be regarded as their protector or their exploiter. I shall deal first with the single industry. The phosphate industry is clearly a wasting asset. It has been used to subsidise the Australian wheat industry. I have heard it estimated that our wheat industry receives in effect a subsidy of id. a bushel from Nauru. This Parliament supports subsidies of many forms for the wheat industry, which has always been one of Australia’s great industries. It is a great industry in that it nourishes our own population and helps to nourish the people of the world. We conduct this industry very efficiently and economically. The fact that we all accept the desirability of subsidising does not entitle us to expect other peoples or other nations to subsidise it. A one industry economy is a feature which Nauru shares with many other countries. Some small nations live because they are strategic bases. These include Gibralta, Malta and Aden. Other nations, some of them large, depend on one crop. The problems of Nauru are much greater than those of other countries with economies dependant on one industry because Nauru’s one industry is a wasting one. At whatever price Nauruan phosphate is bought by Australia, the sources will run out. The time will come when Australia will have to buy all her phosphate from other sources. She already has to arrange for it in increasing quantities from other sources.
The second feature is that this island has a dual population. Many colonies find themselves in this position. Some are on the mainland, like Natal and British Guiana where the British brought in Indian indentured labourers who remained; and some are islands such as Mauritius and Fiji where the labourers who were brought in now account for at least half the population. In Nauru an increasing number of indentured labourers have come in over recent years. It would be impossible for the Nauruan community to receive the payments which are analogous to royalties - I know that they are not legally royalties - and it would be impossible for the British Phosphate Commission or Australia to use the phosphate deposits if it were not for the indentured labourers.
I have already quoted Australia’s obligations under the United Nations Charter to all inhabitants of this Trust Territory. In addition, Australia has accepted obligations under the International Labour Organisation and other specialised agencies of the United Nations. It is quite remarkable in my view that only 7 of some 130 International Labour Conventions have been applied by Australia to Nauru. One of those was a substitute for an earlier one. lt has often been pleaded in answer to motions moved by my colleagues from Stirling (Mr. Webb), Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison) and Oxley (Mr. Hayden) and myself that there are constitutional limitations on the rights of the Australian Government to implement I.L.O. conventions. There are no constitutional inhibitions whatever why Australia should not apply I.L.O. conventions to Nauru, or to Papua and New Guinea where our record is similarly poor.
The third feature is that the islanders have a powerful protector or exploiter. I refer only to Australia in this respect. I know that our obligations legally are shared with New Zealand and with Britain, but for SO years Australia has held the initiative and the responsibility in this island Trust, this mandate as it formerly was. Such initiative and responsibility has been sought by Australia. It has been permitted by England and by New Zealand under their three agreements with Australia, of which the third is set out in the second schedule of the Bill. No consultation took place between British or New Zealand representatives and the Nauruan community. The negotiations were entirely between Australian representatives and representatives of the Nauruan community. No representatives of the three partners have conferred with the indentured labourers on the island. Accordingly, when I refer to Australia’s responsibility here I am stating the factual position, if not the legal one. The Australian Government would be the first to resent any attempt to take the initiative from it or any attempt by Britain or New Zealand to usurp its responsibility. Even if Nauru is, as I said, a microcosm of the colonial world, and even if it is a microscopic one, it is still a direct Australian responsibility.
Australia has other such microscopic but direct responsibilities elsewhere. Clearly it has such a responsibility as regards Norfolk Island, which is occupied by Australian citizens but which is not self-governing. There are other islands off the Australian coast, whose citizens enjoy Australian voting rights, taxation liabilities and social service benefits. A third group, such as Nauru and Christmas Island, are occupied by Australian protected persons. One is always inhibited in speaking in public concerning Australian colonial responsibilities because what one says may be used against Australia for malicious or devious motives by other nations. I shall content myself with saying at this time that we altogether too blithely requested and accepted Christmas Island from the British in 1958 when Britain was making her first efforts to decolonise the Straits Settlements. The whole of the South Seas, the whole of the area between Australasia and South America, the whole of Oceania is studded with islands. They are one crop, or one industry, islands with, in many cases, mixed populations; and in every case they are dependent politically and economically on relatively great and remote powers. Australia has a direct responsibility for some of these Territories of which Papua and New Guinea is the greatest. Papua and New Guinea is now the most populous colony in the world.
– I rise to order, Mr. Speaker. Is all this scintillating speech relevant to the Bill?
– Order! The Deputy Leader of the Opposition is in order.
– The honorable member for Bowman should see a doctor.
– I think, “Physician, heal thyself”, would be more apt. I was saying that Papua and New Guinea is now the largest colony in the world outside Portuguese jurisdiction, but there are many other small islands. Nauru, with Papua and New Guinea, is annually subjected to the scrutiny of the world through the Trusteeship Council and the General Assembly of the United Nations. Every three years, so long as Australia continues to enjoy a Trust, there will be a visit from a mission from the Trusteeship Council. There are other small islands which are not held under trusteeship, although all non-self governing territories are covered by other sections of the United Nations Charter. Right on our doorstep is the British Solomon Islands Protectorate and French New Caledonia. A little further away is Fiji. Then there are other islands still further away which until recently were under the surveillance of New Zealand. I refer to Samoa and Niue Island which have been given self government by New Zealand. There are others which are still ruled by France and the United States. Nauru and the rest of these islands which I have mentioned all come within the purview of the South Pacific Commission whose functions are limited to economic, social and educational advancement. Political advancement is excluded from the functions of the South Pacific Commission. This area of the world will be the last part to secure independence or even self government. Accordingly it is impossible for the House to consider the position of Nauru in isolation. It is impossible for Australia to decide the destiny of Nauru without considering the views of other nations. For over 50 years we have undertaken obligations to report to the world on our trust in Nauru. Furthermore, it is impossible to decide the destiny of Nauru without considering the destiny of a very great number of islands in this area similarly situated. Nothing would be worse than if we had an ultra-Balkanisation of the South Seas. We are fortunate, however, in this area, in having America, Britain, France and New Zealand, our closest partners in the world, associated with us in similar economic and political responsibilities.
I shall not dwell at length on the. features of the island because they have been reported to us in great detail - although, one would think, with unpardonably scant detail as regards the indentured labourers. Annual reports have been tabled while we held a mandate from the League of Nations and since then while we have held a trust from the United Nations. Except during the Second World War, there has been an annual debate, first in the Mandates Commission of the League of Nations and then in the Trusteeship Council of the United Nations. The rest of the world has directed a considerable amount of attention to this matter even if this Parliament has not. The affairs of the British Phosphate Commission come before the Parliament only in a paragraph contained in the Auditor-General’s annual report. The South Pacific Commission, similarly, makes reports which are available to members. A more searching analysis, however, has recently been made by Dr. Helen Hughes of the Australian National University in the “ Economic Record “ of December last year and the new magazine: “ New Guinea “ of September this year. Honorable members should know and care much more about Nauru than would appear from their contributions as recorded in “Hansard”. As I have said, except for the solitary instance in September 1960 when my colleague the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley), raised the subject of indentured labourers, this particular matter has never been raised in the Parliament. When, in 1963 and 1964, we were considering the resettlement of Nauruans in Australia, no mention was made of the indentured labourers on the island.
I wish to conclude with some references to the attitude and function of the Department of Territories. The function of the Department of Territories is to preside over its own dissolution. When the Department has done its job, the Northern Territory will have self government to the same extent that all the Australian States have it; Papua and New Guinea will be an independent country, and, one would hope, a member of the British Commonwealth.
– But when?
– I think it could be done by 1 970, and this is the general view of the Trusteeship Council, as the Minister knows. We are concerned here mainly with Nauru. The Minister frequently uses the ready made formula: “ We shall grant independence to Papua and New Guinea when the people ask us to do so “. It is unfortunate that it should always be thought that Australians will abandon any interest in
Papua and New Guinea when it gets its independence. There are more Britishers in India now than ever before, and it is to be expected that Australians will still be welcomed in Papua and New Guinea as neighbours and experts when that Territory has its independence. The genuineness of the Minister and his Department in this matter is shown up by the fact that the Nauruans have asked for independence, lt cannot be said that they are illiterate. They are not. They have the best educational and health services in Oceania. The standard of living of the Nauruan natives, if not that of the indentured labourers, is the highest in Oceania.
Nauru represents for us two explosive issues - national independence and national resources. Australians have become sensitive to the question of the use of their own national resources. The Australian Government, however, has always taken the attitude that the national resources of Nauru belong to the British Phosphate Commission.
– So they do.
– Is that the honorable member’s considered opinion?
– That is the considered legal opinion.
– It is legal, but not just. This is the same evil doctrine as we have adopted in New Guinea. There we say that because we acquired or confiscated property from our former enemies, the Germans, we hold full title to that property. Would we tolerate that attitude towards our national resources of oil, bauxite, iron ore and coal?
– We have to.
– I do not accept the honorable gentleman’s view that we have to. I have mentioned that the Minister did not refer to independence in this House. I shall quote the recommendations of the Trusteeship Council last June on this subject of self government, or independence. It is this -
The Council notes that at the Canberra Conference the representatives of the Nauruan people proposed that a target date of 31st January 1968 should be established now for independence and that the Australian delegation to the meeting indicated that the Administering Authority did not consider it appropriate to establish now, ahead of any practical experience of the operation of the Legislative Council, any specific target dates for independence or complete selfgovernment. The Administering Authority did, however, propose that after two or three years’ experience of the working of the Legislative Council and the Executive Council, further discussions should take place regarding further political progress.
The Council reaffirms the right of the people of Nauru to self-determination, which includes fie right to independence. The Council urges the Administering Authority to accede to the desire of the Nauruan representatives that the further discussions on the question of independence be held in 1967 and hopes that at these discussions a solution satisfying to the Nauruans will be found.
This resolution was supported by all our partners - the United States, Britain, France and New Zealand - who have similar responsibilities in this area and who are members of the Trusteeship Council and the South Pacific Commission. I shall read further the recommendations, including the amendments made by the British representative on the Trusteeship Council concerning the phosphate industry. They are -
Noting the agreement on a slightly higher extraction rate for 196S-66, without prejudice to the Nauruan position in any subsequent negotiations, the Council urges that agreement should be reached between the representatives of the Nauruan people and the Administering Authority on an extraction rate for future years on a basis that will safeguard the future interests of the Nauruan people.
The Council notes that in relation to the ownership of phosphates at Nauru, the representatives of the Nauruans maintained their position that the British Phosphate Commissioners could not validly work the phosphate on Nauru without the agreement of the Nauruan people, while the Australian delegation restated the view of the Partner Governments that the rights were legally vested in the British Phosphate Commissioners. The Council hopes that the forthcoming negotiations between the representatives of the Nauruan people and the Administering Authority will resolve this problem. The Council believes that every effort will be made to adopt a solution in conformity with the interests of the Nauruan people.
This Bill makes provision for the political advancement of the Nauruan community. It makes no provision for the political, economic, social or educational advancement of the indentured labourers in Nauru, lt makes no provision for - in fact, it expressly excludes everything relating to - the phosphate industry. I should think it quite clear that after 50 years the Nauruan community - or rather the inhabitants of Nauru - should have a full partnership in the British Phosphate Commission. The Australian and Nauruan communities need the labour of the indentured inhabitants. The Nauruan community needs the income from their national resources. Australia, Britain and New Zealand are obliged to make a proper contribution to the political and economic advancement of all the inhabitants of this island.
.- I heartily support this Bill and am unable to accept the Opposition amendment. Before speaking to the Bill I should like to say that 1 am at one with the Government in wishing the Nauruan people everything of the best. We hope sincerely that their many problems can be solved. I hope that with mutual cooperation they will be solved. Anything I say should not be construed as criticism of the Nauruan people because I fully appreciate their very real problems. I know that they, with our Government, are endeavouring to overcome them.
I am continually disappointed in the Opposition we have in this House. It seems to choose the very worst times to attack and criticise the Government. This morning we had the spectacle of the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) commencing his speech with a very lucid description of the purposes of the Bill but then losing conviction because of the amendment that was foisted upon him and upon this House. The amendment makes so much nonsense when it is considered objectively. The position in which I find myself is that I am no longer able to accept anything that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) says in this place, because I find it is so often misleading and skirts round the facts. I should like to examine this Bill from a factual and objective point of view, which is what the House should be doing instead of engaging in political bickering over so important a matter.
The honorable member for Fremantle stated the purposes of the Bill. It establishes a Legislative Council and an Executive Council, and it alters the judicial framework on the island to make it better organised. It retains the district court, establishes a central court and the court of appeal and provides that the High Court of Australia shall be the final court of appeal. I feel that this legislation is the product of the training that the Department of Territories has given to the Nauruan people in recent years, particularly since the war. Honorable members will recall that the Nauruans were removed from the island during the war and were interned by the Japanese on the island of Truk. Consequently, there was a considerable gap in the continuity of their rise to nationhood. I pay a sincere tribute to the magnificent work of officers of the Department of Territories. When I visited Cocos Island I was filled with admiration for the manner in which the officers are carrying out their duties. There must have been very few instances in history of such flexible, objective and unselfish colonial work as that performed by officers of the Department of Territories. This attitude has been brought to bear on Nauru. As a result, in just a few years Nauru has been brought to the stage of self-government. To evidence the cooperation that exists between this Government and the Nauruan people this Bill has been brought before the House during a busy period - when we are about to rise for the Christmas recess - expressly at the request of the Nauruan people because they have an important anniversary in January - the anniversary of their return from internment - and they wish to have their Legislative Council established on that day. This Government is co-operating fully and is extending its legislative programme so that this wish may be fulfilled.
This is not the only thing that Australia has done for the people of Nauru. We have heard a very misleading speech from the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and I should like now to remind the House of some of the facilities and amenities that the Nauruan people currently enjoy. They enjoy a free health scheme, including free drugs.
– Whether or not that is good for them is an entirely different matter. I am relating what the people of Nauru are currently enjoying. Should they require health treatment in Australia they receive it free. They are transported to Australia free. Their education is free. Should they want advanced education in Australia they come to Australia free and their accommodation is provided free. Nothing could be better calculated to bring a country more rapidly to self government than such a scheme to enable the people to be educated.
They receive generous child endowment as well as invalid and age pensions and unemployment and sickness benefits. The inhabitants receive the highest wages in the Pacific Islands. They may rent an excellent house for 10s. 9d. a week. They do not usually need to use buses because, as has been already stated, almost everyone on the island has his own means of transport, but, if an islander wishes to use the bus, the fares are very cheap. The only duties or taxes are upon cigarettes and alcohol. In this regard I should like to read a brief extract from a report to the United Nations Trusteeship Council. The Council can never be regarded as favorable to people who are trustees of underdeveloped nations. The report states - . . poverty is virtually unknown in Nauru. There is a high standard of living: necessities and even many luxuries are imported. The stores and shops are well stocked with goods. Few people walk in this Territory, which has an area of Si square miles and a circumference of 12 miles: there are over 1,000 motor vehicles (not to mention bicycles) for a total population of 4,914, including 2,661 Nauruans (at 30 June 1964).
This is what a committee of inquiry of the United Nations Trusteeship Council had to say about conditions on Nauru. This does not entirely fit in with the picture painted recently of an oppressive Australia squeezing the Nauruan people for its own benefit. The question may be asked: How are all these amenities paid for? They are paid for by royalties that are paid to the Nauruan people on phosphate which is obtained from Nauru. A cash royalty of 3s. 3d. a ton of phosphate rock is paid to land owners; the Nauru Landowners’ Royalty Trust Fund, which is invested for 15 years on their behalf, receives 4s. 3d. a ton; a royalty of ls. 6d. a ton is paid to the Nauruan local government council to supplement its community revenues; the Nauruan Community Long Term Investment Fund, which is invested for the benefit of Nauruans when the phosphates are exhausted, receives 8s. 6d. a ton and in addition the entire cost of administering the island is borne from sales of phosphate rock, and this currently averages lis. a ton. In all, 28s. 6d. a ton is paid by the users of phosphate to the people of Nauru for the use of that phosphate. For every ton of superphosphate the Australian farmer uses he is subsidising the people of Nauru to the extent of 18s.
– It is not the other way round at all?
– No, it is not the other way around. It is the Nauruan people who could be construed as exploiting the Australian farmer to the extent of 18s. a ton on superphosphate. This means that at the current rate of usage the Australian farmer last year paid almost £14 million to the Nauruans as a subsidy. The New Zealand farmers paid about £750,000 and the farmers of the United Kingdom would have paid rather less than £200,000. In other words, the people of Australia are substantially supporting the Nauruans in an unprecedentedly high standard of living. As the Deputy Leader of the Opposition has agreed, there is no legal obligation on the Australian people to do this.
The Deputy Leader of the Opposition submitted that the practice of taking their phosphate rock does not accord with practice in civilised parts of the world. I would ask: What would be the situation if an Australian had minerals on his property here in Australia? Suppose that oil was discovered on his property. How much would he receive in royalties for that oil? I should like to give the homely example of a small farm that I own. Since I acquired the farm the Moonie pipeline has gone through my property. I received ludicrous compensation for this. Now a great power grid will run through the property and I assume that I will receive inadequate compensation in respect of this. If oil were discovered on the property I would receive practically nothing. So if we draw a strict analogy we must agree that the people of Nauru have been more than generously treated.
We should look at this matter very closely. In what way has the normal livelihood of the Nauruan people been disrupted by the mining of phosphate? Before the phosphate was mined there was nothing in the region of the phosphate deposits except a few trees and a few struggling coconut palms. The only area of Nauru that is at all fertile is a small coastal strip which has very little to do with the phosphate deposits. This area has not been disturbed at all. In fact, there are deposits of about 2,000,000 tons of phosphate rock in this area which the Phosphate Commission has decided not to mine on the ground that mining operations would disturb the Nauruan people. So an asset which was not being used and which would be of no use to the Nauruans is being mined. All of their problems arise from the extremely generous gift which they are receiving from the British Phosphate Commission and the people of Australia. The Nauruans are losing their native skills as a result of this generosity. I appreciate their difficulties. I hope that some agreement may be reached whereby their problems can be ironed out, but I will not accept the inference in the remarks of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition that we are exploiting this island. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is, in my view, a great pity that the Opposition should bring these political matters into this discussion.
The Opposition has moved an amendment which deals with indentured labour, as though we are neglecting the indentured labour on the island. The United Nations Trusteeship Council committee which visited Nauru made not one mention of indentured labour on the island. Honorable members may rest -assured that the committee would have cast a very critical eye on the situation. It did not refer to it for the simple reason that it does not present any problems. This is a matter cooked up by the Opposition for political purposes. Let us look at the situation factually and truthfully. The indentured labourers are free to go to Nauru as they please. They are not under compulsion to go there. I was amused by the references of the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) to people being uprooted from their homes, because we all remember what happened in Great Britain during the last episode of socialist government when there was direction of labour - when people were directed not only into industries which they did not want to enter but also to different parts of the country. We all know how reluctant the people of the British Isles are to leave their native environment. The honorable member’s remarks were amusing and were somewhat in conflict with the tenor of his subsequent remarks.
– He had to find an argument somewhere.
– That is so. How could the indentured labour have a council or a committee to speak on its behalf? No doubt the indentured labourers have their spokesmen, because there is an industrial group on the island. I do not want the House to be misled on this matter. The indentured labourers have full representation in this respect.
The figures given by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition were typically misleading. The report for 1963-64 of the Territory of Nauru shows that far from there being 16 females of non-Nauruan origin on the island, in fact there were 237 non-Nauruan women on the island. Since that time there has been an extensive building programme. First-class homes have been constructed, equipped with stainless steel sinks and vinyl floors. Concrete construction has been employed and the homes are fully sewered. These are for the indentured labour. It may be assumed that the figures I have given are now out of date. Undoubtedly more indentured labourers and their families are coming to the island. A similar building programme is under way for the Nauruan people themselves.
Indentured labour is indentured from year to year. This is done to preserve the nationality of the Nauruan people. Many of the indentured labourers are unmarried lads who come to Nauru to work in the phosphate mines. Some come for the money and some come out of a spirit of adventure. These youngsters have no families to bring with them. A married person may decide to go to Nauru. He may not wish to uproot his family by taking it with him. On the other hand, if he wishes to take his family he may do so at no cost to himself provided that the family does not remain on Nauru for longer than six years. The period is reduced in the case of Chinese.
Obviously indentured labour is a very temporary feature of Nauruan life. If Nauru were to obtain independence undoubtedly the Nauruan people would make their own arrangements about indentured labour, but at present it cannot be said that this Government is not looking after the indentured labour - that the full rights, industrial and otherwise, of indentured labourers are not being protected.
I should like to deal with some of the problems of the Nauruan people which should be exercising our minds rather than with the untimely political note injected into the debate by the Opposition. Apart from their wealth, which may be temporary, the main problem confronting the Nauruans is the fact that their island has a wasting asset and that eventually all of the phosphate rock will be removed, thus removing their source of income. I should like to make clear that at that stage the people of Nauru will be no worse off than they were before the British Phosphate Commission began activities on the island. What is to happen to the people of Nauru? We know that the Nauruan people could not agree with the Australian Government as to the terms of settlement on Curtis Island. They are now thinking in terms of resettling on their own island. They want us to put a coating of topsoil over the area from which the phosphate rock has been removed. This proposition has been studied by experts. Apart from certain impracticabilities referred to by the honorable member for Evans (Dr. Mackay) in terms of leaching, it would cost £36,570 per acre to put topsoil on the island. That is pretty expensive real estate in anyone’s language. It would be a pretty expensive proposition for the City of Brisbane, let alone for Nauru. I do not think the proposition could be justified on any ground, economical or otherwise. However, despite the staggering cost, I understand that the Government, in trying to come to grips impartially and objectively with the problems of the Nauruan people, will send agronomists, soil experts, engineers and other experts to the island to see what can be done.
I would like to say a few words about Curtis Island. The Government agreed to give the Nauruans the freehold of this island, with full power to control their local affairs. But the Government would not consent to the Nauruans forming a separate nation on Curtis Island, because this would mean that we would have a separate nation of aliens on our mainland. Curtis Island is connected to the continent at low tide. In addition, the Government offered to grant the Nauruans full citizenship rights. I believe that the Government’s offer was extraordinarily generous. I ask the House to ponder on whether any Australian would be granted Nauruan citizenship if he wished to have it. We have gone out of our way to be extremely generous. I do not criticise the Nauruans for their attitude, but I think they have been unable to see the problem from our point of view. They want to retain their own citizenship and their own separate nationality on the shores of Australia. They seemed to me to speak rather slightingly of Curtis Island. They seemed to be a little dissatisfied with the island itself and referred frequently to hordes of mosquitoes and other disadvantages that they saw. They implied that they were misled into believing that the island was a paradise. I think it could be a very satisfactory place to live and I am sorry that the Nauruan people have adopted this attitude. I wonder what the future of the islanders is. It must be one thing or the other. It must be either a future on the island or a future somewhere else. It seems to be logical that we should try to find a suitable island for them and I hope that one can be found. I hope that it will not be too close to our mainland. If it is, we will come up against the problem of a separate nation close at hand.
Another problem relates to the future of self-government of the Nauruans. It must not be taken for granted that the Nauruan people are to have full self-government. I think it would be a little premature now, because we have not given even a trial to this form of partial self-government by means of a legislative council. I want the House to bear in mind that the Nauruan people also asked for the council. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition implied that we were not giving the Nauruan people everything that they wanted. He said that they asked for independence. They did ask for independence, but only after the introduction of the legislative council. That in fact is what we have given to them. It would be absurd, of course, to give them full independence immediately without seeing how they handle their affairs with a legislative council. If we do give them independence, what will happen? Will they be given a full seat on the United Nations also? If so, will we give each of the 10,000 other islands in the Pacific a seat on the United Nations as well? This is a serious problem and will have to be tackled not only in relation to the Pacific Islands but also in relation to other small nations throughout the world that are achieving independence. If all these nations were given a seat on the United Nations, it would be possible for very, very small and possibly not always responsible national groups to dictate the policies of the United Nations. This could at times act to the detriment of the United Nations.
Would it be to the advantage of Nauru to have complete self-government without some protection from Australia? Would it not be better for the Nauruan people to accept something short of complete selfgovernment, with Australia retaining responsibility for the defence of the island and for its foreign affairs commitments? These are problems that we must seriously consider and I hope that we will come to some amicable arrangement with the people of Nauru. I hope that the present good relations will continue. I was rather disturbed to read in the United Nations report that some Nauruan people asked whether it was possible for the trusteeship to be given to a different country. I was very sorry to learn that this had been suggested and I hope that it is the view of only a very small proportion of the people. I believe that Australia has treated the Nauruan people very well. They are enjoying unprecedently good conditions and I think that this is largely due to the administration of this Government. I hope that the Nauruan people will realise that this is so and will try to look at our point of view a little more objectively. It is only in this way that we will find some satisfactory solution to their very serious problems. I hope, too, that we will be able to persuade them to move from their island to another economically viable area where they will be able to settle and eventually accept their responsibilities unprotected by all the artificial bounties that they now receive.
I suggest it would be worth considering whether, for the sake of the souls of these people, as it were, it would not be better to introduce some taxation to the country. Now that they are being given some representation, they should accept the responsibility of paying some taxes also. I admit that the island cannot be supported completely by taxation, but some token taxation that they administered themselves in discharge of some responsibilities would help to mould their characters. I think, with humility, that this appears to be necessary now because of the problems with which they have grown up in the years that have passed. I would ask the Nauruan people to reconsider their attitude to living on another site and, with Tennyson, say to them -
Tis not too late to seek a newer world.
.- I support the Bill and I support the amendment moved by the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley). I think some honorable members have got off the rails a little, and perhaps it would be as well if I read the amendment moved by the honorable member. It is in these terms - “this House, while not opposing the passage of the Bill, regrets that the Nauru Agreement between the three Governments set out in the second schedule contains no terms which provide for the political, economic, social and educational advancement of the indentured labourers in the phosphate industry.”
Is there anything wrong with that? I would like to say something about the indentured labourers. I do not say that they have been treated harshly or anything like that. The indentured labourers who have come to Nauru from the Gilbert and Ellice Islands are members of the Commonwealth, but the conditions under which they go to Nauru are different from the conditions that apply to a person from any Commonwealth country who goes to another Commonwealth country. For instance, a Britisher who comes to Australia has full voting rights from the time of his arrival. However, if a person from a Commonwealth country lives and works on Nauru for three years - he can do that by renewing his contract from year to year - he is not entitled to any voting rights. The honorable member for Fremantle referred to this point. He said that something should be done for the indentured labourers who are being brought from another Commonwealth country to Nauru. I can see nothing wrong with that. If the indentured workers are to be regarded as members of the Commonwealth they are entitled to the same rights as any other member. The difficulty is not insurmountable. I believe, Mr. Speaker, that these things will be overcome; I hope they will.
I want to pay my tribute to the Administration, the public servants in the Department of Territories, and the British Phosphate Commission for what has been achieved in Nauru. I want to keep my remarks on a non-political plane because both political sides here have played their part in establishing and re-establishing Nauru. If I may be permitted to put in just a small plug for my own party, let me say that the House will remember that in 1946, when we went back to Nauru, the place was a shambles. It was as a result of the efforts of the Government then in office that re-establishment took place. The work that has gone on since then in Nauru has been of the highest order. This says a lot for our professional men and our technicians who have worked very well indeed. Special ships have been built solely for the Nauruan trade. They are ships that are seen in no other part of the world. They have special bows to enable them to lift buoys which are laid at a depth of 300 fathoms- that is very deep - so that the ships can be held away from the cantilever. AH this sort of thing was done with the know-how and the brains that exist in Australia. One of the most modern cantilevers in the world was erected at Nauru for the loading of phosphate. Everything has been done with very great efficiency by the Department that has been responsible for the welfare of the people of Nauru. I have seen a little of this achievement and I know that the Department has done an excellent job.
The time has come when the Nauruans want their independence. They are entitled to it, but lots of things have to be considered. I do not know whether the Nauruans have gone fully into the matter. I have met some of them in Australia. I know that they have approached people on all political sides to get their opinions. Whether they have received the correct advice is a matter that I am not going to debate at present. That is a matter for the Nauruans. We must consider that there are only 2,661 Nauruans on the island out of a total population of 4,914 people. The only people who will have voting rights as the result of the passing of this Bill will be the 2,661 Nauruans. They are the people who at this stage say that they want their independence, and if they want it, they are entitled to it. My party believes in giving self determination to these people as soon as possible, and that applies to the people of New Guinea as well. I do not think, however, that it is right to draw a comparison between the people of Nauru and the people of New Guinea. In New Guinea we are dealing with 2 million people and in Nauru with only 2,661.
As I said previously, a lot of specialised treatment and know-how has been put into Nauru that has not been put into any other place in the world. Specialised shipping was planned in Australia, built overseas and used in the phosphate trade. In 1963-64 97 British ships and 81 foreign ships - a total of 178 ships, with a gross registered tonnage of 1,625,889 tons - visited Nauru. For a small island that is a lot of traffic because there are certain times of the year when t is impossible for a ship to lie alongside the cantilever. When the westerly winds are blowing the ships have to cast off and drift until the weather is good enough to come alongside again. Overcoming the problems involved is something that has been achieved over many years. I can remember the time when ships used to go to Nauru and the phosphate was lifted on to flat top barges, shovelled into baskets and loaded into the ships. Sometimes because ships drifted off as they were being loaded it could take as long as six weeks to load a ship. Now the loading time has been cut down to as low as six hours. This should be remembered by the Nauruans.
The average rainfall for Nauru is 77 inches a year. Most ships that visit the island carry water because, Nauru being a small island, the catchment area is not large enough to accumulate sufficient water. If we are going to keep 4,000-odd people on the island it will be necessary to continue to take fresh water to the island. That is something that has been foreseen by both Governments concerned. Fresh water will still need to be taken to the island. The employment figures show that 594 male Nauruans and 88 female Nauruans are employed - a total of 682. Out of the whole population of 2,661 Nauruans 1,979 are not employed, but they exist very well on account of the money that is paid for the phosphate which is shipped out of the island. Of the non-Nauruans, 163 European males and 26 European females are employed. Those people are doing all types of work. Some are technicians, some professional men and some labourers. I did not have time to take out the detailed figures. There are 796 Chinese males and one Chinese female employed. Of the Gilbert and Ellice Islanders, 698 males and 17 females are employed. This makes a total of 1,701 people, other than Nauruans, working on the island. In other words, of the 2,235 nonNauruans on the island 1,701 are working and 534, mainly children, are not employed in any useful work.
Figures relating to pay are rather interesting. In October 1963 the basic wage for Nauruans was fixed at £9 12s. 8d. for males, with females receiving 75 per cent, of the basic wage. Nauruans working for the Administration receive a margin for skill and also an added amount calculated on length of service. During the year increases were granted to people working for the Administration, ranging from £18 to £338 per annum. Nauruans working for the British Phosphate Commission receive the basic wage plus a margin for skill and an added payment for length of service. They receive overtime payment at one and a half times for the first four hours and then double time. This is the point I am coming to. The Chinese and Gilbert and Ellice Islanders receive a wage of from £13 io £22 per month, ranging from the unskilled to the skilled wage. On top of this they receive free housing and rations. There is a big difference between receiving £13 a month which is a little over £4 a week and receiving the basic wage which is set for the Nauruans on the island. This to mc appears to be quite marked discrimination.
During 1963-64 Australia imported from Nauru nearly one million tons of phosphate. Actually the figure was 961,530 tons. New Zealand imported 480,650 tons and the United Kingdom imported 212,800 tons. The total for those three countries was 1,654,980 tons of phosphate, all of which was shipped from the island. It means that over the years a lot of Nauru has been moved to Australia. I do not want to detain the House very long. I just wanted to point out, as the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) said, that something should be done for the indentured labour going to Nauru from the outlying islands because, after all, they are all part of the Commonwealth. I will leave my remarks at that and hope that the Minister will have a look at the position of our other fellow Commonwealth citizens and see whether they can be put on the voting list with the Nauruans when a vote is taken.
.- I will not delay the House but I would like to say a few words on this important Bill relating to the provision of a Legislative Council of some 15 members, the majority being Nauruans, for the Territory of Nauru. In my opinion, this is quite an important step in relation to the activities on the island of Nauru and on its associated works and the influence it has, not only on Australia, but on many countries of the world. 1 believe it is important that these people are making a further advance towards their independence and this will be, in my opinion, of considerable assistance to them in gaining experience for difficult times which they may encounter at some future date. This point is extremely important, of course, to the Nauruan people and to Australia.
If we consider Australian history we remember that after this land was discovered it was many years before it was settled. The main reason for this was that people bypassed Australia because of the nature of the soil which they found on the surface of our shores at that time. They decided that the land was useless from their point of view. It was only in later years, with the application of science, that phosphate and other elements were brought into use in Australia, and it was found that this land had a tremendous future and great possibilities. Much of this was due, no doubt, to the use of phosphate following discoveries of phosphatic rock which, to some extent, we have been obtaining from this particular island of Nauru.
Phosphate is not only important to Australia, in the first instance; it is important to many people of the world. I think that more countries in the world are now looking to Australia to help them in feeding their own people. There is no doubt whatever that the use of phosphate has played a tremendous part in this development. In fact, we would not have our present standard of living and other conditions in Australia such as our balance of payments position and the progress we have made, if it had not been for superphosphate. I do not think there is a shadow of doubt about this at all. When you get down to the foundations of our economy you find that it is based on superphosphate and what it does for this land. As we move through various generations we shall improve the soil by the use of various legumes. But the initial spreadings of superphosphate are important to the whole food production of Australia and to our exports generally.
Previous speakers have mentioned the royalties paid to the Nauruans for phosphate rock. I believe that the Australian people are prepared to accept this situation and that they are not worried about paying reasonable royalties for a commodity such as this because it is so valuable. The farmers will accept the position and so will the Australian people. There is one statement on which I would like to comment, made by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) - I hope I did not misunderstand him - which related to the bounty paid for superphosphate. If I understood him correctly, he referred to it as a bounty to the Australian wheatgrowers. That is not correct. I believe that these things should be put in their correct perspective. In some forms of primary production a bounty does take the form of a direct subsidy to the producers but this is not the case in relation to wheat. Once the price of phosphate is reduced, as it was in this particular case by an amount of £3 a ton to farmers in Australia, this fact is taken into consideration when the cost index is being examined each year. We have seen this principle in operation quite recently. This amount is deducted from the cost of production. Therefore, again, it is the Australian consumer who really gets the benefit of this. There is no argument whatever about that. A colleague has interjected that it means that wheat is cheaper. That is correct and the benefit is passed back to the consumer. This does not apply to all fields of agriculture but it applies quite definitely to wheat. Therefore, if I understood the honorable member correctly, I wish to correct his statement now. Of course, as I said, the bounty is a tremendous advantage. Other industries in Australia obtain tremendous advantage from it.
Whether superphosphate is subsidised or not, we are in a fortunate position in this country in relation to the price of that commodity, especially taking into consideration the subsidy I have just mentioned, when we consider the cost of it in other countries in the world. Perhaps we have better techniques in Australia. We have certainly learned the advantages of the use of phosphate. I think that we will continue to benefit from its use.
What does concern me, and many other people in Australia, is the limit of some 25 or 35 years on available supplies at Nauru. This may not be the correct figure but supplies will peter out somewhat and we will have to obtain supplies from other sources unless research comes up with another type of phosphate. This is quite possible but I believe that the size of the deposit is something which the Australian Government must take note of. A certain amount of work is being done in regard to the search for deposits of phosphatic rock within Australia. I think we must proceed with this and must continue to spend a considerable amount of money on this work because it would be a tragedy indeed if Australia found itself with insufficient supplies. I do not think that farmers, collectively or otherwise, realise how much superphosphate is being used today and how much will be required in the future. We are increasing consumption of superphosphate so rapidly that we do not realise just how fast we are going. When one looks at the figures one realises that in 20 years time a tremendous amount of superphosphate will be required if we are going to do the job of producing food as we should. At this time in Australia only a small percentage of the land under pasture is receiving the right amount of superphosphate - if there is a figure for this amount. It is only in the last few years that we have realised the tremendous benefits that can be obtained from the use of superphosphate and the areas of land which we can cover in the future. I think that within a very few years time we will be using a tremendous amount of superphosphate. Its use will continue to expand and ever greater quantities will be required. As I said previously, an estimate has been given that a supply to cover the next 25 years is still available at the moment. If we do not find greater quantities of phosphatic rock on some of these other islands - which is quite on the cards - then the supplies available to us will dwindle more rapidly than we anticipate.
I give the Bill my blessing. I feel it is an excellent move towards giving the Nauruan people their independence. This Government believes that people should govern their own destinies, and this Bill is designed to take the Nauruan people further in that direction. It is with great pleasure that I support the Bill.
.- Honorable members opposite do not seem to catch on to the difficulty that we have placed before the Parliament. The fact is that it is not just the Nauruans that we are concerned with, although the Bill is concerned, and the Government’s actions are concerned, principally with Nauruans. We are also concerned with the other half of the people on the island, most of whom are the ones who do the work. That was the point made by the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) and other speakers on this side of the House.
I was interested in the philosophy of the honorable member for Bowman (Dr. Gibbs), who seemed to epitomise the conservatism of honorable members opposite. His attitude was - and I think these were his words - that the Australian community has been subsidising the people of Nauru for many years, that taxation is good for the moral character, and that these people must show that they are fit to govern themselves. This philosophy is expressed by a member of a party which in many respects regards most people as being unfit to govern themselves. For confirmation of this attitude we need only look at the archaic attitudes towards electoral matters that members of the Country Party express, and also their attitude towards the proposed Curtis Island settlement with which I hope to deal in the next few minutes.
Nauru seems to me to present all the problems of the world in microcosm. First there is the racial problem. There is a tiny group of indigenous Nauruan people representing about half the total population. Then there is another group of nonindigenous people, about 2,500 in number, who have been imported. I will tell the House later how long some of these people have been there. This is a community that is small in numbers but has a being of its own. It lives in a world characterised by tremendous numbers, a world of large nations and of small nations. It is one of the tiniest representatives of national groups that are small in numbers but have some entity of their own. It is isolated, and this no doubt produces all kinds of social and cultural attitudes. They are isolated in such a way from the community of the world that they have probably spent a good deal of time considering their own troubles and talking about them. They are a group of people living en a tremendous asset which is needed by powerful nations which have large numbers of people. Finally, they are a group of people faced with a problem concerning sovereignty and the ownership of their own soil.
All these difficulties are faced by this small group of people, and in order to achieve a solution of these problems I believe we will have to bring a fresh approach to bear. It seems to me that our approach to problems of this kind has been to aggravate them or to expand them in such a way that we eventually consider them insoluble. We on this side of the House want to see a new approach to this question. As the honorable member for Fremantle pointed out, there are three signatories to the second schedule of the Bill. There is the Minister for Territories (Mr. Barnes) in this Government. There is his counterpart in the Government of New Zealand and, I think, the High Commissioner for the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. They are the representatives of three very powerful groups of people. Even New Zealand with its two or three million people represents a very large group when compared with Nauru. These three nations have made decisions concerning the lives of the people of Nauru. It may well be said that we have had discussions with the Nauruan leaders, that we have had their representatives here and that they have had a very powerful and effective advocate in their Head Chief. But, I ask: Why is there no Nauruan signature to be found in the second schedule to this Bill?
Honorable members opposite will say: “There he goes again, the simple soul. He thinks they own the land on which they have lived for such a long time, whereas the sovereignty, the legal right, does not lie with them but with the successors to the previous German occupiers and conquerors and, I think, the Pacific Phosphate Company from whom the British Phosphate Commission bought the deposits in 1919.” But this again points to difficulties we face. Here is a natural deposit important to people in other parts of the world. What are the rights of the people who live there? What are our duties to them and what are the rights of the people who dig out the phosphate rock and whose labour it is that makes the green grass grow for the farmers of the Country Party - that is, if there are any farmers left in that party? What should those people be paid? Those are the questions that we should be answering.
What we are saying to honorable members opposite is that they should not simply stand up in this chamber and spend their time, as the honorable member for Bowman did, in pointing out how fantastically wealthy the average Nauruan is becoming, when getting an income probably a third or a quarter as great as that which the honorable member used to get in his own practice. It is of no use to spend time in saying how well off the Nauruan people are, how kind to them we have been and how progressive we have been. I agree that in some respects we have been progressive, for instance in health services. I see from the report of the World Health Organisation that Nauru has one of the highest ratios of hospital beds per 1,000 people, and that there is one doctor for every 614 persons. The island is, therefore, well off medically speaking. But this is a social, political and economic question with which we are concerned, and that is the point I want to emphasise. The honorable member for Fremantle moved his amendment in these terms - this House …. regrets that the Nauru Agreement …. contains no terms which provide for the political, economic, social and educational advancement of the indentured labourers in the phosphate industry.
In my opening remarks I pointed out that there was a problem of race. It is an interesting question. The Head Chief attacked the Australian people, saying that there were many racial attitudes in the community. One of our newspapers quoted the Head Chief, Hammer De Roburt, as saying that the Nauruan people had been aware of racial prejudice among a section of the Australian community and had therefore rejected resettlement on Curtis Island. The Head Chief outlined some of the racial attitudes that unfortunately exist in our community. They are not as serious as many people imply, particularly our overseas critics, but nevertheless they do exist. I suppose they exist in many communities throughout the world-. But he, on the other hand, does not recognise the equality of the people who live on the island, dig out the phosphate deposits and so produce the wealth. What the House is doing today is to write a charter for the continued privilege, if I may use that word, of the Nauruan people in their own community. If it passes this Bil), as I think the honorable member for Batman (Mr. Benson) pointed out, we must somehow get across to these people the idea that there must be a more expansive attitude in these days, particularly on political rights. There comes a time after a person has lived in a community long enough when he must be accepted as a political unit. In this country if a person comes here with British citizenship or from one of the English-speaking nations or from Malta or Cyprus he is qualified to vote in an election after six months. If he comes here from another country and is admitted to naturalisation after five years - and I deplore some of the Government’s attitudes in rejecting applicants for naturalisation - he has certain political rights which become inalienable as time goes on. We have not received any indication that this is a problem that has been faced by the people of Nauru. lt has been pointed out to me in conversations that this is a difficult problem. People have said to me: “You may well start a riot “. I think that somehow we have to get the idea across to these people. Their island is a wasting asset isolated from the rest of the world. It is difficult for them to go anywhere else because travel services are not readily available. I think that anything they are getting from the sale of the asset of which they are the fortunate possessors is only their just due. I do not share the view of the honorable member for Bowman that we are scattering largesse. When we were discussing another matter the honorable member gave the impression that he would deplore the rentier, the man able to gain unearned increment from the ownership of land. So it is time that we brought to bear on these problems something like the attitude that we bring to bear on the problems of our own people.
I come now to the question of length of domicile on the Island. The census figures that I have are for 1961. So they are not exactly the same as those which the Minister for Territories has given in total. Nevertheless, they are indicative of the shape of the community, one might say. Of the residents of the Territory of Nauru, male and female, born outside the Territory 435 have been there less than one year and 205 have been there between three and four years. When we come to periods of residence longer than this, we find that 232 are in their fifth year of residence on the Island, 128 in their sixth year and 88 in their seventh year. People with a term of residence from 7 to 14 years number 243, from 14 to 21 years 69 and 21 years and over, 48. So a total of 576 have been resident on the Island for a period long enough for them to have qualified for naturalisation had they been in Australia.
I ask the Minister to explain why there has been no approach designed to accord political rights to these people. A number of them must be indentured labourers. There is a system of contract work but this applies only to short periods. Details of these matters have been difficult to find. I believe that the Minister, if he has not the figures available, would do the Parliament a service if he were to have a survey made and presented the results to us for future reference. I do not criticise him in this matter. This is probably just something that has not floated across the horizon. I do not think it is mentioned in the report on the administration of Nauru that is submitted to the United Nations General Assembly. However, this is the principle element of our consideration so far as it relates to the political rights of these people.
I do not consider that the Australian community can uncritically place its imprimatur on the kind of political discrimination that exists on Nauru. But more serious and more immediate discrimination is found in relation to the wages of indentured labourers. An unskilled indentured labourer receives something like £13 a month and a skilled indentured labourer up to £22 a month, or £5 10s. a week. I do not think that one honorable member opposite has mentioned this simple fact How can the Australian community - we are one of the wealthiest nations in the world - tolerate in one of its Territories a wage scale such as this? One might say that these indentured labourers go to Nauru from Hong Kong and elsewhere because they want the jobs that are offering. Indeed, I am told that Chinese in Hong Kong even pay fees to agents to get them jobs. But this is not the real question. When they step on to what is in effect Australian soil and pour out their sweat in producing a product that represents the very life blood of important Australian primary industries the very least we can do is pay them something like the Australian standard rates of wages. In the opinion of honorable members on this side of the chamber anything less than that represents intolerable discrimination.
The honorable member for Batman pointed out that there is discrimination about wages even on the Island. The indigenous Nauruans are paid one basic rate and indentured labourers are paid another. This is one of the elements of contest in the industrial sphere in Australia and has been from the very beginnings of Australia’s industrial development. It was one of the elements involved in the dispute about the arrival in this country of people from Asia. To that extent there has been opposition to the import of cheap labour. If unfortunately it is necessary to raise the price of Nauruan phosphate so that it becomes more expensive in this country we may have to subsidise it or take some other kind of action. But whatever action is needed should be taken. If any subsidy can be said to be paid at present in relation to Nauruan phosphate we can say that it is being paid out of the sweat of the indentured labourers on Nauru, who in my view are being exploited. Doubtless the Minister for Territories would say that they are given so many ounces of tea, bacon, pemmican. salt and sugar, a roof over their heads and so on. But that is not enough. The evaluation of these items certainly would not bring their remuneration up to the equivalent of base rates in Australia or make their remuneration adequate.
We come to a different question, of course, when we consider the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. In that Territory there is a large indigenous community of about two million people which is developing in its own right. The people of Nauru, especially the indentured labourers, are working for us. Some 60 per cent, or 70 per cent, of their labour produces material that is important to this country. There is no excuse whatever for the kind of discrimination that occurs.
The political problem, I know, is even more difficult to solve because of the psychological and emotional elements that enter into it. This is the point that we on this side of the chamber are trying to get across. Another point concerns the sovereignty and ownership of Nauru. The problem here is not so difficult to solve. I believe that some difficulties have been manufactured concerning the proposal for the settlement of the Nauruans on Curtis Island, which is Australian territory. The honorable member for Bowman mentioned this proposal and other speakers on the Government side may have dealt with it also. I notice that the Premier of Queensland has made some comment about it and the Minister has made statements from time to time. I suppose that as good an expression of view as one could find from a reading of material on the subject is to be found in an issue of the “ Australian “ newspaper of September last which stated -
From Australia’s point of view, a self-governing enclave on Curtis Island, supported economically by the Federal Government, would create an impossible situation. At low tide, one can walk from the Queensland mainland to the island.
I doubt how much we would have to contribute to the support of the Nauruans if they were settled on Curtis Island. 1 understand that revenue from their investments will be something like £1 million a year. How difficult would it be to create on Curtis Island a self governing enclave? I do not know what research honorable members have done on these matters and what they know about the subject. What is the position in various other parts of the world? ATe self governing enclaves of this sort remote, and difficult to find? Certainly not. If one looks at “ Whitaker’s Almanack “ one finds that the entry for Andorra begins in this fashion -
A small, neutral principality situated on the southern slopes of the Pyrenees, between Spain and France, with an approximate area of 180 square miles and population between 10,000 and 12,000.
The entry then explains the machinery of government, which is complicated but allows the people of this principality a very large degree of sovereignty. The same sort of thing applies to the principality of Liechtenstein and to a certain extent to the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. We have also the celebrated instance of Monaco. I have no doubt that honorable members opposite, with their rather odd economic attitudes, would foster the sort of enterprise on which Monaco depends. There is also San Marino. The world is not short of examples of small enclaves of people who retain their national, cultural and religious heritages despite the existence of surrounding populations of tremendous size. I believe that if we look at the United Kingdom we find similar examples perhaps in some respects in the relations between the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands and the rest of the United Kingdom.
What I should like to see in relation to Nauru is an exploratory approach based on a more adventurous spirit in an endeavour to solve these psychological and emotional problems that arise. The first matter is the political question. How are we to solve this problem of the political and social rights of the folk who are brought to Nauru to work the phosphate deposits? Then there is the problem of resettlement which will involve the right of the Nauruan people to retain their national unity. The fact that there are only about 2,500 of them is of small moment. Indeed, it makes the problem perhaps easier to solve. I am sure that if we brought any kind of adventurous spirit to bear on the problem it would be easy of solution. Then there is the question of the wages of the indigenous people. This is the first time that I can recall, having examined United Nations documents and speeches made in fine fighting spirit by people throughout the world who make speeches on these matters, when this matter has been raised in public discussion as a matter of public interest.
Then we come to the question of the operations of the British Phosphate Commissioners. Can they afford to pay more to those who work the phosphate for them and not raise the price of their product? I suggest that honorable members look at the last report to the United Nations General Assembly on the administration of the Territory of Nauru. If they turn to page 76 they will find the trading account and balance sheet of the British Phosphate Commissioners for the year ended 30th June 1964. If one uses a slide rule, two or three computers and a crystal ball one may be able to work out what the Commissioners do with their money. These accounts certainly do not tell us how much of it is paid out in wages and salaries. I am interested to note that in 1964-65 the Commissioners handled funds totalling £5,558,467. This is shown in the trading account. The balance for the year was £2,794. The balance for the year ended 30th June 1963 was £1,561. 1 am not a man of a suspicious mind. I am naturally broad minded about these matters. But when I find an organisation handling accounts totalling more than £5i million annually and making them balance out to these minute proportions I wonder where some of the funds are concealed and what is happening to them. If we received detailed accounts, we could see whether higher wages could be paid without the price of phosphate being increased.
I suggest to the Minister that the British Phosphate Commissioners should submit detailed accounts to this Parliament. I have had some difficulty in trying to find information concerning their operations by inquiries made about the place. I do not know whether there is available a report of the operations of the Commissioners that is more detailed than this one. I should think that as this is an operation in which this country has a big investment, both in terms of cash and importance to Australian primary industry, it should be brought before the Parliament as a document which we can examine down to the last full stop. I hope that honorable members opposite will take the opportunity on this occasion to support the amendment moved by this side of the House to show that the Parliament is determined that no problem created by self inflicted unrest about rights will prevent us from doing justice to both peoples on the island and seeing that their future is assured.
.- It is gratifying to see the degree of interest in this matter, since the subject of Nauru and the community of Nauruan people does not often come before the Parliament. I think there have been two major bills affecting Nauru. The first was in 1919 when a bill was introduced to facilitate the exploitation of the phosphate deposits. That bill designated the manner in which the resources of the island were to be distributed between the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand. Another bill came before the Parliament in 1932. It concerned the administration of the island, the establishment of the office of Administrator and matters of that kind. So, something like 33 years has elapsed since there has been any substantial debate in the Parliament about Nauru.
The United Nations visiting mission in 1962 prepared a most comprehensive report on Nauru. Two paragraphs in particular tend to highlight the matters which give me concern and which I know have given concern to other honorable members who have spoken during this debate. The visiting mission said at paragraph 36 of its report -
The problem of Nauru presents a paradox. The striking contrast is between a superficially happy present state of affairs and an uncertain and indeed alarming future - and it is the future that matters.
Then, in paragraph 47, which I think is very colourful, it said -
This picture of peace and well-being and security is deceptive. Indeed, it is a false paradise. For these gentle people are dominated by the knowledge that the present happy state of affairs cannot continue. They know that the outlook for their people beyond the present generation is uncertain and alarming. The dilemma of the future, like a threatening cloud, already casts a shadow over the sunny scene. The source of their wellbeing within two or three decades will dry up.
This was a dramatic statement in 1962 in the report of the visiting mission, known as the Foot Report. This typifies the very problem. Of course, we are hastening the day when these things will come to pass. In recent times an agreement has been reached to lift the extraction rate of phosphate to a higher level than that asked for by the Nauruan people. It is to be raised from 1.8 million tons to 2 million tons. I believe that there was an enthusiastic contention that it should go to two and a half million tons, but the rate was settled at two million tons. I have been told that about 65 million tons of phosphate remains, and that this indicates that the expected occupation of the island by the Nauruan people will be about 25 years with a possible five year margin.
In the face of all these problems it is a good thing that we have made progress towards the establishment of a legislature which will enable the people who are affected to have a say in their current affairs and a say in their future. That is what this Bill is all about. It will give belated recognition to the rights of people. Nevertheless, we are gratified that the measure has been introduced. This Bill will not affect a large number of people. I was asked why I intended to speak on this Bill as there were no votes in Nauru. It is not for that reason that I entered the debate. There will be 2,814 Nauruans affected by this measure. We must never lose sight of the fact that our well-being in Australia has been contributed to in no uncertain manner by the fact that phosphate from Nauru has been available to assist our primary industries. We say that we ride on the sheep’s back in Australia. Undoubtedly we derive great benefit from our wheat crop and other primary industries. It is, in some measure, because little Nauru is out there in the ocean and we have been so assisted by the employment of its resources that our standard of living has reached its present level.
The Opposition supports the Bill because it introduces a substantial measure of selfgovernment for the Nauruan community. That is not to say, of course, that we are completely happy with every aspect of the Bill. The Australian Labour Party would be more enthusiastic about the Bill if it gave greater recognition to the recommendations of the United Nations visiting mission. But before I touch further on that aspect I want to say that we should, as quickly as possible, indicate clearly that the early Australian objective in respect of Nauru must be its complete independence and self-government. This Bill meets the 1964 call by the Nauru Local Government Council for a Legislative Council by 1965, although it is probably running a little late. We are squeezing it in so that it will take effect early in 1966. However, it does not meet two other important requests. These matters have not been spelt out in the legislation. One request was for an early indication of the Government’s attitude on the question of independence which the Nauruans suggested should be granted by 1967. This matter is not referred to in the Bill before the House. The second matter concerns the request that the people of Nauru should control the phosphate industry.
On the question of independence by. 1967 I make it clear that the Head Chief Hammer de Roburt, whom I have been pleased to meet on numerous occasions, has indicated on behalf of his people that independence is an earnest aspiration. As he went off to the United Nations he said that he would have to agree at the United Nations with criticism of Australia for its failure to agree on an independent state. It is pretty important to take into account the strong feelings that the Nauruans have about this matter. The Government has said in regard to Papua and New Guinea that as soon as the people of that Territory ask for independence it will be prepared to concede it; but when we come to Nauru, where the request has been made with no ambiguity but in specific terms, the Government is disinclined to apply the principle which it rates to be so important as a means of placating the people of Papua and New Guinea. I have indicated that the Nauruans have called for this in their local government councils. Now I want to indicate that the visiting Mission from the United Nations made it clear that independence should be granted within a prescribed time. In paragraph 146 of its 1962 report, the visiting Mission had this to say -
We further recommend that from now on the Nauruan people should be given full participation in their own government and in all decisions of the British Phosphate Commissioners which affect Nauruan interests.
Up to date, this has not been done. Certainly we have not subscribed to this recommendation of the United Nations visiting Mission. Nor have we indicated our intention to do so in the measure before the House. In paragraph 147 of the report, referring to full participation by the people in their own government - in other words, independence - the Mission says -
As to timing, everything must of course depend on what future settlement is agreed, but the Mission considers that it should be possible to formulate and decide upon detailed plans for the future and to be ready to put them into effect within a year from now.
That was the considered opinion of the visiting Mission in 1962, so it would seem that we are dragging the chain a little. The basic problem with relation to Nauru arises from the fact that Australia, New Zealand and the United Kingdom have been involved in the business of denuding Nauru of its soil to enrich the soils of their own countries. As I have said already, our primary industries are virtually being subsidised by Nauru, and the Nauruans have not received by any means the lion’s share of the benefit. In fact, all the reports available indicate that they receive about 20 per cent, of the value of the phosphate removed.
The year 1919 was not by any means the alpha of the history of Nauru. It is in fact a fairly contemporary part of the island’s history. But in 1919, the
Pacific Phosphate Company was purchased for £3.5 million. It was decided then that the United Kingdom would receive 42 per cent, of the phosphates, that Australia would receive the same proportion and that New Zealand would receive 16 per cent. But I emphasise that the purchase price was £3.5 million. Undoubtedly that would represent a large amount of money in those days, but it is interesting to note that the value of phosphate exports for the year ended June 1964 alone was £4.4 million. As the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) has pointed out, it is difficult to obtain figures relating to the Commission’s activities or to the value of the phosphate that has been extracted from the island; but £3.5 million was the cost of the establishment in 1919, and in one year - that ended June 1964- the value of phosphates exported was £4.4 million.
I understand that the resettlement fund has to its credit only a fairly limited sum. I have not had time to obtain the latest figures, but those for the year ended June 1962 indicate that the amount standing to the credit of the fund then was £616,931. I submit therefore, that it is just fantastic for anyone to stand up here and seek to give the impression that the British Phosphate Commission and its predecessor the Pacific Phosphate Company have been acting in the nature of benefactors. It is true that the Nauruans live better than some of their contemporaries on the surrounding islands are able to live; but it is equally true that they are confronted with the problem of the great uncertainty of their future. Having regard to the tremendous value of the phosphates which have been taken from the island over the years it is most unsatisfactory that the resettlement fund should stand at only £616,931.
We shall probably have to face up to either resettlement of the Nauruan people or restoration of the island. We cannot have it both ways; we must decide either one way or the other. It will be a most difficult decision to make as inquiries which have been made about Curtis Island and Fraser Island have indicated. If resettlement is to take place on an island anywhere near Australia, the question arises as to what say the new settlers will have in such matters as immigration, customs and foreign affairs. The Australian Government, justifiably, would not like another country to emerge in close proximity to our shores. One of the considerations which caused the people of Nauru to say that Curtis Island and Fraser Island were not satisfactory was that they were offered an insufficient measure of independence if they accepted either island.
Restoration is the alternative. I know that the question of restoration has been looked at by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, and I am not sure that it is not still examining the matter through a special committee. I took the opportunity to examine the facets of this problem. The cost of levelling the coral pinnacles from around which the phosphate has been taken is estimated at £40 million. The cost of loading and shipping soil by way of backloading in the phosphate ships is estimated to be £65 million. The cost of discharging the soil and transporting it is estimated to be approximately £23 million. On the basis of these figures, it is estimated that the cost of restoring that part of Nauru which has been affected by the exploitation of phosphate deposits would amount to no less than £128 million. As the area affected is 3,500 acres, the cost of restoration would be £36.570 an acre. This would mean an expenditure of £5.12 million a year for the next 25 years.
It has been suggested that the financing of this work would add £2 a ton to the f.o.b. cost of phosphate. That is an important factor from the standpoint of honorable members on the Government side, especially the members of the Country Party - if they took the trouble to look at the measure. Certainly the cost would be sufficient to deter them. So it seems that the people of Nauru are to be left in a state of suspended animation. We will continue to exploit their resources as fast as we can. We will override their request that the extraction rate be moderated, and probably, we will not be as co-operative as we should be on the question of resettlement. The only alternative to resettlement - restoration of the island - will not receive the co-operation of Government members because it will add to the cost of phosphates to the Australian people.
This legislation is said to be designed to give the Nauruans democracy. They are to have a legislative council, but, on ex amining the measure, I find that clause 46 provides that the extent of the say which the Nauruans will have in their Government is not such as will enable them to have a voice on matters relating to phosphate deposits. In other words, they are not to have any say about the matter which is the very basis of their problems and the essence of their future. The Legislative Council will be unable to make any ordinances about the phosphate industry, including the operation, ownership and control of that industry. It will be unable to make any ordinances about phosphate royalties, and it will be unable to make any ordinances about the ownership and control of phosphate bearing land. Clearly, therefore, the opportunities of the Nauruans for self-government are greatly restricted.
The life of the whole community revolves round the phosphate industry. The farm lands on the island have been ruined and there is no future for the people there at all. I suggest that this legislation should have made some provision for enabling the new Legislative Council to become at least an equal partner in the Phosphate Commission. Through their Legislative Council, the people of Nauru should be given as much voice on the Commission as the other three participating countries have. That is to say, they should become a fourth partner with the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Australia. In my view they should be - and this should be well and truly specified and spelt out in the legislation - the heir apparent to their own island’s resources. They should aim at developing their capacity to take over the industry completely.
I know that the honorable member for Evans (Dr. Mackay) has always had an inclination to sell the mineral deposits of his own country to anyone who has enough money to pay for them. If he is prepared to do that with his own country, he would certainly be prepared to do it with Nauru.
– Give me chapter and verse for that.
– Order! The honorable member has already spoken.
– Of course he has, but not very impressively; nor did he make specific mention of the fundamental rights which, from the standpoint of the United Nations, should be the birthright of everybody, no matter from which country they come. In the Territory of Nauru Report for 1963-64, under the heading “ Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms “, we read -
All elements of the population share without discrimination in the enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms as outlined in Article 76c of the Charter of the United Nations.
This is quoted almost triumphantly in this report issued by the Department. Article 76 of the Charter of the United Nations refers to -
We are dealing here with legislation thu denies these people a say about the resources of their country and the manner in which they should be exploited. We are dealing with legislation that denies a number of people who are permanently domiciled on Nauru the right to vote. It is with some gratification that the Opposition, through the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley), has moved an amendment drawing attention to the fact that this legislation contains no provisions for the political, economic, social and educational advancement of the indentured labourers in the phosphate industry. I have previously referred to the indigenous people of Nauru - the Nauruan community - but there is the other important question referred to by several Opposition speakers and which is substantially the subject of this amendment. The 1963-64 report on Nauru refers to the discriminatory wages that apply on the island. For example, it states -
The review of the price index made in October, 1963, increased the adult male basic wage from £9 7s. 54d. a week to £9 12s. 8d. a week.
The report then refers to the rates of pay for other workers and states -
The rates of pay for Chinese and Gilbert and Ellice Islands workers range from £13 a month for unskilled workers to £22 a month for tradesmen.
Th: Pacific Islands Year Book contains substantiation of this statement’. It says that the unskilled phosphate workers are paid £13 a month and the tradesmen £22 a month plus clothing. In other words, they are paid wages rising upwards from £3 5s. a week. The Year Book goes on to refer to the Nauruans’ remuneration and shows that the Nauruans, separately from the Phosphate Commission workers, have a fixed basic wage, which from 2nd June 1962 was £9 6s. 6d. a week for men and 75 per cent, of that for females. So there is this discriminatory wage structure. I believe this matter is of considerable significance as is, of course, the fact that people other than those who are a part of the Nauruan community, as defined by the appropriate ordinance, are not to be given any voting rights in respect of the election of members of the Legislative Council. For these reasons I believe the Opposition has put something forward the basis of which cannot be denied. Government supporters must be concerned with the discrimination that prevails in Nauru and I hope that they are equally concerned with the obvious need to come to grips with the basic problem concerning the phosphate deposits so that sufficient money will be set aside either to enable the Nauruans to restore their island to the extent that they are able to sustain themselves from it or so that they will be the beneficiaries in the not far distant future of a resettlement fund that will enable them to live with a reasonable degree of happiness and prosperity.
I join with my colleagues and, indeed, with every member of this House, in expressing the hope that the passage of this measure will contribute to the wellbeing of the Nauruan community and will help to alleviate some of the problems with which the Nauruans are confronted. T hope it will not be long before this Parliament has another opportunity of debating the affairs of the Nauruan people and that this might involve the granting of complete independence without any limitations or restrictions.
– I very much appreciate the attitude of the Opposition in not opposing the Bill because obviously, as all honorable members on both sides agree, this means a great advance for the people of Nauru. I appreciate also the contributions made by the honorable members for Evans (Dr. Mackay) and Bowman (Dr. Gibbs). They have both given sincere and intelligent study to the situation on Nauru, particularly the honorable member for Evans, who has been to the island. I suggest that his speech, when printed in “ Hansard “, will be an excellent reference source on the situation in Nauru. Although the Opposition has agreed to support the Bill it has expressed concern about the indentured labourers on the island and an amendment was moved on behalf of the Opposition by the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley), who made a most thoughtful and constructive speech on the whole matter. However, I am afraid I am unable to agree with his comments on the judicial situation, particularly his reference to an appeal judge. He expressed concern that while Nauru was proceeding towards independent statehood it was inopportune to provide for appeal to a judge domiciled in Australia. He did not suggest to whom a litigant would appeal if this provision were not included in the Bill. I point out to him that the Nauruan people themselves desire this Bill. This provision is in keeping with the attitude of many of the emerging countries. I refer him to the last Commonwealth Law Conference in Sydney where this attitude was frequently expressed by delegates. If there is to be a change - and should Nauru go to independence, Nauru will gain its independence through an Act of this Parliament - this provision could be altered according to the desires of the Nauruan people.
The honorable member for Fremantle and other honorable members opposite are concerned at the alleged lack of opportunities for the indentured labourers on Nauru to have some say in the government of Nauru. I think we must get this situation clear in our minds. Nauru engages Chinese from Hong Kong and Gilbert and Ellice Islanders from the Gilbert and Ellice Islands. These people are employed on a contract basis. The term used is “ on annual contract “, which may be renewed. Usually they come to Nauru for 12 months only. In my view it would be quite wrong to bring these people within the system of local government because, first, they are not all of the same nationality. The people from Hong Kong and the Gilbert and Ellice Islands are of British nationality. Nauruans, on the other hand, are Australian protected persons.
There you have a difference to begin with. But the important factor is the transitory nature of the indentured labourers. They are on the island for only a short time. To suggest that they have no representation is incorrect. The Gilbert and Ellice Islanders have their council and the Chinese have their workers’ committee. These bodies meet monthly with the British Phosphate Commission. On occasion the Administrator of Nauru meets with the representatives of those workers’ groups. So the indentured labourers have adequate means by which to state their case.
In the progress report No. 2 of the United Nations Mission which visited Nauru it is stated -
Representatives of Gilbert and Ellice Islands, also Chinese workers, totalling 1,800, employed at Nauru by British Phosphate Commissioners have told U.N. Mission they are very happy with conditions and have no questions to raise with the Mission.
The United Nations Mission was completely independent of the local administration. It has been suggested that the present method of employing indentured labourers on the island causes a breaking up of families. This is not so. There is an increasing desire on the part of labourers on Nauru to bring their families with them. This may be due to overcrowded conditions in the countries from which they come. At 30th June 1964, 8.1 per cent, of the indentured labourers on Nauru had their wives with them. By 30th June 1965 the figure had risen to 27 per cent. The indications are that soon the figure will be 46 per cent. We are providing new accommodation for these people all the time. It is excellent accommodation and it is free.
– Is the Minister now referring to Chinese?
– Where are the Gilbert and Ellice Islanders accommodated?
– I believe that they are provided with accommodation but I do not know the details. Free accommodation and transport is provided for the Chinese. I have answered most of the points raised by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. He said that we should be moving more quickly towards independence for Nauru. This claim is in keeping with the honorable member’s general attitude towards this matter. He has said that he believes the people of Papua and New Guinea should have independence by 1970. The honorable member would push these people into independence without any regard for the outcome. The Australian Government will be having further negotiations with representatives of the Nauruan people.
The honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) said that the report of the British Phosphate Commissioners had not been made available to this House. 1 point out that the British Phosphate Commissioners are not responsible to this House. Nauru is administered by three partner governments. Australia does not have sole responsibility in the matter. It is just the administering authority. I take great exception to the remarks of the honorable member for Hughes (Mr. L. R. Johnson). He painted a most inaccurate picture of the situation on Nauru. I imagine that his speech will be quoted outside Australia to our disadvantage. In contrast to the remarks of the honorable member for Hughes, the honorable member for Evans (Dr. Mackay) pointed to the problems of affluence on Nauru. These are very definite problems. No country suffers more from the effects of affluence than does Nauru. We in Australia may have our problems, but certainly the Nauruans have greater ones. We must sympathise with them in their problems.
The honorable member lor Hughes did not advert to the funds available to the Nauruans in the future. He said that when the phosphate deposits are exhausted the people will have nothing. He did not say anything about the long term investment fund which, having regard to the present rate of royalties, will amount to about £60 million when the deposits are exhausted. Taking the present population of 2,600 and assuming an earning rate of 5 per cent., it must be conceded that the people of Nauru will be very affluent even if they do not do anything else. But I have no doubt that my remarks will not be quoted in other parts of the world alongside those of the honorable member for Hughes. It is not good for Australia that honorable members should deliberately knock our efforts to advance the Nauruans. We may be very proud of our administration of Nauru. We have pro vided the Nauruans with every opportunity to advance themselves. We offered them the opportunity to settle on Curtis Island. Such an opportunity would have been rushed by millions of people elsewhere in the world. But it is the business of the Nauruan people whether they accept our offer. We do not wish to exert any force on them. For the reasons I have given, I submit that the amendment has no relevance to the Bill. The Government cannot accept the amendment. I commend the Bill to the House.
Question put -
That the words proposed to be omitted (Air. Beazley’* amendment) stand part of the question.
The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. Sir John McLeay.)
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr. Barnes) read a third time.
– I present the eleventh report of the Printing Committee.
Report - by leave - adopted.
Debate resumed from 2nd December (vide page 3503), on motion by Mr. Opperman -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
.- The Opposition supports the Bill. However I wish to make a few comments about the origin of the legislation and the proposals announced by the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Opperman). In his second reading speech, the Minister generously paid tribute to the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) who, as Minister for Immigration, introduced the original Bill on 23rd September, 1949. On that occasion he said -
The purpose of this bill is to create by statute a secure procedure for the reception, administration and disbursement of certain moneys received by the Australian Government on behalf of a group of non-Jewish migrants from Palestine known generally as “Templars” or members of the Temple Society. The Temple Society is a religio-economic society whose original members migrated from Germany to Palestine between 1860 and 1870 for “ the spiritual and economic development of the Holy Land “.
I do not want to go through the whole of the speech made by the Leader of the
Opposition on that occasion, but it is interesting to recall some of the facts. They may have been forgotten by, or may not have been known to, some honorable members. The Leader of the Opposition continued -
By the use of communal funds and a communal organisation sustained by religious motives, members of the society gradually established urban and rural colonies at Haifa, Jaffa, Sarona, Jerusalem, Bethlehem and elsewhere in Palestine, and by the outbreak of the recent world war had developed them into flourishing and lucrative communities.
Their economic wealth comes mainly from the primary products of their rural colonies. Although at the outbreak of war the society in general had been for 80 years in Palestine and the majority of its members had never seen Germany, they had remained predominantly of German stock and had not lost their German nationality. When Palestine became a strategic war area, it was necessary to take precautionary measures. The majority of the Templars were interned. They were subsequently sent to Australia and some 574 men, women and children were interned for the duration of the war. In 1946, it was quite apparent that the Templars in Australia could not be re-established in Palestine. They had no desire to be transported to Germany. It was found that many of these people were anxious to settle in Australia after the war. Mr. Justice Hutchins of the Supreme Court of Tasmania presided over an inquiry and reported on applications for Australian citizenship. It was decided that all but 70 of the Templars would be eligible to take up residence in Australia and become Australian citizens. A recommendation to this effect was approved by the Minister and the Templars became Australian citizens.
On their release from internment the Templars in Australia applied for landing permits for members of the Society who still remained in Palestine or Germany and they asked that the Government assist them officially in the liquidation of their valuable Palestinian assets and the transfer of the proceeds to Australia. The Government sent’ a mission to Palestine in 1948. Subsequently 270 Templars from Palestine, who had been evacuated to Cyprus for their own safety, were selected for migration to
Australia and joined their relatives here. They had assets totalling about £3,500,000 sterling for distribution. This money was derived mostly from liquidation of the Templar colony at Sarono and then vested with other German assets in the Palestine Government to be transferred to the United Kingdom for eventual disbursement to Templars in Australia.
In 1949 much of the property remained unsold. Naturally it was necessary to have some legislation whereby this might be disbursed to the people concerned. Arising out of that background, the present Act was introduced by the Minister for Immigration of the day for the purposes I have mentioned. We are seeking to amend that Act today. The Temple Society Trust Fund is, of course, subject to the provisions of the Audit Act, 1941-48. It is interesting that in the Auditor-General’s report for 1964-65 the following appears, under the heading “ Temple Society Trust Fund “ -
Receipts during the year comprised interest on investments and amounted to £26,142, and payments, representing administrative expenses, totalled £3,406. The balance of the Trust Fund at 30th June, 1965 was £739,154, of which £720,000 was on interest bearing deposit with the Reserve Bank of Australia.
That shows the position as at this date. The background that I have given indicates the reason why the legislation was introduced.
The Minister for Immigration in his second reading speech said -
The purpose of the present Bill is to revise the Temple Society Trust Fund Act of 1949, so that, without any change of principle or policy, the fund may be administered in the light of experience and development.
In other words this legislation is merely to bring the Act up to date and into line with what has happened during the 16 years or so since the original Bill was introduced. The Act is to be made retrospective to 28th October 1949 and the principal clauses include provision for payment to the Fund from compensation, with interest earned on compensation as well as proceeds of the realisation of the assets of the migrants. A new clause is inserted providing for the Minister to make payments to certain classes of persons who are not eligible or not clearly eligible to receive payments under the principal Act. I will not outline all of the clauses as the Minister clearly did so in his second reading speech. An important change in the legislation makes it essenial for the Minister to have regard to conditions relating to such payments in agreements between Australia and the countries from which the moneys have been received, for instance, the German-Australian agreement dealing with compensation received from Israel. Moneys originally appropriated by the Palestinian Government for the evacuation and rehabilitation of German nationals were charged to the so-called “ administrative “ moneys. These charges will now be made against the Fund. Those are broadly the terms and conditions of the legislation which might be termed a simple administrative Bill which is introduced to keep the Act in line with the changes that have taken place since the legislation was originally introduced.
Without being political in any way I might mention that there is one significant feature in this legislation which might well be applied to many other aspects of legislation in this country.
– What is that?
– It is to be found in clause 2 which provides -
This Act shall be deemed to have come into operation on the twenty-eighth day of October, One thousand nine hundred and forty-nine.
I make reference to this in passing, Mr. Deputy Speaker. Those honorable members who have tried to get pensions backdated for six months will see that it is not impossible in this day and age to backdate payments not only for six months but for 16 years. I congratulate the Minister for Immigration on awakening the Government to the fact that this can be done advantageously in legislation that comes before the Parliament. The purpose of that clause, of course, is to legalise and validate anything that has been done during that period for which there may not be legal doubts at this stage. I mention this matter, in passing as I think it is worth placing on record.
I do not wish to quote the full text of the Minister’s second speech at this stage but I understand that ultimately between £5 million and £6 million will be involved all told. Is that not so, Mr. Minister?
– That is the complete total.
– Claimants in Germany will receive more than £2 million and there are approximately 1,500 former German residents of Palestine or Israel who have migrated to Australia. There has been no cost for their passages or the administration of their funds and most of them are now naturalised Australians. By agreement or indemnity there has been no charge on the Australian Government at all under this legislation introduced in 1949. At this particular time 500 others still remain overseas in Germany or elsewhere. There is a need for this legislation and I think it is a tribute to the present Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) who was the first Minister for Immigration that the original Bill was drawn up so effectively that it has not been necessary to change it during the last 16 years.
Before I conclude, as the word “ Templars “ is an unusual term, and one which takes a bit of fossicking out, and one about which our knowledge might not be as extensive as we might wish I turned up the “ Encyclopedia Britannica “ and I found out something about Templars. It is interesting, and I think it might well be included in “ Hansard “. It is as follows -
The Knights Templars, or Poor Knights of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon . . . formed one of the three great military orders, founded in the 12th century. Unlike the Hospitallers and the Teutonic Knights it was a military order from its very origin. Its founders were a Burgundian knight named Hugues de Payns and Godeffroi de St. Omer, a knight from Northern France, who in 1119 undertook the pious task of protecting the pilgrims who, after the first crusade, flocked to Jerusalem and the other sacred spots in the Holy Land. They were quickly joined by six other knights and soon afterwards organised themselves as a religious community, taking an oath to the patriarch of Jerusalem to guard the public roads, to foresake worldly chivalry, “ of which human favour and not Jesus Christ was the cause” and, living in chastity, obedience and poverty, according to the rule of St. Benedict, “ to fight with a pure mind for the supreme and true King”.
There are several pages of it. I do not want them incorporated in “ Hansard “, but they provide an interesting background to the Templars. I thought it was worth placing on record. Of course, if the Minister is interested he can bring himself right up to date. The article goes on to speak of the Rule of the Temple, the Fall of the Latin Kingdom, the Suppression of the Order, and the Power and Influence of the Order.
– Could I ask one question? How did they manage to survive during the generations if they were committed to chastity?
– Order! The honorable member for Grayndler will continue his speech.
– The honorable member for Eden-Monaro asks how they survived if they were committed to chastity.
– Order! The honorable member should get back to the Bill.
– I will get back to the Bill but I thought that was an interesting question. On behalf of the Opposition I support the legislation. I thank the Minister for his tribute to the first Minister for Immigration and I add my own personal congratulations to the former Minister for introducing a Bill 16 years ago which no Government has sought to amend since that time. It has covered fully everything associated with the Templars and has been able to give to them not only a measure of security by the distribution of their assets after the war but at the same time has evidently been administered to the complete satisfaction of the Governments on both sides of the world, those associated with this matter and particularly the recipients of the payments themselves. I support the legislation on behalf of the Opposition.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr. Opperman) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 25th November (vide page 3192), on motion by Mr. Hulme -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
amending act which was passed earlier this year. That Act set out to restrict monopoly control of commercial television. Its effect was very limited. What was done under the act was far too little and was done far too late. Before the act was passed, Australian commercial television had already passed into the effective control of a very small number of wealthy men, nearly all of whom also had very great newspaper interests. The passage of that amending act has left the position unchanged. Control of commercial television today remains in the hands of a very few wealthy men, nearly all of whom also have extensive newspaper interests. That situation is a national disgrace and a national danger. It is a position paralleled in no other country in the world. It is the direct result of the timidity of this Government which allowed these newspaper barons to set the express will of Parliament at naught, by exploiting legal loopholes.
The amending Bill now before the House relates to a provision in the amending act whereby the Government deliberately exempts from the restrictions on television control and ownership all interests in television station licences that were acquired before 17th December 1964. Indeed, this was a case of the Government making sure that the stable door was not shut until every possible horse had already got out, laying it down that henceforth none of the existing monopoly rights established in television should in any way be restricted. I think the honorable members ought to be clear that the act which we are now seeking to amend is itself an act which, in the name of restricting monopoly control of television, has validated every monopoly expansion of television that occurred in this country up to 17th December 1964.
It might be thought that the amending act was itself pretty much of an empty gesture. But the new amending Bill we are now dealing with shows that apparently this was not entirely so. It was not entirely an empty gesture because seemingly it has been discovered that some inconvenient small restraint is imposed by the act. Accordingly this Bill, very obligingly, sets out to remove even that very small restraint imposed on monopoly television control. The act, in accepting television interests acquired before 17th December 1964, pro vided at the same time that a person who was thus permitted to retain existing widespread interests in television companies should also be permitted to be represented on the directorates controlling those companies. If that person had succeeded, by finding loopholes in the law, in defeating the will of Parliament and extending his television interests more than the Parliament would have wished, or which the legislation sought to achieve, then the Government proposed that not only should all these interests be validated and continued but that the person concerned should be permitted to be represented on the directorates controlling all those companies.
Some doubt has been expressed as to whether or not the provision in the amending act fully carries out its intention so we have this new amending Bill to remove all possible doubts in that direction. I accept the statement of the PostmasterGeneral (Mr. Hulme) that the measure does not involve any change at all of policy but is merely intended to clarify what was always the intention of the relevant section of the act. This statement is borne out, of course, by a study of the Bill, and the Opposition does not oppose this measure. One might have thought that the Government would appease the newspaper barons in Australia by this further humble offering cast in their direction, but these newspaper knights are both insatiable and implacable. In Melbourne, yesterday the “ Herald “ carried the attack on this Government launched by its chairman of directors, Sir John Williams, with large headlines and unlimited space, as befits a report relating to the utterances of a chairman of directors. The newspaper set out Sir John’s attack upon the Government. But at least it had the sense of fitness to publish the report of his utterances on an inside page.
This morning, the Sydney “ Daily Telegraph “ carried a fulminating front page editorial by Sir Frank Packer written, who would doubt, by his own fair hand. His hand was apparently trembling at the injustice that this Government had done. Honorable members might not be in any doubt as to whom the injustice has been done. It has been done, of course, to Sir Frank Packer. He is very indignant about it and is using the whole force of his newspaper and his powers of mass communication to threaten and browbeat the Government in the determination that these amending provisions shall be withdrawn.
Both these giants, Sir John Williams and Sir Frank Packer, are full of fury at the Government’s amendments to the television law which restricts their rights to acquire still more television stations. They are roaring dreadfully; they are pawing the ground and they are breathing fire in their attempts to intimidate the Government. They know, of course, by experience that it is utterly impossible for them to intimidate the Opposition. But they also know by experience that if they crack the whip hard enough some Government supporters at least will always dance to the newspaper tune. As sick making spectacles ought to be avoided as far as possible, I hope that no Government member will be so shameless as to do this in this debate.
I must make one distinction between these two newspaper knights. Sir John does his bullying and whip-cracking in a gentlemanly way but the good and noble Sir Frank has no such reservations whatever. Where his interests and his profits are concerned he goes in boots and all. He uses the whole resources of his newspaper, his editor, his leader writer and every member of his staff, in an endeavour to protect his interests which, apparently, in his mind coincide with public interest. The public interest is the interest of Sir Frank Packer, and the interest of Sir Frank Packer is the public interest.
In his editorial today Sir Frank Packer named a number of Federal Ministers. They have an opportunity in this debate to show that they stand hard and fast for the amending act because he has charged them with silence and with being afraid to declare themselves one way or the other. In the plainest words, be has named them and he has threatened them. He wants the amendments withdrawn and he has called upon the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) to act. He does not threaten the Prime Minister. I think he has a sort of reverent attitude towards this father or grandfather figure, but he almost pleads with him. But Sir Frank has no hesitation at all in threatening the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt), whom he calls upon to act, and the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen), whom he calls upon to act. He tells the Treasurer, in the plainest terms, that unless he acts his chances of becoming Prime Minister are very slim. In other words he says: “Harold, if you want my support - and it is my support that will make or unmake you as Prime Minister - you will have to undo this legislation because it adversely affects my interests.” I suggest that the Treasurer would enhance his political stature if he stood up in this House and firmly resisted that blatant pressure.
– He would not be game.
– Well, the event will tell. But if he remains silent on this printed challenge on the front page of today’s “ Daily Telegraph “ then I say that the Treasurer’s political stature will shrink even smaller than it is now.
Of course the Government has cause daily to be grateful to these newspaper knights and their newspapers and television stations. These newspapers and television stations very largely serve the Government’s interests. If section 92 of the Act of which we are now considering an amendment were struck out, the already immense power and influence that these gentlemen have over people’s minds because of their control of methods of mass communication and mass persuasion would be further greatly increased. Their power to intimidate and browbeat this Government would be far greater even than it is today. The axe wielded at parliamentary democracy on the front page of today’s “Daily Telegraph” would be further sharpened if the “Daily Telegraph” got away with its demand for the striking out of this provision. I think that what we see here is an extraordinarily apposite example of the public evil inherent in having so much control of the means of mass communication and mass persuasion concentrated in so few hands.
What is it really that has brought these newspaper knights to such a state of fury as is expressed in the Melbourne “ Herald “ and the “Daily Telegraph” today? As I have said, the amendment made in the principal Act restricts to some extent newspaper investments in companies holding interests in television stations. Its object was to prevent newspaper companies acquiring additional interests in television companies. They have already acquired most extensive interests throughout Australia, but this was to stop them from going even further. At this point Sir John Williams says: “ Because of the tremendous powers the new law assumes to take over newspaper companies’ investments it is hard to resist the view that it was designed as a punitive measure against the newspapers.” He complains against it on two grounds, and so does Sir Frank Packer. He complains that it is punitive and that it is retrospective in action. I would have had more respect for the arguments of these gentlemen about punitive and retrospective legislation where their own interests are concerned if I had ever seen them or any of their journals fighting against the punitive and retrospective legislation that this Government has aimed time and time again at the trade union movement. In those cases they have been silent. Their motives therefore must be suspect or it must be recognised that they are speaking solely from consideration of their own interests. They are not concerned with the principle. They have disregarded it over and over again in other fields when the legitimate interests of the people of Australia have been affected. They speak of it now and write about it now only because it affects their own profits.
How much loss of profits has caused them to reach these extraordinary heights of indignation? The Melbourne “ Herald “ admits to having lost £60,000 through this legislation. It made a profit of more than £2 million last year, but the loss of £60,000 through Government legislation is something to cause Sir John Williams to become almost delirious with anger.
– What have they done to employ Australians?
– Very little unfortunately. They have done the least they have been required to do, and in their television stations this is an absolute reproach to them and their conduct of the television industry.
I do not know what the Government is going to do in this dilemma. Is it going to yield to these newspaper barons? I understand that if it does so it will offend Mr. Reg Ansett. One can see, therefore, the dreadful horns of the dilemma upon which the Government is placed. That, however, is not a matter which I suppose need worry the Opposition unduly.
– I would not worry at the moment if I were you.
– Quite so; the Government will resolve that difficulty for itself and I am sure the Minister will rise and state in the most forthright tones his refusal to be dominated in any way by these powerful newspaper and television companies.
– I hope he does not take too long in doing it.
– Does the honorable member want to get away? I, at any rate, do not intend to take any longer. I just wanted to point out in conclusion a very interesting paragraph in Sir John Williams’s statement yesterday as showing the ramifications of these newspaper interests. This simple provision in the amending legislation which limited after 17th December 1964 the power of newspapers to hold shares in companies which held shares in television companies caused the Melbourne “ Herald “ to sell shares in the Hobart “ Mercury “ and in the Perth “ West Australian “ and caused the associated company of the “Herald” in Brisbane to sell shares in the Adelaide “Advertiser”. That is just one minor example of the ramifications of their interests in this country.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr. Hulme) read a third time.
Air Navigation (Charges) Bill (No. 2) 1965.
Audit Bill 1965.
Banking Bill 1965.
Bankruptcy (Decimal Currency) Bill 1965.
Butter Fat Levy Bill (No. 2) 1965.
Canned Fruits Export Charges Bill 1965.
Christinas Island Bill 1965.
Commonwealth Banks Bill 1965.
Customs Bill (No. 3) 1965.
Customs Tariff Bill 1966 (1965).
Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Bill (No. 3) 1965.
Dried Fruits Export Charges Bill 1965.
Egg Export Charges Bill 1965. Estate Duty Assessment Bill (No. 2) 1965. Excise Bill 1965. Excise Tariff Bill (No. 2) 1965. Honey Levy Bill (No. 1A) 1965. Honey Levy Bill (No. 2A) 1965. Income Tax Assessment Bill (No. 2) 1965. Insurance Bill 1965. Life Insurance Bill 1965. National Health Bill (No. 2) 1965. Parliamentary Retiring Allowances (Decimal
Currency) Bill 1965. Pay-Roil Tax Assessment Bill (No. 2) 1965. Post and Telegraph Bill 1965. Post and Telegraph Rates Bill 1965. Pyrites Bounty Bill (No. 3) 1965. Social Services Bill (No. 2) 1965. States Grants (Petroleum Products) Bill (No. 2) 1965. Superannuation Bill (No. 2) 1965. Taxation Administration Bill 1965. Wheat Industry Stabilization Bill 1965.
Consideration resumed from 25th November (vide page 3225), and 8th December (vide page 3784), on motions by Dr. Forbes -
That me Bills be now read a second time.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bills together read a second time.
Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation for the purposes of the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Bill (No. 3) 1965 announced.
Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation for the purposes of the Parliamentary Retiring Allowances (Decimal Currency) Bill 1965 announced.
Message from the Governor-General recommending appropriation for the purposes of the Superannuation Bill (No. 2) 1965 announced.
Leave granted for third readings to be moved forthwith.
Bills (on motion by Mr. Snedden) together read a third time.
Debate resumed from 7th December (vide page 3650), on motion by Dr. Forbes -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
.- This is a Bill to amend the Brigalow Lands Agreement Act 1962. The amendments are being made to meet proposals of the Queensland Government arising out of difficulties that some settlers have experienced and which were canvassed by honorable members of the Opposition when the original measure came before the Parliament. The Opposition welcomes legislation which has for its purpose the development of Australia and it will vote for this measure. We regard the measure as important because it will help to develop an important part of Queensland and will add to the wealth and strength of our nation. It will provide opportunities for settlers in an important part of our country.
The original Act provided for financial assistance to Queensland by way of a loan of up to £7i million for a period of five years to 30th June 1967. This Bill will extend by three years to 30th June 1970 the period within which advances will have to be repaid with interest at the long term bond rate. It should be remembered, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that the people who will repay this money will be the settlers on the brigalow lands. Frequently, Government supporters talk boastingly of the money that is being provided and spent on schemes of this kind but they seem to forget who has to pay back principal and interest in respect of the advances made. The settlers, of course, have to make the repayments. To do this they will have to earn a competence from the land by their industry and their understanding of the soil. The Commonwealth Government has nothing to lose from a scheme such as this. It can only gain from the development of land by an increase in production and in taxes paid.
The area with which this Bill is concerned is in the Fitzroy River basin of central Queensland. This is part of a vast region of brigalow lands extending from Collinsville in northern Queensland to Narrabri in New South Wales, the mother State. It is estimated that the total area of brigalow lands is some 20 million acres.
I believe that this should be emphasised, because it restates the national aspect of the brigalow lands scheme as a facet of Australia’s development. We must get away from the idea that only Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia, Tasmania, New South Wales or one of the Commonwealth Territories is concerned when we talk of schemes such as this. We have a responsibility to look at the overall picture of Australia. The area to be developed under the agreement between the Commonwealth and Queensland with which this Bill is concerned is to be increased from 4,271,000 acres to 4,971,000 acres. The area of holdings will be approximately 10,000 acres. Settlers will be obliged to develop their land if they are to win for themselves a permanent place in this fertile area.
The Bill provides for more flexible arrangements than have existed previously. I could not support more enthusiastically than I do this feature of the measure. It is most undesirable to apply a rule of thumb in matters of this kind, as has frequently been done, with governments making all the decisions and hard and fast rules being adopted. Conditions change from time to time and flexibility is necessary so that those who understand local problems and who meet the people on their land may reach decisions on the spot and make any adjustments that are needed. For instance, settlers should not be confined to one or two waterholes, as it were, to a certain type of fencing or to a certain class of production. Those who have to establish themselves and repay principle and interest on loans are the people who ought to be consulted about what is best for them. Their needs ought to be the dominant consideration in the planning of any scheme such as this.
Some time ago I visited the Fitzroy basin area. I was accompanied by the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Gray), who represents a portion of the region, and members of the Parliamentary Labour Party’s National Development Committee. I was greatly impressed by what is being done. The members of the visiting party had an opportunity to meet the local people and to watch work actually in progress. We saw brigalow being cleared and suckers and secondary growth being removed and we watched the treatment of the soil, the sowing of pastures and the like. All this was most interesting. I should like to express my thanks on this occasion to the honorable member for Capricornia for his assistance in helping me and the other members of the party to obtain a clear picture of what is taking place in an area in which the honorable member obviously is deeply interested.
This Bill provides for the resubdivision of original holdings. The land is to be divided among three classes of settlers - those with existing leases, those who buy land at auction sales and a third group made up of settlers selected by the Queensland Government. I think it will be admitted that the members of this third group come directly into the picture. They will have to meet the requirements of the legislation and will receive financial assistance. Their interests are of special concern to this Parliament. We can discuss this matter perhaps only in a general and rather abstract way because precise details of all features of the scheme are not before us, Mr. Speaker. The Queensland Government is* responsible for the adjustment of these matters and for the working out of policy directly relating to settlement. But the Commonwealth Government should not wash its hands of responsibility, for it also is directly concerned financially. It has a clear duty to the settlers to keep in close touch with them. I should like to think that from time to time Commonwealth officers will visit the area and take a deep and abiding interest in the welfare of the settlers and wherever possible help settlers to succeed in their chosen occupation. As I have said before, the success of this project can be achieved only by successful settlers. After all, the settlers are those who are most vitally concerned. I trust that the original holders of the land have received just compensation for the areas that they have been obliged to surrender to the Queensland Government for this scheme.
Looking through the development proposals for the area, we find a number of interesting aspects. The first relates to the extension of the boundaries of the areas of the scheme to take in some additional areas in the west and the south. Then there is the proposal for additional development work in the form of the ringbarking of forest country and the eradication of sucker regrowth. This, as you, Mr. Speaker, know as a practical man, is a most difficult problem, particularly in humid country with a heavy rainfall which stimulates growth. In such conditions, the settler has a full time battle trying to deal with suckers and the secondary growth that appears so rapidly and challenges his right to occupy the soil.
A third aspect is provision for greater flexibility in the development of individual blocks in regard to the provision of fencing, cattle tick control units and water facilities. This is of great importance. One of the weaknesses in the earlier legislation dealing with this scheme was the restrictive conditions that dictated to settlers with respect to important features of the control and management of land that rightly belonged to the settlers themselves. It is for those who work the land to determine what is desirable and necesary. A fourth interesting feature is the provision of breeding cattle. This matter should be carefully considered by the Queensland Government. Many people going on the land might find it much more profitable to buy up store stock and fatten them for sale so as to get quick returns. If a farmer breeds cattle on a property he has a time consuming job, and quite a considerable period elapses before he will receive any income from the young stock bred on his property. This ought to be considered very carefully by those who administer the scheme.
The next proposal is for additional road work for the area, both in the form of main roads and access roads. I should like to know, if the Minister can tell me - perhaps not today but some time in the future - the amount that will be expended on access and other roads in the area. These are, of course, quite necessary. They are vital to the area. It is necessary to have access to get the produce to market. A matter of very great concern is that if a great sum is to be spent on roads of access it must inevitably cut down the amount of money which will be available for other purposes. The final proposal is for an extension for three years to 30th June 1970 of the period within which financial assistance is available to the State.
These are matters of very great interest and importance and they should be noted by this House. I have mentioned the problem of the land, its growth, the regeneration and secondary growth of the soil. May I put forward the view which I hold very dearly that land should not be made available to settlers until it is improved to the extent that a settler will have an opporunity to earn a living almost immediately without interminable delay during which he has to expend vast sums upon his property and wait for years until he brings his property into productivity? It was said originally that settlers would require from £35,000 to £40,000 over this period and that their immediate cash requirement would be £12,000. In regard to this matter one serious thought which lingers in my mind and which could challenge the success of the scheme is the fact that there is a second group of settlers who are brought into the scheme. There are persons who can buy land at auction. They will go into the area, bid for blocks and lift land values to inflated heights. They will thus cause a great problem. Inflated land values and rising rates will be a threat to the hardy settler. Without very great resources he will be obliged to meet this challenge. We all know from practical experience over recent times that many people with hot money, made in quite a number of fields far removed and remote from the land, will go into the countryside, buy up properties, spend large sums on them and make the pace so great that the original settler will have great difficulty in meeting this challenge. People of this type invest in this way in order to evade taxation.
I refer also to the problem of water supply. It is all very well to say that in all of these projects thought has been given to the provision of water. The practical farmer, as does the average Australian, knows that one can never be sure of rain in this country. Our weather is capricious and our rainfall is uncertain. We have the driest continent in the world. Consequently we should look to the problem of water conservation. The honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Gray) can speak with detailed knowledge of proposals that have been made in respect of the Fitzroy River Basin in Queensland - not to be confused with the Fitzroy in Western Australia - the Nathan Gorge and other projects. No doubt my colleague will discuss such projects with a good deal of understanding. However, I emphasise that the Fitzroy River basin in Queensland offers very great opportunities as a major storage proposition. The Commonwealth Government, through its organisations and its instrumentalities, especially the Snowy Mountains Authority, should send officers there to investigate the possibility of a vast storage scheme that would provide an assured water scheme for the area concerned.
We have discussed the need for water and we have discussed the problems of the man on the land and the need for positive planning and careful consideration. When one considers that despite all our war service land settlement, all our closer settlement plans, all the great ideas we had in the past of putting more men on the land - my mind goes back to Carruthers of New South Wales with his slogan of a million farms for a million farmers - one becomes dismal and unhappy to be reminded today that whereas in 1939 there were 253,000 rural holdings in Australia, in 1962 there were 252,000 - 1,000 fewer after all those years. This is a disturbing feature. I was interested to read in the Quarterly Review of Agricultural Economics, Volume XVIII, No. 3, that the number of primary producers is stated to be 306,000 other self-employed persons 417,000, and male wage and salary earners 2,323,000. The article went on to say -
Over the decade to 1961-62 the number of wage and salary earners has been rising steadily, and an increase of 17 per cent, was recorded. The number of individuals liable to tax among the primary producer and other self-employed groups has fluctuated over the years. Comparing 1961-62 to 1952-53, the number of other selfemployed persons liable to tax rose by 25 per cent., and the number of primary producers liable to tax by 8 per cent.
That is an effective answer to those who feel that every person on the land is making millions from his modest holding. It is true that some who are in a big way are extremely fortunate. A footnote to the article is of very great interest and should be remembered. It states -
The actual number of primary producers (as distinct from primary producers liable to tax) has varied very little. For instance, the number of male owners, lessees and share farmers rose by only 2.1 per cent, between 1952 and 1958.
These figures came from the Commonwealth Bureau of Census and Statistics and they speak for themselves. The Opposition welcomes this legislation. We wish settlers in this area every success. We look forward in the course of the years to hearing reports from the Government respecting this area and we, in turn, would like from time to time to have the opportunity to visit the area and learn of the progress which we hope will be made.
– Insofar as the Government has indicated its intention to improve the terms and conditions of settlement in the brigalow lands, the Opposition supports the Bill. However, there are several points upon which we think improvement could be made and in respect of which criticism is warranted. First, there is the matter of the allocation of the land. Prices bid for blocks which have been put to auction, as has been pointed out by the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Luchetti), have tended to inflate the land values generally. This does not affect only the people on the Brigalow lands. I think everyone who has any knowledge of land, even urban land, realises that the officers from the Valuer General’s Department who go round making revaluations periodically, and upon whose revaluations rates and taxes are based, are likely to arrive at their assessments on the basis of comparable sales of adjacent land. The people who bid successfully for land at auction have a tendency to push up values beyond a reasonable level and this has an adverse effect upon adjacent landholders who, because of the high valuation put on their land as a result of ridiculous prices bid at auction for other blocks, in the area are required to pay higher rates.
Why do people bid so high at these auctions? In some cases, people from not only outside the district but outside the State and who have excess funds available adopt this method of avoiding taxation. They bid for the virgin land, invest their spare money on improving it and in this way avoid the payment of taxes. But they do this at the expense of other people because the high prices they pay are used by the officers of the Valuer General’s Department as a basis for revaluing adjacent property with the result that rates in the area generally are increased to a greater extent than the normal value of land in the vicinity warrants.
The proposal under consideration relating to the purchase of breeding stock is not quite what the settlers want. I remind honorable members that in the cattle industry there is breeding country and there is fattening country. There are people who breed cattle and there are people who buy store cattle. It could very well be that in the area under consideration there would be very few people who intend to operate their properties for breeding purposes. If the proposal before us remains as it is, finance will be available for the purchase of breeding stock, but not for the purchase of store cattle at auction. I do not think that is quite what the Government intends and I suggest that consideration be given to including the words “ or store cattle “. If this is not done we shall create a class of persons in the area who will have access to Government finance and another class who will not. Those who do not have the access to this finance will have to fall back on borrowing from banks or stock and station agents and this could be to their detriment for it could involve the payment of higher rates of interest. Generally speaking, they could find it difficult to obtain finance anyway because they may be involved with second mortgages which carry higher rates of interest.
I am pleased to note that the Government has altered the provision with relation to water resources. The previous limitation to two watering places on each property was ridiculous. Some of these properties are from 8 to 10 miles long and anyone who has any knowledge of the land will know that stock cannot be expected to walk long distances to water. They just will not do it. It is not practical animal husbandry to expect them to do it and on the larger properties the limitation to two watering places is not reasonable. At present, the owners of larger properties are prevented from putting in extra watering places even though they may not have exceeded their borrowing capacity from the Government instrumentality concerned. The proposal before us is a good one. I congratulate the Government upon recognising the problem and taking steps to have it remedied.
I come now to the question of additional population - the general concept of this legislation. I suppose the extra land being made available will increase the number of settlers to about 200, but I suggest that notice should be taken of the fact that in this particular area of central Queensland the number of producers in the dairying industry alone has dropped by 1,500 in the last 20 years. This means that 1,500 families have left the industry.
Sitting suspended from 6 to 8 p.m.
– There is little else that I can say about the brigalow lands settlement scheme but I offer some criticism of our land settlement scheme generally, particularly as it applies to this area. It appears to be the policy not only of this Government but of the State Governments that the most important asset a person who wishes to go on to the land can have is money. This is not so in other countries. The veterans’ land settlement scheme in Canada is not dependent upon an applicant having money. The land reclaimed from the Zuider Zee in Holland is not apportioned on the basis of the money a man has. Malaya, which some people might regard as a backward and emerging country, has a land settlement scheme a long way ahead of anything we have. Money is not regarded as an essential asset, nor is experience. Malaya recognises that the most important asset a man can have is the enthusiasm to go on the land. In Australia there must be thousands of men who would like to go on the land but who cannot afford to do so - the sons of farmers and even people living in the cities. What chance have we of reversing the drift of people to the city? A man is not encouraged to go on the land, nor has he any possibility of doing so unless he has a large sum of money and can participate in the auctions conducted by the various authorities disposing of land.
In Malaya people are settled on the land on a points system based on age and the number of children an applicant has. The settler works for the Government in developing the land until it reaches the stage when it will provide the settler with a living. Surely Australia, which is faced with the need to decentralise, should encourage people to leave urban areas and settle on the land. The Government should offer sufficient inducement to ensure that this happens. We must not overlook that when a man is taken from the city and established on the land, or taken from his father’s property which is too small for him and his family and settled elsewhere, he ultimately becomes a taxpayer. The Government will lose, nothing, in the final analysis. However, the scheme involved today ensures that the settler pays for the land settlement scheme. In the brigalow scheme a settler is lent up to £24,000. In addition he must have a certain sum in his own right. There is not the slightest doubt that it will not be many years before a lot of these settlers will be in financial difficulties.
In the Moura area of Central Queensland they have had eight years of drought. This has not only had an effect on the income of the properties there but it has tended to over-estimate the value of the methods being used to kill out the brigalow. Brigalow is notoriously difficult to eradicate. Hundreds and thousands of settlers in Australia have beaten the brigalow over a long period, but in small areas. In dry weather it is easier to get rid of than in wet weather and when the monsoon seasons return to Central Queensland - as they will - it may be that the brigalow problem will increase with the wet weather. In any event this eradication process is costing the settler money, even if the money is being advanced to him. His debt is being built up so that when he ultimately gets an income from the property most of it will be siphoned off to meet his interest and redemption payments and by the time he has done this he will probably strike another dry season and down he will go again. He will get no chance to recover to the stage where he can become a prosperous primary producer.
It would cause no harm if the Government were to investigate overseas methods of settling people permanently on the land and in circumstances that ensure that a reasonable administrator becomes successful and ultimately a prosperous taxpayer. How can we expect a settler to put in £12,000 to £15,000 of his own money, borrow £24,000 from the Government and possibly more from the agents or banks for stock, and find himself with a debt that would crush anybody on a property the size of those being allocated today? The size is being determined on what the Government considers to be a living area from which the settler can gain a net income to support himself. The settler borrows money to develop his land and his net income is absorbed in the repay ment of his debts and is not available to benefit the settler. I am reminded of a cartoon that appeared in the Press many years ago. It depicted a farmer showing his property to a visitor: The visitor remarked, “ You have done very well here “ and the farmer answered “ I have done well all right; I came here 10 years ago with £10 and now I owe £20,000 “. That is largely the pattern of land settlement in Australia. It is a pattern of debt. If a person has the money he can afford to buy property already in production.
I suggest that the Government investigate a scheme for putting experienced people on the land - farmers’ sons, or even urban residents who have the enthusiasm to go on the land. Let us find out what is done in Malaya, Canada and Holland where the settler works for the government while developing the land and where, if he proves that he is not likely to succeed, he is not put on the land in his own right. The government is thus in a position to select the men who will succeed. If we want a good and prosperous land settlement scheme let us examine the Malayan scheme where men are being settled on small rubber plantations that they develop to the stage where the settlers and their families can live in what’, according to local standards, is affluence, without having to go into debt first. Do not let us start a man on the land with a load of debt that prevents him for the rest of his life from becoming a successful settler. The original settlers on this brigalow land - the pioneers - got it for half a crown an acre. They could not have afforded to have gone on the land under the terms and conditions the Government applies to land settlement nowadays. Even with the Ord River scheme a man needs £22,000 to start off. If I had £22,000 I would not go to the Ord River area; I would buy myself a farm in a better situation and in better circumstances and owe no-one anything. The man on the land - the potential primary producer whom we expect to increase the wealth of this country - must be given an opportunity to succeed. We cannot allow him to become a debtor to the State. We must not put him in the position of having to repay his profits to his creditors in the form of interest payments at 5 per cent, or 6 per cent. To do this would be to place a burden on him. I sometimes wonder whether it is a good idea in all instances to make grants to the States, which then lend the money to the settlers. This procedure could be examined. If money is to be provided for this purpose let it be granted also to the man who is prepared to pioneer these new areas. Let us give some hope of reward to the people who settle in these areas. It is too late to help them when they are old. They will only leave everything to their children free of debt. Give help to a man while he is still young. Give him a chance to become a successful settler and primary producer. If you do this you will have grateful people on the land - people who in their own lifetimes will be successful and who will further develop this country whose wealth comes primarily from the land.
.- The brigalow land is, in the main, in my electorate, around Moura and Baralaba. I do not share the fears held by the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Gray). The gloom and fear felt by the Labour Party with regard to this scheme are unfounded. I share the views of people interested in the scheme that it is of tremendous importance to the development of northern Australia. The Commonwealth Government and the Queensland Government have taken a great step towards settling people on this land. Anybody who goes to Moura or Baralaba and through the Fitzroy Valley can see what these settlers are doing. Without the help of this Government and the Queensland Government the settlers could not succeed.
The honorable member for Capricornia said that there have been eight years of drought in the brigalow country. That is not correct. There have been eight years without rain, but not eight years of drought. In the last month or six weeks between four and seven inches of rain has fallen. With a fall of that order, the settlers can control the brigalow. I do not agree with the honorable member that the rain will create difficulties. Brigalow grows in dry periods when grass will not grow. It is then that we have difficulties. Once we get rain and are able to sow the land we will get some benefit from the developmental work the settlers have been doing with the help of the Commonwealth and Queensland Governments. Of all the schemes suggested for northern development - the Ord River scheme and the Weipa project, for example - the brigalow scheme is one of the greatest ideas the Commonwealth ever had for putting people on the land and enabling them to contribute as taxpayers towards the development of this country, because I am sure that these settlers will be good income earners and valuable Australians. The extension of the scheme and the granting of the requests made by the Queensland Government will help not only the settlers and Queensland but all of Australia. I commend the suggestion made by the Queensland Government. All Queenslanders are right behind the Commonwealth in this matter.
.- I propose to make some observations about this important Bill.
– What does the honorable member know about this subject?
– If the honorable member for Wakefield listens carefully he will hear the greatest authority on primary production and development in Queensland. He will hear an unbiased observer. I associate myself with the remarks of the honorable member for Capricornia (Mr. Gray) and the honorable member for Dawson (Mr. Shaw), who referred to this important developmental project in central Queensland. Prior to 1961, people south of the border, which runs from the McPherson Ranges and the Tweed River west, had never heard of the brigalow land. But thanks to the electoral revolution that took place in Queensland, when this Government was almost defeated, there was a change in the Government’s attitude. From that time on, the Government decided to make money available for development in Queensland. It is a good thing occasionally to frighten governments. The scare which the Government had at that time prompted the development of the brigalow land and the development of other projects in northern Queensland.
The Bill will extend for three years the period within which the Commonwealth assistance of £7,250,000 must be spent. This sum, which is not inconsiderable, is being spent to assist the Queensland Government in the development of this area. In Queensland, enormous areas of land have for a long time been regarded as unproductive. Such parts as wallum country and brigalow country have been a drug on the market. But now, with the application of scientific techniques and the availability of funds from the Commonwealth, it has been found possible to develop these areas. Under the Brigalow Lands Agreement Act 1962 the Commonwealth provided Queensland with up to £7,250,000 for the development of certain specified areas in the Fitzroy River basin. The Bill now before us amends in some respects the 1962 Act. This is quite a normal procedure because, notwithstanding that the original Act broke new ground, it is always possible to make improvements.
I repeat that the genesis of this proposal was the near defeat of the Government at the elections iri 1961. So the Australian Labour Party must take full credit for converting the Menzies Government to the belief that there must be development in northern Australia, particularly in northern Queensland. What role is the Commonwealth Government playing in this development project? It is making finance available, not in the form of a grant, but as loan funds. The settler must repay with interest any finance made available to him under this scheme. This is quite unusual in a provision for national development. Bills relating to development projects, which have gone through the House with the blessing of the Australian Labour Party, have provided grants to many of the States, but strangely no grant has been made to Queensland for a development project. If you will pardon me, Mr. Speaker, for one minute I will mention just a few projects that come to mind. The money provided for the Mount Isa railway was not a grant; it was a loan with a heavy rate of interest. The money provided in a bill that we will be dealing with very soon, the Weipa Development Agreement Bill, is not a grant; it is a loan. Money for all these projects is made available, but at a price. Money is made available for the brigalow development scheme, but at a price. The settler, through the State Government, must repay the money to the Commonwealth Treasury.
Efforts to solve the problems that face us should receive the blessing of the whole Of the Parliament, and I believe that the brigalow development project is an ex cellent one. For a long period, I have studied the area involved in this project. Some gentlemen - I withdraw the word “ gentlemen “ - some honorable members opposite who interjected earlier asked what I knew about the scheme. I make the observation that I have studied at length the brigalow area in central Queensland. It is in the Fitzroy basin. The Fitzroy River flows from central Queensland to the sea.
– Up hill or down hill?
– Surely no Minister made that interjection. Surely no Minister suggested that a river would flow up hill.
– No Minister did.
– I see.
– If I were the honorable member, I do not think I would allow myself to be taken away from the Bill.
– I think the honorable member who interjected is trying to do that, but I refuse to be taken away from the Bill. The area in which the £7,250,000 will be spent “is in the Fitzroy basin. I will quote from an authority that is undoubtedly reliable. It says that the Fitzroy River has the largest catchment area on the eastern coast of Australia. It drains an area of 55,600 square miles, which is about the equivalent of the area of the State of Victoria. This area is not merely rich in potential primary production; it is also very rich in minerals. I know that I would be deviating from the purpose of the Bill if I were to touch at length on the mineral wealth of the area, but I would say that a fairly reliable comment would be that a person who started to dig a grave in this area would find coal. It is the richest coal bearing area in the whole of Australia.
– In the world.
– Possibly, as my friend says, it is the richest coal bearing area in the world. The development of the area will require the expenditure of a lot of money and, as the custodians of the nation’s wealth and as we make the money we raise in taxes available to the States for development projects, we must be concerned about the returns that will be obtained from the money that is spent and the risks that are involved. As the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Luchetti), who led for the Opposition in this debate, said this afternoon, one of the problems we face in this nation is the shortage of water. I have referred to the Australian “ Year Book “ and I find that the area in which we will spend this money has one of the best rainfalls in Australia. That is the best assurance a settler can have that he will receive a reasonable return for the money “he invests. I will not quote from the schedules to the Bill; that would take too long. The schedules mention the area that is involved and I am sure all honorable members are fully conversant with it. The honorable members who are here - almost the whole of the Parliament is listening to me - would be aware of the details contained in the schedules. The area is around Rockhampton, Taroom and north of there. The average rainfall is between 20 and 40 inches. This is very satisfactory. It ensures not merely that the investment of the Commonwealth Government is safeguarded; it ensures also that the investment made by the Commonwealth Government through the State Government to the settlers is a most satisfactory one. Ultimately the return to the people of Australia, to the nation as a whole, will be an excellent one.
– What is grown there?
– In the past, nothing but brigalow was grown. The Bill provides that the area will be cleaned of brigalow scrub. Thanks to modern development, it is possible to clear the land of this pest and to make it suitable for the grazing and fattening of cattle. As the Bill mentions in the schedules, one problem of brigalow is suckering. Honorable members opposite, especially those who dutifully follow the leaders in their Party, know the full meaning of the word “ suckering “; but this does not apply in northern Queensland. After the area has been cleaned of brigalow, regrowth takes place. That is called suckering. The suckers have to be cleaned out, and I hope that in the future someone will clean out the suckers who are facing me tonight.
– It will not be long.
– As my friend from East Sydney says, it will not be long.
– What is the rainfall of Emerald?
– I can answer that and I will answer it during my remaining 16 minutes if I have time. As honorable members who have read the Bill will know - I imagine that some of those who are listening to me have read the Bill - it provides for the development of the area so that cattle can be raised there. As I said earlier, this area in central Queensland is drained by the Fitzroy River and in size it is the equivalent of the State of Victoria. Ultimately, the production of the area will be greater than the production of the State of Victoria, even though that State, old as it is, has enjoyed a high level of productivity. The great copper mine at Mount Morgan is in this area of central Queensland and, as I said earlier, there is coal everywhere. There is water everywhere. It is a reasonably flat area. It is served by railways, roads and excellent harbours. At Rockhampton there is an excellent harbour but unfortunately it is subject to flooding. In recent times the great deep water port at Port Alma has been developed, and is still being developed. Fifty miles south of Rockhampton is a city which in the future will be the greatest city in Australia. I refer to the port of Gladstone which has a shipping capacity greater than that of the port of Sydney. Gladstone is a relatively deep water port and is being developed at an amazing rate with large industries coming to the area. It will be the industrial capital of central Queensland and is involved in the area with which this Bill is concerned. All honorable members know that the principal alumina works will be situated at Gladstone.
– The honorable member is dealing with the wrong Bill.
– I said the principal alumina works. The principal continental alumina production works will be at Gladstone and will expand as time goes on. As I said earlier, the area with which this Bill deals has a square mileage that exceeds that of Victoria. The Fitzroy area has an excellent rainfall.
– Order! I think the honorable member should be a little guarded. He is beginning to infringe the
Standing Order relating to tedious repetition.
– I can assure you, Sir, that I have not said this before. I want to refer to the rainfall in the area in which the money to be provided by this Bill will be spent. 1 want to refer to the rainfall in Queensland. I am giving this information on behalf of the settlers in this area. The best areas available for settlement are those situated in the 20 to 25 inches rainfall region. On looking through the rainfall returns for all of the States I find that Queensland has 18.8 per cent, of the land in Australia that receives 20 to 25 inches of rainfall a year. No other State has as excellent a rainfall record. I could quote the complete rainfall statistics for all of the States, but I will not do so lest 1 shame the other States by demonstrating their insignificant position compared with the excellent rainfall record of Queensland. I make the point that this measure deals with one of the most satisfactory investments that the Commonwealth Government is making for the development of Queensland. Because of the rainfall the returns to the settlers in this area will be most satifactory
The Queensland Government has entered into an agreement with the Commonwealth on this issue. There are knockers in the Queensland Parliament on this issue, but I am never prepared to knock any developmental project. I am a man who is prepared to gamble on the development of the nation. It is only the audacius men who have been prepared to take a risk who have been responsible for the great developmental projects of Australia. I will not refer - because I would be out of order - to the great mining projects that have taken place in Queensland which have returned large dividends to the whole of the nation. I shall confine my remarks to the primary production returns to this nation. I am rather sorry that so many members of the Queensland Parliament are bogging down on this issue. The phrase “ bogging down “ is one that I have borrowed from the “ Courier-Mail “. It is not a word I like to use, but because the “ Courier-Mail “, Queensland’s premier newspaper, has used it, I shall use it. A former Minister for Lands and a member of the Country Party is most pessimistic about the proposal to develop this area in central Queensland. I am not of his kidney. 1 believe that the money that is to be made available will return large dividends to Australia and to Queensland and will promote the development of northern Queensland.
The principal product involved will oe cattle. The Bill provides for money to be made available to those who will be prepared to stock their properties. I know the peculiarities of some of those who will use this land. Some of them will not breed stock but will buy stock in the sale yards and bring it up to this area for fattening. The economics of the industry are such that that might turn out to be quite satisfactory. Perhaps it is not the right thing to use such excellent, lush pastures for the breeding of cattle rather than for fattening cattle. My colleague from Capricornia (Mr. Gray), who represents the city of Rockhampton, the capital of central Queensland, will confirm that the largest slaughtering establishment in Australia is to be found in Rockhampton. There will be a greater availability of cattle for slaughtering and exporting when these lands are developed.
I wish to make another observation and I hope that you, Sir, will bear with me and that honorable members will not be impatient. It will justify my action in supporting this Bill and will justify the attitude of the Australian Labour Party. I believe that the future of this nation will depend on the development of northern Australia and particularly the development of north eastern Australia, which means the State of Queensland. Because of the industrial development that will take place in Queensland in the near future provision must be made for the supply of food. Queensland has adequate resources to enable food to be supplied to the industrial workers who will go there to develop this nation. This Bill makes provision for land to be used for the fattening of cattle so that they will be in prime condition when they go to the meat works to be slaughtered.
The Bill deserves the commendation of the Parliament, but it does not go far enough. Projects for development never do. I am pleased that this Government has been frightened into developing Queensland. The party that can take the greatest credit for what is happening at present is the Australian Labour Party, because it frightened this Government into accepting this proposition. I know that the development of Queensland will increase as time goes on and that ultimately the State, of which I am a native and which I represent, will be the greatest industrial and primary producing State in the whole of the Commonwealth.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Message from Governor-General recommending appropriation announced.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Dr. Forbes) read a third time.
The following Bills were returned from the Senate -
Without amendment -
Income Tax (International Agreements) Bill 1965.
Without requests -
Income Tax (Non-Resident Dividends) Bill 1965.
Debate resumed from 8th December (vide page 3748), on motion by Dr. Forbes -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
.- The Weipa Development Agreement Bill 1965 seeks to ratify and legalise an agreement between the Commonwealth of Australia and the State of Queensland with respect to work at the harbour of the important centre of Weipa. It provides for the deepening of the channel into Albatross Bay and the extension of wharf facilities and other services required for the handling of bauxite from an important part of Australia at Cape York Peninsula. A loan of £1,635,000 is to be made to the State of Queensland, commencing on 15th July 1967, at the long term bond rate and it will be for a period of 30 years. In the Budget Speech of the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) it was announced that-
– Order! There is too much noise coming from the honorable member’s own side of the chamber. It is a unity ticket, I think.
– If the Minister will return to his own side of the House, Mr. Speaker, we might proceed a lot better. Provision was made in the Budget, according to the Treasurer’s Speech, for £750,000 to be provided this year for development at Weipa. Honorable members well know that Weipa is on Cape York Peninsula and that an area of 2,380 square miles there has been made available to Comalco Industries Pty. Ltd. Comalco is to exploit that area which is perhaps the richest bauxite deposit in the world. This is a very special privilege for Comalco for it is being granted an opportunity to take from this nation this valuable commodity, to process it, and to earn in return rich rewards for this labour. At the present time the company is taking 700,000 tons of alumina a year. It is proposed that, after the wharfage facilities have been extended and the channel deepened into Albatross Bay, an increased quantity will be mined and shipped from the area. The figure may reach 2,500,000 tons a year.
Honorable members will appreciate that Comalco is a company which at least sets a pattern for national development. At least it is making some effort to process this raw material in Australia. It is pleasing for me in particular to note that at Gladstone an alumina plant is being established and is being expanded. It will provide opportunities for employment, for population growth and for the development of Gladstone and of Queensland. I owe a debt of gratitude to the honorable member for Leichhardt (Mr. Fulton) for the information he has provided on this matter and for the information he furnishes, not only to the Parliament, but to the parliamentary Labour Party’s national development committee with respect to this important industry and concerning Weipa which forms part of the electorate of Leichhardt. I want to say “ Thank you “ to the honorable member this evening for what he has been able to do in regard to this matter.
It is also significant that Comalco has wide ramifications. It has interests at Bell Bay. I think it was announced only yesterday that an additional £4 million will be spent by Comalco at Bell Bay in expanding and extending its operations at that centre. In one way, it is a matter of great disappointment to members of the Opposition when we remember that a Labour Government of Tasmania established Bell Bay as a great Australian industry and yet it has been taken over now by a private organisation with very great interests outside the Commonwealth of Australia.
On that note, just in passing, I would like to make one or two other comments. The comments I wish to make deal in part with this matter before us but they deal generally with the problem of the plunder of Australia’s natural resources. I, and other members on this side of the House, are gravely concerned with the plunder of our resources and the fact that the great wealth of this country is being shipped from our land and in many instances is being processed overseas. There is an urgent need to take action to plan the use of our raw materials and to design our national development. Whilst Australia’s rich resources may be shared with nations less fortunately endowed, nevertheless our first responsibility is to Australia. To the extent that Comalco plays a part in this, its efforts are appreciated.
That company is doing something at Bell Bay. It is engaged in work at Gladstone which will promote activity in the north of Australia. But may I emphasise that we must measure our resources not in terms of 100 years but for a thousand years or more. We should cease thinking that we have resources to last for 100 years. We should think of the history of Europe. We should think of the United Kingdom which has had hundreds of years of industrial activity and development. Yet we measure our resources in terms of 100 years. Australia unlimited demands development, time without end. It should not be measured in time at all for in the long run we have to look into the future for a great and expanding Commonwealth of Australia. We have to think of our own needs, our own population and the future of Australia’s role in this part of the world. Our history is short by European standards. It is the duty of this Parliament to plan the future without limitation of time.
If one were to be tempted to enroach on other fields - which I should only do in passing and not in detail - one could look at the sale of our very best coking coal. It is being shipped to Japan by an overseas company, the Utah organisation. Japan is getting the coal, Utah - a foreign company - is getting the profit, and about 160 people in Australia are at work digging it out. We get the hole, foreign people get the profit and our coking coal goes to a foreign country. That which could not be won in war has been surrendered in the days of peace.
This is the sort of thing I refer to in passing only because it does not fit directly into the discussion on this Bill. One could say almost exactly the same thing in regard to iron ore. This is the sort of thing that disturbs and upsets me when legislation of this kind comes before the Parliament. This legislation in this form is wholesome because it will deal with the movement of ships between the coastal ports of Australia. I should like to think that this island continent of ours is developing with an integrated transport system of road, rail, air and sea transport in such a fashion that we can tap the resources of this nation and use our transport system for the development of our industry, the expansion of commerce and the well-being of Australia. All forms of movement of people and all the nation’s goods and services must be freely and economically made available. This work should be extended and so far as harbour facilities are concerned perhaps this legislation could represent a beginning. I should like to think that when ships come to Weipa, as they will, they will be modern ships, that drive-on drive-off vessels may be used as circumstances require, and that all this work into the broad transport pattern. Few vessels at present are equipped with modern facilities, but I hope that in time more of them will be so equipped, and that these facilities will become the rule rather than the exception in our coastal trade.
I believe that all processes connected with the manufacture of aluminium should be completed in this country. I can only hope that in the immediate future we will see great developments in Australia and that future governments will use their legislative powers to further developmental works of this kind and to encourage the use of our raw materials for the sake of our overall development.
The idea of making the money available at the long term bond rate, on the credit foncier system, is quite sound. No one can argue about that. I think it is most desirable. If we were to continue the arrangement for a period of 30 years, as is provided for, it would meet, to a great extent, the situation that confronts Australia at present. Let this legislation be a lesson to the Parliament and to the Government on the way in which funds should be provided for the development of our country. We should not confine this kind of arrangement to the bauxite deposits at Weipa; it should be extended to the man on the land and to all those who are trying to develop our industries.
The Opposition is pleased to support’ this legislation, and I have one other matter to refer to before concluding my remarks. Some years ago I visited Weipa with other members of the Select Committee on Voting Right’s of Aborigines. We looked over the area. We saw the tribal lands upon which our Aboriginal people live and we discussed with them the necessity for them to move to another area. Let me make this plea to the Government: When this Bill becomes law I sincerely hope that the Government will be humane and realistic in dealing with the needs of our Aboriginal people. I hope that they will not be pushed around. They told members of the Committee that they did not want to move. They said: “ We would not move for a thousand pounds”. To these primitive people £1,000 was a great sum indeed. It represented to them the ultimate amount that could possibly be obtained for the disposal of their tribal lands. I can only hope that the Government will remember this.
The Opposition supports the measure and hopes that it will have a speedy passage.
.- I did not rise immediately, Mr. Deputy Speaker, because I was waiting to see whether any member on the Government side was going to speak. Not one of them has so far opened his mouth. They have been quite silent on this measure which deals with a developmental project. On other occasions they are most vocal in insisting that they stand for the development of the north, but it is noticeable that when a particular proposition involving northern development comes before the House they are silent.
This is a Bill for an Act relating to an agreement between the Commonwealth and the State of Queensland with respect to developmental works at Weipa. The purpose of the Bill, as already outlined by my friend, the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Luchetti), is to obtain the approval of the Parliament to an agreement between the Commonwealth and the State of Queensland for the provision of financial assistance up to £1,635,000 as a loan for harbour works at Weipa in the Gulf of Carpentaria in my electorate. The Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) made an announcement about this, of course, in his Budget Speech.
Weipa is a very remote area. The Minister for the Army (Dr. Forbes) said that the potential of the bauxite deposit at Weipa was first recognised by the chief geologist of Consolidated Zinc Pty. Ltd. in 1955 and that a company was formed to exploit this deposit. Let me tell the House that bauxite was known to exist in that area long before that time. The Queensland Mines Department knew that it was there. It was well known that there were deposits of bauxite not only at Weipa but throughout the Cape York peninsula.
It is strange that although this deposit, according to the Minister, was discovered in 1955 by the company’s chief geologist, bauxite was found in Western Australia much later and development in that State began much earlier. Fortunately I was able to visit Western Australia recently and I had a look at the plant established by the Alcoa organisation. That company is producing alumina at the plant. Yet we find that development at Weipa has not really even started. I think that if we are really fair dinkum about the development of northern Australia we would consider setting up a nuclear reactor to produce electricity so that it would be possible to carry out the whole process of producing aluminium. It is about time we took a step in this direction. Too much of our raw material is being taken from the place at which it is discovered to another area for processing, and sometimes to another country. We then have to buy back the finished article. There is no reason why we should not finance the whole processing chain in Australia. This would be a much more satisfactory arrangement. Employment would be made available in our northern areas, because most of the minerals are in the north. If we were to process the raw materials on the spot and continue the various processes at that place up to the production of the finished article we would save a good deal of handling and transport costs.
In any case I am glad to see that in this case the bauxite is not to go out of Queensland. Tt will go to Gladstone for processing. The Opposition does not oppose this loan. I am glad to see that the terms of the loan are more favourable than those of any other loan that has been extended to Queensland. Reference has been made in this House to the loan given to Queensland by the Commonwealth Government, the terms of which were most unfavourable from Queensland’s point of view. I also remind the House that Queensland has received no such grants as have been given to other States for developmental purposes. I do not think that in this case a grant is warranted because the Queensland Government should be able to recoup its outlay from harbour dues that will be paid by the company using the port and other facilities to export the bauxite.
I am also pleased to see that a general cargo wharf is to be included in the project because 1 feel sure that when the bauxite deposits at Weipa are developed that project will be only the beginning of mining developments in the area. There is copper in the area and there are very many minerals that are most helpful in industrial processes. Scheelite and other hardening minerals have been found in the peninsula, and I am sure that once a start is made on the development of the bauxite at Weipa, the exploitation of these other minerals will follow. This is the kind of thing that happened at Mount Isa.
I am sorry to find that the agreement has not been arrived at, in my opinion and in the opinion of the people of Queensland, so much for the benefit of Queensland itself as for the benefit of the company. The agreement has not as yet been nearly as effective in developing the deposits as have some other agreements arrived at in Western Australia covering not only bauxite but also other mineral deposits. As I said before, the processing operations that are being carried on in Western Australia at present show how unsatisfactory has been the agreement between the Queensland Government and the company interested in the bauxite field at Weipa. I hope that we shall see more progress and vast development now that the funds provided for in this Bill are to be made available to the Queensland Government for the construction of a wharf and other works at Weipa. I am sure that Government’s engineers are capable of carrying out the work that has to be done and I hope that they understand the particular problems that exist in the Gulf of Carpentaria. In the tidal waters of the Gulf there is a very heavy movement of mud and I expect that constant dredging will be required to keep the port of Weipa open, though I hope I am wrong in this because I want to see the port and the area generally go ahead. I do not want to see development there shackled by faulty works or false promises.
As I have said, I believe that the Queensland Government’s engineers are capable of doing the job required. However, I hope that they will take notice of engineers resident in the north. When some of the early beef roads were constructed the advice of engineers resident in the areas concerned was not taken and trouble was encountered. Local government authorities deal with local problems every day and know the pitfalls and dangers associated with works of the kind envisaged in the agreement that is the subject of this Bill. Most local authorities in the Cape York Peninsula area do not employ full time engineers but engage the services of consulting engineers who have a close knowledge of the area. If they are consulted, they can provide much information that government engineers lack. Because this was not done, bad engineering resulted on some of the early beef roads. I am sure that the Queensland Government, when it receives the funds provided for in this measure, will seek advice from the best sources and take all possible precautions to ensure that the port at Weipa will be continually open for traffic, not only for the shipment of bauxite but also for the movement of general cargo.
This port will serve a big area and will not be used solely for the shipment of minerals. There is a lot of cattle country in the region and general cargo will assume considerable importance in the scale of traffic in the port. The needs of the agricultural, beef and other industries as well as mineral development will have to be met. As I said earlier, there will be further mineral development in the region and these developments will promote development of the north and particularly the Cape York Peninsula which could one day carry millions of people. The quicker we develop and populate the area the less chance we have of losing it.
This is a valuable region for Australia. Minerals have been found there for many years. If honorable members examine the history of the .Peninsula they will see that at one time there were thousands of people congregated in Cooktown and on the Palmer gold field. However, all this early mining development was scrapped. No big shafts were sunk and not much money was spent on getting the mineral out of the earth. The miners of those days were called gougers and they scratched around taking just the mineral that showed on the surface. When they had to take their operations deeper or into harder ground and as a consequence needed more finance than they had on hand, they simply abandoned their claims and moved to another place. Today one can see ghost towns all through the lower part of Cape York Peninsula. Many of these are reviving since the price of tin has risen to a more economic level. These mining areas are now beginning to go ahead again. The development of the port at Weipa will assist in the development of deposits of minerals other than bauxite. I support what has been said by the honorable member for Macquarie and other speakers on this side of the chamber. This measure provides for well worth while development of harbour installations at Weipa to be financed by funds that will be advanced to the Queensland Government by the Commonwealth.
– Mr. Speaker, I am amazed at the refusal of Government supporters to say anything about this Bill. Most Queensland representatives on the Government side of the House were very voca] in defence of big business when the Trade Practices Bill was being considered but not one of them has said a word about this measure which is designed to provide funds for the development of a part of northern Australia.
– This is a Government measure.
– That is so. The Trade Practices Bill was a Government measure too. Yet we were kept here for seven days as witnesses of a civil war in the Liberal Party concerning what should be done about that Bill.
– A seminar.
– It was a seminar, but not one that informed anybody, lt did not even entertain anybody. The Bill now before us is an important one. I believe that the Government should not be opposed for what it is doing in this regard. However, I believe that we should emphasise and that all Australia should know that this measure will not mean very much in terms of the development of northern Australia. It is typical of the Government’s Brisbane line mentality. The only part of Australia that matters to the Government is that part which is south of a line drawn between Brisbane and Adelaide. You come from Adelaide, Sir, and it is of course an important part of Australia. Either we fill this country with people or we lose it. It is all very well for the Government to dawdle along and concern itself only about the area south of the line that I have mentioned, but we have to do something that will really promote the development of northern Australia.
– What about the inland?
– Anything north of the Brisbane line must be developed. I have been to Weipa. There is not much activity there. I have been to Cooktown. It is a dead town today. It ought to be a very important centre and it might be if we could only build a bridge over the Daintree River and put a road through. I have been to the Torres Strait islands and to Borroloola in the Northern Territory. All this is very rich country and it ought to be developed quickly. Weipa is not merely the centre of some great mineral deposit. It is in an area that we ought to occupy and develop. The honorable member for Leichhardt (Mr. Fulton) represents about 47,000 voters in an electorate that covers more than 120,000 square miles. It is a vast area. He and other honorable members who represent vast areas in the north have to travel continuously in dealing with many problems that arise from this Government’s neglect of northern Queensland. It is all very well for the members of the Australian Country Party, who are interested only in wool, wheat, peanuts or other primary products, to be vocal only when their interests are involved. We all are Australians and we want this country to develop very rapidly.
This Bill should provide for more than the mere advancing of £1 million or so by way of a loan for the development of a harbour at Weipa. There ought to be many harbours on both sides of the Gulf of Carpentaria. Something must be done about the Torres Strait islands, particularly Thursday Island, which is only 136 miles from the nearest Indonesian part of New Guinea. All the area of which I have been speaking is 2,000 miles or more away from where we are tonight. Something more than mere talk has to eventuate. Not one honorable member on the Government back benches, all of whom are so vocal when big business interests are concerned, most of whom were highly vocal during the consideration of the Restrictive Trade Practices Bill and most of whom were vocal in the dispute between the honorable member for Wakefield (Mr. Kelly), a member of the Liberal Party, and the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen) in regard to so many matters. Let us hear from some of these honorable members tonight if they have any views to offer about the development of northern Australia. The Australian Labour Party is the only Australian party in this Parliament. It has always been the only Australian party. We want all Australia to be developed. We want this country to be made safe for our children and our children’s children so that their occupancy of this great continent will not be disturbed. The last six Bills have been passed without one observation from any Government supporter. Honorable members opposite are not interested in the brigalow lands or in the development of northern Australia; all they are interested in is getting out of this place as quickly as they can and staying out for as long as they can.
– We stay here longer than the honorable member does. We challenge the honorable member on that statement.
– I always stay here. The honorable member who interjected is the only member on the Government side who ever really seems anxious to stay here and, if he has nothing else to talk about, he will talk about skeleton weed. I make this protest about the refusal of the Liberal Party and the Country Party to say anything about the development of any part of Australia, that is not south of the Brisbane line. If they have anything to say as to what they think ought to be done for Australia or about how the country can be made safe for our children and our children’s children, let them say it now.
– Or forever hold their peace.
– Yes, or forever hold their peace. I hope I have stirred the possum in some of them. I have given up hope of any of the backbenchers opposite ever saying or doing anything in regard to Weipa, Cooktown, Gladstone or any other part of northern Australia. I know that something will come out of this legislation for Gladstone. At least I hope that will be so. I do not believe that we should allow Australia’s assets to be gouged out and sold to Japanese and Americans who are thus enabled to benefit themselves by using such assets in the manufacture and fabrication by cheap labour of articles which are sold to Australia. In effect, such assets are resold to us to the detriment of our economy.
– American capital with coolie labour.
– Yes, and also Japanese capital. We are supposed to have won the last war. One thing is certain - we have lost the peace.
.- I had stayed in my seat waiting for a Government supporter to support this Bill, particularly after hearing the observations made by the honorable member for Leichhardt (Mr. Fulton) and the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell). But as nobody has risen I feel I must associate myself with my colleagues in supporting this very important measure which will play a major role in the development of this nation. The greatest industrial development in Australia announced in recent times has embraced this area. Like my friend from Leichhardt, who is a member of the Australian Labour Party, I know this area very well. I know the Gulf of Carpentaria, its peculiarities and its mineral deposits. I am very happy to be associated with support for this Bill.
The area of Queensland is 670,000 square miles. The area of the electorate represented by my friend from Leichhardt is 120,000 square miles. I am unbiased in the matter of Queensland development. Although I represent an electorate whose area is only 14 square miles, I associate myself with all who are prepared to develop this great northern State. The Bill provides finance for the development of the harbour of Weipa. Weipa is on the eastern side of the Gulf of Carpentaria and on the western side of Cape York Peninsula. It is very rich in minerals. It has the richest known deposits of bauxite, which is the base mineral for the production of aluminium, a metal which is challenging steel in the modern industrial world. Bauxite is available right on the seaboard. Cape York Peninsula is an area of Queensland which is rich in mineral lore. It has a grand history in the development of the State. A former Premier of Queensland who became very rich in speculation and whose reputation was somewhat doubtful because of his riches was associated with great development in this area. In the region of Coen and Ebagoola and further north, a great deal of mineral development took place early in Queensland’s history.
With the small scale development of the gougers, the companies with no great financial backing, the development seemed to wane somewhat in north Queensland. Cape York Peninsula in particular went into decline. Now we find that there is a resurgence taking place. There is a great movement towards development the further we go north in Australia. In my contribution on the development of central Queensland during the debate on the Brigalow Lands Agreement Bill I referred to the great development that is taking place at Gladstone, where the greatest industrial complex in
Australia is now being constructed. This development is associated with the development of Weipa on Cape York Peninsula. It is true that large quantities of bauxite will be exported to Japan, Germany and other countries, but Weipa represents the real development of the aluminium industry in Australia. It has been announced - the development is in progress now - that at Gladstone £52 million will be spent on the alumina smelter because of the proximity of enormous coal fields which can provide cheap fuel in this area.
As I said earlier, there are difficulties in the Gulf of Carpentaria. This is a great inland gulf which is almost an inland sea. It is very shallow in some areas and it will be necessary to undertake dredging on a large scale. I can well imagine the complete disinterestedness in this matter of Government supporters, who are now yarning away about what is happening in Melbourne and Sydney while I am trying to emphasise the desire for development in northern Queensland. No honorable member on the Government side seems to be interested. No honorable member opposite has spoken on this measure. Honorable members opposite are heartily joking and laughing about the latest quips in “ Man “ and other magazines. They are not interested in northern Queensland, but I know that you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, are interested as you represent an electorate in Queensland.
– Mr. Deputy Speaker, I rise to order. The honorable member has just said that honorable members are laughing about jokes in “ Man “ and other journals. This is completely wrong. Is this allowed?
– Order! There is no substance in the point of order.
– As I was saying, I know that you, Sir, are interested, being a loyal Queenslander who wants to see the development of the State proceed. I am grateful to you for calling the House to order so that I can make myself heard. I found it difficult to hear myself in this most important debate on our development programme.
Queensland is the up and coming State of Australia. It has been found to be rich in minerals beyond the dreams of Aladdin and avarice. We have under almost the whole of the Fitzroy basin a bed of coal. In north Queensland where we ‘are to develop the harbour at Weipa there are millions and millions of tons of bauxite in the red cliffs. They are just waiting for the shovels to go in and dig them out for transportation to Gladstone. What is left will be sent to other parts of the world. This project is a very worthwhile one. It will assist in the development of this most important part of north Queensland. I most enthusiastically support the proposition.
I feel that the Government could do much more to assist in the development of Queensland. As my friend from Leichhardt said earlier, and as I said in another debate, no grants are being made to Queensland for the development of this area. The money that is being made available for the development of this area is loan money on which interest will be payable. That is what is involved in the proposition before us this evening. 1 feel that this measure makes but a minor contribution. But perhaps that is all that is required at present. Perhaps the country is so rich that just a little aid in its development will enable it to blossom forth and ultimately become one of the premier industrial complexes of the Commonwealth. When that happens I hope that I shall be privileged still to be a member of the Commonwealth Parliament and to take satisfaction in the role that I have played in the development of this area. If I am, I shall be here with a clear conscience, knowing that I have played my role in extolling the virtues of the area and urging greater disbursement of funds there, while all those who sit opposite are as silent as the grave. Nobody on the Government side has supported me, but Queensland will develop despite the members of the Government parties.
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. Sinclair) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 18th November (vide page 2898), on motion by Mr. Swartz -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
.- Thu is the simplest of bills. It makes two alterations, one of two words and the other of three words, in the Native Members of the Forces Benefits Act 1957. That Act provided repatriation benefits, in effect, for native members of the forces from the Territory of Papua and New Guinea and from the islands in Torres Strait. Among those who have received benefits as Torres Strait islanders are some mainland Aborigines. They were not entitled to receive benefits under the Act. Accordingly, the Act Is now being amended to include mainland Aborigines in the definition of “ native members of the forces “.
There are two matters that I wish to raise. The first is that the Act of 1957, which was assented to on 12th December that year, could not come into force until regulations were made under it. Those regulations were not made until 19th May 1961. It was a particularly grave example of delay in carrying out a statutory provision. This position, however, has now been cured.
The other comment I wish to make turns on the distinction made by the Bill, and later by the regulations, between the natives of Papua and New Guinea on the one hand and the Torres Strait islanders on the other. As honorable members know, all islands in Torres Strait belong to Queensland. It is a matter which should, I believe, be considered by honorable members. It is a technical matter which may well cause grave misunderstanding and tension in the future.
I have on several occasions referred to our imperial legacy in maritime and riparian borders. As honorable members know, all the islands in Bass Strait south of Wilson’s Promontory were given to Tasmania by the British Government in 1825. When Victoria was detached from New South Wales in 1851, Victoria still got only the very few Bass Strait islands north of the southernmost latitude of Wilson’s
Promontory. We know that this has given rise to difficulties with respect to fisheries laws, navigation laws and oil rights in Bass Strait. These are all problems which concern Australians even if the Australians live in different States.
As regards the islands in Torres Strait, however, a much more serious problem arises. These islands come within a few hundred yards of the coast of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea to which we are obliged by our international engagements, as well as by humanitarian and political motives, to grant independence. The proper time to sort out the islands in Torres Strait is now, before the question can become a matter of irritation between Papuans and Australians.
The border was fixed in 1878. There were many negotiations between the Queensland Government and the British Government, and later between the Queensland Government and the administration of the Brititsh colony - later the Australian colony - of Papua concerning this border. Honorable members who are interested in the details can get them from an article by Dr. Paul W. van der Veur of the Australian National University published in the “Australian Journal of Politics and History “ of August 1964. I shall quote a couple of sentences from the article to define the geographic situation. They read -
Even mangrove-fringed Saibai (within two miles of the Papuan shore) and members of the Talbot group at the mouth of the Wassi Kussa River (within a few hundred yards’ of the shore) fall under Queensland jurisdiction. It is almost impossible to travel from Daru Oust south of the Fly estuary) to the western boundary of Papua without passing through Queensland waters.
In another section of the article, Dr. van der Veur states that the boundary parallels the seashore of Papua for over 60 miles within the three mile limit. There is much dispute between maritime nations concerning the limits of territorial waters. It has, however, never been contended that any nation should exercise jurisdiction for less than three miles off its own coast. In the case of Papua the Queensland border for over 60 miles is less than three miles from the Papuan coast. The Commonwealth has jurisdiction in many respects within three miles of the Papuan coast and, if the boundary of Queensland remains as it is, will continue to have such jurisdiction even after Papua and New Guinea achieve independence.
The Commonwealth’s power over interstate and overseas trade and commerce under section 51 (i.) of the Constitution is extended by section 98 to navigation and shipping. Furthermore the Commonwealth has power under section 51 (vii.) over lighthouses, lightships, beacons and buoys, and under paragraph (x.) over fisheries in Australian waters beyond territorial limits. Accordingly, expressly in the Constitution, it would appear that this Parliament has power to pass laws with respect to navigation and shipping, fisheries, and lighthouses and the like within three miles of the Papuan coast.
The residents of Papua in that area live by the sea. They live from fishing off their coast well beyond the three mile limit. They travel by sea because it is much easier than by land, and it always will be, to judge from the terrain. Furthermore, it is conceivable that Papuans will wish to prospect for oil off their coast. In all these circumstances it is proper that we should avoid the possibility of misunderstanding and tension by readjusting the northern boundary of Queensland particularly where it is within what would ordinarily be regarded as Papuan territorial waters.
The Act with which we are dealing - and more particularly the regulations which have been made under it - turn on the course of the border between Queensland and Papua and New Guinea. All the islands in Torres Strait, even within Papuan territorial waters in the ordinary connotation, belong to Queensland. The outdated border which was laid down in London in 1878 can now be rectified on the initiative of the Queensland Government, the Commonwealth Government and the Papua and New Guinea Administration. Thus Australians are still in a position to avert future trouble. I felt bound to raise the subject when a Bill which turns on this border was before the House for debate.
– in reply- We have listened to a most interesting exposition on territorial boundaries, State responsibilities and so forth and to a degree of history associated with the situation, little of which has had anything to do with this measure.
However, from the comments of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitiam) I gather that the Opposition has no objection to this measure as such. I think I should reiterate that it is merely designed to include a special group of people within the scope of the repatriation benefits that come under the Native Members of the Forces Benefits Act - a group of people who were previously classified as Australian Aborigines living on the mainland territory which is still within the State of Queensland. They are now, by this measure, being brought within the scope of the original Act and will gain the benefits accordingly. I am sure the Bill has the support of the House.
.- by leave - 1 want to do something that is unusual for me, namely, to congratulate someone for having finally brought this matter before the Parliament. As honorable members are aware, for many years I have taken an active interest in the general subject of the Aboriginal people of Australia, including Torres Strait Islanders. In the last eight or ten years there have been remarkable advances in our legislation concerned with the Aboriginal people of Australia. It is one of the more interesting facts that in so many fields of legislation there have been small discriminations and differentiations that have remained unnoticed by members of the Parliament and even by people interested in that legislation. In recent years there was the case of the liquor ordinance in the Australian Capital Territory. In the present instance, although many of us have paid a great deal of attention to legislation on matters associated with Aborigines, including repatriation benefits and so on, most of us did not notice the anomalies that occurred in this field. It is surprising that it has taken us so long to get around to this simple measure. I understand that the Repatriation Department has been liberal for a long time in its payment of pensions to people of the Torres Strait Islands. I understand also that for a long time there was a differentiation in the rate they were paid.
The Torres Strait Islands Light Infantry Battalion was formed during the war and I think about 700 men served in it. Torres Strait islanders regard themselves as separate from and different from the Aboriginal people of the mainland. When one visits the area he finds that physically and in every other way probably they are different, but they are also Australians. It was one of the anomalies of the enlistment processes that during the war if a Torres Strait islander left his island and came to Brisbane to enlist in the Australian Imperial Force he received full pay and became a digger the same as everybody else, and in the final analysis if he qualified for repatriation benefits he received the same benefits as everybody else. However, the situation was different with the Torres Strait Islands Light Infantry Battalion which was specially enlisted. Some of its members served in Papua and New Guinea and elsewhere. I recall that recently I asked people why we paid them a different rate. The theory was that it was based on the economy of the islands. Happily we have overcome that disadvantage in our thinking. We are prepared now to receive them with some equality into the Australian community. Some disadvantages still prevail in the islands.
I thank the House for its indulgence in allowing me to place these remarks on record. I do not know whether congratulations are in order for the people who have taken the steps to remove finally whatever anomalies there may have been in the legislation. I hope that further attention will be paid to the remaining few pieces of legislation on the statute book which are of this nature. I have in mind the Social Services Act and the National Service Act. If honorable members can think of other legislation of this nature I am sure that, having regard to the attitudes that have been expressed in the Parliament, the offending provisions will be removed. I thank the House for its indulgence and trust that we have come to the end of the legislative era that has excluded the Aboriginal people and the Torres Strait Islanders from proper justice.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr. Swartz) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 3rd December (vide page 3588), on motion by Sir Robert Menzies -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
.- This Bill is a machinery measure. It makes certain changes which are caused by the retirement of the Principal of the School of General Studies, Professor Burton. The position of Principal of the School of General Studies was really personal to Professor Burton, who was Principal of the Canberra University College when it was enlarged to become the undergraduate section of the Australian National University. Professor Burton retires on 31st December this year and there will be no future principals of the School of General Studies.
I would like to take this opportunity to pay a tribute to Professor Burton. He is a kindly man. I do not want to dismiss an academic in those terms, suggesting that he was not also academically brilliant. As Principal, with a human relationship with the students, he is kindly and very popular. On the Council of the A.N.U., where I have seen him over many years, he has been a discerning, responsible and penetrating thinker in dealing with the problems of the A.N.U. His retirement means that he will be greatly missed by the students who knew him over the last few years and who saw his work in expanding the erstwhile Canberra University College into the School of General Studies of the A.N.U.
The Bill has other machinery features which I do not want to speak about at great length. There is a change in the representation of the undergraduates on the A.N.U. Council. This change in representation widens the field of those who may represent the undergraduates and to that extent it will strengthen the Council of the University.
Our universities have reached the stage where they are expending moneys which, in the days before the war, we used to think State Governments would spend. It is very important that the quality of the Council be maintained at the highest level. I think that this measure, insofar as it pro vides for a wider field of selection of undergraduate representation, helps to improve the quality of the Council.
I would like to say one or two things about the University itself. It seems to me to be a continuing tragedy that the Commonwealth Government will not establish a faculty of education and a teachers college associated with the A.N.U. I emphasise again that the Commonwealth is responsible in Papua and New Guinea for the education of more children than there are in Victoria, yet the Commonwealth does not have an adequate teacher training organisation in the Territory. A faculty of education with an associated teachers’ college would make the A.N.U. more effective in serving the purposes of the Commonwealth. It is tragic that the Commonwealth should have to go from State to State seconding State school teachers to serve for a couple of years in Papua and New Guinea. Having served, they then go back to the State education departments. The system is not working.
Some time ago, the former Minister for Territories invited me to look into the matter of education in Papua and New Guinea. I hasten to point out, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that I am making only a passing reference to this matter. It was perfectly clear that, despite the fact that in the Administration schools four-fifths of the expenditure in the Territory on education was devoted to one-fifth of the children and that in the mission schools - I am speaking particularly of those in big centres where there were qualified teachers - onefifth of the expenditure was devoted to fourfifths of the children, the Administration schools were failing. I think I can recognise a good school when I go into one. The tragedy of the situation in Papua and New Guinea was that so many of the State school teachers had only just found their feet after two years in the Territory and were then sent back to the States. It will be understood that in the Territory they were confronted with the difficulty of teaching children in a language that was not their maternal language. The children would have to translate in their thinking from English into their own language, at least in the primary stages. They were trying to obtain their education per medium of a foreign language.
This situation will persist until the Commonwealth has the means of providing for the training of its own teachers. A faculty of education at the A.N.U. would be of immeasurable value in doing the research and guiding the thinking of Australian educationists who have to do with our external Territories and who have to deal with the problems of education which exist nowhere else in Australia. Such a faculty established in the A.N.U. would be of immense value. If you wanted a corps d’elite of native teachers from Papua and New Guinea, the place to which they should come for advanced training would be to such a faculty of education in the A.N.U.
The A.N.U. was erected in a Commonwealth Territory for national purposes. Its research teams have made economic studies of Papua and New Guinea and have produced results which are valuable guide lines for Government policy. The Research School of Pacific Studies was largely designed just for that purpose. We have a school of medical research which, in the course of time, can develop special research in the fields of tropical medicine relating to our external Territories. I am not suggesting that the purpose of the A.N.U. is to serve our Territories but I am just giving an example of its service for Commonwealth purposes. All these opportunities exist. While everything has been done to expand the residences of the students and to do many other things, I feel that there has been extraordinary shortsightedness in respect of anything that has to do with grades of education lower than tertiary. I know that the Commonwealth moves most reluctantly in the States into the fields of primary and secondary education, but the Commonwealth is willy nilly in the fields of primary and secondary education in the Territories for which it is responsible. Because it is willy nilly in these fields in the Territories for which it is responsible, it must take an utterly different attitude to the problems of teacher training and educational research, and it must establish in the A.N.U. a faculty of education.
The development of residential colleges in the School of General Studies has been generous. Residential colleges now are extraordinarily expensive. Where they are established at the postgraduate level, expenditure on a building is about £6,000 per head of resident students. By world standards, this is rather extravagant, but at least in University House it has produced a very good residential college for postgraduate students. I understand that the cost is somewhere between £3,500 and £4,000 per head for undergraduate students. However, I think that we need to expand more rapidly than we are. The gross overcrowding in the State universities means that this University, which for some years will not have the great battalions and divisions of students that Melbourne and Sydney have, is a place where certain forms of study can be carried out and where the tutorial system, which is enormously valuable, may be conducted. I think, therefore, that the multiplication of studies that are available in the undergraduate section of the University should be carried out as rapidly as possible.
Many people think that medical training is available at the A.N.U., because they are familiar with the name “The John Curtin School of Medical Research”. But this is purely for postgraduate medical research. There is as yet no faculty of medicine at the University. A faculty of medicine, together with a faculty of dentistry, in the School of General Studies - that is, in the undergraduate training section of the University - is urgently necessary. We move, very quickly to establish faculties of law and so on. I think that the state of overcrowding in the medical schools of the universities justifies the establishment of a new medical school, and Canberra should be the site of a new one. Not only do I believe that a faculty of education should be established in the A.N.U.; I believe that a faculty of medicine also should be established. I imagine that the association of an undergraduate faculty of medicine with the John Curtin School of Medical Research would be very valuable. Members of the research section of the University could from time to time give seminars and special lectures on the subject of their specialties to undergraduate medical students if there were a faculty of medicine in the School of General Studies of the University.
With those remarks, I would like to say that the Opposition welcomes the Bill. It supports it. It regrets that this change in the structure of the Australian National University is only a machinery measure. It deals with changed names, undergraduate representation on the Council and the use by the University of its seal in circumstances in which it was not allowed to use its seal before. We hope that the time is not far distant when new studies will be available in the Australian National University.
.- I think the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) has done the House a service in directing attention to the possible lines of expansion of the Australian National University. I was particularly taken by his suggestion that faculties of education, dentistry and medicine be established at the university. Within the last week or two. nearly all the metropolitan newspapers in Australia have reported the imposition of even more harsh quotas for various undergraduate faculties in State universities. I notice particularly an outcry by education authorities and teacher organisations in Melbourne about the restricted entry of potential teacher trainees into the faculty of education at one of the Melbourne universities. I am also vividly aware of representations that have reached each of us from Papua and New Guinea. We have been told that the Commonwealth has ascertained that at least 500 additional teachers-I think secondary teachers - will be needed in Papua and New Guinea over the next few years. Of course, nothing like this number is in sight.
This is a matter of great concern, because in a developing country like the Territory of Papua and New Guinea, the provision of education facilities is fundamental to any social, economic or political development. As the honorable member for Fremantle said, it is a poor and sad state of affairs that, in providing teachers for the Territory of Papua and New Guinea, for the Northern Territory, for Norfolk Island and for various other places tint come within the Commonwealth’s responsibility, we must draw upon the already strained resources of the States. The New South Wales Department of Education supplies teachers for Norfolk Island and the South Australian department supplies teachers for the Northern Territory. Papua and New Guinea gets them where it can, and, as I say, it is very sorely tried at this stage. I do not suggest that just the lack of available teachers is the whole story. We are told by representatives from the
Territory of Papua and New Guinea that teachers, like other public servants there, have had very little assurance about the continuity of their service in the teaching profession, if the Territory should at a future date become self governing. The teachers want to be assured by supplement of salary and by guarantee that they will be absorbed into one of the State teaching services should their term of engagement in the Territory expire.
This highlights the need for a national teaching body. It has been suggested that the teachers who are trained in the Territory and teachers who migrate there to serve for a period would be reassured if they knew that they would be given the opportunity to join a national teaching service conducted by the Australian National University or by a national teachers college that was in some way affiliated with the university. Some time ago, I read a stimulating article which suggested that a national training authority established in Canberra could also be a servicing agent for many of the near Asian countries. Probably the most effective form of aid that we can give to these countries is to help train teachers for their services and to encourage some of our own teachers to serve in the Asian countries. This would be a most effective way of spreading our culture to them. It would also help us to know their problems and their outlook at close quarters and in a more realistic way.
The suggestion of the honorable member for Fremantle that a faculty of education be established at the A.N.U. has much to commend it. Apart from anything else, there is a dire need in the Australian Capital Territory, as well as in other Territories, for properly trained teachers for the private systems of education. We are at present making various kinds of provision for library facilities, science laboratories and other forms of aid in the way of capital construction costs, interest payments on loans and so on. But probably the real crux of the problem in the long run is the supply of adequately trained professional teachers, and in this regard the Commonwealth seems to shun responsibility like the proverbial plague. The Commonwealth Government was not prepared to accept the Martin Committee’s very strong recommendation for the establishment of boards of teacher education in the various States, subsidised by the Commonwealth, and for the provision of untied scholarships financed by the Commonwealth. The Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) said on behalf of the Commonwealth at the time that he thought this was well within the competence of the States, that they knew their own educational requirements and that the matter of providing for boards of teacher education would not be costly.
Only yesterday we had the new Minister for Education and Minister for Science in New South Wales having to announce that there will be a curtailment of about £4 million in school building construction over the next year or two. This does not look like a State-
– Order! I ask the honorable member to relate his remarks to the Bill, which deals with the Australian National University.
– I acknowledge your advice, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I am trying to supplement the points made by the honorable member for Fremantle about the wisdom of establishing a faculty of education at the Australian National University, or in lieu of that establishing a national teacher training authority that might have some direct link with the Australian National University. I was about to say that I suppose it is too much to expect the Commonwealth to agree to this proposal since it was not prepared to adopt the very strong recommendation in the Martin Committee’s report to establish boards of teacher education in the various States. I suggest that this is intimately linked with the proposal to establish a teacher training authority and with the situation in the States, because the Commonwealth itself is drawing on the scarce resources of teachers from the various States to service its own teacher requirements.
In conclusion, I turn to the point made by the honorable member for Fremantle about establishing a faculty of dentistry. I do not intend to go into this matter at great length because we had a debate only about a week ago on the dire need for increased facilities for the training of dentists. This is one of the poorest countries in the socalled civilised world in training for den tistry, not only at the undergraduate level, where the lack is bad enough, but also at higher levels. Apparently, we have nothing in the way of research facilities or postgraduate facilities in this field. I support the honorable member for Fremantle as far as the machinery provisions of the Bill are concerned and I give hearty support to his suggestion for the establishment of faculties of education, dentistry and medicine in the near future at the Australian National University.
– I appreciate the thoughtful contribution of the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley) on this measure and I also thank him for paying a tribute on behalf of the Opposition to Professor Burton, who retires from the position of Principal of the School of General Studies at the Australian National University at the end of this year. A tribute has already been paid in this House to Professor Burton by the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) on behalf of the Government. I can assure honorable members that Professor Burton’s service to the community and to the University is well appreciated. There is just one point to which I should like to direct attention. Reference was made to the fact that the position of Principal of the School of General Studies was being abolished at the request of the Council of the University. This change is being made in the administration of the School and the position of Deputy Chairman of the Board of the School will replace the former position of Principal. A change will be made in the method of appointment to this position and in future professors of the School will be appointed to hold this position at fairly regular intervals. So there is a recognition of the part the School is playing in the University structure.
The honorable member for Fremantle and the honorable member for Barton (Mr. Reynolds) referred to the possibility of additional faculties being provided in the Australian National University, particularly faculties of education, medicine and dentistry. The provision of additional faculties is mainly a matter for decision by the Council. The Australian National University is only a young university and is progressing very substantially. I do not doubt that sometime in the future recommendations for additional faculties will be made, but the initiative for the establishment of additional faculties must come from the Council of the University itself.
I might direct attention also to a report which appeared recently that the staff association of the University has expressed the view that a teacher training college should be established in Canberra by the Commonwealth, principally in its role as what might be termed the State Government of the Australian Capital Territory. The view of the Council was that this facility should be established as a college in association with the University and that there should be a limitation placed on University representation on the governing body. However, that is a matter which will receive further consideration in the future. I shall certainly direct the attention of my colleague in another place to the views which have been expressed by honorable members. The rest of the Bill deals mainly with machinery matters and I am pleased to see that it has the support of the Opposition.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr. Swartz) read a third time.
Motion (by Mr. Swartz) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
.- I want to direct the attention of the House to the serious position that is arising as a result of the ignoring by the Minister for Territories (Mr. Barnes), in particular, and the Department of Territories of the problems that are arising in the Public Service of Papua and New Guinea. The most important forces towards the advancement of Papua and New Guinea are in the Public Service. There can be no future for Papua and New Guinea unless the Public Service retains its dynamic, its dedication and its direction. In the last year or so policy decisions have been made which have started to disrupt the harmony ofthe Public Service and dissipate the very qualities which are necessary to take the country forward. I want to direct the attention of the House to several examples of this. In the first case I refer to overseas officers. In the second case I refer to local officers.
But arising from this differentiation in officers there are all kinds of problems which are going to have serious repercussions whether the Minister for Health (Mr. Swartz) or the Government Whip, the honorable member for Phillip (Mr. Aston), want to listen or not or whether they want to have a private audience with somebody at the table or not. I hope that the Minister at the table will bring this matter to the notice of the Minister for Territories, who will lead this country to a territorial disaster unless he is awakened to his proper duties as far as the Territory is concerned.
First of all, let us take the overseas officers. This is a particular group, nearly all Australians, which is the particular responsibility of this country and of this Parliament. As has been mentioned earlier this evening, an officer who goes to serve as a teacher in the Department of Territories in Papua and New Guinea makes quite a sacrifice in doing so. Such officers have a special kind of function to perform in the community in Papua and New Guinea and I think that this imposes a special obligation on us to consider their problems and to try to do our best to solve them.
At the present time members of the Public Service in Papua and New Guinea are faced with the problem of trying to achieve parity with their colleagues in Australia. I am speaking now of the overseas officers, as they are called. On 25th November last I asked the Minister for Territories a question. I asked whether he would direct the Department to refrain from sending all cases in which officers of the service had applied for parity - and I will explain that in a moment - to the Arbitrator. This is what the Minister said at that time -
I am aware of the decision in respect of magistrates–
I am pretty confident that the Minister had not any idea of the implications of it - but I point out to the honorable member that the other matters are now being arbitrated so there is no purpose in my intervening.
It is my purpose here tonight to say that he must intervene and that he must give a direction to his Department to have a principle already enunciated by the Arbitrator carried out.
The first case which came before the Arbitrator was associated with stipendiary magistrates. The Arbitrator said that he was satisfied that the Territory’s stipendiary magistrates had equal duties and responsibilities to those held by magistrates employed by the Commonwealth Government and his judgment was that they should be paid the same basic salary as these magistrates. Prior to his decision, the Commonwealth magistrates were receiving £4,180 and the Territory magistrates £3,753. In other words, there was a differential of about £400 between people doing the same job here in Australia and those in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. Most honorable members would agree, I think, that the person performing this function in the Territory had a special call for some sort of differentiation in their favour rather than that they be discriminated against. This is known as the parity principle. This principle has been laid down by the Arbitrator in one case. Instead of the Minister and his Department accepting it as a principle to be carried out in every other case, they are forcing other sections of the Public Service to apply to the Arbitrator too. I believe that this is completely wrong.
Anyone who has studied the problem will know full well what is involved so far as the Public Service Association of Papua and New Guinea is concerned. First, there is the question of time. Secondly, there is the question of resources and finance and so on which is involved. Thirdly, there is a great deal of discontent. Not only that, but the Public Service Association is being inhibited in its inquiries because the Administration in the Territory is using all its resources to prevent it from carrying out those inquiries. For instance, on 19th August circular instruction No. 365/66 was issued by the Department of Trade and Industry drawing the attention of officers to Public Service Regulations 17 and 18. The circular went on to point out in paragraph 2 that officers were clearly to understand that on no account were they permitted to convey official information obtained as a result of official duties to any organisation, including the Public Service Association, or any individual at any time. This is relevant because in the preparation of its case before the Arbitrator the Association has to rely on its colleagues in the service to help to produce the evidence. I believe it is an unjust use of the authority that lies inside the Public Service to attempt to inhibit officers in the preparation of their case.
This is the case of the overseas officers. There is no doubt in my mind, nor in the minds of people who have been to the Territory recently, that there is a great deal of discontent. Unless the Minister accepts his full responsibilities and intervenes to give the officers parity with their Australian counterparts within Australia, and unless he solves this problem which is causing so much discontent, the progress of the Territory is going to be inhibited.
The other people who are probably of even more serious concern to this Parliament are the local officers. Their problems are very severe indeed. First of all, there are two rates of pay. A serious matter of discrimination is met. This was a matter of policy that was confirmed by the report of the World Bank which I think was in serious error in this regard. I discussed this matter with many of the local officers last August. They are deeply disturbed. First of all, there is the question of their salary in relation to Australian officers or overseas officers. What are they asking? First, they want an increase in the basic level of salary. Surely this is not asking too much. They have to pay the same amount for bread and for butter. Unfortunately I have not the time but I could also point out the position as regards rent. The basic salary for them is about £4 a week. This afternoon we were discussing the question of the people of Nauru. It is a completely different economic situation in Nauru, of course. Local officers in Papua and New Guinea have no possibility of social advancement or economic security on such salaries. What they are asking for is a simple matter surely. They want a salary which will give them sufficient means to maintain a man, his wife and three children. In their demands they are not going much further than the Harvester award which was given, I think, in 1-907. They want an accelerated margin for skill. They do not want it an a pro rata basis so much but ‘hey want the margin for skill to increase to a greater level according to the skill involved. They also want the department to refrain from obstructing their efforts to obtain information. These attempts to gain information have been seriously inhibited by the administration forbidding its officers to discuss their ideas concerning the local officers’ case with the overseas officers and by forbidding them helping in discussion or information.
This information comes from quite a reputable source. This is what is going on in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea. I appeal to honorable member of this House to use some of this recess to go to the Territory and study the matter themselves. They will find that in the past three or four years there has been an increase in political awareness in the Territory, not in the party sense but with the understanding that politics is the way you run a country. There are a large number of Papuan and New Guinea people there, public servants in particular, who are only too eager to discuss the problems and they can express themselves quite coherently. It is our duty to try to resolve this question.
The future of Australia, I think, is largely wrapped up in Papua and New Guinea and this is an example of what we can do for a dependent people. I believe that the eyes of the world, particularly of Asia, are on the way we handle the Territory. In the last 12 or 18 months we have so seriously attacked the conditions of the Public Service, local and overseas, that we are going to prevent the proper development of the Territory and cause such a measure of discontent that it may be many years before we can claim full friendship from these people when ultimately they gain independence. It is one of the disasters of the Menzies Ministry that it has handed the Territories portfolio over to the current Minister. I think this is the most serious aberration that the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) has suffered in his 15 years of office.
– I understand that last night the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns), on the motion for the adjournment, made some reference to what he called the war of the pamphlets. I understand also that he made some challenges to all members of the Govern ment to join him in battle on the subject of Vietnam. I would not like the Parliament to conclude this present session without replying because it is noticeable indeed that sometimes when honorable members on this side of the House raise questions of importance in which, perhaps, the honorable member for Yarra is involved, that they do not get a terrific amount of Press coverage. But, whenever the honorable member for Yarra rises in this House he is guaranteed headline news in certain newspapers in Australia. I only hope that my reply to the honorable member’s challenge may perhaps be given the same privilege.
– You have to give it the same quality.
– I will try to do that. First of all, let it be made clear that this matter was raised with me by parents whose children attend a school in my electorate. They rang my office and stated that certain teachers had been giving out the booklet produced by the honorable member for Yarra. The objected to it and they asked whether it was not possible for the Government to produce some booklet giving both sides of the case. It was not suggested that the booklet of the honorable member for Yarra should be banned or anything of that kind. The honorable member for Yarra said last night, and his statement is reported at page 3804 of “ Hansard “, that the booklet cost him personally something like £600. One must be carried away with admiration for the enthusiasm and the high principle which drove this man with his parliamentary salary only - he has, I am sure, I hope, I think, no other income - to spend £600 on this venture. Now he is selling the booklet and it is being distributed throughout Australia. He tells us that the requests for the booklet have become almost overwhelming. I have received a letter from a person living in his electorate. I shall not give the name or address of the person but shall be quite happy to show the letter to the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) or the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) if either of those gentlemen wishes to see it. I would not reveal the address of this person, Mr. Speaker, because I hate to think what could happen if some of the people who support certain views found that a person in this area was writing letters in opposition to the popular attitude. The letter reads, in part -
I was interested in your question in the House last week about a pamphlet by Dr. Cairns about Vietnam being distributed to State school children. I don’t think Dr. Cairns’ statement that people bought 30,000 copies of the pamphlets was in accordance with the facts. One of the pamphlets was put under my door by a woman who 1 know helps the Communist Party. This woman, a Russian Jewess, has told me that she helps the Party with typing and journalism. Whether Dr. Cairns is associated with this woman I don’t know but I do know that he is associated with another Communist nearby . . .
The letter goes on for three pages. I will not read the whole of it because in 10 minutes I would not be able to. But at least there is one woman in the honorable member’s electorate who is slightly concerned.
The honorable member for Yarra is a member of the Victorian Executive of the Australian Labour Party. I think he said in his speech last night that this pamphlet was put out with the endorsement of the Australian Labour Party. As I understand the position, it has the endorsement of the Victorian branch of the Australian Labour Party but it does not have the endorsement of the Australian Labour Party. I say this because, as I said in a speech earlier, one of the front bench members of the Australian Labour Party in this House told me, when I spoke to him about this booklet, that the honorable member for Yarra had nor right to put it out are representing the policy of the Labour Party because this was indeed not true. Of course there are a number of people who say certain things outside the Parliament but who will not get up and say them inside the Parliament.
Let me repeat what I said about the Victorian Executive of the Australian Labour Party. Not only is the honorable member for Yarra a member of it; the Leader of the Opposition also is a member. We have heard the Deputy Leader of the Opposition talking about the Communist influences on the Victorian Executive of the Australian Labour Party. The fact that the Executive is exposed to these influences is well known. It is certainly not denied by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. An article appeared in the Melbourne “ Sun “ of Saturday, 31st July 1965, headed “ A.L.P. Going to the Left- Holt “. That did not refer to our distinguished Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) but to a man who was at that time the President of the A.L.P. in Victoria. The article commenced -
The Labour Party was swinging to the Left and would come under Communist influence if the swing was not checked, the former president of the Victorian branch of the A.L.P., Mr. R. W. Holt, warned today.
We all know that he resigned later. Another article appeared in the same newspaper on that day under the heading “A.L.P. Man Quits Party Committee “. The article said -
Mr. Ross Terrill has resigned from the foreign affairs committee of the A.L.P. State Executive.
Mr. Terrill said he agreed with the Executive that anti-Communist crusades were abhorrent and self-defeating, but he put the A.L.P. first and if that meant opposing Communists, he will oppose them.
It is a pity that this attitude has not infiltrated into this House. I have said before that I do not wish to quote persons outside the Labour Party because my purpose can be readily served by quoting those within the Party. However, I do wish to direct attention to statements by Mr. Cyril Wyndham as reported in the “ Daily Telegraph “ of 7th December 1965. I understand that Mr. Wyndham is the Federal Secretary of the A.L.P., but how long he will last in that position, so help me I would not like to hazard a guess. The newspaper report shows that what he contends to be the policy of the A.L.P. - and he is, after all, the Federal Secretary - is completely different from what the honorable member for Yarra and other honorable members have said is the Party’s policy.
Only last week I read out what Mr. Morrison, a distinguished former Minister of the Labour Government in the United Kingdom, said about people being able to put forward in the Parliament views purporting to be the views of the Party when this was not in fact the case. I am not saying that the views put forward in this Parliament are the views of the Communist Party in Australia, but I do say that they bear great similarity to those views. This Parliament is a most effective vehicle for the dissemination of views and opinions. Any man can stand up in this Parliament and put forward Communist policy time and time again. If anybody criticises him he is accused of smearing. But when one considers the similarities that I have men,tioned and when one reads statements made by honorable men holding position in the Labour Party who have then resigned from that great Party one has reason for concern.
I suggest also, Mr. Speaker, that when we listen to some of the speeches that will come later we should keep a clear mind, an unprejudiced mind, and see how those speeches fit into the propaganda that is coming from Hanoi, from Peking and from all the other Communist fronts. I do not object to the Communist Party gaining office by legitimate means, but the Communist Party has never yet gained office by legitimate means in any country. Those people who say that there is nothing to fear from Communism should remember what happened in other countries in which the same view was held and in which people woke up one morning to find that the Communists were indeed in power. In those countries persons who said nothing when they may have known plenty were then imprisoned, or, if they were not, they must surely have carried for the rest of their lives a terrible weight on their shoulders knowing that they had sold out their country.
Let me conclude by answering the challenge made by the honorable member for Yarra. He has challenged any member to meet him in his electorate at any time to discuss the subject of Vietnam. I met the honorable member for Yarra in the Ringwood Town Hall on 20th July. I had no idea that this meeting was being held until that very afternoon because I had just returned from South America. I attended the meeting and I heard the honorable member challenge the audience as he is prone to do. When nobody replied he said: “ Nobody will meet my challenge “. I stood up and he had no option but to meet me because the crowd made it clear that they wished to hear the Federal member - as I was and am - for that district. I went on to the platform and when a vote was taken on the voices two-thirds of the audience showed without doubt that they were completely opposed to the honorable member for Yarra and his policy. He was not able to put the motion that he had intended to put, which was to this effect: “That this meeting condemns the Government”. Something similar happened at Yallourn and also at Hamilton where members of the Government Parties were present. The same kind of thing happened in the Dandenong Town Hall, and the honorable member afterwards complained that all these meetings were being stacked by people who did not agree with him.
I would not appear on the platform with the honorable member because in most cases - certainly on the last occasion - invitations to me are issued by Communist front organisations. I would not provide the honorable member with the vehicle he needs to disseminate publicity for the Communist Party. The Communists always require a vehicle by means of which to spread their progaganda throughout the country.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
.- I do not wish to stoop to the gutter tactics adopted by the honorable member for La Trobe (Mr. Jess). The stench is so strong that we can smell it even on this side of the House. There were many inaccuracies in the honorable member’s statements but of course I do not live in Victoria and have no way of answering some of the honorable member’s propositions. The honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns) may give an answer on the motion for the adjournment tomorrow, if he is permitted to do so. Of course he may not think it worth his while to give an answer.
I have said that there were many inaccuracies in the honorable member’s statement. Let me refer to them. He said that the honorable member for Yarra had said that the pamphlet cost something like £600. It cost nothing of the sort for the initial printing. It is true that 30,000 copies were printed. But the initial publication was nothing like as many as 30,000. Subsequent publications were made because of the demand that arose. As revenue from sales came in more copies were printed. This pamphlet was published with the authority of the Victorian Branch of the Australian Labour Party. For the information of everybody I point out that the Party has six State Branches with complete autonomy. A foreword to the pamphlet was written by the Leader of the Australian Labour Party,
Arthur Calwell. This document had the complete support of the Party.
The honorable member for La Trobe directed a smear at an honorable member on the Opposition’s front bench. The honorable member for La Trobe did not have the courage to mention the name of an Opposition front bench member who, he said, had dissociated himself from the statements made by the honorable member for Yarra. That was a smear and a stigma on everybody who sits on the front bench on this side of the House.
I leave that matter now, Mr. Speaker. Tomorrow this House will go into recess and will remain in recess until next March. There have been persistent rumours circulating to the effect that Australia’s commitment in Vietnam will be increased. There have been persistent rumours that Australian conscripts will be sent to Vietnam. I wish to express my opposition to such a proposal. Although questions have been asked in this Parliament by both the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) and the honorable member for Wills (Mr. Bryant) no information has been given to honorable members on this side of the House. The Parliament itself has been completely ignored. I am willing to lay odds that between now and next March young Australian conscripts will be sent to Vietnam. This Government intends to commit young Australians, against their will, to going to Vietnam to protect a corrupt government - a government that is not worth support. The socalled Government of South Vietnam is really only a military junta - a military clique that has not been elected by the people. Yet the Australian Government is prepared to support and to send young Australian conscripts to fight in support of this military junta.
Within the last two weeks a major-general who addressed a passing out parade at Puckapunyal told the young conscripts on parade that they must be prepared to go to Vietnam. I understand that they were asked to sign a document that embodied three propositions. 1 am not sure that I have the exact words, but I shall outline them as best I can. The first proposition was to the effect that (a) they should not disclose that they were going to Vietnam and (b) they should not disclose the timetable for their departure. The second proposition stated that they would be given pre-embarkation leave provided they pledged that they would return to their unit before the ship sailed. The third proposition is the great mystery. It was a statement that they agreed to serve overseas. I know of instances in which young conscripts have refused to sign this document and have been subjected to intimidation tactics. Pressure has been brought to bear on them.
There is something wrong in this whole business. Why in heaven’s name is the Government trying these tactics of getting young conscripts in groups and saying, in effect: “ Follow the leader. Come on, be in it.”? Why is it adopting these tactics to induce young conscripts to sign an agreement to go overseas? Is it trying to whitewash itself? Why is it trying to get young conscripts to agree to serve overseas? It has conscripted them and it will have to take the responsibility when the coffins are being brought back to Australia. The Government has made a decision to conscript the youth of our nation and send our young men overseas. I consider that this is one of the worst actions by a government in our history. Sending of young Australians to Vietnam to support the military junta there in a time of peace amounts to interfering in the internal affairs of another country. The people of Vietnam do not support the so-called government of Vietnam. I should like to quote briefly from some remarks made by President Kennedy on 2nd September 1963. Referring to Vietnam, he said -
I don’t think that unless a greater effort is made by the Government to win popular support the war can be won out there. In the final analysis it is their war. They are the ones to have to win or lose it. We can help them. We can give them equipment. We can send our men out there as advisers.
I emphasise the word “ advisers “. President Kennedy continued -
But they have to win it - the people of Vietnam against the Communists. We are prepared to assist them but I don’t think the war can be won unless the people support the effort.
The truth is that they are not prepared to support the Vietnamese Government’s efforts. The reason why more and more United States troops are going to Vietnam is that the South Vietnamese are not prepared to fight against the Vietcong, which is also known as the National Liberation Front forces. Only the other night an American major who took part in one of the great battles that have been going on recently was interviewed on television. He said that the Vietcong were great fighters and he also praised the Americans as fighters. He added: “ I prefer not to make a statement about the South Vietnamese forces.” I was recently in Saigon on my way back from the recent InterParliamentary Union Conference. While in that city I shared a room one night with a young American who was a member of the special forces and who had been stationed at a camp near the border of Cambodia. He told me quite plainly that the Americans, who went out on patrol regularly, tried at times to get the South Vietnamese to go out with them but the Vietnamese would not go. He said that the Americans tried to shame the Vietnamese into going on patrol but still could not get them to go. This indicates the attitude of the South Vietnamese troops. When I was in Saigon the South Vietnamese Government admitted that there are more than 10,000 desertions a month from the government forces. This shows the attitude and loyalty of the Vietnamese people to the so-called Government of South Vietnam.
On this issue of Vietnam it is of no use for us to throw bricks at one another. Every one of us must try to do something to bring peace to that country. Many may ask: What can we do? We on this side of the Parliament have said that our position is clear and that we do not support the presence of Australian forces in Vietnam. We have pledged ourselves to reverse the present position and to work to have the Australian forces withdrawn. All members of this Parliament should do their utmost to try to bring peace to Vietnam. Surely we can speak out against escalation of the war. We all know that if the war in Vietnam is escalated as some honorable members opposite wish matters will get worse. The honorable member for Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) wants to see the war in Vietnam escalate. He wants to denuclearise China. He wants to bomb installations in that country. Certain forces want to escalate the war by bombing Haiphong and Hanoi. I earnestly hope that the war will not escalate. If it does we shall find it more difficult to get the parties to the conference table.
We must put pressure on both sides to compromise. We must try to bring them together so that a peaceful settlement may be achieved. There can be no military solution to the struggle in Vietnam. The opposing parties must be brought together at the conference table. Compromise must be achieved, for this is the only way in which peace can be brought about. I am not trying to say that all the rights are on one side and all the wrongs on the other. In this bloody conflict there are wrongs on both sides. Surely for the sake of the peace of the world we all must try to stop this bloodshed. We must try to bring an end to this war because more and more young Australians will be committed to it. More and more of our youth will be committed to this stupid, bloody war in Vietnam if we do not stop it.
– Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– Mr. Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation.
– Does the honorable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. The honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren) began his illuminating address by stating that I had misrepresented and falsely quoted what the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns) had said about expenditure on the publication of his booklet on Vietnam. May I just read what I was referring to. At page 3804 of “Hansard” of 8th December, the honorable member for Yarra is reported to have said -
As the honorable member says, it was not-
– Order! The honorable member will have to be more concise in explaining the misrepresentation. He is now entering into a debate.
– No, Sir, I am reading.
– Order! The honorable member will make his explanation and cease debating the issue any further. He may quote the passage of the honorable member’s speech in which he was misrepresented.
– The honorable member said that I had claimed that the expenditure was £600, and that this was incorrect. How can I prove that it was incorrect unless I can read what the honorable member said?
– Order! The honorable member has now made his point.
– May I read what was said, Sir?
– No. The honorable member will resume his seat.
.- I want to say right at the beginning of my limited remarks that I wholeheartedly endorse the submissions made by the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren). I will continue to do so for so long as our boys remain in Vietnam, for so long as there is breath in my body and for so long as my vocal cords will ring out. The honorable member for La Trobe (Mr. Jess) in his remarks tonight made some derogatory statements about the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns). During his remarks he said that he had some information to show that a Communist, who was a Russian Jewess, had placed the Cairns Vietnam pamphlet under a door of some house in Victoria. All I want to say in answer to that is that if this Russian Jewess was a Communist, she probably had good reason to be a Communist. I propose to read from an article which appeared in the “New York Times” of 15th September. It states -
There has just been published in Germany a book entitled “For Their’s was the Hell”, lt is a documented account of the fate which befell some of the 1.2 million Jewish children under 16 years of age in Hitler’s concentration camps. These few sentences from the story are enough:
It then quotes an extract from the book - “Then the guard ordered the children to fold their clothes neatly and march into the gas chamber and crematory. One little boy, less than two years old, was too little to climb the steps. So the guard took the child in her arms and carried him into the chamber.”
If there is a semblance of decency and a semblance of Australianism in the blood of Government supporters they will do all in their power to see that the case put forward frequently by members of the
Opposition, particularly by the honorable members for Yarra and Reid, is accepted and that the war in Vietnam is brought to a halt as soon as possible. Why would not that woman in Victoria be an advocate of peace in Vietnam? Why would she not want to pass the Cairns pamphlet under every door in Victoria. Yet the Joe McCarthy of Liberalism on the Government side has the temerity to stand up in this place and condemn Opposition members for advocating peace in Vietnam and the ultimate withdrawal of Australian troops. Of course, we know the late Senator McCarthy also was a Red baiter. I should like to quote from a book written by Felix Greene in which he refers to the attitude of Senator McCarthy. It states -
Richard Rovere, in his excellent book, “ Senator Joe McCarthy “, describes this dinner at the Colony and how McCarthy confided to his companions that he stood in need of a dramatic issue for the 1952 election. One of his1 companions suggested that McCarthy come forward as a champion of the St. Lawrence Seaway. McCarthy said he didn’t think that would do. He asked the others what they thought about some uptodate variant of the Townsend Plan - a hundred dollars a month pension, say, to everyone over 65. The others’ disapproved - too demagogic, they felt. Father Walsh (one of the four) suggested Communism - its power in the world at large and its capacity for subversion. McCarthy seized upon the idea at once and at once began, according to one of the participants, to vulgarise. “That’s it,” he said. “The Government is full of Communists,” he said. “We can hammer away at them.”
If ever I and other members on this side of the chamber and people outside the Parliament have been entitled to draw a parallel between the honorable member for La Trobe and the late Senator Joe McCarthy, it is over his smearing of members of the Labour Party as being proCommunist. I could say so much more about Vietnam. I feel that every Australian boy who loses his life there is my blood brother. The sooner this Government uses its persuasive powers on the Government of the United States to bring a halt to hostilities in Vietnam and to bring the Australian boys home from Vietnam, the happier the overwhelming majority of Australians will be.
I should like now to refer to a subject on which I think this Parliament should give leadership to the States by bringing down legislation to compensate persons who are the victims of serious crime. I refer to legislation similar to that in New Zealand, our mother country the United Kingdom, and in California. I am reminded of the splendid legislation brought down by a former Attorney-General, Sir Garfield Barwick, which was heralded as being progressive. It met with the approval of the overwhelming majority of Australians and I believe it was very favorably commented upon by people overseas. I refer to the modern, progressive Matrimonial Causes legislation. I suggest that as soon as possible next year the Attorney-General (Mr. Snedden) should introduce legislation to enable victims of crime to be compensated. I was reminded of the urgency of this legislation by reading an article in the “ New Statesman “ of 10th September 1965 in which the following appeared when California became the first place outside Britain and New Zealand to introduce legislation to compensate persons incapacitated as a result of crime -
Part of the reparation will come from the criminal, who will be fined commensurately with the offence.
While a spell inside is never a ticket for the gravy tram, a criminal can catch up with his education, work in State-run correctional industries or open-air conservation camps, attend group therapy and even get plastic surgery. His victim - until now - got nothing - except the bill, and the empty privilege of suing someone who could never pay. An injustice everywhere in the civilised world, the difference between the treatment of the criminal and his victim, was particularly shocking in this setting. One recent case of a middle-aged woman, who was injured during a purse snatch by two teenage youths (who escaped by car) and paid out her life savings in medical bills, so enraged Superior Court Judge Francis McCarty that he wrote to State Senator Eugene McAteer suggesting State compensation for all victims of violent crime. Three months later Bill 1057 was passed.
There are frequently cases of violent crime in California. I know the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen) holds views similar to mine. He also believes that it is important that the Government give a lead to the States and introduce legislation to provide compensation for victims of crimes of violence, particularly in the Australian Capital Territory and other Territories under the control of the Commonwealth.
– The honorable member for Hunter (Mr. James) is well known in this House, and I was most interested in the theory that he has just advanced that victims of crimes- of violence should receive state compensation. Perhaps he might apply those humane, gentle, kindly, and, in many ways, justified thoughts away from this area in Canberra to the international sphere. He argues that the victims of crimes of violence should receive compensation. I understand that the honorable member was once a member of the New South Wales Police Force, and a very fine member, too. I wonder why he joined the Police Force? Does he ever stop to think why a Police Force is necessary? It is because there are people in this community who rob and commit crimes of violence. I am very surprised that he has not been able to extend his thinking beyond the shores of this country because a similar situation exists in the international sphere. Small countries will be at the mercy of big aggressors until such time as there is an international police force. We are all hoping that there will be an international police force some day, and we are working for it. But in the meantime, somebody has to do the job. It is no good the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren) and the honorable member for Hunter singing the old song “Isn’t it terribly, terribly sad, I am so good and the world is so bad “. Their attitude is that everybody on the Opposition side of the House wants peace and nobody on the Government side wants peace. That is a very irrational view for anybody who has kindly thought for humanity. The honorable member for Reid lives in a community where he not only has a police force to protect him but where, if he considers he has been libelled, he has the law courts to protect him. Yet he comes here and says that we in Australia have no right to take part in defending a defenceless country against attack. He claims that the Government in South Vietnam is a corrupt government. He has just had some experience of a libel action in our courts; I should like to know what evidence he has that the Government in South Vietnam is a corrupt one.
– Is the honorable member on the side of the ‘ Telegraph “?
– I am asking what evidence the honorable member for Reid has to support a statement of that nature. He says that the Vietnamese are not fighting; that they will not fight.
He is doing everything he can to give encouragement and assistance to people who are the enemies of this country as well as =of South Vietnam. Does he know the history of Vietnam? Does he know what the Vietnamese casualties have been? Does he know that they have been greater proportionately than those of the Americans in Korea? Why does he say the Vietnamese are not fighting? They have had a tremendous load to carry for a long time. When I was there in July, they enlisted 10,000 recruits and of these 7,000 were volunteers. Why does the honorable member come into this House and do everything he can to assist the Vietcong and the Communists and to decry our sending Australian troops over there? Why does he say: “Withdraw the Australian troops and leave the Vietnamese to be overrun by the Communists”? On what authority is he doing it?
He and his supporters send union leaders to Peking. They get on the Peking radio and say everything good they can about Communist China. Perhaps a lot of what they say is right, but they have nothing good to say for the people who are fighting and who have been fighting for some time in our front line.
– That is nonsense.
That is the effect of what he had said time and time again in this House. He wants peace to be established. So do we. But, unfortunately, the peace of this world still cannot be kept without some strong force to protect the weak, just as the police protect the community in this country. Does the honorable member want the peace of genocide in Tibet? Does he want the peace of Korea where 650,000 troops are still guarding the line to protect South Korea from being overrun. All along, he and his supporters have been doing everything they can to handicap those who are trying to protect the weak in this world, and they ought to damm well know better.
.- I want to say something about the way in which the Commonwealth is giving disproportionate assistance to wealthy people in this country through the Commonwealth scholarship scheme. Uppermost in every secondary school child’s mind at the moment is the awarding of the Common wealth secondary scholarships. Two months ago I asked the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) whether he could supply me with information relating to the number of applicants for these scholarships and the number of persons who would be awarded scholarships.
The enlightening information he gave me on 27th October was as follows: In New South Wales there were 20,660 applicants but only 3,776 scholarships would be made available. In other words, only 18.3 per cent, or fewer than one in five of all those youngsters who keep on at school until the end of the fourth year of secondary schooling and who have some hope of going on for another two years in order to matriculate, will get scholarships. In Victoria, the proportion is a lot worse. For some reason or other, only 2,799 students out of 19,500 applicants in Victoria will get scholarships. In other words, only 14.4 per cent, of the applicants in Victoria will receive scholarships. In Queensland, only 15.9 per cent, will receive scholarships and in Western Australia only 13.1 per cent, or fewer than one out of every seven applicants will get scholarships. In Tasmania, 18.6 per cent, of the applicants will be granted scholarships. Not only is there this scarcity of scholarships relative to the number of applicants, but, what is of even more importance, is the fact that there is no means test imposed on the granting of this particular scholarship. I shall come to that point in a moment and give some of the preliminary evidence that is now being collected from one of our big schools at Armidale in New South Wales about the kind of people who are to get these scholarships and the kind of people who are not to get them.
First, I want to refer briefly to the form of test that is used to select the students who are to be awarded these scholarships. This test, which was constructed by the Australian Council of Educational Research is something of a general knowledge test. It is, allegedly, a test in relational reasoning. It is supposed to enable the examiners to make judgments about the potential scholastic ability of the youngster rather than his educational achievements as at the date of the examination. It takes a particular form. So there will be rewards for those schools that divert their efforts from the normal teaching functions to train students to undergo multiple choice answer tests - the sort of thing to which many honorable members of this House were subjected back in their days in the defence forces. This comes as a new experience.
What I often call into question in the whole business of selecting people who are to be awarded these very important passports to further opportunity is that they are subjected to an examination in which they are not only required to think and to remember, but they are required to do these things under emotional stress and according to a very rigid timetable. I have never been able to understand the particular point of asking people to reason quickly under stressful examination conditions. To me this never seems to be a very useful prediction of what kind of ability these people are likely to be able to reveal as citizens in the community let alone in some study programme at a university, teachers college or elsewhere.
– There can be emergency conditions in normal civilian life.
– I do not think they are comparable with the hit and miss conditions of one examination sitting. This is not called for in everyday life. I think there is the opportunity in the community for thinking under conditions of some ease and with a certain amount of time. I suggest there would be more deep thinking under those conditions than under the conditions that prevail during examinations. Who are the people we are helping? Who are the people getting scholarships? Of course, some of the youngsters who are getting them are persons who can well use the scholarships, but because there is no means test a lot of youngsters who are getting scholarships do not need them. I will quote briefly some evidence collected by the Armidale Teachers Association in relation to scholarships awarded in that area. The Association has drawn attention to the fact that 23 youngsters obtained secondary school scholarships at the Armidale High School in 1964. Of that number eight had parents who had yearly incomes of at least £3,500. In one or two cases the parents’ incomes exceeded £5,000. One might say: “ Good luck to those youngsters “. So do 1. 1 would say: “ Yes, by all means give them scholarships if we are giving scholarships to all qualified secondary school students “. However, if only one child out of every six or seven is to get a scholarship, I suggest the rationed scholarships should be awarded in accordance with need. The policy of the Australian Labour Party is to give scholarships to all qualified persons who are capable of benefiting therefrom. I cannot quote the report from the Armidale Teachers Association in detail, but part of it states -
Failure to grant scholarships to these 10 students-
And these are a particular 10 youngsters - is surely a grave injustice. Their results indicate that in addition to some natural ability, they have determination and application, qualities which can be better measured as a result of the Leaving or School Certificate Examinations than by A.C.E.R. tests, and qualities at least as important at tertiary level as basic intelligence.
I think there are plenty of people listening to me now who would agree with that. Personality characteristics, perseverance and application to the task are just as important in industry and in study at university or elsewhere as is basic intelligence. The report continues -
Most unjust of all is the failure to grant a scholarship to student B, a fine student with tremendous determination and application but who lives on a minimum income (both parents are deceased) while a scholarship is held by student U whose father’s salary exceeds £5,000 and whose school results are evidence of an irresponsible attitude and application.
I am one of many in the community who are calling seriously into question the selection procedure used by the Australian Council for Educational Research for tests. I do not think they measure the kind of things needed for success in life or necessarily at university or other tertiary level. Allied with this question is the matter of tertiary scholarships - the ones that take students on to the university. A study in Victoria in 1964 showed that independent schools, both Catholic and non-Catholic, had a better record than State schools in obtaining Commonwealth scholarships at matriculation level. However - and this is an important point to note - this study showed that for 1964, of the scholarships won by pupils in independent schools, 30 per cent, were obtained at the second attempt. In other words, they were obtained in the seventh year of secondary schooling. Apparently the parents of these pupils were wealthy enough to send the children to independent schools and keep them there for seven years in order to get a university scholarship. As I said, 30 per cent, of those who won scholarships obtained them at the second attempt, whereas in State schools, of those who obtained scholarships only 13 per cent, were gained at the second attempt.
I am suggesting that what we are doing with the scholarship scheme today, with its means test free conditions and with the scarcity of scholarships in relation to the number of applicants, is giving undue help to those in the community for whom the scholarship in many instances is no more than pin money. Other people, in dire need of it, cannot get assistance and, as a result, we see what was pointed out by the Martin Committee report, namely, that less than 2 per cent, of the school leaver sons and less than 1 per cent, of the school leaver daughters of semi-skilled and unskilled parents get to the university, yet they constitute 33 per cent, of the total community.
-Order! The honorable member’s time has expired.
– I should like to read to the House something from a Socialist journal called “Spotlight”. I do not, of course, endorse this journal’s principles. However, the quotation appears to be relevant to something said recently in this House. The article is entitled “ The Silent Mr. Cairns “, and states -
Some of our readers have written to us to find out what happened to our challenge to debate Jim Cairns on the Vietnam conflict along Socialise lines. We can only tell them that we have not heard from Cairns.
Although he has come down from his negative stand on debating Knopfelmacher, he is reluctant to accept our challenge. It must be that he is caught with his yellow streak showing. It could be, which is closer to the truth, that he knows how vulnerable he would be by discussing this item along the lines taken by the Socialist parties Of the world.
Jim knows that practically every Socialist, genuine Socialists, that is, takes an opposite view from him.
Apparently he has taken Michael Stewart’s latest words on Vietnam literally. Stewart summed up this situation rather pointedly when he said: “ The Communists want unconditional surrender, while the West wants unconditional negotiations”.
Not even Jim Cairns can question the sincerity of Stewart as a Socialist. Not even Jim Cairns can question the wisdom of this learned and respected member of the British Labour Party.
If the ALP had leaders comparable to Stewart, especially with his courage and sophistication in world affairs, they would be sitting today in Canberra as the ‘Government, not the floundering and ambiguous Opposition.
Jim, we are still waiting to hear from you. Surely you are not that busy to ignore a genuine proposition to debate an item which is near and dear to you.
Last night we had the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. Cairns) flinging challenges right, left and centre around this House, but from his own side - his own Socialist side - from the Socialists who are not proCommunists, he has a challenge to debate. This challenge has been open in the Press for some time and he refuses to accept it. I think this might be brought to the notice once again not only of the House but of the honorable member for Yarra. We see from yesterday’s “ Hansard “ that some £600 was spent on his egregious pamphlet. We have heard from the honorable member for La Trobe (Mr. Jess) tonight that the Communists are recouping some of this money to the honorable member for Yarra by buying his pamphlet and distributing it as their own propaganda, as indeed they might, because the line is indistinguishable from the line they have been following.
As I say, 1 do not subscribe to the Socialist platform in “Spotlight”. “Spotlight” takes the line of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions - the non-Communist international trade union body - whereas I understand that the honorable member for Yarra adheres rather to the World Federation of Trade Unions - the Communist and proscribed association of trade unions. I think that he might at least do his Socialist friends the courtesy of meeting them in debate on a matter where they differ in relation to Vietnam.
I leave that subject and apologise to the House for reading a document of quite a different character. I have in my hands a letter from a lady who during her lifetime has done honour not only to herself but to all Australia. I will not give her name, although I have given it to the Minister for Social Services (Mr. Sinclair). Her letter reads -
I have read that you favour the abolition of tha means test for pensioners, an unjust law with its humiliating conditions and demoralising effect on those who have to police it. As the pension is so small and inadequate for rent, food and clothing, pensioners become potential lawbreakers to officers of the Department of Social Services and objects of suspicion. I enclose a questionnaire I have just received from the Social Services Department.
I am 86 with a bad heart. The Department must have a record of my age and must know 1 did not apply for a pension until 1 was 81, when 1 was forced to do so after 11 weeks in hospital, which used up all my capital. (The £750 invested in Custom Credit was given to me by a nephew.)
The Department must also have a record of the average age at which men and women cease to be able to earn and should cease to harass people in their 80’s. I think as I saved the Government £4,000 by being honest and independent I should receive some consideration. 1 am sending this questionnaire to you as 1 think members of Parliament should know how old people are harassed by the Pensions Department. I should not like my name to be made public.
The Minister knows this lady’s name. It is a name which would not be unknown to most Australians. This lady has had a life which has done honour to the whole of Australia. The questionnaire reads something like this -
Do you still have £750 in Custom Credit Corporation? No. If not, what has been done with the money? Spent on necessities I do not know how.
How much did you earn in the last 12 months from the sale of pictures? £20 from the sale of old drawings; 50 gns. from the sale of old work; £20 in radio broadcasting fees. Do you anticipate earnings to be approximately the same in the coming 12 months? If not, give particulars of anticipated earnings. I anticipate nothing, being 86 years of age and with bad heart. Extremely silly question.
As I have said, this is a lady who is not as badly off as are many pensioners, but she supported herself by her own work until the age of 81 years. I think the Government might consider some alleviation of the means test, at least for people in the upper age bracket.
I hope that during the recess the Minister, who is, I know, sympathetic to this kind of case, might turn his mind to this matter. I know that the Department of Social Services sends these questionnaires out from time to time with the idea of ascertaining whether a pensioner is still alive and ensuring that a pension is not being drawn fraudulently after a pensioner’s death. This sometimes happens, and this is why the Department sends out this questionnaire. But I suggest that this kind of questionnaire might be modified. I also make the more far-reaching suggestion that the means test might be relaxed for those people who are over 80 years of age, even if not for those who are over 75 years of age. There are not many of them. Most of them are already drawing the pension. The relaxation of the means test in their case will simply ensure that these very old people who in many cases are in need of medical care do not have their privacy invaded by the Department and are not harassed by the Department prying into their affairs. I do not blame the Department in this case. I am sure that it has only carried out its duty under the regulations. I have no blame at all for the Department. I have no blame for the Minister. I know that he is sympathetic to this kind of case. But I think the Government might reconsider its attitude towards the means test, particularly as it is applied to those people in the upper age group. I am sorry that the Minister is not in the House at the moment. Perhaps before the end of the session he may be able to say something on this matter. If that is not possible I ask him during the recess once more to turn his mind to the means test, which in a case such as the one I have cited does not do credit to our Australian system of social services. I repeat that the Minister is not unsympathetic to this matter. I have a great deal of esteem for the Minister in the administration of his portfolio.
.- Tonight I wish to discuss the Commonwealth Public Service. I do not want to delay too long entering into the discussion of the Public Service because 1 have informed the Prime Minister’s secretary of my intention to raise this matter tonight and I know that the right honorable gentleman is sitting with bated breath and with ear pressed to the radio waiting for my first thrust. But first I refer to the matter of Vietnam, which has been the subect of discussion tonight. I was not present when the honorable member for La Trobe (Mr. Jess) performed in his expected style. We know that he rides shotgun on the red ragging wagon.
I have here an interesting quotation. It is-
I am tired and sick of war. Its glory is all moonshine. It is only for those who have neither fired a shot nor heard the shrieks and groans of the wounded; who cry aloud for blood, more vengeance, more desolation. War is hell.
Perhaps the honorable member for La Trobe will reflect on those words. They were used by a man named Sherman before a graduating class of the Michigan Military Academy on 19th June 1879. I make that information available because otherwise the words would be attributed by honorable members opposite to a Communist.
I turn now to a discussion of the Commonwealth Public Service. I am particularly concerned witth the fact that senior public servants are able to transpose themselves from public employment to private enterprise. I am concerned not so much with their transposition as with the type of responsibility they adopt and the type of activity they engage in when they go to private enterprise, where their activity bears a definite relation to the responsibilities they discharged in the Public Service. I think it is sufficient cause for any member of the public to feel concerned when he sees a senior member of the Public Service, who has been expected to display a high degree of integrity, move from the public service into private enterprise, particularly when his new employment is at a salary higher than he received in the Public Service and where his dealings will go back to the department in which he was formerly a senior official. This kind of thing is not good for the stature of the Public Service.
The public expects from the Public Service a standard of integrity and conduct not only inflexible but also fastidious. It is essential not only that the Public Service discharge a high degree of integrity but also that it appear to discharge this high degree of integrity to the public. If we have this smooth transition from public to private employment in the circumstances I have mentioned, members of the public will begin to wonder whether the Marxist philosophy is correct that public functionaries are after all the functionaries of the people who control the extent of property relationships in society. This is not good for the Public Service and not good for public attitudes generally.
Dr. Encel has carried out an analysis of senior public servants with university degrees. He has estimated that 50 per cent, possessed a professional family background while another 37 per cent, had a commercial and clerical background. He has claimed that the oft repeated criticism of the administrative class of the British Civil Service on the basis of its recruitment from the upper middle class applied with considerable force to the First and Second Divisions of the Commonwealth Public Service. He disclosed that Scotch College, Wesley College and Melbourne Grammar led the field in contributing to the higher ranks of the Service. He found that these public servants belong to the exclusive clubs, such as the Commonwealth Club at Canberra, the University Club at Sydney and the Athenaeum and Savage Clubs at Melbourne. All these factors together, of course, especially when members of the public see officers moving from public to private enterprise so smoothly, engender a feeling of suspicion in the minds of members of the public. I do not suggest that this suspicion is always justified; I am sure that frequently it is not. But I emphasise the point that not only should integrity be preserved but also it should appear to be preserved in the public view.
The British Public Service has been so concerned about movements of this nature that it has introduced a law. Under the terms of Command 5517 of July 1937, according to “ Estacode “, which is the code of public service ethical standards and regulations, all officers of the rank of Under Secretary, or Principal Assistant Secretary or, in missions abroad, Ministers, Rear Admiral, Major General, Air Vice Marshal and above are required to obtain the assent of the Government before accepting, within two years of retirement offers of employment in businesses and private bodies. Several classes of employment are set out in the Command. It is pointed out that people of a lower standard or grade of employment in the British Public Service are also required to obtain approval from the British equivalent of our Public Service Board before they move from their public service employment into the employment of private businesses, where obviously the knowledge or special capacities that they developed in the Public Service would be of use in the private employment and would possibly place the Public Service at an unfair disadvantage..
In Australia, instances of movement from public to private employment have occurred and they would be cause for members of the public to raise their eyebrows. Dr.
Metcalfe, who was the Director-General of Health, moved to a private organisation, Lederle Laboratories. In this case, the point is that Dr. Metcalfe had knowledge of a number of procedures connected with the administration of the Department of Health. Some of this information was secret and would be of considerable value to private druggists. For instance, the identity of the doctors who form the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee is held secret, because of the functions that they have to discharge. Advice given to the Government is the type of information that the private drug manufacturers would like to obtain. I do not say that drug manufacturers would necessarily act in this way, but one could suspect that, if they knew the identities of the doctors on the Committee, they might try to contact the doctors and exploit their knowledge. This would not be in the public interest.
Another public servant who moved from the Public Service to private employment is Dr. H. W. Poulton. He was formerly the First Assistant Director-General of the Department of Civil Aviation and he moved to the board of Ansett Transport Industries. I have mentioned only two people. I have a rather lengthy list of people who have moved from both the Commonwealth and the State Public Services to private employment. According to a paper prepared by a Mr. John Playford, who is a public administration expert at one of the universities, this sort of movement occurs to a much greater extent amongst Commonwealth public servants. As I say, I have here a list of people who have moved from Commonwealth and State Public Services into the employment of private enterprise and I ask for leave to have the list incorporated in “ Hansard “.
– Is the honorable member seeking leave to incorporate a document in “ Hansard “?
– Has the honorable member conferred with the Minister at the table?
– No, Sir. He conferred with my colleague who was previously sitting here and my colleague did not agree to give leave.
– Leave is not granted.
– I thought that the Minister for Immigration (Mr. Opperman), who is now at the table, may have been able to make up his own mind, but his colleague who was formerly at the table had to do it for him. I often wonder why it is that Ministers in this House are so reluctant to allow an honorable member, who is exposing the sort of activity that I have mentioned and who is developing a case in the public interest, to have details included in “ Hansard “ where the members of the public can see it. Obviously, members of the public cannot get this information easily if it is not incorporated in “ Hansard “. The information is not freely accessible. I have timed myself when reading this list and I find that, reading at a rapid rate, it takes more than six minutes to read. I have about15 seconds left in which to speak. All I can say is that when we resume in the new year I will raise this matter again. I will seek some positive action from the Commonwealth Government in the interests of the general public. We cannot have a situation in which people, who have inside information of public bodies, such as the Postmaster-General’s Department and the Department of Health, move from the Public Service into private enterprise and take with them information which in a number of instances is secret and of tremendous value to the private enterprise. Indisputably, in a number of instances this information is exploited to the disadvantage of the public interest and to the advantage - an unfair advantage at that - of the private interest.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.26 p.m.
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated -
m asked the Minister for Territories, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
The requirements to secure permits and/or enter into bonds before Australian citizens leave the territories on journeys to Australia are as follows -
Except m respect of Papua and New Guinea, Australian citizens from Australian overseas territories are not required to secure permits and/or to enter into bonds before they leave the Territory. Papuans are the only Australian citizens living in overseas territories who are required to obtain permits and enter into bonds before journeying to Australia. Permits and bonds are also required in respect of indigenes from New Guinea before they travel to Australia. These persons are Australian Protected Persons.
Of the 952 indigenes from Papua and New Guinea who travelled to Australia in the twelve months ending 30th September 1965, 621 left the Territory under exemption, i.e. without the necessity of securing permits or lodging bonds to leave the Territory. The remaining 331 indigenes were required to obtain permits and lodge the prescribed bonds of £100 per person. One permit was refused. Separate records were not kept of the numbers of Papuans but it is estimated that they would number about one-third. All permits were for temporary stay in Australia, i.e. they were for a stated period. A calculation of the average period of permits would present some difficulty as the time involved may vary from a weekend for some sporting or social occasion, to a number of years, e.g. students.
331 bonds were given for indigenes from Papua and New Guinea. The separate figures of bonds for Papuans is not available but it is estimated that about one-third, or 110 were for Papuans. No bonds were required for people from the other Territories. Each bond was in the amount of £100.
m asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
When does he expect to make Statutory Rules under the Sales Tax Act which will permit Australia to accede to the Customs Convention on the Temporary Importation of Private Road Vehicles which was supported by Australia at the time of its conclusion in 1954, which came into force on 15th December 1957, and which Australia decided to reconsider after the International Conference on Touring in 1963?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows-
The necessary Statutory Rules have now been drafted and transmitted to the Executive Council.
m asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
What statutory and other committees and authorities have been set up to recommend and supervise grants to the States?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows -
The following are the existing bodies that appear to fall within the scope of the question -
The Commonwealth Grants Commission is required, amongst other things, to report on applications made by States for financial assistance under Section 96 of the Constitution.
The Australian Universities Commission is responsible, among other tasks, for recommending grants of financial assistance to be paid to each State for universities. The Commission also exercises a supervisory role in the expenditure of those grants.
The Australian Research Grants Committee has been appointed to recommend grants for research projects of special merit for the remainder of the 1964-66 triennium. The Committee also advises on whether recipients of the grants comply with conditions laid down. Grants may be recommended for research projects within a university or non-Government research institution in a State. Grants to a State university are subject to a matching contribution by the State.
Among other tasks, the Commonwealth Advisory Committee on Advanced Education has been appointed to recommend grants to the States for Colleges of Advanced Education.
Although there are other bodies that advise on certain aspects of grants to the States, they do not make recommendations affecting the total of a grant paid to a particular State.
d asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice - 1, What would be the approximate cost of establishing a package television station at (a) Kalgoorlie and (b) Geraldton of sufficient power to provide a satisfactory service within a radius of (i) 10 miles, (ii) 15 miles, (iii) 20 miles, (iv) 25 miles, (v) 40 miles and (vi) 60 miles?
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
Department of the Treasury: Taxation Branch. (Question No. 1481.)
n asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
m asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
son asked the Minister for Housing, upon notice -
Who are the 30 approved lenders under the provisions of the Home Savings Grant Act referred to in the Housing Loans Insurance Corporation’s news release of 25th November 1965?
– I have obtained the following information in answer to the honorable member’s question -
The Housing Loans Insurance Corporation is required by section 5 (3) of the Housing Loans Insurance Act 1965 to cause notice of the approval, or the revocation of the approval, of a person as a lender for the purposes of the Act to be published in the “ Gazette “. The names of the first group of approved lenders were published in “Gazette” No. 95 on 25th November 1965.
y asked the Minister for Social Services, upon notice -
What is the (a) number and (b) percentage of age and invalid pensioners who have no income other than their pension?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows -
y asked the Minister for Social Services, upon notice -
What is the (a) number and (b) percentage of age and invalid pensioners who receive by way of superannuation, etc. the following amounts, respectively, in excess of their pensions - 10s., 20s., 30s., 40s., 50s., 60s., and 70s.?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows -
2 per cent, have a weekly income not exceeding 10s.;
These estimates relate only to income (including superannuation, etc.) as defined for pension purposes, and takes no account of other forms of income which are exempt under the means test.
Pensions. (Question No. 1506.)
y asked the Minister for Social
Services, upon notice -
How many and what percentage of applications for invalid pensions were rejected during the last twelve months on the grounds that the applicant was not considered to be 85 per cent, incapacitated?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows -
During the twelve months ended 30th June 1965, 3,116 applications for invalid pension were disallowed on the ground that the persons were not permanently incapacitated for work to the extent of 85 per cent, as required by the Social Services Act. This number represented 13 per cent, of all applications determined.
Social Services. (Question No. 1515.)
y asked the Minister for Social
Services, upon notice -
Have any efforts been made to establish reciprocal treaties on social service benefits with (a) Greece, (b) Italy (c) Israel, (d) Holland and (e) Germany; if not, why not?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows -
The Commonwealth Government has made no approach to the Government of any of the countries mentioned for the establishment of a reciprocal agreement on social security. The movement of population from Australia to those countries is not at this stage sufficient to warrant such an approach.
s asked the Minister rep resenting the Minister for Works, upon notice -
– The Minister for Works has supplied the following information -
s asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
What sums have been spent by (a) the Commonwealth Government, (b) State Governments and (c) local government bodies at each airport annually since 1945 on (i) new runways, (ii) runway extensions, (iii) runway maintenance, (iv) navigational aids and (v) airport terminals?
– The Minister for Civil Aviation has supplied the following information -
I do not propose to provide the complete answers to Question No. 1439 as there are about 650 airports in the Commonwealth covered by the questions and the provision of this detailed information over a period of 20 years would represent a mammoth task. In some instances, too, this information is not available in the form requested. The following summarised data is, however, provided -
Expenditure by the Commonwealth -
Total expenditure on all Commonwealth airports from 1.7.1945 to 30.6.1965 is as follows -
Maintenance of runways and other pavements totalled £13.956 million for the period.
Since inception of the Aerodrome Local Ownership Plan in 1957-58 expenditure on airports by State and Local Government authorities has been -
Only comparatively small contributions to this expenditure have been made by one or two States.
Expenditure by the Commonwealth under the Local Ownership Plan (additional to that shown under (a) above and including reimbursement of Local Authorities’ developmental expenditure prior to 1957-58) has been-
m asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
On what dates, by what means and with what results has the Government consulted with any of the State Governments concerning the port and wharf facilities on which Mr. Henry Basten reported on 4th January 1952?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows -
Following receipt of Mr. Basten’s report, I wrote, in April 1952, to all States, except South Australia, regarding those recommendations which appeared to involve the respective State authorities. (The South Australian Government has appointed Mr. W. P. Bishop to conduct a separate inquiry into the Port of Adelaide.) The States indicated that they had already taken, or were in the course of planning, action in line with Mr. Basten’s recommendations.
Since that time, further consultation with the States about port facilities and their efficient use has taken place at Premiers’ Conferences and also at meetings of the Commonwealth-State Committee on Shipping. Considerable sums of Commonwealth moneys have also been made available to the States for port development.
The important fact is that the Commonwealth has never been idle in any aspect of the whole matter of port and wharf facilities. As is well known, Mr. A. e. Woodward, Q.C., is currently examining a very wide range of matters affecting the efficiency of the Stevedoring Industry.
n asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows - 1 and 2. The ships sold by the Australian National Line during the past twelve months and their purchasers were as follows -
It is pointed out that a somewhat similar question was asked by Mr. Hayden in March last year and on that occasion, amongst other things, the selling prices of the 16 ships sold by the Line up to that time were disclosed.
With the exception of “Tyalla”, sold in 1957 and “ Ransdorp “ in 1958, the vessels were either “ River “ class or “ D “ class and it was felt that the disclosure of the prices obtained for these ships would not be prejudicial to the Line’s interests as it was not contemplated that any of the remaining “ D “ class vessels would be offered for sale for some time, and there was no immediate intention of offering the one remaining “ River “ class ship (“River Burnett”) for sale.
At the present time the Line is operating one “ e “ class and three “ D “ class vessels all of which were built between 1946 and 1949. Having regard to their ages and the changing pattern of trade, one or more of these ships could become surplus to the Line’s requirements in the not too distant future.
The disclosure of prices obtained for recent sales of ships in these classes could, it is believed, adversely affect the prices obtained for any similar ships offered for sale in the future.
d asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice -
On how many motor vehicles carried by the Trans-Australia Railways during each of the past three years was a freight concession allowed in relation to (a) first class and (b) second class passengers?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows -
Commonwealth Railways do not maintain separate records showing vehicles accompanying first and second class passengers, therefore this detailed information cannot be furnished.
m asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s questions is as follows -
I have nothing to add to the answer I gave to a similar question on this matter asked without notice last Friday by the honorable member for Blaxland (Mr. E. James Harrison). This question and my answer may be found on page 3583 of Hansard of 3rd December 1965.
– On 14th October the honorable the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) said in this House that in the droughts of 1944 and 1947 the then Labour Government granted drought relief on a £1 for £1 basis, and asked what constitutional or financial changes have occurred since then that would make similar grants on the same basis by the Commonwealth Government impossible in the case of the present drought. I promised that I would look at the particular instances referred to by the honorable member.
It is true that during the war and early post-war years the Commonwealth assisted the States for the relief of cereal growers who had been affected by a succession of drought years.
In 1940-41 provision was made under the State Grants (Drought Relief) Act 1941 for a grant of £1 million to the States for the relief of wheat-growers affected by the drought. The grants actually paid to the States amounted to £985,623 and the disbursement of these moneys to wheat-growers was handled by the States. Also, the Loan (Drought and Relief) Bill 1940 empowered the Federal Treasurer to borrow moneys, not exceeding £2.8 million, for the purpose of making loans to the States to enable them to provide drought relief to primary producers. Actual loans to the States under the Act amounted to £1,867,000 and these were duly repaid.
Following the drought in 1944, and the widespread failure of cereal crops, it was agreed at the Premiers’ Conference in October 1944, that the Commonwealth and States would together provide £3 million for the relief of cereal growers. The amount was subsequently raised to £3,710,000. The States participating were New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia.
The Premiers’ Conference in January 1946 again considered the same problem, and the Commonwealth agreed to provide up to £520,000 on a £1 for £1 basis to assist the States in drought relief measures.
It will be noted that these relief schemes were confined to cereal growers. At the time, it was essential to maintain cereal production in the face of war and post-war shortages.
No doubt the Commonwealth could make specific grants or advances to finance particular forms of drought relief. As indicated in the statement I made in Parliament on 26th August, we believe it would not be appropriate for the Commonwealth to do this. If we did decide to make specific grants or advances to finance particular forms of drought relief, this would have the drawback that there may have to be various forms of drought relief, some of which might not fall within the scope of specific Commonwealth grants and would therefore be entirely for the account of the State. It seems preferable that Commonwealth assistance should be comprehensive, as it will be under the Government’s approach, which is to support the budgetary position of New South Wales and Queensland by making general purpose assistance grants.
As I mentioned above, under some earlier drought relief schemes, the Commonwealth made grants to the States on a £1 for £1 basis which meant that in order to obtain £1 from the Commonwealth, the States had to find £1 from their own funds. There is no such condition under the present scheme, and that should be very much to the advantage of the States.
– I told the honorable member for Lawson (Mr. Failes) on 14th October that I would look into the question of whether concessional advances to drought-affected farmers by State banks such as the Rural Bank of New South Wales and the Agricultural Bank of Queensland would be treated as expenditure which might be recouped by the Commonwealth.
Both the New South Wales and Queensland Budgets make provision for payments to their State banks to enable the latter to make advances for drought relief purposes. To the extent that these payments are a charge on the Budget of the State concerned they should, I consider, be included in the total assessment of the financial burden of the drought measures on the budgetary resources of the State. Whether any Commonwealth assistance in respect of this class of expenditure should be by way of straightout grant or a repayable advance is a question that must be deferred until after the consultations are held with each State later in the financial year.
n. - On 26th November the honorable member for Wannon (Mr. Malcolm Fraser) directed a question to me concerning a shortage of superphosphate in Victoria last season. The question was in the following terms -
Can he tell the House what is the present position? Is it correct that one company is in the position of either not accepting further orders or of accepting them only for delivery after June next year? ls it correct that another company has now abandoned the long standing procedure of filling orders in order of their acceptance and is now putting quotas on long standing clients and agents? Has the Minister any information that he can give the House on the intentions of W. R. Grace (Aust.) Pty. Ltd. concerning a new fertiliser works at Portland, following final acceptance of its offer for Cresco Fertilisers Ltd. shares?
I am now able to supply the following information to the honorable member -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 9 December 1965, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1965/19651209_reps_25_hor49/>.