25th Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. Sir John McLeay) took the chair at 9.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– I direct a question to the Postmaster-General. No doubt he is aware that there was a high rate of illiteracy in New South Wales before 1866. As it will be 100 years next year - actually within a few weeks - since Sir Henry Parkes introduced the public school system in New South Wales per medium of the Public Instruction Act, will the Minister consider issuing a stamp to commemorate this great achievement of Sir Henry Parkes?
– Some 18 months notice is required before a special stamp can be issued. The honorable member knows that decimal currency will be introduced on 14th February 1966. A tremendous amount of effort has been required to produce decimal currency stamps for the early part of the year. As to the latter part of the year, the special stamp programme has already been arranged, so that it would not be possible to produce an additional stamp during 1966.
– I ask the
Minister for National Development a question. What survey work is being carried out to discover new sources of underground water in Australia? Who is carrying out this work and how is it being financed?
– The search for underground water in Australia is carried out by the States, and in the Northern Territory, of course, by the Department of Territories. When the Water Resources Council was formed recently an approach was made to the Commonwealth Government for additional funds both for the search for underground water and also for mapping the flow of surface water. As a result of this approach the Commonwealth set aside an amount of money in its last Budget for this purpose. The States had previously been spending about £500,000 a year between them. The Commonwealth made an offer of £2 for £1 for any increased expenditure by the States, up to a maximum Commonwealth expenditure of £250,000. This means that there will be an increase of about 75 per cent, in the total expenditure on the search for underground water in Australia.
– Does the Prime Minister, and does his colleague the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Trade and Industry, who is also the Leader of the Australian Country Party, now concede the fact that it was the neutral attitude of the Liberal-Country Party coalition Government that was the chief reason for the rejection of the wool reserve prices plan at the recent referendum?
– I concede nothing.
– Will the Treasurer have an examination made of the income tax return form with a view to eliminating some of its minor irritating shortcomings? Is the Treasurer aware that some of the sections of columns are really too narrow to write legible figures in them, and that some sections of the form are too small for the average taxpayer to write the necessary detail in them?
– I shall certainly consider the matter raised by the honorable gentleman. The Government is anxious to secure the revenue but has no wish to make the collection process more vexatious. If we can improve the document I shall be glad to see this done. I welcome any suggestions that the honorable gentleman and others may make on this matter.
– I preface my question, which is directed to the Treasurer, by directing attention to recent developments in Washington on the urgent reassessment of the United States balance of payments. United States Government spokesmen have called for further restrictions on the outflow of capital to foreign countries because of the continuing drain on the foreign reserves of that country caused by the Vietnam war. I ask: As the Australian economy has been geared for many years to reliance on an indiscriminate and unlimited inflow of United States capital can the right honorable gentleman assure the House that the Government has taken planned measures to rectify any impact on our economy that the immediate turning off of the flow of American capital may have?
– Without accepting all the comment by the honorable gentleman relating to our reliance on an unlimited flow of United States funds, I would agree that in recent years in particular a good deal of our development has been assisted by finance that has come to us from the United States of America. When earlier this year there were announced policy proposals that would on the face of them have the effect of reducing the flow of investment capital from that source to Australia I took up the matter directly on behalf of the Australian Government with the Administration in Washington and obtained certain assurances which I believe have been confirmed by our subsequent experience. In point of fact the flow of investment capital from the United States has been well sustained and the export income of Australia will be enlarged very materially in the years ahead as a result of that investment. Normally I would have felt some concern at the latest development, but having the assurances that were given to us earlier in the year and having been invited to bring any cases of difficulty to the attention of the United States Administration I am confident that Australia, which remains a strong centre of attraction for overseas investment, will continue to receive a substantial flow of capital from American sources.
– My question is addressed to the Treasurer. Does he know that since the Parliament met on 17th August the Opposition has made proposals for amendments to legislation and for other legislation that would, if accepted, cost Australia many millions of pounds additional to the Budget provisions? Is he aware that in spite of that fact Opposition members have given no indication of how and from what source these additional millions of pounds would be collected?
– Order! 1 suggest that the honorable member direct his question and refrain from making comment.
– The question is: Will the Treasurer endeavour to obtain information about where the money would come from?
– Anyone who has followed the debates in this House will have been struck by the wide gulf between the economic policies of this Government - policies that have led Australia to its present stage of strength, prosperity and full employment - and those advanced by honorable members opposite which in the view of those of us who are on this side of the Parliament would undoubtedly stifle incentive and have some depressing effects on economic activity generally.
– Tell it to the wool growers.
– I should have thought of cattle rather than sheep when I looked at the honorable gentleman. It has been made clear in the course of the debate that the one principal source of revenue to which honorable gentlemen opposite would look would be a steeply increased rate of personal income tax on the middle and higher levels of income, capital gains tax and other matters of that sort which in the result, in my judgment, would have a depressing effect upon economic activity.
– Has the Minister for National Development yet formulated a national fuel policy for Australia and, if so, what are the salient features of the plan? Is he in a position to say whether discussions have taken place with the States and agreement has been reached regarding the use of natural gas? If so, will he tell the House what decisions have been reached so that industry and the community might be informed?
– I have informed the honorable member and the House before that the question of a fuel policy is in the hands of each individual State because the States have the constitutional right to say where they will get their power and how they will use it. This Government has had policies which have increased Australia’s energy resources enormously. We have had a policy of subsidising the search for oil and of mechanising mines so that today we are in a position to export about 10 million tons of coal annually whereas when we came into office we had to import coal. Our policies have been directed towards increasing the resources ‘available; but how those resources are used is, under the Constitution, a matter for the States. We cannot force them to do other than what they think is best for themselves.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Trade and Industry. What further steps are necessary before the New Zealand - Australia Free Trade Agreement comes into force?
– The formal processes necessary to bring the agreement into force were completed between the New Zealand High Commissioner and myself in Canberra on Thursday, 2nd December. The agreement is, as announced, designed to operate from 1st January next, and the necessary tariff schedule to give effect to the agreement will be gazetted shortly.
– I ask a question of the Minister for Trade and Industry on behalf of myself and the honorable member for Braddon. I understand that the Australian mushroom industry has made representations to the Minister. Has he yet made a decision to seek protection for this young and important industry? If not, will he give immediate and urgent attention to this matter in view of the threat to the industry from the huge volume of imports of canned mushrooms, estimated to be worth £2 million, which will be coming in from Formosa during the next 12 months?
– Order! If the honorable member wants to get in his doublebarrelled question he had better not make any comment.
– Does the Minister intend to seek protection for the young mushroom industry in Australia which will be affected by extensive imports from Formosa in the next 12 months?
– I did hear something of this matter yesterday. I am not aware that any request for protection has been formally directed, although I understand that some inquiries have been made. The brief information I have is that there have been some imports of canned button type mushrooms from Formosa. I am told that the imported mushrooms are of a different type from those produced in Australia and that they are landed here at a higher price than that at which the Australian mushrooms are sold. Present indications are that they represent about 7 per cent, of the Australian trade in mushrooms. If this is the position - I do not vouch for it but that is what I have been told - I doubt whether there is at the moment a prima facie case for considering the protection of the Australian industry. But, as a general proposition, I can assure the honorable member that this industry, as well as any other worthwhile Australian industry, will be accorded protection if circumstances justify it.
COMMONWEALTH SERUM i LABORATORIES.
– I ask the Minister for Health whether there has been recent approval for additional capital expenditure by the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories in Melbourne. If so, will the equipment ordered or purchased be used to compete with private enterprise manufacturers who not only produce Australia’s requirements but also exports? As these activities would clash with the Government’s free enterprise policy and cause confusion in the pharmaceutical industry, will the Minister tell the House to what extent the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories will be expanded?
– There has been no recent approval for additional capital expenditure by the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories Commission. In fact, the Commission normally submits its estimates early in each calendar year - usually about February or March - and approval for expenditure during the previous financial year was given at the normal time and will again be considered early next year. At the same time, there is a continuing programme of modernisation and consolidation so far as buildings are concerned. There has also been some minor expansion of facilities over recent years.
The Commission has a dual role. It both manufactures and carries out research. The Government has a very strict and limited policy with relation to the types of products that can be manufactured. The Commonwealth Serum Laboratories Commission holds only about 2 per cent, of the commercial market and I can give the honorable member an assurance that the proportion of the expanding commercial market will be held at approximately that level in the future.
– I ask the Minister for Shipping and Transport whether there is a Commonwealth committee of experts examining the possibility of establishing an Australian overseas shipping line. If there is such a committee, when will its report and recommendations be available?
– There is a fairly continual examination within both my own Department and the Department of Trade and Industry of possible shipping opportunities. I do not know whether this constitutes an examination of the question of establishing a Commonwealth shipping line as such, but, we do examine very carefully indeed any opportunities that we see for engaging in the carriage of cargoes overseas.
– Can the Minister for Supply say whether there is any joint procurement of equipment and spare parts by the Armed Forces of Australia and New Zealand? Would not the integration of equipment and ability to interchange lead to more mobility and a better combined defence force in the South-East Pacific area?
– There is no formalised joint procurement arrangement of the kind referred to by the honorable gentleman. If there were such an arrangement, I think it would be dealt with by my colleague the Minister for Defence. With respect to those matters which are the responsibility of the Department of Supply, there has developed a very close liaison with our opposite numbers in New Zealand.
Our own requirements in the defence supply field are, of course, kept under constant review with the Joint War Production Committee and various industrial advisory committees. In more recent times we have encouraged the New Zealand authorities to give us a list of their own likely wartime requirements for which they would look to Australia as a source of supply. These we have amalgamated with ours and, therefore, to that extent we are able to consider our likely joint requirements in the field of supply. Apart from that, close liaison has developed in a survey of the industrial capacity of New Zealand. Only last week we were able to issue the first order on a New Zealand company for defence tooling under an arrangement recently entered into. The New Zealanders have access to our supply laboratories as required and generally the liaison, as I mentioned, is getting particularly close.
– I address a question to the Prime Minister. In view of his statement to the effect that section 51 (xxvi) of the Constitution prevents the Commonwealth Government from discriminating against Aborigines will he ask the AttorneyGeneral to set in train an investigation of all Commonwealth legislation with a view to removing sections discriminating against Aborigines and so prevent any further embarrassment to himself?
– I am afraid that the honorable member has unwittingly misquoted me. I did not say that section 51 (xxvi) prevented anything, except one matter. This sub-section enables the Commonwealth Parliament to pass a law in relation to the people of any race for whom it thinks a special law is necessary, but that does not include the Aboriginal race. In other words the essence of the position is that the power to discriminate may be exercised in relation to these other races but not in relation to the Aborigines, which is what I thought a lot of people wanted.
– I direct a question to the Minister for Trade and Industry. Is it a fact that Australian oil refineries have a considerable unused capacity? Is it a fact too that many millions of pounds worth of refined petroleum products are imported into Australia each year and that our import bill could be considerably reduced if the companies importing these items were compelled to import crude oil and refine it in Australia? If these are facts, will the Minister consider increasing the rate of duty on these refined products in an endeavour to persuade oil companies to make full use of the capacity of Australian refineries and so lessen the drain on our overseas funds?
– It is a fact that at present some Australian refineries have an unused capacity for some products. Recently the industry gave evidence before the Tariff Board and intimated that when current expansion plans of the refineries are completed the refineries will be able to supply all of Australia’s requirements without importing any refined products. My advice is that at present, as the honorable member says, there is a heavy expenditure on the importation of refined petroleum products amounting, I am told, to about £10 million annually. The Tariff Board in its recent report recommended deferred duties as an incentive to oil companies to meet the local demand for petroleum products. The Government announced that it did not propose to act upon the recommendation at this stage but that further consideration would be given to measures to encourage the production of a higher proportion of the more valuable products in Australian refineries. It was not thought by the Government then that a higher duty imposed on refined products would do more than give an opportunity, if it were available, to lift the price of those products now being refined in Australia.
– My question to the Prime Minister concerns the eligibility for war service land settlement of members of the Australian armed forces who are now serving overseas but who have been allotted for duty in a special area. In view of the fact that in these circumstances they become eligible for general repatriation benefits, is the same opportunity to be made available to them for war service land settlement as that which applied after the First and Second World Wars?
– I suggest to the honorable member that this is clearly a matter of policy and I would not be prepared to give any offhand answer to the question.
– I ask the Minister for Immigration a question. Some concern has been expressed in the Italian Parliament - there has also been some reference to the matter in Australian newspapers - at the refusal of the Australian Government to grant a visa to Pasquale Santonastaso and his inability, as a result, to visit his small son in Australia. Will the Minister state the reasons for not allowing this man to enter Australia?
– The reason for not issuing a visa in this case is the conduct of this man when he was formerly in Australia. He was convicted here in 1959 of an assault on his wife and her brother and df malicious damage.
– I rise to order. Is it in order for the personal details of individuals to be dealt with at question time? However correct the procedure may be, it does not seem to me to be in accordance with parliamentary practice.
– Order! I think the honorable member for Chisholm is correct. Once names have been mentioned in a question the question becomes out of order. If it is necessary to reflect on the character of an individual the question is more appropriately dealt with on notice.
– Perhaps the honorable member will place his question on notice.
– Has the Prime Minister seen reports that the Broken Hill Pty. Co. Ltd. and R. W. Miller & Co. Pty. Ltd. contemplate building a 75,000 tons and a 65,000 tons bulk carrier respectively to transport iron ore and coal both interstate and overseas? Is the right honorable gentleman aware that ships of this tonnage could not enter Newcastle or Port Kembla harbours - the ports which will handle the major portion of these commodities - unless they are deepened and that it is only a matter of time before even larger bulk carriers are used on this trade? In order that the development of our deposits of these two raw materials, which are essential to the iron and steel industry and are substantial export income earners, may proceed economically, will the Government make an allocation of finance to the States for harbour deepening and improvements similar to grants given to the New South Wales Government in 1962 for this type of work? If an early decision -
– Order! The honorable member should direct his question.
– I am concluding my question now. Is the right honorable gentleman aware that if an early decision is made -
– Order! The honorable member is out of order.
– Is the Prime Minister aware that the residents of his home town of Jeparit in Victoria are enthusiastic in their desire to pay a tribute to him and are erecting a fine structure on top of which is a Scotch thistle? Has he been invited to attend the unveiling ceremony? If so, when may we expect him to pay a visit to this important part of the Mallee electorate?
– The last I heard about this matter was that the date might be relatively early in the New Year, but I am not sure. While I am on my feet I should like to say that I am interested to be asked a question by the honorable member on a matter with which both he and I are associated because I have been reminded that if we finish the session today, this will be the concluding day of 20 years continuous parliamentary service by the honorable member in the course of which, remarkably enough, he has never missed a day’s sitting.
– If I may, I also should like to congratulate the honorable member for Mallee. His is a remarkable record.
– I ask the Prime Minister: Is there any truth in rumours now current that the Government intends to send another battalion of troops to Vietnam and that in March of next year it will send conscripts as reinforcements of the existing force there? I know it is very late in the sessional period and that all honorable members want to finish today, but I should like to know whether the Prime Minister can make a short statement on Vietnam before we rise.
– As to the future position of Australian troops in Vietnam, I inform the honorable gentleman that the Government has made no decision of any kind and can accept no responsibility for such rumours as exist. Whenever we decide anything in any of these fields, as the honorable gentleman knows, we announce it ourselves. The honorable gentleman asks whether I can make a statement. The other day, I said in a rather tentative way in answer to a question he had asked that I would try to make a statement, if anything useful could be said. I do not mind saying that I had a statement assembled and I found it singularly lacking in interest. It contained nothing that I thought was very novel and, therefore, I did not see why we should occupy the time of the House with it.
I should like to point out to the honorable gentleman and to the House that there has been one interesting development, particularly having regard to some of the comments that have been made about offers of peace to the United States of America. As recently as 25th November, Ho Chi Minh, speaking with the whole authority of his position at Hanoi, made it quite clear in terms that the conditions for peace still stood. He repeated the four points, two of which I will mention now. The first is that American and other outside forces must leave Vietnam. In other words, they must abandon South Vietnam. The second condition of great importance is that the construction of an administration to form a government in South Vietnam must be arranged by the South Vietnam National Liberation Front, which, as is not denied, is a puppet of the North Vietnam Administration and is in effect the political wing of the Vietcong. So two proposals were involved in what Ho Chi Minh had to say as recently as 25th November. One was that outsiders must get out and leave South Vietnam to fend for itself and the other was that the ordinary people of South Vietnam were to have no voice in their future.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister for Shipping and Transport, relates to a matter I raised with him in this House some months ago. Is it a fact that the marginal costs of moving goods or stock by rail are sometimes very low in comparison with total costs? Is it a fact, therefore, that great national advantages can be obtained if the railways are used more effectively to cope with seasonal conditions in various parts of Australia? Does this sometimes involve interstate as well as intrastate movements? Would it not be convenient for the Commonwealth Government, in its efforts to foster exports, to subsidise operations of this kind? Can the Minister tell me specifically what negotiations have been undertaken with the various State railway authorities in an effort to co-ordinate them in a plan for this matter of great national advantage, particularly when seasonal conditions are so variable in different parts of Australia?
– Insofar as the honorable gentleman raises a question of Commonwealth subsidy in the transport of stock, this is rather a question of policy which I do not think should be dealt with at question time. I am afraid I cannot tell him what discussions have taken place between the Railways Commissioners of the Commonwealth and the States regarding the coordination of stock movements. I do know that Commonwealth Railways has kept its freight rates deliberately low. In fact over some sections of the Commonwealth railways freight is transported at a loss. It has refrained from increasing freight rates in recent times in accordance with other freight movements because it realised that pastoralists have been suffering from the effects of drought. Commonwealth Railways is making in this sense a very real contribution in respect of the problem of transporting stock to or from drought stricken areas.
– My question to the Minister for Primary Industry relates to the fishing industry. Has the Minister seen sug gestions to the effect that a papal bull may shortly be issued which will cause a change in the dietary habits of some millions of Australians by promoting the consumption of meat on seven days a week? Is it considered that if this is done the consumption of fish will decline? If the Australian fishing industry is threatened with the loss of a considerable portion of the home market by this proposal, what action does the Government propose to take to rescue this struggling industry from being swamped by the threatened change in the eating habits of many Australians?
– I have not seen the statement referred to by the honorable member, but if he is concerned about its effect upon the meat industry he can forget about that. The fishing industry will not be damaged either, because there is scope for expansion in the industry, as Australia still has to import substantial quantities of various types of fish to meet its requirements. The recent Fisheries Conference attended by six State Ministers and myself was most successful. The Conference considered means of protecting the industry in every way and the honorable member can be assured that everything possible will be done for the industry.
– I address a question to the Treasurer. Will he consider ways and means of establishing a disaster insurance corporation to cover national disasters such as bushfires, floods and droughts?
– This matter has been considered on a number of occasions. It has been raised at conferences of Premiers and it has been studied by Commonwealth departments. I shall give the honorable gentleman a more detailed statement because I would find it more practicable in that way to bring out some of the factors which so far have worked against the establishment of the kind of fund that he has in mind. It is recognised that the matter is one of importance, but the difficulties associated with it have so far proved insuperable.
– My question is addressed to the Minister for Social
Services. Is adequate finance provided to meet all approved applications for grants under the Aged Persons Homes Act? Can the Minister say what amount of money under this Act has been allocated to charitable and other organisations, and whether applications are increasing or diminishing?
– The honorable member has displayed his interest in this Act and in a good many other facets of Government administration over the past 20 years. I am happy to be able to advise the honorable member that at this time there is no difficulty in providing funds for applications under the Aged Persons Homes Act. Approximately £26,664,000 has been spent since the introduction of the aged persons homes legislation in 1954 for the purpose of subsidising accommodation for aged people in our communities. As far as individual State applications are concerned, since the date of the introduction of the legislation, Victoria, New South Wales, and Queensland have received respectively 32 per cent., 26 per cent., and 15 per cent, of the funds allocated for this purpose. In the last 12 months, however, there has been a slight difference. The States of New South Wales and South Australia have each substantially increased applications for money under the Act. Grants to Victoria in the last 12 months have constituted only 15 per cent, of the funds. I can assure the honorable member that grants under the Act are still running at their normal rate and in the future we look forward to being able to provide an increasing number of homes for the aged by virtue of this legislation.
– I desire to ask the right honorable the Prime Minister a question. I did wish to ask the Minister for Labour and National Service a question but for the last two days he has been absent from the chamber. I ask the right honorable gentleman: Why is the Minister absent? There is one current rumour that he is spending all of his time in the gymnasium.
– I will try to ascertain the facts for the honorable gentleman - in about a fortnight’s time.
– My question is addressed to the Treasurer. Can he say whether a Treasury estimate has been made of the approximate cost of allowing as a taxation deduction university and college fees incurred by people over 18 years of age? Would the right honorable gentleman give an assurance that in preparing the next Budget the claim of these people to have their educational expenses recognised for taxation purposes will be carefully considered?
– My recollection is that a particular item along the lines proposed by the honorable member was one of the thousand odd matters of taxation relief requested before the last Budget. It was included in the compendium of tax requests considered by the Government at that time. Therefore the compendium should contain an estimate of the cost to revenue of such a proposal. I shall see if I can get that information and supply it to the honorable member. As to his request that the matter be considered when the forthcoming Budget is being considered, I shall do my best to assure that this happens.
– My question is directed to the Minister acting for the Minister for Housing. Now that the Housing Loans Insurance Corporation has commenced operating can the Minister state whether private lending institutions are now granting loans of 90 per cent, of valuation to young couples desirous of obtaining homes? Will he inform the House whether the Commonwealth Bank is co-operating and is granting couples loans of 90 per cent, of valuation? Can the Minister inform the House how many loans have been insured so far?
– As I am not administering the detailed work of the Department I am afraid I have not the answer to the honorable member’s question at my fingertips. I will inquire during the day and let him know what I find out.
– I ask the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation a question. Will the new jet airport to be built at Towra Point near Cronulla, New South Wales, bring noise, nuisance and danger to half a million people in the southern suburbs of Sydney? Will it be close to a high density living area at Cronulla and seven high schools? Can the proposed airport be relocated so that inconvenience will not be caused to so many people?
– I shall refer the question to the Minister whom I represent and obtain a reply for the honorable member.
– I desire to make a personal explanation as a result of newspaper reports which have appeared today and which have misrepresented me. These reports have appeared in newspapers published in all the capital cities of Australia and the misrepresentations are in connection with a debate which took place in the Labour Party caucus meeting yesterday. I am reported to have said that State aid has come to stay. I made no such statement. I am reported to have said that Labour should change its policy on State aid. What I did say was that during the recess I would examine the possibility of finding a new formula for assistance to scholars in accordance with existing Labour policy. I feel that I have been embarrassed because my position in regard to this matter has been completely misrepresented. There was not one single report that did not contain some truth but all of them contained more errors than truth.
Bill presented by Mr. Harold Holt, and read a first time.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
This Bill declares the rates of income tax for the current financial year other than the special rates proposed to apply to certain income of members of partnerships, trust estates and superannuation funds. It imposes on individuals an additional tax of 2 per cent, of the tax calculated in accordance with the general rates applying for the year. It proposes that the rates of tax payable by companies shall be tb- same as for the financial year 1964-65.
I would like to give the House some explanation why it has been necessary to introduce this Bill. I want to set out the course which the Government is following in relation to this matter and the problem of which this Bill is a manifestation. Some weeks ago I introduced a Bill to declare that rates of tax for the present financial year. That Bill comprehended both the proposed special rates and the additional 2b per cent, levy. The Bill was passed by this House but the Opposition voted against it. As I recall the debate, the substantial objection of the Opposition was to the additional 21 per cent, levy on individuals.
The Bill then went to the Senate but it has not been accepted there. In fact it did not get beyond the second reading stage in that chamber. A motion for the second reading was defeated, the Opposition being joined by one Government senator to produce that defeat. This rejection by the Senate presents a series of problems unless the matter can now be dealt with satisfactorily in some other fashion. The Government is trying to meet the difficulty created and at the same time enable the Senate to give what would appear to be a more faithful expression of the majority view held on each of the matters contained in the former Bill. It seems clear enough from the record of the debates on the Bill in the Senate that it met the fate it did because it dealt with both of the matters I have referred to in the one measure. It also seems clear that if there had been separate Bills dealing with each of those matters there would have been a majority of the Senate voting in favour of both proposals. The Government has accordingly decided to follow the course of submitting two separate Bills. The Bill now before the House proposes the imposition of the 2 per cent, additional tax on individuals. It does not seek to declare the special rates relating to partnerships, trust estates and superannuation funds. A Bill that T hope to introduce later will, however, seek to declare these special rates.
I should explain here that it would not be practicable, as I understand the position, to introduce the second Bill and carry it to a conclusion in this House before the first Bill is passed through all stages in both Houses, because the second Bill will amend the first. That is why we are following the course that I am now outlining to the House.
Before I say anything about the formal provisions of this Bill I want to mention some of the extremely grave effects that would follow if the present measure is not passed in the form proposed, or if its passage is further delayed. There would inevitably be delays in the issue of notices of assessment and there could be serious effects on revenue collections for the year. The administrative difficulties that would be encountered would certainly result in much inconvenience to taxpayers through delays in advising them of their liabilities. There would also be quite heavy additional costs in the collection of tax.
Should Parliament fail to agree to the additional tax of 2i per cent, for individuals, possibly as many as 200,000 assessments now awaiting issue will have to be re-calculated. These are assessments which involve provisional tax for 1965-66 including the proposed 2i per cent, additional tax. In relation to these assessments there could be serious delays in the collection of tax of the order of £250,000,000. As to instalment deductions from salaries and wages, a most serious situation could develop. It would presumably be necessary to adjust instalment deductions. New scales would have to be worked out. There would be extreme problems associated with the advent of decimal currency which existing scales were, after much forward planning, devised to overcome. There would be a loss of revenue for the year of many millions of pounds.
I do not question the Opposition’s right, or its sincerity, when it objects to the additional tax, but I do recall that public reaction to the Budget was as favourable as any reaction to any one of the series of Budgets I have introduced, or indeed to any Budget that I can recall. It is no exaggeration to say that individual taxpayers had expected rather heavier taxation than was imposed. For the most part, knowing the purposes to be served by the additional taxation, they undertook with equanimity the relatively small additional burden that the Government asked them to shoulder. They saw the necessity for it and this was clearly explained to them. Therefor, I ask the Parliament to acknowledge the responsibilities that the Government faces in its Budget programme by giving this Bill a speedy passage.
Perhaps I should add in passing, Sir, that the decision of the Senate and its conduct in relation to the tax legislation raises, I believe, an important matter of constitutional principle and practice in the relations between the two Houses concerning financial matters. I do not propose this morning to elaborate on that or to attempt to debate the matter fully. But I believe that it is desirable that the issues raised engage the attention of this House on a future occasion.
I turn now to the formal provisions of the Bill. Apart from some minor adjustments associated with the proposed change to decimal currency the general rates of tax payable by individuals are very much the same as last year. Individuals are, however, to be called upon to pay additional tax of 2i per cent, of the tax calculated in accordance with the general rates. The adjustments to the general rates will not increase the tax payable at those rates in relation to taxable incomes up to £24,000. As to taxable incomes in excess of this amount there will be a slight increase in tax payable but it will be only £1 for each £3,000 of taxable income over £24,000. The Bill expresses all proposed rates as percentages of taxable income instead of, as in the past, as so many shillings and pence, or so many pence, per £1. This will mean that on the changeover to decimal currency the rates will represent so many cents per dollar. Another feature of the Bill is that it discards the old description of the tax on incomes in favour of a simpler description. Instead of being known as income tax and social services contribution the levy is to be known simply as income tax. Apart from the matters that I have mentioned, the measure does not vary in any significant respect from the Act declaring the rates of tax for the financial year 1964-65. I commend the Bill to the House and for the reasons that I have stated I ask for a speedy passage for it.
Leave granted for the debate to continue.
– Mr. Speaker, we are prepared to assist the Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) in giving the Bill a speedy passage if it is to be passed but I must disappoint him by indicating that we intend to vote against it. I repeat briefly the reasons that we gave previously for our opposition to the earlier tax legislation. First, we do not believe that there ought to have been any increases in taxes. Indeed, in view of the present state of the economy I believe that there is a rather good case for reconsidering some of the fiscal devices that were part of the Budget presented a little over three months ago. That is the first reason why we do not believe that tax increases are necessary. Secondly, even if increases are necessary, we object to the flat rate increases proposed, because they will result in an inequitable distribution of the additional burden as between all taxpayers. I do not want to traverse those arguments any more fully at this stage.
Like the Treasurer I consider that there are certain fascinating aspects of the treatment of the Government’s tax legislation in another place. Like him I believe that in the very near future we in this House should consider the relations between this chamber and the other place on financial matters, with particular attention to what those relations should be. I find at least some elements of paradox in the treatment by a House that calls itself a House of review of Bills that, under the terms of section 53 of the Constitution, it may not amend. It can reject them but it may not amend them. This seems at least to imply that when that section was put into the Constitution in the historical context of the situation at the end of last century - the Constitution did not become operative until 1901 - some limitations on the powers of the Senate with respect to measures of this kind were thought to be necessary. I hope, Mr. Deputy Speaker, that Mr. Speaker, as the custodian of the rights of this House, will look into this problem in the future. As I have said, we offer no barrier to the passage of this Bill through all stages today if it is to be passed, though we intend to oppose the measure itself.
Question put -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The House divided. (Mr. Deputy Speaker - Mr. P. E. Lucock.)
Majority .. ..22
Question so resolved in the affirmative. Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for Bill to be read a third time.
Bill (on motion by Mr. Harold Holt) read a third time.
Debate resumed from 3rd December (vide page 3588), on motion by Mr. Fairbairn -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
.- The Opposition does not oppose this Bill. Late in 1961, Mr. R. M. Ansett took full page advertisements in newspapers and sent letters to all honorable members setting out his requirements for civil aviation for the following 10 years. Accordingly, the letter was sent to the Parliamentary Draftsman to produce a bill which ordained among other things, that air navigation charges should not be increased at a greater rate than 10 per cent, per annum. The present Bill is in accordance with Mr. Ansett’s requirements and the statutory provisions made pursuant to them in 1961. It is increasing air navigation charges this year 10 per cent, above those applying last year. Most of the expenditure for providing air navigation facilities on the ground, by radio and through meteorological services are met from ordinary Consolidated Revenue and not from air navigation charges. Last financial year air navigation cost the Australian people £20,700,000 and air navigation charges provided £2,220,000 towards that sum. Last year £2,400,000 more was spent on air navigation purposes and £350,000 more was raised in air navigation charges. It is estimated that the additional charges from this Bill this year will be £620,000. It is to be expected that the air navigation expenditure this year will go up by about £3 million.
The increase in air navigation charges last year, it will be noted, amounted to only one-seventh of the increase in air navigation expenditure. This year the increase in air navigation charges once again will be a small fraction of the increase in air navigation expenditure. Until 1971 it is not possible under this Parliament’s obligations to Ansett Transport Industries Ltd. to increase the air navigation charges at a greater rate than 10 per cent, per annum. During the currency of the agreement so far the percentage of air navigation expenditure met from air navigation charges has increased from 8.9 per cent, to 10.7 per cent. One would expect that by the end of the Ansett decade the percentage of air navigation expenses met from air navigation charges will still only have reached about I2i per cent, or 13 per cent. Accordingly, the Australian people will continue to make much larger provision for air transport than they make for any other form of transport. In fact, they will make more provision for civil aviation than they do for all other transport combined.
Honorable members frequently hear references to the subsidies involved for rail transport in Australia through State Government deficits. In 1963-64, the last year for which the Commonwealth Grants Commission has reported on State railway deficits, the sum total of the deficits amounted to less than £114 million. It is true that there are some other budgetary provisions made in some States concerning the amortisation of loans for developmental railways. In addition to the railway subsidies there are losses which are borne by State Governments on trams, where they still run, and on buses, and occasionally on ferry services.
Australian taxpayers pay more to maintain civil aviation than all other forms of transport. This is all the more remarkable when one considers that most freight in Australia still goes by surface transport. We spend very much less on roads, railways, wharves, shipping and urban transport than we do on civil aviation which carries so very much less freight than any of the other forms of transport. Furthermore, this Parliament subsidises travellers by air to an entirely disproportionate extent. The average subsidy last year on every air trip was £4.
– On every passenger?
– On every passenger who embarked.
– Per passenger, or per flight?
– It is £4 12s. per flight. This is a very large subsidy indeed for a form of transport which most passengers use on government warrants or expense accounts. Very few rail passengers travel on expense accounts or railway warrants. I would imagine there are no bus travellers - certainly no inter - city bus travellers - who travel on Government warrants or expense accounts. Very few people indeed travel across Bass Strait by sea on Government warrants or expense accounts. But in air transport, the percentage of people whose journeys are financed that way is by far the highest of any form of transport in Australia.
It is as well, I think, to consider this aspect when one hears the annual complaint about the rise in air fares. Air fares are not the same burden to the traveller as fares in any other form of transport. Fares have been put up a very great deal in recent years. Between December 1957 and October of this year, air fares for tourist passengers were put up by 57 per cent, and those for first class passengers by 44 per cent. The yearly increases have varied between 3 per cent, and 10 per cent. The increases of 57 per cent, and 44 per cent, for tourist and first class passengers respectively are the compound increases in the last eight years.
The increase in fares has primarily been caused by the Government’s obligation to ensure that Ansett Transport Industries Ltd. pays a 10 per cent, dividend after all its ordinary commercial obligations have been met. The principle was stated in these terms by Senator Paltridge in September 1961 -
In order to meet reasonable private enterprise standards, Ansett Transport Industries Ltd. must have a target of the order of 10 per cent, after tax and a reasonable allocation to reserve.
Every increase which has been permitted to Ansett-A.N.A. and which has been required of Trans-Australia Airlines has flowed from the fact that Ansett Transport Industries Ltd, of which Ansett-A.N.A. is a subsidiary, must pay a 10 per cent, dividend after tax and a reasonable allocation to reserve, on the sum total of its operations, not merely on its air operations. For example, if Ansett Transport Industries Ltd. had to carry losses on a new television subsidiary then allowance would have to be made with respect to its air subsidiary to counteract those losses. I quote the following from the annual report of Ansett Transport Industries Ltd. for the year 1964-65 -
Establishment finance and costs in our television subsidiary - particularly in reference to programmes - has been much higher than envisaged. The net profit- that is of Ansett Transport Industries Ltd. - is after writing off substantial operating losses for the 11 months’ commercial operations of Channel 0 Melbourne.
In the present financial year, Ansett Transport Industries Ltd. will have to pay off its losses on South Pacific Airlines of New Zealand, which was owned, as to 49 per cent, of its shares, by Ansett Transport Industries Ltd., and which has now gone into liquidation. The Commonwealth’s guarantee is not to Ansett-A.N.A.; it is to Ansett Transport Industries Ltd. Accordingly, through licences to operate, through licences to import, through leases on Commonwealth aerodromes, through a restriction of air navigation charges, and through a multiplicity of other civil aviation provisions, the Commonwealth ensures that the sum total of the operations of Ansett Transport Industries Ltd. in television, hotel keeping, tourism and road transport, will all be conducted at such a level as to provide a 10 per cent, dividend.
The financial accounts of Ansett-A.N.A. - formerly Australian National Airways Pty. Ltd. - are not presented to Parliament. The financial accounts of Ansett Transport Industries Ltd., the holding company for this and some 50 other companies, are not presented to the Parliament. The AuditorGeneral does not audit the accounts of Ansett Transport Industries Ltd. Only 60 per cent, of the investments of Ansett Transport Industries Ltd. are in airline operations. By restricting air navigation charges, with which this Bill is concerned, and by a host of other concessions, the Commonwealth ensures that the 60 per cent, of operations are kept so profitable as to counteract any losses, operational or establishment, in the host of other activities for which Ansett Transport Industries Ltd. is the holding company.
I have made this analysis because the complaint is so often made that air navigation charges are responsible for the increase in air fares in Australia. The Commonwealth decides whether air companies will operate, where they will operate, with what they will operate and on what terms they will operate. All these matters are determined in such a way as to ensure this 10 per cent, dividend for A.T.I, as a whole. I reiterate that the increase in air navigation charges this year will be £620,000. The increased income that the air companies will make as a result of the 6 per cent, increase in their fares, which was permitted to AnsettA.N.A. by the Government and imposed on T.A.A. by the Government last October, will be of the order of four million pounds.
One must dispose of this suggestion that air fares are going up because this Parliament increases air navigation charges. The increase on air navigation charges permitted by this Parliament has been limited for 10 years expiring in 1971. By that time the air navigation charges will still meet no more than one eighth of the air navigation expenses paid in Australia - the expenses, not the capital.
– How much?
– One eighth, or I2i per cent.
– And when will that percentage be reached?
– I estimate it will be reached in 1971. In the first year of the present system, 1961-62, air navigation charges met 8.9 per cent, of air navigation expenditure. Last year they met 10.7 per cent, of air navigation expenditure. My estimate is that by mid-1971 the percentage will be 12i or 13. We must expect that air navigation charges will meet merely oneeighth of the cost of providing services for air travellers - radio and meteorological services and the running costs of the airports themselves. This is the most indulged form of transport in Australia. It is the one to which we ourselves mostly resort, and we resort to it because we do so on warrant - on what would be called in private enterprise “expense account”. I am not disparaging air transport. All I wish to point out is that air travellers, mainly as they are expense account travellers, are indulged by the Commonwealth Parliament to an extent that travellers by all other forms of transport are not indulged.
I have constantly stressed the necessity to co-ordinate and to rationalise transport services in Australia. Some of them are State Government services. Some of them are Commonwealth Government services. Some of them are a combination of private enterprise and State Government or a combination of private enterprise and Commonwealth Government services. There is, how ever, no machinery for co-ordinating the services overall. None of these services could be provided on the surface, around the coast or in the air without Government prescription of one kind or another. Of all forms of transport, however, air transport is the one that is most completely controlled by governments. It is impossible to run an an airline without importing aircraft. The Commonwealth Government decides whether an aircraft will be imported and on what terms it will be imported. Again, it is impossible to operate an airline without using an aerodrome, and this Government operates every aerodrome in Australia. We know that it is in the highest degree unlikely that we will ever be able to operate air services in Australia except with aircraft imported under Commonwealth licence or without the permission of the Commonwealth to operate from the aerodromes it builds. Accordingly the capacity to regulate transport in the air is greater than in any other field of transport. The degree of control is already much greater than in any other form of transport.
The greatest difficulty in transport today is in the cities. The expense of transport in Australian cities is much greater now than it ever was, not only in terms of dollars and cents for the fuel or the fares, but still more in the time lost. It takes longer to get into or through an Australian capital city now than it ever did despite new freeways and better roads. If governments are to subsidise or rationalise transport in Australia the great field that should attract their attention is urban transport.
In this Bill we are dealing with a form of transport which is pampered, indulged or considered more than any other. It is clearly a very important form of transport. Business and governments in Australia would be crippled without the splendid internal air services that we have. It is, however, appropriate in considering this annual Air Navigation Charges Bill to consider the extent to which the general transport situation is distorted in the whole of Australia. Governments are primarily responsible for this. We do not oppose this Bill. Our hands are tied for another five years in this form of legislation. The Australian public which uses air services must continue to be grateful to the vast number of their fellow citizens who subsidise by £4 12s. every ticket they buy.
– I have no desire to enter into an argument about Ansett Transport Industries Ltd. and what percentage it ought to pay, or anything of that nature. I should like, however, to congratulate the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) on the thoughtful and clear analysis he has made of this Bill with regard to the state of the entire transport industry in Australia. I know that he has other work to do, but I regret that the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Freeth) is not here, because I believe he is the Minister on whom the responsibility falls in the matters that were discussed by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. About four or five years after the war, when I was Minister for Transport in Victoria, the Chifley Government appointed Sir Harold Clapp as chairman of a Federal transport council that was established. We had regular meetings and we made detailed investigations into the co-ordination of transport and the cost of the various forms of transport. At that time all our efforts - particularly under the guidance of the late honorable member for East Sydney, Mr. E. J. Ward, who was then Federal Minister for Transport - were concentrated on the coordination, regulating and rationalising, as the Deputy Leader of the Opposition described it, of all forms of transport.
This Bill provides for a slight increase in air navigation charges. In my view our air transport system is equal to, if not better than, any air transport system in the world. Ours is a magnificent service, whether it is run by Trans-Australia Airlines, Ansett-A.N.A., Qantas or any of the other airlines. We should congratulate the airline companies on the achievements. Nevertheless, as the Deputy Leader of the Opposition has clearly pointed out, the Federal Government, with its unlimited finances, is subsidising air transport out of all proportion to its treatment of other forms of transport in Australia. I approve of subsidies for air transport, particularly in country districts. This is wise and proper. Air transport has enabled our outback areas to be served by a modern, efficient and fast form of transport. Certain aspects of subsidies are clearly to be approved. But on the other hand the Government has not given any estimate of what this subsidy has done to increase the deficits of the State railway systems, particularly in interstate trade.
There is no doubt the railways cannot compete with air transport as long as air transport is subsidised. Almost all of our railways are run by State Governments. They must pay for their stations, their signalling equipment, their bridges and so on. Aviation is a Federal responsibility, and, as the Deputy Leader of the Opposition has pointed out, airline operators are now subsidised by the Commonwealth to the extent of £4 per passenger. The effect of this, as I remember from my days as Minister for Transport in Victoria - the effect would be more pronounced now - is that the Federal Government becomes richer and richer while the State Governments become poorer and poorer.
I do not think any estimate has been made of how much should be granted to the States to offset the losses incurred by their railway systems due to the Commonwealth’s heavy subsidising of airlines. The difficulty is that the airline operators do not pay for the facilities that they use. They pay only a small part of the cost of aerodromes, navigational aids and meterological services. I strongly urge the Minister for National Development (Mr. Fairbairn), who represents in this chamber the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Henty), to discuss with his colleague, the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Freeth), the matter of the proper co-ordination and rationalisation of all forms of transport in Australia. This is an important matter from the view points of State and Commonwealth financial relations and national development. It is a long time since we have heard anything about this matter. I do not know whether the committee to which I earlier referred is still in existence. I do know that the research or expert team formed by Sir Harold Clapp was dispersed. Its members were sent to other jobs. As far as I know, the result of the committee’s researches was taken over by the Commonwealth Railways, which has never since bothered to do anything about them. This happened at a time when there was considerable jealousy between the Commissioner for Commonwealth Railways and the committee. I do not know where the committee’s records are-. They were taken over very rapidly by some men in a van and placed somewhere in the archives of the Commonwealth Railways.
The Commonwealth Railways in my view has done an excellent job. The last financial report of the Commonwealth Railways was very satisfactory. I have no criticism to offer of this organisation. But I do not think that the Commonwealth Railways is more efficiently run in any repec t than are any of the State Railways. The Commonwealth Railways gets a better financial result because it is hot handicapped in the way that State Railways are.
– It is all through traffic.
– That is so. So I strongly support the arguments that have been put forward by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition this morning. While we have good seasons and there is plenty of money around, the only people suffering hardships are the State Governments. It was said yesterday in the House that the New South Wales Government - I will not be too parochial and refer always to Victoria- had to postpone £4 million worth of school building projects.
– Did the honorable member show this sympathetic understanding 12 months ago?
– Why 12 months ago? I was in the Victorian Parliament for 22i years and I know more about State parliamentary finances than does the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Jones). If the honorable member does not understand what I am talking about, at least his deputy leader does. I am pointing out why the State Governments get into difficulties with the financing of schools, universities and other projects. They have to meet increased deficits in their railway systems, largely contributed to by the Commonwealth’s subsidising of air transport.
I rose to speak as somebody who has had a long experience as a State Minister for Transport; as somebody who participated in the early negotiations, under the late Sir Harold Clapp, with the late honorable honorable member for East Sydney, who was then Commonwealth Minister for Transport. I -have always regretted that the initial work done by that brilliant team of experts under Sir Harold Clapp was apparently all thrown into the waste paper basket later because somebody was not interested - because the Federal government collects all the finance and the more you can screw down the State Governments the better. These things are not taken into account at Premier’s Conferences. I remember sitting in on these conferences. I remember the Premiers, Labour and Liberal, putting up a certain suggestion and the late Prime Minister Chifley saying: “ Gentlemen, the vote is in the affirmative; the answer is in the negative”. The same thing could happen under this Government.
I do not think we in this House give sufficient thought to the financial problems of the States brought about by the present financial agreement. The transport problem referred to this morning by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition is one of the biggest headaches in State finances. It is one of the main reasons why the States are short of money for education and for many other purposes. In discussions on Commonwealth and State finances the effect of the Commonwealth activities on the State transport systems has never been properly analysed or even recognised. I hope that these things will be done in the future and that effect will be given to the suggestions of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition. This is most important for the future of this country.
– I would like to join the unity ticket of Whitlam, Kent Hughes and now Jones, and express a few opinions on this Bill. I agree with everything that the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes) said, notwithstanding my facetious interjection asking him whether he would have sympathised with the New South Wales Government 12 months ago when it was a Labour Government, not a Liberal Government. I support the Bill to increase air navigation charges but I believe the time is long overdue when this Government or some Australian Government should closely examine the general cost structure of our aviation system. The Government makes no financial assistance whatever available to the States for the operation of their railway systems. In another debate yesterday, I directed the attention of the House to the fact that the Commonwealth Railways are not called upon to pay payroll tax but the State Railways pay a total of £3.6 million to the Commonwealth in payroll tax. So not even in that direction are we prepared to give any relief to the State Railways. I am dealing with these matters very briefly. I turn to road transport. In the last nine years and this year, the Government will withhold more than £200 million of petrol tax. This year alone it will withhold more than £40 million. We do not in any way subsidise the construction of our national highways, although the cost of highways is a major factor in our price structure. We do not subsidise other forms of transport, but we extend to civil aviation this excellent subsidy, which last year amounted to £18.5 million.
The payment of this subsidy means that the airline operators meet only 10.7 per cent, of the total cost of our civil aviation system, including runways, meteorological services and navigational aids that are provided by the Department of Civil Aviation. I ask the Minister for National Development (Mr. Fairbairn), who is now at the table, to try to explain in his reply to this debate why preferential treatment is extended to civil aviation, which is not fully controlled by the Government. TransAustralia Airline is possibly the largest airline operator in Australia, but we also have Ansett-A.N.A., East-West Airlines and numerous other privately operated airlines throughout the Commonwealth. Why is this preferential treatment extended to them? Why are these operators, including T.A.A., not required to meet a greater share of the cost of providing runways, navigational aids and other services? I agree with the honorable member for Chisholm that we can be proud of the system of civil aviation that we have. The airlines do an excellent job and I have no major criticism of the services, I have minor criticisms, but nothing of any consequence. We are fortunate to have the air services that are provided for us. I have already directed the attention of the House to the fact that the Government does not provide assistance to the State Railways and has withheld £200 million of petrol tax, which should be used for our road systems.
– Over what period?
– Over the last ten years. In this period the Government has withheld slightly more than £200 million of petrol tax. If the honorable member refers to the answer to a question on notice that I asked some weeks ago, he will be able to get the information for himself. This year alone, £40 million will be withheld in petrol tax. These are serious matters and the Government should offer some explanation for its action.
I want to deal with other phases of the legislation. The reply to a question I asked on notice, question No. 1439, reveals that there are 650 airport’s in Australia today. The report of the Director-General of Civil Aviation shows that there are 122 Government operated airports in Australia. I ask to be given the reason for this difference. Why is preferential treatment given to some cities and not to others? The Commonwealth Government operates airports at Launceston, Hobart, Broken Hill, Cairns, Townsville, Rockhampton and numerous other places, but when the City of Newcastle asked that it be provided with a Government owned and constructed airport, it was told that the local council has the responsibility for providing the city with an airport. Newcastle is the sixth largest city in the Commonwealth. I do not want to give all the details of the exports that go through the port and all that goes to make up the city and the district. Three of the 20 largest cities in Australia are in the Hunter Valley. They are Cessnock, Maitland and Newcastle.
I ask the Minister to give me some information. I ask him to tell me why preferential treatment is given to some cities and not to others. The Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Henty), who is in another place, recently stated that the Government will spend £100 million on airport improvements over the next 10 years. What will Newcastle get? The construction of an airport at Newcastle would probably cost £1.25 million. Will Newcastle be given any of this sum? Will it participate in this Commonwealth subsidy for civil aviation, which last year amounted to £18.5 million? Will it receive any of the £100 million that the Commonwealth will spend over the next 10 years? If this amount is to be spent, obviously the Commonwealth Government intends to increase its subsidies to civil aviation. The reply I received yesterday to my question on notice discloses that in the last 20 years the Commonwealth Government has spent £70.333 million on airports. This is made up of land acquisition, £7.312 million; airport development, £32.487 million; navigational aids, communications, air traffic control centres, operational and other departmental buildings, etc., including airport lighting and power generation, £28.015 million; and airport terminal buildings, £2.519 million. In addition, £13.956 million has been spent on the maintenance of runways and other pavements. This is the amount that the Department of Civil Aviation has spent on certain privileged and selected areas, but the vast majority of airports receives very little assistance from the Commonwealth.
Since the inception of the aerodrome local ownership plan, which came into operation in 1957-58, State and local government authorities have spent £1.552 million on the capital work in aerodrome development and £408,000 on aerodrome maintenance. I know, Mr. Acting Speaker, that your severe expression means that you are wondering whether my remarks are in order. I am asking how we will finance all the work when, year by year, we levy such a paltry charge on the airline operators. I believe that a new scheme must be devised by the Government and the airline operators, and introduced, so that the Department of Civil Aviation will be able to accept its responsibility to provide airports where they are needed. I believe that that is a responsibility of the Department. Newcastle is not the only city that is affected. I noticed recently that the Dubbo City Council was in conflict with the Department of Civil Aviation over certain runway extension and improvements that were to be carried out on the airport at Dubbo. Dubbo is an important centre. It is just as much entitled to a free airport as any of the 122 centres that have Government owned and operated airports.
I have spoken very briefly in the time available to me this morning. I support the Bill, but I strongly urge the Government and the Department of Civil Aviation to confer with airline operators at an early date and devise a system that will allow every city of major consequence to have an airport built, not at their own expense, but at the expense of the Commonwealth Department of Civil Aviation. I ask the
Minister to examine this question and give me some explanation why preferential treatment is given to some cities and not to others, and also why the Government has not spent on roads the £200 million collected in road tax during the last 10 years.
– Order! 1 suggest that the honorable member is getting right away from the subject matter of the Bill before the House.
– That is the basis of the case I am making this morning in support of my contention that the Government should do these things in support of the reason why the Government should provide the city of Newcastle - my electorate, and the sixth largest city in the Commonwealth - with an airport comparable to those in other cities.
– It was interesting to hear the arguments advanced by the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes) and the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam). It is important that we balance up the relative advantages of different forms of transport. In balancing them there is one point that is perhaps overlooked. I do not know to what extent it should be taken into account because I do not know its magnitude. The airways companies pay large amounts by way of excise on their aviation spirit, and the revenue from this source might well be hypothecated to help meet the cost of aerodromes as no doubt to some extent, though not fully, the revenue from taxes on other petrol products is hypothecated to road funds. So the position might not be quite as unbalanced as has been contended. But it is unbalanced, and I think some of the arguments that have been adduced this morning are worth following.
I look at this matter not from a State point of view, but from a national point of view. There is this to be considered: In regard to a competing form of transportthe railways - most of the costs are fixed and not marshalled. The cost of running an additional train is fairly small. Even if it involves the purchase of new carriages or other new rolling stock the cost is still fairly small, because most of the outlay on railways is in the form of the fixed work, the permanent way, and a great deal of the expenditure other than fixed charges is inelastic because it relates to the maintenance of traffic facilities over the lines - to shunting, signalling and so on - which is not entirely in proportion to the amount of traffic on the line. If an extra train is run on a line, from a national point of view there is very little extra expenditure. In the case of an aircraft quite a different situation emerges. An aircraft has a fairly limited life and we know, in point of fact, that we cannot extend our air services without increasing our air fleets. Our air fleets can use per passenger mile something like 15 or 20 times as much oil or fuel as a train would. With the aircraft industry, especially as it is in Australia at the moment, any increase in traffic requires an almost proportionate increase in national outlay.
It is perfectly true that a capital cost has to be met in respect of the traffic that uses aerodromes. At present we are contemplating major extensions to our aerodromes. So an increase in aircraft usage, from the national point of view will mean a great deal of increase in expenditure. I think that the points made by the honorable member for Chisholm were valid in regard to the States, but they are not the important points. The important points are the national points, and from the national point of view the expenditure involved in putting in e;;tra passenger mile on to a railway system is very much less than the expenditure involved in putting an extra passenger mile on to the airways system. This has nothing to do with the fares charged. It has regard to the overall national accounts - the full national interest - and it may well be that in the national interest we should be thinking of reducing our rail charges and carrying, perhaps, some more of the costs of railways in the form of some kind of subsidy, because this would decrease the national outlay and make the whole position of Australia’s balance of accounts more solvent and more sensible.
The honorable member for Chisholm had a good point when he suggested that the Department of Shipping and Transport was not being sufficiently assiduous in regard to co-ordination. The House might consider the points that he raised not so much in the States context but in the national context. Looking at this matter in that way I think that the points raised in this debate are more relevant and important. Earlier today I had something to say about the use of our railway system for carrying fodder to starving stock, carrying stock for restocking purposes and for transporting primary products. We are not making proper use of our national advantages, and this is tied up with the coordination of our rail system, not only inside itself but interstate and intrastate and also as it relates to other forms of transport.
– Order! I suggest that the honorable member would be transgressing if he continued along that line.
– Very well, Sir. I am saying only that this is tied up with the co-ordination of the alternate form of air transport because we cannot, in the operation of a transport system, entirely divorce the question of freight movement and passenger movement. I think that the questions that have been raised in this debate are important. They highlight the fact that the Department of Shipping and Transport could pay very much more constructive attention to the co-ordination of Australian transport under a national policy.
.- I have listened with great interest to this debate. I do not desire to take up very much of the time of the House but I wish to make one or two comments. The Minister for National Development (Mr. Fairbairn), in introducing this Bill said -
It is the Government’s policy to move progressively towards the ultimate full recovery of that part of the cost of providing facilities that is properly attributable to the industry.
The increase of 10 per cent, in charges to be collected is a step in that direction. Eventually, if Government policy is fully carried out - and it has been advocated today - the airlines will pay the cost of providing all kinds of devices that are necessary for actual flying and for safety measures. This, I think, is very desirable. The question may arise as to why this has not been done before. The airline industry in Australia is still in the stage of building up and becoming efficient. We must pay a tribute to its efficiency so far and I hope that this efficiency will continue. The position in Australia is quite different from that in countries where airline companies have been in operation for many more years than they have been in Australia. Therefore, so as to foster good relations and good conditions so far as flying is concerned, and to encourage people to travel by air, the Government has contributed largely to the facilities that are necessary to make flying, above everything else, safe in Australia. It has been very successful. I believe every honorable member will hope, with me, that this safety record will continue because it is that which makes airlines profitable. Safety influences more people to travel by aeroplane and our safety record in Australia is good.
I listened with great care to the honorable member for Newcastle (Mr. Jones). He said most of the money spent on civil aviation was spent in the big cities. Then he made a plea for Newcastle. I think he said that Newcastle was the sixth largest city in Australia. Therefore, he made a plea for another city. So far as this money which is being collected is concerned, I would like to see more of it being made available for aerodromes in isolated places. On the other hand, we have to realise that while the Government will collect more money it will still be spending a tremendous amount of money on its present programme - a lot more money than it collects. Nevertheless, I believe that, progressively, aerodromes in country areas should be taken over by the Government so that they should be made operational for larger aeroplanes. I am particularly concerned with places like Mildura, Swan Hill and Kerang where there are aerodromes. I am asking that an increased amount of Government money be spent on these aerodromes to encourage flying into these decentralised areas.
Just in passing, and without wanting to be against your ruling, Mr. Deputy Speaker, I think I could just answer one point made by the honorable member for Newcastle. He tried to relate the petrol tax, which is now collected in the form of excise, to what is happening in the case of aviation. He said that over the last 10 years £200 million had been kept in Consolidated Revenue. Let me say briefly that when the Australian Labour Party was in office in this Parliament over 70 per cent, of collections was kept in Consolidated Revenue and less than 30 per cent, was used for roads. This ratio has been reversed. Now more than 80 per cent, of the money is used for roads and less than 20 per cent, is kept in Consolidated Revenue. Without stretching for too long the tolerance that you have given on this subject, but being anxious to speak, although perhaps for not as long as the honorable member for Newcastle, I want to say that Labour’s policy has changed a bit in this regard. I want to quote from “Hansard” of 9th December 1948. The Prime Minister of Australia at that time, the late Mr. Chifley, said -
Although from time to time claims are made that the whole of the proceeds of the petrol tax should be devoted to road-making and maintenance, 1 do not consider that any government in this country will ever agree to that being done.
That was said by the great leader of the Labour Party. So far as this Bill is concerned, from what has been said, the Opposition supports it. As it is a Government measure my party also supports it. I hope that it will have a swift passage and will prove of value to civil aviation.
– I rise with pleasure to support this Bill, perhaps with greater pleasure than usual, because of the infiltration of the Christmas spirit into the chamber. Everybody seems to be agreeing on one line of thinking in their concern at the magnitude of the subsidy extended to airlines in Australia by the Department of Civil Aviation. There is no doubt, as the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) said, that civil aviation in Aus: tralia receives the greatest subsidy per medium of departmental accounts than perhaps the whole of the other transport systems in Australia put together. 1 certainly agree with his observation, and indeed, with the observations of the honorable members for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes) and Mackellar (Mr. Wentworth) in their appreciation of where we are going in civil aviation from now on. I say that because I do not believe that up until now we have been able to do much about it. Again, there will not be any argument but that civil aviation has made a tremendous emergence since the war years and has expanded extremely rapidly as compared with other forms of transport. This required a very balanced approach by governments. lt is interesting to note that throughout the world many governments found themselves in extreme difficulties and lost tremendous amounts of money over a period of time in the field of aviation. Not the least of these was the United Kingdom Government. However, it was obvious that Our Government was aware of this situation in the early 1950’s, when there were many problems. But now we have a balanced and rational airlines system. This is conceded today on both sides of the House. The co-ordination is excellent. The airlines are operating in an acceptable financial manner although some aspersions have been cast on Mr. Ansett as to just how much he is making out of the aircraft activities he is engaged in as compared with his other Operations. Nevertheless, the whole position seems to be balanced up to the point at which we come to the Department of Civil Aviation.
The Department, as I indicated earlier, no doubt carried out its function in a reasonably capable manner. It must have done so to have been able to bring the airlines system to the situation in which we find it today. But now we are ready to move into another phase, although we are shackled somewhat by the Airlines Agreements Act. This Act was renewed in 1961 in adverse circumstances because of the economic situation at that time. Aircraft passenger traffic had dropped quite substantially and no doubt the agreement was negotiated on the basis of the trend of figures in that year. The situation now is that the Department has to have a look at the question of running the airline system throughout Australia on an economical basis, possibly as a business undertaking, and the people who use the airlines must be prepared to pay for them. The Government has collected money from these people over a period of time per medium of these airport facility charges and navigational charges. I wonder if this is the right manner of going about it. Some doubt has been cast on this procedure by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and I must admit that I do not entirely disagree with him as to whether or not the increases in air fares which followed the increased charges levied by the Government by way of air navigation charges were just intended to cover the increases, or whether a little has been added for the balance sheet. I am not entirely prepared to disagree with his observations on this point.
I wonder, again, whether we should now consider making some form of direct levy on the passenger traffic in the airlines system, bearing in mind that we are obliged to provide certain facilities under the airlines agreement. Those people who use the airlines gain great benefit from them. It may be interesting to consider the method of levying these navigational charges at this point. I notice from reading this current legislation that, first, the Director-General of Civil Aviation will have power to fix what is called the “ all-up “ weight of the aircraft which are used on Australian air routes. For instance, the Fokker Friendship is listed as having an all-up weight of 42,000 lb. Tha Viscount 800 has an all-up weight of 72,500 lb.; the Electra is assessed at 116,000 lb.; and the Boeing 727 at 152,000 lb. The method which the Department is using is to place the various weight groups into four distinctive categories. The first category is those aircraft with all-up weights of up to 25,000 lb. The second is those with an all-up weight of between 25,000 lb. and 50,000 lb. The third is those with an all-up weight of between 50,000 lb. and 100,000 lb. The fourth group contains those aircraft with an all-up weight in excess of 100,000 lb. For each of these four categories, there is a unit charge per 1,000 lb. For the first group the unit charge is 6.58 pence per 1,000 lb. or part thereof. The figure for the second group is 10.24 pence per 1,000 lb., or part thereof. The third group is fixed at 13.17 pence per 1,000 lb. or part thereof. The fourth group is assessed at 15.37 pence per 1,000 lb. or part thereof. Multiplying those charges by the all-up weight of various aircraft we find that the basic unit charged for a Friendship would be £1 15s. lOd. to take off from an airport. For a Viscount it would be £4 0s. 2d., an Electra £7 4s. 9d. and for a Boeing 727 it would be £10 6s. 3d. For the Boeing 707, an international aircraft, it would be £18 3s. 4d.
This is the unit charge, but the Department has a factoring system which it applies to all the airline routes. The factor for a particular route might be any number up to 14. The Sydney-Melbourne route, for instance, is given a factor of four, and for a Friendship. which, in fact, rarely flies the route, the unit charge of £1 15s. lOd. would be multiplied by four, giving a figure of £7 3s. 4d. The figure for the modern Boeing 727 would be four times £10 6s. 3d., or £41 5s. for every flight between Sydney and Melbourne.
– Is that for the complete trip?
– From take off to landing - the complete trip. For the SydneyPerth route the factor is 13, so that for a Boeing 727 the figure would be 13 times £10 6s. 3d., or £134 ls. 3d. for every flight between Sydney and Perth. If we go a little further with our calculations and consider a Boeing 727 on a flight between Sydney and Melbourne with a full load, the cost per passenger would be about 10s. If we go even further and divide that cost by the number of miles flown we find that it would cost about one farthing per mile per passenger.
These charges are based on the facilities offered by the Department of Civil Aviation. They include the safety facilities, such as beacons, instrument landing systems and so on, and also, of course, the runways and terminals. This one farthing per mile would cover a passenger from the time he arrived in the airport area at the point of embarkation until he departed from the airport area at his destination. A charge of one farthing per mile or 10s. for the trip between Sydney and Melbourne seems to me a very reasonable charge for the safety and other facilities available.
We are obviously bound for some years to come by the Airlines Agreement Act to restrict any increases of air navigation charges to a maximum of 10 per cent, per annum, but I wonder whether the Government should consider some means of levying a charge on the people who use the aircraft instead of giving a subsidy from the general revenue. Under the present system the whole of our population subsidises the people who travel by air and who gain great benefits from the advances and huge expenditure that have been made in civil aviation in Australia. I suggest to the Minister for National Development (Mr. Fairbairn), who is now at the table, that the Government might consider a direct tax on passengers. It could use the airline companies to collect the money, and the fact that the levy was being made could be specifically stated on the tickets issued by the companies. Many countries impose an individual tax on users of airports. Apparently this has been found distasteful or unsatisfactory in Australia, or perhaps it has been considered that there is no requirement for it. We must remember, however, that the Department of Civil Aviation has introduced developments over the years which have brought the Australian airline system up to a high standard, and it is time now for the Department to look at its own internal financial system. We should endeavour to lower the charge made on the general revenue of the country and use some more positive means of obtaining the necessary revenue for the Department.
– I will see that the representations made during this debate are brought to the attention of my colleagues, the Minister for Civil Aviation (Senator Henty) and the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Freeth). I want to correct briefly an allegation made by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam). He said it was possible to include costs other than air travel costs when calculating the fares to be charged by the airline companies. We know that this is completely inaccurate. It would be quite impossible, for example, for the cost of developing a television station to be added in when calculating reasonable air fares, because Ansett-A.N.A. is an entity complete in itself. When it makes a profit, of course, it pays the profit into the accounts of Ansett Transport Industries Ltd., but it is a completely separate entity and its fares are set by the Minister after considering the costs that have to be faced by the airline companies.
Another allegation was made that these increased fares were forced on TransAustralia Airlines. This, of course, was not so. Trans-Australia Airlines and Ansett-A.N.A. made a joint submission to the Government asking that fares be increased and the Government agreed to this because it realised that since the last fare increase there have been two major increases in costs. One of them was increased air navigation charges, which we are now debating, and which increased the costs of the two airlines by £621,000. The other was the increased fuel tax which cost the two airline companies £700,000. There have been other minor increases. I think there was a slight wage increase of about i per cent.
– Did they each put forward the same proposal for an increase?
– They put forward a joint request to the Government asking that fares be increased. In fact if it had not been for the fare increase T.A.A. would have been showing either a marginal profit or a marginal loss. I just want to make it clear that there is no ground for saying that in any circumstances the cost of developing a television station could have any influence on the level of air fares.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr. Fairbairn) read a third time.
Statement taken as a whole.
– This measure was brought down with the Budget papers. In essence it deals with the financial year 1964-65 and the House has already had opportunities to deal adequately with the accounts. We do not intend to delay the measure in any way.
Statement agreed to.
Resolution reported; report adopted.
Bill received from the Senate, and read a first time.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
Honorable members will recall that the Repatriation (Special Overseas Service) Act was designed to meet special conditions of peacetime service not hitherto encountered in Australian experience. Its broad purpose is to provide repatriation cover for serving members of the forces whose service outside Australia in warlike operations or in disturbed areas involves them in hazards additional to those of normal peacetime service. Eligibility under the Act has therefore been provided in respect of death or incapacity arising out of service whilst allotted for special duty in a proclaimed special area. Areas may be proclaimed and allotment made with retrospective effect. The benefits provided are generally the same as those in respect of the two World Wars and the Korea and Malaya operations. The’ operation of this legislation has been generally satisfactory. It is, however, nowproposed to make changes which will have the effect of extending eligibility under the Act in two respects. First, although such a situation has not occurred up to the present, there is a possibility that members of the forces serving outside Australia could suffer incapacity or death as a result of the action of hostile forces, but would not at present have immediate access to repatriation benefits. For example, a serviceman involved in an action extending beyond a declared special area would not, if incapacitated in that action, presently be covered by the Act. There is also the possibility that service personnel not allotted for special duty in a special area may become unexpectedly involved in isolated incidents. The Bill therefore provides repatriation cover for those involved in contact with hostile forces outside a special area in circumstances of the kind I have mentioned. It is proposed that the incapacity in respect of which benefits will be available will include any subsequent incapacity or death arising therefrom which is attributable to the serviceman’s contact with hostile forces.
Second, qualifying service under the Act is at present related to presence in a special area whilst allotted for special duty. It is now proposed that the commencement and termination of qualifying service be related to the times of allotment to and from special duty so that the cover will extend for both forward and return journeys to the period during transit between Australia or the point of allotment outside Australia, as the case may be, and the special area. The effect of this will be that the period of qualifying service under the Repatriation (Special Overseas Service) Act will be the same as was the case in respect of the Korea and Malaya operations for which provision is made: under the Repatriation Act. The Government has decided to make this amendment retrospective to the commencement of the principal Act which came into operation on 28th May 1963. The proposals in the Bill are designed to give a more extensive repatriation cover to servicemen engaged in warlike operations outside Australia, and will no doubt be well received by serving members of the forces. I commend the Bill to the House.
Leave granted for the debate to continue.
.- Mr. Speaker, naturally the Oppositon wants to take the opportunity to make some comments on this measure. I say first that we regret the fact that the Bill has been presented to this House only this morning and that we are asked to proceed to debate it straight away. The consideration of this measure in another place was completed yesterday. I have a roneoed copy of the second reading speech just made by the Minister for Health (Mr. Swartz) who represents in this chamber the Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar). However, we on this side of the House have had only the most limited time to consider an important measure directly affecting members of the armed forces who serve overseas..
I think it would be as well to recall the events that have led up to the presentation of this Bill to the House only in the dying hours of the sessional period. Honorable members will recall that some time ago when the measure was being considered in another place the Australian Labour Party proposed an amendment because it considers that sufficient coverage for repatriation benefits is not being extended by the Government to members of the forces who leave this country for service overseas in what the Government has described as warlike operations. The amendment proposed by the Opposition in another place was designed to provide complete coverage from the time of departure from the last port of call when leaving Australia to the time of arrival at the first port of call on return to Australia. We believe that this is a matter only of common justice. The Government refused to recognise this when it introduced the Bill some time ago in another place. The Opposition then had time to consider the measure. It was able to ascertain on that occasion that this cover would not be provided for servicemen who were leaving Australia on their way to what are now described in the legislation as special areas overseas. The Opposition felt that the coverage should apply, as I have already indicated, from the time that a serviceman who had been allotted for special service overseas left from the last port of call until he reached the first port of call on his return to Australia. The Government postponed the legislation in another place to give further consideration to this question. The opposition appreciates that the Minister for Repatriation, and therefore the Government, has accepted the proposition which was put forward by the Opposition in another place that this coverage should, in common justice, be provided for servicemen leaving Australia to serve overseas in the specially defined areas.
Although we do not intend to oppose the passage of this Bill, I think it should be made perfectly clear that members of the Australian Labour Party who make up the Opposition of this Parliament are not satisfied that it covers completely all the requirements that should be incorporated in an Act to provide benefits for servicemen who are required to serve overseas. The view has been expressed in this place on a previous occasion that, particularly now that the Government has adopted a policy of conscription, all personnel who enlist or are conscripted for one of the three armed Services, whether serving overseas or not, should have full cover under the Repatriation Act. I am sure that the Minister for Health, who was formerly Minister for Repatriation, must appreciate that because of the commitments in which Australia has become involved in recent years there are far too many acts affecting Australian ex-servicemen and servicemen. It is the contention of honorable members on this side of the chamber that all this legislation should be overhauled in order to ensure complete cover not only for ex-servicemen of the First and Second World Wars, those who served in Korea and those who have been allotted for special service in specially defined areas overseas as referred to by the Minister, but also for those people who have been conscripted under legislation introduced by the Government in recent years and those who have volunteered for service in one of the armed Forces. They should all be entitled to full repatriation benefits as a result of their service.
To confirm that this is not a new suggestion coming from the Opposition I simply refer to a debate on this subject which took place on 11th November 1964. On that occasion the honorable member for Lang (Mr. Stewart) accepted the responsibility of moving on behalf of the Opposition an amendment to the motion for the second reading in these terms -
That all words after “that” be omitted with a view to inserting the following words in place thereof - “ this House, while not refusing to give the Bill a second reading, is of opinion that the provisions of the Repatriation Act 1920-1964 should be extended to apply in respect of all service in the Defence force “.
The Opposition’s contention at that time was quite clear. The honorable member for Lang on that occasion was speaking on the repatriation measure which had been introduced by the then Minister for Repatriation who is now Minister for Health and who is now sitting at the table. We felt then, and we still believe, that there was a need to consider complete repatriation coverage and benefits for all members of the Australian armed Services. We do not press this point at this stage, but we suggest that it is a matter that should engage the attention of the Government. We suggest that the Government give serious consideration to this aspect at some time in the future. It must be apparent to the Minister at the table, who has had responsibility for repatriation matters in this place for a not inconsiderable period, just as it is apparent to most honorable members in this place - certainly to those on this side of the chamber - that there is a need to overhaul the repatriation provisions. Obviously there are far too many acts which provide benefits in one way or another for those who have served in the armed Forces or who are now serving in a branch of the Forces.
I return now to the Bill. I have mentioned already that the Opposition is prepared to accept the measure because it now incorporates the amendment proposed by the
Opposition in another place. The Bill will now provide a measure of cover for servicemen who are assigned to special overseas service in a specially defined area. They will be covered for repatriation benefits no matter what means are used to transport them to an area overseas. I do not feel that the Bill provides adequate cover for all personnel who serve overseas. I have indicated on another occasion that the legislation should be extended to provide complete coverage for all servicemen who are serving overseas in a special area. This is another matter to which the Government might give serious consideration. Perhaps the Minister, if he replies to the points that have been raised, might be prepared to tell us what would happen in the event of a serviceman stationed at Butterworth in Malaya as a member of the ground crew suffering a serious disability which could not be claimed to be a result of hostile action. We should be given some explanation of what would happen in this situation. If repatriation cover would not extend to such a case the Government should give serious consideration to bringing it within the ambit of the legislation.
I believe that the same consideration should be given to all servicemen who are serving in any area that has been defined by the Government where it is possible that they might be required to engage in hostile action. In the past the Government has been prepared merely to describe these places as areas in which Australian servicemen can be engaged in warlike action. But there is another aspect of overseas service. A person serving in one of the defined areas may suffer various disabilities which can be contracted in those areas but which may not be a direct result of hostile action. Whether or not the disability results from hostile action, the Opposition contends that the Government should extend full repatriation benefits to such a serviceman. I acknowledge that the Minister for Repatriation in another place, in addition to accepting the Opposition’s proposal concerning the transfer of servicemen overseas, has provided one other benefit that had not been foreseen by the Opposition when the amendment was prepared for submission to the Senate during the debate on the Bill in that place. The amendments as incorporated in this Bill by the Minister for Repatriation in another place also provide that a serviceman who is allotted to a special service area in another country will be covered for repatriation benefits as from the time of that allotment. The Opposition agrees that this provision will be readily acceptable not only to servicemen who are proceeding to a special area from Australia but also to members of the armed forces serving outside Australia who are allotted to service in a special area.
As I have indicated already, the Opposition does not oppose this legislation. We appreciate the fact that the Minister for Repatriation and the Government have been prepared to accept the views expressed by the Opposition that repatriation benefits should be available to servicemen allotted to service in special areas, from the time they leave this country or from the time they leave an area - other than special area - in which they are now serving, until they return.
I repeat that the Minister for Repatriation might give consideration also to amending the Repatriation Act to extend repatriation benefits to all serving members of the forces in this country. We think that this is fair and proper. We feel that they should be covered by the Repatriation Act rather than the Commonwealth Employees Compensation Act, as at present. I realise that this is really a subject for another debate and I do not wish to deal with it at any great length this morning. I know that the Minister for Health (Mr. Swartz) will understand that lengthy delays occur when a member of the armed forces who suffers a disability during his full time service in Australia is obliged first to have his disability accepted as being due to his service and then to lodge his claim with the compensation authorities. We submit that the Government should give consideration to the representations made by the Opposition on a number of occasions that the Repatriation Act be amended to include all serving members of the armed forces.
I do not wish to delay the House any longer. I rose merely to make one or two comments about the legislation before us and to express our appreciation - if that is necessary, for the prompt way in which the Government accepted the amendment that was proposed by the Opposition in another place. I deprecate the kind of publicity that was given to those proceedings and the way in which the Press gave the credit for moving the amendment to a number of Liberal supporters in another place. The fact is that this amendment was prepared by the Opposition. Had the amendment not been proposed by the Opposition, the Bill surely would have been passed in its original form by the Senate. Therefore I suggest that those people who will enjoy the additional benefits which are incorporated in this legislation will give thought to the effort that was made on their behalf by the members of the Opposition in another place.
We do not oppose the Bill. We commend the Minister for the way in which he has amended it to provide the type of cover which I am sure not only all the members of this House but also all ex-servicemen’s organisation and other interested bodies agree should be given to those who serve in’ the defence of this country in areas overseas.
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.
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
Bill presented by Mr. Harold Holt, and read a first time.
– I move -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this Bill is to declare rates; of tax payable for the current financial year on the income of certain superannuation funds, of certain trust estates and of members of partnerships who lack, or are deemed to lack, real and effective control of their shares of partnership income.
These rates are being declared in accordance with legislation introduced last year after the Government had considered the report of the Commonwealth Committee on Taxation 1959-61 drawing attention to the tax avoidance resulting from the exploitation of provisions of the law relating to superannuation funds, trust and partnerships.
As to the taxable income of a superannuation fund that is not exempt from tax, the Bill declares a rate of tax of 10s. in each £1. This rate will not apply to the very large number of funds of the traditional type that will undoubtedly continue to qualify for exemption so long as they comply with the “ 30/20 “ public security investment rule. I should mention that the rates of tax payable by a superannuation fund on investment income that is taxable because of the fund’s failure to comply with the investment rule are not being changed.
As to income from a share in a partnership over which a person lacks, or is deemed to lack, real and effective control and disposal, the Bill imposes a rate of further tax sufficient to bring the aggregate rate on the income up to 10s. in each £1. If a taxpayer’s average personal rate of tax is 10s. or more, this further tax will, of course, not be imposed.
As to income of a trust estate other than a deceased estate to which no beneficiary is presently entitled and which is not taxed as if it were the income of one individual, the rate declared by the Bill for the purposes of the 1964 legislation is 10s. in each £1.
Put very briefly, the over-riding purpose of the Bill is to impose on the classes of income mentioned a rate of tax which, the Government believes, will deter the tax avoider without adversely affecting the very large proportion of citizens who meet their tax liabilities without resorting to devices which operate unfairly against the general body of taxpayers. I commend the Bill to the House.
Leave granted for the debate to continue.
– The Opposition believes that the Government needs the power to protect the revenue against tax avoidance in some circumstances, therefore we offer no opposition to the measure.
.- I cannot support this Bill although I am whole- heartedly in favour of legislation being introduced to prevent tax avoidance. I cannot support the Bill because it imposes a penalty tax on bona fide superannuation funds and then leaves a discretion to the Commissioner of Taxation to exempt those funds from the operation of this legislation. The Bill flagrantly flouts the principle, if not the letter, of section 55 of the Constitution which provides that laws imposing taxation shall deal only with the imposition of taxation. This Bill seeks to control superannuation funds, trusts and partnerships. A 10s. in the £1 penalty tax can be imposed on superannuation funds, trusts and partnerships unless they are able to escape such penalty by the various means mentioned in the Bill or unless the Commissioner of Taxation exercises his discretion to exempt them. The Bill deals with far more than taxation and is, in my opinion, in breach of the spirit if not the letter of section 55 of the Constitution, which also states -
Laws imposing taxation, except laws imposing duties of customs or of excise, shall deal with one subject of taxation only;
The Bill deals with trusts, partnerships and superannuation funds and imposes a penalty tax on them, leaving them an escape route if the Commissioner of Taxation sees fit to exempt them. I believe this is contrary to all principles of taxation. The first principle of taxation is that it must be certain: The taxpayer must be able to know what his tax liability is. How can the trustees of a superannuation fund which has been recognised as a bona fide fund for the last 50 years know its tax liability when this Bill puts that fund under a penalty of 10s. in the £1 unless the Commissioner chooses to exercise his discretion to exempt the fund? I am informed by the association which represents the most reputable funds that practically none of the very large number of superannuation funds that have produced savings and capital resources for the development of Australia can comply with the nine conditions laid down and, therefore, almost all of them will have to rely upon the Commissioner’s discretion. How can there be any certainty in that, when the trustees will not know for 12 or 18 months whether their fund is to be liable for the penalty tax? How can the trustees read the mind of the Commissioner of Taxation? 1 have the highest regard for the Commissioner of Taxation and his officers. I have found that the officers of the Taxation Branch exercise their judgment reasonably, but no Bill should place upon the Commissioner of Taxation the responsibility of exercising a discretion whether funds representing £500 million worth of assets should be taxable or not taxable. As I say, the trustees cannot know their liability for probably 12 months or more after the year of income in question. The Bill is contrary to every principle of Liberalism. Liberalism presupposes the right of the individual businessman, and the right of the trustees of a superannuation fund, to carry on according to their own judgment so long as they do not interfere with others or act contrary to the public interest. How wrong it is for a bill to impose a penalty tax on what are clearly bona fide transactions, and then force the funds to use one of the escape clauses or rely upon the Commissioner of Taxation. 1 believe that the trustees of the funds should be allowed ‘ to manage their own affairs in their own way. In the last few months thousands of letters have been sent out by the Commissioner of Taxation - very polite and helpful letters, and I do not complain about that - virtually telling the trustees of these funds how they are to manage their affairs if they are to escape the penalty tax of 10s. in the £1. That principle is completely obnoxious to me. It is completely obnoxious to every principle that I believe this Government has followed in the past.
The Bill can do irreparable damage to Australia. It will have a most serious effect upon the savings of the community and on the willingness of people to invest their small savings in superannuation funds. The people who will be hit by it will be the small people - the employees and the wage earners - who put their small savings, supplemented by contributions from their employers, into these funds hoping to get some worth while Benefit on their retirement. Now they can find that their funds will be subject to a 10s. in the £1 penalty tax, perhaps because the trustees failed to comply in some respect with requirements. If, for example, an employer fails to make a contribution to the fund - and the employee has no control over that - the fund becomes liable to the penalty tax. I realise that the Commissioner has discretion to waive this liability, but 1 say without fear of contradiction a fund’s tax liability should not depend upon the discretion of the Commissioner, however excellent that Commissioner may be.
Of course, one understands why the Australian Labour Party is supporting this measure. This gives a perfect means of socialising and nationalising industry. Why leave the penalty at 10s. in the £1? Why not make the penalty tax 19s. in the £1 and wipe out all private superannuation funds, leaving in existence only government superannuation funds? Why not apply this principle to the Press? The Press might be interested in this. Let us impose a penalty tax of 19s. in the £1 on all newspapers. We will soon discover whether they find it worth while continuing in office when they have to pay 19s. in the £1 tax on their income. Of course, the Bill would provide that they do not have to pay the 19s. in the £1 tax on their income if they publish matter meeting with the approval of the Socialist government. No wonder the Labour Party so strongly supports this Bill. Let us apply this principle to television and radio stations. Let us make them pay 19s. in the £1 tax on their income unless they broadcast material acceptable to the government of the day. It is Labour’s policy to nationalise insurance in this country. That policy is in the forefront of Labour’s platform. The simple way to give effect to that policy is to impose a penalty tax of 19s. in the £1 on the income of insurance companies, thereby wiping out the private funds and leaving only the government fund to carry on. The next step is banking. It is Labour’s policy to nationalise the banks. This is the way to do it. Impose a penalty tax of 19s. in the £1-
– Mr. Speaker, may 1 direct your attention to the fact that this is a Government measure? It was not introduced by the Labour Party with a view to nationalising the banks. I suggest that the honorable member is wandering rather widely.
– Order! The honorable member for Melbourne Ports is quite right.
The Bill does not deal with banking. A passing reference to banking will be in order but I think the honorable member for Sturt is developing his point too far.
– I do not develop it any further. I was saying that this penalty tax is the perfect means of getting control of every fund and business in the country. The Treasurer (Mr. Harold Holt) said that this legislation was based on recommendations of the Ligertwood Committee. The Ligertwood Committee did not in any part of its report recommend the imposition of a penalty tax. Nobody objects to a concession being given to somebody who is doing a job in the interests of the country. We give tax concessions to exporters. I do not think anyone objects to that. What is objectionable about this Bill is the imposition for the first time of a penalty tax if superannuation funds, partnerships and trusts do not comply with certain conditions laid down by somebody outside the Government. Let us look at the discretions that are given to the Commissioner of Taxation. With regard to partnerships the discretion is expressed in these terms -
Where the Commissioner is of the opinion that, by reason of special circumstances, it would be unreasonable that this section should apply tn any income, this section does not apply to that income.
As to trusts, the discretion is expressed in these terms -
This section does not anply in relation to a trust estate … in relation to a year of i come if the Commissioner is of tt:e opinion that il m uki be unreasonable that this section should apply in relation to that trust estate in relation to inat year of income.
So, instead of having the certainty which sound and just tax laws require, we have complete uncertainty. We have a penalty rate which is not intended to apply to 90 per cent, of the transaction, but then we provide that that penalty rate is reduced to nil provided the Commissioner of Taxation is prepared to grant an exemption. The Bill is so completely obnoxious to me that I cannot support it. I am prepared wholeheartedly to support a proper tax measure introduced to prevent avoidance of tax. My complaint is not aimed at what the Government has in mind to achieve but at the method by which the Government attempts to achieve a particular result. My objection is that the legislation penalises the genuine funds in an endeavour to catch the tax avoiders.
– in reply - The honorable member for Sturt (Mr. Wilson), as is well known from his earlier contributions to this category of legislation, holds strong views on these matters. As is right he has put those views again to the House today in quite strong terms. I would not like the House to believe from my silence that the honorable member’s attitude represents a realistic view of the situation as the Government sees it. Nor do I believe that his attitude represents the general attitude of honorable members who support the Government and this measure. The honorable member said that the Bill was contrary to Liberal philosophy. This legislation has been hammered out in the Government, which is composed predominantly of members of the Liberal Party. After a good deal of discussion the Bill has received the support of the majority of Government supporters in this House. The honorable gentleman may express his view of what is a Liberal attitude on these matters. Here we have on the one hand the devices employed which have operated unfairly to the general body of taxpayers. In the eyes of the Ligertwood Committee, which studied this matter exhaustively, the only way to deal with this matter is through the exercise of a discretion by the Commissioner of Taxation. I do not find that proposition inconsistent with our general political philosophy or with our general economic and social objectives.
As to the tests, all but one - the test that there should be a contribution by the employer to the fund - have flowed from the recommendations of the Ligertwood Committee. So 1 would say that what the honorable gentleman has said as to the likely effect of the legislation has ranged from the alarmist to the fanciful. Certainly nothing in the experience of the formation of new funds since the legislation was first introduced would suggest that the legislation has had any deterrent or inhibitive effect on the channelling of the savings of the community into this type of institution. The time is hardly appropriate for a more detailed discussion of these matters. The Government has made it abundantly clear that it will consider constructive suggestions which may reach it. We have already incorporated certain amendments. I would expect that in the autumn session we will be in a position to look at further proposals which may reach us as a result of the operation of the legislation. In the meantime I think the House will serve the country well by adopting this legislation in its present form.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time.
Leave granted for third reading to be moved forthwith.
Bill (on motion by Mr. Harold Holt) read a third time.
Sitting suspended from 12.45 to 2.15 p.m.
Bill returned from the Senate with amendments.
Consideration of Senate’s amendments.
Clause 34. (1.) This section applies to every person who is or has been the Commissioner or a member of the staff assisting the Commissioner. (2.) Subject to this section, a person to whom this section applies shall not, either directly or indirectly, except in the performance of a duty under or in connexion with this Act or a complementary State law -
make a record of, or divulge or communicate to any person, any information concerning the affairs of any other person acquired by him by reason of his office or employment under or for the purposes of this Act; or
produce to any person the Register or a document furnished for the purposes of this Act or of a complementary State law.
Penalty: Five hundred pounds or imprisonment for three months.
Senate’s amendment No. 1 -
Leave out “ Five hundred pounds “, insert “One thousand dollars”.
Clause 39. (4.) In determining whether a person (other than a trade association or a person acting as a member of, or on behalf of, a trade association) has engaged, is engaging or proposes to engage in an examinable practice, regard shall not be had to -
a term or condition imposed or to be imposed by the owner of land, in connexion with the grant of a lease or licence in respect of the land, being a term or condition by which the grantee, or a person deriving rights in respect of the land through the grantee, is, or is to be, required to acquire from the owner (or, if the owner is a corporation, from a related corporation) all or any of the goods or services required in connexion with the conduct of a business on the land; or
a term or condition imposed or to be imposed in connexion with the lending of money or the granting of credit to a person for the purposes of the carrying on by him of a business, being a term or condition by which the person receiving the money or credit is required, while any of the moneys lent are unrepaid or any of the credit granted is being availed of, to acquire from the person from whom he receives the money or credit (or, if that last-mentioned person is a corporation, from a related corporation) all or any of the goods or services required for the purposes of that business, unless the term or condition is imposed or to be imposed in pursuance of an agreement witha person carrying on a business other than ‘he person unless the term or condition is imposed or to be imposed. (8.) In sub-section (4.) of this section - “ lease “ includes a sub-lease; “ owner “ includes the holder of a lease.
Senate’s amendment No. 2 -
Leave out sub-clauses (4.) and (8.).
A person served, as prescribed, with a summons to appear as a witness before the Tribunal shall not, without reasonable excuse -
Penalty: Five hundred pounds or imprisonment for three months.
Senate’s amendment No. 3 -
Leave out “ Five hundred pounds “, insert “ One thousand dollars “.
A person appearing as a witness before the Tribunal shall not, without reasonable excuse -
Penalty: Five hundred pounds or imprisonment for three months.
Senate’s amendment No. A -
Leave out “ Five hundred pounds “, insert “ One thousand dollars “.
A person shall not -
Senate’s amendment No. 5 -
Leave out “ Five hundred pounds “, insert “ One thousand dollars “.
– I move -
That the amendments be agreed to.
These amendments are in what might be described as two categories. One category, easily despatched, relates to an omission by me and, I suppose, by the House as a whole. There was a failure to substitute the decimal currency equivalent for some figures in pounds in clauses 34, 82, 83 and 84. The proposal is to insert the decimal currency equivalent. When the amendment we next come to was moved in the Senate, the Government took the opportunity to correct this omission. There will be no difficulty whatever in accepting the amendments in this category.
The amendment of consequences is the amendment to clause 39. It proposes to omit sub-clauses (4.) and (8.). Sub-clause (8.) is consequential on the elimination of sub-clause (4.). This brings me to sub-clause (4.). Clause 39 deals with exemptions in respect of practices. Sub-clause (4.) was an amendment that was introduced to make certain things abundantly clear. It was proposed to make clear that a person - I use the term “ person “ in an embracing sense, covering corporations and unincorporated bodies - who is the owner of real property can, in pursuance of his property rights over the real property, require the person to whom he gave a lease or a licence to take the goods that are supplied by the owner of the real property. The view I hold is that a person who does have proprietary rights of this kind has traditionally been able to exercise proprietary rights and is able to continue to exercise them in the traditional sense, unimpeded by the provisions of the Trade Practices Bill. There was an argument - an argument of some validity - that the Bill did not detract from that right in any event. For that reason, the amendment was, in one sense, making manifest that which was already there.
In another way, the amendment to clause 37, which I introduced and which changed the format of clause 37 and the way in which it appeared in the Bill which I introduced in May last, is now very relevant in that there has been a change of the conditioning words in relation to the three categories of examinable activities of the practice of monopolisation. Each of those three categories is now conditioned by the opening words “ taking advantage of his dominant position “. I think there is a good argument that a person exercising his proprietary rights is not taking advantage of his dominant position but is taking advantage of his proprietary rights. That is paragraph (a). Paragraph (b) deals with a person, who advances credit to another person, requiring the person as a condition of the advance of credit to take his supply of goods or services through the person advancing the credit. Our colleagues in another place were very concerned about the use of the word “ credit “.
– Our colleagues, not yours.
– I use the expression “ our colleagues “ in the sense that they are parliamentarians, as are we. Our colleagues in another place were very concerned about the word “ credit “. They felt, I think erroneously, that credit could be carried to an extraordinary degree, where a person could lend a pittance of credit and require the person to whom it was given to take a great deal of service. This overlooked the reality of the situation; if the credit was small, the influence likewise would be small and would, therefore, be unreal. However, after giving close examination to this suggestion, I am prepared to come to the conclusion that the reality of the situation is that it is very unlikely that the goods or services that the person advancing the credit in fact supplies will be a third of the total of goods or services of that description and, therefore, sufficient to put him in a dominant position.
This is an amendment which those in another place are entitled constitutionally to look at. There can be no argument as to this right. The Senate having expressed its will, the Government was obliged to examine the amendment very closely. The Government has come to the conclusion that the nature of the amendment is such that it does not go to the essential points of the Bill. For that reason, we were able to look at it in a way in which it could not be looked at if it amended an essential part. This is not an essential part. As I have said, there has been a change to clause 37, which is the relevant clause here. For ail these reasons, the Government has come to the conclusion that this amendment can be accepted.
.- The amendment, which was made in another place and which the Attorney-General (Mr. Snedden) has accepted on behalf of the Government, involves the excision of two sub-clauses which the Attorney-General last week moved to have included in the Bill to which he gave a second reading last May. Accordingly, the words that have now been excised were not in the Attorney’s original Bill; they were among the amendments that he made when it came on for debate. When the Attorney’s amendments were debated at the Committee stage, my colleagues from Cunningham (Mr. Connor), Melbourne Ports (Mr. Crean), Newcastle (Mr. Jones) and Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) and I opposed their insertion. We thought that the amendment legitimated the practice of tied hotels, tied garages and manufacturers’ bonds. Accordingly, we applaud the decision that the Senate has made. We agree with the Attorney that there is no question that the Senate is not only constitutionally entitled to make the amendment but is entitled to do it also under all conventions regulating the relations between the Houses. We applaud the action of the Senate in making this amendment and we congratulate the Attorney-General in accepting it. When the Attorney-General moved the amendment to clause 39 in the Committee stage the only member of the Government parties to support him was the honorable member for Moreton (Mr.
Killen), and I think that was, notably enough, the only occasion when the honorable member for Moreton did support the Attorney-General during a protracted debate. Needless to say, the Labour Party in this House maintains the attitude it took in the Committee stages of the Bill and the attitude which was expressed by its colleagues in another place. I repeat that we compliment the Attorney-General and the Government on accepting the amendment. We believe that the Bill is better now than when it left this House. We hope that the Bill will survive any challenges in the courts. We believe that our economy will be more justly and efficiently managed as a result of the Bill upon which both Houses and all parties now agree.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Resolution reported; report adopted.
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
Debate resumed from 8th December (vide page 3744), on motion by Sir Robert Menzies -
That the House take note of the following paper -
Rhodesia - Additional Financial and Economic Sanctions - Ministerial Statement,8th December, 1965.
– I wish to say something about the statement of the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) on Rhodesia. It was a very important statement and I am sure that all honorable members are greatly concerned about the unhappy events in that country. The statement by the Prime Minister yesterday, and the additional sanctions against the illegal government of Rhodesia which the statement announced, represent logical, and indeed inevitable, consequences of the policy of sanctions adopted by the Government last month. Therefore, the Opposition wholeheartedly supports these further sanctions, as we supported the original statement of policy. We accept them as evidence of the Government’s sincerity of support for the course being pursued by the British Government, and of its determination, along with the British Government, to bring to an end, as early as possible, the illegal and unconstitutional regime which falsely calls itself the government of Rhodesia.
Further, we take the Prime Minister’s statement as a guarantee that he repudiates the views expressed by his nominal supporters in the debate on Rhodesia on 17th November, notably the statement by the Minister for Territories (Mr. Barnes), the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes), the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen) and the honorable member for Dawson (Mr. Shaw). I will not refer to that extraordinary performance from the Government side, beyond saying that the implications clearly contained in the speeches of those honorable gentlemen were in direct opposition to the policy enunciated by the Prime Minister only the day before. Indeed, it is difficult to exclude the speech of the Minister for External Affairs himself from this impeachment. However, we are entitled to regard the statement of the Prime Minister yesterday as proof that these views have not prevailed.
Nobody takes pleasure in the policy of sanctions which it has been the duty of the British Government, the Australian Government and most other governments of the world to impose against the rebel regime in Rhodesia. That it is a rebel regime, a semiFascist regime, is beyond question. The policy that the Australian Government is pursuing inevitably involves human hardship, and nobody wishes to take pleasure in imposing hardship. Nor is there any real consolation in the reflection that those against whom the sanctions are directed are alone responsible, by their folly, their arrogance and wilful blindness, for the tragic situation in which they now find themselves. But it is quite plain that unless sanctions are applied and are quickly successful, something much worse will follow. lt is to the prevention of the horrors of war in Rhodesia - and this, let it be noted, would rapidly and inevitably become a racial war - that all our endeavours must now be directed. And this means that the nonmilitary sanctions must be as complete, as far reaching, as direct and inflexible as possible. There is no escape from this harsh and dreadful necessity. As I said in my speech on the Prime Minister’s original statement, we cannot exclude the possibility that force may have to be used to end the illegal Smith regime, however much we may deplore the melancholy necessity.
Already, Mr. Speaker, we have the threat from the African states that unless the policy of sanctions has succeeded by 15th December - only five days away - they will begin a course of action separate from that of Great Britain.
– I do not think we ought to treat that too literally. The 15th seems a little arbitrary.
– Yes, I thought that too, but then the Prime Minister and I, and every member of this House, have occidental mentalities, and I suppose people of other races - Oriental and African - have a different way of approaching things. So 1 was somewhat inclined to take their statement literally.
– My mentality is occasionally accidental.
– I hope that they have accidental mentalities in regard to this matter, but if it does happen by 15th December it will be a bad thing. We have this statement that unless the policy of sanctions has succeeded by 15th December the African states will begin a course of action separate from that of Great Britain. I hope they will not. No one wants the African states, or anybody else, to put down an arbitrary date and then, if something does not happen to their satisfaction, to start some military adventure. I believe we would all agree that that would be disastrous. Those who would limit the action of the British Government, and of other governments including our own, to little more than refusal to grant legal recognition to the Smith regime apparently fail to see that, in the situation existing in Africa today, such an ineffectual policy could lead only to bloodshed. Such men, not the Africans, are the true irresponsibles. The only responsible course is to apply immediately and rigorously all economic and diplomatic sanctions within our power in the hope that by so doing we can avoid the need for ultimate resort to force.
In his statement on Wednesday, the Prime Minister said that the additional sanctions now meant that 90 per cent, of our trade with Rhodesia had ceased. I assume that there is some explanation as to why the gap of 10 per cent, still remains and we on this side of the House would welcome clarification on this point.
– If I might interrupt the honorable gentleman, I have had these figures checked. The actual figure is 93 per cent, and what is left out of a trade of £2 million is obviously trivial.
– It is not great. However, as I predicted in my speech of 17th November, there is a broad level of agreement between the Opposition and the Government, if not all supporters of the Government, on the general policies which should be adopted within our own sphere of competence and power. I regret, as I regretted then, that the Prime Minister thought it proper to condemn the possible use of force in advance, because, as I have said, it is impossible to be certain that the British Government may not ultimately have to exert force should its non-military sanctions fail to bring the Rhodesian rebels to their senses.
Anything that brings comfort, or the suggestion of outside support or sympathy, to the rebels is to be deplored, because it sustains them in the delusion - and delusion it most certainly is - that they might somehow succeed in their act of rebellion, based on their unilateral declaration of independence. The only question is whether the instrument by which the rebellion will be ended will be the British Government or somebody else. To the extent that the Australian Government is acting to ensure that the British Government is given full support and every assistance in its endeavours, we support the statement of the Prime Minister.
– I would not have taken part’ in this debate had it not been for the comments of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) in regard to speeches made by myself and other members on this side of the House on a previous occasion when economic sanctions were introduced. If the Leader of the Opposition is incapable of discerning the attitude that we took on that occasion it is due to his incapacity as far as his mental arrangement is concerned. What we did argue, and what 1 still argue, is that we feel, as he feels, that the position is fraught with danger. We feel that the mistakes were not only on one side in the past. I am nor talking about the present. As a result of further contacts in certain areas, I still feel that it is possible that if a third party made investigations unofficially there could be a return to the conference tabic. 1 do not feel that such an attempt would be 100 per cent, successful but it is quite possible that a reasonable compromise could be reached on this situation. I do not believe that the blowing up of a power line was the act of Rhodesians. It is the last thing that they would want to do. I do not believe that they want to blow up the Kariba Dam any more than anyone else because of the effect it would have on Rhodesia as well as Zambia.
I deplore the statements that have been made by the British Prime Minister in which he has called people traitors and liars. I do not think that helps the situation any more than it does for the Leader of the Opposition to refer to arrogance and so on. The Leader of the Opposition has said that any sympathy for the rebels is to be deplored. On the other hand, he ignores entirely any sympathy for North Vietnam that has been exhibited on his side of the House just lately. Why the difference? Why are members on his side of the House prepared to give sympathy to the Communists of North Vietnam but not prepared to make such efforts as they can to have this very unfortunate contretemps brought back to the conference table? I blame the British Prime Minister for a lot of what has happened.
– We do not give sympathy to the Communists of North Vietnam.
– The honorable Leader of the Opposition should read what the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren) said last night and investigate what he did in Singapore recently.
– I have sympathy for them but none for the honorable member for Chisholm.
– The honorable member can go ahead and smear as long as he likes. It does not worry me. 1 shall answer the Opposition’s argument.
– Produce the evidence.
– The honorable member for Yarra can produce the evidence of the John Birch Society.
– The honorable member should support the remarks he has just made.
– Let us get back to Rhodesia for the moment.
I want to say is that it is strange that sympathies from members of the Opposition are directed in one direction and not in another. I feel, like the Prime Minister, that it is very unfortunate that we had to put on extra economic sanctions. As the Leader of the Opposition said, ineffectual policies can only lead to bloodshed. I feel that unless somebody makes a major effort - and probably it has to be a third party acting unofficially in this case - to get the two parties together again at the conference table, then the situation is only going to go from bad to worse. Therefore, while I strongly support the action of the Government and the Prime Minister, I hope the position will not be made worse by people referring to other people as traitors and liars and as being arrogant. As long as the use of adjectives and nouns of that nature continues it will prevent any chance of getting the parties back to the conference table where they may be able to come to a reasonable compromise.
That is all I wanted to say. I deny the interpretation that the Leader of the Opposition placed on the speeches made by myself and other honorable members on this side of the House. We are behind the Prime Minister in what he has done. We are with him when he says that he dislikes this action very much but at the same time we realise the delicacy of the position in which a few other people have been put, as well.
.- I, like the honorable’ member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes), would not have had anything to say had it not been for my predecessor in this debate, the honorable member for Chisholm. But as I have had a predecessor of this kind in the debate I feel it is necessary to say something. First of all, it was decided by the British Government and by the Australian Government that the Government of Rhodesia was wrong in declaring independence unilaterally. Both the British Government and the Australian Government therefore decided to apply economic sanctions. The decision that the Government of Rhodesia was wrong in its action is one that was made also by the British Conservative Party, and the Conservative Government that proceeded that of Mr. Wilson, just as strongly and just as clearly as it was by the present Labour Government of the United Kingdom.
Up to this point there was complete agreement. When I listened to the honorable member for Chisholm and some of his friends in the debate the other night I felt that they did not accept the same position. I felt that they were on the side of the Government of Rhodesia and I still have that feeling. I feel more convinced of that after having listened to the honorable member for Chisholm this afternoon. I think that any statement that he has to make now, in the open, in which he supports the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) is like so many other statements that he has made in the open about supporting the Prime Minister, when in practice and in private we know that he does not do so. I think this is clearly another example of that.
– That is only your opinion. Other people can make up their own minds.
– It is only my opinion. I am not stating anything else. If the honorable member is prepared to dispute what I have just said, he has the opportunity to do so. The honorable member for Chisholm chose quite unnecessarily to cast a very severe imputation upon the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren). He said that if the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) would investigate what the honorable member for. Reid had done in Singapore he would discover something that would apparently confirm the sympathy of members of the Opposition for the Government of North Vietnam. The honorable member for Reid has asked me to say that if the honorable member for Chisholm has the slightest bit of evidence to back up that smear he should rise in his place now and give us that evidence. If he has not he should shut up.
But let me return to the subject of Rhodesia. I said the other night that I thought Mr. Ian Smith was confident that sanctions would not be applied to his country or that if they were applied they would not be effective. I understand that to be the belief of the Government of Rhodesia today. I believe that if sanctions are not effective, the use of force in and around Rhodesia will sooner or later become inevitable, and a great many people, innocent as well as guilty, will suffer from that force. I think it is most essential, therefore, that the application of sanctions to Rhodesia be thoroughly backed by those involved. I regret that there is a lack of sincerity and a lack of earnestness on the part of quite a number of people in Great Britain, where some of the leading members, if not the leader himself, of the Conservatice Party are unwilling to support this policy to the full. Quite a large number of business leaders are also unwilling, because of the profit they make from dealing with Rhodesia, to support the application of sanctions. Quite a number of people in this House who sit behind a government that has made a decision to apply sanctions are unwilling to give full support to that policy. Were there a united attitude towards sanctions they would be much more likely to be effective.
The honorable member for Chisholm chooses to call for negotiations about Rhodesia. Negotiations have been going on for four or five years. The negotiations during the last four or five months were referred to in detail in the correspondence placed before this House by the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies). The British Government was prepared to make a great number of concessions, and in fact did make concessions but it became apparent, as the Prime Minister himself said, that the Government of Rhodesia was not prepared to budge an inch. It was the Government of Rhodesia that made it inevitable that some other course of action would have to be taken.
There is only one other thing I want to say. I do not think the House and tha people of Australia should lose sight of what is involved in this situation. There is a small number of people in Rhodesia, 220,000 in all, who are ruling a large number of coloured people with an iron hand and in a way that envisages no future for them as real human beings in that society. This kind of attitude in the modern world cannot survive, and it will be overthrown by force eventually if it is not overthrown in some other way. I have no sympathy for those who advocate the exercise of force along a frontier in some other place. I think, as E. H. Carr said in his book “ The Twenty Years’ Crisis “, that the most important thing in the post-Second World War period is to try to find a way of making necessary changes peacefully. Changes are necessary in Rhodesia but the Smith Government has refused to make them and negotiations have proved impossible. The only other step seemed to be economic sanctions. Perhaps it could be said that the Wilson Government was too soft. Perhaps it could be said that its most serious mistake was to announce that it would never use force. That may well have been a card better kept up the sleeve.
I do not think the honorable member for Chisholm has any justification for criticising the British Government and its attitude. It has shown patience over a long period. I do not mean the Labour Government only; I include also its Conservative predecessor. I think that both British Governments have shown patience in this matter - perhaps too much patience. The great majority of African leaders and the great majority of thoughtful African people believe that Britain has shown too much patience. What we should seek to avoid is the African countries - those adjacent to Rhodesia and others - launching some kind of military action against the segregationist Government of Rhodesia. The only hope of avoiding that is to ensure that economic sanctions are made effective. Speeches of the kind delivered by the honorable member for Chisholm and his supporters on the other side of the House help not one iota in this connection. In fact they tend to make fairly remote the possibility of economic sanctions being effective.
– It is always a meritorious exercise to pour oil on troubled waters; it is not so meritorious to pour oil on troubled waters with the intention of striking matches and setting that oil aflame. I support what the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) has said and done in this matter. I think that his attitude, in a situation that all of us regret, has been impeccable and not only in the interests of Australia but also in the wider interests which we should be serving.
The action of the Smith regime - it is not right to call it a Government - is to be regretted from two angles. The first is what 1 might call the angle of expediency. We do not want revolution against constituted authority in a matter of this kind. We have to maintain the integrity of our government institutions. The legally constituted authority in Rhodesia is now the United Kingdom Government. This should be recognised. To have impeached and impaired the integrity of the order and authority that existed in Rhodesia has been to do no service at all to the British people or to the people of Africa. In the second place, we regret very much the kind of thing which is happening in Rhodesia. We know .that in a situation such as exists there the majority must be brought to rule. It may be, and I think it is, that the majority is not yet sufficiently educated and advanced to accept its full responsibilities. It is perhaps our fault - I use the pronoun collectively because we in Australia really have nothing to do with this - that they are not sufficiently educated and advanced. We should be helping them as far as possible and as quickly as possible to take their rightful places. I do not believe that we can do other than what we have done.
I contrast that attitude of the honorable member for Yarra (Dr. J. F. Cairns) in this matter with the attitude he has adopted on other issues. He said a moment ago that it would have been better for the United Kingdom Government to keep up its sleeve the card renouncing the use of force. I think there may be something in his argument. The disclosure of this card may have given aid and comfort to the side it was not intended to support. I wonder whether perhaps the honorable member’s attitude on Rhodesia is consonant with the attitude that he takes on Vietnam. Let him search his conscience and see whether what he is doing and saying now may be giving aid and comfort also to our enemies and helping them to perpetuate the present condition of war. He may be the enemy of the Vietnamese people if he is judged on principles the same as those that he adduced in regard to the Rhodesian people. I do not propose to detain the House longer, Sir. It is late. I simply record my support of what the Prime Minister has said and done in this matter.
.- Mr. Speaker, I apologise to the House for rising at this time. I understand that in my absence the honorable member for Chisholm (Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes), by interjection, stated to the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) that statements I had made or actions I had taken while I was in Singapore should be investigated. I should like the honorable member for Chisholm to make clear to the House by a public statement what it is that he suggests I did in Singapore so that I shall have an opportunity, before the House goes into recess, to clear my name of the smear that he has directed at me. You will recall, Mr. Speaker, that several years ago, at a time like this on the eve of the Parliament’s going into recess, a certain accusation was made against me by another honorable member. That matter is still subjudice and is still being fought out in the courts. The matter raised by the honorable member for Chisholm in his interjection should be put straight in the records of this Mouse. In all sincerity, I ask him to state what I am supposed to have done or said in Singapore so that we may have it all clear and above board. If he will tell the House I in turn can refute what he says or agree that it is correct.
– I wish to make a personal explanation. If I referred to Singapore I am sorry. It was a slip of the tongue. I meant Saigon and I was referring io what the honorable member for Reid (Mr. Uren) said last evening in his speech on the motion for the adjournment of the House. I still stick to what I said.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Assent to the following Bills reported -
Decimal Currency Board Bill 1965.
Currency Bill 1965.
Reserve Bank Bill 1965.
Superannuation Bill 1965.
Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Bill (No. 2) 1965.
– by leave - Mr. Speaker, in answer to a question in the Senate earlier in the present session, the Minister representing me in that chamber stated that it was hoped that it would be possible to prepare a reprint of Commonwealth acts as at 31st December 1965. While the necessary precursor to a reprint, a Statute Law Revision Bill, is well in hand, events now show that the date originally contemplated for the reprint is impracticable. Tt was realised when 31st December 1965 was tentatively chosen as the date as at which the acts would be reprinted that a problem would arise in relation to references to amounts of money. That date would precede the changeover to decimal currency and reprinting of the acts with the references to the present currency would obviously be unsatisfactory. The Parliament has just passed some 32 bills that make specific amendments to acts in connection with the changeover to decimal currency. There are, however, hundreds of acts in which references to money occur but it is not proposed that these shall be specifically amended this year. Nevertheless, by virtue of section 10 of the Currency Act 1965 these other references to the present currency will, where appropriate and unless a contrary intention appears, be construed as if they are references to decimal currency. This, however, does not amount to a textual amendment of an act in which such a reference appears, so that the text of the act remains unaltered. To effect a textual alteration, some further legislative action has to be taken.
When the question of the preparation of a reprint of the acts was being considered, it was thought that some general formula could be devised, to be authorised by an act, whereby textual amendments could be made in the reprint in the acts not specifically amended. The reprint could then have been prepared with the references to money in decimal currency. One of the problems that was encountered when considering the form that such a formula might take was that it might be considered improper that it should be left to a person reprinting an act to alter it in accordance with his understanding of how the act should be read. It was thought rather that each reference to money should be reviewed and a specific amendment of that reference made. This more exact kind of amendment, no matter what form it takes, will involve the preparation of an instrument or instruments, of a kind yet to be worked out, of formidable dimensions - an undertaking that will take considerable time. Even if it had been possible to reprint the acts, making the necessary alterations consequential upon decimal currency, officers of my Department would have had to be diverted from the work in which they are currently engaged - in particular, drafting legislation, especially in the last two or three weeks of the session - to undertake the preparation of the reprint. This would inevitably have led to delays in the carrying out of the work of the Department - something that honorable members I am sure will agree is highly undesirable. May I here remind honorable members that a reprint of Commonwealth acts is annotated with cases relevant to particular acts. The preparation of these case notes is, of course, a major undertaking in itself.
Taking all the foregoing into consideration, I have decided, with great regret, that the only practicable course is to postpone the preparation of the reprint for the time being. I would, however, point out to honorable members that all the more important acts of this Parliament are being continually reprinted in pamphlet form. The more frequently amended have been reprinted more than once since the last reprint of acts in 1950. The Income Tax Assessment Act, indeed, because of its importance, is reprinted annually. Thus an up to date version of the acts most often used is readily available. In fact, honorable members may feel that it is of greater use to the public to have the more widely used acts available in an up to date pamphlet form than to have a reprint of all the acts that, because of the length of time it necessarily takes to produce it, reproduces them in a form that is out of date. However, the project of a complete reprint of the acts has not been abandoned and I hope to introduce next year both a general Statute Law Revision Bill and also a bill to change, by some appropriate measure yet to be worked out, all old currency references to decimal currency references.
– by leave - Mr. Speaker, I think all honorable members will agree that the Commonwealth system of bringing acts up to date is the best in Australia. There is not the slightest doubt about this. The Commonwealth does a better job of reprinting its Acts and presenting them in amended form from Parliament to Parlaiment than is generally done in the States. The AttorneyGeneral (Mr. Snedden) has pointed out the difficulties encountered in having this work done. Those difficulties are associated with the problem of obtaining draftsmen, lawyers and other officers who can undertake this work. I suggest to the Minister that the Government should seriously consider increasing not only the numbers but also the salaries of the competent officers who assist the Government in this task. I refer to remuneration particularly because we should attract to the service of this Parliament the best brains we can get to help the Commonwealth Government. There is no doubt about the supreme importance of Commonwealth legislation compared to other legislation.
It is true that Commonwealth acts are readily available in pamphlet form but there is a good reason for making a complete reprint of acts from Parliament to Parliament or even from year to year. We shall need to reprint acts not only to make alterations consequent on the introduction of decimal currency. We also ought to make reprints because of vast changes that take place from Parliament to Parliament. The multiplicity of bills that we have passed in this Parliament will take a considerable time to incorporate in the printed records of the Parliament. I hope that the AttorneyGeneral will be able to secure more parliamentary draftsmen, and I hope he will be able to secure more lawyers in his own Department to bring these acts up to date. Inci dentally, and perhaps somewhat irrelevantly, 1 hope that the Government - I trust that the Attorney-General will be one of those who will assist me in this regard - will not take too much notice any longer of what the Public Service Board recommends in regard to the salary of “ Hansard “ reporters and all those other people who are so useful to us in the performance of our duties here.
– Mr. Speaker, I ask for leave to make a statement not exceeding three minutes on this subject.
– Is leave granted?
Opposition members. - No.
– Leave is not granted.
– Why should not the honorable member have leave?
– Opposition members have refused leave.
– Mr. Speaker, may I have leave?
– Order! Leave has already been refused.
– We withdraw the refusal.
– On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, if the honorable member asks for leave again can it be granted?
– Order! There is no substance in the point of order, as the honorable member should know.
– Mr. Speaker, I ask for leave to make a statement not exceeding three minutes.
– Order! Let us keep this matter in order. When the honorable member sought leave there was a very loud chorous of “ Noes “. Is the chair to ignore that?
– No, Mr. Speaker.
– The honorable member for Mackellar may resubmit his request.
– I ask for leave to make a statement not exceeding three minutes on this subject.
– Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.
– by leave - I think that perhaps the Commonwealth Government is accepting too low a standard in this matter. It is a good thing to have a reprint qf our acts to date, but surely it is essential, and should be the normal thing, that when an amending act is passed by the Parliament an incorporated act should be available in print within 30 days. Too often during this session we have had to deal with amending acts which required knowledge of a pakapoo ticket in order to know what we were doing because the acts had not been consolidated. I believe that once we get this in order the mechanical operation of having a consolidated act always published within 30 days after an amending act has been passed by the Parliament is not beyond the capacity of the Public Service to achieve. I think we have been accepting too low a standard, and I ask the Attorney-General (Mr. Snedden) to have another look at this and, after he has succeeded in getting a complete set of acts up to date, to accept also the proposition that when an amending act is passed by the Parliament, within 30 days a consolidated act will be available to the public.
– by leave - The Government has decided that gifts of £1 and over made to colleges of advanced education will be deductible for income tax purposes as are gifts made to universities. These gifts will be deductible within the limitations of the present law. Legislation operative from 1st July 1965 to amend the income tax law for this purpose will be introduced as soon as practicable. Initially the concession will apply to those colleges listed in the schedule to the States Grants (Advanced Education) Act 1965. Other colleges will be prescribed as they are approved as colleges of advanced education by the Minister in Charge of Commonwealth Activities in Education and Research. The Minister’s approval may be extended to both existing colleges and colleges being established. The concession will be restricted to gifts made to colleges in respect of their activities in the field of tertiary education.
– by leave - Commonwealth and State Ministers responsible for Aboriginal welfare meet every two years to examine progress in this field throughout Australia and to increase co-operation between the Commonwealth and the States. The 1965 conference was held in Adelaide on 22nd July 1965 under the chairmanship of the South Australian Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, the Honorable D. A. Dunstan. All States except Tasmania attended. Unfortunately this year the business of Government prevented, at the last moment, any Commonwealth Minister attending. I was represented by the Administrator of the Northern Territory and the Director-General of Health represented the Minister for Health (Mr. Swartz).
Perhaps the most valuable result of this conference, as of the others that preceded it, was the interchange of ideas and information that took place. I shall give later some detail of the progress throughout Australia in the field of Aboriginal advancement that was revealed by the discussions. There were, also, decisions on some matters of policy, the most important of which was a reaffirmation of the objective of assimilation, with some changes in the language in which the principle has been expressed. I shall tell the House later in some detail of these matters also. In recent years the record of every State in the field of Aboriginal advancement - as, I believe, it is of the Commonwealth also - is one in which they can take pride. Governments have, of course, no monopoly of energy, altruism and wisdom in this field; but neither have they a corner on lethargy, self interest and stupidity, as some of their critics are all too prone to imply. Some of these critics are using the Aboriginal question for their own political ends and would be most disappointed if it were no longer a “ question “. Even among those who are sincere in their criticism, many spend a good deal of their energy seeking someone to blame - Australians of the past or Governments of the present, employers, townspeople in some particular place - for what is being done or not being done for Aborigines.
The major obstacle, however, is not a lack of desire by governments and others immediately at grips with this problem to do well; it is not parsimony or vested interests. The main obstacle is the intrinsic difficulty of the problem itself. In no place where people of an advanced and dynamic culture have met those of a static one has it been anything but desperately difficult to save the people of the primitive culture. In the case of the Australian Aboriginal the gulf between the two cultures was very wide. Neither at home nor abroad, and especially not abroad, do we do Australia a service by being professional knockers of governments which have responsibilities in this field of Aboriginal advancement.
What I have said for some critics does not apply to the many people and organisations of goodwill who are genuinely trying to understand the problems and to assist in their solution, particularly in the field of personal relations between the two races. These people do not refrain from stating their views about Government action but they are willing to listen thoughtfully to what the governments say and to give them credit for experience and some sincerity and sense.
It is necessary that we beware of seeking for the Aborigines objectives that are mutually incompatible. There are those who on the one hand want the Aborigines to retain fully their own racial separateness, their own language, customs and characteristics and on the other would have them achieve educational, social and economic standards that are not inferior to those of other Australians. They fail to realise that keeping fully to the former will prevent the latter.
This brings me back to the Adelaide conference. I mentioned earlier that at the conference all governments re-affirmed the policy of assimilation. This means that they are in no doubt as to the side on which they stand in any case where there must be a choice between racial separateness and full membership of the Australian community. They did, however, restate the policy in the following words -
The policy of assimilation seeks that all persons of Aboriginal descent will choose to attain a similar manner and standard of living to that of other Australians and live as members of a single Australian community- enjoying the same
Tights and privileges, accepting the same responsibilities and influenced by the same hopes and loyalties as other Australians. Any special measures taken are regarded as temporary measures, not based on race, but intended to meet their need for special care and assistance and to make the transition from one stage to another in such a way as will be favourable to their social, economic and political advancement.
This is a somewhat shorter statement than the earlier one. As now expressed it states explicitly what has always been implicit in the assimilation policy, that Aborigines must themselves choose to become part of the general Australian community. This is not in any way to imply that the attitude of governments is to be a neutral one as to the choice to be made. Governments will provide every opportunity they can whether in education and training, in housing and employment, or in any other way for Aborigines to attain full Australian standards. They will give every encouragement to Aborigines to avail themselves of these opportunities. But the use of the word “ choose “ is to recognise that an important element is that the Aborigines see the goal and want to reach it and that means must be found for them to participate fully in the shaping of their future.
It will be noted, also, that the restatement of the policy omits the words in the earlier statement referring to Aborigines observing the same customs and being influenced by the same beliefs. This change was made to avoid misunderstandings that had arisen that the assimilation policy sought the destruction of Aboriginal culture. It does not. As I mentioned earlier, the various governments reviewed their recent progress in Aboriginal advancement. Most striking was the progress made in bringing Aborigines within the ambit of the general law and general community services that apply to the rest of the community.
In the Northern Territory there are now no laws which discriminate against Aborigines; they are equal at law with all other Northern Territory residents though some special benefits have been retained to them such as special rights to reserved lands, including royalties arising from those lands, and the right everywhere to take natural game and to use natural waters. An amending act in Victoria has placed the Aborigines Welfare Board under the jurisdiction of the Minister for Housing. A person selected from nominations by the Aborigines Advancement League is now included on the new Board. In Queensland new legislation has been passed placing Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders to the maximum extent possible on the same footing at law as all other members of the Queensland community while continuing essential provision for their special care and assistance. In Western Australia amended legislation aims to promote the integration of Aborigines into the general community and to provide special welfare measures during the transitional period. One special provision is retained in regard to liquor where prohibition is applied to Aborigines in the area outside the south western land division in that State.
The 1963 conference in Darwin agreed that in principle it would be preferable that any restraints during a transitional period should be applied to areas and not groups of people. In Western Australia the position is that liquor is freely available on an area basis to approximately one third of the Aboriginal population in that State. The only proscription in South Australia is on Aboriginal reserves. There are now no special liquor laws applying to the Aboriginal people in the Northern Territory and Queensland has announced the intention of removing special laws. In New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania, where the people concerned are almost all partAborigines, there have been no restrictions for some time.
Difficulties at present facing Aborigines moving into Western Australia and Queensland from the Northern Territory were discussed at the conference. As most of these concerned the present restrictions on the supply of liquor to Aborigines in the two States it was noted that the expected commencement of new legislation in Queensland early next year and the possible extension of the area in which Aborigines may consume liquor in Western Australia will ease many of the difficulties.
The Commonwealth Department of Health reported progress in measures taken for Aboriginal health in the Northern Territory. Rural health services have been established and are being expanded and a health education programme is being carried out. The National Health and Medical Research
Council Committee which had been formed at the request of the 1961 conference of Ministers to look at medical research projects dealing with Aboriginal people has been active.
The Central Reserves Committee, a consultative body of officers of the welfare authorities of South Australia, Western Australia and the Northern Territory and the Department of Supply has been constituted to deal with the problems of some 2,000 Aboriginal people inhabiting approximately 100,000 square miles of reserves in Central Australia. The conference agreed that Queensland should join this Committee because of the increasing movement of Aborigines between this area and Queensland.
The conference reviewed the work that has been done and is to be done in the public relations field. Two films have been produced for national and overseas distribution; booklets and pamphlets have had a distribution of 1,300,000 copies and more are planned. The conference noted (he very great increase in research interest. The Australian Institute of Aboriginal Studies and the National Health and Medical Research Council currently play a part in advice to governments on aspects of Aboriginal research that relate to their fields of interest. The conference decided to ask the Social Science Research Council, which is currently undertaking a major project of research into Aboriginal assimilation, to undertake a general role of advice to governments on research into current assimilation problems.
The conference discussed the training of professional officers of the aboriginal welfare departments and Ministers expressed an interest in the possibility of appropriate courses being provided at the Australian School of Pacific Administration.
Ministers gave some consideration as to the advice they might give to the Commonwealth about requirements for Aborigines to register for national service. They considered that though there would be some Aborigines who would be unsuitable for national service these could be excluded from call-up by administrative arrangements in collaboration with the Aboriginal welfare authorities and that they would prefer there be no general exemption. The conference asked that consideration be given to paying full repatriation benefits to Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders who are called up. There was a useful exchange of views on Aboriginal communities and their future in economic opportunities for Aborigines and the economic development of reserves.
This brings me to the important matter of Aboriginal employment. I will take this opportunity of stating the present position briefly. The North Australian Workers Union has applied to the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission for the removal of the exclusion of Aborigines from the Cattle Station Industry (Northern Territory) Award. This application affects the future employment and wages of some 1,500 Aboriginal men and women, who comprise the great bulk of Aborigines employed in the Northern Territory. The Commonwealth Government has formally intervened in the public interest in the proceedings before the Commission, exercising its statutory power under section 36(1.) of the Conciliation and Arbitration Act to do so.
The general policy of the Commonwealth Government in the field of Aboriginal employment is one of nondiscrimination. The Commonwealth has stated its view to the Commission that as a result of the proceedings the minimum wages and conditions of the award should apply equally to Aborigines as to other Australian workers. The Commonwealth is concerned that the manner of implementing the application should not do unnecessary harm to the very people whom the application is designed to assist. It believes that there could be no substantial objection to a proposal which would obtain full award rates for all workers in the industry within a period and by steps determined by the Commission.
Outside the cattle industry, there are about 250 Aborigines employed privately and 300 employed by the Administration and Commonwealth departments. The Government’s general policy objective of nondiscrimination applies also to this employment and the Government will be pursuing this objective when the Commission’s decision is known in the cattle industry case.
I feel that the results of the conference in Adelaide show that continued co-opera tion between the Commonwealth and the. States on Aboriginal welfare matters is achieving the aim of Australia-wide progress in a difficult and changing field. The areas of difference have receded to a large degree over the past two years and further progress is assured. Ministers responsible for Aboriginal welfare will continue to meet every two years and there will be an annual meeting of officers. The next conference will be held in Perth in 1967 at the invitation of the Western Australian Minister for Native Welfare, the Hon. E. H. M. Lewis.
I present the following paper -
Statement of Policy and Text of Resolutions approved by Conference of Commonwealth and State Ministers on Aboriginal Welfare held in Adelaide on 22nd July 1965 - and move -
That the House take note of the papers.
.- I will be brief. I do not want to start a debate now, but there are two things I should like to say. First, we regret the timing of this statement. This has been an issue that has been discussed in this Parliament for quite a time. The Minister for Territories (Mr. Barnes) has now made a statement that deserves a debate, but, of course, the Parliament will not have time to debate it. The second thing I should like to say about the form of the statement is that I regret that the Minister spent so much time on his critics. Every member of the Parliament knows that this is a field in which there are cranks. It is a field in which there are damaging critics. It is a field in which there are insincere critics. All of this is known. However, when the Minister makes a statement we look for a clear statement of his policy and the policies of the governments with which he has been associated at ministerial conferences between the Commonwealth and the States. We regret the way to get these statements containing general objectives related to assimilation, citizenship and so forth because they honestly have no meaning for us in terms of policy.
I remember that a Western Australian Minister used to go to conferences and say: “All Aborigines are citizens within the meaning of the Nationality and Citizenship Act 1948-1960”. But Western Australia is still putting Aborigines through a process of applying for citizenship rights.
If they are citizens already, why does this happen? These objectives have no clarity. Assimilation has no clarity. If assimilation is that Aborigines should come to share the ideals, convictions, rights and interests of the general Australian community it is an objective that does not put the Administration under discipline. Can an administrator say: “Today I have done so-and-so to help the aborigines share the rights, ideals and so forth of the Australian community “?
What we long for in the Minister’s statements is a clear statement of objectives in health, education, land ownership, agricultural education and housing. We should like to know what is going to happen to the large reserves. What is to happen to those reserves next to towns where fringe dwellers live? What is being done about the fringe dwelling groups? It is very easy to change words. The new South Australian Government has a different emphasis on some of these things. We can change the forms of words very easily because they are merely formulae and do not really tell us anything about policy. Assimilation is not telling us anything about policy. The Minister has spoken of equality before the law. This is an excellent objective, but social reality is vital. It is the social realities of the conditions under which the Aboriginal people are living that matters. Equality before the law can be really oppressive to a primitive people. I remind the Minister that in the early days of the industrial revolution in England some of the more brilliant critics of the form of society then used to say that there was equality before the law in that era of great poverty because both prince and pauper were entitled to sleep on the Thames embankment. Social reality is what matters. It is the social things that are being done in the Government’s Aboriginal policy that we are interested in.
I honestly think that if as much time were spent on debating the liquor rights of Aborigines as seems to be indicated in the Minister’s statement, then this is an example of the pathetic level of our thinking on this subject. I realise all the problems associated with denying liquor and so forth to Aborigines, but must we be like a gramophone needle stuck in a crack on the record still on this question of liquor rights, liquor rights, liquor rights? If this happens every time we discuss Aborigines then we are not getting very far.
What the Minister said about the application of the North Australian Workers Union before the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission was interesting. I do not want to appear in the role of a critic, but we on this side of the House are frustrated over one thing. We have sometimes asked questions about the Commonwealth level of wages paid to Aborigines employed by the Services, but on a number of occasions Ministers have turned the question into wages paid to Aborigines serving in the Services. I know that an Aboriginal corporal or an Aboriginal sergeant gets the same pay as a non-Aboriginal corporal or a non-Aboriginal sergeant, but the thing is that when we were in Darwin we saw the Services, which are instruments of the Commonwealth, employing Aborigines in a civil capacity as labourers at wages that were about one third or one quarter of the European rate. The North Australian Workers Union may get a different pastoral award, but what is the Commonwealth doing about the low wages it pays? This we cannot find out, and I long for the day when we will get a statement on Aboriginal matters that deals with specific social realities and not with assimilation, citizenship, liquor rights, equality before the law and generalisations.
.- I want to speak on much the same theme as did my friend, the honorable member for Fremantle (Mr. Beazley). I speak first in defence of those people who one way or another have given a great deal of dedicated service to arousing the public conscience on Aboriginal welfare. I am one of them. I have spoken often in this House on this subject. I lay no claim to moral virtue. I learned of the real problem of our Aboriginal population only after I entered the Parliament. For six or seven years I have been President of the Aboriginal Advancement League of Victoria. I have attended every conference of the Federal Council for Aboriginal Advancement - conferences to which we have often invited every member of the Parliament, including the Minister for National Development (Mr. Fairbairn), who seems to find some humour in the situation; yet they have not attended. As I have seen them, these conferences were attended initially by handfuls of people but in recent days by hundreds of people. There is no doubt that people generally are concerned with this subject, but none of those intimately concerned have attended these conferences.
We want action. It is disappointing to me that the statement before us does not indicate fields of action. In effect the Minister has indicated that the Commonwealth, to a large extent, remains neutral. No Minister was able to attend the conference held in Adelaide. Surely there was someone who could be found to attend the conference in Adelaide - and conferences no matter where they were held - under ministerial auspices, particularly when the Aboriginal population of the Northern Territory is so large. Ministers can find time to attend conferences in Teheran, Washington and New York, and I have no doubt they could find time to attend conferences in Moscow if called upon to do so. What was disappointing to me was that the Commonwealth - the authority with all the resources, including powerful administrative and financial resources - was not represented at ministerial level. 1 do not blame the Minister as a person, but this is an important national and international subject.
What is the text of the present statement? As the honorable member for Fremantle has pointed out, this is a field not for doctrine but for specific action. I want to know what is going to be done in the housing field. Recent research has shown that at least 7,000 houses are needed for the Aboriginal people in Australia. I should say that that figure is conservative. What is to be done about educating our Aboriginal population? At present we have five or six Aboriginal students in our universities - about one to every 20,000 of our university population. What is to be done about health matters? What is being done about providing health facilities? I think of the measles epidemic in Arnhem Land recently. What is to be done about providing the Aborigines with the community services that other Australians enjoy? What is to be done about the employment of Aborigines?
The honorable member for Fremantle has pointed out effectively that the Commonwealth itself is not giving Aborigines equality. I do not care what factors are mentioned. It is nonsense for anyone to come to this House and say that the Com monwealth has abolished discrimination in its Acts and ordinances. The fact remains that some discriminatory ordinances are still operative. I understand that this is the position. As soon as this ministerial statement was introduced I sent to the papers room of the Parliamentary Library for information and I have received documents indicating that there are differentiation and discrimination in Aboriginal employment. I presented a petition on this specific subject only yesterday. While the Social Services Act includes discriminatory clauses, while the National Service Act remains unaltered, and while section 51 (xxvi.) of the Constitution precludes the Commonwealth from taking effective action, the Commonwealth cannot remain neutral. I hope that the Minister will accept the challenge that this problem presents to him and will recognise that, with all the resources of the Commonwealth at his disposal and paying regard to the goodwill and arousing conscience of the people of Australia, this is not a case for politics in this Parliament. No government and no party has a clear conscience in this field. I only hope that in the New Year there will be new attitudes: First, that the Government will not bring important national statements to this Parliament at this late stage when honorable members are restricted in debate by conscience to a few minutes; and, secondly, that the Commonwealth will accept responsibility in the matter and recognise that while it remains neutral the Aboriginal people will remain deprived.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– I wish to inform the House of the following appointments of senators and members to be members of the Joint Select Committee on the New and Permanent Parliament House. Senators Drake-Brockman and Wedgwood have been appointed by the Leader of the Government in the Senate and Senators O’Byrne and Cavanagh have been appointed by the Leader of the Opposition in that House. The Hon. J. D. Anthony, Mr. Aston, Mr. Chipp and Mr. Drury have been appointed by the Prime
Minister and Mr. Whitlam, Mr. Barnard, Mr. Benson and Mr. Nicholls have been appointed by the Leader of the Opposition in this House. Mr. Clyde Cameron has been appointed jointly by the Leaders of the Opposition in the Senate and the House of Representatives.
The following Bills were returned from the Senate without amendment or requests -
Thirty-two Bills related to Decimal Currency.
Customs Tariff Validation Bill (No. 2) 1965.
Pay-roll Tax Assessment Bill 1965.
Nauru Bill 1965.
Debate resumed from 17th August (vide page 14), on motion by Mr. McEwen -
That the House take note of the following paper -
New Zealand-Australia Free Trade Agreement -Ministerial Statement, 17th August 1965.
.- Some few weeks ago, the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen) informed us that an agreement had been reached on the formation of a free trade area between Australia and New Zealand, following negotiations between Mr. Marshall, the New Zealand Minister of Overseas Trade, and himself, and that it had now been confirmed by the two Governments.
In general the Opposition welcomes such an agreement because we welcome anything that will bring about an increase in trade between this country and other countries, particularly countries that are less developed than is Australia. But we do so on one condition: That no section of the Australian people will suffer significant damage and that if this proves inevitable in any situation, as it might, national action will be taken to give ample warning of the changes and to give compensation to the injured sections. Whilst the Opposition welcomes the Agreement we do not welcome the way in which it has been introduced; nor do we welcome the absence of any sign on the part of the Government that it would be prepared to compensate injured sections. In fact, the Government is prepared to run the risk of injuring sections of the community and not to provide for any compensation. This is the weakness in the Government’s approach to all trade agreements. The Government has not adequately given warning and has not provided at all for any possible compensation. In fact,I think it came as a surprise to most people when the Minister announced that a free trade agreement had been signed with New Zealand. We knew that some negotiations had been proceeding but I found, when I was in New Zealand in the middle of this year, that most New Zealanders - I mean most of those who were members of the New Zealand Parliament on both sides - thought that an agreement was still a long way off. New Zealand seems to have been more anxious about this Agreement - perhaps I should say those in and around the New Zealand Government seem to have been more anxious - than anyone on this side of the Tasman. This was understandable because about £80 million worth of commodities were exported annually from Australia to New Zealand but only about £20 million worth were imported into Australia from New Zealand. New Zealand had what is called an adverse trading balance of about £60 million, which is quite considerable.
I do not think that this Agreement will affect the situation quickly or materially. In his statement on 17th August last the Minister said -
A free trade area has a technical connotation. It is an arrangement between two or more countries which provides for the goods included in it to be traded free of duty between them, but allowing each country to maintain separate tariffs on imports from countries outside the arrangement.
It is different from a customs union which, in addition to requiring free trade between the countries or areas members of the agreement, also requires that they have a common external tariff. Under the present arrangement, this is a free trade area, not a customs union. The Minister further said -
The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade requires that, when two countries enter into a free trade agreement, substantially all the trade between the two countries should be subject to the free trade provisions.
Only in one sense is this true. The Minister said -
There are no precise rules to indicate the dimensions of the trade which must be included, and there is no strict rule governing the period over which substantially all of the trade must be brought into the free trade agreement.
Apparently this can extend over a long period of time and apparently the requirements of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade are not offended. It is fair to say that there would be a great deal more trade between Australia and New Zealand if there were not any tariff or other barriers between the two countries. The Minister said that about 60 per cent, of the trade between the two countries is included in the Agreement but he also said - this is perhaps the key proposition in his speech -
The bulk of the items to be included initially in this 60 per cent, of the trade between the two countries are those already traded on a duty free basis.
In other words, the bulk of the items that will be included in the Agreement are items that are pretty nearly the subject of free trade now. This means that the Agreement is only a marginal one without much significance to the economy as a whole.
The commodities that are being brought within the scope of the Agreement may be considered under four headings. The first includes those goods on which duties were very low before the Agreement. Now they are to be made free quickly. They represent the greater part of the commodities under the Agreement. The Minister referred to them as “the bulk of the items”. They were practically free before. They are the only items that will become free quickly. So one can understand that the Agreement is not of much significance.
The second category includes items that will be made free over a period of eight years. The third category includes items that will be made free over a period beyond eight years - I think nine years is the only case. The fourth category includes items which will never be free under this Agreement. Another most important proposition was expressed by the Minister in these terms -
Where serious harm or serious unemployment would result from competition by the other country the items concerned will never be traded duty free.
In other words, the most significant areas of trade between New Zealand and Australia are excluded from the Agreement.
This is another reason why the Agreement is not of significance.
I think it is fair to say that the Agreement was introduced into the House with a great flourish of trumpets. If one wants to have trumpets blown in this House it is the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen) who can blow them best. He brought in the Agreement with a great flourish of trumpets but if you look at the Agreement you will see that it is nothing more than the squeak of a mouse. This is true of the economy as a whole.
There are a number of areas in which the Agreement can have a significant effect on particular products and I want to speak about this for a minute or two. The products that I think are really significant from a national economic point of view are forest products from New Zealand and steel and manufactured products generally from Australia to New Zealand. Undoubtedly, in the end there will be great scope for increased exports of Australian manufactured and steel products to New Zealand, and perhaps this is the most significant area of operation of the Agreement from Australia’s point of view. On the other hand, it would seem that the only significant compensation for New Zealand is in forest products - timber and paper. We can be satisfied that there is very little that affects the Australian economy immediately, but the question I want to raise is: Why has New Zealand entered into this agreement? I can see no good reason from the point of view of the New Zealand economy as a whole for its doing so. New Zealand has a Tory Government. It is a Government that reflects very strongly the interests of primary producers. Therefore, it is a Government that is not as inclined to encourage manufacturing industries as is the Australian Tory Government, which is made up of a great many people with influence from city industrial areas and industrial concerns. New Zealand is still predominantly a primary producing country and its Tory Government still reflects predominantly primary production interests. Therefore, it is prepared to accept an agreement with Australia that will discourage the development of manufacturing industries in New Zealand. However, the long term interest of New Zealand requires a more rapid increase in its manufacturing industries than the present New Zealand Government is prepared to undertake. I do not think that the agreement can be considered to be one of advantage for New Zealand in the long term.
– Is the honorable member playing New Zealand’s side of politics?
– Yes. I think the attitude of the Opposition in the New Zealand Parliament is the same as I have just been stating in this Parliament. I want to mention some items that may have adverse effects upon the Australian economy. They are the importation of pork, cheddar cheese, peas and beans. The import of pork and cheddar cheese is controlled. On the face of it, these items represent only a small proportion of the Australian output each year. The amount of pork that can be imported from New Zealand duty free is limited to 3,000 tons in the first year. The amount is increased by 5 per cent, in the second and all subsequent years. This involves an increase of only 350 tons on the amount imported in 1963-64, which is about 5 per cent. It is a small increase, but it may have an impact upon the industry. From then onwards, the increase each year is about 5 per cent. The production of pork in Australia in one year is about 80,000 tons. Assuming a pig weighs 100 lb., this is an increase of about 350 a year. It is debatable whether this is a significant factor. But there is an upper limit which may have been exceeded if the agreement had not been signed. The upper limit for cheddar cheese is 400 lb. in the first year, 800 lb. in the third and fourth years, and 1,000 lb. in the fifth year and later. Australian production is about 60,000 tons and the increase is less than 1 per cent, each year.
Whilst the impact of these increased imports may be significant for various parts of Australia where cheese and pork are produced and, with beans and peas, may be significant where there is no upper limit - it is here perhaps that the effect will be greater - there are three offsetting factors. First, limits are set for pork and cheese. Secondly, the increase that comes from normal Australian demand can be expected to be 4 per cent, or 5 per cent, a year and the increase in exports can perhaps be expected to be 3 or 4 per cent, a year, meaning that perhaps 5 per cent, to 8 per cent, will be the increase in demand for these products for Australian consumption and for export. The increase from New Zealand is considerably less than that.
I said that the Opposition welcomes the agreement in general. We do not welcome the way it has been introduced and applied and we feel that there are prospects of damage to certain sectors of the Australian economy for which the Government has not made adequate preparation. This may not be important at this stage of our development. But if Australia is going to enter into trade agreements with other countries, particularly the underdeveloped countries where the need is great, we must prepare better than we have prepared in this case.
I think we need to give ample warning, and this may be done in the operation of the sliding scale for the products that will be imported, as with pork and cheese. Why the sliding scale could not be applied to other products and why it has been confined to pork and cheese I do not know. I think it could be applied equally to other products like beans and peas. The sliding scale of increase allows the industry concerned to have some warning about what is happening. In addition, where damage is done, compensation should be paid. I think it is time that a government of Australia considered setting up a fund to compensate people for losses incurred as a result of agreements of this kind. Perhaps this is the rock - it is not a large one at this stage - on which the desirable trend to increase trade with other countries will founder. Opposition will come from sections of Australian industries, employer and employee alike, that will be injured if these agreements are entered into. I think the big deficiency in this agreement and the one relating to underdeveloped countries, which we debated a week or two ago, is the complete absence of any realisation that it is wrong to cause sections of the community, perhaps alone, to suffer the damage that is inflicted by the implementation of a national policy that is in the interests of the country as a whole and of the outside world.
Debate (on motion by Mr. Wentworth) adjourned.
Motion (by Mr. Freeth) agreed to -
That the House, at its rising, adjourn until a date and hour to be fixed by Mr. Speaker, which time of meeting shall be notified by Mr. Speaker to each member by telegram or letter.
Motion (by Mr. Freeth) agreed to -
That leave of absence be given to every member of the House of Representatives from the determination of this sitting of the House to the date of ils next sitting.
– On the assurance of my colleague that all seems clear elsewhere, I move -
That the House do now adjourn. 1 would like to remind honorable members - I am sure they have forgotten - that this will be our last day of sitting before Christmas and the New Year. Therefore, it is proper that I should say a few words about you, Sir, about those associated with you and about those who look after us in this place. It has been a very strenuous session, a very strenuous year, and in those circumstances I continue to marvel at your own uniform fairness and good temper, because both qualities can easily be strained in the course of a long session. We are indebted to you for them.
We are indebted to the Chairman and the Temporary Chairman of Committees. We are indebted, as always, to the Whips who “ do good by stealth and blush to find it fame “, but upon whom we all, on both sides of the House, depend a great deal. They have done their work extremely well. I want to say “ Thank you “ to the Clerks at the Table and to the whole of the parliamentary staff, because they bring to bear on our work a degree of expertise and of guidance that is highly appreciated on both sides of the House. I want to say thank you on your behalf, Mr. Speaker, to “ Hansard “, to the broadcasting functionaries, to the staff of the Library, to the attendants in the House and to those who look after the refreshment services and the other amenities of the Parliament.
– Do not forget the telephonists.
– I am reminded by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) that I might say a kind word about the telephonists, with whose voices I am quite familiar, particularly when there is a Party meeting. They do a great job and we are indebted to them.
These remarks I have just made are normal enough on this occasion, but I do want to say - and I say this as a great respecter of Parliament and of the parliamentary institution - that the standard of the Parliament and the standing of the Parliament both depend far more than some people think on the attitude of the members of Parliament. I am bound to say, as a very old inhabitant - one of the three fathers of the House - that I do not remember any Parliament in which members have worked harder, in which they have made more definite, positive contributions to debate than this Parliament. This augurs well for the future. It is easy enough for the onlooker to be a little cynical about Parliament. That is a rather cheap thing. Parliament is the supreme forum of the nation. The Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia is more democratically representative of the people of Australia than almost any other Parliament that I can think of is representative of a people. The result, when we have a proper representation of the people, and members bend themselves to their duties in this Parliament, is that this becomes a good Parliament, and I am perfectly certain that the contribution that has been made by all honorable members to the standing and work of this House will be remembered to their credit and will inure for the benefit of the standing of the Parliamentary institution itself in our own democratic world.
A good parliament cannot exist without good members. A good parliament cannot exist without good debate - strong debate, strenuous debate and, every now and then, if you like, heated debate. But we all know from our experience that when the debates are over we look round the House and we on each side of the House know that we have a lot of close personal friends among our political opponents. This is as it should be. And this atmosphere, this performance, makes this a good Parliament. I am very proud to have served in this Parliament, because I think it has made its own invaluable contribution to the political history of Australia.
– I agree with the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) in his tribute to you, Sir, and to all the people who serve us in this Parliament and who help to make democracy function. I agree wilh all that the Prime Minister has said about the importance of Parliament. I particularly agree with him in the remark he made concerning the democratically elected institution of which we are a part. There is no State Parliament in Australia that is really representative of the people in the sense in which this Parliament is representative of the people. They all work under some gerrymandered system or other; but this Parliament, from the beginning of Federation has, as nearly as practicable, represented the will of the people. Of course, it all depends upon a count of heads. As one Conservative in England said 100 years ago: “ Democracy rests on majority rule “. Somebody else has said that there is nothing sacred about majority rule, nothing sacred about the rule of 99 over 1 or 51 over 49. This is method of order, but not necessarily justice; but it is the only system that is an alternative to some form of Fascism, some form of Communism or some form of authoritarian control.
I think that this occasion could be an historic one. I do not want to peer too far into the future, but I have what Carlyle would have called a preternatural suspicion that things might happen next year. Well, it is a rather sad occasion, but it is an important occasion. And in a sad and glorious sense I am proud to be here today before what I think might happen does happen.
– Are you retiring, Arthur?
– I am not retiring, no, neither from the leadership of my Party nor from the Parliament; but there may be other retirement’s. I am merely adumbrating a couple of subjects. We have worked together, with some ferocity, with some moments of strain, with some disagreements. We have even disagreed with another chamber, but only temporarily, because the genius of the Parliament can always find a way out of difficulties, and we have found that today.
We are about to go away into a recess of eight to ten weeks, and God knows what we face next year - Rhodesia, Vietnam and lots of other problems. But we shall try to find solutions to them insofar as wc are important enough or big enough to be able to offer a constructive suggestion. On behalf of the Opposition I wish you, Mr. Speaker, and all honorable members on the other side of the House, as we wish ourselves, a happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year. We also wish all the people of Australia well. They put us here and they keep us here - and in many cases refuse to see through us when they keep us here. Above all, we believe in the motto of our nation - “Advance Australia Fair”.
– I should like to join with the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) and the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) on this occasion, first in extending to you, Sir, thanks and appreciation for your services to the Parliament and to this House. We thank also your Chairman and Temporary Chairmen of Committees, the office bearers within the Parliament, the officials in the Parliament and “ Hansard “. My Party would wish me to extend Christmas greetings and good wishes to all members of the Parliament, Government side and Opposition side alike and, in short, to hope that all will have a happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year and that this country will go on progressing as fast as all of us wish it to do.
– First of all, I should like to thank the Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies), the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) and the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr. McEwen), for the very kindly references they have made to me. I would like to thank all members for their tolerance and understanding in putting up with me in the moods in which I sometimes arrive and depart, which are pardonable. I might also say that I feel that so far as the House is concerned it is the duty of the Presiding Officer to see that the business of the House flows. That is the most important feature, so any errors that I have made at all would have been caused by the fact that I wanted to see the business of the House flow.
I would like to thank the Clerk of the House and the whole of his staff for the tremendous support they have given to me since I have been in this office. It would be impossible to carry on without the goodwill, the integrity and the loyalty of the Clerk and the whole of the staff associated with him. For this I am very grateful. I, too, would like to pay a tribute to “ Hansard “ for their artistic work and a tribute to the Library staff for the part they play in the scheme of things. I also want to pay tribute to the Joint House Committee because, when all is said and done, it is very important that the inner man is looked after. Here I might say that we will be losing one member of the Joint House staff, Mr. Phillips, who is retiring. I will be meeting him at a later stage and, on behalf of all honorable members, I will convey our appreciation of the loyalty and service he has given in this capacity. I would like to say a word of praise to the Press. I think I have heard the Press described as our traditional enemies. I must say that as far as I am concerned we have got along together reasonably well.
I would also like to pay a tribute to Winton Turnbull. I heard references to him this morning. I might say that he won the cup. He defeated the Leader of the Opposition by a whisker this morning. Winton
Turnbull^ record shows that he asked 57 questions in this session but the Leader of the Opposition could only get together 55. I might say, also, that as far as the business of the House is concerned, and if my arithmetic is correct, we have done almost twice as much work this session as we did last session. Last session we handled 55 bills. This session we handled 104. Therefore, I think we are entitled to a little higher duty pay.
On behalf of those who cannot speak on this occasion for themselves I want to say “ Thank you “ to honorable members for the way you have treated them - for the courtesy you have always shown to those connected with the institution of Parliament. They are dedicated in the positions they occupy and they derive very great pleasure from rendering any service they can to any member when they are approached. We are grateful for this goodwill and for the feeling that exists. We hope that it will continue. Therefore, on behalf of all those who are associated with me, I should like to take the opportunity of wishing to all of you and your families a very merry Christmas and a bright and prosperous new year.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 4.8 p.m. until a date and hour to be Axed by Mr. Speaker and to be notified by him to each member by telegram or letter.
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated -
r asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows - 1 and 2. Available taxation statistics do not indicate the number of taxpayers dealing in real estate and specific statistics are not maintained in relation to the profit of real estate dealers. 3 and 4. I have no evidence that the activities of dealers in real estate adversely affect the general level of housing costs.
n asked the Acting Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
Both the Army and R.A.A.F. have members serving in Vietnam. The daily rates of pay and allowances for the various ranks in South Vietnam, which range up to and include the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the Army and Squadron Leader in the R.A.A.F., are -
Note. - Full rations and quarters are provided for members in addition to these rates. If not provided, appropriate allowances are paid. (See below.)
In addition to the foregoing active rates of pay, members of the forces in Vietnam receive the following daily allowances -
Proficiency pay for special skills ranging from 15s. to 45s. per day is paid in addition to approximately 10 per cent. of those serving in the ranks of sergeant to master sergeant.
Family separation allowance - 9s. per day all ranks.
Flying pay - From 16s. to 49s. per day according to rank.
Hostile fire pay - 19s. 6d. per day all ranks who are subject to or in imminent danger of being exposed to hostile fire.
Overseas duty allowance - 2s. 4d. to 6s. 6d. per day (other ranks only - according to rank).
Basic allowance for quarters (for personnel with dependents not provided with Government quarters) - 27s. to 54s. per day according to
m asked the Acting Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
m asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows - 1 and 2. It is necessary to obtain Royal approval to the conditions of award for a medal in a new area. As indicated in my reply to a question on 8th December (“ Hansard,” page 3738) it is hoped that it will soon be possible to make an announcement in respect of service by Australian servicemen in Vietnam.
m asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
Amenities at Airports. (Question No. 1455.)
n asked the Minister representing the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice -
– The Minister for Civil Aviation has supplied the following information -
The names of the lessees at the various airports are -
Adelaide - Airlines Catering Service Pty. Ltd.
Perth- Bright Spot Caterers Pty. Ltd.
Canberra - I. L. & R. M. Flanagan.
Brisbane- Messrs. C. F. Kesby & T. H. Rantzau (T.A.A. Terminal), Ansett-A.N.A. (Ansett-A.N.A. Terminal).
Sydney - W. H. Bondy (T.A.A. Concessionaire) (T.A.A. Terminal), H. H. Richard (AnsettA.N.A. Concessionaire) (Ansett-A.N.A. Terminal), Australian Airport Services Pty. Ltd. (International Terminal).
Melbourne. - Taverns Pty. Ltd.
Hobart - Mrs. B. Thomas.
Woven Man-made Fibre Fabrics. (Question No. 1460.)
y asked the Minister for Trade and Industry, upon notice -
Will he have Table No. 3 in the Tariff Board Report on Woven Man-Made Fabrics extended to give also the ad valorem protection recommended by the majority of the Board, the minority recommendation of Mr. Murray and also the Government’s decision.
– In answer to the honorable member’s question, Table No. 3 has been extended and is shown hereunder -
n asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
y asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows - 1 and 2. The first registration of men for national service took place in the fortnight ended 8th February 1965. The first ballot to determine those who should be further considered for call-up took place on 10th March 1965 when 21,777 young men were balloted in. A total of 10,835 men were examined and interviewed with a view to inclusion in Army intakes in June and September 1965; of that number 4,297 were called up for Army service and 4,421 were rejected as they did not meet the standards required by the Army.
y asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows -
e asked the Treasurer, upon notice -
In the last financial year what was the amount of income tax paid by taxpayers in - (a) New South Wales; (b) Victoria; (c) Tasmania?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows -
The net amounts of income tax and social services contribution collected during the financial year 1964-65 on assessments issued from the New South Wales, Victorian and Tasmanian Taxation Offices and the tax instalments on employees’ earnings paid in those offices are as follows -
These amounts do not include tax and contribution on income derived from New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania by interstate taxpayers lodging returns at the Central Taxation Office in Melbourne. It is not practicable to allocate the tax and contribution collected at Central Office to the income derived from sources in any particular State.
rns asked the Acting Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable member’s questions are as follows - 1. (a) 16 killed
99 taken ill (this figure includes those accidentally injured).
Fevers of unknown origin.
Investment of Insurance Funds.
t. - The honorable member for Cunningham (Mr. Connor) has drawn attention to the placement of life insurance funds in shares and debentures of H. G. Palmer (Consolidated) Limited, a company under a receiver appointed on 28th October last by the trustee for the debenture holders. It is understood that a statement of this company’s affairs as at that date is being prepared and that the hearing of a petition to wind up the company has been adjourned until February next.
At the present time, therefore, attempts to assess the outcome of these placements would be mere speculation. The Insurance Commissioner has assured me that he is keeping himself informed on developments in this matter as they happen.
The honorable member’s question regarding possible action to prevent the hazarding of policy holders’ funds relates to a matter of policy on which it would be premature to reach decisions at this stage.
d asked the Minister representing the Minister for Customs and Excise, upon notice -
The Minister for Customs and Excise has supplied the following information -
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 10 December 1965, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1965/19651210_reps_25_hor49/>.